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.

The Nature of Disney

Disney movies have captured the imaginations of children and adults for decades. The endearing characters, the colorful landscapes, and the epic tales of heroism carry a sense of wonder and playfulness. But what we rarely notice is that woven into many of these films is a deeper story about the natural world. In Disney movies we learn the rules of the forest, the hierarchy of the jungle, and humankind’s relationship to nature. Underlying every film is an implicit morality, one that seems so logical and universal that, as the audience, we hardly ever question its origin or message. In this interview, environmental historian Richard White helps us see the world of Disney with fresh eyes. Along the way, he challenges our assumptions about nature, and exposes how the stories of Disney are really stories about ourselves.

 

Image by wbeem
Licensed under Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

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.

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)