Annalee Newitz Quotes

Image, My first goal would be to reduce the perturbation in the carbon

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My first goal would be to reduce the perturbation in the carbon cycle. That would mean using carbon neutral sources of energy, and changing our agricultural practices to be less disruptive and polluting. I'm not talking about a policy here so much as changing the way our infrastructure works. That's why I'm so fascinated with changing the way we build cities, because they are the most developed forms of physical infrastructure for human habitation.

Annalee Newitz

Image, I think that humans are also set up to survive. We’re not

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I think that humans are also set up to survive. We're not as small as rats, but we make up for that by being intelligent enough to make our own hiding places and to adapt to new habitats, even if they are changing very quickly. We have an enormous population, and can afford to lose billions of people without suffering very much as a species. Indeed, some would say losing five billion people would be good for the planet - I disagree with them, but can't deny that we would do just fine if there were two billion of us... Read more »

Annalee Newitz

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Image, Amphibians are dying out like crazy, and frogs and salamanders may be

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Amphibians are dying out like crazy, and frogs and salamanders may be largely extinct by the end of the twenty-first century. Imagine an animal that begins its life in the water, but ends it on land - already, that's pretty weird. But, also, a lot of them are incredibly tiny and look wildly improbable. They have funny little toes, they stretch their throats into weird bubble shapes when they croak, and some of them are poisonous to the touch. I think kids from the twenty-second century might mythologize amphibians the way kids today mythologize dinosaurs.

Annalee Newitz

Image, With enough money and international coordination, we can push incoming asteroids out

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With enough money and international coordination, we can push incoming asteroids out of Earth's path. We might even be able to bring back extinct animals in the lab. The problem really isn't scientific - it's cultural. We aren't yet able to coordinate ourselves as a global civilization to do something simple like bring food to a famine-stricken region. We can actually use current satellite technologies to predict where famine will strike next, but we can't get food there - usually for political reasons.

Annalee Newitz

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Image, If we return abruptly to a Miocene-like climate, it’s reasonable to think

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If we return abruptly to a Miocene-like climate, it's reasonable to think that we would experience a lot of extinctions, and maybe even a mass extinction in the long term. Would the life on Earth be radically different? Of course we can't say for sure, but I think a lot of it would look familiar. Like a lot of people, I worry a lot about whether marine mammals would survive, especially whales. Ocean acidification is one of the major killers in climate change events, and that makes the ocean a very inhospitable place.

Annalee Newitz

Image, A lot of environmental and biological science depends on technology to progress.

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A lot of environmental and biological science depends on technology to progress. Partly I'm talking about massive server farms that help people crunch genetic data - or atmospheric data. But I also mean the scientific collaborations that the Internet makes possible, where scientists in India and Africa can work with people in Europe and the Americas to come up with solutions to what are, after all, global problems.

Annalee Newitz

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Image, The early Triassic was a period when the planet was recovering from

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The early Triassic was a period when the planet was recovering from the worst mass extinction it had ever known - that was the end Permian extinction, where climate change caused in part by mega-volcanic eruptions wiped out ninety-five percent of life on Earth. It took about ten or twenty million years for the planet's ecosystems to stabilize. During that time you saw a lot of weird, out-of-balance ecosystems where, for example, crocodile-like predators ripped the crap out of each other along the coasts.

Annalee Newitz

Image, There are definitely recurring themes in humanity’s relationship with our environment. The

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There are definitely recurring themes in humanity's relationship with our environment. The biggest is probably adaptation, because humans are incredibly good at adapting to new environments in relatively short periods of time. The ancestors of Homo sapiens started leaving Africa over one million years ago, moving from warm, tropical climates into the freezing wilderness of Europe and the desert ecosystems of the Middle East.

Annalee Newitz

Image, Imagining the world without us is a recipe for despair and paralysis.

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Imagining the world without us is a recipe for despair and paralysis. I actually think it's more helpful to imagine the world before us, to look back at those unstable ecosystems of the Triassic and realize that were in another phase of unstable ecosystems. Knowing that, demystifying our situation as it were, makes it easier to think about solutions. We are not looking into the unknown. The only thing unknown about the situation is how we're going to fix it, and when.

Annalee Newitz