In episode 15, Doug Parsons speaks with M.R. O’Connor, author of the book, “Resurrection Science: Conservation, De-Extinction and the Precarious Future of Wild Things.” De-extinction is exactly what you think it is: bringing back extinct species using modern technology. Think Jurassic Park, but looking at more recent extinctions like the Passenger Pigeon, Wooly Mammoth and the Tasmanian Tiger. Our conversation, much like the book, is more than that though, we talk about environmental justice, ethics and the history of conservation biology. Each chapter in the book covers a different species and the massive efforts we take to ensure their survival: these include a Tanzanian Spray Toad, the Florida Panther, Southwest pupfish, all the way to efforts to resurrect the Passenger Pigeon. We talk about the amazing and tragic history of the Passenger Pigeon and one scientist's efforts at bringing this species back into our lives. Is it Frankenstein meets conservation? We dig into many of the topics from the book but we also talk about their relevance to climate change and adaptation. Is it any more or less ethical to translocate a living species, impacted by climate change, than it is to bring back an extinct species. In addition, Maura talks about how journalism can and should be about covering ideas, not just historic events. We discuss the pitfalls of conservationists emphasizing the intrinsic value of biodiversity, versus its cultural or even utilitarian value. We also discuss the legal implications of de-extinction: what if a resurrected species preyed upon an existing endangered species? What would this mean for the Endangered Species Act? Maura also talks about what inspired her to write this story and the amazing journey learning about these species and the fascinating cast of characters that she included in the book. We also talk about climate change adaptation having the ability to frame conservation in a new light, to tackle old problems like habitat destruction, invasive species and air and water pollution. Our conversation will give you a sampling of the many topics covered in the book and how de-extinction will challenge us to think about conservation, adaptation and environmentalism in new and provocative ways. Maura was a fantastic guest, explaining incredibly complex topics in an engaging and hopeful way. Please listen in!
M.R. O’Connor is a graduate of Columbia's Journalism School, she has reported from Africa, Afghanistan and Haiti, and her work has appeared in such publications as: The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Salon, New York Times, and Slate, to name just a few. Yes, that is an amazing list and her book reflects her profound journalistic experiences.
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In this week’s episode, America Adapts host, Doug Parsons, talks with Dr. Evelyn Gaiser from Florida International University. We primarily cover two topics: what is the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research Program and Dr. Gaiser’s role in adaptation planning in South Florida. But that is just a sampling of all the topics we cover. We begin by learning the many hats Evelyn wears at FIU: She’s the Executive Director at FIU’s School of Environment, Arts and Society and she’s the Lead Principal Investigator at the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research Program (which we’ll call the LTER). First, we learn how Evelyn started her work in ecology at the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecological lab. Dr. Gaiser also takes us into the Everglades, learning what makes this expansive park unique and incredibly important to everyone living in south Florida. We talk about the amazing, rich biodiversity of the Everglades and Evelyn explains the park’s unique ecological functions. Evelyn then discusses the history and role of the LETRs, located throughout the United States, monitoring change in key ecosystems. We learn about the army of research scientists studying the Everglades through the LETR. We also learn how all this science generated at the LETR helps influence key policy decisions in the region and Evelyn’s role in making these connections for policymakers. Learn what it means to conduct research on sea level rise in the political minefield that is south Florida. The LETR’s help us understand that we can’t adapt to climate change unless we can accurately track changes in the environment. And we briefly discuss the best ways a tourist can experience the Florida Everglades!
We then dissect the complexities of dealing with natural resources in south Florida. As Miami continues to grow, there continues to be significant friction with water sharing between the city and the Everglades. Evelyn shares how the LTER informs the decision making process. I ask Evelyn: Will the Everglades will be a marine park within 100 years. You’ll have to listen in to hear her surprising answer! Learn about such concepts as “peat collapse” and ways to avoid it. Also hear how Dr. Gaiser spent her 2015 Earth Day with President Obama and hear firsthand, his inspiring support for the role science plays in sustaining the Everglades. Finally we discuss Dr. Gaiser’s role in adaptation planning in south Florida. Many of the local communities, especially Miami, are taking actions and relying on experts at FIU to provide guidance on how to plan for sea level rise. Dr. Gaiser describes how FIU has developed the “Sea Level Rise Solutions Center” to help local communities plan for these climate impacts. And Evelyn ends the podcast by giving her advice on how people can become involved and how the LTERs can be resources as society adapts to climate change. There’s a lot more, so please listen in to this fascinating conversation with Dr. Evelyn Gaiser!
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In this exciting episode of America Adapts, Doug Parsons speaks with James Stillwell, the Program Manager of Climate Implementation at the University of Maryland’s (UMD) School of Public Policy. First, we talk about James’ background and what led him to UMD. Then we learn about James’ role in the international climate change negotiations that occurred last year in France which led to the historic Paris Agreement. James walks us through many riveting and fascinating details on what it was like being on the ground in Paris during this planet saving event. James played a key role assisting UMD’s special advisor to the UN secretary-general on climate change, Robert Orr. Learn how some of the negotiations came down to the wire and how ultimately the final product exceeded everyone’s ambitions. Also learn how adaptation was addressed in parallel negotiations in Paris.
James then takes us back to UMD and how it co-hosted “Climate Action 2016”, a UN sponsored climate change event, bringing together some of the world leaders on climate change (Al Gore, Bill Nye the Science Guy, etc.). Doug and James then pivot and discuss what Universities are doing around the country training the next generation of climate professionals. We discuss the differences between sustainability and adaptation; how UMD approaches this academic training; should mid-career professionals go back for more formal adaptation training; and also what employers are looking for in climate change professionals. We also learn how universities, in addition to their fossil fuel divestments, are also undertaking campus wide adaptation. Those are some of the key issues, but listen in as Doug and James cover a lot more!
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In this episode, host Doug Parsons speaks with Davia Palmeri, Climate Change Coordinator with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Davia talks about the unique role that state agencies play in conserving wildlife. We learn a bit of the history behind wildlife management in the United States. Doug and Davia then dig into the role state agencies have played in adaptation planning at the state and national level. Davia explains the role of AFWA’s Climate Change committee and how it provides resources for adaptation planning to the states. We discuss missed opportunities for long term wildlife funding with the failed Cap and Trade Bill. Davia also discuss some of her favorite climate change resources, ranging from the Climate Smart report, to the Climate Change Academy hosted by the National Conservation Training Center. We also discuss the National Fish, Wildlife and Plant Adaptation Strategy: the first of its kind. Davia also highlights the new National Adaptation Leadership Awards and the upcoming call for nominations. Finally, we discuss opportunities for rank and file state employees, conservationists from NGOs, and Federal employees, on how they can get involved with adaptation planning in their regions. Davia was an amazing guest, with a passion for working with states on ways to conserve wildlife in a changing climate. Listen in on all these topics and more! And stick around to hear what Davia’s favorite wildlife species are, and how they’ll fare under climate change!
For more information on this podcast, visit our website at www.americaadapts.org and don't forget to subscribe to this podcast on Itunes. Also, consider following us on Facebook at America Adapts! Check us out, we’re also on YouTube!