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Down To Earth: Cornell Conversations About

Down To Earth: Cornell Conversations About

By Danielle Eiseman
Still a student-led podcast, but now we are sharing the stories behind those that work in this field. Learn about the lives of the people dedicating their work to studying, researching, and taking action on climate change. Learn the stories of the lives of people impacted by climate change, changed their perspectives on climate science, or share your own.
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The Refrigerants Guy
In this episode, we hear the spark story of Tilden Chao, originally from Ithaca abd currently a sophomore at Yale University, class of 2023. 
April 5, 2021
Climate spark stories - our relaunch
Welcome to the brand new format of DTE! We have moved away from the traditional interview format and instead are capturing the stories behind the people working towards sustainability and climate action. We want to share the motivations, or sparks, that drive the ongoing effort to address climate change, climate justice, food security, and more. In this episode, our new host, Anna Canny, a senior at Cornell University, shares guidance on storytelling. If you wish to share your story with us, you can follow our easy-to-use guide, along with tips from this episode, and submit your own recording to our secure Dropbox folder. We will let you know when it is on the air! Visit for more information. 
March 22, 2021
In this episode, Pam and Danielle chat over Zoom about the basics of geoengineering, with Dr. Natalie Mahowald, Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University. We discuss what it is and how it can be used to help remove carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere. Although the techniques described in this episode are exciting in terms of the potential to reduce the impacts of climate change, each solution has its own positives and negatives. Listen to learn more about some of the exciting new technologies.  Music attributed to
March 25, 2020
Bezos and his climate fund?
In this episode, Pam, Kate, and Danielle chat about the interesting development of Jeff Bezos' pledge to devote $10 billion dollars towards climate change research. We discuss not only some of the types of projects he could fund with that money, but also dive into how that money could have the most impact.  Music from this episode is attributed to: 
March 4, 2020
Teaching Cornell's most popular class
In this episode, we sit down with Bruce Monger, one of Cornell's most beloved professors to discuss what it is like to teach the biggest course taught on campus. The course is Introductory oceanography and is often hailed as a life-changing course. He has opened the eyes of many students about the challenges we face due to a changing climate. 
February 12, 2020
Climate Modeling
Ever wonder about the computer models used to predict future climate scenarios? In this episode, special guests, Colin Evans and Marc Alessi from Cornell's Emergent Climate Risk Lab explain climate model basics and give us some insights into the different scenarios often used to discuss what scientists think will happen in the future. They also bring up RCP 8.5 scenario, or the business-as-usual scenario often used to describe the worst possible outcomes and whether not it is something we should still be using when discussing climate change. Read more here:
February 6, 2020
Oceans Ep. 5: Marine Health
In the final installment of her ocean science series, Marta returns to Cornell to interview Professor Drew Harvell and one of her past students, Serina Moheed '20. Prof. Harvell recently published a book on marine disease titled Ocean Outbreak, and we discuss her research on marine epidemics and other related topics. Prof. Harvell and Serina worked together in last year's Cornell Ocean Research Apprenticeship for Lynch Scholars (CORALS), and Serina describes her experiences as a student marine researcher.
January 29, 2020
Global Dependence on Coal: past, present, and future
Cornell senior Kate Selley interviews Dr. Andrew Minchener, OBE, General Manager of the IEA Clean Coal Centre. He discussed the merits of improving the efficiency of coal as a way to bridge the renewables gap to a sustainable future. Listen on Wednesday as Down to Earth discusses the past, present, and future of coal in a changing climate.
November 20, 2019
Oceans Ep. 4: Ocean Circulation
For the fourth oceans episode, Marta sat down with three physical oceanographers at WHOI this summer to discuss ocean circulation. Dr. Mike Spall and Dr. Chris Piecuch explain large-scale circulation and its importance in climate, and grad student Mara Freilich discusses her research on vertical motion of seawater and its relevance for ecosystems.
