Contributors

Alley, Richard (climate change researcher)
Climate researcher and host of PBS’s Earth: The Operators’ Manual Richard Alley discusses abrupt climate variations in Earth’s history and what he defines as climate tipping points – leading to a discussion on whether or not Earth’s climate systems has dials, or switches.  He also addresses the socio-economic costs of climate change and why he’s optimistic about our energy future, with links to salted cod in the 1700s.  Alley also reflects on the role of scientists as advocates with some interesting implications for Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin.

Archie, Patrick (agricultural ecologist)
Patrick Archie reflects on the social justice of food, the evolution of his profession, and his vision for community development as it relates to food systems.

Arrigo, Kevin (polar oceanographer)
Kevin Arrigo discusses the often regarded-as-alien environment of the polar regions, the future of environmental awareness of the oceans, and a breaking discovery that may change the way scientists view the Arctic.

Becker, Austin (port and sea level rise researcher)
Austin Becker, a ship’s captain turned researcher, looks to the future for how ports will respond to sea level rise. He explains the importance of ports for world trade, the time horizons for port planning, and the plans to brace for rising seas (or lack thereof).

Beiker, Sven (executive director of Center for Automotive Research at Stanford)
Today, we discuss the future of the automobile and all of its possibilities with Sven Beiker.  Sven discusses car specialization and why the “Swiss Army Knife” car just won’t work.  We also talk about changing driver patterns, connecting your car to the internet, how changing cars might change our roads as well, along with a brief exploration of how the idea of our cars as a symbol of freedom might be shifting.  We also take a second to figure out how to say the plural of the Toyota Prius.

Benson, Sally (director GCEP)
Sally Benson talks about the goals and recent accomplishments of Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), the need to partner with industry, the hopeful signs of alternative energy development, and how her upbringing informed her sense of justice and optimism.

Bird, Doug (anthropologist)
Doug Bird discusses his work with the native Martu peoples of Australia, their perceptions of environment, the history of landscape modification in the remote and harsh Western dessert, and how the spread of homo sapiens relates to the Anthropocene.

Bowman, Tom (founder of Bowman Design Group)
Mountaineer and social entrepreneur Tom Bowman starts us off with a story of survival. With some help from producers Miles Traer and Leslie Chang, Tom explains how survival literature can provide lessons for confronting some of the changes we’re experiencing in the Anthropocene.

Brown, Zach (marine biologist)
After growing up in a remote corner of Alaska, marine biologist Zach Brown wants to start a school to teach future scientists about environmental sciences and sustainability.  Zach tells producers Mike and Leslie about his vision for the Inian Islands Institute (nicknamed “The Hobbit Hole”) and how experiential education is perhaps the best way to clearly see the lost connections between human systems and the natural world.  Zach also remembers what it’s like growing up with only a single television channel, and how often the signal would drop out… with some interesting results.

Caldeira, Ken (climate scientist)
Climate scientist Ken Caldeira begins with a discussion of ocean acidification, a term he helped coin.  He follows with the story of how his name became attached to geoengineering, from his own skeptical beginnings to publishing a paper that basically said, “well, it works in the models but don’t try this at home.”  Along the way, Caldeira also shares some funny experiences addressing climate skeptics, including how geoengineering has even helped persuade a few.

Christensen, Jon (environmental historian)
Jon Christensen discusses the mythos of the American frontier and some of his unique approaches to history.  Christensen also gazes to the future and makes an interesting case for a placement of the Anthropocene boundary.

Dirzo, Rodolfo (tropical evolutionary biologist)
Rodolfo Dirzo discusses the importance of biological diversity, his connection to the Anthropocene, and his work in Central and South America in one of our most spirited conversations.

Dunn, Debra (entrepreneur)
Debra Dunn discusses the (hopefully) changing role of the modern entrepreneur to one committed to positive social & environmental impacts in addition to profits.  She also addresses the increasing emphasis on the individual as opposed to the community and the sorts of problems this emphasis brings.  And finally, while reflecting on what she views as the greatest social injustices in the Anthropocene, Debra Dunn takes us to Cuba and the “grand egalitarian experiment” with some surprising revelations on culture, the arts and even the healthcare system.

Durham, Bill (human ecologist)
Bill Durham discusses his career trajectory including his work in the Galapagos Islands, issues surrounding the new field of eco-tourism, and how a mishap with a lawn mower started his life’s work.

