Thursday, January 29, 2009


[opening Quote from John Kerry on the looming catastrophe in climate change]

That is Senator John Kerry, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This is Radio Ecoshock. I'm Alex Smith, and you are about to get 20 minutes of the latest from Al Gore. In our second half hour, I'll interview Pieter Tans, one of the top scientists measuring greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. In fact, he is Chief Scientist at the Earth Research Lab, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, known as NOAA. I'll ask him about the state of the atmosphere, and who's watching the store.

Surely this is the worst time to talk about climate change. According to the IMF, the international banking system is teetering on the brink of disaster. Really, we're just propping up the illusion. 65 thousand Americans laid off in one day. Now, predictions that 50 million humans will lose their jobs in 2009. Where I live, construction crews have walked away from unfinished buildings. The government is rushing in to operate a bankrupt pulp mill, with no visible owner, before the chlorine blows up. The Jack Nicholson golf course and condos will never open.

Britain is going bankrupt. Who can compete with a headline like that?

Top world scientists now tell us the natural world is dying. In just one example, trees in the Western United States are dying from climate change. In fact, the whole West is heading into a drought that may last hundreds of years. Cows are falling over dead in Texas, finding nothing in the dried up vegetation. Bush's home state is headed into climate disaster.

The Obama administration is rushing to undo the damage of eight years of denying science. Of muzzling, firing top scientists. Of wantonly lying to the public, about the bankruptcy of our atmosphere. In a flurry of appointments, the deniers have been cast out, and actual scientists and experts appointed to a wide range of posts all pointing to climate action. Even foreign affairs, as we'll now hear from John Kerry, depends upon saving the climate.

[Kerry explains military experts say that climate disruption will lead to disturbances, failed states, wars and terrorism.]

That is why the Senate Foreign Relations Committee invited former Vice-President Al Gore to testify on January 28th, 2009. He spoke for 27 minutes, and then answered questions for another two hours. We'll just hit the highlights. You can download the testimony, and the Q and A, as free mp3 files, from our web site, I'll give you the links in just a moment.

After Kerry's introduction, Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana spoke. Now that the public knows climate change is real, Lugar can't trot out a denial. Instead, he promoted big bucks for biotech. Lugar said Africans will starve without biotechnology. He wants America to pressure Europe, forcing open their markets to lab-made food. Just a lobby announcement.

Let's clear our palates, with a taste of Al Gore.

[listen to a digest of Al Gore's key testimony, and answer to questions, in this week's Radio Ecoshock Show]

Remember, I'm just playing you selected clips from 2 and a half hour of testimony. Get the real thing from our web site. Here is the testimony link (6 MB, 27 min), the first hour and 24 minutes of Q and A with Gore and the Foreign Relations Committee (20 MB) and the last 37 minutes of Q and A. A lot of questions you would ask, along with political considerations, i.e. how can this transition to green energy happen in the real world.

Mr. Gore goes on to explain that the Arctic Ice remains at the lowest levels ever seen since the last great ice age. West Antarctica is also warming up. As it melts, along with Greenland, each 1 meter rise of sea level means another 100 million climate refugees. He showed new maps of huge horrible dead zones developing in our oceans.

But you know that. You know.

Naturally, the Committee wanted to know what we can do. Al Gore did offer a range of solutions. He said solar thermal energy alone could meet the electricity needs of America, with just a hundred square miles of desert.

But we're going to focus on the step he thinks need to happen first: the construction of a unified national smart grid to distribute the power of renewable energies. Here is John Kerry in dialog with Al Gore.

[in the Radio Ecoshock Show]


Although he has supported a revenue neutral carbon tax in the past, Mr. Gore testified he thought the cap and trade system was the most viable option now. Some European countries, and two Canadian provinces have already brought in a carbon tax. The revenue is not kept by the government, but returned to taxpayers. Some Americans are not ready for that, or don't trust the government.

We also need to realize that Al Gore, in addition to his famous role as climate educator, is now a multimillionaire successful businessman in the green energy field. The industry alliance he represents wants cap and trade - they think they can make money in a pollution market. Given the collapse of self-regulated capitalism, many environmentalists don't trust cap and trade either.


Part of the focus of this testimony is preparation for the climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009. That will be the first international opportunity for the new Obama administration to work for a climate solution. However, Al Gore suggested that the U.S. should be negotiating an agreement with China, even before Copenhagen. If the two biggest polluters can really reduce carbon, the worst of climate disruption might be avoided. And Gore says China has seen the green light, and is willing to reign in their greenhouse gas emissions. We shall see.


While Gore brought out a lot of technical solutions, he made surprising emphasis on the role of protecting the last great forests of Earth. Deforestation causes 20 percent of our emissions. Gore also wants to see a program where the world's farmers can get credit if they capture more carbon in the soil. There is four times more carbon in the soil, than in all the trees.


Al Gore told the Senate that top scientists are screaming from the roof tops: this is our last chance for action to stop a massive heat shift on planet Earth.

Dr. James Hansen of NASA wrote to President Obama, saying the climate will be saved, or lost, in the first four years of this administration. Other scientists from Germany, Australia - many parts of the world, have the same angst, the same conclusion of deadline, the need for swift action.

The most dire comes from one of the oldest voices: Sir James Lovelock. The inventor of the Gaia hypothesis, that living things regulate their own climate, told New Scientist magazine that we have, quote, "one last chance."

