The Ecosystem Within

The microbiome is the term doctors use to describe the countless organisms each one of us carries in and on our bodies. In the last few years there’s been an explosion of research around how the gut microbiome is linked with our health. As Microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg tells producer Anna Lee, our microbiomes are like the control center of our bodies, affecting cognition, digestion, mood, and overall wellbeing. It turns out that that much of the current research into our gut microbiomes is best examined through the prism of environmental sciences. The challenges we face in the Anthropocene are the same challenges faced by the ecosystems we carry within.

Image by Nicola Fawcett
Licensed under Creative Commons: Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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

The Planet Remade

In 2011, author and editor Oliver Morton wrote a cover article for “The Economist” titled: Welcome to the Anthropocene. Many credit this article with jumpstarting popular interest in the term. On today’s show, producer Miles Traer sits down with Morton to discuss the anthropocene in the context of his new book titled “The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change The World.” The conversation touches on everything from pitching stories at the Economist to U2 spy planes to why geoengineering doesn’t scare Morton as much as some think it should. Listen along as we explore the Planet Remade.

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

Preparing for Paris

When the Conference of the Parties meets in Paris in the coming weeks, it will mark the 21st time the nations of the world have met to try to strike a deal to combat climate change.  Given existing tensions between nations, and given that each country has a unique capacity to contribute to a comprehensive deal, we ask the question, “how can we measure success at the Paris negotiations?” Stanford researcher Aaron Strong and New York Time reporter Andy Revkin walk us through the history of previous negotiations to explore what went wrong, what we’ve learned, and why many are so optimistic about Paris.  They point out the areas where progress has already been made and where the potential sticking points lie.  As anthropogenic climate change continues to affect the world around us, success in Paris might look a little different than people have previously thought.

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

Learning to die in the anthropocene

Does climate change mean the end of civilization? Maybe that sounds crazy, but, then again, all the forecasts are deeply sobering. There are reasons for hope, sure, but there are also reasons to believe that humans are unleashing forces beyond anyone’s control. If we assume for the sake of argument that we are on a collision course headed for global catastrophe, how do we make peace with that reality? How do we comport ourselves as ethical human beings, and what does it mean to be living through the late stages of this explosive time period? These are just some of the questions that Iraq War veteran Roy Scranton grapples with in his new book, “Learning to Die in the Anthropocene.” Drawing on his experiences, Scranton uses the framing of the Anthropocene to capture a deep time perspective and to confront mortality in a way that is rare in public discourse. In this conversation with producer Mike Osborne, Scranton talks about his journey as an intellectual, his decision to go to war, and what it means for a civilization to learn to die.

This episode was produced by Leslie Chang, Mike Osborne, and Miles Traer.
Additional music by Kevin MacLeod (License available here)