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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...


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 hast 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...


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" Chapters A full transcript is available as well as detailed links and sources (plus credits and more) on our website Find more information along with relevant news and links on your favorite social network @ashesashescast. CC BY-SA 4.0


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...


Fashion Victims

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 is a story centuries in the making of struggles that continue through today. Join us this week as we explore the ins and outs of this dirty...


Clima Ex Machina

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 help us stay under 2C. Further, many researchers believe this won't be enough and are proposing their own megascale engineering projects to try...



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 College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia. All three have experience in antimicrobial resistance and the connection between...


Life in Plastic

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 environmental effects of all this plastic are just beginning to be understood - and it's not looking good. Join us this week as explore the...



Episode 18 - "Scripted" 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 introduces to disrupt traditionally fertile regions (decreasing yields further and impacting food nutrition) and we've got a perfect storm on the...


For Better or For Worse #1

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 once (with a little good news thrown in), but we hope you'll be as motivated by it as we are to start working towards something...


What We Reap

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 introduces to disrupt traditionally fertile regions (decreasing yields further and impacting food nutrition) and we've got a perfect storm on the...


Terms of Service

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 and our own lives. Join us as we explore psychological experiments, obscene image work farms, revenge porn, and so much more in this...


Sweet Release

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 to overwhelm the health systems of the world. Can we wake up to the danger this major health risk is posing in time or are we too addicted to...


Lights Out

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 centralization and increased interdependence of these grids mean the risk for large-scale failure has never been greater. If we don't act quickly, the next...