Author: Leslie Chang

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.

Interview: Ryan Kelly

What if you you could scoop up a jar of seawater and use it to figure out what species were in that part of the ocean? Today we’re able to do that with a new scientific technique analyzing environmental DNA, or eDNA for short. In this episode, we talk to Ryan Kelly, an ecologist and lawyer at the forefront of eDNA research, about the technique itself, how it’s changing what we can learn about the ocean, and how that might impact policy.

How We Grow

Humans are a force radically reshaping the Earth’s surface – but what forces are shaping homo sapiens? Today on the show, we feature two stories. First we look at ongoing human evolution and genetic mutations (btw, we are still evolving). Our second piece is about a human and animal instinct that we rarely think about – the impulse to play.

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Oh Right, the Animals

Today: border critters and beaked whales. Two stories about human actions disrupting the ecosystems and lives of other animals with whom we share the planet. First, a tale of how the U.S. Navy’s sonar activities created an acoustic storm in the Great Bahama Canyon, impacting a population of remarkable, rare whales. Second, we brush the dust off a once-forgotten research paper about the likely ecological impacts of a coast-to-coast U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Featuring student producers Denley Delaney and Maddy Belin; sound design by Jackson Roach. Image credit: Blainville’s Beaked Whale, by MatthewGrammatico.

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Gen Anthro featured in Stanford News

Over the past two weeks, reporter Taylor Kubota talked to many members of Team Gen Anthro – me, Mike, Miles, Tom, and our student Meghan Shea – about the podcast, class, and history of the project. We’re all very excited to be featured in Stanford News! Taylor’s piece documents what we’ve been up to in the past six months, especially the courses that Mike, Miles, and I taught at Stanford in fall quarter 2016 and winter quarter 2017. Also, shout-out to all the campus partners who supported the project! We are so grateful.

Read the full article here: “Stanford’s Generation Anthropocene podcast is back”

Also, Worldivew social media maven Ali took a bunch of photos of the class. Check out a few below!

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Seasons 1–6: playlists

Welcome to the archives of Generation Anthropocene. Seasons 1 through 6 ran from April 2012 to August 2014. We talked to dozens of experts, scientists, writers, thinkers, entrepreneurs, filmmakers, and more. Back in day, we pretty much only did long-form interviews, though you’ll find a few produced pieces sprinkled in. Every episode has its own individual post on our website, but we’ve also organized the seasons into playlists on SoundCloud. Here they are, all in one place, for easy access. Happy listening!

Season 1

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A Tale of Two Grains

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

Environmental Icon David Suzuki

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 READ MORE