[ESSAY] How am I supposed to answer “Are we screwed?”

This essay was written by Mike Osborne.  If you wish to hear Mike read it, click play below.

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As a climate scientist in training, the most common question I get from my non-science friends is this: “So, are we just, like… screwed?” That’s it. That’s the question I get. Are we screwed?

It took a while for me to get comfortable with this question, and, at first, I had no idea how to react. This is a really interesting question to be asked. It’s vague, full of fear, and totally lacking any nuance whatsoever. Actually, if I’m honest with myself, it’s the question that drove me to become a climate scientist in the first place. Ten years ago I walked away from college thinking, “The planet is screwed, we’re all screwed. Or, at least I think we’re screwed. But wait…are we really screwed? Maybe not. Shoot, I don’t know. I don’t have enough information here. I’ll go back to school.” Continue reading

Anthropocene Borders

Geographer Reece Jones discusses his recent book “Border Walls,” examining the history of how and why societies have chosen to literally wall themselves apart.  He gives a brief history of political maps, how international lines reshape landscapes, and how the trend towards increased border wall construction contrasts with the view of a “borderless” world under globalization.  Jones also reveals which border wall is actually visible from space.

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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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F**cking science: the science of shale gas

Geophysicist and shale gas expert Mark Zoback speaks to the science of hydro-fracking to free shale gas.  He addresses many misconceptions he feels the public weigh too heavily and offers his view on the crucial role natural gas plays as a bridge to renewable energy.  Mark also looks to some critiques of the nuclear energy sector (including Fukushima) and finds intriguing parallels to the shale gas revolution.

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