The Inquiry gets beyond the headlines to explore the trends, forces and ideas shaping the world.
Could Covid-19 have come from a lab leak?
For the last year discussions about the origins of Covid-19 have divided people all over the world. Some say it came from nature and others believe it could have escaped from a lab. The idea of a lab accident was originally dismissed as a conspiracy theory but it’s starting to gain attention all over again.
Now President Biden has given the US intelligence service 90 days to try and investigate the virus's origins further.
Many still believe the virus jumped to humans from animals but some say that we need to be open minded until we have all of the data.
But could Covid-19 really have come from a lab?
Presenter: Kavita Puri
Producer: Olivia Noon
Researcher: Kirsteen Knight
(Virus research in a lab. Tek Science/Getty images)
Belarus: Can President Lukashenko be overthrown?
Over his 26 years in power, Belarus’s president Alexander Lukashenko has taken more and more control.
He has detained protesters and tortured political opponents for years. He is emboldened by his last ally in Europe - Vladimir Putin. And his regime of terror is spilling over into the continent.
But, Tanya Beckett asks if Europe’s last dictator can cling on to power for much longer.
Produced by Soila Apparicio.
(image: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at a meeting with Commonwealth of Independent States officials in Minsk May 28 2021. Credit: Dmitry Astakhov/Getty Images)
Do we need more nuclear power to help deal with climate change?
In November 2021, Britain will host the next UN Climate Change Conference, otherwise known as COP 26. Some 200 countries will come together to try to speed up attempts to make the world carbon neutral by the middle of the century.
But many countries are already struggling to ramp up renewable energy sufficiently to meet their greenhouse emission reduction targets. So is there another answer out there?
Around a tenth of the world's electricity is generated by nuclear reactors. Global generation has slowed in recent years after the nuclear accident in Fukushima a decade ago prompted governments to take a more cautious stance.
But with the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions, many prominent environmentalists are now taking another look at nuclear energy.
Tanya Beckett asks if nuclear energy can helps us transition away from fossil fuel power.
Produced by Soila Apparicio.
(Exhaust plumes from cooling towers at the coal-fired power station at Jaenschwalde Germany. Credit: Sean Gallup /Getty Images)
What are NFTs and are they really the next big thing?
In 2005 a photo of four-year-old Zoë Roth standing in front of a burning house went viral on the internet. It became a meme known as “disaster girl”. In April 2021, the image sold for $473,000 as an NFT, or non-fungible token - that’s sort of a digital record of ownership.
And the sales keep coming. Another NFT recently sold for $69 million. The first ever Tweet went for a huge $2.9 million … and a GIF of a pixelated rainbow cat sold for $690,000.
But what is an NFT, and is it really the next big thing? Suzanne Kianpour explores the world of NFT’s.
Produced by Soila Apparicio and Olivia Noon.
(CryptoPunk digital art NFT displayed on a digital billboard in Times Square NY City, May 12 2021. Credit: Alexi Rosenfeld /Getty Images)
Why are murder rates in Chicago so high?
History and geography have conspired to give the city of Chicago an unenviable reputation for guns and gangs, but what will it take to bring the murder rate, which rose 55 per cent last year, down?
Low conviction rates and an unwillingness on behalf of witnesses to give evidence play their part in the problem. But others think the time has come to treat murder like any other deadly disease that afflicts the poor.
Charmaine Cozier examines the reasons for the city’s stubbornly high murder rate and the options to stop the killing.
Produced by Nathan Gower.
(a small flag depicting bullet holes at an anti-gun violence march in Chicago Dec.31 2020. Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski /Getty Images)
Will the Taliban rule Afghanistan again?
In the afternoon of Saturday 8th May in the Afghan capital of Kabul, just a few days before the end of Ramadan, students from the Syed Al-Shahda girls school were starting to leave for the day. Without any warning, a car bomb went off. Then a second explosion, followed by a third.
The Afghan Government blamed the Taliban, the hardline Islamist movement that has fought a long civil war in Afghanistan. The Taliban, although they have previously targeted the education of girls, denied it and blamed the Islamic State Group.
Things were supposed to be getting better in this war torn country.
Earlier this year President Joe Biden announced US troops were going to be removed in September. But what will happen after they’ve gone?
Produced by Rob Cave and Soila Apparicio.
(Taliban militia move towards the front line in Kabul, February 1995. Credit: Saeed Khan /Getty Images)
Food for the brain
This podcast is so interesting because it breaks down big issues into one question, reviews it with experts and concludes an answer. I really enjoy listening because it is well structured and easy to understand. Nevertheless, it is not oversimplifying things and always good for thought-provoking.
Since my husband died 3 years ago, podcasts have become my friends and constant companions - out walking, cycling commuting, at night, driving... They are compelling listening and there’s a different one for different moods. I love the cheekiness of Crowd Science, the gravitas and articulation of The Documentary, The Inquiry and The Real Story (though I miss its predecessor Newshour Extra and Owen Bennet Jones’ voice), with their ability to bring in outside people as witnesses and experts. BBC podcasts are the best of them all - more insightful, varied and believable. I know because I listen to French and Spanish ones too. Not a patch.
A rare review, and its 5/5
I listen to A LOT of podcasts- have since nearly “the beginning” - and rarely have I felt obliged to write such a positive review.
Excellent journalism; well produced/packaged.
So grateful to the BBC.