An EconTalk Podcast Listening Guide

Daniel Botkin on Nature, the Environment and Global Warming

Listen to the EconTalk podcast Daniel Botkin on Nature, the Environment and Global Warming and consider these questions.

1. The interview begins with Botkin describing the three predominant metaphors for nature over time. Describe each of these metaphors. How does each metaphor fit within its historical context?

2. Which metaphors mentioned above does Botkin feel is most influential today, and why does he believe this poses a problem for science?

3. Botkin says that the whole history of climate is characterized by change. Why does he suggest that climate change might actually be good for animal species?

4. How did the Romantic era change the way nature is described/experienced by man?

5. Botkin describes his fellow ecologists as “creatures of our culture”. How does this help to explain the fallacies he sees commonly presented in introductory ecology textbooks?

6. Interviewer Roberts ultimately asks Botkin what metaphor for nature we should adhere to. What is his response? Do you agree?

7. Of the global warming debate, Botkin says, “Rationality has been left behind.” What does he mean by this? What is Botkin’s main criticism of the models being used in this debate?

8. Botkin advises that there are many actions we ought to take not because they will necessarily help curb global warming, but because they are just generally good ideas. What are the actions he suggests?

9. To what extent do you agree with Botkin that a “new McCarthyism” has arrived? Why?