Category: Water Security

Scars of the Past

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

Hidden Water

Most of the changes scientists see on our planet are either visible to the naked eye or directly measurable.  But changes to our water systems are among the most difficult to see.  In this episode, we travel from the Antarctic ice sheet capturing over 60 percent of all freshwater on Earth, to massive groundwater aquifers that remain particularly elusive, to a freshwater system that acts as the primary economic, cultural, and environmental driver of southern Asia.  In short, we go in search of hidden water.

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


The Largest Mass Poisoning in History

In the mid-1980s, a small problem began to surface in a relatively obscure corner of the world.  In 1994, just about a decade later, the World Health Organization published a statement that this little problem had developed into “the largest mass poisoning of a population in history.”  On today’s show, we speak to the doctors, epidemiologists, and geologists who helped hunt down the origin of this tragic event.  Join us as we venture through the human body and through geologic time to uncover the twists and turns and remarkable coincidences responsible for this ongoing epidemic.

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[ESSAY] How am I supposed to answer “Are we screwed?”

This essay was written by Mike Osborne.  If you wish to hear Mike read it, click play below.
[audio:|titles=Audio Essay: Are we screwed?]
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As a climate scientist in training, the most common question I get from my non-science friends is this: “So, are we just, like… screwed?” That’s it. That’s the question I get. Are we screwed?

It took a while for me to get comfortable with this question, and, at first, I had no idea how to react. This is a really interesting question to be asked. It’s vague, full of fear, and totally lacking any nuance whatsoever. Actually, if I’m honest with myself, it’s the question that drove me to become a climate scientist in the first place. Ten years ago I walked away from college thinking, “The planet is screwed, we’re all screwed. Or, at least I think we’re screwed. But wait…are we really screwed? Maybe not. Shoot, I don’t know. I don’t have enough information here. I’ll go back to school.” READ MORE

The human cost of climate change

Expert on international law Andrew Guzman takes a step back from analyzing climate change in terms of degrees and meters of sea level rise and breaks down all the ways climate change will affect humanity.  Dr. Guzman offers this perspective through his new book, Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change.  From environmental refugees to changing disease vectors to social conflict, Guzman illustrates how nearly all of our human systems interact with climate and therefore will feel the effects of even +2C.
[audio:|titles=Andrew Guzman & Mike]
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Whiskey is for drinkin’ & water is for fightin’ over

Expert in natural resources law and policy Buzz Thompson starts with a story of how his grandfather was tricked into selling his farm to the city of Los Angeles so they could get access to water on his land.  He then dives into water security and discusses the true cost of water, the complications in the US water law system, and what it was like to clerk for Justice William Rehnquist (which, it turns out, happened to involve quite a bit of tennis).
[audio:|titles=Buzz Thompson & Jens]
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The elephant in the warming room: food & climate

Food security expert David Lobell takes us around the world to give us a taste of the global food production system.  He discusses the wide range of problems our changing climate will have on agriculture and the prospects for creating a sustainable food system in the future.  And whenever you’re a visible figure and dealing with sensitive issues like food and climate change, there’s always a chance you end up getting hate mail… at 7am.
[audio:|titles=David Lobell & Mike]
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F**cking science: the science of shale gas

Geophysicist and shale gas expert Mark Zoback speaks to the science of hydro-fracking to free shale gas.  He addresses many misconceptions he feels the public weigh too heavily and offers his view on the crucial role natural gas plays as a bridge to renewable energy.  Mark also looks to some critiques of the nuclear energy sector (including Fukushima) and finds intriguing parallels to the shale gas revolution.
[audio:|titles=Mark Zoback & Mike]
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Engineering ourselves for the climate crisis

Environmental engineer Leonard Ortolano reflects on his professional trajectory and how environmentalism has guided water resource planning, gives us a brief history of US environmental assessment work, and explores the complexity of water as it relates to climate change.
[audio:|titles=Leonard Ortolano & Alice]
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