Episode 72 – It’s A Joke Until It’s Not – the Overton Window and AI

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This week we’re diving into some interesting (and relevant) ideas: the Overton window of political possibility and the use of artificial intelligence in the fight against climate change.

We explore how an idea from a libertarian think tank caught the imagination of both conservative and progressive modern political leaders, how scientists are using artificial intelligence to map El Yunque national forest, and why we should joke more about the things we wish would come true.


Story #1: The Overton Window (Olivia)

The Overton Window, via Wikimedia

Overton Window, Conceptually.org
President Bush on Same Sex Marriage, CNN, 2004
Backdrop for Vote on Same-Sex Marriage Rights: A Big Shift in Public Opinion, New York Times, November 16, 2022
Same-Sex Marriage Support Inches Up to New High of 71%, Gallup, June 2022
President Calls for Constitutional Amendment Protecting Marriage, GWB White House Archives
The Flaws of the Overton Window Theory, The New Republic
Let’s Stop Talking About the “Overton Window”, Jacobin, September 2020

(P.S. It’s page 133 in It’s Not That Radical where Mikaela Loach talks about the Overton Window, I found it after the episode! – Olivia)

I also didn’t see this 2017 Vox video until after the episode, but it’s an interesting watch for the ways the Overton Window (as it is used by people like Donald Trump) can be very dangerous: How Trump makes extreme things look normal

Story #2: Climate AI (Elise)

Artificial Intelligence—A Game Changer for Climate Change and the Environment, Columbia Climate School, June 2018

HOW AI CAN HELP COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE, John Hopkins HUB, March 7, 2023

How To Fight Climate Change Using AI, Forbes, July 2022

What AI Can Do for Climate Change, and What Climate Change Can Do for AI, Scientific American, April 2022

Multi-Mission Algorithm and Analysis Platform (MAAP), Earthdata

AI can help fight climate change—but it can also make it worse, Popular Science, May 2022

The Dump

There’s still time (until May 28) to check out Zoe Scruggs’ exhibit Double Sky at the Delaware Contemporary!!

“The title of the exhibition, Double Sky, describes a motif that recurs in Scruggs’ most recent work wherein the backgrounds of her paintings and works on paper split into otherworldly color combinations and stormy imagery… These aesthetic choices animate Scruggs’ fascination with creating alternative space – outer space, inner space, open space – for Black world making, free from constraint and toxicity.” (source)

We’re listening to books on Libby, and we’re keeping track of our reading on Storygraph.


The World Is Burning bookshop is live! Help us come up with book list titles and bulk up our reading list.

Our World is Burning themed playlist is on Spotify.

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Thanks for listening!

Ep. 74 – Burning Questions Part II World Is Burning

Can you believe we've gone 2 1/2 years without creating our very own game show about us? Neither can we! Test your climate knowledge alongside us as we ask ourselves the burning questions: Where are tumbleweeds from? What are our favorite climate activists' favorite insects? and How do you do fractions again? Subscribe/follow/press the button to keep up with new episodes every Wednesday! You can also follow us @worldisburnin on Instagram and Twitter or @worldisburning on TikTok, and check out our website worldisburning.com for extended show notes including sources and photos. World Is Burning is hosted by Olivia Hamilton and Elise Nye. Our theme music is by Kaycie Satterfield, and our logo was made by Sonja Katanic. — Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/worldisburning/message
  1. Ep. 74 – Burning Questions Part II
  2. Ep 73 – Burning Questions
  3. Ep. 72 – It’s A Joke Until It’s Not – the Overton Window and AI
  4. Ep. 71 – Oil Spills – Deepwater Horizon and Dawn Dish Soap
  5. Ep. 70 – Deep Sea Explorers – Jacques Cousteau & Dr. Sylvia Earle