Ehrlich, Paul R. (biologist)
Paul Ehrlich discusses his recent work with the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere (MAHB), returns to his seminal work “The Population Bomb” to discuss cultural v. technological evolution, and the nature of environmental rhetoric.

Ellis, Mike (head of climate change science at the British Geological Survey)
It’s our 50th episode!  To celebrate we sit down with four members of the Anthropocene Working Group: the scientists and experts who are deciding whether or not we formally adopt the Anthropocene into the geologic time table.  We discuss what makes the Anthropocene boundary different than all of the other boundaries in geologic history, how they deal with the increased public attention to this particular boundary, and some cultural ripple effects of the Anthropocene dealing with the Law of the Sea.

Feldman, Marcus (evolutionary biologist)
Evolutionary biologist Marcus Feldman uses DNA to understand early human migration out of Africa. In this interview, we learn the utility of language, how and why early humans spread to all continents, and the idea that people still don’t “have it in their heads” just how similar we all are.

Fendorf, Scott (biogeochemist)
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.

Freedman, Mike (filmmaker)
Filmmaker Mike Freedman explains the creative process behind his debut documentary, Critical Mass. His film explores how the growing population alters the social and psychological environment, and the challenges of equality in a world of 7 billion people.

Gardner, Christopher (nutritionist)
Christopher Gardner discusses the relations of food and society, the modern food movement, and a variety of compelling reasons for rethinking the way we eat in one of our more uplifting conversations.

Gerber, Leah (conservation biologist)
Leah Gerber discusses her work with marine ecosystem conservation, the remarkable backlash to a proposal she and her colleagues made, and the difficulties working between two entrenched ideologies.

Greely, Hank (lawyer)
Hank Greely and Jake Sherkow discuss the science, morals, and ethics of de-extinction: bringing extinct species back to life.  As lawyers with an interest in biotechnologies, Hank and Jake explain how they first got involved with de-extinciton, how scientists propose to bring species back, and discuss the potential for de-extinction technology to help restore damaged ecosystems.  While discussing some potential side effects of this new process, Hank and Jake recall how a man obsessed with William Shakespeare transformed the ecosystem of New England, and how de-extinction might do the same.

Grinspoon, David (astrobiologist)
Astrobiologist David Grinspoon takes the anthropocene off-planet to our nearest cosmic neighbor Venus and discusses what we learn about climate change here on Earth from Venus’ catastrophic green-house effect.  He also takes some time to address George Carlin’s environmental philosophy and talk about his childhood friend and mentor, Carl Sagan.

Guzman, Andrew (international lawyer)
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.

Haff, Peter (neoenvironment specialist)
In this interview, Dr. Peter Haff of Duke sits down with Mike (and Mike sits down with Leslie) to explain the Technosphere. We learn that technology is emerging as a geologic force, what that means for the future of the planet, and how geologic perspectives are being reshaped in the Anthropocene.

Handley, George (literary ecocritic)
Literary ecocritic George Handley discusses how literature ranging from sacred texts like the Bible to Charles Dickens to Twilight shape our perceptions of environmental morality.  He also discusses the influences of the Mormon faith on his environmental ethics, and why he feels “a Christian obligation to listen very carefully to science.”

Haupt, Ryan (paleo-ecologist & podcaster)
Ryan Haupt, our friend and co-creator of the wildly popular Science…Sort Of podcast, joins us to talk about Pleistocene re-wilding. Along the way, Ryan touches on the science of Iron Man, African elephant birth control, running zebras in the Kentucky Derby, and the worst safari ever.

Hayhoe, Katharine (climate scientist)
Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe discusses her Christianity in the context of her academic career… and her marriage to a one time climate skeptic.  She also reflects on whether or not the Anthropocene might have begun with Adam & Eve’s exodus from the Garden of Eden.

Hearle, Kevin (poet)
Kevin Hearle performs two poems from his collection Each Thing We Know Is Changed Because We Know It and Other Poems. His poems reflect on the rapid cultural and environmental changes that occurred in Southern California in the 20th century as the state was flooded with newcomers from the East coast and the Midwest. Kevin also discusses the life of a poet, which for him has involved quite a few peanut butter sandwiches.

