This is a show about the end of the world. These are tales of systems out of control, environmental collapse, and ultimately a broken world. We create each episode because we care, because we're optimists, and because we want a better world.

Episodes, complete transcripts, sources, links, credits, and more for Ashes Ashes are available here.

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Don't know where to start? We love Ep 44, Ep 31, Ep 28, and Ep 23 (but they're all good).


Episode 45 - Bill of Health

American healthcare is taking a toll on America's health. Costs outpace economic growth, medical debt plagues millions, confusing and surprising bills infect further more, insurance premiums and deductibles are out of control, and at the end of the day we're not even receiving better care as a result of all this change...

Episode 44 - Do Not Disturb

Bernie Krause joins us to help illuminate the complexity of natural soundscapes, and the threats to their stability.

The world is waking up to the negative health consequences of noise pollution. The WHO recognizes noise as a health crisis, and the number of places around the world not devastated by human noise is r...

Episode 43 - FUBAR

The military exists to engage in seemingly endless war, but the damage doesn't stop during peace time. For decades, the US military (and many others around the world) has been systematically destroying the Earth and the very nations they're sworn to protect. Disregard for the natural world and those that inhabit it has...

Episode 42 - No Catch

The peak of our industrial fishing returns has come and gone, despite a myriad of innovations. In fact, these very innovations may be driving food insecurity even deeper. As fish stocks decline, new methods of extraction are trained on ever-dwindling fish populations to prop up an unsustainable system, leaving vulnerab...

Episode 41 - Dead Tired

Despite a plethora of health benefits that sleep promotes, and a host of dramatic consequences when we neglect it, the world is rapidly trending towards fewer and fewer restful hours. 40% of Americans are sleep deprived and on average we get 2 hours less sleep than just a few decades ago. What has driven this change? C...

Episode 40 - Land of the Free

Never have as many people been locked up than right now, here in the United States. The US has more prisoners per capita than anywhere else on the planet and that number continues to climb at a terrifying rate. Once within the prison system, inmates are abused and exploited out of sight and out of mind of the rest of t...

Episode 39 - Impacts of Growth

From the ancient philosophers, to modern day scientists, much has been said about the relationship between human population growth and its effects on environmental destruction, famine, and death. Modern policy makers and political leaders have taken inspiration from these debates to craft initiatives aimed at curbing p...

Episode 38 - Dead Air

Despite efforts to develop cleaner technology, air pollution remains quite possible the world's greatest killer. New reports by the WHO put the annual deaths around 7 million, with 90% of the global population breathing dangerous air. Air pollution itself is an amalgam of particles with different sizes and chemical pro...

Episode 37 - Logistics of Slavery (Part 2 of 2)

Last week we explored some of the conditions of the record number of slaves all across our world today. But to really understand the issue, we need to look at the systems that create and depend upon this cheap form of exploited labor - and to do that we turn our conversation to logistics.

No other force has reshaped...

Episode 36 - Slaves to Progress (Part 1 of 2)

Despite universal condemnation of slavery, there are more slaves than ever before. They are cheaper (and more disposable) than they ever have been. Who are these people toiling without rest and what forces bind them? Can economic expansion find innovative solutions to this age-old problem? Or is slavery itself built in...

Episode 35 - Plugged In

What compels people to throw their money away at a slot machine? In short: design. The design that goes into making a slot machine addicting is deliberate and effective, but restrained in some part by regulation. But what happens when the same tools used to addict people to losing money are released unfettered into pro...

Episode 34 - Irreplaceable

The expansion of human beings is perhaps unrivaled by any other species. Yet that success threatens to be our downfall. As civilization grows, the wildlife that enables it gets pushed out, and valuable ecosystems are stressed to their breaking point. Worse still, the destruction of biodiversity means the keys that coul...

Episode 33 - All Rights Reserved

Ideas have become property. This is the magic spell that intellectual property has cast across our society. Innovation, art, new ideas, and even our culture can be locked behind the restrictions of the law, protected by armies of lawyers, devastating fines, and the full power of the justice system. This system is built...

Episode 32 - For Better or For Worse #2

This week we explore updates to many of the subjects we've tackled so far. Guest host Moriah King joins us as we discuss our biggest fears, as well as updates in government surveillance, water insecurity, automation, financial crises, and so much more. Strap in: it's a few months of bad news all at once (with a little...

