Professor, Rift Valley, University Of Westminster discussed on Forum
Routes the California there knows a professor of science communication at the university of Westminster and he joins us now here in studio to explain how the years past informs our futures new book is called origins how rich history shape human history welcome Lewis are known in my hiding but they have you with us in the lighted in fact well you what we are in our planet that's kind of one of the axioms you can take away from your work and now we're under threat and a particularly great threat with respect to climate change not an asteroid I learned from the rest of their lives and works of being cross that off the list of possible extinctions or apocalyptic extensions that are in our future may talk about that in the course of this state segment but we'll talk with you first about climate change in how the years history really particular since it was just the seven hours of discussion of climate change and CNN by the different democratic candidates we spent a good deal of time talking about it it's still not as high as it ought to be in many of our judgments in terms of American concerns from what we learned from the earth and its history in terms of where we're going in terms of climate change I think up C. right Mike witnessing an unprecedented period of. change to the decline of Antalya plants of global climate change is not just well getting a bit warmer and the sea levels rising it will be a worldwide destruction to weather systems and where the rain falls and flights in and weather outside and this is being driven by human activity if this is and which I think is is human caused climate change but what I start with the beginning of origins is I think many of us already aware of thought that humanity now has become so capable and powerful as a species we now are having this global effect and in the moment that sort of read speech detrimental effect. I'm all in one city with with a brokerage ins is as flip that on its head and could not the fact that we are having on our planet now the effects all planets as hard on us throughout our entire human story so from the very origins as a species in East Africa three thousands of years of history of civilization and the rise and fall of empires and the forging of the more than nations to the modern world of politics and the way people thought and if we're looking at the history of climate change specifically as you lost there's a particular person in US history about fifty five and a half million years ago that is the most similar natural event what we are causing right now and this is called the Paleocene Eocene thermal maximum the P. E. T. M. if you look at the kind of temperature graph of US history this is a huge spike in global temperatures that there's a fever of the planets fifty five and a half million years ago I'm by studying votes in the rock record well hopefully give us some kind of insight into what's happening now and how we can avert the worst possible disasters apocalyptic scenarios you himself can avert in what way specifically I mean what do we learn that can service now prophylactic Klay if you will my understanding how US systems interact with each other how old that must interact with the oceans the oceans that was contract with the the land masses how Kabin cycles around this this entire country system is by starting how about system has responds in the past we can understand how it's like you to respond in the future to all pushing out at all human driving notches of this global climate system we keep seeing this axiom the geology is our destiny I mean that to some extent it's not only the seemingly buffered in your book but also the idea. the geology or geography for that matter far outweigh even genetics in terms of human development but it's always a balance of several faxes of course it is and. what I explore is how the geology and the plum tree forces have helped Croft us as a species on a particular warts what was it about East Africa I've lost five or six meaning is but Croft aids humanity home assumptions I such an exquisitely versatile and adaptable and intelligent species of eight what what Savoy evil question with intelligence the on city. intelligence is is quite curious when you think about having a great big brain is a very expensive thing to try to maintain you have to eat lots of food to power your brain so even the origin of our intelligence as a species something is a Kerry Austin what was about East Africa that created that situation just about to ask you that the cradle of East Africa the rift valley why there and why particular whose you call a kind of a a worldwide original Silicon Valley. I I have come to the Silicon Valley in my book so for origins I'm the original Silicon Valley was this East African great rift valley attempts tectonic fracture tectonic crack in the crust of all planets I'm is there that humanity had its cradle that's what we grew up that's what we evolve as a species is what we developed the very beginnings of our technology and all to use in terms of stone tools stone age tools which based on some rocks so this was that the little little joke that'll play on words I've had in the book how the original Silicon Valley was there the very beginnings of stone tools in the great rift valley of East Africa to also write about the planetary processes that drove evolution of humanity talk about that yes the the great rift valley is is the cradle of humanity as I mentioned and it certainly is a force that my own child