In fact, Lovelock worries it is already too late for emissions reductions. He doesn't trust carbon trading at all, and has even given up his love for nuclear power. The only hope he sees is a giant program to bury charcoal in the Earth, agrichar. But Lovelock doesn't think that will happen either. He expects a cull of human population, dropping down to perhaps a billion or less surviving.

Lovelock told Gaia Vince of the New Scientist, quote:

"We have the example of the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum event 55 million years ago. About the same amount of CO2 was put into the atmosphere as we are putting in and temperatures rocketed by about 5 °C over about 20,000 years. The world became largely desert. The polar regions were tropical and most life on the planet had the time to move north and survive. When the planet cooled they moved back again. So there doesn't have to be a massive extinction. It's already moving: if you live in the countryside as I do you can see the changes, even in the UK."

I'm Alex Smith, and this is Radio Ecoshock. Did you want me to lie to you? To sugar coat the facts?

The climate situation is far more serious than any banking scandal. That is why Al Gore went to Washington.


At the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, you heard Senator John Kerry ask Al Gore the perennial question: why hasn't safe renewable energy taken off? The obvious reason is opposition from an entrenched oil and coal oligarchy. But is that really all? Are we innocent?

Here is a quick quote from next week's Radio Ecoshock Show. The speaker is Martin Burger, CEO of Blue Energy, and a campaigner for tidal energy. We'll examine power from the tides, but Burger raises a deep and difficult point. Just how does a society transform itself? Can any amount of money from the Federal Government, or even mega-corporations, really change things? Or does it take a tidal wave of consciousness in humanity?

Let's listen to Martin Burger for two minutes.

"And this is a long talk, in of itself. And we are in the infancy of our consciousness evolution as individuals, but in this collective mind field.

Our Western perspective has not, or has failed to integrate the quantum perspective, and field effect. There is a fundamental truth, in physics and in reality, to what Chief Seattle said, when he talked about the web of life, that how all the animal kingdom - the birds, the forests, the beasts, and all of us - are all connected at some dimensional root level.

And out of that arises a signal that generates and manifests our shared experience called our future.

If we haven't contemplated the possibility of a low-cost clean sustainable energy future, that signal is presently weak. And that signal is displaced and dominated by those with an agenda that serves a narrow element and segment, rather than the broader segment of society.

So consciousness is really more important in creating this future, and in realizing the opportunities of significant efforts that have come long before this one [referring to tidal power]. But this one is still under the same limits of a feeble signal to the future.

Meetings like this, your book, your effort, the New Energy Movement, creates that monkey [the "hundredth monkey"] that has to ride that what-could-be train. And every one of the efforts needs that hundredth monkey.

So they [the public] will behave quantumly until that quantum mass is achieved in attention and consciousness. But then there's a tipping point where they can't be stopped.

Money won't do it. Money will take - and you can put something into a technology, and have a great flurry go on, but if it's going to change the world it has to occur with consciousness, before the money will make it stick.

So there are other technologies out there, raising more money. But when you look at it from a vision, versus a good idea, most of them are just good ideas. They're not going to change the future. They don't have a future."

What is he talking about? Einstein conceived the field theory of physics around 1905. You could say that each of us is less a distinct body, and more a collection of atoms held together by a field. These fields interact, forming larger fields.

Biologists such as Rupert Sheldrake opened the idea that animals really operate as large groups. You've seen large flocks of birds wheel in the sky as one, like schools of fish in the sea. Next week we'll hear about the hundredth monkey theory - that groups of animals reach a critical mass, where change occurs.

99 monkeys may not bring alternative energy to our lives, but the hundredth adopter might be the tipping point where suddenly everyone realizes the route to sustainable power.

Money can't do it. A change in mass consciousness needs to happen.

We'll explore all that next week on Radio Ecoshock, along with Burger's inside look at the state of tidal power around the world. Yes we could power everything using the gravity of the moon and stars, as they pull the ocean surface.

Oh yeah, we'll also take a trip into other engines and technologies waiting in the wings.

Don't miss the interview with top Earth Research Lab scientist Peter Tans in the audio of this week's Radio Ecoshock Show. We start with his ability to really speak the truth, without government interference. I ask how we know humans are altering the atmosphere, for sure. It turns out there are several ways to prove that, including a different form of carbon that humans emit when they burn fossil fuels.

Near the end of the interview, Tans worries that there is a chance, perhaps even a one in six chance, that the average temperature over land could increase by as much as 10 degrees Celsius (!!!!) due to feedback effects which we are only beginning to realize.

That is what we are trying to stop now, as each of us rises to consciousness about the danger, and the solutions just waiting for our eyes to see.

Listener tips make this almost a group project. This week "jon q public" tipped me to the Laurie Anderson live performance on You tube. The song "Only and Expert (Can Deal With a Problem)" contains a great verse about experts denying climate change. Sadly, due to time limitations, I had to cut another powerful verse about countries that bomb other countries. Listen and watch the whole song here.

Our background music at the half time break is "Clubbed to Death" by Rob Dougan.

A half hour cut-down version of Radio Ecoshock plays every Saturday morning at 11:30 on Green 960 Radio in San Francisco. In America only, you can hear it live on the Net.

I'm Alex Smith. Write me any time. The address is radio [youknowwhatgoeshere]

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