(Wikimedia Commons)

Poet, essayist and naturalist Diane Ackerman’s new book “The Human Age” is a reflection on how people have changed the planet. She writes, “Our relationship with nature has changed…radically, irreversibly, but by no means all for the bad.” While humans have “subdued 75 percent of the land surface,” we have also collected DNA of vanishing species, manufactured body organs from 3D prints and gone to great lengths to restore ecosystems.

Guests:
Diane Ackerman, poet, essayist, naturalist and author of "The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us"

  • ES Trader

    The Human Age will be a “blip” in time relative to the existence of the planet.

    Natural forces, which most are unaware of, is uncontrollable by man.

  • Alan S. Hopkins

    Could
    you please ask Ms. Ackerman about her adventure to Torishima to see
    Short-tailed Albatross and Hiroshi Hasegawa? An inspirational story!

  • Ben Rawner

    I love your guests positively. How does she personally brush off the negatively of others?

  • Kelly

    Not to sound pessimistic but as of now I feel like we as the human race are doomed. It’s paradoxical that our inquisitive and inventive nature has led us to accomplish so many amazing feats technologically, yet we still cannot unite as a whole. From the US’ Ferguson to the ongoing turmoil in parts of the Middle East- we are still divided by race. Our advances have allowed us to destroy ourselves. Also, this worldwide obsession with money will the the death of us all. Until mankind can let go of the greed money brings, it seems near impossible to change all of the destruction of wildlife and the planet as a whole.

  • Might I ask Ms Ackerman what mmm thought, or theme, or reflection – what very brief and portable attitude, maybe – do you find most useful to carry into this rapidly developing world of change?

  • Whamadoodle

    Interesting–the “don’t be apathetic” message is a good one. It’s interesting to note that one of the tactics used by the climate-change deniers who are paid by the oil industry to spam the Internet is to encourage apathy: “well, there’s no hope for it, so might as well just give up and focus on” another diversion.

  • Ben Rawner

    Does your guest watch TV? I think television is the source of this apathy.

  • Chris OConnell

    Regarding the email which blamed the European-based culture and peoples for our problems as opposed to humanity in general: tell that to the mastodons and the Australian megafauna.

  • Scott Johnson

    Cows Save the Planet: and other improbable ways of restoring soil to heal the earth is the 2013 book by Judith D. Schwartz about unmaking the deserts, rethinking climate change, bringing back biodiversity, and restoring nutrients to our food. It is a very hopeful book except for the resistance by profit making entities involved in agriculture and animal husbandry who are resiting the changes that this book so well explains will be needed to achieve the goals of sustainability.

  • Susan Endlich

    Just started listening. Any comments on the devastation caused by animal agriculture?

  • Guest

    How and where do we spend our money $$ to help with positive change. Similar to organic food, the best way I believe to speed change is to use your money to make political changes

    • Barb F

      I agree. This is an election year, so a year of potential. I like the League of Conservation Voters Give Green. You can chose from a list of candidates that meet the League’s standards or donate to them all. Information about these candidates is given on the website: http://www.givegreen.com/

      I also like the new group that focuses on supporting climate hawks: http://www.climatehawksvote.com/

  • Chris OConnell

    Unless we leave the coal in the hole and the oil in the soil, temperature rise will be many degrees and sea level rise unimaginable (over 10 feet). Here in the US, the wealthiest nation in history, we are scouring the land to frack all the oil previously inaccessible. In Canada, another very wealthy country, the tar sands are being drained of oil.

    I am very much willing to do my part, and do; nor do I want to be negative, just analytical. Is it really feasible that we Homo sapiens will leave the oil in the soil, or the coal in the hole? If the US and Canada won’t, how can Nigeria and Venezuela etc. So I do not see our species as capable of leaving this powerful resource unexploited. It is almost against our DNA.

    • Whamadoodle

      You might have said the same thing about the ozone layer, but we stopped using hair-spray that was causing the ozone hole. It is in our DNA to adapt intelligently, especially to life-threatening situations; that’s what humans do best.
      I expect it (though not until we’re really suffering, unfortunately).

