Podcast Episodes

Season 8 (current)
Season 7

Season 6

Season 5

Season 4
Season 3

Season 2
Season 1

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Season 8

Are we alone in the universe? (20 September 2016)
How did life begin on Earth? Curiously, scientists often search for the answer on other planets or moons in our solar system. After all, if we want to see whether our theories are right, we need to find another example of life somewhere. The search has taken us to some strange places seemingly frozen in time that give us hints to what Earth looked like billions of years ago when life first appeared in the geologic record: places like Mars that show evidence of fossil oceans, and places like Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, that show evidence of liquid water oceans containing organic molecules hidden under an icy crust. NASA astrobiologist Chris McKay has been a member of missions that sent spacecraft to these and other places in search of that elusive other example of life in the universe. He recently sat down with producer Miles Traer to discuss the best current theories for the origin of life on Earth, why Antarctica is a lot like one of Saturn’s moons, the challenges of collecting data from other planets, and the reasons we’re captivated by the question, “Are we alone in the universe?”

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Environmental Icon David Suzuki (13 September 2016)
This week we bring you an intergenerational conversation featuring David Suzuki, who is a Canadian scientist, activist, and media figure. Since the 1970s, Suzuki has hosted both radio and television shows about the natural world and environmental issues. A self-described “elder,” Suzuki shares his views and long-term perspective on environmentalism with our producer Mike Osborne. Their wide-ranging conversation spans climate change, energy, shortfalls of the environmental movement, and the evolving relationship between humans and Earth’s ecosystems.

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Evolution of Venom (6 September 2016)
“In Asia or Africa around 60 million years ago, snakes became more venomous, though scientists aren’t quite sure why then and there.” Sometimes understanding global environmental change requires that we simply know how nature works. And not just the pleasant side of nature, but all of it. When we look back through the wonders of Darwinian evolution, we gain a deeper appreciation for certain aspects of the natural world that seem… uncomfortable: things like snakes, spiders, jellyfish, Komodo Dragons, and tiny caterpillars that can easily kill humans. This week, scientist Christie Wilcox takes us on a journey through the evolution of the chemical cocktails we call “venom,” which she wrote about in her new book called, “Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry.” Travel along from venom’s earliest formation, its evolution into a potent weapon, and its further transformation by doctors today as a potentially revolutionary tool in developing new medicines.

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The Dino Crater (30 August 2016)
One of the best tales of all time from geologic history is the story of the meteor impact that killed the dinosaurs. As it turns out, though, there are still many unanswered questions about what exactly happened the moment the meteor connected with our planet. In fact, until recently, scientists had yet to collect sediment cores from the center of the impact crater. On today’s show, producer Michael Osborne talks with Sean Gulick, co-chief scientist of an expedition that recently drilled the Chicxulub crater off the coast of Mexico. Sean revisits the moment when the asteroid hit, and he discusses what the scientists hope to find from their drilled samples. Also, we have a short segment featuring a conversation with Science Magazine reporter Paul Voosen about a news update from the Anthropocene Working Group.

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Climate Change: The Beginning (24 August 2016)
Humans have been altering the climate for a long time – but how long, exactly? This question is central to the Anthropocene debate. When did the human population collectively achieve colossal power that can be equated with geologic power? Was it at the start of the Industrial Revolution? Back during the Agricultural Revolution? And how on earth do climatologists pinpoint a date? This week, producer and resident paleoclimatologist Mike Osborne looks at two inflection points in human activity. Mike first discusses research on the global impact of Industrial Era emissions (newly published in ‘Nature’!) with scientists Nerilie Abram and Kaustubh Thirumalai. He then takes a step back in Earth’s history to the early Agricultural Revolution, and climate scientist Bill Ruddiman’s early Anthropocene hypothesis.

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Our Fashion Footprint (16 August 2016)
A trendy outfit has never been cheaper than it is today. Not only that, the fashion industry is churning out new styles so quickly that the entire phenomenon has been dubbed fast fashion. The industry includes retailers like H&M, Forever 21, Zara, and even Target and Walmart. Of course, it’s only natural that we love finding the latest styles at affordable prices. But our clothes have abundant hidden costs for both the environment and people. This week, producer Leslie Chang takes a closer look at the footprint left behind by the fast-moving fashion industry. We hear from journalist Elizabeth Cline, author of ‘Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion,’ as well as UMass Dartmouth Asst. Prof. Nick Anguelov, author of ‘The Dirty Side of the Garment Industry: Fast Fashion and Its Negative Impact on Environment and Society.’

