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The history of disease is really a story about humankind’s ever-changing relationship to the natural world. All of the momentous events in human history— the acquisition of fire, the development of farming, the Columbian exchange, rapid industrialization, and accelerated globalization— all coincide with exposure to emerging new diseases. In a way, …
 
Humans have been shaping the course of evolution for a long time, but with today's gene editing technologies our power to determine the fate of life on Earth is reaching new levels. With the extinction crisis looming, should we use these new editing tools to rescue threatened organisms? Are we playing god? In her new book, Life As We Made It, Beth …
 
All around the globe, biologists are discovering that organisms are ALREADY responding to climate change. They're moving, adapting, evolving, taking refuge – the whole darned thing is more unpredictable than we could've imagined. Climate change biology is here. Super weird, kind of a bummer, but also at times pretty fascinating. Stay curious, my fr…
 
We all kinda know that the global waste stream is a crazy big problem, but, in terms of just bottom line dollars, most of the time we don’t think about what waste COSTS. So, where might there be big opportunities today to totally rethink everything we throw away? In today’s episode, Ron Gonen answers that question and paints a picture of the past, …
 
Today is a guest spot featuring Episode 1 of Carbon Valley, a new series from Wyoming Public Media. In the coal capital of the country, in the least-populated state in the union, leaders had to make a move. So, they turned to a silver bullet and brought in a $20 million competition to jumpstart a new era for coal country. Along the way, an unlikely…
 
Few things in life are better than savoring delicious food. We all know this to be true today... but we've never stopped to consider just how important flavor-seeking might've been in the distant past. It turns out that the science of flavor can teach us a lot about the story of human evolution, and how we might reign in our rapacious appetites as …
 
Climate change sometimes feels like a problem that can only be solved by governments, corporations, and large sectors of the economy. The truth, though, is that we as individuals can make an impact too. And, as it turns out, it's not all sacrifice. In her new book, Under the Sky We Make, Professor Kim Nicholas of Lund University explores the humani…
 
At some point global warming will get so bad that the world will HAVE to take action, right? Well, maybe not. In this conversation with environmental journalist, David Roberts, we dive into the scary reality of shifting baselines syndrome. That's the human tendency to rationalize, normalize, and otherwise brush stuff under the rug. Along the way we…
 
Are you afraid of the end of the world? Sure! Who isn’t?! Sometimes, though, it’s hard to unpack all the stories we tell ourselves about the looming apocalypse. So perhaps the most popular monster of the 21st century, the freakin’ ZOMBIE, can help us unearth and confront our collective fears. Let’s do this. See you in the graveyard at midnight!…
 
When I fell in love with geology, I developed a new relationship with TIME. It’s not just the vastness of Earth history that blew my mind— it’s imagining all that’s happened, all that’s transpired to make the Earth what it is today. In her book, Timefulness, Marcia Bjornerud captures this idea as well as anyone I’ve ever met. I had to talk to her. …
 
When you imagine ocean sounds, maybe you hear the smooth arcing songs of the humpback whale, or the energetic, rhythmic clicks and snaps of dolphins. But it turns out the oceans are home to a much wider range and diversity of sounds than we could ever imagine, and today some of them are being captured by hydrophones (underwater microphones). In thi…
 
Two stories of ecological disruption: the great sea star wasting, and a graveyard of trembling aspens. As climate change unfolds, one of the scariest prospects is that we will witness large scale ecosystem collapse. So is that moment already upon us? Will we be able to recognize the symptoms in time, and do we have enough information to take steps …
 
Sea level rise is a global concern, and on the whole, policy and funding for mitigation aren’t keeping pace. Today on Gen Anthro, producer Isha Salian shares a story about a unique mitigation method in the San Francisco Bay Area – wetlands restoration, which is happening right next door to Silicon Valley’s biggest tech campuses. The Bay Area has a …
 
What will New York City look like in 2140? Scifi author Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest novel explores a possible future in which NYC is partly submerged, due to catastrophic sea level rise. In this conversation with producer Mike Osborne, KSR discusses the bedrock of science and economics in 'New York 2140,' his writing process for the novel, and of…
 