Heise, Ursula (literary critic)
Ursula Heise discusses the construction of environmental & earth science narratives, the origins and perhaps misuse of apocalyptic environmental stories, and some of the ways she hopes environmental discourse proceeds in the Anthropocene – a term she finds deeply intriguing.

Herkenhoff, Ken (Mars Curiosity scientist)
In 1968, the Saturn V rocket pushed the frontier 250,000 miles (400,000 km) to the moon. Now, in 2012, Curiosity has moved the frontier 1,000 times farther.  Planetary geologist and member of the Mars Curiosity science team Ken Herkenhoff recounts the dicey “seven minutes of terror,” discusses the incredible technology on the rover, and what we’ve learned in the short time Curiosity has been on the Martian surface.  He also addresses the cultural significance of space exploration and why NASA and the USGS refer to Curiosity as “she.”

Hoffman, Andy (sustainable enterprise)
Andy Hoffman talks about the necessity of “dark greens” and “light greens,” the waning meaning of environmental rhetoric, and the difficulties of forming a social consensus around climate change.

Jones, James Holland (biological anthropologist)
James Holland Jones explains how diseases typically spread from animal to human populations and how that might change as our planet continues to warm.  He also discusses how we might prevent future epidemics with limited vaccines by looking to community structure and identifying the key bridge populations.  Without getting too apocalyptic… ok fine, getting a little apocalyptic… Jones also looks to diseases of the past to pick the one that is most likely to be a serious problem in the future, hemorrhagic fever hopefully not included.  Hypochondriacs beware, it’s all infectious disease on this episode of Generation Anthropocene!

Jones, Reece (geographer)
Geographer Reece Jones discusses his recent book “Border Walls,” examining the history of how and why societies have chosen to literally wall themselves apart.  He gives a brief history of political maps, how international lines reshape landscapes, and how the trend towards increased border wall construction contrasts with the view of a “borderless” world under globalization.  Jones also reveals which border wall is actually visible from space.

Kareiva, Peter (chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy)
The chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy Peter Kareiva challenges historical landscapes as the goal of conservation, discusses how to develop econometrics in the Anthropocene, and how he uses science to build an unbiased view of nature.  He also takes a brief moment to address his public image as something of a provocateur.

Kloor, Keith (journalist)
Today, we take a little bit of break from talking about science to instead talk about how media covers science, particularly the reporting on genetically modified organisms (more commonly called GMOs).  It’s a contentious subject, and Keith talks about why people tend to take it so personally, when he got interested in GMOs, and what caused him to become the “crop cop.”

Lambin, Eric (land use change)
Eric Lambin discusses how globalization and international trade can drive land use change in unexpected ways, and explains the concept of potentially arable cropland (PAC). He also emphasizes the importance of “peak land” in the Anthropocene, especially for policy makers.

Lobell, David (food security)
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 our food security and the prospects for creating a sustainable food system in the future.

Lowman, “Canopy” Meg (forest ecologist)
“Canopy” Meg Lowman talks about her trail-blazing journeys with a homemade harness into the treetops, the strange and unknown world of the rainforest canopy, and some of her recent work restoring forests in Ethiopia.

Lubchenco, Jane (oceanographer, former head of NOAA)
Jane Lubchenco, the former head of the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), discusses what it’s like being asked to join the president’s “science team,” the tremendous breadth of research covered by NOAA, and what it’s like sitting in an airplane flying through hurricane Sandy.  Dr. Lubchenco also reflects on her work as a science communicator and the now “platinum standard” of open science communication she helped develop at NOAA.

Marris, Emma (writer)
Emma Marris is the author of Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. She discusses conservation in the Anthropocene, and how we should widen our repertoire of conservation strategies, rather than exclusively relying on traditional conservation methods that “look backwards.”

Masters, Gil (environmental engineer)
Gil Masters highlights the importance of buildings in shaping our energy demands and explores the potential of energy efficiency while offering fresh and practical solutions to the energy and climate crisis.

Matson, Pam (sustainable agriculture & dean of Stanford’s school of earth sciences)
Pam Matson discusses her agricultural research in the Yaqui Valley and how it relates to the Green Revolution.  She also reflects upon the politics of sustainable agriculture and how we might go about feeding the 9 billion people we expect in the coming decades.  As a final thought, she offers some advice to those who are coming of age in the Anthropocene, and why we shouldn’t waste our time trying to assign blame.

