If Bilbo Baggins had an environmental school

After growing up in a remote corner of Alaska, marine biologist Zach Brown wants to start a school to teach future scientists about environmental sciences and sustainability.  Zach tells producers Mike and Leslie about his vision for the Inian Islands Institute (nicknamed “The Hobbit Hole”) and how experiential education is perhaps the best way to clearly see the lost connections between human systems and the natural world.  Zach also remembers what it’s like growing up with only a single television channel, and how often the signal would drop out… with some interesting results.

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Tracing networks of disease

We revisit our conversation with biological anthropologist James Holland Jones, who explains how diseases typically spread from animal to human populations and how that might change as our planet continues to warm.  He also discusses how we might prevent future epidemics with limited vaccines by looking to community structure and identifying the key bridge populations.  It’s all about disease, hemorrhagic fever hopefully not included.

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Extremophiles of the Anthropocene

If we’re looking for how life will respond to rapid environmental changes, we should probably look to bacteria adapted to live in extreme environments – what scientists call extremophiles.  Astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch examines the Anthropocene with thought experiments of bacteria throughout the solar system, using scientific principles documented on Earth.  He discusses known extremophiles, certain problems posed by asteroid impacts, and the importance of keeping an open mind when analyzing evolutionary trajectories on Earth.

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Genetic evolution & the antiquated concept of race

Evolutionary biologist Marcus Feldman uses DNA to understand early human migration out of Africa. In this interview, we learn the utility of language, how and why early humans spread to all continents, and the idea that people still don’t “have it in their heads” just how similar we all are.

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