Once upon a time, Miles crashed a server with his project ‘Geology of Game of Thrones’. Today on the show, we're featuring a short piece in which Miles shares the backstory to the project (and the server hullaballoo), as well as the connection he sees between ‘Geology of GoT’ and the Anthropocene. Today’s episode was produced by Eileen Williams of …
 
Capitalocene – maybe it doesn’t roll off the tongue, but a group of thinkers argue the term is preferable to Anthropocene because it's more diagnostic of what underlies our environmental problems. One of those thinkers is Christian Parenti, a reporter and scholar. In 2011 Parenti published ‘Tropic of Chaos,’ a book about the connections between cli…
 
We hear a lot in the news about the Antarctic ice sheet melting – but other than climate change, it’s hard to imagine what else threatens a place so cold, so remote, and so seemingly barren. What other ecological protection could the southern continent possibly need? But Antarctica is...a really weird place. No single country “owns” or governs Anta…
 
How is climate change going to affect national security and the work of our armed forces? On today’s show, Admiral Lee Gunn shares his perspective on this overlooked topic. Now retired from the Navy, Admiral Gunn has been working on connections between climate and military intervention for many years. In this conversation, he discusses the implicat…
 
‘Trump on Earth’ is a new podcast about the environment under the Trump administration. They’re doing a fantastic job keeping tabs on policy changes coming out of Washington, so today on Gen Anthro, we want to feature one of their episodes – an interview with renowned climate scientist Michael Mann. Back in March, Mann testified before the House Sc…
 
How do cultural constructs, like race, influence our relationship to the natural world? Poet and professor Camille Dungy explores this question by highlighting African-American voices in her 2009 anthology, “Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry.” In this conversation with producer Jackson Roach, Camille shares her perspect…
 
In the pursuit of justice, Superman leaps tall buildings in a single bound; Ironman uses incredible technology to defeat evil forces; and Batman outfits himself with everything a flying-vigilante-mammal needs to fight the corrupt underbelly of Gotham City. In their own way, every superhero is trying to make the planet a better place for us mere hum…
 
Are you a vegetarian, a vegan, or a lapsed vegetarian? Do you eat meat and feel a little conflicted about it? No matter where you fall on the spectrum, Paul Shapiro wants to welcome you into the conversation around animal agriculture. Shapiro is an animal rights activist and the Vice President of Policy for the Humane Society of the United States. …
 
One word: PLASTICS! Plastics get a bad rep when it comes to the environment, but at the same time, we all benefit from this often maligned material. Today on the show, producer Miles Traer talks to materials scientist Odile Madden of the Smithsonian. What plastic artifacts define the modern era, and what should we preserve in museums? Are we in the…
 
Today, Ginkgo biloba is a common street tree, found in cities all over the world. But believe it or not, it was once almost lost to extinction. This once global tree retreated into a tiny relic community, only found in a few valleys in China. But about 1,000 years ago, humans discovered ginkgo, thought it was beautiful and useful, and began to cult…
 
What if you you could scoop up a jar of seawater and use it to figure out what species were in that part of the ocean? Today we’re able to do that with a new scientific technique analyzing environmental DNA, or eDNA for short. In this episode, we talk to Ryan Kelly, an ecologist and lawyer at the forefront of eDNA research, about the technique itse…
 
Humans are a force radically reshaping the Earth’s surface – but what forces are shaping homo sapiens? Today on the show, we feature two stories. First we look at ongoing human evolution and genetic mutations (btw, we are still evolving). Our second piece is about a human and animal instinct that we rarely think about – the impulse to play. More on…
 
John Holdren was President Obama’s senior advisor on science and technology for eight years. In this conversation with producer Mike Osborne, Holdren discusses Obama’s passion for science and its role in all aspects of American life. He also tells us what it’s like to testify in front of Congress, which he calls “piñata day” (it sounds fun...until …
 