November 13, 2019
Oceans episode 3: Marine policy
For the third oceans episode, Marta sat down with Dr. Hauke Kite-Powell from WHOI, Melissa Baldino from Duke, Sally Dowd from Berkeley, and Maddie Schumm from UT Austin to discuss marine policy and marine resource management and the research that goes into it. Listen in to learn about ecosystem services, economic models for fisheries, ecosystem models for aquaculture, and animal behavior in a noisy ocean.
November 6, 2019
Oceans Ep. 2: Sea Level Rise
Marta discusses rising sea levels with experts from  Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Colorado College. Listen in as we dive deeper into the complexities of ocean science and sea-level rise. 
October 30, 2019
Oceans Ep. 1: Coral
This week, Marta introduces a podcast series on ocean science topics. Last summer, she worked as a research intern at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and she took advantage of her time there by interviewing experts in ocean science/climate change hot topics like coral bleaching, sea-level rise, and marine resource policy. The first oceans episode is on coral bleaching and ocean acidification, with guests Dr. Anne Cohen from WHOI and Ellen Park from Cornell University.
October 23, 2019
Virtual landscapes
In this episode, Danielle chats with local playwright and Cornell Assistant Professor, Aoise Stratford. Aoise describes the motivation and works behind an upcoming public reading of the multimedia exhibit entitled Virtual Landscapes. She and recurring guest Professor Toby Ault have crafted a multimedia experience demonstrating climate change. The workshop will be held Thursday, October 24 at 4:30 pm at the Swchartz Performing Arts Center, Film Forum. This public reading aims to test the material and gather input from community members. 
October 16, 2019
In this episode, Profesor Toby Ault describes what the climate was like 354 million years ago, during the carboniferous period. Find out how this important time period led to the industrial revolution and is contributing to the current changes we are seeing in the climate today. 
October 9, 2019
Chat with Gustav Hansson
In this episode, Dr. Danielle Eiseman from the Department of Communication at Cornell University sits down with visiting graduate student Gustav Hansson. Gustav is studying sustainability within organizations. He has extensive experience not only starting his own companies but also working on sustainability strategies for companies. He describes his work and what it's like to study sustainability here in the US, compared to Sweden. 
October 2, 2019
We need to talk about Game of Thrones
Pam Wildstein 8:24 PM This week, Pam and special guest Juliet push through the cold that’s been going around campus to bring you an in-depth analysis of the HBO TV series Game of Thrones. Did anyone ask for this? No! Did Pam make it anyway? Yes! Turns out a show about dragons and sword fights has a lot more to do with climate change than you would initially think. No background knowledge necessary, but massive spoilers for Season 8.  Notes:Full version of The Doctor’s War Speech (because it’s a really good): Just Write’s GOT episode: Lindsey Ellis GOT episode: (not PG) Wisecrack GOT episode: (not mentioned in the video, but a good analysis)
September 25, 2019
Conservation and Eco-literacy
We sat down with Dr. Brian Forist and PhD candidate, Kostas Stavrianakis, from Indiana University's Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism Studies. Learn about their incredible research.
September 19, 2019
Climate Change Town Hall
Two Cornell graduate students from the Emergent Climate Risk Lab were selected to attend the CNN Climate Change Town Hall in New York city. They had submitted questions for the candidates and both had the opportunity to ask the candidates questions during the event. You can watch the clips below.  The DTE team sat down with Colin Evans and Marc Alessi to hear about the experience and their thoughts on the plans proposed by the candidates. Colin comes on at 23:53. Marc comes on at 7:00
September 12, 2019
Climate and Energy Lecture: Faint young sun
This is another part of the lecture series for EAS 1101 Climate and Energy. In this episode we discuss the Faint Young Sun paradox, which discusses the working theories on how our planet was able to support life and the beginnings of the greenhouse gas effect. 
September 10, 2019
Climate and Energy Lecture - Pale Blue Dot
This episode is part of an additional series within DTE that supplements Cornell course EAS 1101 Climate and Energy. This episode discusses Carl Sagan's famous description of the earth, as a pale blue dot. 