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Ed Yong, author of ‘I Contain Multitudes’ (9 August 2016)
There are billions of microbes both in and on our bodies. These invisible organisms form complex ecosystems, which are passed on to us as infants through breast milk, help digest food in our guts, and may even be correlated with a growing list of health conditions like obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome, and autism. It’s no exaggeration to say that human life would not be possible without the microbiome. Science writer Ed Yong has been reporting on the microbiome for over a decade, and has just published his first book, ‘I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life.’ In this conversation with producer Mike Osborne, he reveals the evolutionary roots of the microbiome, what we know – and don’t know – about microbiomes across the human population, and how we as humans both create an imprint and are imprinted upon by the microbes in the environment all around us.

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Paleoclimatologist Page Chamberlain (2 August 2016)
We tend to think of the world in terms of our relationship with it: as individuals, communities, civilizations. It’s harder to think about the earth before a textual record, before human history. This week, we dive into deep time with paleoclimatologist Page Chamberlain. What did the Western United States look like in the Cenozoic Era? How do the Rocky Mountains affect Europe’s climate? How can the climate 3 million years ago tell us about the climate today? In this conversation, Page and producer Mike Osborne banter about these and other questions surrounding Earth systems of the past.

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The Survivor (26 July 2016)
The solenodon: a venomous, shrew-like mammal, found only in the Caribbean, that has survived for millions of years by hiding underground. Even the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago couldn’t kill this hardy little creature. But after surviving for so long, after outliving the freakin’ DINOSAURS, the solenodon is now threatened by human encroachment into their habitat. Guest producer Laura Cussen brings us this story, originally published in 2014 with support from the Stanford Storytelling Project and a Braden Storytelling Grant.

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Food Nudges (Fudges?) (20 July 2016)
We all need food to stay alive, but when we’re filling up our grocery carts, it’s not like survival is the primary motivator. If you’re listening to this podcast, chances are you live somewhere with food options galore. And if you’re environmentally inclined, you probably take a little more time in deciding what to put in your mouth. Is it healthy? Is it organic? Is it tasty?! So much to think about everytime we eat! Today we have two stories that dive a little deeper into our decision-making process around food. First, we talk to professor Phil Howard, who has investigated the rise of the organic food industry and what it truly means to buy organic products. Then we meet Dr. Tom Robinson, who is at the forefront of understanding the cultural and sociological factors underlying the obesity epidemic in America.

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Kim Stanley Robinson (5 July 2016)
Think of the Anthropocene as a science fiction thought experiment. We imagine future geologists looking back into the rock record, and trying to pinpoint when humans became the dominant geologic force. In many ways, science fiction is the perfect genre for exploring environmental issues – running out scenarios and “what ifs” to their extremes, and imagining how that world would look and feel. Award-winning science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson does exactly that in many of his works. In this thought-provoking conversation, producer Mike Osborne sits down with Robinson to talk about his creative process and environmental thinking, what makes for good science fiction, and the genre’s capacity to imagine future societies shaped by climate change.

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Will Allen, Urban Farmer (28 June 2016)
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.

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Sounds of Space (21 June 2016)
When we think of space, we typically think of beautiful images taken by powerful telescopes and interplanetary rovers. We think of the rings around Saturn; the giant red spot on Jupiter; or Martian rover selfies. But what does the surface of Mars sound like? What haunting melody should we expect from our Sun? And what do these sounds teach us about our cosmic neighborhood? On today’s episode, producer Miles Traer takes us on an audio tour of the solar system, with a rich library of sounds recorded and converted from satellite and rover data. So put on a pair of headphones and join us for a voyage of exploration and discovery as we explore the sounds of space.

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Peak Phosphorous (21 June 2016)
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?

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Early Humans and Megafauna (20 June 2016)
The Anthropocene is characterized by exponential global change driven by human activity. But humans have been impacting the planet since the very earliest days when we first appeared on the evolutionary tree. In fact, one of the longest running debates in paleontology centers on homo sapiens’ role in wiping out North America’s enormous land animals, known as megafauna. In this interview with paleontologist Liz Hadly, we talk about what life looked like in the Pleistocene, the pattern of human dispersal around the globe, and new scientific techniques that allow us to understand how ecosystems respond to perturbations, like the arrival of early humans.

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No Ordinary Garbage (31 May 2016)
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?

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Livelihoods, Poverty, and Climate Risk (24 May 2016)
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.

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Rare Earth Elements (17 May 2016)
“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.

