Future Perfect

Future Perfect

Future Perfect explores provocative ideas with the potential to radically improve the world. We tackle big questions about the most effective ways to save lives, fight global warming, and end world poverty to create a more perfect future.In season 3, we explore how the meat we eat affects us all. In eight episodes, Vox's Dylan Matthews and Sigal Samuel examine how the way we eat is shaping animal lives, human lives, and the future of our planet. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

Episodes

April 28, 2021 43 mins
Most of our efforts to fight climate change, from electric cars to wind turbines, are about pumping fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. But what if we could pull out the gases that are already there? Akshat Rathi, a reporter at Bloomberg with a doctorate in chemistry, knows more about this technology, called “direct air capture,” than just about anyone. He follows companies like Carbon Engineering and Climeworks that are tr...
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Climate scientist Kimberly Nicholas co-led a study that showed the single most effective thing an individual can do to decrease their carbon footprint is have fewer kids. Despite that finding, she still says that people who really want to have kids should go ahead with their plans. She explains how she squares that circle to Vox’s Sigal Samuel, and the two discuss how to think about the decision to have kids or not and how to make ...
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In an ideal world, cutting carbon emissions would be enough to stop global warming. But after dithering for decades, the world needs a back-up plan. Kelly Wanser is the leader of a group called SilverLining that works to promote research into what it calls “solar climate intervention.” Also called “solar geoengineering,” this approach involves putting particles into clouds that reflect back the sun, directly cooling the earth. It’s...
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March 16, 2021 28 mins
Unexplainable is a new podcast from Vox about everything we don’t know. Each week, the team looks at the most fascinating unanswered questions in science and the mind-bending ways scientists are trying to answer them. New episodes drop every Wednesday.  This episode: Scientists still don't know how the sense of smell works. But they're looking at how powerful it is — dogs can actually sniff out cancer and many other diseases — and ...
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November 4, 2020 21 mins
How can we convince people to change their relationship with meat? Melanie Joy has been grappling with this question for a long time. To answer it, she takes us back to other points in history when new technology helped make social change palatable. She digs into how the invention of the washing machine and other household appliances, for example, helped make feminism easier to imagine. Then, she looks to the future, at our latest ...
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October 28, 2020 24 mins
Beef cattle take a huge toll on the environment. In Brazil, a huge chunk of greenhouse gas emissions comes from ranching alone. And a California-sized chunk of the Amazon rainforest has been cut down to provide land for these cattle to graze on. But one man, living on the edge of the Amazon rainforest, has a potential solution. In a series of small pilot projects run in his own small town, he’s demonstrated that he can work with ra...
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October 21, 2020 24 mins
What if the next pandemic comes, not from wet markets overseas, but from our own factory farms? Martha Nelson, who studies viruses at the NIH, says we are playing Russian roulette with potentially dangerous influenza strains on our pig farms.  In this episode, we explain what makes these giant farms so likely to breed the next pandemic virus — and spread that virus into the world. And then, we look at solutions — from creating a v...
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October 14, 2020 23 mins
Right now, we can fight off a wide range of bacterial infections using antibiotics. But those antibiotics are becoming increasingly ineffective, and antibiotic use on factory farms is partially to blame.  In this episode, Lance Price and Cindy Liu, two public health researchers, explain that we give animals a steady dose of antibiotics in their feed, hoping to stave off disease in cramped, unsanitary conditions. But as a result, th...
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October 7, 2020 25 mins
Workers in meatpacking plants already process our pigs and beef and chickens extremely fast, but recently, there’s been a push to make the meatpacking factory line move even faster.  Isaac Arnsdorf, a ProPublica reporter, takes us deep into his reporting on why that would be extremely dangerous for workers’ health. Then Jill Mauer, a federal meat inspector, explains why she’s worried that the changes in inspections necessary to mak...
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September 30, 2020 28 mins
