Bridging Science and the Humanities: 2021 Great Plains conference
Graduates of the Center's Great Plains Graduate Fellows Program will speak about how big picture thinking about climate change should include cross-disciplinary teamwork. Panelists include Aubrey Streit Krug (The Land Institute), Caleb Roberts (Assistant Unit Leader at the Arkansas Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit), Dan Uden (UNL School of Natural Resources). Moderated by Tom Lynch, UNL
icon search Searchable Transcript
Toggle between list and paragraph view.
[00:00:01.080](gentle guitar music)
[00:00:04.210]Welcome everyone to our session
[00:00:06.040]on bridging science and the humanities.
[00:00:09.740]My name's Tom Lynch.
[00:00:10.870]I'm a professor in the English department at UNL
[00:00:13.640]where I teach Environmental Humanities,
[00:00:16.160]place studies including courses
[00:00:18.000]on the literature of climate change
[00:00:19.730]and the broader Anthropocene.
[00:00:22.298]My course readings range
[00:00:23.810]from literary theory work by scholars
[00:00:25.860]such as Amitav Gosh and Timothy Clark
[00:00:28.770]to nonfiction science writing by folks like
[00:00:31.280]Elizabeth Colbert and David Wallace Wells,
[00:00:34.520]to novels by folks like Paolo Bacigalupi,
[00:00:37.270]Kim Stanley Robinson, and N.K. Jemisin
[00:00:40.370]to a wide range of contemporary poetry.
[00:00:43.160]So I'm well aware of the need for,
[00:00:45.680]and the difficulty of, the interdisciplinary classroom.
[00:00:50.490]Though none of the three panelists in this session
[00:00:52.520]is a climate change researcher, in the narrow sense,
[00:00:56.230]they all are in a broad and meaningful sense.
[00:00:59.290]Climate is the context for all of their work,
[00:01:02.400]and of course their lives.
[00:01:04.850]Each panelist will make a short presentation.
[00:01:07.800]Then they have submitted some questions
[00:01:09.810]they would like to ask each other.
[00:01:11.320]So there will be a bit of a conversation among them.
[00:01:14.250]Then this will be followed by a Q and A with the audience,
[00:01:17.240]and you can utilize the Q and A feature on your,
[00:01:20.220]that should be on your screen.
[00:01:22.230]So let me introduce our panelists.
[00:01:24.900]First, Aubrey Streit Krug is a writer, teacher,
[00:01:28.610]and researcher who studies stories
[00:01:30.380]of relationships between humans and plants.
[00:01:33.540]She's the Director of Ecosphere Studies
[00:01:35.630]at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas,
[00:01:38.540]where she facilitates and leads
[00:01:40.280]transdisciplinary learning projects.
[00:01:43.290]She grew up in a small town in Canvas,
[00:01:45.400]where her parents farm wheat and raise cattle,
[00:01:47.840]and she loves limestone soils and rocky prairie hillsides.
[00:01:52.630]Streit Krug was part of the first class of graduate fellows
[00:01:55.760]at the Center for Great Plains Studies.
[00:01:58.200]She holds a PhD in English in Great Plains Studies
[00:02:01.240]from the University of Nebraska Lincoln
[00:02:02.920]and is a coauthor of the collaborative textbook
[00:02:06.287]"The Omaha Language and the Omaha Way."
[00:02:11.150]Caleb Roberts is a research ecologist
[00:02:14.010]at U.S. Geological Surveys Arkansas Cooperative
[00:02:17.100]Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
[00:02:19.340]in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
[00:02:21.810]Caleb received his PhD
[00:02:23.540]in Agronomy and Horticulture from UNL,
[00:02:27.000]and he was a graduate fellow
[00:02:28.480]at the Center for Great Plains Studies.
[00:02:30.750]His research focuses on landscapes,
[00:02:33.010]mainly grasslands and working lands,
[00:02:35.640]wildlife responses to invasive species,
[00:02:38.530]climate change, and human disturbance,
[00:02:41.000]and strategies for ecosystem management.
[00:02:43.970]He has published multiple scientific articles
[00:02:46.890]with two in climate change journals.
[00:02:49.470]Caleb has also published creative nonfiction essays
[00:02:52.310]about science and nature in terrain.org
[00:02:55.260]and The Fourth River.
[00:02:58.480]Dan Uden is a Resilience Spatial Scientist
[00:03:01.400]in UNL's School of Natural Resources
[00:03:04.180]and Department of Agronomy and Horticulture.
[00:03:06.760]He is also affiliated with UNL's new
[00:03:08.950]Center for Resilience in Agricultural Working Landscapes.
[00:03:13.030]Dan received his PhD in Natural Resource Sciences at UNL,
[00:03:17.090]and he was also a graduate fellow
[00:03:18.890]at the Center for Great Plains Studies.
[00:03:20.680]You might notice a theme there.
[00:03:22.780]Dan researches, teaches, and develops decision support tools
[00:03:26.330]at the intersection of spatial science
[00:03:28.380]and resilience thinking and landscape systems of Nebraska
[00:03:32.260]and the surrounding Great Plains.
[00:03:34.800]So with that, I will turn it over to Aubrey.
[00:03:45.520]I might have to ask one of our hosts
[00:03:46.970]to give me permission to share my screen
[00:03:48.840]so I can show you some slides while I talk.
[00:04:01.260]Hi, Aubrey, I just made you cohost.
[00:04:03.641]Perfect, thank you.
[00:04:15.880]All right, I hope you're here
[00:04:17.800]seeing the screen with me now,
[00:04:19.280]and thank you all for being here with us today.
[00:04:22.240]We're excited to talk.
[00:04:23.880]So I'm Aubrey, and I work at the Land Institute
[00:04:26.330]here in Kansas,
[00:04:27.800]and it seems very fitting and important
[00:04:31.503]to speak from a place called the Land Institute
[00:04:34.420]by beginning with the land
[00:04:36.750]and the recognition of the enduring prairie landscape
[00:04:42.710]upon which all of us humans here in the Great Plains
[00:04:46.240]continue to depend.
[00:04:48.970]This is a place of humility, I think,
[00:04:52.350]to look at these soils built
[00:04:54.810]over so many generations by so many creatures
[00:04:58.240]and to think about the kind of diversity in these systems,
[00:05:03.424]and to think about the perenniality
[00:05:07.270]of these grassland ecosystems
[00:05:10.278]as well characterized by these perennial grasses and forbs.
[00:05:15.730]And when I think about this larger view of the land
[00:05:20.640]and feel that sense of gratitude and humility,
[00:05:24.260]I think it's also important to
[00:05:26.680]look on the other side of this photo
[00:05:28.420]and think about the deep and heart-wrenching changes
[00:05:32.700]that have happened in this landscape.
[00:05:35.210]The ways in which these prairie soils
[00:05:37.419]have been utilized and tilled,
[00:05:39.690]and in many cases lost to great degree.
[00:05:43.220]And so to contrast that sort of enduring
[00:05:45.890]sense of these ecosystems with the precarity
[00:05:49.250]of many of the agroecosystems that have replaced them
[00:05:54.920]is something that really strikes me
[00:05:57.040]and that's very central to the work and mission
[00:06:00.430]of the Land Institute.
[00:06:02.750]So these core concepts of perenniality and diversity
[00:06:05.657]and the recognition of the ways in which
[00:06:08.930]they do not characterize the ecosystems that feed us now
[00:06:12.790]and the food systems that so many of us depend upon,
[00:06:15.250]especially for the grainy agroecosystems
[00:06:18.660]that provide so many calories and nourishment
[00:06:22.050]to human communities has motivated the Land Institute
[00:06:25.310]over the last more than 40 years
[00:06:27.300]to imagine new ways of thinking about agriculture
[00:06:32.120]that learn from and that are grounded in this longer view
[00:06:36.460]of the planet and of the land.
