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Experts analyse a pressing question from the news. Broadcast on Tuesdays.




How Do We Stop People Dying in Floods?

Do we have the power to avoid the natural forces of intense rainfall? With rising sea levels and the threat of climate change, the risk of death due to floods seems an insurmountable challenge. But there are some surprising facts in the figures on flood deaths. In developed countries like the US, more men die in floods than women and it is 30% of white men who are of particular concern. We hear from four expert witnesses from across the globe, who share different options for change. Their...

Duration: 00:22:58

What Can We Do With Our Dead?

Cemeteries around the world are fast running out of space. As more and more people choose to live in cities, some can't even cope with the ashes left after cremation. Deep questions about our communities, cultures and mortality emerge as The Inquiry asks: what can we do with our dead? (image: A crowded cemetery in Hong Kong. Photo credit: Dale De La Rey/Getty Images.)

Duration: 00:23:48

How has the Ku Klux Klan lasted so long?

North America’s most notorious racist group, the Ku Klux Klan fought the end of slavery in the 19th century, opposed civil rights in the 20th century and now forms part of a new extreme-right wing movement protesting openly, on America’s streets. Presented by James Fletcher and produced by Kate Lamble, The Inquiry asks four expert witnesses to answer this pressing question; how has the KKK managed to last so long? The answer can be found by looking at the origins of the KKK and the power...

Duration: 00:22:58

Are Video Games a Waste of Time?

Video games are a huge industry, bigger than Hollywood, and billions of people around the world play them for fun. But new economic research in the US suggests that young men are dropping out of work to play games more. This is both because some jobs are becoming harder to find and less rewarding, and because video games are becoming more and more attractive. The gamers say they are happy, but the research has sharpened long-standing concerns about video games. Will there be a 'lost...

Duration: 00:24:30

How Do You Fix Someone Else's Election?

Smears, bots and bags of cash - we reveal some of the tricks used for fiddling elections around the world. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's security chiefs say Russian intelligence is actively trying to influence next month's German elections. Meanwhile, from the US to the Netherlands, countries are becoming increasingly wary of election interference. So how do you fix someone else’s election? Hear answers from people who've studied it and even been involved. Presenter: Neal Razzell...

Duration: 00:23:30

Are South Africa's Police Failing?

A story of crime and often no punishment. South Africa's notoriously violent record has been getting worse. The number of murders and violent crimes is rising as public confidence in the police falls. Officers themselves have been linked to a series of high-profile cases, including spectacular heists at the country's main international airport. South Africa's police minister has called for "a firmer, disciplined force". So, are South Africa's police failing? (image: A riot police officer...

Duration: 00:23:13

Who Gets to Have Their Own Country?

There are plenty of people out there who want their own state - like in Iraqi Kurdistan and Catalonia, which both have independence referendums coming up. Yet the national governments in Baghdad and Madrid say the votes - whatever their outcome - won't result in new countries. So how do you start a new country? We examine the principles, agreed by a world emerging from the devastation of global conflict, behind the creation of nation states. With an atlas dotted with exceptions, special...

Duration: 00:23:33

What Would War With North Korea Look Like?

Alarm about North Korea has spiked. Earlier this month, the North claimed to have successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit Alaska. Some experts estimate that North Korea is now 18 to 36 months away from launching a missile able to reach Los Angeles. President Trump has warned that a "major, major conflict" with North Korea is possible. His closest advisers have said that "the era of strategic patience is over". So, in this week's Inquiry, we take a...

Duration: 00:23:19

Is it Time to Ban the Plastic Bottle?

Every single second, 20,000 single-use drinking bottles are sold around the world. That is more than a million pieces of non-biodegradable rubbish produced every minute. And as demand grows in developing economies, so will the mountains of waste, with much of it ending up in the ocean. We learn how the invention of the plastic bottle spawned an industry that has quickly got us hooked. We hear the consequences of our addiction from the man who has dedicated his life to The Great Pacific...

Duration: 00:23:35

Is Gene Editing Out of Control?

"This structure has novel features, which are of considerable biological interest." It was perhaps the greatest understatement of all time - the announcement more than six decades ago of the discovery of the shape of a single human DNA. The double-helix structure is now one of the world's most recognisable icons. Knowledge of it has transformed the fight against everything from disease to crime. That revolution was brought to us by an elite. It took the world's most eminent scientists,...

Duration: 00:23:15

What's So Special About Qatar?

