China, Australia, Wuhan discussed on Fresh Air


Friday. I'm Ira Plato. Merry Christmas. To those of you celebrating later in the hour, a strangely charismatic creature that to worm look at the evolution of dogs. Also, But first, it's the end of the year and, of course, a time to reflect on some of the stories from the year and some of the stories that didn't get as much attention as they might have in this Kind of weird year, of course, right And here to help navigate through the year in review is one the Zuckerman she's host and executive producer of the Podcast Science Verses from Gimlet, a Spotify studio. Welcome back to science Friday. Thanks for having me. You know, it's been kind of a tough year for science stories that leak through all the main, right. The main Stein story has to be Cove it it has to be covered. I mean, it's been ah ha do you for other science stories, But it's been, uh Exciting year for science and getting people to appreciate and understand science and care about science. On the other hand, it's It's been a very difficult yet of your reporting science. Yeah, let's begin by talking about how the coronavirus story developed over the year when they first reported on it. It was just an unusual outbreak in part of China, right. Yeah. I mean, it's interesting. The way I first heard about it was actually from a doctor in Hong Kong in January. I get this email and it was just really very sparks. It just said There's been a respiratory virus spotted in Wuhan, China, We're keeping an eye on it. And I really didn't think much of it. The bush fires were on. I had other things to be thinking about. And it really wasn't until several weeks later that we started to see how bad the outbreak was in Wuhan, and then it really took several Months later. I want to say much before we knew how bad it was in the United States, and we really didn't know where it came from In those early days, did we I mean, there was a lot of talk of the wet market. You'll remember those headlines a wet market. The wet market, even though actually from very early on. There was a Lancet paper that had noted that there were cases before the outbreak at the wet market. So even I think in January in China We knew the outbreak didn't start at that, you know, now infamous, wet market, but we knew that there were obviously a lot of cases and there was a big spreading event that happened there. But in terms of the very first human to get infected, that remains a mystery. Your podcast science versus won the Triple A S Copley Award for your coronavirus coverage first. Let me say congratulations. Thank you. What? What have been some of the challenges in covering the story. Oh, my goodness. I mean it. The misinformation and the myths about this Corona virus has come up like a 10 headed hydra. I mean, we'll chop one down. 10 more show their face. It's been Kind of unbelievable. And then, from al perspective, you know, on our show, we try and spend as much time researching as possible. So we're not just pumping out stories we really had to pick and choose. What would the myths that really needed covering And what were the things that we're just gonna die down on their own? Focus our attention on what are the big myths that are actually going to be helping people right now? And what can we actually tell them because another big issue was at the beginning. Of this of this pandemic, even though the science was coming out at this amazing, right. I mean, it has been phenomenal to say from a public perspective, who perhaps aren't used to the slow, graceful grind of science. It wasn't fast enough. And so they needed answers, and they needed them yesterday, and lab work takes time and so being able to explain that and to sort of, say, Look in the meantime, while we don't know everything based on the information we have at the moment, this is what we think both be explaining the scientific process and helping people live their lives. Yeah, Being in the intermediary on this to the public is I notice from our coverage really is difficult. Let's move on a little bit because we know as I as I mentioned earlier, there were a lot of other stories that were very interesting and very relevant and very important. For example, the fire is in the American West on when we spoke around this time last year, you were heading back to Australia where the fire situation was awful. They're also Yeah, and it and it just got Watts after after we spoke. What did you do, huh? It was. It was truly truly awful. I'm and I went back to my home city. Melvin and the smoke on some days was just was awful in worse than I'd ever remembered as a child. On. It was devastating. I mean, the sort of good news is, you know, now we've switched to what was happening in Australia. It wasn't just climate change. Climate change is obviously a big part of this picture. But there were other Climate systems at play that made that fire season really, really bad, So we were in this sort of more dangerous cycle of El Nino, so that meant there was some drier conditions across Australia. Less rainfall. Doesn't take a genius to see that that's gonna bring sort of climate conditions more likely to start a fire..

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