September 10, 2019
Resilient Landscapes Commentary
In this episode, Pam, Marta, Danielle, and our newest team member Kate, discuss a recent seminar we attended on Resilient Landscapes. The speaker, Massimo Sargolini, is a Professor of Urban Planning at the School of Architecture and Design, UNICAM-University of Camerino in Italy. He investigates the relationship between Urban landscape and quality of life. We pulled in aspects of his talk in this episode, while we discussed some of the wider philosophy around his approach to studying community resilience. The examples he used in his talk were of the string of earthquakes that hit central Italy in 2016. He also describes the risk of volcanic eruptions in highly populated places. He is hopeful that their approach to understanding how people interact with nature and vice versa, can help transform existing communities into ones that are better able to withstand increasing risks to natural disasters. 
September 4, 2019
Pam's trip to Boston!
Pam describes a recent energy conference she attended and explains how our grid system works, how it could be better and plans for New York State solar. 
August 14, 2019
Understanding community resilience
In this episode, Pam and I are joined by a visiting high school student, Jenna. Jenna has been with us the past four weeks interning with the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions. She helped develop this episode and asked a lot of insightful questions about building community resilience to climate change, a topic she has become increasingly interested in. 
July 31, 2019
Danielle visits Bonn and the United Nations
In this episode Danielle chats with Dr. Toby Ault about her trip to the United Nations headquarters in Bonn, where she attended the meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies of the UNFCCC. Since Toby has never attended one of these large climate change conferences he had many questions about what goes on at these meetings and how it influences global policy. 
July 24, 2019
El Nino and Climate Change
In this episode Pam, Danielle and Professor Toby Ault discuss the answers to some complex climate questions brought up by some visiting high school students. There were a few questions on the relationship between climate change, El Nino and wind circulations. There was also a question about the potential of an ice age. Since neither Pam nor Danielle are experts in atmospheric physics, Professor Toby Ault explained the complex relationship between these systems and where the science currently stands on it. We also throw in some entertaining pop culture references. 
July 17, 2019
Mitigation Game Part 2
The game continues! Listen as Marta, Pam and Gerry compete to create the best policy for reducing carbon emissions.  Note: Pam tripped over her words when talking about PPA's. PPA stands for a power purchase agreement.
July 10, 2019
Mitigation Game
In this episode Pam, Marta and Gerry compete to see who can come up with the best policy for mitigating green house gas emissions. This episode is divided into two parts. Listen next week for part 2. 
July 3, 2019
Assessing climate information in the media
This episode is the first in a new series with Professor Toby Ault. It serves as supplemental course materials for EAS 1101 Climate and Energy, as well as Communication 4860. Danielle and Toby discuss how climate change issues are portrayed in the media and how to identify evidence cited in mainstream media articles. 
June 26, 2019
Climate Questions
Pam, Marta and Gerry answer your top questions about climate change, science and impacts.
June 19, 2019
DTE Analyzes the NIPCC Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels Report
This episode is a doozy! Pam, Danielle and special guest Colin Evans from the Cornell Emergent Climate Risk Lab (ECRL) sat down to unpack the arguments presented in a report on fossil fuels from the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). The NIPCC argues against the evidence presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), organized by the United Nations. The NIPCC is a partner of the Heartland Institute. We analyze the arguments laid out in the report and assess the validity of those arguments and discuss the evidence that either supports or refutes the report. There is a lot of information in this episode, but we hope it helps inform the public on the different ways scientific information is presented and misrepresented. If you wish to read the summary report for policy makers you may do so here:  The figure we discuss from the CDC can be found at the bottom of this page:
June 5, 2019
Climate Smart Agriculture in Uganda
In this episode, Dr. Danielle Eiseman chats with Cyprian Kaziba, a visiting Humphrey Fellow from Uganda. Cyprian describes the challenges small-holder farmers face in Uganda, specifically, in the Buvuma Islands located in Lake Victoria. He also describes three projects he is currently developing to help farmers in Uganda. 