Episode 31 - No Entry

Rescue ships denied; children detained far away from parents; smugglers profiting to the tune of hundreds of millions. As crises across the globe drive people from their homes, the nations of the world are stepping up border security and building walls like never before in human history. While walls purport to increase...

Episode 30 - Parched

As always, the world is facing a crisis. This week we explore the exploding problem of water access as large swaths of the world find themselves drying out risking agriculture, industry, and the very water we drink. By 2020, 100 million Indians will find themselves without water - and this is just the beginning of what...

Episode 29 - War Machine

International calls to ban autonomous weapon systems have done little to slow the escalating arms race between nations to acquire weapons of the so called third revolution in warfare - or simply "killer robots." The intersection of AI, deep learning, and lethal weaponry presents a future of war unlike any the world has...

Episode 28 - Debt End

This episode is all about debt. Where does debt come from? Why is the concept of borrowing and lending mired in moral confusion and contradiction? What is the purpose of debt and who ultimately pays?

To get to the heart of all these questions, one hast to navigate through economic myth, blood and ultimately the huma...

Episode 27 - The Robot Is In

By 2030 over 800 million jobs could be automated globally. While in the past, increased productivity from innovation tracked positively with wage increases and employment, these trends have parted ways. The integration of information tech, precision manufacturing, and machine learning place us on the precipice of a rap...

Episode 26 - Barrier to Growth

There seems to be a perfect storm of factors that threaten to completely reshape who owns farmland here in the US and globally. 400 million acres of farmland in the US alone will change hands in the next 20 years, farmers are retiring and there is a much smaller generation of young farmers to replace them, and global i...

Episode 25 - Heat Death

As climate change accelerates, much attention is given to effects like rising seas, and increased weather variability. Often overlooked is the temperature itself, and the direct impact warmer temperatures will have on our ability to maintain infrastructure, our health, agriculture, and our ability to live in certain pa...

Episode 24 - Suspect Science

The depiction of forensic science in popular entertainment is ubiquitous. We might be lead to believe that the field utilizes actual scientific methods of crime scene analysis to bring criminals to justice with irrefutable evidence, but a closer look reveals a very different story. This week we draw a magnifying glass...

Episode 23 - The Best of Times...

We frequently hear that this is the greatest time in human history, that we've never had it this good before. And actually that's absolutely true - if you're one of the wealthy few that can take advantage of the system. But for the rest of humanity, and make no mistake it's the vast majority of the earth's population,...

Episode 22 - Fashion Victims

What does it take to make a shirt? That question might seem simple at first glance, but as we explored the fashion industry, we discovered a world of environmental destruction, exploitation, and human suffering on a staggering scale. Hidden just out of sight from the cheap clothes we find in our closets and strip malls...

Episode 21 - Clima Ex Machina

The global climate is in bad shape and quickly getting worse. The debate as to how or why is long over (from both data and irrelevance) and the conversation is now turning to "Well what now?"

The IPCC has set down an ambitious plan to get us off our fossil fuel fix, but it involves a lot of unproven technologies to...

Episode 20 - Irresistible

Around the world, pathogens of all types are showing resistance to standard treatment. Failure among so called "drugs of last resort," a decline of disease prevention programs, and shifting climate all present ominous signs for the risk of global infectious disease.

Joining us this week are three professors from the...

Episode 19 - Life in Plastic

Despite what you might have heard, our life in plastic is less than fantastic. Plastic is everywhere and enables our modern standard of living, but it turns out that this comes at a cost. Recent discoveries have found plastic in the oceans, in our soil, in the food we eat, and even the air we breathe. The health and en...

Episode 18 - Scripted

What happens when you can't trust anything anymore? That's the question we'll be exploring this week as we look into the world of half truths, lies, bots, manipulation, and our rapidly approaching post truth world. Everything from voice to video to our very sense of self is at stake in this rapidly changing world where...

Episode 17 - For Better or For Worse #1

One of our hosts is out of town, so we take this week to explore updates to many of the subjects we've discussed so far. Guest host Moriah King helps us explore everything from the power grid to pensions, state surveillance to sea level rise, and so much more. Strap in this week: it's a few months of bad news all at on...

Episode 16 - What We Reap

Global topsoil is being lost at terrifying rates. So much so that many experts predict less than 60 years left of agricultural yields before the global food system collapses. Add to this questionable chemical inputs, monoculture, and other large-scale industrial practices as well as the dangers climate change introduce...

