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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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.

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.

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.