May 23, 2019
Energy and why you should love and respect it
In this episode Pam, Marta and Gerry chat about energy issues. Pam may or may not have one of her famous rants. 
May 15, 2019
Climate News Update May 07
Despite audio trouble, Pam and Marta prevailed to bring you this update on recent climate news. Join them for the main points on this week's UN biodiversity report, an exciting new development in the way energy grids are regulated, news on fossil fuel divesting among universities, and a debriefing on offshore drilling in the U.S. and Australia.
May 8, 2019
Perspectives on climate
If you missed our live stream panel discussion on climate change, its impacts and solutions, you can catch up now! We brought together several academics from Cornell to provide their unique perspective on climate change. This includes: Professor Natalie Mahowald: Dr. Mahowald is a Professor of Engineering and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. She is an American Geophysical Union Fellow, recipient of the American Meteorological Society Henry G. Houghton Award, and was one of the Lead Authors of the 2018 Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees IPCC Special Report.  Her research focuses on understanding global and regional scale atmospheric transport of biogeochemically important species such as desert dust. She is also interested in how humans are perturbing the natural environment, especially through biochemical feedback.  Professor Mike Hoffmann: Dr. Mike Hoffmann is the executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, which was created to help raise the profile of the challenges posed by a rapidly warming climate and to help those who grow our food adapt to changing conditions as well as reduce their carbon footprint. He has also published climate change articles in the popular press - The Hill, Fortune, and USA Today and is writing a book- Our Changing Menu: What Climate Change Means to the Foods You Love and Need. Dr. Hoffman has also given a TEDx Talk titled “Climate Change: It’s Time to Raise Our Voices.”  Professor Karen Pinkus: Dr. Karen Pinkus is a Professor of Romance Studies and Comparative Literature and the author of numerous books and articles on literature, film, and in the past decade, on the relation of the humanities to climate change. Her 2016 book Fuel. A Speculative Dictionary brings together literature, science, and philosophy to undo the dream that “future fuels,” inserted into existing social and technological structures, will save us from disruption. She is currently completing a new book, Down There. The subsurface in the Time of Climate Change, that reads literary narratives from the nineteenth century -- the dawn of the fossil fuel era --- to think about issues such as extraction or non-extraction and carbon sequestration. Dr. Christopher Dunn: Dr. Christopher Dunn is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Horticulture, the Elizabeth Newman Wilds Direction of Cornell Botanic Gardens, and a Faculty Fellow of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. He is a botanist and conservation ecologist who has considerable experience studying the relationships between peoples and place, and human impacts on the landscape. Dr. Dunn serves on the boards of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature-U.S., the Center for Plant Conservation, and Terralingua and is the chair of the IUCN National Committee for the US. He is also the North American Councillor for the International Association of Botanic Gardens. 
May 1, 2019
Whose future? Youth Climate Movements
Marta and Pam discuss youth climate movements. This episode is packed with an interview with one of Danielle's close friends back in Scotland and conversations with young activists here at Cornell and abroad. 
April 24, 2019
The Green New Deal
In this episode Pam and Danielle discuss the Green New Deal, including what is actually written in the plan, what it means and the need to use this political McGuffin to move the conversation forward on climate action at the national level. 
April 17, 2019
Dendro-climate and the Dominican Republic
In this episode Dr. Danielle Eiseman discusses recent field work she did in the Dominican Republic with colleagues from the Cornell Emergent Climate Risk Lad and the University of Arizona Laboratory of Tree Ring Research. You will here clips from the field describing the process of taking tree cores, what the cores are used for and how to study past climate from tree rings. In the second part of this episode Danielle chats with Dr. Dimitris Herrera about their field work and why this type of work is useful.
April 10, 2019
Climate change and farming
In this episode, Pam visited Penn State and spoke with Kaila Thorn about climate change impacts on farming. 
