You don't need to be a scientist to enjoy biology and environmentalism. Listen to the Cliff's Edge each week for a casual chat about everything from evolution to climate change, with some off-beat humor tossed in. Bring your curiosity and become an armchair expert in scientific issues that affect our daily lives. The Cliff's Edge: Biology and environmentalism for the rest of us.
You Don't Know Crap About GMO Food
GMO... yet another thing we're supposed to worry about with our food only we're not really sure why or how big of a deal it is. Turns out, genetically modified food is... a real mixed bag. It's all over the place, from being the tool of greedy corporations, to being a useful tool for farmers, to having some potential to actually change lives. Maybe. We'll see. Turns out, folks are much more eager to try the whole being greedy thing before they get to the rest of it.
Learn what GMOs are, what it has to do with your groceries, and whether or not it's something you really need to worry about, all in this episode of The Cliff's Edge.
In Soviet Russia, Foxes Domesticate You
If you've ever wondered about how wolves turned in to dogs thousands of years ago, you might have thought it probably took a long time. You might have thought that it was a complicated process, that all sorts of factors came in to play to domesticate the wolf. And you would be in good company.
Well, a rebellious Russian geneticist back in the 1960's wondered about this too, and he decided to try to develop a dog from scratch. Only, wolves are a pain, and he had already done work with red foxes, so he set about to turn a fox into a dog.
The results were surprising. And pretty cute. And the experiment is still running to this day. Find out how to domesticate red foxes, and what that tells us about evolution and domestication in particular, in this episode of The Cliff's Edge.
Dealing With Sea Level Rise (Slap Some Gills On Kevin Costner)
Like its big brother, climate change, sea level rise is not only coming... it's already here. The oceans have gotten 8 inches higher today than they were in the year 1900, and they're getting higher, faster. Given that 40% of the United States population lives in coastal areas, not to mention major cities and a multitude of communities all around the world... well it seems like maybe this is a big deal.
And it's only going to become a bigger deal, depending on how much we slack off on curbing carbon emissions. We could be looking at another foot or 30 centimeters of sea level rise by 2100, or maybe by 2050. Or we could be looking at 9 feet by 2100. A lot depends on us, right now and every day moving forward. Find out how bad things could get, what could happen, and what we can do about it, on this episode of The Cliff's Edge.
Getting Down With the Piltdown Man
Remember that time when you knew the milk in your fridge was past its sell by date, and it smelled a little bit funny, but you went ahead and poured it on your cereal anyway because you wanted your breakfast more than you wanted to not vomit? Well, the Piltdown Man is kind of like that. Not because he was a man who kept giving himself food poisoning, but because the people involved with the affair probably should have known better than to swallow it whole. I mean, they didn't literally swallow a man. There wasn't even a whole man, just some bits of skull and teeth. They were supposed to be from an exciting new human ancestor, one of the first ever discovered, and it was going to shape the science of human evolution forever. But... well... it was all a bunch of rotten milk.
We probably should have seen it coming. But the good news is, science didn't fail us. We failed to properly do science. You see, scientists are wretchedly human, and they can succumb to the same weaknesses and flaws that everyone else can. When circumstances are right, a whole bunch of them can screw up the same way at the same time, and that's how the Piltdown Man came to be. Hear all about it on this episode of The Cliff's Edge.
When Pigs Fly, Island Foxes Die
Sometimes when a species is driven to the brink of extinction, it's because of over-hunting. Or habitat destruction. More and more, it's going to be due to climate change. But in 1999, a rare species of dwarf fox was driven to the very edge because golden eagles were eating too many baby pigs. If you don't see the connection... don't feel bad. I've intentionally made it sound mysterious ;-)
In this episode of The Cliff's Edge, hear the tale of the island fox, a unique species of fox only found on California's Channel Islands. Learn about its surprising, and surprisingly brief, history, and the chain reaction of ecological events that nearly wiped it out without anybody ever laying a finger on one. And there's a happy ending, too... the island fox is doing pretty well these days, thanks entirely to the wildlife biologists who figured out what was really going on, as well as a lot of hard work, cooperation, and luck.
The island fox is a pretty cool animal, and its story is simply fascinating. Come check it out!
Ecotourism: Try Not To Destroy What You Love
Ecotourism. Yet another green term you've seen floating around, but that nobody ever really explains. In this episode of The Cliff's Edge, you'll learn how ecotourism is different from your run-of-the-mill tourism, how it has both helped and hurt threatened ecosystems, what the human cost can be, and a few tips on how to be a successful ecotourist yourself. Remember, the golden rule of travel is: Don't be a jerk.
Enjoy the information and topics of this podcast. Info is presented with a sense of humor and sarcasm which can be a little twisted at times but I appreciate that. Especially loved the “sponsors.” 😂