Planet: Critical

Planet: Critical

Rachel Donald
Planet: Critical is the podcast for a world in crisis. We face severe climate, energy, economic and political breakdown. Journalist Rachel Donald interviews those confronting the crisis, revealing what's really going on—and what needs to be done. www.planetcritical.com
How A.I. is Driving Policy | Paul Schutze
A.I. is here—except it isn't. Or is it? A.I. is all over the news all of the time, and nations are scrambling to win the race and become the world leaders in this technology which we're told will change the world. This belief, this myth, is driving policy, investment, hype and conferences. It's the myth that is making A.I., a technology which has consistenly been over-promised and failed to deliver. Yet, nobody is asking if we want the changes we're told A.I. will deliver. The assumption is the future will be artificially intelligent. This means that other critical problems are falling off the agenda which is now dominated by the race towards a hyper-technological future—no matter the costs. Researcher Paul Schütze joins me to explore how these myths are making A.I. into a reality, with no consideration as to whether or not we want that reality. He explains the true cost of this A.I. futurism on the environment, social cohesion, and even our imagination. Planet: Critical is 100% independent and community-powered. If you value it, and have the means, become a paid subscriber today!Books referenced: Rethinking Racial Capitalism Get full access to Planet: Critical at www.planetcritical.com/subscribe
Jul 4
49 min
Climate Reparations | Esther Afolaranmi
Reparations provide legal rights.So argues lawyer and humanitarian, Esther Afolaranmi. Esther is the founder of the Golden Love and Hands of Hope Foundation in Nigeria, working on women’s liberation, girls’ education and lobbying the UN to meet the climate pledges promised at COP meetings. Esther joins me to discuss the links between climate, family planning, social justice and explains the corruption in Nigeria preventing the country from moving past the legacies of extraction and colonialism.Esther explains that climate reparations are not about money, but about granting equal legal rights to the world’s most vulnerable communities. She also says that as long as unethical leaders break the promises made at climate conferences, those communities will be forced to take more desperate action to secure their futures. Get full access to Planet: Critical at www.planetcritical.com/subscribe
Jun 27
36 min
Doing the Right Thing | Gianluca Grimalda
What would you lose to take a stand?Gianluca Grimalda, a climate change researcher, lost his job after he refused to fly back from fieldwork in Papua New Guinea. Gianluca has been “slow travelling” for decades. He thinks his former employer tried to make an example out of him because of his climate activism. It’s one of those stories that reveals the madness of the world—he was sent to research how vulnerable communities are responding to climate change as the seas consume their villages, and then told he could no longer continue that research if he did not commit an act of harm.He joins me to share the preliminary results of his fieldwork and tell this incredible story: his activism, the threats of dismissal, the ongoing fight with the institute, and the incredible journey from Bougainville to Germany by ferry, train and coach. This is a tale that reminds us that some things are less complicated than we are led to believe—and that we cannot rely on our institutions for moral clarity.Watch the film made about Gianluca’s journey here.Support journalism for a world in crisis. Get full access to Planet: Critical at www.planetcritical.com/subscribe
Jun 20
1 hr 6 min
The Body Politic | Ranu Mukherjee
Our bodies know what words fail to describe.Shifts in culture, ravages of violence, ruptures and reconciliation—the body politic lives in our own bodies, informing and inhibiting our experience in the world. Yet, we fail to recognise this connection, and the even wider one of our own bodies as part of the earth's system, which is experiencing great violence and chaos. We need to reconnect with our bodies.Ruptures is just one of the themes Ranu Mukherjee explores as an artist. She joins me to discuss this, and the somatic experience, deep time, the lives of plants, and the violence that ripples out through society. We explore the limitations of connection in economies of scale, how this informs our power hierarchies, and the violence we then internalise, which leads us to a beautiful conversation on uncertainty.Support journalism for a world in crisis. Get full access to Planet: Critical at www.planetcritical.com/subscribe
Jun 13
1 hr 2 min
The Symbolic Species | Terrence Deacon
We belong to our symbols as much as they belong to us. Like the planetary environment, our relationship with language and symbols has impacted our culture, even our biology, argues Professor of Anthropology, Terrence Deacon. Our capacity for interpretation allows us to understand one another and work as a collective mind, explaining the incredible leaps our species has made—and also the trouble we’re in. Terrence joins me to explain our relationship to symbols and how they evolve with the world. We then discuss what happens when our symbols get stuck, or disconnected, simplifying into ideological constructs which fix our identities. Planet: Critical is 100% independent and community-powered. If you value it, and have the means, become a paid subscriber today! Get full access to Planet: Critical at www.planetcritical.com/subscribe
Jun 6
59 min
Energy Wars | Art Berman