[00:06:38.870]And to think about the ways in which
[00:06:40.690]we can create new perennial grain agroecosystems
[00:06:44.210]that are characterized by perenniality and diversity.
[00:06:48.350]So this is transformative work, and it's long-term work.
[00:06:52.820]Breeding new perennial grain crops
[00:06:54.914]is a long project to work on,
[00:06:58.650]but we think that it offers the possibility
[00:07:01.850]to restore and regenerate some of the ecosystem services
[00:07:07.640]that these native healthy ecosystems
[00:07:10.330]like the prairie have provided.
[00:07:11.990]So these ecosystem services are deeply related to
[00:07:18.060]the climate catastrophe upon us,
[00:07:19.980]as well as the larger ecological issues
[00:07:23.210]that humans are facing
[00:07:25.340]as a species on this planet right now.
[00:07:27.650]And so when we think about the kind
[00:07:29.500]of ecological and biophysical benefits that are possible
[00:07:32.620]with perennial grain agroecosystems
[00:07:35.180]where I think have the potential to make
[00:07:37.260]a really positive impact on climate,
[00:07:40.600]as well as other global systems.
[00:07:42.630]So we think about things like soil carbon.
[00:07:45.740]We think about reduced fossil fuel dependence.
[00:07:48.290]And we think about more sustainable and resilient ways
[00:07:52.320]of feeding ourselves that can
[00:07:54.640]hold people together over time.
[00:07:57.290]So I wanna point out that if we think
[00:08:00.370]about this future of agriculture and these benefits
[00:08:03.533]that are biophysical and ecological
[00:08:06.090]that doesn't leave a lot of answers
[00:08:09.310]to what the culture part is of agriculture.
[00:08:11.730]So what's required of us people,
[00:08:14.540]since agriculture is done for and by people,
[00:08:17.740]in the face of creating a more climate smart agriculture,
[00:08:21.020]what do we need to do?
[00:08:23.200]Especially those of us, the many of us,
[00:08:25.940]who are not plant breeders or ecologist by training,
[00:08:30.020]what is our role as we think about the long-term
[00:08:34.270]and the precarity and urgency of this current moment?
[00:08:37.980]What needs to happen within the next decade
[00:08:40.320]in order to sustain the long-term work
[00:08:42.952]of healing and making a sustainable future?
[00:08:47.000]So this is where I would like to introduce
[00:08:50.420]a second kind of concept,
[00:08:51.700]and this is the idea of care work.
[00:08:54.240]So coming of the humanity is it may seem obvious.
[00:08:57.620]I'll state it anyways,
[00:08:58.590]but humans are social and cultural creatures.
[00:09:01.540]We are social animals.
[00:09:02.790]We are inculturated creatures.
[00:09:04.930]And we need each other.
[00:09:07.580]We have to depend upon each other to grow up,
[00:09:12.930]to be raised as children, to feed each other,
[00:09:16.800]to take care of each other's health.
[00:09:18.950]We depend upon each other to do physical
[00:09:22.240]and emotional and relational work.
[00:09:25.010]And this idea that care is work
[00:09:27.910]is something that disability justice advocates
[00:09:30.520]and many other people, including feminist economists,
[00:09:33.260]have reminded us of,
[00:09:35.050]this idea that people depend upon each other,
[00:09:38.150]need each other, and that we need to value
[00:09:40.100]this kind of care work.
[00:09:41.620]Just like the ecosystem services of the prairie
[00:09:45.660]and other healthy ecosystems get taken for granted,
[00:09:48.140]they're invisible or undervalued, put in the background,
[00:09:51.750]we have an opportunity and a need now to value them more.
[00:09:55.060]And we can do the same with care work,
[00:09:56.700]which is often invisible and undervalued in our societies.
[00:10:00.430]And care work can be climate work,
[00:10:03.830]as many other activists have pointed out.
[00:10:06.929]We really need a culture of care and mutual aid
[00:10:10.670]in order to provide for a just transition.
[00:10:12.920]We need to value the work that everyone does
[00:10:16.200]and to make that distribution of that labor
[00:10:19.060]more fair and equitable and supported.
[00:10:21.140]So as we think about what needs to happen now
[00:10:24.310]in order to make possible a longterm future,
[00:10:27.370]creating cultures of care has been really important
[00:10:30.980]for me to think about what I can do
[00:10:33.120]and the work that I'm doing
[00:10:34.510]on the social and cultural side of things.
[00:10:37.430]And that's led me to developing
[00:10:40.030]and exploring methods for doing this work
[00:10:42.520]in more interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary ways.
[00:10:45.990]So this is a plant I'd like to introduce you
[00:10:49.060]to Silphium integrifolium.
[00:10:50.940]It's a native prairie plant here in the grasslands
[00:10:55.560]that's been noticed by people like the botanist John Weaver
[00:10:58.980]for its ability to persist through a drought.
[00:11:02.300]And that has also caught the eye of one of my colleagues,
[00:11:05.660]a plant breeder here at the Land Institute
[00:11:07.520]who works on creating perennial oil seed crops
[00:11:10.180]and domesticating them.
[00:11:11.840]And so when we think about Silphium,
[00:11:14.220]and its ability to persist,
[00:11:15.680]and you can see those beautiful deep roots down below, too,
[00:11:19.787]we can think about the ability
[00:11:22.860]to create a new perennial future
[00:11:24.840]with a perennial oilseed crop that could feed people
[00:11:27.500]and create all these kind of ecosystem services
[00:11:30.260]and restore them that we need.
[00:11:32.130]But this work, this long-term work
[00:11:35.150]of domesticating a new crop requires
[00:11:37.980]a lot of different investments
[00:11:39.900]of knowledge and skill and care.
[00:11:41.700]So on the scientific side, my colleagues were noticing
[00:11:45.660]that they need much more data about how Silphium does
[00:11:49.970]in a variety of environments,
[00:11:51.250]with a variety of possible pests and pathogens,
[00:11:53.900]as well as pollinators.
[00:11:55.530]And we need to understand more about
[00:11:57.290]growth stages and phonology.
[00:11:59.210]Many people haven't paid a lot of attention to this plant
[00:12:01.940]in the ways that we need to to be able to domesticate it.
[00:12:04.890]But also domestication means creating
[00:12:07.190]a kind of durable human-plant relationships.
[00:12:09.410]So there are cultural drivers of that kind of domestication.
[00:12:13.010]People also need to change and care.
[00:12:15.660]People need to have the opportunity to get to know Silphium,
[00:12:19.060]a plant which is known to many indigenous cultures
[00:12:22.600]and communities of the Great Plains.
[00:12:24.950]And we have the option and ability
[00:12:27.290]to create these kinds of cultural drivers
[00:12:29.300]and valuation of Silphium where people get to know it.
[00:12:33.070]So that led me and my colleagues
[00:12:35.610]to create a kind of a new pilot project,
[00:12:39.110]which is based in a civic science methodology.
[00:12:42.490]So this is a transdisciplinary approach,
[00:12:44.660]similar to kind of citizen science efforts
[00:12:47.780]in which people around the country
[00:12:49.370]have been invited to grow Silphium.
[00:12:51.780]We send out seedlings, and then they join a community
[00:12:55.380]in which they make observations, send us scientific data,
[00:13:00.080]receive opportunities to connect with each other,
[00:13:03.185]and also share their stories
[00:13:05.870]and photographs and experiences.
[00:13:08.560]So they're doing care work in their backyards
[00:13:11.660]and community gardens learning to meet and greet this plan
[00:13:15.120]and care for it repeatedly over multiple seasons.
[00:13:17.960]And then they're also having the ability to advance
[00:13:21.930]the kind of scientific aspects of domestication.
