Dominic and Cymene report from Scotland where they have arrived for what looks to be an amazing Petrocultures 2018 event. Some talk of haggis and whiskey follows. But it’s also the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey back in Houston and to process how we feel about that (11:07) we invite our dear colleague, Lacy M. Johnson (http://www.lacymjohnson.com) into THE STUDIO to talk about where we find our heads at one year later. We talk about whether Harvey has shifted Houstonians’ willingness to accept climate change and Lacy talks about her own Harvey experience and how it motivated her to develop the Houston Flood Museum project, a virtual museum that launched this week (https://houstonfloodmuseum.org). Lacy explains why she thinks “discovery” might be a better way to think about life post-trauma rather than “recovery” and why it was compassion rather than strength that helped us through the disaster. We talk about her writing process and then turn from there to Lacy’s forthcoming book, The Reckonings (Simon & Schuster, http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Reckonings/Lacy-M-Johnson/9781501159008), a marvelous collection of essays. We spend a little extra time on her harrowing account of the 43,000 tons of nuclear waste that were dumped in a North St. Louis landfill in the 1970s and the smoldering underground fire that is edging ever closer to the site. In closing, Lacy explains why we need to give ourselves permission to feel joy in an imperfect world because joy is a form that justice takes.
Cymene and Dominic chat about the Wizard of Oz, unglacier tours, rocket toilets and motorized scooters to lead off this week’s podcast. Then (12:37) we are most fortunate to have the chance to talk about art and the Anthropocene with celebrated artist Judit Hersko (http://www.judithersko.com) who represented her native Hungary at the Venice Biennale in 1997. We talk about her earliest work about personal and collective memory and also her longstanding interests in phenomenology, materiality and lucidity and how all of these informed her later approaches to the intersection of art and science. That leads us to her trip to Antarctica and the adventures there—ranging from dinner with Prince Albert of Monaco to the aforementioned incinerator toilets—and what the whole experience taught her about the possibilities and limits of collaboration between art and science. And from there we move to the figure of the Unknown Explorer in her work and how it draws attention to the absence of women in polar history and science before the 1960s. We talk about her more recent projects thematizing Anthropocene phenomena such as oceanic acidification and atmospheric carbon and close with Judit’s advice to young artists to learn to meet your muse halfway.
Dominic and Cymene bask in 15 seconds of Icelandic limelight and discuss Madonna@60. Then (14:28) to celebrate the premiere of our film, “Not Ok: A Little Movie About a Small Glacier at the End of the World,” we whet your appetite with the full interview with brilliant Icelandic writer and filmmaker Andri Snaer Magnason—author of Dreamland (Citizen Press, 2006) and The Story of the Blue Planet (Seven Stories, 2000)—that we did for the film. In the interview, Andri and Cymene discuss his family’s close relationship to glaciers and what glaciers have meant to Icelanders in the past and more recently. They talk about geological time and human time, why we need to see oil, addiction to destruction, what Andri talked to the Dalai Lama about, the Big Melt and much more. Tomorrow’s the big day. Wish us luck, dear listeners!
Cymene and Dominic check in from Iceland on this week’s edition of the podcast and talk about the virtues of the Icelandic horse. Then (12:36) we welcome dear friend and horsexpert John Hartigan back to the podcast. We’ve come a long way since Episode 4 but it turns out John has been keeping pretty busy too. We start off with his new book, Care of the Species (U Minnesota Press, 2017) about human-maize relations and the science of plant biodiversity in Mexico and Spain. We talk about maize as an emblematic companion species as it both feeds and works humans on its own behalf, about John’s discovery that the concept of raza (race) was applied to non-humans long before humans, and what that implies for understanding the intersection of race and care today. This gets us to what nonhumans like sheep and cattle contributed to colonization, efforts to maintain plant biodiversity as a bulwark against the unknowns of climate change, the enduring power of taxonomical conceptions of species, plant sexuality under human care, and the modern tendency toward “plant blindness” in our relationship to the world. Finally, we do a lightning round of updates on John’s current suite of projects including an ethnography of the sociality of wild horses in Spain, a study of Peruvian bullfighting and a historical novel about the wreck of the Spanish armada in Ireland and the hidden cultural connection between Spain and Ireland that followed.
We start this week’s double episode on climate science and climate policy with ruminations on Trumpian arguments against fuel efficiency, Europe breaking its heat record, and what in retrospect were the breakthrough technological achievements of the 1970s—the Ronco inside the egg shell egg scrambler and the Popeil pocket fisherman. Then (14:04) we chat with star climate scientist Michael E. Mann. Mike brings us up to speed on the implications of the latest climate science and explains why the current attribution models connecting climate change to extreme weather events and sea level rise may be too conservative. We talk about the 20thanniversary of his famous “hockey stick” chart and how far we’ve come on climate adaptation since then. We turn from there to some of his recent projects branching out into new media ranging from his blog (http://michaelmann.net) to his much anticipated children’s book (The Tantrum that Saved the World)—a collaboration with author/illustrator Meg Herbert—and Mike tells us why he thinks scientists need to engage the public directly in an era of fragmented and often manipulated news media. We close by discussing why it’s so important to engage youth around climate issues and why We. All. Need. To. Vote. This. November. In our second segment (48:32) we check in with Soren Dudley and Johnathan Guy, two editors of an impressive brand new online magazine, The Trouble, which offers a forum for bringing together left political thinking and climate policy. Johnny and Soren explain why they think this intervention is so timely and necessary today, bringing together direct action spirit and wonky policy discussion. Please check out their excellent work at https://www.the-trouble.com, follow them @thetroublemag and, above all, send them love!