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[Un]Natural Selection

Humans have shaped and manipulated the natural world like no other species on earth. Those alterations have helped the planet, hurt it and everything in between.

Today, environmental agencies across the country spend much of their time and money responding to problems past generations have created and trying to foresee future challenges. We introduce foreign insects to control other foreign insects that are devastating plant life. We try to stop erosion on the Great Lakes, but our short-term fixes make long-term problems. We nearly kill off gray wolves and then consider hunting them again after population growth.

How do we know we’re fixing nature’s problems not creating more?

In [Un]Natural Selection, a season of Interlochen Public Radio's podcast Points North, we examine our role as part of the ecosystem and explore the ethical line between mending our natural world and meddling with it.

Latest Episodes
  • [Un]Natural Selection Ep. 7: Frankenfish
    Lake trout are on life support in Lake Michigan. Every year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spends tens of millions of dollars raising and stocking them.But what if there was another way? Genetic engineering is advancing fast. Could it be used for conservation?
  • [Un]Natural Selection Ep. 6: Damned If We Do, Damned If We Don’t
    Over time, people have caused extensive damage to rivers by scouring their banks with logs, channelizing them through towns and cutting them up with dams. In the last 50 years, scientists have discovered removing dams can vastly improve conditions in rivers. But not all dams can come down. Sometimes they are our greatest protection against invasive species.
  • [Un]Natural Selection Ep. 5: Rekindling Wilderness
    Most people think of the wilderness as a place untouched by humans, but that’s far from the truth. Evidence stored in tree rings in the Minnesota Boundary Waters affirms an oral history of Indigenous land management through controlled burns. Those intentional fires created one of the Great Lakes’ most popular wilderness destinations.
  • [Un]Natural Selection Ep. 4: 'Forest Of The Living Dead'
    North Manitou Island is like a petri dish. It shows what happens when the deer exhaust a food supply, and all the young plants and greenery are eaten to a nub. It’s a cautionary tale about the entangled fates of whitetail deer and the forests they inhabit.
  • [Un]Natural Selection Ep. 3: What To Do With The 'Big Bad Wolf'
    This month, gray wolves went back on the endangered species list. But it wasn’t because the population suddenly plummeted. It had more to do with an ongoing fight between stakeholders who have strong, opposing feelings about protecting wolves.
  • [Un]Natural Selection Ep. 2: Houses Built On Sand
    There’s a long-term impact to armoring shoreline on the Great Lakes. And as it turns out, it actually exacerbates the erosion it’s meant to stop.
  • [Un]Natural Selection Ep. 1: A Necessary Weevil?
    In the 1960s, scientists released a foreign insect to control invasive plants.But the plan backfired. The bugs are attacking a rare native plant in the sand dunes of the Upper Great Lakes.
  • Introducing: [Un]Natural Selection
    In [Un]Natural Selection, a new season of Points North, we’ll examine our role as part of the ecosystem and explore the ethical line between mending our natural world and meddling with it.