Meriwether, Graham (filmmaker)
Filmmaker Graham Meriwether sits down with Leslie to discuss his new documentary American Meat: A Leave It Better Story that investigates the current condition of the meat production industry in the States.  He explains the importance of focusing on the farmers and why he’s optimistic about the future of farming.  After the interview, Leslie had to call Graham back to discuss an unusual situation that developed during a screening of his film on the Stanford University campus.

Mix, Hari (mountaineer, PhD student)
Hari Mix is a mountaineer, PhD student, and friend of the Gen Anthro producers. We split his interview into 2 episodes – in this first half, Hari talks about how he got into mountaineering, and some of his experiences climbing mountains in Colorado and Kazakhstan. He also reflects on a close shave with a collapsed ice bridge in Tajikistan, and on the role of risk in mountaineering. In part 2, he talks about his experience climbing Mt. Lhotse in the spring of 2013.

Moore, Fran (PhD student)
Fran Moore talks about various ways that farmers in Europe have adjusted to higher temperatures in recent years, and sheds light on the difficulty of singling out the effect of climate change on farmers’ decision-making. She also discusses how differently climate scientists and economists view adaptation.

Morgan, Granger (environmental engineer)
Drift into the stratosphere as environmental engineer Granger Morgan explains how to use aerosols to control climate change and why he calls this a bit of a Faustian bargain.  He also discusses what position the States would have to find itself in to actually do this as he builds to the terrifying realization that an individual (or a nation for that matter) with a few billion dollars could make the unilateral decision to go ahead and change the climate.

Orlowski, Jeff (filmmaker)
Director Jeff Orlowski takes us behind the scenes of his widely praised documentary Chasing Ice, which captured stunning time lapse images of retreating and melting glaciers.  He discusses the public reaction to his film, what it’s like working in harsh Arctic conditions, and his emotions witnessing firsthand glaciers the size of Manhattan fracturing and falling into the oceans.

Ortolano, Leonard (environmental engineer)
Leonard Ortolano reflects on his professional trajectory and how environmentalism has guided water resource planning, a brief history of US environmental assessment work, and explored the complexity of water as it relates to climate change.

Payne, Jon (paleobiologist/geologist)
Jon Payne discusses Earth’s previous mass extinctions including his work on the largest extinction in Earth’s history, how geologists define boundaries, our current understanding of deep time, and how geologists view the Anthropocene debate.

Pell, Richard (curator for the museum of postnatural history)
Curator for the Museum of PostNatural History in Pittsburgh, PA and assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon, Richard (Rich) Pell describes a new way for us to view how humans control the evolutionary path of other organisms – the growing field of PostNaturalism.  Pell walks us through his museum, explains how he arrived at the concept of postnaturalism, and shares some of the surprising reactions his visitors experience along the tour.

Price, Jenny (historian)
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.

Root, Terry (biologist)
Terry Root talks about her approach to bio-diversity loss, earth science communication, and the far-reaching impacts of humankind in our most heart-felt interview to date.

Santer, Benjamin (climate scientist)
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.”

Schulze-Makuch, Dirk (astrobiologist)
If we’re looking for how life will respond to rapid environmental changes, we should probably look to bacteria adapted to live in extreme environments – what scientists call extremophiles.  Astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch examines the Anthropocene with thought experiments of bacteria throughout the solar system, using scientific principles documented on Earth.  He discusses known extremophiles, asteroid impacts, and the importance of keeping an open mind when analyzing evolutionary trajectories on Earth.

Shellenberger, Michael (president of Breakthrough Institute)
Co-founder of the Breakthrough Institute Michael Shellenberger discusses the cultural relevance of the Anthropocene and why it’s a term that so many people have adopted.  He also addresses the complex topic of climate change, how he deals with climate uncertainty, and spends some time reflecting on whether or not climate change scares him.

Sherkow, Jacob (lawyer)
Hank Greely and Jake Sherkow discuss the science, morals, and ethics of de-extinction: bringing extinct species back to life.  As lawyers with an interest in biotechnologies, Hank and Jake explain how they first got involved with de-extinciton, how scientists propose to bring species back, and discuss the potential for de-extinction technology to help restore damaged ecosystems.  While discussing some potential side effects of this new process, Hank and Jake recall how a man obsessed with William Shakespeare transformed the ecosystem of New England, and how de-extinction might do the same.