Whoever controls the energy supply controls the new world order.Russia and China are deepening their relationship, Western allies in the Middle East are joining the fossil-fuelled BRICS alliance spanning the globe, and the Wagner group is loosening Europe’s grip of Africa. The tectonic plates of geopolitics are shifting along new fault lines as rising powers focus on securing resources while the old Empire in the West pretends it can decouple economies and energy. The world is at war, but only one side is being honest about what for. Acclaimed energy expert Art Berman says this is the culmination of millennia of human fallibility. This is a conversation that takes us from 3000 BCE and the discovery of what he calls the most disruptive technology humans ever had right up to today and the energy wars blooming around the world. We discuss our psychological disposition to immaturity, our cognitive shortcomings when examining complexity, the secrets of holy texts and even morality. Art explains how energy is reshaping geopolitical alliances, which leaders understand the reality of our situation, and why technology cannot solve our problems. Planet: Critical is 100% independent and community-powered. If you value it, and have the means, become a paid subscriber today! Get full access to Planet: Critical at www.planetcritical.com/subscribe
May 30
1 hr 13 min
The Thermodynamics of Degrowth | Tim Garrett
What's the relationship between our energy consumption, our material footprint and our economies?Tim Garrett and I come to refer to these as “the holy trinity”. Tim is a Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Utah, and over two years ago, he joined me to discuss the thermodynamics of collapse, where he explained his research into the behaviour of snowflakes and how you could extrapolate the behaviour of economies and civilization using the laws of thermodynamics. He's back on the show to explain how we use our energy, the necessity of a surplus of energy and how all of this relates to a society's growth and health.In this conversation we discuss questions like: Will renewables facilitate an increased consumption of fossil fuels? Can we reduce inequality by reducing energy consumption? How can we organise a wave-like civilisation, which grows and decays within safe boundaries? Can we decline in order to recover before crashing completely? Get full access to Planet: Critical at www.planetcritical.com/subscribe
May 23
1 hr 33 min
Reimagining A.I | John Wild
What does artificial intelligence have in common with eugenics? The first person to float the idea of a "general intelligence" was a eugenicist who was determined to rank intelligence according to race. This is just one of the legacies of A.I., a technology which Silicon Valley vehemently promises will transform the world, but which for now only consumes enormous quantities of energy. Despite the warnings from technologists around the world, for-profit companies are racing to develop A.G.I. no matter the costs. Artist John Wild has traced the deep history of A.I., finding its roots in disturbing schools of thought which seek to raise the dead. He's also found where these histories are alive and kicking in C-Suite boardrooms. He joins me to reveal the disturbing imaginaries associated with A.I., and how we can begin to reimagine it as an entangled, decentralised, collaborative tool to create new ways of being.Planet: Critical is 100% independent and community-powered. If you value it, and have the means, become a paid subscriber today! Get full access to Planet: Critical at www.planetcritical.com/subscribe
May 16
1 hr 3 min
The Reduction Roadmap | Dani Hill-Hansen
Who takes the initiative when governments fail to ask?Amazingly, in Denmark, an industry is lobbying its government for much tighter regulations to absolutely reduce emissions in order to meet the Paris Agreement. Stakeholders across the entire Danish building industry have agreed to an ambitious reduction roadmap tafter a team of architects undertook an independent review of government policies. They found that global building emissions must be reduced by 96% to limit global warming, and are currently lobbying for an emissions cap of carbon dioxide kilograms per meter squared.I'm joined by Dani Hill-Hansen, sustainable design engineer, architect at EFFEKT, and co-author of the Reduction Roadmap. She explains the findings of their research, the ambitious targets of the roadmap, how they got 540 stakeholders across the industry to sign on, and the methodology of "brand activism" they've developed alongside this project to kickstart other industries across the globe to initiate necessary climate action. Get full access to Planet: Critical at www.planetcritical.com/subscribe
May 9
1 hr 7 min
The Politics of Food | Chris Smaje
What’s the future of food?Last year, two of my former podcast guests had a long and very public disagreement about the politics of food, locking horns over the utility of farming in a densely-populated world. Activist and writer George Monbiot has written extensively about lab-grown food and the need to revolutionise our food systems with technology so that we can better feed everyone. Farmer and academic Chris Smaje has argued that farming is a critical component of community autonomy, and wrote a book in response to George’s own, Regenesis, criticising the vision as “eco-modernist”. George hit back that Chris’ proposal is a “cruel fantasy”.I watched this unfold online, worried to see two experts disagree so deeply on something fundamental to how we organise society, and invited Chris back to talk about this second book, Saying No To A Farm-Free Future. Chris explains how our food production systems are emblematic of our crisis of relationship to the earth. He argues that de-materialising our food supply plays into the colonial history of uprooting people from the land and denigrating agriculture. This leads us to discuss land, language, and culture, decentralising power, and the political binaries that could be dissolved by grounding our thinking in the land.Correction: The previous version of this interview stated that the debate between George Monbiot and Chris Smaje was around lab grown meat instead of lab grown food. Get full access to Planet: Critical at www.planetcritical.com/subscribe
May 2
54 min
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