The Galapagos Islands and Charles Darwin

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Who was Charles Darwin and what led him to describe what we now call the theory of evolution? These curious questions are ones that I have been following since I was about ten years old. In 1978 I had the good fortune of visiting the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands in 1831 for month as part of a five-year voyage around the world. There he saw birds and animals that helped him formulate some of his ideas about evolution he published The Origin of the Species, 22 years later in 1853. Since then the world, science and religion has not been the same.

Now, at a time when concepts of evolution and natural selection are attacked from certain theological and political perspectives, “The Darwin Conspiracy,” a novel has been written by John Darnton, a writer and editor for the New York Times. “The Darwin Conspiracy,” although fiction, is said by John Darnton to be 90% accurate. It covers Darwin’s life and thinking before and after his publication of “The Origin of the Species.”

I spoke with John Darnton from his home in New York City at the end of October 2005. He began by describing who Charles Darwin was, in his time and place.

The book John Darnton recommends is “Snow,” by Orhan Pamuk.

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Fuller, Alexandra — Growing Up White in Africa

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In the late summer of 2003 Radio Curious visited with Alexandra Fuller who, as a child lived in Rhodesia, Malawi and Zambia in southeast Africa between 1972 and 1990.  After her father sided with the white government in the Rhodesian civil war, he was often away from home.   Fuller’s resilient and self-sufficient mother immersed herself in their rural and rugged life. She taught her children to have strong wills and opinions, and to whole-heartedly embrace life, despite and because of their difficult circumstances.  Alexandra Fuller, author of “Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood,” known as Bobo to her family, developed a love of reading and story telling early on in her life.

When  Alexandra Fuller and I visited by phone from her home in rural Wyoming in September 2003, we began our conversation when I asked her how she choose the title for her book, “Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood.”

The book Alexandra Fuller recommends is “Echoing Silences,” by Alexander Canigone.

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McPherson, Guy — How to Deal With Abrupt Climate Change

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Guy R. McPherson, Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona, is our guest in this second of a two part series about abrupt climate change.  In part one, podcasted at radiocurious.org, we considered the existing circumstances likely to bring about abrupt climate change, in particular, the total melt of the polar ice caps.  This would result in the polar sea water absorbing heat from the sun rather than reflecting it, raising ocean temperatures and shutting off our “planetary air-conditioner.”

These consequences could make Mother Earth grossly inhospitable to human habitation potentially shut down our ability to grow grain and other crops we depend on for food.  Without food readily available, well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Here in part two of our conversation with Professor McPherson we further discuss this pending potential catastrophe and how we may each personally be able to relate to it.

Guy McPherson and I visited by phone on August 12, 2018, and began with his comments of what could occur after the global temperatures preclude the ability to grow grains, the other foods upon which we rely and the resulting reduction of industrial activity.  Finally in this visit we discuss how, in the wake of grimness, joy may be created, along with other options.

The reading the Guy McPherson recommends “My Life and Death,” an essay by Martin Manley. Manley’s essay discusses his suicide on his 60th birthday may found at at the bottom of Guy McPherson website.

Additional information about abrupt climate change may be found in the following three links: President of Finland talking to Trump; President of Finland in north Russia; and Human extinction by 2026.

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McPherson, Guy — Abrupt Climate Change

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Drastic consequences to life as we know it, here on Mother Earth are the topics of this, the first of a two part series on abrupt climate change. Once again we visit with Guy McPherson, a Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona.

McPherson discusses how global warming is affecting climate change. He explains the physics of what will occur when the polar ice cap has melted ending its ability to reflect the heat of the sun. Instead the heat of the sun will be absorbed by the world’s oceans. McPherson predicts that could well occur by 2022 or sooner, causing the temperature of the oceans to increase.  McPherson argues that this temperature will result in the loss of the “planetary air-conditioner” and the loss of habitat for human species.

Professor Guy McPherson and I visited by phone while he was on a speaking tour, on August 12, 2018.  We began our conversation when I asked his to describe the current state of climate change, now in 2018.

Information about abrupt climate change may be found here, as explained by the President of Finland to the President of the United States.

Additional information can be found here on youtube and here from the National Academies.

 

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Cherney, Darryl — Who Bombed Judi Bari?

In 1990, Earth First! activists from Mendocino County were on a road trip to rally support for a summer effort to help protect old growth redwoods in northern California. For years prior, logging practices took well over 90% of the original redwood growth in the area. Darryl Cherney and Judi Bari, the organizers, were in their car in Oakland, California, on May 24, 1990 when a bomb exploded underneath the driver’s seat where Judi Bari sat.

She and Darryl Cherney were immediately arrested suspected of bombing themselves. Although charges were never filed against the two, authorities have yet to locate the bombers. They sued and won a jury award of four million dollars against the Oakland Police Department and the FBI, Federal Bureau of Investigation, for violating their 1st and 4th amendment rights.

The film, “Who Bombed Judi Bari?” produced by Darryl Cherney, attempts to answer the question posed in the title and examines their struggle with law enforcement in finding the real bomber and chronicles the history of the local environmental movement here, in northern California.

Christina Aanestad, the Radio Curious assistant producer spoke with Cherney about the film he produced and his experiences resulting from the bombing. They visited on March 29, 2011, at the studios of KMEC radio, inside the Mendocino Environmental Center, a hub for social and environmental movements, including Earth First! They began when Christina asked Darryl Cherney to describe the attempted assassination against him and Judi Bari.