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The Nature of Disney (13 May 2016)
Disney movies have captured the imaginations of children and adults for decades. The endearing characters, the colorful landscapes, and the epic tales of heroism carry a sense of wonder and playfulness. But what we rarely notice is that woven into many of these films is a deeper story about the natural world. In Disney movies we learn the rules of the forest, the hierarchy of the jungle, and humankind’s relationship to nature. Underlying every film is an implicit morality, one that seems so logical and universal that, as the audience, we hardly ever question its origin or message. In this interview, environmental historian Richard White helps us see the world of Disney with fresh eyes. Along the way, he challenges our assumptions about nature, and exposes how the stories of Disney are really stories about ourselves.

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Inside the Cloud (11 May 2016)
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.

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The Ecosystem Within (2 May 2016)
The microbiome is the term doctors use to describe the countless organisms each one of us carries in and on our bodies. In the last few years there’s been an explosion of research around how the gut microbiome is linked with our health. As Microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg tells producer Anna Lee, our microbiomes are like the control center of our bodies, affecting cognition, digestion, mood, and overall wellbeing. It turns out that that much of the current research into our gut microbiomes is best examined through the prism of environmental sciences. The challenges we face in the Anthropocene are the same challenges faced by the ecosystems we carry within.

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The Planet Remade (3 Mar 2016)
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.

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Scars of the Past (10 Feb 2016)
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.

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Vanishing Remains (1 Feb 2016)
Student reporter Reade Levinson travels to Mongolia in hopes of witnessing a practice known as sky burial, in which bodies of the dead are prepared for the afterlife. But as Reade learns in her journey, in Mongolia the forces of urbanization, modernization, and environmental change may be threatening this sacred ritual. This piece is a collaboration between Generation Anthropocene and the Stanford Storytelling project.

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The Big Data of Nature (28 Jan 2016)
As we hear over and over again, environmental issues are mounting, and the stakes are huge. So how might big data be used to tackle the issues of sustainability, climate change, habitat loss, and species extinction? And even more than that, can it offer us new ways of engaging in a relationship with nature? This episode comes from the Raw Data podcast, produced by our own Mike Osborne and Leslie Chang.

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Season 7

Preparing for Paris (25 Nov 2015)
When the Conference of the Parties meets in Paris in the coming weeks, it will mark the 21st time the nations of the world have met to try to strike a deal to combat climate change.  Given existing tensions between nations, and given that each country has a unique capacity to contribute to a comprehensive deal, we ask the question, “how can we measure success at the Paris negotiations?” Stanford researcher Aaron Strong and New York Time reporter Andy Revkin walk us through the history of previous negotiations to explore what went wrong, what we’ve learned, and why many are so optimistic about Paris.  They point out the areas where progress has already been made and where the potential sticking points lie.  As anthropogenic climate change continues to affect the world around us, success in Paris might look a little different than people have previously thought.

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Learning to Die in the Anthropocene (12 Nov 2015)
Does climate change mean the end of civilization? Maybe that sounds crazy, but, then again, all the forecasts are deeply sobering. There are reasons for hope, sure, but there are also reasons to believe that humans are unleashing forces beyond anyone’s control. If we assume for the sake of argument that we are on a collision course headed for global catastrophe, how do we make peace with that reality? How do we comport ourselves as ethical human beings, and what does it mean to be living through the late stages of this explosive time period? These are just some of the questions that Iraq War veteran Roy Scranton grapples with in his new book, “Learning to Die in the Anthropocene.” Drawing on his experiences, Scranton uses the framing of the Anthropocene to capture a deep time perspective and to confront mortality in a way that is rare in public discourse. In this conversation with producer Mike Osborne, Scranton talks about his journey as an intellectual, his decision to go to war, and what it means for a civilization to learn to die.

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The Soundtracker (15 Sept 2015)
Listen up, because you never know when a sound will change your life.  Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton tells us the story of how he became “The Soundtracker,” an unorthodox career choice that has led him around the planet three times in pursuit of the last pristine soundscapes. Journey along with Hempton from tropical jungles to the frozen North as he records the music from the solar-powered jukebox that is Earth.

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The Evolution of Fire (2 Sept 2015)
Fire is evolving. The three necessary ingredients for fire – heat, fuel, and oxygen – each appeared at different times in geological history, meaning that fire wasn’t always around on Earth’s surface. Fire historian Steve Pyne describes the origin and evolution of fire over the past 420 millions years on Earth, including history’s true Promethean moment. In a bonus segment, producer Mike Osborne chats with paleoclimate scientist Jud Partin about his new publication exploring the Younger Dryas, the most recent time in Earth’s history to experience abrupt climate change. Hear Jud describe what happened as Earth left the last ice age and why he’s still optimistic about abrupt climate change today.

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What Went Wrong in Rondonia (18 Aug 2015)
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?