Episode 15 - Terms of Service

Facebook has entered nearly every part of our internet connected lives. Most of us aren't happy with this, but tolerate it as a part of modern day living. But as we dig deeper into this social media and advertising juggernaut, we start to learn that maybe we shouldn't trust Zuckerberg and crew with so much of our world...

Episode 14 - Sweet Release

It's natural, it's delicious, it's everywhere, and it may be killing us. For years, sugar has been overlooked as a serious detriment to our health because of the manipulations of the sugar industry in both science and politics, but the lies are coming to light as the diseases caused by that deadly white powder threaten...

Episode 13 - Lights Out

What do airports, water treatment facilities, gas stations, and espresso machines all have in common? A dependence on a reliable and stable network of power generation and distribution. In America, and around the world, our electrical grids are aged, stressed, and increasingly at risk of attack. Worse, the centralizati...

Episode 12 - Up in Smoke

In forests, grasslands, and landscapes around the world, poor wildland management and climate change have combined to produce some of the most explosive fires ever seen. This trend is getting worse, and as we continue to push development into these areas, the need to extinguish fires that threaten human life and proper...

Episode 11 - Designing Deception

What do suffragettes, cigarettes, Sigmund Freud, bacon and eggs with breakfast, bananas, and a coup in Guatemala all have in common? We'll explore the answer to that question in this week as we look at the lessons from an important man and contemplate the extraordinary effects he had (and continues to have) on our soci...

Episode 10 - Broken Promises

Pensions have long been considered to be the gold standard of retirement, the treasured benefit of public service and big company jobs. But because of changing demographics, evolving financial environments, and poor accounting practices, these once sure things may soon become a liability. With a reckoning soon approach...

Episode 09 - "Nothing Left to Hide"

The relationship between government intelligence, the military-industrial complex, and big business goes deep. In technology hubs around the world, complex surveillance products are developed and sold to governments that deploy the tech on journalists, lawyers, academics, and their own citizens. How are these technolog...

Episode 08 - "A Better You?"

Genome engineering, CRISPR-Cas9, gene drives, designer babies, and so much more. Recent breakthroughs have given us the tools and techniques to alter the genetic code of living things around us and even dabble in playing with the very DNA that makes us human. But as the speed of these technological advancements acceler...

Episode 07 - "Last Gasp"

There's something in our air that's making us sick - fatigue, eye problems, inability to concentrate, headaches, obesity, even cognitive declines to name just a few symptoms. What's more, this health hazard is increasing at an alarming rate and researchers and doctors are only now beginning to understand just how much...

Episode 06 - "Dead In the Water"

While the ocean may seem impossibly vast, human caused climate change may have begun to kick off a mass extinction on a scale never seen before on Earth. The combined effects of warming, deoxygenation, and acidification are wreaking havoc on these vast sections of earth - and the animals that live in it (maybe dooming...

Episode 05 - "End of the Road"

The vital systems we rely on (roads, bridges, buildings, pipes, and much much more) are crumbling and in desperate need of repairs. Worse, many of these systems are coming up on the end of their life and will require trillions of dollars to fix - just to maintain the economic status quo. Funding is becoming increasingl...

Episode 04 - "Net Neutrality"

The FCC will vote on December 14, 2017 on whether to reverse common carrier status for broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. This action will have profound effects on the internet and the way it functions. Join us in this episode as we explore exactly what this means for censorship and the future of the i...

Episode 03 - "Permanent Record"

Every minute of your day you're tracked by a host of companies using a plethora of tools and techniques. In this episode, we dig into how this technology has infiltrated the real world, follows you into the digital domain, and shapes the world around you. Join us as we delve into the shadowy reality of corporate survei...

Episode 02 - "Concrete Reef"

Sea level rise is happening faster than anyone expected and recent studies show it's only going to get worse - and far worse than anyone imagine. Cities are already struggling to deal with this catastrophe and people are finding themselves having to confront a tough choice: move or prepare for an expensive, disaster fi...

Episode 01 - "Thin Ice"

A disaster is happening in slow motion at our planet's poles and climate change is to blame. How long can we survive the triggering of this dangerous feedback loop? In this, the inaugural episode of Ashes Ashes, we explore the melting polar ice caps, the science behind this process, and what that might mean for humanit...