Food security may be the most important issue we’ll face in the coming decades. With global population on the rise and a changing climate, the future of food is greatly uncertain. These realities have prompted some scientists to start looking at crops that might be well suited to these global changes, foods that are drought resistant and nutritionally rich. That’s where “superfoods” like quinoa and amaranth come in. In this week’s READ MORE
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 READ MORE
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 READ MORE
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 READ MORE
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 READ MORE
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 READ MORE
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 READ MORE
“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 READ MORE
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. READ MORE
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.
Image adapted from Randy Storey
This episode was produced by Leslie Chang, Mike Osborne, and Miles Traer.
Additional music by Kevin MacLeod (License available here)