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The Stakes (7 Aug 2015)
Climate change is one of the many defining characteristics of the Anthropocene.  But it’s about more than greenhouse gases, energy consumption, and rising temperatures.  Climate matters because of the ways it interacts with us.  So what is at stake?  On today’s show, we’re looking at those stakes at the global scale.  Our first story is about the link between climate change and human conflict, reaching across the planet and back through human history.  Our second story is about a radical approach that might enable humans to control the climate system – geoengineering. 

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Seeds of Change (21 July 2015)
At the dawn of the agricultural revolution, humans began to tinker with our seeds.  Over millennia, we’ve managed to breed plants for selective traits and grow more food.  As certain crops now dominate our agricultural fields, what will happen to all of those original seeds – and their genetic information – that were used to create our modern food system?  We travel to the extreme northern latitudes and visit the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to see how they are trying to curate our changing seeds.  In our second story, we see that humans aren’t the only force that tinkers with seeds.  With climate change, certain crops might adapt their own biology to warmer conditions.  Cassava, a major food staple worldwide that feeds over one billion people, has already shown the potential to adapt in a strange way – by producing more cyanide.  We speak with biologist Ros Gleadow to explore the complex relationship with climate change and the changing biology of cassava.

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Hidden Water (7 July 2015)
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.

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History is a mess (23 June 2015)
The very idea of an Anthropocene suggests that the world is changing faster than ever before.  And a growing number of historians, archeologists, and geologists are looking at our modern world in the context of deep time to place the rapid changes in their proper context.  In today’s show, Ian Morris discusses how societies have developed through all of human history – from Neanderthals to iPhones – and points out some trends we can extract and investigate from archeological data.  Specifically, Morris explains how geography drives human social development, but development changes the very meaning of geography.  If that sounds a little complicated… well, it is. But we speak with Ronan Arthur about the Native American Navajo as a sort of case study of this geography/social development concept.
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Fungi, a cedar, a Kau, oh My! (16 June 2015)
Invertebrates. Gutless, spineless– but perhaps underappreciated invertebrates. We probably don’t spend enough time thinking about that other category of organisms on earth, so on this episode we’re going to spend some time with maybe the most overlooked group of Eukaryotes: Fungi. As it turns out, there are (at least) five MIND BLOWING facts about fungi that we all need to know. We’ll then travel to Southeastern Alaska to study the changing forest community. A wave of climate-driven ecological change is sweeping across the region, and we’ll learn about what this means for forests and the people who live there. Finally on today’s show we leave the invertebrates and debut a new segment that we’re calling Convos with Kau (as in coversation with Kaustubh Thirmulai, PhD candidate in paleoclimate at UT-Austin).

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What’s in a word? (11 June 2015)
This week, we explore communication: how do we talk? how do we hear? and what the hell are we even saying?  And what about the rest of the animal kingdoms?  African elephants don’t just communicate through trumpeting – they also use seismic waves. Elephant behavior expert Caitlin O’Connell explains this “second language,” and how it’s helping advance hearing aid technology. She also tells us about her new work of fiction, Ivory Ghosts, which draws attention to the intensifying problem of illegal ivory trade. We then talk to evolutionary biologist Nicole Creanza, who explains that we can learn a lot about early human migration across the globe not just through genetics, but also through our languages.

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The urban equation (4 June 2015)
As cities continue to grow, scientists are trying to define the “Urban Equation” – a mathematical expression that defines not just a group of buildings, but a complex network of physical and social interactions.  Why?  Because our cities control previously elusive aspects of human evolution.  To understand our cities is to understand us.  In this episode, Luis Bettencourt and Tyler Nordgren discuss various elements of the urban equation.  We see how complex networks give rise to creativity; how to break an urban metropolis down into a series of mathematical symbols; and how our cities are dramatically affecting a cultural connection reaching back nearly 400 years.

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Research to reality: Eyewitness to the 2015 Nepal earthquake (26 May 2015)
After 30 years in high-tech marketing and general management, Anne Sanquini began a second career as a researcher studying how to motivate people to take precautionary action to protect their homes and school against earthquakes.  Her work over the past four years led her to Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. She was on the ground during the April 25 earthquake, the very quake she had been preparing for.

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Season 6

Building the geologic history of Game of Thrones (8 April 2014)
How far back can we really imagine the history of the Game of Thrones planet?  According to Generation Anthropocene producer Miles Traer, we can look back through 500 million years of history if we apply geologic principles learned here on Earth, and a little imagination.  In this episode, producer Mike Osborne talks with Miles and gives a brief tour of the map, details how it was pieced together, and explains why the project isn’t quite as ridiculous as it seems.