March 27, 2019
Climate change and the changing menu
In this episode Danielle sits down with her former classmate, Chef and Creative Culinary Director Andres Padilla. Danielle sat down with Andres at Leña Brava, one of Rick Bayless' restaurants ins Chicago. The interview will be incorporated in the book Danielle is co-authoring with CICSS Executive Director Michael Hoffmann and the ever talented Carrie Koplinka-Loehr.  Andres was able to share his experiences with climate change, how it effects specific items on the menu such as the Chicago-favorite ramps which come into season in the spring, as well as morels and unagi. 
March 20, 2019
The Price of Climate Change
In this episode Pam sits down with our new team member, Gerry from Penn State to discuss the economic impacts of climate change. Gerry will be joining us regularly.
March 13, 2019
Climate News Brief February 28
Another weekly news brief on what is happening in the changing climate. 
February 28, 2019
Haiti and the environment
Julie and Marta took part in the Cornell University Wind Symphony service-learning tour to Haiti and the Dominican Republic last month, starting in Port-au-Prince, traveling up to Jacmel, and eventually making our way over the border to the DR. We were there to collaborate with Port-au-Prince’s Holy Trinity Music School Orchestra, the national orchestra of Haiti. The partnership between Holy Trinity and Cornell is an ongoing project organized by our conductor, James Spinazzola, and the Holy Trinity Orchestra conductor, Father David Cesar. We saw this as the perfect opportunity to learn a bit about climate change and environmental issues in Haiti, and as you’ll see, it also turned into a chance to make a few interviews on the topic. This podcast is split into two parts; first, a discussion of environmental, governmental, and international policy issues facing Haiti, and second, a more general discussion of approaches to human rights, dignity and the environment. Our journey through Haiti was an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the country and its people. We hope our podcast inspires you to learn more about Haiti, both in the context of environmental issues and otherwise. We are so grateful for the chance to make music with our talented friends at the Holy Trinity Music School and to interview all the wonderful people featured on this podcast. Marta and Julie
February 26, 2019
Climate News Brief February 22
With the new year we have done some re-organizing and will be providing weekly climate change news briefs. We will still be publishing longer format interviews, however those episodes take much longer to produce. We hope you enjoy these updates and as always, feel free to join the conversation via Twitter. 
February 22, 2019
Cultured Meat
In this episode Danielle chatted with Dr. Elliot Swartz from the Good Food Institute.  Elliot is a former neuroscientist currently working as the academic research advisor for GFI. His experience in stem cell research and cell culture allows him to work closely with universities and research organizations to seeking alternative methods for producing meat. Listen to learn more about his work and the Good Food Institute.
January 23, 2019
Green Development in China
This episode we partnered with another podcast here at Cornell, from the Polson Institute. Pam sat down with other students working in the Polson Isntitute to discuss green development in China. 
January 16, 2019
American Geophysical Union Centennial Meeting
We're back! In December, Marta attended the American Geophysical Union meeting. It is the largest gathering of Earth and Space scientists. Hear about her experience at AGU and perspectives from scientists she met while there. 
January 9, 2019
What you should know about the National Climate Assessment
With all of the climate reports coming out in such a short amount of time, Danielle and I decided to sit down and discuss the implications of their findings. More specifically, we chose to focus on the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which was mandated by Congress and a collaboration between at least a dozen agencies. It also cited research done by a few Cornell professors, two of whom, Toby Ault and Mike Hoffman, have been on the pod before! When you see the information and statistics presented in these reports, it is always important to consider what it means for you, your family, and your community.
December 4, 2018
Ethical Consumption
In this episode, Marta and Danielle discuss issues around consumption, including ethical and sustainable consumption. We discuss the role advertising has in fostering a culture of consumption, as well as ways to shift consumption towards more ethical and environmentally sustainable practices.