[00:13:24.360]So we really need communities of people
[00:13:27.130]learning to care and persist together.
[00:13:30.370]So at this pilot stage, we're really fascinated
[00:13:33.560]by how people are persisting, the work they're doing,
[00:13:36.750]the data they're collecting and the stories they're telling.
[00:13:39.710]So we're fascinated by how people
[00:13:42.980]are forming these relationships and the kinds of emotions
[00:13:46.100]and narratives they're generating.
[00:13:48.290]That has really been exciting to activate
[00:13:50.630]this type of creativity.
[00:13:52.370]And that, I think, relates to the larger and deeper
[00:13:56.260]kind of root causes of change that we want to move forward.
[00:14:00.620]But really at the end it's also just about
[00:14:02.560]caring for the plants and the land
[00:14:04.280]who will care for future generations.
[00:14:07.080]So we need to scale this work up,
[00:14:09.420]but we're excited to be in this pilot stage
[00:14:11.710]where we are bringing people together
[00:14:14.060]to connect with science and community,
[00:14:17.630]and then create these kinds of stories
[00:14:19.580]and weaving those together.
[00:14:20.920]This is just an outline of our season timeline,
[00:14:23.070]where people right now are just getting started
[00:14:26.190]to revisit their Silphium implants,
[00:14:27.980]which are coming back up around the country.
[00:14:31.700]So I wanted to end by just pointing to
[00:14:34.885]two additional concepts that have been very helpful
[00:14:38.440]and useful for me in thinking about
[00:14:40.830]bridging the sciences and humanities in my work.
[00:14:43.748]The first is boundary spanning.
[00:14:46.790]To learn to live within planetary boundaries.
[00:14:49.450]I think we really do need spanners,
[00:14:52.570]people who work across disciplines and communities
[00:14:55.540]and who bring all kinds of relational know-how
[00:14:59.490]and the ability to communicate
[00:15:02.150]across cultures and differences
[00:15:03.950]and to weave different ways of knowing together.
[00:15:07.069]And we need to be able to train boundary spanners
[00:15:10.480]and then support and value their work
[00:15:13.585]to create what Robin Wall Kimmerer talks about
[00:15:16.990]as a polyculture of knowledge.
[00:15:19.040]We need people to do this work of weaving together.
[00:15:23.280]And then the last concept I wanted to share
[00:15:25.300]that's been helpful for me has been thresholds.
[00:15:28.690]We often talk about thresholds
[00:15:30.354]in a sense of things we don't wanna cross,
[00:15:32.950]but I think there are also ways of talking about thresholds
[00:15:35.980]that we do want to cross into communities
[00:15:38.900]that are more just and caring
[00:15:40.780]and that have the ability to adapt and respond
[00:15:44.640]to disturbance and change in healthy and good ways.
[00:15:48.020]So in the humanities, and in particular in education,
[00:15:51.380]there's an idea of threshold concepts,
[00:15:53.460]the things that we need to know and learn
[00:15:55.330]in order to participate or enter into a community.
[00:15:58.810]And for me, just going back to the land,
[00:16:00.870]the prairie has really been the threshold concept,
[00:16:04.050]really understanding these grassland communities,
[00:16:07.040]entering into them, understanding how they're characterized
[00:16:10.620]by perenniality and diversity,
[00:16:12.840]and then having these firsthand experiences
[00:16:15.090]and forming these relationships
[00:16:16.440]with people and plants and land
[00:16:18.320]has really helped me enter into and cross thresholds
[00:16:21.290]in my own understanding that allow me to persist
[00:16:24.760]in this long-term work.
[00:16:27.280]So thank you very much.
[00:16:28.870]I'm looking forward to talking with everyone,
[00:16:30.900]and happy to share more resources or notes later.
[00:16:35.260]All right, thank you, Aubrey, very interesting.
[00:16:38.150]I feel like I should be planning Silphium
[00:16:39.910]in my little prairie patch in the yard here.
[00:16:44.330]Next up will be Caleb.
[00:16:48.090]There he is.
[00:16:51.640]All right, let me share a screen.
[00:16:53.510]I'll do what Aubrey did.
[00:17:07.260]Okay, so I'm gonna start by sharing
[00:17:12.310]one of my favorite quotes from an ecological book,
[00:17:18.177]"Narratives are the bottom line in science.
[00:17:20.297]"Yes, there are hypotheses, prediction,
[00:17:22.217]"theories, and models,
[00:17:23.367]"but all of these devices are in the service
[00:17:25.357]"of achieving compelling narratives."
[00:17:27.020]And that's a quote from this book,
[00:17:29.367]"Toward a Unified Ecology," by Allen and Hoekstra.
[00:17:33.195]It's a great book, if y'all have time to read it.
[00:17:35.440]But this is kinda gonna be the framework
[00:17:37.640]of my little spiel here.
[00:17:39.656]Essentially the way I kind of look at science
[00:17:42.973]and the bridging humanities that we're talking about now is
[00:17:47.210]by framing it all as narratives, right?
[00:17:49.020]That's how we talk to each other,
[00:17:50.444]that's how we communicate, and that's how science is built.
[00:17:52.390]We build pieces of evidence to make a story,
[00:17:55.330]a coherent story, and so I'll just kind of walk you through
[00:17:58.640]some of the research I've been doing in Nebraska.
[00:18:03.490]I know I'm in Arkansas now,
[00:18:04.830]but most of my previous research was in Nebraska, obviously.
[00:18:10.231]And a lot of that research was kind of about
[00:18:12.230]the thresholds that Aubrey mentioned just a minute ago,
[00:18:15.500]but mine are, that I'm talking about here,
[00:18:17.760]are the ones you don't wanna cross.
[00:18:19.740]So, for instance, a threshold in the trade
[00:18:22.670]we call it a regime shift or a state transition
[00:18:25.410]from a grassland to a woodland, for instance.
[00:18:28.580]And this is something that's
[00:18:29.910]unfortunately all too familiar in Nebraska
[00:18:32.760]and the surrounding Great Plain states.
[00:18:36.400]Why we don't wanna cross that threshold
[00:18:38.370]is because we like all the ecosystem services,
[00:18:41.220]like what Aubrey was talking about,
[00:18:42.213]that the grassland gives us.
[00:18:44.510]And when we cross the threshold and move into a woodland,
[00:18:47.360]we don't get those,
[00:18:48.420]we lose many of those ecosystem services,
[00:18:50.706]whether it's the wildlife or the forage
[00:18:52.250]we need for cattle or water infiltration for aquifers.
[00:18:56.390]So we don't wanna cross that threshold.
[00:18:58.700]We don't wanna experience regime shifts.
[00:19:00.180]And that's what a lot of my work is about.
[00:19:01.860]And so that's kinda like the,
[00:19:03.320]this is like the setting for a lot of my work.
[00:19:07.360]And when I'm telling these stories and these narratives,
[00:19:09.880]building the stories for people,
[00:19:15.270]I mostly, in the past, have been focusing on private lands,
[00:19:18.250]and a lot of the Great Plains is privately owned.
[00:19:20.710]And if we're gonna make any kind of headway in conservation
[00:19:24.800]in sustainable ecosystem management of grasslands
[00:19:28.540]we have to talk to private landowners and work with them,
[00:19:32.280]which is about convincing people as maybe we saw
[00:19:35.510]with Jess Thompson's work, that this is a good idea.
[00:19:38.070]And a lot of the way we do it is by focusing on one place
[00:19:43.000]and building the story up from multiple examples,
[00:19:46.090]multiple lines of evidence, to get to that convincing point
[00:19:49.520]of this is the way we can move forward
[00:19:52.350]with managing systems.
[00:19:54.820]And I'm gonna get to the climate part in a second,
[00:19:56.470]a little bit, but as Tom said,
[00:19:58.840]it's the context of where we're living.