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Fire with Fire (10 September 2013)
Around the turn of the 20th century, an American Army General lined the streets of a major American city with barrels of dynamite. Somewhat relevant, he had never used dynamite before. This is the story of what happened when that same city gave him permission to ignite the fuses.

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The future of cars (4 September 2013)
Today, we discuss the future of the automobile and all of its possibilities with Sven Beiker.  Sven discusses car specialization, changing driver patterns, connecting your car to the internet, along with a brief exploration of how the idea of our cars as a symbol of freedom might be shifting.

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Science…Sort Of & GenAnthro: Where the wild things aren’t (27 August 2013)
Ryan Haupt, our friend and co-creator of the wildly popular Science…Sort Of podcast, joins us to talk about Pleistocene re-wilding. If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry!  Follow along as we try to figure it out too. Along the way, Ryan touches on the science of Iron Man, African elephant birth control, running zebras in the Kentucky Derby, and the worst safari ever.

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How farmers are adapting to climate change (23 August 2013)
Fran Moore talks about various ways that farmers in Europe have adjusted to higher temperatures in recent years, and sheds light on the difficulty of singling out the effect of climate change on farmers’ decision-making. She also discusses how differently climate scientists and economists view adaptation.

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Hanging out in a rambunctious garden (20 August 2013)
Emma Marris, author of Rambunctious Garden, believes that in the Anthropocene we should widen our repertoire of conservation strategies, rather than relying on traditional conservation methods that “look backwards.” She also and suggests that we can learn to appreciate all forms of nature, big and small.

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Because It’s There: Exploration in the Anthropocene [part 2] (16 August 2013)
In the second half of his interview, Hari Mix talks about his summit bid for Lhotse without oxygen. He also sheds some light on the costs of mountaineering, respecting weather conditions on the mountain, and what he learned about the way rescue decisions are made on mountains.

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Because It’s There: Exploration in the Anthopocene [part 1] (14 August 2013)
Today’s episode is the first part of Generation Anthropocene’s interview with Hari Mix, a mountaineer, PhD student, and friend of the producers. In this first half, Hari talks about how he got into mountaineering, and some of his experiences climbing mountains in Colorado and Kazakhstan. He also reflects on a close shave with a collapsed ice bridge in Tajikistan, and on the role of risk in mountaineering.

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Media, nature, and the zeitgeist (12 August 2013)
Today, we take a little bit of break from talking about science to instead talk about how media covers science, particularly the reporting on genetically modified organisms (more commonly called GMOs).  It’s a contentious subject, and Keith talks about why people tend to take it so personally, when he got interested in GMOs, and what caused him to become the “crop cop.”

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San Francisco, the island within an island (9 August 2013)
Rebecca Solnit, a writer and native of the Bay Area, provides a brief history of San Francisco’s transformation from a working class port city to a center of technology after the dot com boom. She explains her work with historic maps that depict California as an island, and how that metaphor applies today beyond cartography as California moves from the edge to the center of the world.

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Land Use Change: a Hallmark of the Anthropocene (1 August 2013)
Professor Eric Lambin discusses how globalization and international trade can drive land use change in unexpected ways, and explains the concept of potentially arable cropland (PAC). He also emphasizes the importance of “peak land” in the Anthropocene, especially for policy makers.

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The Largest Mass Poisoning in History (16 July 2013)
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.

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Season 5

Special Announcement (04 June 2013)
The producers of Generation Anthropocene – Mike Osborne, Miles Traer, and Leslie Chang – are making a special announcement about the future of this show.  We’re going to be expanding the scope of our storytelling as well as the types of material available on our website.

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The mouse brain detective (28 May 2013)
Neuroscientist Nick Weiler discusses powerful new techniques used to map the brain at the molecular scale and how the manipulation of mouse whiskers can teach us how the brain changes as we learn. Nick also takes a moment to explain why the concept of consciousness is best left to the philosophers rather than the neuroscientists… but that won’t stop him from commenting on it too.

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Sandy, NOAA, and the woman in charge (21 May 2013)
Jane Lubchenco, the former head of 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.

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The dawn of de-extinction (14 May 2013)
Hank Greely and Jake Sherkow discuss the science, morals, and ethics of de-extinction: bringing extinct species back to life.  As lawyers with an interest in biotechnologies, Hank and Jake explain how they first got involved with de-extinciton, how scientists propose to bring species back, and discuss the potential for de-extinction technology to help restore damaged ecosystems.

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The human cost of climate change (07 May 2013)
Expert on international law Andrew Guzman takes a step back from analyzing climate change in terms of degrees and meters of sea level rise and breaks down all the ways climate change will affect humanity.  From environmental refugees to changing disease vectors to social conflict, Guzman illustrates how nearly all of our human systems interact with climate and therefore will feel the effects of even +2C.