Today: border critters and beaked whales. Two stories about human actions disrupting the ecosystems and lives of other animals with whom we share the planet. First, a tale of how the U.S. Navy’s sonar activities created an acoustic storm in the Great Bahama Canyon, impacting a population of remarkable, rare whales. Second, we brush the dust off a o…
 
WE’RE BACK! I mean, OMG, right?! And it’s our 5th podcast birthday! So, on the eve of the Science March, we’re kicking off the new season with an interview featuring Jonathan Foley, Museum Director of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. In this conversation, Foley explores the role of museums in educating the Ame…
 
Andy Revkin is an award-winning journalist whose life work has centered on reporting about the environment and climate change. He spoke to producer Mike Osborne about his early seafaring adventures, how he got his start in journalism, and his view that climate change is a symptom of a much bigger story about our species coming of age on a finite pl…
 
"What if life isn't something that happens *on* a planet, but is something that happens *to* a planet? What if the planet itself is alive?" Thus begins one of the many intriguing thought exercises in astrobiologist David Grinspoon's new book, Earth in Human Hands (available Dec. 6, 2016). David has long been a friend of the show, in large part beca…
 
Sometime in the near geological future, the landscape of life on earth as we know it will be transformed. It’s a mass extinction, and it’s only happened five times before in Earth’s history. There have been severe ice ages, perplexing loses of oxygen from our oceans, massive volcanic eruptions, meteor impacts. And now, we’re on the precipice of a s…
 
Food security may be the most important issue we’ll face in the coming decades. With global population on the rise and a changing climate, the future of food is greatly uncertain. These realities have prompted some scientists to start looking at crops that might be well suited to these global changes, foods that are drought resistant and nutritiona…
 
How did life begin on Earth? Curiously, scientists often search for the answer on other planets or moons in our solar system. After all, if we want to see whether our theories are right, we need to find another example of life somewhere. The search has taken us to some strange places seemingly frozen in time that give us hints to what Earth looked …
 
This week we bring you an intergenerational conversation featuring David Suzuki, who is a Canadian scientist, activist, and media figure. Since the 1970s, Suzuki has hosted both radio and television shows about the natural world and environmental issues. A self-described “elder,” Suzuki shares his views and long-term perspective on environmentalism…
 
“In Asia or Africa around 60 million years ago, snakes became more venomous, though scientists aren't quite sure why then and there.” Sometimes understanding global environmental change requires that we simply know how nature works. And not just the pleasant side of nature, but all of it. When we look back through the wonders of Darwinian evolution…
 
One of the best tales of all time from geologic history is the story of the meteor impact that killed the dinosaurs. As it turns out, though, there are still many unanswered questions about what exactly happened the moment the meteor connected with our planet. In fact, until recently, scientists had yet to collect sediment cores from the center of …
 
Humans have been altering the climate for a long time – but how long, exactly? This question is central to the Anthropocene debate. When did the human population collectively achieve colossal power that can be equated with geologic power? Was it at the start of the Industrial Revolution? Back during the Agricultural Revolution? And how on earth do …
 
A trendy outfit has never been cheaper than it is today. Not only that, the fashion industry is churning out new styles so quickly that the entire phenomenon has been dubbed fast fashion. The industry includes retailers like H&M, Forever 21, Zara, and even Target and Walmart. Of course, it’s only natural that we love finding the latest styles at af…
 
There are billions of microbes both in and on our bodies. These invisible organisms form complex ecosystems, which are passed on to us as infants through breast milk, help digest food in our guts, and may even be correlated with a growing list of health conditions like obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome, and autism. It’s no exaggeration to say that …
 
We tend to think of the world in terms of our relationship with it: as individuals, communities, civilizations. It’s harder to think about the Earth before a textual record, before human history. This week, we dive into deep time with paleoclimatologist Page Chamberlain. What did the Western United States look like in the Cenozoic Era? How do the R…
 
The solenodon: a venomous, shrew-like mammal, found only in the Caribbean, that has survived for millions of years by hiding underground. Even the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago couldn’t kill this hardy little creature. But after surviving for so long, after outliving the freakin’ DINOSAURS, the solenodon is now threatened…
 
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