Andy Norman, Ph.D., directs the Humanism Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University and is the founder of CIRCE, the Cognitive Immunology Research Collaborative. His book, Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think, just published by HarperCollins, lays out the conceptual foundations of cognitive immunology—the emerging science of mental immune health.
University of British Columbia Professor of Forest Ecology, Dr. Suzanne Simard, is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence. Her decades of in-the-field-experimental research have revolutionized our scientific understanding of forests, elucidating how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies–and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them.
Suzanne Simard’s book, FINDING THE MOTHER TREE: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest, was published by Knopf on May 4, 2021. We spoke together on April 27th.
We end the program with a recent piece commissioned by the Intermountain Opera Company composed by Eric Funk, Requiem for a Forest, Op. 168. It is performed by Roots in the Sky. A video adaptation by Thomas Thomas is available on https://bozemanarts-live.com/event/requiem-for-a-forest/
Requiem for a Forest
In summer heat And warming world Storms whip up, Lightening rolls, Sparks run to earth. The wind turns Through the mountains, Forests burn.
Fire ends, Yet fire begins. As mountains die, Cones open. Mors stupebit et natura Cum resurgent Creatura.
Now we must learn How to live here, Where fire season Burns all year. Blackened earth With green renew, May the fires wake us too.
Returning to Forthright Radio is Rob Dunn, who is a biology Professor in the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University. He conducts a Public Science Lab, which engages citizen scientists around the world via the website, robdunnlab.com.
His latest book, DELICIOUS: THE EVOLUTION OF FLAVOR AND HOW IT MADE US HUMAN, has just been published by Princeton University Press, and even though that sounds super academic, Rob writes for the general audience in a humorous and easily understood way. He is the science teacher I wish I had had in high school. To be concise, Rob Dunn is fun. We spoke with him on April 5, 2021.
Links to articles/events relevant to this interview:
In addition to writing for The New York Times, Discover, National Geographic, the Atlantic, Wired and others, Carl Zimmer is the author of 14 books on science, from his first in 1998: AT THE WATER’S EDGE: FISH WITH FINGERS, WHALES WITH LEGS, AND HOW LIFE CAME ASHORE AND THEN WENT BACK TO SEA to his latest book, which we discuss today, LIFE’S EDGE: THE SEARCH FOR WHAT IT MEANS TO BE ALIVE, just published by Dutton.
He claims to be the only writer after whom a species of tapeworm has been named, Acanthobothrium zimmeri. We spoke with him on March 15, 2021.
We end with poems read by San Francisco poet, publisher and founder of City Lights Books, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He died just two months shy of his 102nd birthday on February 22, 2021.
Margaret Klein Salamon is the founder and Executive Director of The Climate Mobilization, a volunteer-powered organization that is working to initiate a WWII-scale mobilization to rapidly transform our economy to protect humanity and the living world. In that role she has helped catalyze a burgeoning worldwide climate emergency movement. More than 1,500 cities and counties around the world have now passed climate emergency declarations based on the climate emergency policy framework that The Climate Mobilization has developed and championed.
Margaret has doctorate in clinical psychology and a BA in social anthropology. She is the author of The Transformative Power of Climate Truth and Leading the Public into Emergency Mode. Her latest book, Facing the Climate Emergency: How to Transform Yourself with Climate Truth, has just been published by New Society Publishers.
Gaia Vince is an environmental journalist, author and broadcaster. Her work focuses largely on the interplay between humans and the planetary environment. Her latest book, TRANSCENDENCE: How Humans Evolved Through Fire, Language, Beauty & Time, was published in the United States in January, 2020 by Basic Books.
Her first book, Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made, won the 2015 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books, making her the first woman to win the prize outright. That book discussed the Anthropocene, the geological epoch that began when human activities started to have a significant global impact on Earth’s ecosystems.
She has held senior editorial posts at Nature and New Scientist, and her writing has featured in newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, The Times and Scientific American. She also writes and presents science programs for radio and television. Her research takes her across the world: she has visited more than 60 countries. She currently lives in London, where we spoke with her via Skype.
In addition to fire and language, Gaia Vince asserts that beauty was a powerful force in human evolution. She cites artifacts such as the “Lion Man”, the oldest known zoomorphic sculpture and uncontested example of figurative art, between 35,000 and 40,000 years old. It was carved of mammoth ivory using a flint knife and stands 31.1cm tall, 5.6cm wide and 5.9cm thick.
