Wells, Spencer — “The Unforseen Cost of Civilization”

In this edition of Radio Curious we visit again with Spencer Wells and discuss his new book, “Pandora’s Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization,” published n 2010.  Our interview is a follow-up to a 2004 conversation about his book, “The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey,” in which Wells traces our routes as small bands of hunter-gatherers when our ancestors walked out of Africa approximately 60,000 years ago and began populating the world.  Our 2004 interview may be found here.

“Pandora’s Seed” tells the story of what we humans, with our hunter-gatherer biological construct have created in the past 10,000 years. These multiple live style changes have produced what we call “civilization,” with systems and mechanisms that will not allow us to continue the life-styles to are emulated by many people world-wide, and exploited by those who have access to them. In other words we can’t last much longer doing what we are doing without radically reducing the way we all live, if not outright killing our species.

Spencer Well is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., where he leads the Genographic Project, which is collecting and analyzing hundreds of thousands of DNA samples from people around the wold in order to decipher how our ancestors populated the world.   He is also a professor a Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. In this interview with Spencer Wells, recorded on July 19, 2010, we began by describing the changes necessary for our species survival.

The book Spencer Wells recommends is “The Histories,” by Herodotus, the 5th century B.C. Greek historian.

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