[00:20:01.800]And we work with lots of different landowner groups,
[00:20:05.050]but again, I'll be focusing on one
[00:20:06.980]in the Loess Canyons of Nebraska
[00:20:10.090]just for this presentation here.
[00:20:11.920]And you'll see the little map of where they are,
[00:20:14.680]what it looks like.
[00:20:15.670]The Nebraska Natural Legacy Project
[00:20:17.810]is kind of one of the spearheads
[00:20:19.300]of all this stuff that's going on.
[00:20:20.817]But of course it's also the private landowners
[00:20:22.720]and those private landowners use a lot of prescribed fire,
[00:20:26.540]highly intensive prescribed fire, as you see in this photo,
[00:20:29.130]to manage their lands and restore
[00:20:31.860]their grasslands from woodlands.
[00:20:34.860]So I'm gonna sort of step back
[00:20:37.780]from the Loess Canyons for a moment
[00:20:40.010]and talk about how, from like a 30,000 point view,
[00:20:43.040]we start to construct this narrative to tell the story
[00:20:47.340]and convince the people of something.
[00:20:49.311]And also solve the problem.
[00:20:51.480]So one of our papers from not too long ago
[00:20:55.620]was in Nature Climate Change, a climate change journal,
[00:20:58.460]and what we were doing was we were looking
[00:21:00.420]at all these global change drivers,
[00:21:03.410]we call them in the paper,
[00:21:05.330]that you see here in the figure.
[00:21:06.790]And we were looking at essentially
[00:21:08.140]not how each one affects the system of the Great Plains,
[00:21:12.240]but we know that they're all affecting it.
[00:21:15.010]And how is the system responding?
[00:21:17.350]So I'm not gonna get into almost any details
[00:21:20.710]about the data that we take
[00:21:21.770]or on the analyses or anything like that.
[00:21:23.510]The point of this is is we start with a problem.
[00:21:27.060]We use a lot of data.
[00:21:29.190]We make some sort of behind the scenes arguments,
[00:21:32.380]and this is what this data is showing of
[00:21:34.440]these systems are changing and we can track it.
[00:21:37.260]And then we condense it all down into
[00:21:39.080]a more coherent format.
[00:21:44.530]So what we're showing here is what we did was
[00:21:47.410]we looked at all the bird communities in the Great Plains,
[00:21:50.290]which is the sort of the black blob
[00:21:52.660]in the background of all these maps.
[00:21:54.920]And the colored bars are showing
[00:21:56.910]where the bird communities were at each given decade.
[00:22:01.060]And we can see that they're moving northward,
[00:22:02.940]and that's a prediction that climate change agrees with.
[00:22:06.920]And we are seeing that these,
[00:22:09.950]the point of this is that
[00:22:11.590]these ecological systems can be tracked over time,
[00:22:14.250]and they can rapidly change.
[00:22:15.650]But these changes can be predictable.
[00:22:18.460]Why do those, why do we care about the Loess Canyons?
[00:22:20.980]Well, Dan Uden may be talking about this a little bit,
[00:22:23.880]so I'm not gonna steal his thunder too much,
[00:22:26.620]but this is from work that he did.
[00:22:28.520]We collaborate a lot.
[00:22:30.690]And this is a map of the Loess Canyons.
[00:22:32.250]What you're seeing here essentially is the boundaries,
[00:22:37.600]the spatial boundaries of this woodland community
[00:22:40.170]in kinda the red here,
[00:22:41.350]and the grassland community in the kinda blue here.
[00:22:44.540]And this is in the year 2000.
[00:22:47.790]And we're watching how it changes over time.
[00:22:50.270]Well, if you just saw there,
[00:22:52.140]I'll just back up again and do it again.
[00:22:53.550]'Cause it's fun.
[00:22:54.830]This community of woodland is blownin' up,
[00:22:57.140]and kind of, I mean it's displacing the grassland.
[00:23:00.400]So we can track that over time.
[00:23:02.560]But more importantly, because we wanna avoid
[00:23:05.550]the doom and gloom like Jess Thompson said,
[00:23:07.900]we can see it being beaten back,
[00:23:10.860]and we can see why that is.
[00:23:12.520]It's because all these polygons here,
[00:23:15.060]all these black outlines, are areas where those ranchers
[00:23:18.320]and the folks in Nebraska Natural Legacy Project
[00:23:20.920]had been treating these areas with fire
[00:23:23.200]and killing back the trees and getting the grassland back.
[00:23:26.780]So this is just a story in itself,
[00:23:29.340]and this is taking a bunch of data
[00:23:32.060]and building story out of it.
[00:23:34.050]We're taking multiple years of satellite imagery
[00:23:36.000]and making a story out of it.
[00:23:38.000]And then you kinda get the moral.
[00:23:39.650]Look, you guys can do something about it.
[00:23:41.990]We're showing you you can do something about it,
[00:23:44.170]but we can take it even than that,
[00:23:46.650]because they've been doing a lot of monitoring out there,
[00:23:48.610]and we as scientists can kind of bridge that gap
[00:23:51.590]of what the people are doing on the ground
[00:23:54.880]and what the outcomes are,
[00:23:56.200]and then we feed back into the success story.
[00:23:58.200]So, for instance, Nebraska Game and Parks,
[00:24:01.240]for several years, did many surveys for birds out there.
[00:24:04.640]They were looking at how birds are responding
[00:24:06.400]to these fire treatments.
[00:24:08.920]Again, I'm not gonna get into the data too much,
[00:24:10.560]but these maps, these heat maps down here
[00:24:13.120]are essentially showing the grassland bird richness
[00:24:16.230]and how it changes over time.
[00:24:17.931]So the more green it is the more rich
[00:24:19.330]the grassland bird community is, the more diverse it is.
[00:24:22.500]So you can see over time that
[00:24:24.640]the grassland bird community increased in richness.
[00:24:26.940]That's a huge outcome.
[00:24:28.400]In fact, it's across 77% of the Loess Canyons
[00:24:31.350]grassland bird richness increased.
[00:24:34.280]That's one piece of the story.
[00:24:36.000]Another piece, there's this species of beetle,
[00:24:38.470]the American burying beetle,
[00:24:39.500]that was in danger, now threatened.
[00:24:42.140]These maps are a little tricky to read.
[00:24:43.880]Essentially, these dots are traps where they would
[00:24:46.310]survey for the beetles.
[00:24:47.800]The bigger the dot the more beetles there are in each trap.
[00:24:51.330]The story behind this is from when they started treatments
[00:24:55.200]to almost current year, American burying beetle abundance
[00:25:00.170]increase by 25%.
[00:25:02.460]That's a huge outcome.
[00:25:04.440]But finally, as we're talking to these people
[00:25:07.360]on building narratives,
[00:25:08.330]you have to speak to their bottom line,
[00:25:09.750]because, yeah, they may care about
[00:25:12.230]the beetles and the birds,
[00:25:13.690]but what they really care about is the economy,
[00:25:16.210]their livelihoods, and we can measure that.
[00:25:19.080]We can measure how much literal biomass,
[00:25:21.840]how much grass there is for these cattle to eat
[00:25:23.880]on the landscape.
[00:25:25.472]And this is just two maps showing
[00:25:26.860]before the conservation initiative,
[00:25:28.680]before the Nebraska National Legacy Project
[00:25:31.530]and others started their initiatives.
[00:25:34.153]The more green, the more grass.
[00:25:37.110]Livestock forage increased across the Loess Canyons.
[00:25:40.120]So all this is to say, as we build this stories up,
[00:25:43.109]we take the science and we make a narrative out of it.
[00:25:47.660]And that's how we're trying to convince these people to,
[00:25:50.870]I mean, this is climate adaptation in some ways
[00:25:53.050]because carbon sequestration in grasslands,
[00:25:56.810]you don't wanna plant trees because there's,
[00:25:59.040]it's so arid that it can just burn up like that.
