And if you're just joining us, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath. Climate change is melting polar ice at an alarming rate. While this terrifies many people, especially those living near sea level, some businesses are seeing an opportunity, a big opportunity. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the year-round ice cover in the Arctic is now half the size it was in the 1980s. And previously inaccessible natural resources are now there for the taking.
At dinner the other night with an experimental psychologist, we turned to the topic of science in the popular media. She bemoaned the fact that it's hard to get newspapers to get the facts right; even when you help reporters describe results correctly, she said, there is a tendency for headlines to bypass the subtlety and go for sensation. If it were up to her, she said, she'd simply refuse to return calls from science journalists and stick to taking care of business inside the lab.
The easiest time to get hired at one of the seven oil refineries in the Los Angeles area is during what's called a turnaround. These breaks, when the refineries are shut down for routine maintenance, are incredibly labor-intensive. And refineries want to get them done as quickly as possible.
So companies need enough people to get the job done. But those workers must have specific skills.
In this line of work, as with other U.S. industries, there's a skills gap.
Here in the news biz, we rely on thumbnail descriptions, sparing you the details. We'll tell you, for instance, that organic farmers aren't allowed to use synthetic pesticides and factory-made fertilizer.
In general, that's true. But there's also a long list of pesky exceptions to the rule. And this week, a battle erupted over those exceptions: the synthetic or factory-made substances that organic farmers are still allowed to use because the farmers say they couldn't survive without them.
The brown marmorated stink bug is a real pest. It can be found now in 41 states, the District of Columbia and also Canada. The bugs destroy crops and frustrate humans because they, too, like to shelter indoors when it's cold outside. Scientists at Virginia Tech say they have come up with a trap that can be made for just a couple of dollars.
From member station WVTF, Robbie Harris has the story.
ROBBIE HARRIS, BYLINE: No matter how good a housekeeper you are, it's not easy to keep stink bugs from ruining your image.
Scientists reported Thursday they had figured out a way to make primitive human sperm out of skin cells, an advance that could someday help infertile men have children.
"I probably get 200 emails a year from people who are infertile, and very often the heading on the emails is: Can you help me?" says Renee Reijo Pera of Montana State University, who led the research when she was at Stanford University.
Imagine if there were a virus that could get inside you and dial up your libido, so that you all of a sudden start mating more (more frequently and with more partners), so that the virus — the tricky, tricky, clever, little virus — could transmit itself through your lovemaking to somebody else, then somebody else, and somebody else after that.