Ashes Ashes-logo

Ashes Ashes

News & Politics Podcasts >

More Information


United States




No Catch

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 vulnerable communities all over the world in their destructive wake. Ironic, since the communities we are leaving behind may ultimately hold the secrets to...


Dead Tired

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? Can we survive the consequences of those decisions? Chapters A full transcript is available as well as detailed links and sources (plus credits and...


Land of the Free

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 the population. With these crimes against humanity growing ever greater and the impossible to ignore racial disparity continuing to get worse,...


Impact of Growth

Episode 39 - "Impact 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 population, but through these efforts a host of human rights abuses have emerged worldwide. With millions of people left in the wake of forced...


Dead Air

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 properties, and so the health impacts of polluted air are complex and encompass a diversity of chronic illnesses, cognitive dysfunction, infectious...


Logistics Of Slavery (Part 2 of 2)

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 our world as much as modern day logistics. From it's humble beginnings with the shipping container to redefining national...


Slaves to Progress (Part 1 of 2)

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 into the foundation of our modern economy? We will explore these questions and more, as well as the connections between slavery...


Plugged 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 products and services we interact with every day, constantly? And how might these tools evolve when aided by artificial intelligence that can customize...



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 could unlock a path forward for life are lost forever. How much time do we have to halt the sixth mass extinction before we too drown in its wake?...


All Rights Reserved

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 for and run predominantly by publishers, not the creators it purports to support - and we all suffer from it. How did we get here? Where...


For Better or For Worse #2

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 good news and a whole lot of analysis thrown in), but as always we hope you'll be as motivated by these stories as we are to start...


No Entry

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 security and halt unwanted people and activities, a closer inspection reveals something entirely different. In the first of a series exploring the...



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 might be the largest disaster in human history. Can states prepare themselves for the coming hordes of water refugees? Can civilization survive water...


War Machine

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 ever seen. In the crosshairs of this new frontier of violence we find moral accountability, the ethics of killing, and of course the comforting...


Debt End

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 has to navigate through economic myth, blood and ultimately the human soul. Join us as we travel back through time and explore the systems that led to this tool that shapes our world for better and for worse. Chapters A...


The Robot Is In

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 rapidly changing economy - and an end to work as we know it. Can we adapt to the incoming automation wave, or will we be left out in the cold as...


Barrier to Growth

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 investment for agriculture land is on the rise, which will push family farmers off the land in favor of industrial consolidation. Beyond that,...


Heat Death

Episode 25 - "Heat Death" As climate change accelerates, much of the media attention is given to effects like rising seas, super storms, and increased weather variability. Often overlooked is the temperature itself and the direct impact warmer temperatures will have on our ability to maintain infrastructure, agricultural effects, our health, and even the very ability to live in much of the world. As the temperature rises, so does the risk that the very fabric of modern society simply...


Suspect Science

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 over this industry rife with broken incentives, subjective guesswork, and willful negligence. Our entire justice system will need a massive...


The Best of Times...

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, things are rough and frequently getting worse. Join us this week as we scratch the surface of this story of two worlds, of the haves and...