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.
Most of the changes scientists see on our planet are either visible to the naked eye or directly measurable. But changes to our water systems are among the most difficult to see. In this episode, we travel from the Antarctic ice sheet capturing over 60 percent of all freshwater on Earth, to massive groundwater aquifers that remain particularly elusive, to a freshwater system that acts as the primary economic, cultural, and environmental driver of southern Asia. In short, we go in search of hidden water.
This episode was produced by Leslie Chang, Mike Osborne, and Miles Traer.
Additional music by Kevin MacLeod (License available here)
In the mid-1980s, a small problem began to surface in a relatively obscure corner of the world. In 1994, just about a decade later, the World Health Organization published a statement that this little problem had developed into “the largest mass poisoning of a population in history.” On today’s show, we speak to the doctors, epidemiologists, and geologists who helped hunt down the origin of this tragic event. Join us as we venture through the human body and through geologic time to uncover the twists and turns and remarkable coincidences responsible for this ongoing epidemic.
Audio is nice. No cameras, no spotlight.