Category: Environmental Engineering

The Planet Remade

In 2011, author and editor Oliver Morton wrote a cover article for “The Economist” titled: Welcome to the Anthropocene. Many credit this article with jumpstarting popular interest in the term. On today’s show, producer Miles Traer sits down with Morton to discuss the anthropocene in the context of his new book titled “The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change The World.” The conversation touches on everything from READ MORE

The Stakes

Climate change is one of the many defining characteristics of the Anthropocene.  But it’s about more than greenhouse gases, energy consumption, and rising temperatures.  Climate matters because of the ways it interacts with us.  So what is at stake?  On today’s show, we’re looking at those stakes at the global scale.  Our first story is about the link between climate change and human conflict, reaching across the planet and back through human history.  Our second story is about a radical approach that might enable humans to control the climate system – geoengineering.

This episode was produced by Leslie Chang, Mike Osborne, and Miles Traer.
Additional music by Kevin MacLeod (License available here)

Science…Sort Of & GenAnthro: Where the wild things aren’t

On today’s episode, our friend and co-creator of the wildly popular Science…Sort Of podcast, Ryan Haupt, joins us to talk about Pleistocene re-wilding.  If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry!  Follow along as we try to figure it out too.  Along the way, Ryan touches on the science of Iron Man, African elephant birth control, running zebras in the Kentucky Derby, and the worst safari ever.


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[ESSAY] What happened to the middle in the GMO debate?

This essay was written by Miles Traer.  If you’d like to hear Miles read it, click play below.


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The debate surrounding genetically modified organisms, often called GMOs, is an absolute mess.  A huge part of the argument stems from genetically modified foods.  Some people trumpet GM wheat and corn for its drought resistance and ability to feed more people in parts of the world that desperately need food.  Others point to unwanted side effects like the creation of super-weeds and the potential loss of biodiversity as reasons to be wary of this new technology. But what drove my desire to do a GMO story for Generation Anthropocene was something entirely different and was born from two intertwined questions: how did the GMO discussion become so polarized and why does it continue to feel like the topic of GMOs doesn’t allow for a middle ground? READ MORE

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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The (mad) science of geoengineering

Climate scientist Ken Caldeira begins with a discussion of ocean acidification, a term he helped coin.  He follows with the story of how his name became attached to geoengineering, from his own skeptical beginnings to publishing a paper that basically said, “well, it works in the models but don’t try this at home.”  Along the way, Caldeira also shares some funny experiences addressing climate skeptics, including how geoengineering has even helped persuade a few.
[audio:http://www.stanford.edu/group/anthropocene/cgi-bin/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Caldeira-Ken-Mike.mp3|titles=Ken Caldeira with Mike & Miles]
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Port response to sea level rise

Ship’s captain turned researcher, Austin Becker, looks to the future for how ports will respond to sea level rise. He explains the importance of ports for world trade, the time horizons for port planning, and the plans to brace for rising seas (or lack thereof).
[audio:http://www.stanford.edu/group/anthropocene/cgi-bin/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Port-response-to-SLR.mp3|titles=Austin Becker & Lindley]
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Welcome to the… Technosphere?

In this interview, Dr. Peter Haff of Duke sits down with Mike (and Mike sits down with Leslie) to explain the Technosphere. We learn that technology is emerging as a geologic force, what that means for the future of the planet, and how geologic perspectives are being reshaped in the Anthropocene.
[audio:http://www.stanford.edu/group/anthropocene/cgi-bin/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Haff-Peter-Mike.mp3|titles=Peter Haff & Mike Osborne]
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The Apocalypse (or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Anthropocene)

One month after the Mayan apocalypse of 2012, the Generation Anthropocene team of Leslie Chang, Mike Osborne, and Miles Traer chat about the relations between the Anthropocene and apocalyptic pop-culture stories.  Mike reveals the apocalyptic history of the podcast, Miles explains how he thinks the narrative of apocalypse has changed in the shadow of the Anthropocene, and Leslie does her best to keep them both on the rails instead of discussing zombies… again.
[audio:http://www.stanford.edu/group/anthropocene/cgi-bin/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/AnthropoceneApocalypse.mp3|titles=The Anthropocene Apocalypse]
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