Media, nature, and the zeitgeist

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

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. We discuss foodies, Silicon Valley tech culture, the spike in real estate prices, and the gentrification of the city. Rebecca 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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[BLOG] Episode #65: Back to Anthropocene basics

Here’s a moment of honesty from behind the scenes at Gen Anthro: although we had heard wonderful things about Eric Lambin, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy his interview. My skepticism stemmed from the topic of his research – land use change. Sounds really important, but kind of boring, right? I thought the takeaway points from an episode about land use change would probably be predictable, and not very compelling. Humans change the land. There are some negative consequences from this. Cue outro music.

As the oracle bones prophesized, I wasn’t sold on the first listen to the interview tape. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, after I had done two or three rounds of edits on the audio, that I thought, Hang on a second. This interview might actually be awesome, because land use change is the most basic Anthropocene concept out there. Our podcast has been running for over a year; how have we not covered land use change until now?! Continue reading

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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