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If Bilbo Baggins had an environmental school (30 April 2013)
After growing up in a remote corner of Alaska, marine biologist Zach Brown wants to start a school to teach future scientists about environmental sciences and sustainability.  Zach tells producers Mike and Leslie about his vision for the Inian Islands Institute (nicknamed “The Hobbit Hole”) and how experiential education is the best way to clearly see the lost connections between human systems and the natural world.

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Anthropocene Borders (23 April 2013)
Geographer Reece Jones discusses his recent book “Border Walls,” examining the history of how and why societies have chosen to literally wall themselves apart.  He gives a brief history of political maps, how international lines reshape landscapes, and how the trend towards increased border wall construction contrasts with the view of a “borderless” world under globalization.

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Tracing networks of disease (16 April 2013)
We revisit our conversation with biological anthropologist James Holland Jones, who explains how diseases typically spread from animal to human populations and how that might change as our planet continues to warm.  He also discusses how we might prevent future epidemics with limited vaccines by looking to community structure and identifying the key bridge populations.

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Are you an environmentalist or do you work for a living? (09 April 2013)
We revisit one of our first interviews with environmental historian Richard White. He addresses the (mis)perceptions of the natural world, the ambiguities surrounding the Anthropocene boundary, and explains what he meant when he wrote the provocative essay “Are you an environmentalist or do you work for a living.”

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The (mad) science of geoengineering (02 April 2013)
Climate scientist Ken Caldeira begins with a discussion of ocean acidification, a term he helped coin.  He follows with the story of how his name became attached to geoengineering, from his own skeptical beginnings to publishing a paper that basically said, “well, it works in the models but don’t try this at home.”

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Stop saving the planet! (26 March 2013)
Historian and author Jenny Price makes her case for throwing out the well-tread “save the planet” mantra in favor of a new environmental approach stemming from social justice, a re-contextualization of nature, and even satire.

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Extremophiles of the Anthropocene (19 March 2013)
Astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch examines the Anthropocene with thought experiments of bacteria throughout the solar system, using scientific principles documented on Earth.  He discusses known extremophiles, asteroid impacts, and the importance of keeping an open mind when analyzing evolutionary trajectories on Earth.

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Chasing Ice (12 March 2013)
Director Jeff Orlowski takes us behind the scenes of his widely praised documentary Chasing Ice, which captured stunning time lapse images of retreating and melting glaciers.  He discusses the public reaction to his film, what it’s like working in harsh Arctic conditions, and his emotions witnessing firsthand glaciers the size of Manhattan fracturing and falling into the oceans.

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Ecocriticism & the intersection of faith and our environment (05 March 2013)
Literary ecocritic George Handley discusses how literature ranging from sacred texts like the Bible to Charles Dickens to Twilight shape our perceptions of environmental morality.  He also discusses the influences of the Mormon faith on his environmental ethics, and why he feels “a Christian obligation to listen very carefully to science.”

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Season 4

Masters of the Anthropocene Boundary (26 February 2013)
It’s our 50th episode!  To celebrate we sit down with four members of the Anthropocene Working Group.  We discuss what makes the Anthropocene boundary different than all of the other boundaries in geologic history, how they deal with the increased public attention to this particular boundary, and some cultural ripple effects of the Anthropocene dealing with the Law of the Sea.

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Port response to sea level rise (19 February 2013)
Ship’s captain turned researcher, Austin Becker, looks to the future for how ports will respond to sea level rise. He explains the importance of ports for world trade, the time horizons for port planning, and the plans to brace for rising seas (or lack thereof)

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American Meat (12 February 2013)
Filmmaker Graham Meriwether discusses his new documentary American Meat: A Leave It Better Story that investigates the current condition of the meat production industry in the States.  After the interview, we had to call Graham back to discuss an unusual situation that developed during a screening of his film on the Stanford University campus.

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Blizzards & climate change & the Anthropocene, oh my! (05 February 2013)
Mountaineer and social entrepreneur Tom Bowman starts us off with a story of survival. With some help from producers Miles Traer and Leslie Chang, Tom explains how survival literature can provide lessons for confronting some of the changes we’re experiencing in the Anthropocene.

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Welcome to the… Technosphere? (29 January 2013)
Peter Haff studies the technosphere.  What is that?  He explains it to Mike and Mike sits down with Leslie to try to sort it all out.  We learn that technology is emerging as a geologic force in the Anthropocene.