      • Chris OConnell

        I am not saying humans can not solve environmental problems. We have taken the lead out of gasoline and cleaned up the rivers and waterways etc But that is very different from refraining to use powerful, economically valuable resources under our feet.

        • Whamadoodle

          I disagree. It is precisely the same principle, a sacrifice, for precisely the same purpose, public safety.

      • ES Trader

        an alternative to the propellant in aerosol spray and DNA was available, alternative energy substitutes are not as convenient but in the end (life as we know it) will be something man cannot control like the shifting tectonic plates or a meteor that cannot be deflected…why do you think broad and far seeing individuals like Elon Musk are advocates of inter-planetary travel?

        • Whamadoodle

          Uh… you know this for a fact, do you? Wow. Can I borrow your crystal ball?

          Fascinating. In the end, life as we know it MAY end that way; or it MAY end with us pumping so much pollution and carbon-sinking in the atmosphere that we poison our own nests. We are perfectly capable of doing so, and our oil industry is attempting to ensure that we do so. You should stop working for them.

          • ES Trader

            Neither you nor I will be around to see it but to answer your 16th century question the crystal ball is called science, geology to be specific.

            As for your 2nd erroneous assumption I am not employed by the oil industry, though I confess that I have profited from trading energy stocks and options

    • Barb F

      Renewables are rapidly becoming less expensive and are becoming cost-competitive with fossil fuels and renewables are cleaner.. Both price and the need for cleaner air could drive this switch. It could also be that we will put a price on carbon to reflect the damage it does to our environment that would make renewables even more attractive from a price standpoint. People and governments may also come to realize that there are more jobs in renewables than in fossil fuels.

      Those who gain financially from continued burning of fossil fuels will fight the transition with all they have, including mega bucks and their disinformation campaign. It will take many, many of us working together to change our path.

      • Whamadoodle

        Well said.

    • ES Trader

      only if a cheaper, reliable, convenient alternative can be developed

  • Barb F

    I need to respond to the caller with the many points. I think I could challenge all of them, but only remember two of his arguments.

    1. While the industrialized countries are experiencing a leveling of population growth and a significant aging of the population, in many of the less-“developed” parts of the world, population is younger, with more people in the reproductive years. The UN projects that *world* population, now at 7 Billion plus, will reach 8 billion by 2024. http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ Long term world population extimates seem to vary. The UN projects a world population of almost 11 billion by 2100. Deutsche Bank sees world population as peaking mid-century at 8.8 billion and falling to 8 billion by the end of the century. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/21/business/uns-forecast-of-population-growth-may-be-too-high.html?_r=0

    2. Recent independent studies indicate that natural gas exploitation and transportation results in substantially higher greenhouse gas emissions that than the industry had “estimated”. Over the next twenty years, which are critical, methane is 86 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global-warming_potential Also our “advanced” methods of blasting natural gas bubbles out of rock (fracking) threatens our water and the health of those living near the wells. Fracking is also associated with earthquakes. Natural gas is no longer seen as the “bridge fuel” that it was in the past.China would be wise to leapfrog this fossil fuel and head directly to renewables– wind, water and solar.

    • Whamadoodle

      Yeah, that caller’s assertion that the world is somehow going to be depopulated is absolutely laughable. Sure it is! As if…

      • ES Trader

        the most developed countries like Japan are due to age distribution and birth rate

        • Whamadoodle

          Yes, that is probably why that rather confused caller was criticizing Ms. Akerman–countries like Japan and some European countries have falling birthrates. However, the world as a WHOLE doesn’t have a falling birthrate at all.

          Ridiculous claim by that caller (I think David was his name). The world’s population will double before I die.

          • ES Trader

            I will be accused of racism, as usual, but it seems inevitable for maybe the next several generations that it will be the 3rd world, ( 70’s terminology ) countries that will be the guilty parties to the population escalation.

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