90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
How Humans Deal With A Changing Natural Environment

MacArthur “genius” Ruth DeFries looks at humanity’s long, deep integration with nature – and what comes next. She’s hopeful.

In this Fall 2013 photo provided by the University of Idaho, students in the University of Idaho’s first Semester in the Wild program take a class in the Frank Church-River Of No Return Wilderness, Idaho. (AP)

In this Fall 2013 photo provided by the University of Idaho, students in the University of Idaho’s first Semester in the Wild program take a class in the Frank Church-River Of No Return Wilderness, Idaho. (AP)

Today is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act of 1964.  The act drew protective lines around millions of acres and their wildlife.  To mark the anniversary, humans and nature from two angles today.  One, that my guest Ruth DeFries calls the Big Rachet – the human pattern of pushing nature to its limits, paying a price, then recovering – even more dominant – with human ingenuity.  Will we do that this time?  Then nature writer Jordan Fisher Smith joins us to look at the health of our wilderness itself.  This hour On Point:  nature and the wild in a time of planetary climate change.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Ruth DeFries, environmental geographer and professor of sustainable development in the department of ecology, evolution and environmental biology at Columbia University. Author of the new book “The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis.” Also co-author, with Cheryl Simon Silver, of “One Earth, One Future.” (@ruthdefries)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: New West Renaissance — “The big story of the West today is how the urban and the wild have produced a unique lifestyle — a new-century ecosystem. Each depends on the other. And the lands, though badly scarred during the last century, are being restored, showing the power of people to mend places they love.”

Seattle Times: Drought forces big changes among California growers — “Growers have adapted to the record-low rainfall by installing high-technology irrigation systems, watering with treated municipal wastewater and even recycling waste from the processing of pomegranates to feed dairy cows. Some are taking land out of production altogether, bulldozing withered orange trees and leaving hundreds of thousands of acres unplanted.”

History News Network: Humanity’s Ecological History in the Grocery Aisle – “In just two hundred thousand years, a blink compared to the 4.5 billion year history of our planet, we have become the only species whose members live mostly in cities and subsist from food produced by a minority. How humans became a world-dominating species that produces enough surplus food to support so many people in cities raises questions that cannot be answered by archaeologists, anthropologists or ecologists alone.”

Read An Excerpt From “The Big Ratchet” By Ruth DeFries

The Wilderness Act At Fifty

Jordan Fisher Smith, nature writer. Author of “Nature Noir.” (@JordanFSmith)

Orion Magazine: The Wilderness Paradox — “The bigger a preserved place is, the greater its volume in relation to its perimeter. Therefore, less of it is impacted by edge effects—hunters on all-terrain vehicles, feral housecats from rural suburbs preying on birds, grizzly bears and wolves getting shot for stepping outside the lines, and the necessity of putting out fires when they run from wilderness toward inhabited areas. Also, wild nature has certain critical minima.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 22, 2014
President Barack Obama gestures during a statement in the State Dining Room of the White House, on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in Washington. Obama spoke after Congress voted to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State group. (AP/Evan Vucci)

A tough, critical examination of US plans to take on ISIS. Strategy in the hot seat.

Sep 22, 2014
Demonstrators make their way down Sixth Avenue in New York during the People's Climate March Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. (AP/Jason DeCrow)

Big climate protests in New York before a big UN summit. Activist and author Naomi Klein says change the economy or die. She’s with us.

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 19, 2014
Joseph O'Neill (courtesy of the author)

Author of “Netherland,” novelist Joseph O’Neill is back, with “The Dog,” on globalization, capitalism, and self-discovery in Dubai.

 
Sep 19, 2014
No campaigners celebrate as results come in at the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh,Scotland,Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Scottish voters have rejected independence and decided that Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom. The result announced early Friday was the one favored by Britain's political leaders, who had campaigned hard in recent weeks to convince Scottish voters to stay. It dashed many Scots' hopes of breaking free and building their own nation. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)

ISIS and arming Syrian fighters. Scotland rejects independence. NFL turmoil. US troops and Ebola. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: September 19, 2014
Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Lots of big, contentious topics on the show this week — from Zionism to early education, corporal punishment to development in the Grand Canyon.

More »
Comment
 
Talking Through The Issue Of Corporal Punishment For Kids
Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

On Point dove into the debate over corporal punishment on Wednesday — as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson faces charges in Texas after he allegedly hit his four-year-old son with a switch.

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

More »
Comment