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The Apocalypse (or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Anthropocene) (22 January 2013)
One month after the Mayan apocalypse of 2012, the Generation Anthropocene team of Leslie Chang, Mike Osborne, and Miles Traer chat about the relations between the Anthropocene and apocalyptic pop-culture stories… including a crucial role zombies played in the creation of this podcast.

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What Would Jesus Do (about climate change)? (15 January 2013)
Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe discusses her Christianity in the context of her academic career… and her marriage to a one time climate skeptic.  She also reflects on whether or not the Anthropocene might have begun with Adam & Eve’s exodus from the Garden of Eden.

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A cosmic twin study (08 January 2013)
Astrobiologist David Grinspoon takes the anthropocene off-planet to our nearest cosmic neighbor Venus and discusses what we learn about climate change here on Earth from Venus’ catastrophic green-house effect.

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Let’s get a little poetic (01 January 2013)
We start off 2013 with Kevin Hearle, who performs two poems from his collection Each Thing We Know Is Changed Because We Know It and Other Poems. His poems reflect on the rapid cultural and environmental changes that occurred in Southern California in the 20th century as the state was flooded with newcomers from the East coast and the Midwest.

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Gen Anthro 2012 Reflections: Producers’ Edition (25 December 2012)
It’s the end of 2012, and producers Mike Osborne, Leslie Chang, and Miles Traer get together to chat about the past year of Generation Anthropocene. We rehash some of our favorite interviews, off-mic moments, and Mike’s world-renowned dancing skills. Happy holidays everyone, and thank you so much for listening!

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Balance of evidence revisited (18 December 2012)
Climate scientist and MacArthur genius Ben Santer takes us back in time to 1995 to a key turning point in the history of climate change science. He also discusses the origin of the historic statement, “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.”

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Wrapping our heads around geoengineering (12 December 2012)
Environmental engineer Granger Morgan explains how to use aerosols to control climate change, why it’s a “Faustian bargain,” all building to the terrifying realization that even a rogue individual with a few billion dollars can do this.

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Genetic evolution & the antiquated concept of race (04 December 2012)
From early human migration out of Africa to covering the continents, Marcus Feldman uses DNA to tell the story of how our genes have evolved, and why people still don’t “have it in their heads” just how similar we all are.

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Season 3

Dateline Mars: First news from Curiosity (27 November 2012)
Planetary geologist Ken Herkenhoff recounts the Curiosity rover’s “seven minutes of terror” descent, discusses what she has seen so far during her brief time on Mars, and explains why team members at both NASA and the USGS refer to Curiosity as “she.”

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From startup to your dinner table (20 November 2012)
Co-founder of the Local Food Lab Krysia Zajonc makes her case for the crucial role of business within the sustainable food movement, including examples of startups her business has helped off the ground.

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Critical Mass: A documentary on global population (13 November 2012)
Filmmaker Mike Freedman discusses his debut documentary, Critical Mass where he explores how the growing population alters the social and psychological environment.

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Life in the Post Natural World (06 November 2012)
The curator for the Museum of PostNatural History describes a new way for us to view how humans control the evolutionary path of other organisms.

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Earth’s tipping points & abrupt climate change (30 October 2012)
Climate researcher and host of PBS’s Earth: The Operators’ Manual Richard Alley discusses rapid changes in Earth’s climate through history and how this relates to our impacts today.  Does the Earth’s climate have dials, or switches?

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Are you afraid of climate change? (23 October 2012)
Michael Shellenberger addresses climate change through the eyes of his Breakthrough Institute and offers up some ideas that some see as controversial.

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Whiskey is for drinkin’ and water is for fightin’ over (16 October 2012)
Dive into water security and policy with Buzz Thompson, leading expert in environmental and natural resources law.  From his grandfather’s farm to the US Supreme Court, Buzz has water issues covered.  And he even finds a little time for tennis with Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

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The elephant in the warming room: food & climate (09 October 2012)
In this interview on food security and the environment, Dave Lobell explains the global food system, the monkey-wrench of climate change, and the prospects for creating a sustainable food system for the future.

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An entrepreneur’s approach to the Anthropocene (02 October 2012)
Former HP executive Debra Dunn discusses the power of entrepreneurship, the changing culture of business and what she learned on a recent trip to Cuba.

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Emerging infectious disease in the Anthropocene (25 September 2012)
In this interview we learn how diseases emerge and spread as humans encroach into the wilderness and how the patterns will change in our warming world… hemorrhagic fever hopefully not included.

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Sustainability and the Green Revolution (18 September 2012)
We sit down with MacArthur “genius” and Stanford University’s Dean of the School of Earth Sciences and tackle the politics of sustainable agriculture and how we might go about feeding 9 billion people.