November 21, 2018
Losing Earth
Somehow, against all odds (long lines at the bagel shop where I got breakfast before recording, a concerningly small amount of sleep, even for college students, and the first fifteen minutes of the interview not recording), we have a brand new episode for you about environmental governance, featuring Dr. Steven Wolf! After reading the New York Times article “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change” by Nathaniel Rich, Marta and I had one big overarching question: “Why haven’t we effectively responded to the science of climate change with policy?” Naturally, with a inquiry as big as that, we had to seek some help from experts in the subject. This led us to Professor Wolf, who teaches the Environmental Governance course here at Cornell. I was really excited to do this episode, not only because it is the concentration that I chose for my major, but also because it was interesting to expand upon some of the ideas that we had brought up in past episodes and apply them to new scenarios. As a side note, I got to ask Professor Wolf a question that was very similar to an essay question on my Environmental Governance final, which was a little humorous moment of poetic justice for me:) Anyways, we hope you enjoy, learn something new, and say hi to us on social media! “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change” can be found here: Confused about any fancy, academic words we used? Here’s a cheat-sheet with definitions that is updated weekly → Hey! Where can I find that recent IPCC report you guys talked about?: (this is the version for policy makers and is relatively short) Thank for listening and have a great week! Pam Wildstein
November 14, 2018
The Great Straw Ban
In this episode Marta, Pam, and Jake discuss the recent straw ban. They also take a different approach in this episode by dissecting some of the misconceptions and arguments made against the straw ban.
November 7, 2018
Let's kill Halloween
In this episode, Jake, Marta, and Pam have a little fun by taking a brief look at the environmental impact of Halloween.
October 31, 2018
Politicization of Climate Change
Julie, Marta and Pam sit down to discuss how climate change has been politicized in the United States, the various perspectives on climate change and their own personal views on governmental action on climate. As future leaders it is interesting to hear their thoughts on how governments should respond to climate change and who should take responsibility when it comes to mitigating climate change.
October 24, 2018
ECRL Balloon recovery
This is not a full episode, but is a clip Toby sent in as they recovered the balloon, late in the evening Saturday. If you are curious about how they managed to recover the balloon after it had landed in a tree on someone's private property, take a listen!
October 11, 2018
Emergent Climate Risk Lab Balloon Launch
This is another special episode for DTE! We joined Dr. Toby Ault's Emergent Climate Risk Lab and Wicked Instruments to launch a weather balloon Canaseraga, NY. The balloon reached a height of about 100,000 feet. It reached the highest parts of our atmosphere and photos the balloon took are incredible. The balloon held sensors that captured data on humidity, pollutants, temperature and more. The hope is that by launching more of these balloons in the future we can improve weather forecasts. Toby describes the project, the motivation behind it and future work. I also captured reactions during the day as we chased the balloon across the state.
October 10, 2018
Deep Decarbonization
Latest episode of Down to Earth: Cornell Conversations about
October 8, 2018
Adventures in NYC
In this special episode Pam shares insights from the Local Climate Action Summit the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions and its partners hosted during New York Climate Week. People from the all over the Northeastern US and beyond came to share information and learn about how communities are responding to climate change and building resiliency. Pam shares her experiences and insights from engaging with individuals at the summit. The events over the two days in NYC were inspiring and we hope to continue to carry local climate action forward.
October 8, 2018
Breaking Down Methane
In this episode the students and I discuss greenhouse gases and then chat with Professor Bob Howarth about the use of natural gas on campus. Next week we talk about deep decarbonization.
October 3, 2018
Institutional Sustainability
In this episode Emily and Marta sit down with CICSS Executive Director, Professor Mike Hoffmann about some of the Climate literacy initiatives at Cornell.
September 28, 2018
Ecological Footprints
In this episode Julie, Jake and Pam discuss how to calculate your ecological footprint, and address some of the challenges in answering the questions. They also discuss ways you can reduce your own footprint.
September 19, 2018
Community Energy
This is our first episode of Down To Earth. The podcast is a student led project promoting open discussion about climate related issues. We are trying to encourage debate and are open to a variety of perspectives on this highly politicized issue. We encourage listeners to tweet to us (@earth_podcast) their questions and we hope you enjoy these light-hearted, yet informative conversations. In this first episode we discuss community energy development with Terry Carroll from Tompkins County Cornell Cooperative Extension. We also introduce the project and two of the team members.
August 29, 2018