Livelihoods, Poverty, and Climate Risk

Perhaps you’ve noticed recently that there’s been a shift in way experts are approaching climate change. While much of the focus (rightly) continues to be on “bending the CO2 curve downward,” there’s also been a growing literature on climate adaptation. The sobering reality is that climate change is already upon us – so given that we cannot escape some of the consequences, we’re now faced with a whole new series of questions. Who is most at risk? What are the social, cultural, and political forces that render some people more vulnerable than others? And, maybe most importantly, what can we do for the people and places who will suffer most?

On today’s show, we feature an interview with Petra Tschakert by producer Mike Osborne and student Sarah McCurdy. Dr. Tschakert was the Coordinating Lead Author of the AR5 IPCC report chapter “Livelihoods and Poverty.” In this conversation, we examine the often surprising influence of social dynamics on who will be most vulnerable to climate change, and learn more about the emerging research agenda from an expert on the frontier of climate adaptation.
 

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

Rare Earth Elements

“Oil is the blood; steel is the body; but rare earth elements are the vitamins of a modern society.” While many of us can’t even pronounce elements such as praseodymium, yttrium, or gadolinium, these minerals drive our technology and our modern lifestyles. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill “common” Earth elements, these are the “rare” earth elements. But… they aren’t actually that rare. And their importance to modern life goes well beyond their unusual geology. On this episode, professor Julie Klinger speaks with producer Miles Traer about the geo-politics of rare earth elements, why they are considered rare, and the extreme lengths to which some people are planning to go in search of them.
 

Image by Materialscientist
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 1.0 Generic

Additional music in this episode provided by Kevin MacLeod
Inspired by Kevin MacLeod
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

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

Scars of the Past

Beneath Cambodia’s troubled history with the Khmer Rouge lies a complex agricultural legacy that reaches back centuries. Once the symbol of a thriving region, we see how a prolonged El Nino brought drought and increased human conflict, and how the ruthless Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge looked back to the temples at Angkor Wat and their proud agricultural heritage to motivate the atrocities of the Cambodian genocide. Producer Miles Traer speaks with mental health and water science experts to see how hundreds of years of agriculture have shaped the region. Traer shares his own thoughts on the relationship between food and conflict, and how he sees the standard historical narrative breaking down within Cambodia’s borders.

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

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Rondônia

In the late 1970′s, tens of thousands of Brazilian agricultural workers found themselves out of work due to technological advances on farms.  To combat the problem, the government, with help from the World Bank, set up a program to settle people into the rainforest and allow them to farm commercial crops.  The hitch? No one had tested the soil to see if it could support the crops being grown.  From there, the ambitious social and ecological experiment quickly turned into a nightmare of Hollywood proportions involving strife between ranchers and local tribes, clear cutting of the rainforest, and disease outbreaks of all kinds.  What can we learn from what went wrong in Rondônia?

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