Land Use Change: a Hallmark of the Anthropocene

Humans have always been changing the earth’s surface, but the study of land use change has been greatly aided by satellite imaging since the 1970s. Professor Eric Lambin started his career working with satellite images to examine patterns of land change, and emphasizes that understanding the patterns requires going into the field and talking to the farmers and locals using the land. He also discusses how globalization and international trade can drive land use change in unexpected ways. Finally, Professor Lambin explains the concept of potentially arable cropland (PAC) and the relevance of “peak land” in the context of the Anthropocene, especially for policy makers.


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[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

Sandy, NOAA, and the woman in charge

Jane Lubchenco, the former head of the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), discusses what it’s like being asked to join the president’s “science team,” the tremendous breadth of research covered by NOAA, and what it’s like sitting in an airplane flying through hurricane Sandy.  Dr. Lubchenco also reflects on her work as a science communicator and the now “platinum standard” of open science communication she helped develop at NOAA.

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