Will Allen, Urban Farmer

As cities around the world absorb more and more people, many urbanites want to reconnect with local food. This has led to the rise and spread of urban agriculture, and at the center of this movement is Will Allen, the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Growing Power. In today’s episode, Allen shares his life story, and discusses his passion for urban agriculture and food security, as well as how urban farming can strengthen community ties. We also have a short bonus segment this week, brought to us by Reade Levinson. She recently traveled to Alaska to research salmon fishing, which is under threat from the side effects of the Canadian mining industry.

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

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Peak Phosphorous

Five things you may not know about phosphorus (but probably should): 1) It’s an essential element to all life on Earth – so it’s a critical ingredient for industrial fertilizers. 2) The vast majority of our phosphorus supply comes from phosphate rock, mined from geologic deposits. 3) Those geologic deposits are concentrated in just 5 countries, and Morocco alone controls 75% of known reserves. 4) The rate at which we’re consuming phosphorus is flat out unsustainable, to say the least. Experts warn that at current rates we may run out of it this century. 5) If all that weren’t enough, many commercial farms over-apply phosphorus-rich fertilizers, which has catastrophic consequences for freshwater and coastal ecosystems around the world. So, wow, right?! Who knew phosphorus was so important? And given that pretty much no one is talking about the issue of peak phosphorus, what are we going to do? Will we be able to better manage the world’s phosphorus supply before we run out and cause widespread environmental damage, all while continuing to feed the billions of people on the planet?

Image credit: Alexandra Pugachevsky

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

No Ordinary Garbage

Trash. Garbage. Refuse. Waste. Call it whatever you like, this is the stuff we deal with everyday that we no longer want in our lives. It’s not that it has no value; it actually has negative value. That’s why we’re getting rid of it! And apart from remembering when to drag out the bins to the curb, our trash mostly stays out of sight and out of mind. But on today’s show, we explore what happens when we don’t look away and follow our trash around. Where does it go? What happens to it? And what does our garbage say about who we are?
 

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

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Inside the Cloud

A core tension at the center of many environmental debates has to do with our relationship to technology. After all, the environmental movement that arose in the 1960s was propelled by a desire to “get back to nature,” but these days we have an increasingly hard time escaping technology. It’s somewhat ironic, therefore, that we use the language of nature to describe so many aspects of the digital universe. Probably the best current example is the mysterious “cloud,” which has become so critical for modern computational systems. In this short piece, we examine the environmental footprint of the cloud, and we dig into the language the describes the products coming out of Silicon Valley.

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