[00:26:01.550]We see all the wildfires happening all the time.
[00:26:03.850]So grasses are actually a better way
[00:26:06.310]of sequestering carbon in working lands.
[00:26:09.760]So this is climate adaptation by any other name.
[00:26:12.180]So we're getting at that in a different way.
[00:26:14.250]We're also helping the biological diversity.
[00:26:18.840]But to speak to the humanities a little bit more,
[00:26:22.210]I do do creative writing in a lot of my work,
[00:26:26.220]well all of my creative writing has been nonfiction.
[00:26:30.740]Published a couple of things.
[00:26:31.760]This is an example of one from 2018,
[00:26:34.240]talking about some research I did in New Mexico with elk.
[00:26:37.160]And there happened to be a wildfire,
[00:26:39.040]that's what's in the picture in the background,
[00:26:40.440]and I kinda talked about that.
[00:26:41.973]I am only showing this to say that this is something,
[00:26:44.450]I went out on a couple of burns
[00:26:46.780]with the Loess Canyons folks,
[00:26:48.020]and I'm hoping to sort of start translating that
[00:26:50.570]into creative nonfiction to kind of
[00:26:51.870]build up this story a little bit more even.
[00:26:55.300]So I'm happy to talk about that as the hour goes on.
[00:27:05.210]Okay, Caleb, thanks a lot.
[00:27:06.400]That was a really interesting presentation.
[00:27:08.687]I'm kind of a sucker for maps.
[00:27:11.440]And next up will be Dan.
[00:27:16.280]There he is.
[00:27:27.560]Thank you, Tom.
[00:27:35.110]as Tom mentioned there is a theme here
[00:27:36.870]that Aubrey and Caleb and I were all
[00:27:40.270]Great Plains graduate fellows together,
[00:27:41.900]and our work, in some ways, intersects in certain places,
[00:27:46.730]which is also not an accident.
[00:27:48.920]So you'll hopefully see some common themes here
[00:27:53.449]in my little discussion.
[00:27:58.050]Like Aubrey and Caleb, my work focuses on landscapes,
[00:28:04.466]and I am, with an emphasis on landscapes of Nebraska
[00:28:08.760]and the surrounding Great Plains.
[00:28:11.380]My students and I ask a lot of questions
[00:28:13.730]about these landscapes and about change in these landscapes.
[00:28:18.880]For example, how much change can a grassland experience
[00:28:23.890]before it stops functioning like a grassland
[00:28:26.743]and starts functioning like something else?
[00:28:29.640]And that something else might be
[00:28:31.710]bare ground and blowing sand,
[00:28:33.560]which would be more like a desert,
[00:28:36.020]or it might be cedar trees that Caleb
[00:28:38.760]was just talking about, which would be more like a woodland.
[00:28:43.620]Another question might be how many wetlands
[00:28:47.700]can a landscape afford to lose before habitat networks
[00:28:51.950]for species like this cricket frog collapse?
[00:28:56.240]These, and many more questions, are,
[00:28:58.580]they're landscape questions.
[00:29:01.860]And they're also resilience questions,
[00:29:04.250]which means they're also systems questions.
[00:29:10.260]So in the most basic sense,
[00:29:14.760]a system is a group of parts or components
[00:29:19.090]that through their interdependencies
[00:29:20.570]and interactions come together to form a whole,
[00:29:23.830]to form the broader system.
[00:29:26.040]And landscape certainly contain systems,
[00:29:28.980]they contain all sorts of systems.
[00:29:31.250]But I would argue that landscapes
[00:29:33.790]are systems in their own right.
[00:29:36.500]And that they aren't just generic systems
[00:29:38.950]but they're a special class of systems
[00:29:42.190]that we refer to as complex adaptive systems,
[00:29:44.804]and these sort of systems they display all sorts of
[00:29:47.820]complex behaviors that are often surprising.
[00:29:50.710]We don't see them coming.
[00:29:52.360]And in addition to that
[00:29:53.450]they're also capable of adapting and learning.
[00:29:58.530]So we're asking questions about landscape systems
[00:30:04.100]and their abilities to maintain function
[00:30:07.650]in the face of disturbance and other forms of change.
[00:30:11.700]Now, I think this is a great place for interdisciplinarity,
[00:30:16.610]because I study landscape systems,
[00:30:19.600]but I could never dream of being an expert
[00:30:23.040]on all the components of a landscape.
[00:30:26.230]All those smaller subsystems that interact with one another
[00:30:30.300]to give rise to the broader landscape.
[00:30:32.980]I have studied and
[00:30:37.970]thought a lot about prairie plants,
[00:30:40.080]but I don't have near the depth of knowledge
[00:30:43.110]that a plant ecologist does,
[00:30:45.960]or about a specific plant.
[00:30:49.300]Like Aubrey was mentioning with the Silphium species.
[00:30:52.980]And I'd have to admit the same thing about cattle
[00:30:56.660]and about hydrology and about soils and about markets
[00:31:03.550]and human behavior and all other sorts of things
[00:31:06.740]that I will never be able to know everything about.
[00:31:11.520]But I do think that's the opportunity for the team approach
[00:31:16.780]and the interdisciplinary team approach,
[00:31:18.890]which I'm really in favor of
[00:31:23.390]and actively involved in in my research,
[00:31:25.680]where we bring our different disciplinary expertise
[00:31:30.040]and we bridge them in order to address
[00:31:33.430]these grand challenges in landscape systems,
[00:31:37.530]challenges like climate change and its effect.
[00:31:42.110]And what I bring to the table, specifically,
[00:31:45.620]as a resilience spatial scientist
[00:31:47.510]is a background in resilience thinking and systems thinking
[00:31:51.620]as well as a background in spatial analysis
[00:31:54.320]and modeling spatial and statistical mapping.
[00:32:00.100]Basically, I am always trying to map resilience in systems.
[00:32:05.680]So there's some more maps for Tom here.
[00:32:08.790]And they do have some connections
[00:32:10.830]to some of the work Caleb was describing.
[00:32:13.640]But I'm always trying to map resilience of systems
[00:32:16.170]and to map, and even to quantify it, or put a number to it.
[00:32:21.110]If we think back to our grassland example,
[00:32:24.990]my students and I are working on questions
[00:32:27.380]like detection of boundaries in landscape systems.
[00:32:31.500]You can think of these as a,
[00:32:33.010]Caleb talked about them as regime shifts in space.
[00:32:35.940]So you can think of it as a transition zone
[00:32:38.270]between ecosystems or a threshold between ecosystems
[00:32:43.590]to use, to throw even another meaning
[00:32:46.960]of a definition for that term out.
[00:32:49.910]But what we're doing is looking for boundaries
[00:32:52.800]between things, and we're doing that with satellite imagery,
[00:32:57.170]and we're detecting those boundaries,
[00:32:58.810]and then we're watching them,
[00:33:00.070]monitoring them over time to see if they shift,
[00:33:02.300]if they expand, or if they contract.
[00:33:05.120]And we can think about the grassland example.
[00:33:08.572]We can track the boundaries of patches of bare ground.
[00:33:12.800]Here we see blowouts in the Nebraska sand hills
[00:33:15.870]and wildfires over time where you see
[00:33:18.280]grassland meeting bare ground,
[00:33:21.080]the intersection of those things.
[00:33:23.440]We can also do it, as Caleb mentioned,
[00:33:26.880]with patches of trees,
[00:33:28.590]Here we see the Niobrara Valley,
[00:33:31.300]the Riparian Corridor before and after a wildfire.
[00:33:35.610]And then the recovery,
[00:33:36.730]those boundaries beginning to reemerge
[00:33:39.620]years after the wildfire.
