IN SEARCH OF THE CANARY TREE: THE STORY OF A SCIENTIST, A CYPRESS, AND A CHANGING WORLD, published by Basic Books, chronicles the six years Lauren E. Oakes, PhD, spent beginning in 2010, as a young Stanford University scientist, doing doctoral research in South East Alaska, studying the mysterious die-back of ancient yellow cedar trees. Hers was a multi-disciplinary approach. In addition to the grueling field work studying thousand of trees, and countless other plants in the changing forests, she also interviewed local folks, including native Tlingit weavers, timber operators, other scientists, and just regular folks who enjoy the forests for recreation. There were many surprises along the way, which she shares with us in this interview.
In her latest book, FEMINISM’S FORGOTTEN FIGHT: THE UNFINISHED STRUGGLE FOR WORK AND FAMILY, Fordham University Associate Professor of History, Kirsten Swinth, corrects many myths and misconceptions about Second Wave Feminism, demonstrating that it isn’t feminism that has betrayed women, but the society that failed to make the far-reaching changes for which feminists fought in the period 1963 to 1978.
Rebecca Traister is writer at large for New York magazine, whose latest book is GOOD AND MAD: THE REVOLUTIONARY POWER OF WOMEN’S ANGER, published by Simon & Schuster. . Her earlier books include ALL THE SINGLE LADIES, and the award winning BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY. Her work has been published in The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the New York Observer among other publications.
This was the very first edition of what would become Forthright Radio. It was originally broadcast in November, 2004. We spoke with John M. Barry, author of the book, THE GREAT INFLUENZA: THE EPIC STORY OF THE DEADLIEST PLAGUE IN HISTORY. 100 years ago, in 1918, as a war weary world sought to bring those years of horror we call World War I to an end, another horror arose – a new, virulent and highly contagious strain of influenza, which within, a year spread rapidly around the world. We’ll never know the exact number of those killed, but it is estimated that a minimum of 50 million, and as many as 100 million died. At today’s population level, that would be between 150 million and 300 million dead worldwide. As we begin the annual flu season, our guest, John M. Barry, tells us what we know about this pandemic and warns of the possibility of such a global pandemic occurring again in our own time. But this is not just a history of a medical disease, his depiction of the politics of the war-time situation has disturbing foreshadowing of some of the same polarized dynamics with which we find ourselves grappling today, where truth is dismissed as an arbitrary term and “the force of an idea lies in it’s inspirational value. It matters very little whether it is true or false.” As Mark Twain put it so well, History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. Although this interview was conducted in 2004, when George W. Bush was president, and we were 9 months into our invasion of Iraq, and the parallels to the Wilson administration are noted, some of those parallels seem even more pertinent today under the current administration.
Dean Baker co-founded The Center for Economic and Policy Research in 1999. His areas of expertise include housing and macroeconomics, intellectual property, Social Security, Medicare and European labor markets. Before that, he worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, and was an assistant professor at Bucknell University. He has also worked as a consultant for the World Bank, the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, and the OECD’s Trade Union Advisory Council. He is frequently cited in economics reporting in major media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, CNBC, and NPR. He writes a weekly column for the Guardian Unlimited (UK), the Huffington Post, TruthOut, and his blog, Beat the Press, features commentary on economic reporting.
He is the author of several books, includingRigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer; Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working People; The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive; and The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer. He was last our guest on Nov. 15, 2017.
Publications mentioned in this edition of Forthright Radio include:
Our guest on this edition of Forthright Radio is award winning investigative journalist, Mary Beth Pfeiffer. Her latest book is LYME: THE FIRST EPIDEMIC OF CLIMATE CHANGE (Island Press, 2018). Over the years, we have interviewed numerous guests on different aspects of Lyme Disease. None of them has gone into such depth, nor been so global in scope, nor addressed so critically and effectively the issues of, not only Lyme Disease, but other tick-borne diseases, of which there are an ever expanding number recognized – but as importantly, investigating the politics and economics of the science and medical guidelines, which have defied logic, common sense, medical ethics or compassion. As you will hear, there are elements of a darker age – some say, An Inquisition, in the current state of governmental, university and medical research, funding and protocols.
