The Largest Mass Poisoning in History

In the mid-1980s, a small problem began to surface in a relatively obscure corner of the world.  In 1994, just about a decade later, the World Health Organization published a statement that this little problem had developed into “the largest mass poisoning of a population in history.”  On today’s show, we speak to the doctors, epidemiologists, and geologists who helped hunt down the origin of this tragic event.  Join us as we venture through the human body and through geologic time to uncover the twists and turns and remarkable coincidences responsible for this ongoing epidemic.


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The dawn of de-extinction

Hank Greely and Jake Sherkow discuss the science, morals, and ethics of de-extinction: bringing extinct species back to life.  As lawyers with an interest in biotechnologies, Hank and Jake explain how they first got involved with de-extinciton, how scientists propose to bring species back, and discuss the potential for de-extinction technology to help restore damaged ecosystems.  While discussing some potential side effects of this new process, Hank and Jake recall how a man obsessed with William Shakespeare transformed the ecosystem of New England, and how de-extinction might do the same.

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The human cost of climate change

Expert on international law Andrew Guzman takes a step back from analyzing climate change in terms of degrees and meters of sea level rise and breaks down all the ways climate change will affect humanity.  Dr. Guzman offers this perspective through his new book, Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change.  From environmental refugees to changing disease vectors to social conflict, Guzman illustrates how nearly all of our human systems interact with climate and therefore will feel the effects of even +2C.

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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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