cover art for 50 Million Years of Climate Change

Solarpunk Presents

50 Million Years of Climate Change

Season 2, Ep. 8

Have you ever thought about how dinosaurs lived on a warm, swampy Earth and how we live on one that’s cold enough to keep pretty much the entirety of Greenland and Antarctica buried under kilometers-thick sheets of solid ice and wondered, hmm, how did we get from there to here? The short answer is that it took 50 million years of declining atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and dropping temperatures, not to mention building an ice sheet or two. For the longer story of the last 50 million years of climate change, including some of the reasons why, catch this episode of our podcast with Dr De La Rocha! You’ll hear about plate tectonics and continental drift, silicate weathering, carbonate sedimentation, and the spectacular effects the growth of Earth’s ice sheets have had on Earth’s climate. There are also lessons here for where anthropogenic global warming is going and whether or not its effects have permanently disrupted the climate system. Fun fact: the total amount of climate change between 50 million years ago and now dwarfs what we’re driving by burning fossil fuels, and yet, what we’re doing is more terrifying, in that it’s unfolding millions of times faster.


Bonus content: If you want to see sketches and plots of the data discussed in this episode, we’ll be posting up a link soon!

!!Nerd alert!! 

If you're interested in the primary scientific literature on the subject, these four papers are a great place to start.

Connect with Christina at her blog, on Twitter, and on Mastodon

Support the show on Patreon or make a one-time donation via PayPal.

More episodes

View all episodes

  • 2. Podcasting Dreams of the Solacene

    In this podcast, host Ariel has a chat with Aaron and Alicia, the team behind Solacene podcast in Montreal, Canada. They talk about the meaning of “Solacene”, their goals, the semester-structure of their show, zines, community, upcycled clothing, embodied reality, environmental positivity, and a sneak peek at what is next for Solacene in the future… just to name a few topics. Tune in on your favourite podcatcher or streaming service today!Links:Solacene YouTube: Solarpunk Presents on Patreon or make a one-time donation via PayPal.
  • 1. Let's Talk Tech, Solarpunks! With Ariel & Christina

    If tech wasn’t such a central aspect of solarpunk, we’d all just be hippies redux. Yet not all tech, right? Because solarpunk is also about living the good life while building a just, inclusive, and sustainable society. So, what is solarpunk’s attitude toward and relationship with tech? How do solarpunks decide what’s worth it and what’s beyond the pale? And what’s all this about appropriate technology?Support Solarpunk Presents on Patreon or make a one-time donation via PayPal.
  • 10. What Does the Punk in Solarpunk Even Mean? Ariel & Christina Discuss

    Why is solarpunk called solarPUNK? What is so punk about it, and does it have anything to do with the original meaning of punk… or cyberpunk, or steampunk, or any -punk for that matter? In this episode, Christina and Ariel dive into the thorny question of what exactly it is that they are talking about when they say “solarpunk” … because as it turns out, they both have very different points of reference. Neither Christina’s Gen-Xer ideas of the ‘80s punk-rocker or Ariel’s Millennial idea of the Hot Topic pop-punk fit in with solarpunk… or do they? Tune in to find out more!Links:A Solarpunk ManifestoSupport Solarpunk Presents on Patreon or make a one-time donation via PayPal.
  • 9. The Fantasies of Post-apocalyptic Dystopian Fiction, with Ariel Kroon

    Classic, post-apocalyptic, dystopian fiction is a type of fantasy where we’re dreaming of starting over in an empty landscape from a societal and cultural slate wiped clean by some devastating event that we don’t have to feel guilty about having happened—at least, it is according to our very own Ariel Kroon, who does, yes, have a PhD in it.* Yet, at the same time, these fantasies generally suffer from a strange lack of imagination, wherein the characters use the “fresh new start” to recreate the same old society, albeit with themselves at the top, with the same old systemic socioeconomic, environmental, and structural problems. It’s almost as if it is easy to dream up apocalypse but next to impossible to envision a different way of living. Although a failure of imagination would most likely look different for solarpunk, can solarpunk creators and dreamers of a positive future avoid falling into the same sort of trap?*Post-apocalyptic Canadian science-fiction 1948-1989, she wants to clarify. She’s even got the thesis to prove it.Support Solarpunk Presents on Patreon or make a one-time donation via PayPal.
  • 8. Easing the Housing Crisis By Saying Yes, in My Backyard