In 1992, Craig Watts got into growing chickens for Perdue Farms because he was told he could turn a good profit. Instead, he found himself hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and unable to bargain for better working conditions because Perdue was the only game in town. Things seemed hopeless, until, in 2010, President Obama’s Department of Justice announced that they were going to look into the relationship between big poultry...
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September 23, 2020 25 mins
In the US, we spend billions of dollars a year pampering our pets. We have laws to protect them from harm and to punish those who inflict it on them. And yet, we routinely abuse pigs and chickens on farms, cutting off their beaks and tails without anesthesia, and cramming them into cages.  In this episode, neuroscientist Lori Marino helps us understand how arbitrarily we draw the lines between animals as pets and animals as food, ...
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September 16, 2020 29 mins
North Carolina is home to around 9 million pigs. Many of those pigs live in big factory farms, and all of those pigs produce a lot of waste. On these factory farms, that waste is collected in big outdoor lagoons, and then sprayed out across fields as fertilizer. People living in communities nearby complain their daily lives are disrupted by the stench, and they fear that it’s affecting their health. On this episode, three North Ca...
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September 9, 2020 2 mins
The meat we eat affects us all. It affects non-human animals, but also the farmers and factory workers who raise those animals and slaughter them. It affects the communities living around those farms and slaughterhouses. It affects our health care system and our ability to treat infections. And it affects our environment.  On this season of the Future Perfect podcast, we bring you stories about all those effects. And we’ll tell yo...
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Dylan Matthews sits down with housing policy experts and advocates Leonora Camner and Annie Fryman to discuss California’s housing crisis, climate catastrophe, and how more sustainable land use policy could help both. Featuring: Leonora Camner (@CamnerLeonora), executive director, Abundant Housing LA Annie Fryman (@anniefryman), housing policy lead for California State Senator Scott Wiener Host: Dylan Matthews, senior correspondent...
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August 19, 2020 74 mins
Co-host Sean Illing talks to Peniel Joseph, a University of Texas at Austin historian of Black Power movements Relevant resources:  The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. by Peniel Joseph Featuring: Peniel Joseph, a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), interviews writer, Vox More to explore: Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsle...
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August 12, 2020 59 mins
Co-host Sigal Samuel talks to Nikki Mirghafori, a Buddhist meditation teacher and AI researcher, about how to practice mindfulness of death  Relevant resources:  “Our calm is contagious”: How to use mindfulness in a pandemic, by Sigal Samuel It’s okay to be doing okay during the pandemic, by Sigal Samuel Are we morally obligated to meditate? by Sigal Samuel  Featuring: Nikki Mirghafori, a Buddhist meditation teacher and AI research...
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Co-host Sean Illing talks to Sister Ilia Delio, a Franciscan nun and Catholic theologian, about the power of love and suffering in Christianity. Relevant resources:  The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love, Ilia Delio Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness, Ilia Delio Featuring: Ilia Delio, a Franciscan Sister of Washington, DC, and Villanova University theology professor Host:...
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Co-host Sigal Samuel talks to Cornel West, professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard, about Black liberation theology, existentialism, and other philosophies that can help us through these times. Relevant resources:  Cornel West and Tricia Rose on The Tight Rope, Apple Podcasts   Featuring: Cornel West (@CornelWest), professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard Host: Sigal Samuel (@SigalSamuel), staff w...
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Co-host Sean Illing talks to Robert Zaretsky, professor of French history at the University of Houston, about Albert Camus’s novel The Plague. Relevant resources:  The Plague, by Albert Camus Simone Weil: An Anthology, by Simone Weil Albert Camus: Elements of a Life, by Robert Zaretsky  Featuring: Robert Zaretsky, professor of history at the University of Houston Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), senior interviews writer, Vox  M...
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July 15, 2020 59 mins
Co-host Sigal Samuel talks to Omid Safi, professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University, about the benefits of solitude and suffering, according to Sufis like Rumi. Relevant resources:  Radical Love: Teachings from the Islamic Mystical Tradition, by Omid Safi  Featuring: Omid Safi (@ostadjaan), professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University Host: Sigal Samuel (@SigalSamuel), staff writer, Vox  More to explore: Subscribe to Vox’s ...
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