Category: Environmental History

A Slight Digression: Invertebrates

Invertebrates. Gutless, spineless– but perhaps underappreciated invertebrates. We probably don’t spend enough time thinking about that other category of organisms on earth, so on this episode we’re going to spend some time with maybe the most overlooked group of Eukaryotes: Fungi. As it turns out, there are (at least) five MIND BLOWING facts about fungi that we all need to know. We’ll then travel to Southeastern Alaska to study the changing forest community. A wave of climate-driven ecological change is sweeping across the region, and we’ll learn about what this means for forests and the people who live there. Finally on today’s show we leave the invertebrates and debut a new segment that we’re calling Convos with Kau (as in coversation with Kaustubh Thirmulai, PhD candidate in paleoclimate at UT-Austin).

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

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The Odd Natural History of San Francisco

Our co-producer, Miles, gives a talk about San Francisco’s hidden nature that is simultaneously informative, funny, surprising and slightly uncomfortable (you’ll know what we mean when you get there). From the gold rush to the bay to the delicious food, Miles tries to explain why humans ever came to the Bay Area… hint: it involves geology.  The talk was given as part of a collaboration between the California Historical Society and the Odd Salon.


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The Naked Elements

A tale of two men and geology on the roof of the world

Still from John Noel’s 1924 film “The Epic of Everest” (copyright John Noel) showing the tiny figures of George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine’s team as they prepared for the summit attempt.

BY Miles Traer
Part I – Onto the Mountain

I’m sitting in a warm room wearing flannel pajamas with a hot meal in my belly when the title card on the movie fades and the 90-year-old film begins to flicker.  The circular aperture is neatly divided along a diagonal line: READ MORE

[ESSAY] Four geologists that nature just couldn’t kill

Most of the epic survival stories you’ve read probably involve crazy mountain climbers, adventurous cave divers, or bearded and grizzled desert hikers.  Scientists aren’t typically mentioned in this company.  But sometimes, geologists find themselves enduring nature’s worst in the pursuit of that must-have dataset… or at least, a dataset that seemed really important at the time.  Here are three stories about four geologists who found themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time when nature removed her flowery veil and donned her murder hat.  But before I get into those, it needs to be said that people perished during the events of some of these stories.  Given that, please consider this a celebration of the perseverance, luck, good fortune, and bad-assery of those who survived. READ MORE

[ESSAY] The crazy history of 3 ridiculous geological theories

Science is constantly reinventing itself, revising past theories and proposing new ideas that hopefully further our understanding of the world.  Copernicus proposed the heliocentric solar system, Newton had gravity, and Einstein gave us relativity.  But every once in a while, a theory gets proposed that’s downright nutty.  Not only that, some of these theories can persist for decades or even centuries.  As these ridiculous theories hang around, sometimes they find themselves intersecting with strange moments in history.  Here, I present the crazy history you’ve never heard of behind 3 ridiculous geological theories. READ MORE

Are you an environmentalist or do you work for a living?

We revisit one of our first interviews with environmental historian Richard White. He addresses the (mis)perceptions of the natural world, the ambiguities surrounding the Anthropocene boundary, and explains what he meant when he wrote the provocative essay “Are you an environmentalist or do you work for a living.”
[audio:http://www.stanford.edu/group/anthropocene/cgi-bin/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/White-Richard-revisit.mp3|titles=Richard White & Judee]
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Stop saving the planet!

Historian, author, and urban park ranger Jenny Price makes her case for throwing out the well-tread “save the planet” mantra in favor of a new environmental approach stemming from social justice, a re-contextualization of nature, and even satire.  In particular, she explains the beauty she finds in recognizing the nature of the concrete Los Angeles river.  As she wraps up, Jenny discusses how her satirical approach to environmentalism has gotten her into trouble involving a hit man.
[audio:http://www.stanford.edu/group/anthropocene/cgi-bin/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Price-Jenny-Aaron.mp3|titles=Jenny Price with Aaron & Mike]
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Gen Anthro 2012 Reflections: Producers’ Edition

It’s the end of 2012, and producers Mike Osborne, Leslie Chang, and Miles Traer get together to chat about the past year of Generation Anthropocene. We rehash some of our favorite interviews, off-mic moments, and Mike’s world-renowned dancing skills. Happy holidays everyone, and thank you so much for listening!
[audio:http://www.stanford.edu/group/anthropocene/cgi-bin/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Xmas-special-episode.mp3|titles=Gen Anthro 2012 Reflections: Producers’ Edition]
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Balance of evidence revisited

Climate scientist and MacArthur genius Ben Santer takes us back in time to 1995 to a key turning point in the history of climate change science. He reflects on the second IPCC report and the moment he realized the political stakes of global warming.  He also discusses the origin of the historic statement, “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.”
[audio:http://www.stanford.edu/group/anthropocene/cgi-bin/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Santer-Ben-Mike.mp3|titles=Benjamin Santer & Mike]
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