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Devastating Floods in Italy; Efforts to Save Endangered Species on Ecuador`s Galapagos Islands; Do Plants Get Stressed Out? Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired May 18, 2023 - 04:00   ET


COY WIRE, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Hello, friends. Happy Friday Eve. It`s Thursday, May 18. Let`s keep it going strong. We`re almost at the end of the week.

And let`s make this a random thought Thursday, shall we? What word actually becomes shorter when you add two letters to it?

Now, if you know the answer, keep it to yourself. If not, think about it. Ruminate and debate, and I`ll give you the answer at the end of the show.

I`m Coy Wire. This is CNN 10. And we begin overseas where we`re seeing heavy flooding in Italy.

Officials say at least five people have been killed and over 5000 residents have been forced to be evacuated from their homes after extreme flooding

and mudslides hit the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna.

This region actually was suffering a prolonged drought, but it`s under red alert, meaning it`s the highest-level warning or state of emergency for

life threatening weather events. The situation is getting dire as more rain is expected. A total of 600 firefighters have been deployed from all over

the country to assist with evacuation efforts in the region after one of its rivers burst its banks. Officials, they`re advising residents there to

take the utmost caution.

Formula One has even announced the cancellation of this weekend`s Grand Prix event there because of heavy flooding in the region. Citing safety

concerns. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni tweeted on Tuesday evening, extending her total sympathy to those affected by the flooding, adding that

the government stands, "ready to intervene with the necessary aid." CNN`s Barbie Latza Nadeau has more for us from Italy.


BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Roads turn to rivers as rain many hoped would alleviate drought conditions. Now a serious threat in the

central Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. There are already victims. And rescuers are searching for the missing. Hundreds of people were rescued

from flooded homes, many brought to safety and rubber dinghies on flooded streets. More than 5000 people are under evacuation, according to the civil

protection, the region had been undergoing severe drought.

In 2022, low rainfall and extreme heat depleted the river Po a crucial waterway for transport and irrigation. A winter with very little snow did

little to help. And as bad as these floods are, they are only a drop in the bucket for what is needed to reverse the drought. Earlier this month, a

downpour swelled the Po by 5 feet. This deluge of water will raise it even more, but it is still well below average.

Extreme weather events are threatening other Italian regions from Venice, where the MOSE floodgates have been raised to protect the city from high

water, to Sicily, where heavy storms down trees and flooded homes. Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN, Rome.


WIRE: Ten second trivia.

Charles Darwin`s theory of evolution was inspired by a trip to what group of islands?

Hawaiian Islands, British Isles, Galapagos Islands or the Florida Keys?

An Ecuadorian archipelago, the Galapagos Islands inspired the theory of evolution following Darwin`s trip there in 1835.

The Galapagos Islands are known for their rich biodiversity and stunning wildlife with endangered species. But many of the species on the islands

are now in need of protection. Our Lynda Kinkade reports on how Ecuador has started a new program called Debt-For-Nature to help fund conservation



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Darwin`s flycatcher, a creature that helped inspire Darwin`s theory on evolution 188 years ago, sits

perched on the edge of extinction. The small bird species native to Ecuador`s Galapagos Island chain is dwindling in number.

On the island of Santa Cruz, just 15 adult pears remain. Yet scientists see a glimmer of hope in the past year, 12 new chicks were hatched, a sign that

the species will live on to fight another day.

For now, this tiny comeback is helping to spur efforts to protect the rich biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands. These islands are at a perilous

crossroads. According to researchers, a million plants and animals worldwide are at risk of extinction from habitat destruction, rising carbon

emissions and overfishing.

As biodiversity declines worldwide, the Galapagos Islands are a litmus test. To protect this precious ecosystem, Ecuador announced a record

setting deal to convert $1.6 billion of its debt into a loan it says would channel at least $12 million a year to conserving the Galapagos.

JOSE ANTONIO DAVALOS, ECUADORIAN ENVIRONMENT MINISTER (through translator): Not only will it allow us to protect 2500 marine species, of which 38 are

migratory, but it will also allow us to move towards a sustainable fishery.

KINKADE: It is one of the largest debt for conservation swaps in history. Over the next two decades, Ecuador hopes to channel over $450 million

towards protecting one of the most incredible ecosystems on the planet, a move that some say is crucial not just for the environment, but for

Ecuador`s survival.

ELIZABETH SALINAS, TRADER (through translator): It seems to me that we must help maintain the flora and fauna and thus attract tourism, which is what

keeps the country alive.

KINKADE: In late 2022, nearly 190 nations signed on to take measures to combat biodiversity loss, passing a U.N. agreement that pledges to preserve

30% of the world`s land and seas by 2030. Ambitious measures that conservation groups say do not go far enough.

Meanwhile, some environmentalists hope Ecuador`s debt for conservation model gains momentum in other parts of the world as a win-win for both

economies and for conservation efforts. Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


WIRE: Now, this next story is going to make you think twice the next time you see a plant. Did you know that plants actually make sounds that are

undetectable to the human ear? That`s right. And according to a new study, our seemingly silent green friends actually make noises when they`re

thirsty or when they`re under some kind of stress. Where do you hear this?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those everyday house plants sitting on your windowsill are more like us than we thought. New research shows they even get stressed

and are vocal about it. Listen to this. These popping sounds come from a stressed tomato plant. To record this, scientists use ultrasonic

microphones that detect frequencies human ears can`t. The audio is then sped up and edited so we can hear it. Researchers are unsure why plants

make these sounds, but we do know that plants can detect certain sounds as well.

RICHARD KARBAN, ENTOMOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS: Plants have been reported to respond to the sounds of bees, to produce sweeter nectar,

and also chewing sounds of caterpillars feeding on their leaves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For example, watch this mustard plant react to a cabbage caterpillar chewing on its leaves by releasing an internal wave of


KARBAN: Some of these electrical responses are not too dissimilar to the electrical responses that occur in nerve cells of animals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Plants then become more resistant or less preferred by insects. Scientists say that these defenses are passed down to plants

offspring through their seeds. And it`s not just their progeny. Plants can even recognize and help other family members.

KARBAN: We don`t know how this works, but when plants encounter the roots of their relatives as opposed to the roots of strangers, they have been

found to grow less and as a result, to compete less for resources like water and soil nutrients.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of these abilities are tied to plants fight for survival. But contrary to what some plant lovers may think, a plant

survival doesn`t appear to be affected by talking to or playing it music.

KARBAN: My guess is that if you care enough to talk to your plant, you`re probably paying attention to how it`s doing, what kinds of conditions it`s

experiencing. And that`s probably a good thing.


WIRE: Now, if you don`t have any qualms about walking past storm drains along the sidewalk, this next story getting a 10 out of 10 might make you

think twice. A mysterious creature is lurking in the pipes underground, seen by stormwater crews in Oviedo, Florida, with a robotic camera. At

first they think it`s a salamander or a frog, but then, that`s a gator, dude. And we`re talking about a five-foot-long gator. The robot could only

follow the prehistoric looking beast for about 340 feet before the bot got stuck, and it was see you later, alligator. Wonder where that thing is.

All right. So many great Your Word Wednesday submissions yesterday. And the winner is Mary from St. Isidore School in Quakertown, Pennsylvania for

qualm, a noun that`s an uneasy feeling of doubt, worry or fear, especially about one`s own conduct. Well done.

And as for that random thought Thursday, what word actually becomes shorter when you add two letters to it? The word is short it becomes shorter when

you add two letters.

Our special shout out is going to southern Utah today. Parowan High School in Parowan. We see you, rise up, everyone, and make it an awesome day. I`m

Coy Wire and we are CNN 10.