Category: Season 9

Interview: Camille Dungy

How do cultural constructs, like race, influence our relationship to the natural world? Poet and professor Camille Dungy explores this question by highlighting African-American voices in her 2009 anthology, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. In this conversation with producer Jackson Roach, Camille shares her perspective on the intersection of race, identity, history, and the human-environment relationship.

Carbon Footprint of Superheroes

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.

Interview: Paul Shapiro

Are you a vegetarian, a vegan, or a lapsed vegetarian? Do you eat meat and feel a little conflicted about it? No matter where you fall on the spectrum, Paul Shapiro wants to welcome you into the conversation around animal agriculture. Shapiro is an animal rights activist and the Vice President of Policy for the Humane Society of the United States. With producers Benji Jones and Mike Osborne, Shapiro talks about the intersection of the environmental and animal welfare motivations to eat less meat. They also talk about alternatives to livestock slaughter, including plant-based meats and the emerging field of clean meats.

Interview: Odile Madden

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?

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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Interview: John Holdren

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

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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