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.
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.
What will New York City look like in 2140? Scifi author Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest novel explores a possible future in which NYC is partly submerged, due to catastrophic sea level rise. In this conversation with producer Mike Osborne, KSR discusses the bedrock of science and economics in New York 2140, his writing process for the novel, and of course, the Anthropocene.
This is the second time Mike has interviewed KSR! Listen to the first conversation here.
Capitalocene – maybe it doesn’t roll off the tongue, but a group of thinkers argue the term is preferable to Anthropocene because it’s more diagnostic of what underlies our environmental problems. One of those thinkers is Christian Parenti, a reporter and scholar. In 2011 Parenti published Tropic of Chaos, a book about the connections between climate and conflict. More recently, he contributed to the book Anthropocene or Capitalocene? where he lays out the case for why the state is an environment-making institution, and why the state should be the entity we look to in order to start remedying environmental issues.
We hear a lot in the news about the Antarctic ice sheet melting – but other than climate change, it’s hard to imagine what else threatens a place so cold, so remote, and so seemingly barren. What other ecological protection could the southern continent possibly need? But Antarctica is…a really weird place. No single country “owns” or governs Antarctica, so decisions about conservation are a huge challenge that involve diplomacy and cooperation. On today’s show, we learn about polar history and the recent fight to save the surprisingly biodiverse waters of Antarctica’s Ross Sea.
Image: John B. Weller
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 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.
We are all hugely grateful for the sense of justice and security that superheroes provide. Their service to society is, of course, immeasurable. However – did you ever stop to consider the environmental impact of all this crime fighting?? …No? Well, we here at Generation Anthropocene are proud to announce that our own Miles Traer, PhD took it upon himself to pioneer a new field of energy accounting. Herein we announce the carbon footprint of superheroes, and, *HOLY ENERGY CONSUMPTION BATMAN*, there are a lot of emissions to account for.
Drawing from his extensive experience as a research scientist, Dr. Traer (again, PhD) addressed many outstanding questions about our caped crusaders’ copious carbon counts. For example, what exactly is the power source Tony Stark uses to power Ironman’s suit? How many calories does Flash eat to run at the speed of light? What rare materials are needed for Spiderman’s webbing?
Again, we recognize the vital role our superheroes play in keeping us all safe. But let us always remember that there are trade-offs, and at the end of the day we ALL need to do our part to help save the planet.
Read the entire Carbon Footprint of Superheroes now!
Prefer to test your knowledge first?! Take the quiz.
John Holdren was President Obama’s senior advisor on science and technology for eight years. In this conversation with producer Mike Osborne, Holdren discusses Obama’s passion for science and its role in all aspects of American life. He also tells us what it’s like to testify in front of Congress, which he calls “piñata day” (it sounds fun…until you realize he’s the piñata). Mike and John end by discussing the future of science and environmental policy under the Trump administration.
The Daily Show clip featuring John Holdren: youtu.be/lPgZfhnCAdI