Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Economy of Climate Burn

The Australian wildfires - a warning to the world? I interview Dr. Barry Brook a climatologist from Adelaide. Brook was named one of the top 10 bright young scientists in Australia. His blog makes a strong case that the drying of Australia shows a radical shift in the climate. More: he argues the recent combination of drought and heat is without precendent in recorded history, and driven by climate change. Check out the particulars in his blog at I've bookmarked it.

Please don't push away the Australian deaths as just another bush fire. This is a big sign. Parts of the world are beginning to burn fiercely due to climate change. The same has already happened last year in California, with more than a thousand fires in a short period, as you might remember. More to come there, and throughout the West. American scientists like Jonathan Overpeck are certain this is the start of the long drying, that may last hundreds of years. It is possible that tens of millions of Americans will have to abandon the South West in this century, and perhaps in the next few decades.

All the climate-killed pine forests of British Columbia will also burn. Vast valleys of dead trees await the heat and the spark.

The Brook interview is followed by a music collage of world deserts expanding. Quotes of the expanding Sahara, Chinese deserts, Mongolia, and then the U.S. South West (per Dr. Jonathan Overpeck of Arizona U).

The fact is, folks, the tropics are expanding due to human induced climate change. That's bad news for all those hundreds of millions of humans currently in the expanding sub-tropics. Because where the tropics end, so does the moisture, leading to new bands of dying trees, drylands, and then deserts. The American South West is no exception.

Witness the incredible statements by Dr. Steven Chu, Obama's new Energy Secretary. He told the Los Angeles Times on Feb 4th that there may be no agriculture in California by the end of this century. He doesn't see how the great California cities can survive either. The water supply in the mountains is no longer coming. There will not be enough water to keep the California civilization going - and with it, the largest source of agricultural products (that means food!) in North America. Not small news.

The clips that help bring it all home are set to "Making Deserts In A Day" by The Henry Gorman Band.

In the second half of this Radio Ecoshock Show: guest host KMO (host of
C-Realm Podcast) interviews Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of "The Upside of Down" & now "Carbon Shift".

I think this is a really important interview. Homer-Dixon explains how collapse is part of Nature, and how that might apply to our current economic collapse. It's something I hadn't thought of - although I'm not sure I agree with Homer-Dixon's apparent conclusions. What do you think?

Homer-Dixon is one of the few thinkers to really draw Peak Oil, climate change, and economic collapse together in a coherent way. I'm happy that Kay Emmo does such a good job with the interview, sitting back when it counts, to get answers to deep questions. That's one of the things I enjoy about "KMO's" podcasts. He gets great guests - and manages to get them enthused about their topic on air. Most of them thank HIM for the interview! Me too.

KMO's efforts also show what a group effort Radio Ecoshock has become. I've had so many great tips from listeners - and I'm pleasantly suprised at what a talented bunch of communicators listen to the show. We have enviro journalists, politicians, scientists, activists, bloggers, radio people, a whole gang of people. I recognize that many of my listeners have more expertise, or talent, than I do. Thanks for the tips people send by email. The address is in the show.

Also in the music mix this week: the background music is "Strategy" by Paul Dickow of Portland. The end music showcase is Canadian Andre Ethier with a clip from "Infant King". I have another of Andre's songs on tap for next week.

Ecoshock 090213 1 hour
CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)


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