Climate Change: The Beginning

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 climatologists pinpoint a date? This week, producer and resident paleoclimatologist Mike Osborne looks at two inflection points in human activity. Mike first discusses research on the global impact of Industrial Era emissions (newly published in ‘Nature’!) with scientists Nerilie Abram and Kaustubh Thirumalai. He then takes a step back in Earth’s history to the early Agricultural Revolution, and climate scientist Bill Ruddiman’s early Anthropocene hypothesis.

Paleoclimatologist Page Chamberlain

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 Rocky Mountains affect Europe’s climate? How can the climate 3 million years ago tell us about the climate today? In this conversation, Page and producer Mike Osborne banter about these and other questions surrounding Earth systems of the past.

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

Rebroadcast: Paul Ehrlich and The Population Bomb

This week we revisit our interview with Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich rose to notoriety in the 1960s following the publication of his bestselling book “The Population Bomb.” In the book, he foresaw a world characterized by widespread famine and societal collapse driven by overpopulation. In the years since, Ehrlich has received considerable criticism for his predictions. In this quintessential Gen Anthro conversation, our former student Jenny Rempel challenges Ehrlich about his past predictions and how his views have evolved.

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

Kim Stanley Robinson

Think of the Anthropocene as a science fiction thought experiment. We imagine future geologists looking back into the rock record, and trying to pinpoint when humans became the dominant geologic force. In many ways, science fiction is the perfect genre for exploring environmental issues – running out scenarios and “what ifs” to their extremes, and imagining how that world would look and feel. Award-winning science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson does exactly that in many of his works. In this thought-provoking conversation, producer Mike Osborne sits down with Robinson to talk about his creative process and environmental thinking, what makes for good science fiction, and the genre’s capacity to imagine future societies shaped by climate change.

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