Now What: The World's Biggest Problems, Humanity's Most Creative Solutions

Now What is a series I've wanted to do for a while now, mostly because I found myself asking that question at the end of a bunch of stories I've covered over the years. I honestly wanted to know what, if anything, could be done about a lot of these big, ongoing struggles -- with climate change, with homelessness, with food production, etc.

So each week, Now What is going to explore one of those big problems in the first half of the show, and then try to get some answers by spending time with people working on really innovative solutions in the second half of the show.

In the first episode, we took a trip to the Madre de Dios region of Peru, where a massive surge of illegal gold mining is decimating the rainforest. There are some dedicated conservationists trying to protect the land, but in reality they're playing a losing game of whack-a-mole. The mining camps pop up fast and frequently, and the folks trying to stop them are patrolling dense forests on foot and with a couple small boats. It's an admirable effort, but ultimately a losing battle.

But in the second half of the episode, we meet a grad student from Wake Forest who has formed an alliance with the local Peruvian conservationists to help them out, using a simple bit of technology to put some tools at their disposal. It's not going to eradicate illegal mining of course, but the impact will be massive, and has potential to help far beyond Peru.

And that's something you'll find throughout this series. We certainly don't claim to have all the answers, nor do the folks we meet. But there is a huge amount of hope that comes with seeing some new thinking and approaches, and meeting some really smart, dedicated people who are invigorated, not intimidated, by big problems -- and that's what Now What aims to do.

Enjoy our first episode -- we're super proud of it. We've got new ones coming up every Thursday, and if you've got ideas for future episodes, we'd love to hear them. Thanks for watching.