[00:33:41.540]And we can also do it in the context of
[00:33:44.470]looking at human behavior and landscapes
[00:33:47.480]and human responses to changes in landscapes.
[00:33:51.480]I describe the landscapes as complex adaptive systems
[00:33:54.840]that can learn and adapt.
[00:33:56.970]And people are certainly capable
[00:33:58.930]of responding to changes in their environment
[00:34:01.940]and to developing innovative solutions
[00:34:07.060]and working together to scale up
[00:34:09.650]their responses to these kind of change.
[00:34:12.670]Now whether or not that occurs,
[00:34:17.550]whether or not that learning and adaptation occurs,
[00:34:21.010]or how it occurs or why it does or doesn't occur,
[00:34:25.240]I see those as more areas of authority
[00:34:28.500]for the social sciences and the humanities.
[00:34:32.590]And I'm currently continuing to be involved
[00:34:35.680]in collaborations that seek to answer those questions.
[00:34:39.440]But for my part, I'm really focused on,
[00:34:42.060]on bringing together theory and data and technology
[00:34:47.090]to image these sorts of thresholds or boundaries in systems.
[00:34:55.300]So with that, I'll turn it back to you, Tom.
[00:35:03.320]All right, thanks so much, Dan.
[00:35:05.390]So as I mentioned earlier, the panelists had sent me
[00:35:09.840]a few questions that they wanted to discuss with each other.
[00:35:12.650]So while the audience is submitting through the Q and A
[00:35:19.640]I'll ask one or two of these and get the conversation going.
[00:35:23.092]So one of the, the first question that they
[00:35:26.192]thought they could discuss is what have you learned
[00:35:29.620]about the strengths and blind spots of your home discipline
[00:35:32.720]through cross-disciplinary collaborations?
[00:35:36.050]And why do disciplines need each other?
[00:35:41.820]Which of you would like to start on that one?
[00:35:48.940]There's only three of us.
[00:35:50.030]So I guess one of the,
[00:35:52.992]either the science or humanities
[00:35:53.825]had to be overrepresented, right?
[00:35:54.658]So I think that that is maybe telling of one of the,
[00:35:59.480]I mean, sort of the blind spot of science.
[00:36:02.560]It just doesn't really,
[00:36:04.770]and Dan and Aubrey and I were talking about this,
[00:36:06.490]I don't think that science really sees itself
[00:36:08.280]as needing anything other than itself to explain itself.
[00:36:15.700]That's probably because science has had a lot of success
[00:36:18.290]over the time it's been preeminent.
[00:36:21.620]But I think that that leads us down the paths of
[00:36:27.880]getting into an echo chamber in science
[00:36:30.400]and not being able to communicate pretty much at all.
[00:36:35.370]And having the issues that we have now of
[00:36:38.770]kind of what Jess Thompson talked about
[00:36:40.480]of where we can't talk about uncertainty,
[00:36:44.969]but as scientists we are trained to talk about uncertainty.
[00:36:48.510]If we don't then other scientists are gonna sort of
[00:36:52.010]throw shade at us, if you will.
[00:36:53.490]So, but that's a place where I think science is the blindest
[00:36:59.850]of how to communicate beyond its confines.
[00:37:03.450]And I think that that's where we need
[00:37:05.950]the humanities so much.
[00:37:15.290]One of the things that comes up for me in this question
[00:37:18.370]is the power of many different disciplinary approaches
[00:37:24.450]to do good work in terms of observing
[00:37:28.830]and listening and paying attention,
[00:37:31.520]sort of noticing and gathering all different forms of data.
[00:37:37.540]But often that data or knowledge
[00:37:41.090]cannot be fully made sense of or understood
[00:37:44.060]unless it's placed in broader context.
[00:37:46.020]So we have these powerful tools to get to pay attention to
[00:37:49.720]stories or narratives or to vegetation change or something.
[00:37:54.530]But it's hard to understand those unless
[00:37:56.860]you can place them in context.
[00:37:58.500]So we have literary tools for analyzing poems,
[00:38:02.350]but we also need to understand the social
[00:38:04.230]and cultural and ecological context in which
[00:38:08.160]those poems are made in order to really grasp it.
[00:38:11.820]And I think that disciplines need each other
[00:38:14.728]to do that work and to also to challenge each other
[00:38:18.960]to continue to learn.
[00:38:20.140]I mean, when I think about collaborations
[00:38:22.550]and why they come about it's because, as Dan was saying,
[00:38:25.270]I need other people just like humans always need each other.
[00:38:28.830]And in trying to teach someone else about what I know
[00:38:32.340]I learn something about it and I learn from them.
[00:38:34.960]And so to really produce new knowledge
[00:38:37.080]we need to be open to questions.
[00:38:39.190]And those come from people who have different perspectives
[00:38:41.950]and worldviews and experiences.
[00:38:44.640]So that happens in, and I think well beyond,
[00:38:51.700]I'll just really echo a couple of points
[00:38:54.610]that both Caleb and Aubrey made.
[00:38:56.910]I think there's value in having to teach someone
[00:39:02.540]your disciplinary perspective,
[00:39:04.200]and then having to learn the other side of it.
[00:39:06.930]I think that
[00:39:11.790]there can be issues with jargon, for example.
[00:39:14.420]If I say spatial regime shift Caleb can think of
[00:39:18.560]stacks of papers and he understands,
[00:39:21.520]we're on the same page immediately with our jargon
[00:39:23.800]and we kind of just accept it.
[00:39:25.500]But if I have to explain that to someone
[00:39:27.990]outside the discipline, I'm going to need to do
[00:39:30.200]a lot more work to communicate it effectively.
[00:39:32.850]So I think that occurs a lot in these sort of collaborations
[00:39:38.700]that we have to teach one another.
[00:39:40.250]And I think there's value in that,
[00:39:42.810]in going back to do that at fundamental levels.
[00:39:59.550]Oh, Tom you're muted.
[00:40:00.420]You might have to restart that.
[00:40:03.849](laughing) There we go, yeah.
[00:40:05.180]I knew that was gonna happen at least once.
[00:40:08.480]So we've got some Q and A piling up here.
[00:40:10.750]So let me switch to that,
[00:40:12.770]those questions here,
[00:40:14.010]and see what you all have to say.
[00:40:18.150]So we have a question from a historian here, David Vale,
[00:40:23.530]I wanna ask how much does history of a landscape
[00:40:26.500]in all of its ways, shape, resiliency?
[00:40:28.870]Can historians play a role in these larger systems analyses?
[00:40:33.140]And why don't we have a historian on this panel?
[00:40:35.530]No, I added that last part.
[00:40:40.440]The role of history.
[00:40:46.940]Dan's the, has a paper out with history.
[00:40:51.254]I think you should start.
[00:40:53.980]Well, yeah, well, I will start by saying that
[00:40:59.560]I did have an environmental,
[00:41:02.320]environment and history paper recently,
[00:41:04.670]and that, it was so much work.
[00:41:06.340]I will never have time to write another one,
[00:41:08.990]just because of the work it is to dig in.
[00:41:12.010]But I think that work is valuable, even for my students.
[00:41:17.490]I'm encouraging them to,
[00:41:21.710]to connect with the history of the region ecologically,
[00:41:26.810]which means connecting with the history in other ways.
[00:41:33.620]Highlighting some of Aubrey's points from her,
[00:41:38.370]her little presentation there at the start.
[00:41:40.850]I think that,
[00:41:43.670]I think that you can't really ultimately separate the,
[00:41:48.130]we talk about a historical reference point in ecosystems,
[00:41:51.310]and I'm sure that historians might find that amusing
[00:41:56.080]when we talk about this is historically a grassland
[00:41:59.070]versus something else,
[00:42:00.030]but I do think it's very critical
[00:42:04.360]to understand the background of those systems.