The tiny state behind a global diplomatic feud. Qatar's landmass is so small it could fit into the UK 20 times over. Its citizen population is just a few hundred thousand. Yet this desert country finds itself at the centre of a geopolitical dispute, with its powerful neighbour Saudi Arabia leading a blockade against it and President Donald Trump firing off critical Tweets. So how did this bantam-weight state end up slogging it out with the world's heavyweights? In other words, what's so...

Duration: 00:23:17

Have We Always Felt This Tired?

“Humans are the only species that willingly deprive themselves from sleep”. Ever since fire was discovered, we have traded off sleep time for other activities - from creating stone tools to partying. As our technology progressed, the list of things to do rather than sleep just got longer. But with sleep deprivation now a growing health problem, could we be reaching our limits? Or is tiredness part of our condition? In this week’s programme, an evolutionary biologist, a historian and a...

Duration: 00:23:27

Why Does China Want to Revive the Silk Road?

China is currently developing the biggest infrastructure initiative of all time. Called the Belt and Road initiative, the trillion dollar plans involve working with other Asian countries to build hundreds of new roads, high speed trains, ports and pipelines across continent to mimic the ancient Silk Road trading routes. The project offers a clear economic opportunity, but the diplomatic ties that form as a result could have the potential to change the current world order. Presenter: Ruth...

Duration: 00:23:12

Is the Greatest Threat to Putin Really Alexei Navalny?

On 12 June 2017 thousands of protesters took to the streets in over 160 towns and cities across Russia. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny called on people to march against corruption from Kaliningrad in the west to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in the east, in bustling cities and significantly, in rural towns where support for President Putin is strong. This is unusual. Protests are usually restricted to the urban elites in Moscow. So who is Navalny and how has he managed to bring so many people out on...

Duration: 00:22:57

How Do You Report Terrorism?

When violent jihadis struck London last Saturday, the rolling news networks kicked quickly into action. The story became front-page news around the world and dominated the UK's news media for days, with ever more information on the attack, the victims and the perpetrators. It was shocking, horrific - and perhaps also exactly what the terrorists wanted. Terrorists rely on the world's media to spread their message of fear and their ideology. Maybe if there was less media coverage of such...

Duration: 00:23:10

Is Work Too Easy?

Many of us find our jobs stressful, underpaid and the hours too long. But few would complain about work being less physically strenuous than in the past. And yet, new research shows that the decline in physical activity at work is key to explaining the obesity epidemic. So - is work now too easy? And if it is, can this be reversed? Producers: Estelle Doyle and Phoebe Keane Presenter: Michael Blastland (Photo: Office workers at desks using computers in an office. Credit: Getty Images)

Duration: 00:23:09

Does Poverty Change The Way We Think?

Does the experience of poverty actually take a physical toll on your brain? The Inquiry investigates the scientific claims that being poor affects how our brains work. It's well known that children from poorer backgrounds do worse at school. And adults who are poor are often criticised for making bad life decisions - ones that don't help them in the long-term. Some say the problems are rooted in the unfair way our society functions. Others argue it's simple genetics. But a growing body of...

Duration: 00:23:28

How Did Immigration Stop Being a Political Taboo in the UK?

Brexit showed that the issue is now among the most important for British voters. And that’s likely to continue in June’s UK general election, as major parties have made their positions on immigration central to their campaigns. And yet for decades, immigration was a no-go area for mainstream debate. Following racial tensions in the 1960s, it came to be perceived as a proxy for racism. Today it is one of the most salient issues in British politics. What changed? Producer: Estelle Doyle...

Duration: 00:23:20

How Did Venezuela Go From So Rich To So Poor?

Once the richest country in South America, Venezuela is now in deep economic crisis. Children in school are fainting from hunger; patients are dying from the lack of basic medicine. As prices spiral out of control, cash is carried not in wallets, but in backpacks. Street protests over the crisis are growing in size and frequency - and the government's response becoming ever more authoritarian. Yet in 1970, Venezuela was among the wealthiest countries in the world. It was held up as a beacon...

Duration: 00:23:23

How did North Korea get the Bomb?

Tensions between the US and North Korea are running high. Kim Jong-Un has been testing long-range missiles and nuclear weapons. The Trump administration wants Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons programmes and has said “all of our options are on the table” in pursuit of that goal. North Korea has said that a "super mighty pre-emptive strike” is planned if the US uses military force against them. But – our question this week – how did this poor and isolated country develop nuclear weapons in...

Duration: 00:23:13

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