I grew up in Nairobi in Kenya I went to school cold the panda which Swahili from not hot topics the much hot school districts lately them. I I have a couple of phrases I remembered of the twenty years since since we left that left by right but the great rift valley is this long crack in the cross Estes Shoop enough crossed where we grow up. and what we think happens to drive a revolution with it was a combination of effects and and and and interaction between the landscaper funny we have a very draw a hot body full but then these mountainous ridges on either side which catch any rain for the two fold in this tri area and funnel it down into the valley floor we have a string of lights strung along like a string of polls on the necklace on the body full. and these lakes are incredibly sensitive even tiny fluctuations in the local clients not to rein in S.. and not to rein in S. in the tropics run the equator is determined by a cosmic cycles by the milling fix cycles to with its orbit around the sun and then the tilt of all products. two during periods of climactic and instability. these lakes when we were growing up with Flaca very rapidly in and out of existence and every time the **** out they would substantially change the amount of water was available not to vegetation lot of animals in the in the in the region around us that we could hunt. all intelligence was a evolution solution to very chaotic unpredictable unstable environment we have to evolve our brains to have to out think on varmint and it is the interaction of those plan tree forces of this tectonic crack in the cross the grow up in and these clothes make wobbles enough sold it so in this sense it was plate tectonics thirds Croft us is an intelligent species they take us back billions of years and really point out that our history we shape by these layers of iron railing. so I am of course it's been hugely important three three human history it is the metal we what to how to use off to problems of the Bronze Age came the I. NH and only and it's so much better than bronze for making tools making weapons making honors much heartache and get a much sharper blade on it it doesn't dull as as quickly and we still live in the I. NH today one of the skyscrapers I walk past in San Francisco on a walk in the studio here they all have skeletons of mine but the all steel construction I was deeply nine H. today as the Romans one and a hundred eighty. and the curious thing about the sign is that virtually all of the all in the we have mind throughout human history. all comes back all the signs from a single moment and I'll planet's history I'm planning a time when the entire planet earth rusted. the only enemy mine come from bandit I and formations layers of rust in the end the strata. I mean what happened. right in the door one of us times is about two point five billion years ago this is all for a long time ago. is it the US originally had no option and satisfied if you could jump in a time machine and travel back to and have been in years you would need a space suit to walk around on our own planet there is no at auction and yet. and then it was a catch groove organisms cold cyanobacteria little blue green algae tiny microscopic organisms in the city the what to how to grow by the energy of sunlight to percent size and they re stocks Gen effectively is is is a pollution auction is the exhaust gas the first census an auction built up emotions I mean it was phase I'm on the atmosphere and what state the entire planet and I and that was in sea water was oxidized I'm just dumped on the sea floor is fine right sentiment which will be mine today around the world two and a half billion years later to make call civilization. okay this is Louis start now and he's professor of science communication university Westminster author of origins how rich history shape human history and this is really a biography of the earth the less I should say but it's also to mention skyscrapers you learn so many curious things in your book what I've seen about the the tallest skyscrapers really in the financial district in midtown Manhattan then you have located that is having to do with what you call subterranean geology yeah the something for care see if you can imagine your mind's eye the card classic aerial view of of Manhattan and all get a call from the only eats and have a look at right now what what is since this this radiation I know justice to Maine clusters of high rise buildings in New York and how to this this downtown on the south and then this mid town. and it turns out those two main clumps of skyscrapers all echoing mirroring what is happening beneath the ground because the whole region of the country around New York you still have a towering mountain range coverage about a billion years ago there's a mountain range which was nuski freshly crumpled up by an tectonic continental collision and the and the ritual fusion of of North America I miss in time mountain range has been a road it and whether to weigh grain by grain into the claimants range is not dissipate no longer exists being rubbed off the face of the earth and all the remains of the deep roots of that mountain range very hard form of rock coach chest. I miss just underneath new Yorkers in this kind of paying structure it's near the surface in downtown near the surface in mid town and it gets down deeper underground between the two so if you're trying to build some of the tallest buildings on the planet. you've got a really easy natural foundation for skyscrapers why this shift Disney of.