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.
One word: PLASTICS! Plastics get a bad rep when it comes to the environment, but at the same time, we all benefit from this often maligned material. Today on the show, producer Miles Traer talks to materials scientist Odile Madden of the Smithsonian. What plastic artifacts define the modern era, and what should we preserve in museums? Are we in the Plastic Age, and if the Anthropocene boundary were defined by plastics, what would the global marker be?
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
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
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
Perhaps you’ve noticed recently that there’s been a shift in way experts are approaching climate change. While much of the focus (rightly) continues to be on “bending the CO2 curve downward,” there’s also been a growing literature on climate adaptation. The sobering reality is that climate change is already upon us – so given that we cannot escape some of the consequences, we’re now faced with a whole new series of 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
Beneath Cambodia’s troubled history with the Khmer Rouge lies a complex agricultural legacy that reaches back centuries. Once the symbol of a thriving region, we see how a prolonged El Nino brought drought and increased human conflict, and how the ruthless Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge looked back to the temples at Angkor Wat and their proud agricultural heritage to motivate the atrocities of the Cambodian genocide. READ MORE
In the late 1970’s, tens of thousands of Brazilian agricultural workers found themselves out of work due to technological advances on farms. To combat the problem, the government, with help from the World Bank, set up a program to settle people into the rainforest and allow them to farm commercial crops. The hitch? No one had tested the soil to see if it could support the crops being grown. From there, the ambitious social and ecological experiment quickly turned into a nightmare of Hollywood proportions involving strife between ranchers and local tribes, clear cutting of the rainforest, and disease outbreaks of all kinds. What can we learn from what went wrong in Rondônia?
This episode was produced by Leslie Chang, Mike Osborne, and Miles Traer.
Additional music by Kevin MacLeod (License available here)