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(16 Sept 2015) Google Autofill: Are Climate Scientists…?
Over the course of our show, we’ve recorded quite a few interviews covering climate change, from abrupt climate shifts, to sea level rise, to the link between climate and human conflict, to how food systems are responding to warmer temperatures, to climate change on other planets… the list goes on.  But one thing we haven’t done?  We haven’t tackled the most queried questions on Google about climate scientists themselves.  Yep, that’s right. It’s time for another installation of Miles attempts to answer Google Autofill’s questions.  Using Google, I typed “are climate scientists” followed by every letter of the alphabet and tried to answer the resulting auto-completed question.  This time around, I had a little help from some amazing climate scientists (and contributors to our show) Katharine Hayhoe and Kaustubh ThirumalaiREAD MORE…

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(2 June 2015) Google Autofill: Are Geologists…?
As we kick off this new season of Generation Anthropocene, I thought that I’d take some time to answer some of the most queried questions on Google about geologists.  Specifically, I tackled the question, “Are geologists…” followed by every letter of the alphabet and the resulting autofill question.  Unsurprisingly, some of the letters hadn’t been searched enough for autofill to work.  And yet, some letters yielded some of the strangest questions I’ve ever heard about geologists.  Without further ado, here are my attempts at answers. READ MORE…

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(9 June 2014) The Naked Elements: A tale of two men and geology on the roof of the world
I’m sitting in a warm room wearing flannel pajamas with a hot meal in my belly when the title card on the movie fades and the 90-year-old film begins to flicker.  The circular aperture is neatly divided along a diagonal line: the top featureless white, the bottom textured rough and grey – both ghostly.  Darker striations run across the grey, further broken by white snow that looks like a child’s finger painting flecked with white and black dots.  It’s only after several seconds that I notice that a few flecks of black are moving along the border between the white and grey, moving higher along the diagonal.  Another title card appears and informs me that these tiny flecks are men, and the striated and speckled grey is Mount Everest as she appeared in 1924, on the eve of one of the most famous disappearances in mountaineering history. READ MORE…

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(8 Apr 2014) The Geology of Game of Thrones
This is Westeros as it exists in the days of tumult, in the days following the death of King Robert Baratheon, in the shortening days that warn that winter is coming.  But this is also the geologic history of Westeros, reaching far deeper through the annals of time than the reign of any of the Seven Kingdoms.  We pieced this geologic history together from character observations, town names, official Game of Thrones maps, and the principles of geology learned here on Earth.  Using only limited data we were able to reimagine 500 million years of planetary evolution, including volcanoes, continents rising from the oceans, and ice ages (with guest appearance by white walkers and dragons).  To explore the history, and to view our maps of the geologic reconstructions, click the numbered icons on the map, or on the links below. READ MORE… 

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(13 August 2013) What happened to the middle of the GMO debate?
The debate surrounding genetically modified organisms, often called GMOs, is an absolute mess.  A huge part of the argument stems from genetically modified foods.  Some people trumpet GM wheat and corn for its drought resistance and ability to feed more people in parts of the world that desperately need food.  Others point to unwanted side effects like the creation of super-weeds and the potential loss of biodiversity as reasons to be wary of this new technology. But what drove my desire to do a GMO story for Generation Anthropocene was something entirely different and was born from two intertwined questions: how did the GMO discussion become so polarized and why does it continue to feel like the topic of GMOs doesn’t allow for a middle ground? READ MORE…

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(4 August 2013) Episode #65 blog: Back to Anthropocene basics
Here’s a moment of honesty from behind the scenes at Gen Anthro: although we had heard wonderful things about Eric Lambin, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy his interview. My skepticism stemmed from the topic of his research – land use change. Sounds really important, but kind of boring, right? I thought the takeaway points from an episode about land use change would probably be predictable, and not very compelling. Humans change the land. There are some negative consequences from this. Cue outro music.

As the oracle bones prophesized, I wasn’t sold on the first listen to the interview tape. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, after I had done two or three rounds of edits on the audio, that I thought, Hang on a second. This interview might actually be awesome, because land use change is the most basic Anthropocene concept out there. Our podcast has been running for over a year; how have we not covered land use change until now?! READ MORE…

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(18 June 2013) Four geologists that nature just couldn’t kill
Most of the epic survival stories you’ve read probably involve crazy mountain climbers, adventurous cave divers, or bearded and grizzled desert hikers.  Scientists aren’t typically mentioned in this company.  But sometimes, geologists find themselves enduring nature’s worst in the pursuit of that must-have dataset… or at least, a dataset that seemed really important at the time.  Here are three stories about four geologists who found themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time when nature removed her flowery veil and donned her murder hat.  But before I get into those, it needs to be said that people perished during the events of some of these stories.  Given that, please consider this a celebration of the perseverance, luck, good fortune, and bad-assery of those who survived.  READ MORE…

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(11 June 2013) How am I supposed to answer, “Are we screwed?”
As a climate scientist in training, the most common question I get from my non-science friends is this: “So, are we just, like… screwed?” That’s it. That’s the question I get. Are we screwed?

It took a while for me to get comfortable with this question, and, at first, I had no idea how to react. This is a really interesting question to be asked. It’s vague, full of fear, and totally lacking any nuance whatsoever. Actually, if I’m honest with myself, it’s the question that drove me to become a climate scientist in the first place. Ten years ago I walked away from college thinking, “The planet is screwed, we’re all screwed. Or, at least I think we’re screwed. But wait…are we really screwed? Maybe not. Shoot, I don’t know. I don’t have enough information here. I’ll go back to school.”   READ MORE…

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(11 June 2013) The crazy history of 3 ridiculous geologic theories
Science is constantly reinventing itself, revising past theories and proposing new ideas that hopefully further our understanding of the world.  Copernicus proposed the heliocentric solar system, Newton had gravity, and Einstein gave us relativity.  But every once in a while, a theory gets proposed that’s downright nutty.  Not only that, some of these theories can persist for decades or even centuries.  As these ridiculous theories hang around, sometimes they find themselves intersecting with strange moments in history.  Here, I present the crazy history of 3 ridiculous geological theories.  READ MORE…

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