Topic: This month, while the Café Scientifique is on its summer break, we bring you a wide-ranging conversation about how humans interact with nature in cities, and how scientists study this human-nature relationship. As Dr. Paige Warren notes early in the conversation, Dr. Charlie Nilon, an African American ecologist, is a pioneer in studying ecology in the context of urban systems where humans interact with nature to determine the fate of biodiversity. Both Warren and Nilon have collaborated closely with Katti over the past 15 years in developing a better understanding of the factors that influence biodiversity in cities. This field, the study of how we humans shape our immediate (and distant) environments, and in turn, how other species respond to our actions, holds a key to the future of biodiversity on our urbanized planet. More importantly, access to nature, and some degree of control on our relationship with nature may also be crucial for human wellbeing in cities, as Dr. Nilon suggests in the second half when discussing the potential environmental correlates of the urban racial unrest in Baltimore and Ferguson this year.
Have a listen, and do share any thoughts you might have about how you relate to nature in your urban (or rural) environment.
The Central Valley Café Scientifique will return to Peeve’s Pub in September, for its 9th season. For more information about the Café and announcements about upcoming events, please visit our website, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Topic: Earth sciences and the insights we have gained into the history of our planet including the evolution of life leading up to our own species. In a wide ranging discussion, Dr. Brady talks about the tools used to study the age of rocks and of the earth itself, about the history of the earth sciences, especially over the past century, and how we geology can provide a broader perspective on larger scales of space and time to help us understand our current challenges such as climate change. She then discusses the challenges of conducting research and teaching about the earth in a political climate where even presidential candidates and elected representatives in government deny the value of science and dismiss earth sciences as not a hard science. The interview with Dr, Brady is followed by a commentary by Dr. Crosbie on a rediscovered fossil of a beaked whale that got stranded in East Africa and how it now helps us reconstruct our own evolutionary story.