Mary Beth Pfeiffer has been an award-winning investigative journalist for three decades, who has specialized in social justice, environmental and health issues. In addition to her latest book, LYME: THE FIRST EPIDEMIC OF CLIMATE CHANGE, she is also author of Crazy in America: The Hidden Tragedy of Our Criminalized Mentally Ill, which is a critically acclaimed look at treatment of the mentally ill in prisons and jails in the United States.
Borrelia burgdorferii’s corkscrew shape allows it to penetrate into heart muscle and to cross the blood-brain barrier, as well as other organs. Lyme carditis can be deadly, as are deaths by suicide of some Lyme sufferers. And like that other “Great Imitator” spirochete, Syphilis, it can cross the placenta to infect the fetus, causing miscarriage and congenital health problems.
Ixodes scapularis, the host of the Lyme spirochete, thrives in modern human altered environments and the warming, more humid weather patterns of climate change.
Tick-borne diseases are on the rise in many parts of the world.
Long lived for an arachnid, ticks need only feed once during each of their life cycles, which may span 3 years. The Lyme spirochete actually increases the fertility, viability and longevity of the ticks. At least one tick species can reproduce without fertilization from males.
Although the “bulls eye” rash, erythema migrans, is the only definitive symptom considered diagnostic for Lyme Disease, according to a CDC study of 150,000 cases, it appeared in only 69.2% of patients. What about the other 30%?
I am delighted to welcome back to Forthright Radio, award winning author, journalist, David Quammen. He was our guest 5 years ago after his book, SPILLOVER: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic was published. His latest book, THE TANGLED TREE: A RADICAL NEW HISTORY OF LIFE, published by Simon & Schuster came out a couple of weeks ago. And lest you think this book, being about science – the research and theorizing – isn’t something you’d be interested in – let me tell you, this recent research reveals just how bacteria become resistant to our most potent antibiotics so quickly and fatally to so many, or how Horizontal Gene Transfer not only allowed for evolution, but may explain how certain cancers develop – as well as questioning our most basic concepts of ourselves as a species and individuals. And this puts a new meaning on “Tree Huggers” and “Tree Cutters”.
David Quammen has won many awards for his books and magazine articles, including from the National Association of Science Writers, and the Society of Biology (UK) Book Award in General Biology. His work with National Geographic is particularly noteworthy, and has taken him on myriad, lengthy difficult treks, which distinguish him from most authors, such as chronicling J. Michael Fay’s 2,000 mile survey hike through the forests of Central Africa, The Megatransect.
Charles Darwin speculated on the evolution of life as a tree, with “I think” written on top.
A popular 20th century version based on Darwin’s idea of a tree of evolution. At least this one, doesn’t place humans explicitly above other species.
In the 20th century there has been a tumultuous debate as to how best to characterize the concept of evolution. Is it a tree? Is it a web? Is it a net? A mosaic?
In David Quammen’s book, Carl Woese’s work was crucial to the debate, pioneering molecular phylogenetics, using (at the time) dangerous, innovative techniques to study RNA as a basis to determine species and evolution.
After demonstrating that there was a third “kingdom”, the Archaea, different from Bacteria, Carl Woese proposed a new Tree of Life pictured above.LynnMargulis, married Carl Sagan when she was 19. After bearing 2 sons with him, she moved on. She took her second husband’s name, Margulis while making her revolutionary mark on biology. After juggling the three jobs of scientist, mother and wife, she decided to forego that last job, wife.
Her work synthesized earlier ideas, which she coined, endosymbiosis, that organelles, crucial to more complex life forms – including humans – were based on “infective heredity” by bacteria, that established essential organelles such as mitochondria, chloroplasts and centrioles.