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.
by Miles Traer
Over the course of our show, we’ve recorded quite a few interviews covering climate change, from abrupt climate shifts, to sea level rise, to the link between climate and human conflict, to how food systems are responding to warmer temperatures, to climate change on other planets… the list goes on. But one thing we haven’t done? We haven’t tackled the most queried questions on Google about climate scientists themselves. Yep, that’s right. It’s time for another installation of Miles attempts to answer Google Autofill’s questions. Using Google, I typed “are climate scientists” followed by every letter of the alphabet and tried to answer the resulting auto-completed question. This time around, I had a little help from some amazing climate scientists (and contributors to our show) Katharine Hayhoe and Kaustubh Thirumalai: Continue reading
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.
This episode was produced by Leslie Chang, Mike Osborne, and Miles Traer.
Additional music by Kevin MacLeod (License available here)
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.