Smith, Allan (epidemiologist)
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.

Sockness, Brent (religious studies)
Brent Sockness discusses his work studying Judeo-Christianity, the religious overtones within the environmental movement, and the often overlooked role religion might play in the Anthropocene.

Solnit, Rebecca (writer)
Rebecca Solnit is a writer who lives in San Francisco. She has written 14 books covering a wide range of topics, including history, the environment, politics, wandering, and art. She is a frequent contributor to Harper’s and TomDispatch.com. Rebecca’s most recent book, entitled The Faraway Nearby, was published in June 2013.

Steinmaus, Craig (environmental toxicologist)
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.

Thompson, Buzz (environmental and natural resources law and policy)
Dive into water security and policy with Buzz Thompson, leading expert in environmental and natural resources law.  From his grandfather’s farm to the US Supreme Court, Buzz has water issues covered.  And he even finds a little time for tennis with Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Vidas, Davor (law of the sea expert)
It’s our 50th episode!  To celebrate we sit down with four members of the Anthropocene Working Group: the scientists and experts who are deciding whether or not we formally adopt the Anthropocene into the geologic time table.  We discuss what makes the Anthropocene boundary different than all of the other boundaries in geologic history, how they deal with the increased public attention to this particular boundary, and some cultural ripple effects of the Anthropocene dealing with the Law of the Sea.

Vitousek, Peter (biologist)
With all of the attention paid to global climate change and the disruption of the carbon cycle, Peter Vitousek discusses the serious impacts humankind has had on the nitrogen cycle and how that relates to our food system.  He expands on the modern food production system as the primary driver of land use change, and explains just what he means when he says he wants to make the world a less homogeneous place with some interesting cultural implications.

Wara, Michael (climate scientist-turned-legal scholar)
Michael Wara discusses the nuts and bolts of greenhouse gas reduction programs and questions the value of the long-standing search for a one-size-fits-all, silver bullet solution.  He makes a case for small-scale experimentation when dealing with climate change and offers a few thoughts on why bad political ideas just never die.

Weiler, Nick (neuroscientist)
What does brain science have to do with the Anthropocene? We’re not entirely sure. But the Generation Anthropocene team is venturing into the world of the brain with the editor of the Neuwrite blog to talk about it anyways. Neuroscientist Nick Weiler discusses powerful new techniques used to map the brain at the molecular scale and how the manipulation of mouse whiskers can teach us how the brain changes as we learn.

White, Richard (environmental historian)
Richard White addresses the (mis)perceptions of the natural world, the ambiguities surrounding the Anthropocene boundary, and his approach to environmental history.

Williams, Mark (paleobiologist)
It’s our 50th episode!  To celebrate we sit down with four members of the Anthropocene Working Group: the scientists and experts who are deciding whether or not we formally adopt the Anthropocene into the geologic time table.  We discuss what makes the Anthropocene boundary different than all of the other boundaries in geologic history, how they deal with the increased public attention to this particular boundary, and some cultural ripple effects of the Anthropocene dealing with the Law of the Sea.

Zajonc, Krysia (co-founder Local Food Lab)
Co-founder of the Local Food Lab Krysia Zajonc makes her case for the crucial role of business within the sustainable food movement.  She also talks about the seeds of her business germinating in Costa Rica, some of the startups growing out of Local Food Lab, and takes time to address some of the frustrations people have with sustainable food.

Zalasiewicz, Jan (paleobiologist/stratigrapher)
It’s our 50th episode!  To celebrate we sit down with four members of the Anthropocene Working Group: the scientists and experts who are deciding whether or not we formally adopt the Anthropocene into the geologic time table.  We discuss what makes the Anthropocene boundary different than all of the other boundaries in geologic history, how they deal with the increased public attention to this particular boundary, and some cultural ripple effects of the Anthropocene dealing with the Law of the Sea.

Zambrano, Luis (conservation biologist for Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)
Luis Zambrano discusses his work in wetland and ecosystem restoration in Mexico City and a rare salamander threatened by development (the Axolotl).  Seriously, if you like looking at cute things, google the Axolotl.  In fact, this rare salamander embodies a particularly powerful cultural symbol, leading to an interesting discussion of the Anthropocene as a cultural boundary.

Zoback, Mark (geophysicist & shale gas expert)
Mark Zoback sets the record straight on 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.