[00:42:07.380]And especially as we talk about
[00:42:08.410]social ecological systems are
[00:42:13.050]linked human natural systems.
[00:42:14.840]There are all these different words that we use
[00:42:16.900]to acknowledge the fact that people and ecosystems
[00:42:20.530]are connected and dependent on one another.
[00:42:22.780]And so I think history plays a key role there.
[00:42:37.360]Anybody else wanna chime in?
[00:42:42.520]Move on to another question here.
[00:42:45.710]Okay, let's see.
[00:42:48.730]Okay, here's a question from Steve Welch.
[00:42:55.750]My perception is the humanities,
[00:42:58.320]in quotes, is siloed from conservative spaces.
[00:43:04.010]Additionally, I feel there isn't much
[00:43:05.430]of a conservationalist narrative within conservative spaces.
[00:43:10.890]How do we penetrate conservative spaces?
[00:43:22.640]I'll take a stab at this, I,
[00:43:24.610]I should say, if we've talking about conservative
[00:43:26.950]as in like a political ideology, is that?
[00:43:31.200]Well, I think that,
[00:43:34.590]I think all of us deal with this,
[00:43:37.390]but just with the Loess Canyons, I mean,
[00:43:41.260]those people are fairly conservative folks
[00:43:43.998]that we work with.
[00:43:45.220]However, they're highly receptive to science,
[00:43:48.350]and as a matter of fact, they come to us asking,
[00:43:50.447]"Can you please look at this for us.
[00:43:55.287]"How can we do better?
[00:43:57.217]"What is the science telling us that
[00:43:58.617]"we can manage these lands, restore more grasslands,
[00:44:01.447]"better, faster, and more?"
[00:44:03.000]So, and again, we're not talking about climate science,
[00:44:07.220]but we're doing climate adaptation restoration work
[00:44:11.450]on their lands.
[00:44:14.160]I think that you get in there
[00:44:15.510]because you gotta speak their language,
[00:44:17.130]and that language is grass and it's cattle,
[00:44:20.250]and it's what they care about.
[00:44:22.180]So we can't go in there talking about what we care about,
[00:44:25.890]and we have to listen to them and get involved with them
[00:44:28.500]and go to their fires.
[00:44:31.800]Eat the breakfast with them before they start the fire
[00:44:34.020]and do the whole day and then
[00:44:36.410]eat dinner with them afterwards.
[00:44:37.680]And that's the kind of thing that you can
[00:44:38.780]break into those spaces at least.
[00:44:40.920]And it's a whole lot of hard work,
[00:44:43.300]but that's my opinion on that.
[00:44:50.460]I think that's a good point, Caleb.
[00:44:52.210]I mean, being part of any community,
[00:44:54.440]or entering any community that's not your own
[00:44:56.890]always takes work, relationship building,
[00:45:00.030]lots of practices to build trust,
[00:45:02.420]and investing time and effort.
[00:45:05.000]And so just being real and honest about that matters a lot.
[00:45:08.480]And I think also, even framing this idea of
[00:45:13.180]that these are places that are somehow in need
[00:45:16.960]of kind of correction or we're going in with a kind of model
[00:45:20.230]of there's knowledge that needs
[00:45:22.440]to be taken out and deployed
[00:45:24.750]versus we need to create projects and opportunities
[00:45:28.840]to bring people in and to provide different entry points
[00:45:31.930]to engage the deep knowledge that is held by many people,
[00:45:36.230]and the questions and emotions and fears and concerns
[00:45:39.477]that people have.
[00:45:41.290]So creating entry points and abilities for people
[00:45:45.030]to come together and bring that to you,
[00:45:47.020]and then to have those exchanges, I think is really helpful.
[00:45:51.420]That's one of the reasons why this kind of
[00:45:53.380]civic science methodology has been important for me,
[00:45:57.287]It's not so much that I'm taking a set of knowledge
[00:46:00.510]and trying to go and sort of convince
[00:46:02.850]or teach people it, just on its own,
[00:46:05.340]but I'm creating an opportunity for people
[00:46:08.400]to come together and learn from repeated experiences
[00:46:12.760]with these plants and with many other people,
[00:46:16.240]not just one sort of expert holder.
[00:46:18.270]And I'm really clear about how this is how
[00:46:20.990]we're learning, too.
[00:46:21.960]As researchers we have these questions,
[00:46:23.870]and we're all learning from each other,
[00:46:25.930]and we each have something to teach each other,
[00:46:27.900]and setting that sort of framework up it's difficult
[00:46:30.820]but I think can be really rewarding.
[00:46:32.300]And that's how you create these kind of webs
[00:46:35.410]that are resilient,
[00:46:36.500]these communities that can endure,
[00:46:38.010]even across all these differences.
[00:46:43.050]Yeah, and I would add that
[00:46:47.694]I would expect and hope that we would,
[00:46:50.650]as people, would be able to find common ground,
[00:46:53.230]maybe both literally and figuratively,
[00:46:56.600]in people's connection to places
[00:46:58.900]that are important to them,
[00:47:00.650]and people's connection to land.
[00:47:06.150]And I think that you do see
[00:47:08.890]evidence of that and strong,
[00:47:11.320]what I would call, conservation ethics across
[00:47:17.460]all sorts of spectrums, spectra, so,
[00:47:21.270]yeah, I would just, I think,
[00:47:22.330]echo the previous points on that.
[00:47:36.800]All right, another somewhat
[00:47:38.830]more technical question for Dan.
[00:47:41.710]This is from Helen Greer,
[00:47:43.700]and it's citing an article, as you know,
[00:47:45.940]Stephan et al in 2018
[00:47:48.510]published an important article
[00:47:49.900]in conceptualizing entire climate regime shift,
[00:47:53.092]moving to a hothouse climate with tipping elements
[00:47:56.250]and tipping cascades being the markers.
[00:47:58.930]Can you foresee using what you are learning about landscapes
[00:48:02.180]as a complex adaptive systems
[00:48:04.710]to the climate system as a whole
[00:48:06.620]as a complex adaptive system?
[00:48:10.630]Yeah, well, that's the question,
[00:48:13.470]and I think it hits on a number of things.
[00:48:16.200]Those tipping points are Caleb's bad thresholds
[00:48:20.720]that we don't want to cross.
[00:48:23.188]And, you mentioned the complex systems,
[00:48:27.810]the complexity that these,
[00:48:30.380]we have this fundamental assumption
[00:48:33.040]that these complex systems,
[00:48:34.360]one thing they do is self-organize in some way,
[00:48:37.260]and that can mean people interacting with market forces
[00:48:42.440]or other decisions about how to manage land or the climate,
[00:48:47.020]as kind of this top-down force
[00:48:49.120]that's driving this organization.
[00:48:53.950]And so we have a lot of uncertainty about,
[00:48:58.020]first of all, we have uncertainty about
[00:49:00.850]where those tipping points are,
[00:49:02.140]although that is something I feel like
[00:49:04.270]we're getting more and more certain about all the time
[00:49:06.610]that we know this far is is over the line type of a thing,
[00:49:13.150]but then the other uncertainty is what does it mean
[00:49:15.010]when we cross those, and how,
[00:49:19.140]to what degree are systems capable of
[00:49:26.070]adapting to that situation or reorganizing if there's
[00:49:30.220]more a catastrophic collapse, which is more in the,
[00:49:35.510]probably the theme of the Steph et al article.
[00:49:41.090]But I do think that,
[00:49:44.350]I think Caleb was touching on some of
[00:49:46.960]the insights that I've had in that,
[00:49:49.450]you're talking, that paper Stephan et al,
[00:49:51.960]they're talking about a large, a global scale tipping point,
[00:49:56.420]and where I've been encouraged
[00:49:59.646]in hearing Caleb's,
[00:50:03.000]both Caleb and Aubrey's points is,
[00:50:05.620]you're talking about people to,
[00:50:08.790]working together to scale up,
[00:50:10.960]to better match the scale of those challenges.
