Earth’s Tipping Points & Abrupt Climate Change

Climate researcher and host of PBS’s Earth: The Operators’ Manual Richard Alley discusses abrupt climate variations in Earth’s history and what he defines as climate tipping points – leading to a discussion on whether or not Earth’s climate systems has dials, or switches.  He also addresses the socio-economic costs of climate change and why he’s optimistic about our energy future, with links to salted cod in the 1700s.  Alley also reflects on the role of scientists as advocates with some interesting implications for Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin.

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Whiskey is for drinkin’ & water is for fightin’ over

Expert in natural resources law and policy Buzz Thompson starts with a story of how his grandfather was tricked into selling his farm to the city of Los Angeles so they could get access to water on his land.  He then dives into water security and discusses the true cost of water, the complications in the US water law system, and what it was like to clerk for Justice William Rehnquist (which, it turns out, happened to involve quite a bit of tennis).

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Conserving culture through biodiversity

Conservation biologist Luis Zambrano discusses his work in wetland and ecosystem restoration in Mexico City and a rare salamander threatened by development (the Axolotl).  Seriously, if you like looking at cute things, google the Axolotl.  In fact, this rare salamander embodies a particularly powerful cultural symbol, leading to an interesting discussion of the Anthropocene as a cultural boundary.

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Conservation in the Anthropocene

History is accelerating.  As we move farther into the Anthropocene, we must ask ourselves what we want for the planet today and what will we preserve for the next generation.  But how do we know where to place our conservation efforts in this new geologic age?

About two months ago, the Generation Anthropocene team was invited to Santa Cruz, CA for a reunion for the Leopold Leadership Program.  It’s a program that helps environmental researchers prepare to translate “knowledge to action” to lead change on the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges, and it’s full of really smart people.  In this episode, we revisit the history of conservationism and bring you excerpts from our interviews with a half dozen experts, covering everything from frogs to invasive species to shades of green to a funny-looking Mexican salamander (that apparently doesn’t taste half bad).

The debate over why to save nature goes back over a hundred years, but it has never been more relevant than it is now in the Anthropocene – where we’re calling the shots.

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