The book he recommends is, “The Alphabet Versus the Goddess” by Alan Shlain.

Click here to listen to the program or on the media player below.

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Scott, Jack — Harvesting Redwood Trees, Without a Chain Saw

The California coastal redwood trees are some of the oldest living things in the world. Other than cutting the tree down, the best way to determine their age, or the age of any tree is with an incremental borer.  That’s a long narrow tube twisted into the tree from the bark to the pitch at the center of the tree.  A small finger-size “wooden rod” is removed revealing one line which represents one tree ring is then removed and counted.  Each tree ring represents one year of the tree’s life.  

Though few old growth redwood forests exist now, some of the remaining redwoods are estimated to be close to 2000 years old.  Although that is easy to say, it is beyond my ken to fathom.

96 year old Jack Scott of Ukiah, California, is our guest on this edition of Radio Curious.  In 1936 before the era of the chain-saw, Scott harvested old growth redwoods beginning at 15 years old.  Part of the harvest process was to push and then pull one end of a two-person hand-saw. When Scott visited the Radio Curious studios on November 12, 2017, we began when I asked him to describe working in the woods at that time.

The books Jack Scott recommends are those written by Louis Lamore.  

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Stephen Most — Documentary Filmmaker:  Stories Make the World Part Two

We continue with part two of “Stories Make the World,” with Stephen Most.  He’s a playwright, documentary film maker, and author of the book “Stories Make the World: Reflections of Storytelling and the Art of the Documentary.”  Most presents vignettes of his mentors and experiences, and employs his personal art of storytelling to share who they are and what he has learned in his 54 year career as a writer and story teller.

In part one Most discusses his experience with Peruvian Shamen and Curanderos as a young man when he lived on the north coast of Peru, and the art of documentary making.  Here, in part two, Most tells the story of biologist and conservationist Aldo Leopold, among others, and describes the art of listening.

When Steve Most visited the Radio Curious studios on August 4, 2017, we began part two when I asked him about the art of storytelling.

The books Stephen Most recommends are: “Human Condition” and “On Revolution,” by Hanna Arendt, and “Granada” by Steven Nightingale.

Click here or on the media player below to listen to the program.

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Alzheimer’s Disease: A Psychiatrist’s Personal Perspective — Part One

In our continuing series on dementia we visit with Dr. Betty J. Lacy, clinical psychiatrist, based in Ukiah, California, whose focus is the prevention, care and treatment of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.This chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and worsens over time, is the cause of 60% to 70% of cases of dementia.

Dr. Lacy tells the story of Alois Alheimers, a German psychiatrist and neuropathologist, who’s credited with identifying the first published case of “presenile dementia”, which would later be identified as Alzheimer’s disease.  

In this, the first of two visits with Dr. Lacy, she shares the emotional impact of the personal experiences of her parents, both of whom suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. She and her two siblings each carry the gene called APOE4, which increases a person’s susceptibility to this disease. She explains the benefits of being tested and identifies specific ways to retard and possibly prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.

When Betty Lacy visited the studio of Radio Curious on July 7, 2017, we began our conversation with her description of her parents’ conditions and their states of mind.

In part two, Dr. Lacy discusses how to deal with this disease, and provides suggestions for family and friends of a person who suffers from Alzheimer’s.

The book Betty Lacy recommends is “He Wanted the Moon:  The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter’s Quest to Know Him,” by Mimi Baird and Eve Claxton.  

Click here to listen to part one or on the media player below. 

 

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Marianchild, Kate: The Unique Oak Woodlands of California

To many of us who live in California, oak woodlands may seem rather ordinary. In reality, that is not the case. Oak woodlands are home to more species of plants, fungi, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and mammals than any other terrestrial ecosystem in the California.

In this edition of Radio Curious, we visit with Kate Marianchild, author of Secrets of the Oak Woodlands: Plants & Animals Among California’s Oaks. Her book, now in its 4th printing, was a finalist in the Science, Nature and Environment Section of the Indie Next Generation Book Award.

Secrets of the Oak Woodlands describes many of the flora, fauna and fungi that inhabit the plentiful oak woodlands in California, and explains their intertwined connections and mutual support systems. More details are available on her website.

In this program, Marianchild describes how acorn woodpeckers, manzanita, newts, the western fence lizard, and woodrats, among others, live and survive together in a symbiotic ecosystem.

You may listen to the full interview here.

The book she recommends is The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Baily.

This program was recorded on June 5, 2017.

 

Dvorak, John Ph.D. – Earthquakes: Why and When? (Archive)

To many of us who live along the coast of California, earthquakes are a living legend. Much of that legend is closely associated with the San Andreas Fault, a line that runs roughly 800 miles through California, forming the tectonic boundary between the Pacific and North American Plates.

As you might expect, this edition of Radio Curious is about earthquakes. Our guest is John Dvorak, Ph.D., a geophysicist and author of Earthquake Storms: The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault. He is currently employed by the United States Geological Survey, working for the Institute for Astronomy in Hilo, Hawaii. He previously taught at the University of Hawaii, UCLA, Washington University in St. Louis, and at the Smithsonian Institute.

Barry visited with Dr. Dvorak on October 31st of 2014, from his office in Hilo, Hawaii. The book John Dvorak recommends is Daughters of Fire, by Tom Peek.

You can listen to the interview here.