Author: Leslie Chang

Telltale Signs

Two stories of ecological disruption: the great sea star wasting, and a graveyard of trembling aspens. As climate change unfolds, one of the scariest prospects is that we will witness large scale ecosystem collapse. So is that moment already upon us? Will we be able to recognize the symptoms in time, and do we have enough information to take steps in advance? In both of today’s stories, from the oceans to the mountains, scientists are trying to understand the magnitude of ecological transformation underway – and what that might mean for the future.

Rising Seas in Silicon Valley

Sea level rise is a global concern, and on the whole, policy and funding for mitigation aren’t keeping pace. Today on Gen Anthro, producer Isha Salian shares a story about a unique mitigation method in the San Francisco Bay Area – wetlands restoration, which is happening right next door to Silicon Valley’s biggest tech campuses. The Bay Area has a reputation for being environmentally conscious, but even here, local ecologists and policy makers are facing big challenges.

Isha originally produced this story for Peninsula Press, a project of Stanford Journalism. The Gen Anthro version of the piece has been edited by Leslie Chang and Mike Osborne.

State of the Human’s ‘Crashing’

Once upon a time, Miles crashed a server with his project Geology of Game of Thrones. Today on the show, we’re featuring a short piece in which Miles shares the backstory to the project (and the server hullaballoo), as well as the connection he sees between Geology of GoT and the Anthropocene. Today’s episode was produced by Eileen Williams of the Stanford Storytelling Project, and was originally broadcast on their podcast State of the Human.

Check out the entire State of the Human episode Crashing.

Interview: Admiral Lee Gunn

How is climate change going to affect national security and the work of our armed forces? On today’s show, Admiral Lee Gunn shares his perspective on this overlooked topic. Now retired from the Navy, Admiral Gunn has been working on connections between climate and military intervention for many years. In this conversation, he discusses the implications for climate refugees, the idea of climate change as a threat multiplier, the politics inside the armed forces, and some of new technologies the military is adopting as the climate threat grows.

Trump on Earth’s ‘The Climate of Mann’

Trump on Earth is a new podcast about the environment under the Trump administration. They’re doing a fantastic job keeping tabs on policy changes coming out of Washington, so today on Gen Anthro, we want to feature one of their episodes – an interview with renowned climate scientist Michael Mann. Back in March, Mann testified before the House Science committee, and in this interview he talks about what it was like to be the ONLY participant on the panel who supported the scientific consensus on global warming.

Interview: Camille Dungy

How do cultural constructs, like race, influence our relationship to the natural world? Poet and professor Camille Dungy explores this question by highlighting African-American voices in her 2009 anthology, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. In this conversation with producer Jackson Roach, Camille shares her perspective on the intersection of race, identity, history, and the human-environment relationship.

Interview: Paul Shapiro

Are you a vegetarian, a vegan, or a lapsed vegetarian? Do you eat meat and feel a little conflicted about it? No matter where you fall on the spectrum, Paul Shapiro wants to welcome you into the conversation around animal agriculture. Shapiro is an animal rights activist and the Vice President of Policy for the Humane Society of the United States. With producers Benji Jones and Mike Osborne, Shapiro talks about the intersection of the environmental and animal welfare motivations to eat less meat. They also talk about alternatives to livestock slaughter, including plant-based meats and the emerging field of clean meats.

Interview: Odile Madden

One word: PLASTICS! Plastics get a bad rep when it comes to the environment, but at the same time, we all benefit from this often maligned material. Today on the show, producer Miles Traer talks to materials scientist Odile Madden of the Smithsonian. What plastic artifacts define the modern era, and what should we preserve in museums? Are we in the Plastic Age, and if the Anthropocene boundary were defined by plastics, what would the global marker be?

Ginkgo

Today, Ginkgo biloba is a common street tree, found in cities all over the world. But believe it or not, it was once almost lost to extinction. This once global tree retreated into a tiny relic community, only found in a few valleys in China. But about 1,000 years ago, humans discovered ginkgo, thought it was beautiful and useful, and began to cultivate it. From there, in time, it spread across the planet again. This makes ginkgo arguably our oldest conservation project.

This episode of Gen Anthro tracks the entire journey of the ginkgo, from its emergence to its decline, to its resurgence. The story is also partly based on a book by Sir Peter Crane, former dean of the Yale School of Forestry, entitled Ginkgo: the Tree that Time Forgot.