The Biggest Stories

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 planet. We also have a short bonus segment featuring David Biello, who has just published a new book about the Anthropocene titled “The Unnatural World: The Race to Remake Civilization in Earth’s Newest Age.”

Earth in Human Hands

“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 because he possesses a unique ability to bring the geologic imagination to life. His approach to the Anthropocene draws extensively from deep time and close observations of other planets to see what we might learn about our uncomfortable situation here on Earth. If the Anthropocene is part of the geologic time table (it is), and if the geologic time table is largely defined by life (it is), then does our current situation mean something much broader in terms of planetary evolution? David chats with GenAnthro producer Miles Traer about the new book, mind-bending perspectives on time, and why the Anthropocene hopefully marks the start, and not the end, of something quite spectacular.

THIS EPISODE WAS PRODUCED BY LESLIE CHANG, MIKE OSBORNE, AND MILES TRAER.

A Tale of Two Grains

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 nutritionally rich. That’s where “superfoods” like quinoa and amaranth come in. In this week’s episode, we explore these two crops and their potential to become staple components of our future diets. We first hear from journalist Lisa Hamilton, author of the 2014 Harper’s article “The Quinoa Quarrel.” Then amaranth expert Rob Myers walks us through the relative benefits of quinoa and amaranth, and the challenges to breeding both on a large scale. To wrap it up, Katherine Lorenz shares the story of a nonprofit she founded that uses amaranth to address malnutrition in rural Oaxaca, Mexico.

 

Environmental Icon David Suzuki

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 with our producer Mike Osborne. Their wide-ranging conversation spans climate change, energy, shortfalls of the environmental movement, and the evolving relationship between humans and Earth’s ecosystems.