The United States military has been aware of the escalating dangers of catastrophic climate disruption longer than most other branches of government. In spite of Donald Trump’s quick rescinding of Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13653, issued in 2013, “Preparing the US for the Impact of Climate Change,” the military has quietly continued to do just that.
In his latest meticulously researched book, All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change, the Five College Professor Emeritus of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College and senior visitiing fellow at the Arms Control Association, Michael T. Klare, shows that the US military considers climate change a danger on several fronts at once.
With charts and maps he demonstrates that globally and nationally, we are vulnerable to increasing disruptions from climate change:
A map identifying military bases that have reported problems from heavy flooding, extreme temperatures, prolonged drought, and other climate impacts. (from All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change Metropolitan Books)
Increasing water scarcity as the river systems sourced in the glaciers of the Himalayan watershed is a major concern affecting nuclear armed nations China, India and Pakistan. (from All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change Metropolitan Books)
As the Arctic sea ice disappears the geopolitics of the region are in flux as never before in human history with potential of conflict among major powers such as Russia, China and the US. ((from All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change Metropolitan Books)
On this edition of Ecotones, we hear from local Bozemanites, Dr. Mary M. Clare, Ph.D. and author, Gary Ferguson, about their work in evolving the concept of Full Ecology. How regaining our sense of kinship, relationship and interconnection, and being guided by balance, rhythm and harmony, we can survive and thrive the disruptions of our personal embedded environments, and the greater environments of which we are a natural part. Gary is The author of 26 books, the latest of which is THE EIGHT MASTER LESSONS OF NATURE: WHAT NATURE TEACHES US ABOUT LIVING WELL IN THE WORLD, published by Dutton.
Christopher Ketcham has been a freelance writer for more than 20 years. His articles have been published in Harper’s, CounterPunch, National Geographic, Hustler, Penthouse, the New York Times, Pacific Standard, Sierra, Earth Island Journal, Vanity Fair, The New Republic, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, Salon, and many other websites and newspapers large and small. He was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT in 2015-16, and he is currently a MacDowell Colony writing fellow in New Hampshire, whence he spoke to us. THIS LAND: HOW COWBOYS, CAPITALISM, AND CORRUPTION ARE RUINING THE AMERICAN WEST, published by Viking, is his first book.
THIS LAND: HOW COWBOYS, CAPITALISM, AND CORRUPTION ARE RUINING THE AMERICAN WEST is a hard hitting look at the battle now raging over the fate of the public lands in the American West.
An area of ancient pinyon and juniper forests larger than the state of Vermont, adapted over eons to the arid lands of the west, is being destroyed by machines such as these – turned into mulch for the planting of seeds of invasive species for forage for the most destructive invasive specie, Bos taurus, cows.
“…the US military has conducted thousands of experiments exploring the use of ticks and tick-borne diseases as biological weapons, and in some cases, these agents escaped into the environment. The government needs to declassify the details of these open air bioweapons tests, so that we can begin to repair the damage these pathogens are inflicting on humans and animals in the ecosystem.”
Those are the words written by award-winning science writer at Stanford University, Kris Newby, in her scrupulously researched and referenced, controversial new book, BITTEN: THE SECRET HISTORY OF LYME DISEASE AND BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS, published by Harper Wave, an imprint of Harper Collins.
Kris Newby has two degrees in engineering, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and a master’s degree from Stanford University.
She was the senior producer of the Lyme disease documentary UNDER OUR SKIN, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was a 2010 Oscar semifinalist. Previously, she was a technology writer for Apple and other Silicon Valley companies.
In 1951, Swiss born scientist, Willy Burgdorfer began working at the Rocky Mountain Laboratory, where he began researching ticks and tick-borne diseases. He began working with the US Biological Weapons program at Forth Detrick, MD. In 1981, Willy Burgdorfer discovered the spirochete, Borrelia brugdorferi, believed to cause Lyme Disease.
The area around the Long Island Sound where the sudden outbreak of three unusual tick-borne diseases – Lyme Disease, first identified near the township of Lyme, CT; Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a bacterial disease; and Babesiosis, a disease caused by a malaria-like parasite. The Plum Island Animal Disease Center is pinpointed.
The feeding apparatus of a female Ixodes ricinus. (Courtesy of Dania Richter, Technische Universitaet Braunschweig, Germany)