Sunday, May 4, 2014

Unorthodox Marine Biologist Asha de Vos
Show for May 4, 2014

Growing up as an aspiring marine scientist in Sri Lanka, Asha de Vos didn’t have any local role models – other than sci-fi writer/undersea explorer Arthur C. Clarke. At times she’s had to make her own way with a combination of persistence, pig-headedness and duct tape. That hasn’t stopped her from becoming an expert on a population of “unorthodox” blue whales and a noted ocean conservationist.

We talked about Asha’s path to ocean science, her defining moment (involving whale poop), the wonders of cetology, her efforts to protect whales from ship collisions, and how she’s inspiring a new generation of marine biologists.

Click the play arrow above to hear the show, or the download arrow on the right to get your own mp3.

Learn more about Asha at her website.

Asha was a 2012 TED Fellow and had the honor of being muppetized:

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Show for May 26, 2013. Jon Mooallem on Animals in the Wild and in Our Minds.

New Yorker and New York Times contributor Jon Mooallem says our efforts to save endangered species depend in large part on the tales we tell about them. Jon traces the history of wildlife in the American imagination and offers his own stories of three imperiled species (bear, butterfly and bird) and the people who fight for them in his new book Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America. Among the many topics we discussed: Tom Jefferson and the woolly mammoth, Teddy Bear vs. Billy Possum, conservationists and nature fakers, teaching whooping cranes to migrate, and the fate of polar bears. Also, music from Black Prairie’s new album Wild Ones, inspired by Jon’s book.

You can download the MP3 here (if using a Mac, control-click the link and choose “Save Link As…” If using a PC, right-click and choose Save Target As…”)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Show for March 10, 2013. Journalist and Ocean Activist David Helvarg

This radio program mostly ignores the large body of water that sits only a short block from our studio. Inexcusable, I know, but it’s not too late to make amends. For a start, I spoke to David Helvarg, marine conservationist and author of The Golden Shore: California’s Love Affair with the Sea. We talked about David’s own love affair with the sea as well as his earlier career as a war correspondent in Central America. Also, a history of beachgoing, the popularization of surfing, the future of the California coastline and a defense of the Poriferan lifestyle.

You can download the MP3 here (if using a Mac, control-click the link and choose “Save Link As…” If using a PC, right-click and choose Save Target As…”)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Show for March 3, 2013. Gretel Ehrlich: Facing the Wave

As the second anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami nears, the writer Gretel Ehrlich considers what nature wrought and how humans responded. She made three trips to Japan’s ravaged northeast coast in the months following the quake, trying to fathom the magnitude of what happened. Her new book Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami is part post-disaster travelogue, part meditation on death, life and impermanence.

You can download the MP3 here (if using a Mac, control-click the link and choose “Save Link As…” If using a PC, right-click and choose Save Target As…”)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Show for Oct. 28, 2012. From Animals to Us: David Quammen on Zoonotic Disease.

There’s more between humans and our fellow animals than a common ancestry and a common planet. We also share some really gnarly pathogens. Our “infernal, aboriginal connectedness,” as David Quammen puts it, makes humanity a target-rich environment for zoonoses – diseases that spring up in other species and leap to us. In fact, most of our infectious maladies may have gotten their start in animals, and the latest wave of emergent contagions, including HIV, Ebola, SARS, Hantavirus, Lyme disease, avian flu and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow) all have non-human beginnings.

David has spent the last few years absorbing the latest research, hanging with scientists and Indiana Jonesing his way through jungles and caves (with respirator and hazmat suit in place of fedora and bomber jacket), in pursuit of zoonotic wisdom. His new book, Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, is simultaneously a serious introduction to the biology and epidemiology of animal-to-human disease, a series of medical adventure stories and a somber warning (he says human actions are responsible for the uptick in spillovers).



Despite the scary cover, David Quammen’s book eschews
the sensational and sticks to the science.

You can download the MP3 here (if using a Mac, control-click the link and choose “Save Link As…” If using a PC, right-click and choose Save Target As…”)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Show for Aug 22, 2010. Planetwalker: The Pilgrimage of John Francis

For two decades, environmental activist John Francis wandered America on foot while keeping a vow of silence. Along the way, he got to know a side of himself and this country that few experience. An extraordinary travel story and a remarkable person. Interview originally broadcast August, 2009.

Click the arrow above to listen to the show. If you don’t have Flash player or have other playback problems, click this link for the MP3.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Show for May 16, 2010. Witness to Extinction: Biologists Barry Sinervo, Donald Miles and Raymond Huey

In a new study that’s making headlines around the world, biologists Barry Sinervo, Donald Miles and colleagues report that lizards worldwide are dying off, apparent casualties of rising temperatures. The study suggests that an era of climate-driven mass extinctions may have already begun, sooner than many scientists expected. I spoke to Sinervo, Miles and fellow biologist Raymond Huey last week, just after the news broke. They described the research and the implications in detail. The show’s well worth a listen: this is not only a potentially game-changing piece of research (if correct), but also a dramatic story of accidental discovery.

Click the arrow above to listen. If you don’t have Flash player or have other playback problems, click this link for the MP3.


Lizard extinction risk under some temperature scenarios. (Sinervo, et. al.)