Hothouse Earth, Blue Dots & Trees for Life

Illustration by Susan Coyne

This Week: Apocalypse 2040 — with Sir Martin Rees, Adil Najam and Ajay Singh Chaudhary. Listen today at 2pm or anytime on our website.

MM and RP: We turned up the heat again this week, since the bad news seemed to play so well with the crowd last week—“darkly cathartic” (try that with a Boston accent) was how one of our fans described our show with Chris Hedges. When they go bleak, we go bleaker…

There’s not much to say about these climate reports; and not much seems to happen either. Martin Rees, Royal Astronomer to the star, puts a nice English accent and some cosmic context on the bad news, but Ajay Singh Chaudhary registers a proper tone of outrage about what he calls the nightmare of right wing climate realism and the utter inability of the left to respond (what does that sound like?). It’s capitalism, stupid.

Martin Rees, in his new book, On the Future, quotes Carl Sagan. Put this on your answering machine:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Our reading list for this week includes Ajay’s piece, “It’s Already Here” and Alyssa Battistoni’s “There’s No Time for Gradualism.” And, to be clear, there is no time for gradualism:

Kanye meets Trump; Hurricane Michael

Catch the (artificial) floating coral reef in Boston Hahbah before the last real ones disappear:

Photo by Greg Cook

And plant a tree or and take a tree bath. And listen again to our show with Richard Powers and Diana Beresford-Kroeger on the secret life of trees. It will make you feel better. Promise!

Next Week: Frederick Douglass

Writer, orator, abolitionist, Douglass was also the most photographed man of the 19th century. Chris will be interviewing Yale historian and Civil War expert David Blight about his new biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, on Monday.

Dog’s Breakfast

(Or, things we find around the town and on the web.)

Martin Rees said of his book: “some would call it a dogs’ breakfast; others would call it a smorgasbord.” Roger Angell’s definition, quoting his step-father, E.B. White: “A mélange, a grab bag, a plate of hors d’oeuvres, a teenager’s closet, a bit of everything.”

Here’s ours: Corey Robin on The Scandal of Democracy; Jia Tolentino on a year of #MeToo; Peter Gordon on Leonard Bernstein; Jeannie Suk Gersen on anti-asian bias and the affirmative action case at Harvard; Gabriel Winant on the history of work; Seyla Benhabib on the legacy of critical theory; Doreen St. Felix on the imprecise language of #metoo and the adaptability of patriarchal power; Anand Giridharadas on Saudi money in Silicon Valley.

Rebecca dug up this short 2012 New Yorker piece on this week’s guest Ajay Singh Chaudhary’s Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. Andrew Marantz calls it a “locavore pedagogy shop.” Adult ed, with drinks; no degrees awarded, but clues offered into human understanding.

Stay Tuned: Eleanor Burgess

Chris’s interview with Eleanor Burgess
Jordan Boatman and Lisa Banes in The Niceties

She’s a woman to watch. We’re total fans of Eleanor’s play, The Niceties, and of the playwright herself. The play opens off Broadway in New York this week at The Manhattan Theatre Club. Catch it if you can.

Go Sox!

In the good news department. Take that Yankees!

Til Next Week,

The OS Bad News Bears

An American conversation with global attitude, on the arts, humanities, and global affairs, hosted by Christopher Lydon. chris@radioopensource.org