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F**cking science: the science of shale gas (11 September 2012)
Geophysicist and US Energy Council advisor Mark Zoback clarifies the misunderstood science of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking.

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Season 2

Conserving culture through biodiversity (04 September 2012)
Luis Zambrano discusses preserving Aztec culture through a rare salamander in the Mexico City wetlands and compares emerging conservation battles in Mexico to those already fought in the States.

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The pragmatic conservationist (28 August 2012)
The chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy discusses his definition of nature, partnering with multi-national corporations and challenges the assertion that nature is fragile.

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Nitrogen: The element behind all your food (21 August 2012)
Peter Vitousek puts the global nitrogen cycle in the spotlight and discusses its intricate connection to the modern food production system. That includes that sandwich you ate for lunch.

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Conservation in the Anthropocene (14 August 2012)
In our second compilation, we bring together voices from the Leopold Leadership Program to investigate the changing nature and changing goals of conservation in the Anthropocene.

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The law of climate change (14 August 2012)
Climate scientist-turned-legal scholar Michael Wara steps back from looking for international, silver-bullet solutions to the climate crisis in favor of local-scale experimentation.

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Revisit a classic: Save the whales 2.0 (31 July 2012)
Marine biologist Leah Gerber catches hell from all sides on the issue of whaling as she proposes solutions that break the “save the whales” mold.

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Yogurt & the apocalypse: The narratives of environmentalism (24 July 2012)
Literary critic and pop culture enthusiast Ursula Heise dissects environmental storytelling and its relation to science… both real and fiction.

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A view from the treetops (17 July 2012)
“Canopy” Meg gives us a different perspective on forest ecology.

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Massive changes under the Arctic ice (10 July 2012)
A former NASA scientist and polar oceanographer discusses a stunning and unexpected biological discovery in the Arctic… hint: it’s alive!

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Building a sustainable future through business (03 July 2012)
University of Michigan business school professor shares examples of the integration of environmental issues into corporate culture.

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Heading to Hell in a handbasket (27 June 2012)
44 years after publishing The Population Bomb, the iconic professor and MacArthur “genius” reflects on the history of environmentalism and his gloomy outlook for the future.

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Western religion and the environment (27 June 2012)
Religious studies scholar Brent Sockness discusses the interplay of science and faith over the history of western cultures.

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Season 1

The terms of life: Looking at the Anthropocene through history (22 April 2012)
MacArthur “genius” and author of Are you an environmentalist or do you work for a living? explains how our notions of wilderness are fantasy and critiques the conception of the Anthropocene.

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We can’t save everything: The road to triage (22 April 2012)
Conservation biologist Terry Root discusses her somewhat controversial approach to saving species in the face of climate change.

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The rock hard truth of mass extinctions (22 April 2012)
We discuss the largest extinction in history (where Earth lost over 90% of life) and just how we measure such events using the rock record.

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Delicious, nutritious, sustainable food (22 April 2012)
Stanford University School of Medicine nutritionist discusses the health impacts of everything we cram into our bellies… but still finds a way to keep pizza.

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Our evolving understanding of tropical biodiversity (22 April 2012)
MacArthur winning ecologist Bill Durham takes us to the Galapagos Islands and his love of evolution and takes us to his front lawn to tell us a story involving his parents’ lawn mower.

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The Anthropocene frontier! (22 April 2012)
Former journalist and environmental historian Jon Christensen deconstructs the mythos of the American frontier and makes his case for the placement of the Anthropocene boundary.

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Tropical ecology in the Anthropocene (22 April 2012)
Spirited biologist Rodolfo Dirzo discusses the complex interplay of climate change with other systems and his personal relation to the Anthropocene.

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Australian anthropology and how humans control their environment (22 April 2012)
Field anthropologist Doug Bird discusses landscape manipulation through the lens of the native Martu peoples of Australia’s unforgiving western desert.

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The (slow) rise of sustainable energy (22 April 2012)
The director of Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project discusses recent innovations in solar technology and our transition to carbon-free energy.

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Renewable energy as nothing more than efficiency (22 April 2012)
This environmental engineer tells us of an often overlooked renewable resource: energy efficiency.

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The social justice of food (22 April 2012)
Agroecologist and the new head of the Stanford Farm Project talks about fresh ways of looking at our food system.

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Engineering ourselves for the climate crisis (22 April 2012)
Environmental engineer Leonard Ortolano laments the dwindling impact of the States’ global water policy.

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Welcome to Generation Anthropocene! (22 April 2012)
In our pilot episode, we combine voices from our entire first season to explore the boundaries of the Anthropocene.