    You’ve heard of NIMBYs and NIMBYism, and you probably are living with the consequences of neighbourhood planning or city policies influenced by landowners who say “Not in My Backyard” to new developments planned in their area. But what about YIMBYs? The name might be strange, but the homeowners who make up these groups say “Yes In My Backyard” to normalize the goals of affordable housing advocates, transit planning, tenants’ rights organizations and others who are working towards making the city a more liveable place to be for everyone. Today on the podcast, Ariel talks to Melissa Bowman, cofounder of the group Waterloo Region Yes In My Backyard (WRYIMBY) about what a YIMBY group is, what some actions are that it might take, the issues that it might address, and how to start up a YIMBY group in your area, if there’s not one already!Support Solarpunk Presents on Patreon or make a one-time donation via PayPal.
  • 7. Creating Community While Regenerating Soil, with Nick Schwanz of Solarpunk Farms

    Taking action on their solarpunk dreams, Nick Schwanz and Spencer Scott bought a degraded agricultural plot and have been turning it into a food forest, an explosion of flowers, and a demonstration of regenerative farming that brings the local community together and creates a network of prosperity and opportunities for other farmers, creatives, and makers. Join us as we talk soils, how their project is going, and what they mean by their intention to queer the agricultural endeavor.For all the fun and their latest news, follow Solarpunk Farms on their Instagram @solarpunkfarms.Support Solarpunk Presents on Patreon or make a one-time donation via PayPal.
  • 6. On Solarpunk Spirituality (& Humanity's Intangible Squishy Bits) with Navarre Bartz

    Today Ariel sits down with Navarre Bartz to talk about solarpunk spirituality. Solarpunk’s emphasis on respecting and valuing human and non-human life includes the totality of a being’s existence, and that includes the “squishy bits” of the experience that we can’t quite quantify. Navarre recently hosted a series of guest posts on his blog, Solarpunk Station, all about the spiritual angle of solarpunk, and what a solarpunk style of spirituality might look like.Read more:Solarpunk Station Episode 1.1 “Must Solarpunk Should?” Etsy alternative!Support Solarpunk Presents on Patreon or make a one-time donation via PayPal.
  • 5. Scientists Tell Stories Too (and That's a Good Thing), with Prof. Jenni Barclay

    In this episode, Prof. Jenni Barclay explains the importance of storytelling by scientists to themselves, other scientists, and the general public. Has that got you thinking, hey, wait, WHAT?! Everyone knows that scientists should never tell stories! If we expect them to show up like Back off man, I’m a scientist! and guide us through difficulties, then they’d best stick strictly and dryly to the facts, because everyone knows that scientists should never tell stories, right? But scientists even need to tell stories to themselves and to each other to more effectively process the information contained in their data, observations, and experiences. Human beings are not computers: we need stories to grasp the meanings of things, and that also goes for scientific facts. This means scientists need to be storytellers, too, if they want people to understand not just what the facts are, but what they mean for society and the world at large. Then people would better be able to see what our options are for responding to environmental and technological developments and emergencies. Learn more about Jenni and her research on volcanoes and scientists here or follow her on social media at @volcanojenni on xitter and bluesky.Support Solarpunk Presents on Patreon at
  • 4. Perfect Storm: Roleplaying Your Way Into Understanding the Forces For and Against Climate Action, With Dr. Sourayan Mookerjea

    On today’s episode, we’re talking about board games! Ariel interviews Dr Sourayan Mookerjea, Professor of sociology at University of Alberta, about the game “Perfect Storm”, which he uses in his classes and beyond to teach players about the complexities of a sustainable energy transition in the province of Alberta, and Canada more widely. We talk about the different meanings of “energy”, green capitalism, degrowth, decommodifying housing, and more!Links:Dr Mookerjea’s profile at U of A“Perfect Storm” description via Just Powers