[00:50:14.450]And so I would say that even though uncertainty persists,
[00:50:19.880]maybe some times some of these things
[00:50:21.850]can be dressed rehearsals for us as people
[00:50:24.410]to get used to doing that to working together
[00:50:28.350]and finding common ground,
[00:50:29.810]and I think at the landscape scale a lot
[00:50:36.847]and what that means for the future of landscape.
[00:50:38.820]So I don't have any definite answers there,
[00:50:41.350]but those are some of my thoughts and insights.
[00:50:46.210]This sounds like a case for the sort of
[00:50:49.510]catastrophe narratives that we were sort of
[00:50:52.700]dissuaded from encouraging earlier,
[00:50:55.800]that if there are these tipping points,
[00:50:58.890]can we imagine what life will be like
[00:51:01.020]as we cross those thresholds into this?
[00:51:03.780]And that's one of the things that, say,
[00:51:05.180]especially science fiction and fantasy literature
[00:51:07.330]does a lot.
[00:51:08.790]They anticipate these massive sea level rise
[00:51:13.450]or massive rise in global temperature
[00:51:15.640]and collapse of the social order and whatnot there
[00:51:18.810]in ways that seem well,
[00:51:21.224]the film the day, was it the day after tomorrow?
[00:51:25.460]Similarly, for Hollywood effect,
[00:51:28.782]of course, it's gotta speed something up
[00:51:31.040]because you can't wait 50 years
[00:51:33.604]for the phenomenon to manifest itself,
[00:51:37.380]even though that's rapid on a global scale.
[00:51:39.770]I'm wondering if it doesn't suggest
[00:51:40.990]that there is a place for those kinds of narratives.
[00:51:44.790]Yeah, and I think there are even more
[00:51:49.050]scientists trying to do that sort of thing, too.
[00:51:51.690]There are groups of scientists globally
[00:51:55.022]and others may have even more knowledge about this,
[00:51:58.530]but talking about good Anthropocenes,
[00:52:01.770]like what would it mean to imagine
[00:52:04.130]seeds of good Anthropocenes,
[00:52:06.000]and maybe, Aubrey, is that even some connections
[00:52:09.210]with perhaps some of your work,
[00:52:11.360]where we say, okay, it's gonna be different.
[00:52:13.620]There's no doubt.
[00:52:14.453]But let's expand our imaginations a little bit?
[00:52:22.560]I mean, I think that telling the truth
[00:52:25.230]about the limits of the planet in which we live in
[00:52:29.850]and how those limits are being transgressed
[00:52:33.380]and the harm that's been done, I mean, and will happen.
[00:52:37.120]And it's already baked in.
[00:52:38.130]That is really important.
[00:52:39.520]And that courage to say those things are important,
[00:52:43.740]but it's also important to have a kind of
[00:52:45.500]social and emotional literacy and to think about
[00:52:48.261]what kind of narratives empower people to act
[00:52:51.770]and to make good choices and to pursue new possibilities,
[00:52:56.580]and which kind of narratives keep people
[00:53:00.100]to be passive or disempower them.
[00:53:02.260]And so, I think that that's where
[00:53:06.400]the work that I'm really interested in is about
[00:53:09.540]how do we not just receive narratives, but make them.
[00:53:12.660]I mean, how do we, co-create these kinds of stories?
[00:53:15.845]Between multiple human groups and plants and landscapes
[00:53:20.120]and how do we see ourselves as,
[00:53:22.640]and recognize our power as actors
[00:53:25.301]and work within our capabilities
[00:53:28.170]to make that change more positive,
[00:53:30.240]while being realistic about the grief
[00:53:32.070]and harm that's already here and is to come.
[00:53:35.060]That's tricky, but I feel like there is
[00:53:36.900]a lot of precedents in human communities
[00:53:40.080]and in the humanities to be able to have space
[00:53:43.280]for those conversations and relationships.
[00:53:50.170]Well, we're getting a little short on time.
[00:53:52.180]Let me finish with one quick question
[00:53:53.980]that was in your list of questions for you to discuss,
[00:53:57.270]which is has the learning you've done
[00:53:59.700]in your professional work and research had any impacts
[00:54:02.570]on the choices you make in your personal lives?
[00:54:13.340]I think I wrote that question,
[00:54:14.840]and now I know I'm on the spot to try to answer it.
[00:54:19.170]So maybe I'll go first,
[00:54:20.220]but I want Caleb and Dan to answer, too.
[00:54:22.360]And I guess what I would say is that all the work
[00:54:26.260]and learning I did as a graduate student,
[00:54:28.580]I mean, the collaboration that Dan and I did
[00:54:33.790]when we were in grad school thinking about
[00:54:35.550]culture and landscapes,
[00:54:37.650]the research I was doing on ethnobotany and literature,
[00:54:40.870]the language revitalization work,
[00:54:43.792]all of that work in the context of the Great Plains
[00:54:45.800]I think really helped me realize just how much is at stake
[00:54:49.970]and how important it is for me to align
[00:54:52.430]the time and energy I have towards supporting
[00:54:56.280]the kind of change that I wanna make happen
[00:54:58.440]and finding myself in relationship with people
[00:55:00.810]who I can learn from and with.
[00:55:02.290]And so I think that that has led me to make choices
[00:55:06.050]about where I work and what place I'm devoted to
[00:55:10.540]and what I'm willing to do and to give up
[00:55:14.832]in order to stay in this place to be
[00:55:18.592]back home for me in Kansas and to form these relationships
[00:55:23.120]with people here, but also around the world
[00:55:25.490]to sort of work in alignment with my core values.
[00:55:30.210]And that's just a lifelong process.
[00:55:32.420]But I think that that does lead to some hard decisions
[00:55:35.390]and including as a woman the choices I make about
[00:55:39.730]my family and all the people and plants that I love, too.
[00:55:51.089]I'll go next.
[00:55:51.922]That was good, Aubrey.
[00:55:54.110]This is a tough question.
[00:55:56.090]But you did well answering it.
[00:55:57.380]So I guess that, since we're short on time,
[00:56:01.190]my succinct answer is that working at the scales
[00:56:04.780]that I think that I do,
[00:56:08.831]it puts in perspective how small an individual is,
[00:56:12.130]but how great a collective action is.
[00:56:14.130]So I think that I try to do a little less
[00:56:19.110]hand-wringing of my own,
[00:56:23.210]because I'm only gonna be around for whatever,
[00:56:26.390]if I'm lucky, 80 years or 90 years or something.
[00:56:28.790]And I only live in one place, but I can do as much as I can,
[00:56:32.880]but it's working with my neighbors
[00:56:34.671]and convincing others and finding those ways,
[00:56:37.780]what they call it down here, the nudge factor.
[00:56:39.550]How can we nudge people to get to where we wanna get 'em,
[00:56:42.210]the best collective action for us?
[00:56:45.410]So I think that's what I've learned.
[00:56:48.840]And that's what I think that these collaborations
[00:56:52.180]with bridging the humanities has kind of,
[00:56:55.400]the empathy and stuff has really taught me.
[00:57:03.530]it's a little hard to disentangle,
[00:57:05.410]which is maybe good, but I,
[00:57:07.912]I think that perspectives I've gained
[00:57:13.450]help guide my prioritization of things.
[00:57:17.180]There's a lot of things can
[00:57:20.470]be demanding of you and your time.
[00:57:22.870]And so I think that has been useful
[00:57:27.120]in my both professional and personal life
[00:57:29.810]for having some of those perspectives.
[00:57:32.270]I think I'll just leave it at that.
[00:57:34.796](gentle guitar music)
Log in to post comments