Thursday, April 30, 2009


This is Radio Ecoshock with Alex Smith.

The bad news just keeps on coming. Just as America began to recognize torture, swine flu wipes away the slate. Everybody just wants to talk about pandemic.

We know pandemics will come. More than half the world's population live in crowded slums without sanitation or clean water. The true population of Mexico City, for example, is unknown. Best guesses run between twenty five and thirty million people. Most of them have no medical care or knowledge about disease. All of them are just a few connections and an airline trip away from you and your neighbors.

The only mystery is how the richest countries thought they could ignore the masses of the miserable, and get away with it. The United Nations and population experts announce that Earth's human population will stabilize around nine billion people, from the current six and a half. That's not going to happen.

We are already way past Earth's carrying capacity. Only our treasure chest of oil has allowed the arrival of billions more humans. In Mexico, for example, oil wealth has fueled the economy - and now that's running out. The Mexican population has doubled since 1950, in a country that is mostly dry and unproductive. Oil-based fertilizers and oil drive pumps have turned some dry lands into large-scale hydroponic production. The land just holds the roots, while we poor oil fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides into the soy, rice, and vegetables. Most of that goes North to North American tables in the winter time.

Now Mexico's largest oil field has peaked. Production already dropped by 10 percent, and will decline rapidly. Meanwhile, the climate heads toward even higher heat and drought. In the coming decade, tens of millions of Mexicans must either starve or migrate North as climate refugees. They will do both.

Swine flu, economic crash, homelessness, peak oil, it all sweeps over us. I think we are, as a species, becoming even more crazy. We'll see it in headlines, You tube, and all around us.

In my opinion, the underlying driver, the really big fear unbalancing it all - is this horrible truth: our atmosphere is polluted and our climate has tipped. Slowly, deeply, humans know this. They see strange weather, birds and flowers coming at the wrong times, power storms, fires, and floods welling up. We begin to know, and we can hardly stand to know.

We are going straight to one of the top scientists in Australia, where climate change is not just a topic of conversation. It's already happening - an outbreak of climate fever that burns and floods its way across a whole continent. As it will every continent. You are about to hear one of the few scientists determined to tell us the awful truth.

[Interview with Andrew Glikson]

Here are the links for more:


40 scientists write: Climate disaster, an urgent challenge

The war against science while Rome is burning
16 April 2009
Guest post by Andrew Glikson (Andrew is an Earth and paleo-climate scientist, Australian National University who has contributed regularly to Brave New Climate).

AUDIO: A WARNING FROM THE PAST Past greenhouse worlds, quick climate shifts, and mass extinctions caused by changes to the atmosphere. Dr. Andrew Glikson studies space impacts, volcanoes, and past climates. This speech from Australia National University explains current shift toward a hot-state planet - much faster than ever before. Ecoshock Show 080704 1 hour

Slides for that speech here.

Our guest host in the second half hour - on invisible homeless women - is Allart. She produces another weekly program on CFRO FM in Vancouver called "Dynamic Health."
Find it here.


In the back pages, the biggest banks, which just recently declared phony profits, are told they need hundreds of billions more, to back up their shaky loans, to have any hope of paying back ordinary depositors. These same banks are being sued in many states and countries for malfeasance. The giant State of California pension fund says it was misled by the big names of Wall Street.

In Italy, prosecutors have seized around $300 million dollars in assets from JPMorgan Chase, the Swiss-American giant UBS, Deutsche Bank and others. Those companies have been charged with fraud, after the city of Milan was persuaded risky swaps on 2.2 billion in municipal bonds were safe. Then, like municipalities all over the United States, and in many parts of the world, they lost big time in the crash.

Don't miss this story. Libraries and hospitals will close because of Wall Street crime. Municipalities have been hit badly, and saddled with a new generation of debt, as the banksters made off with their multi-billion dollar fees and bonuses on bogus financial paper. As journalist and blogger Danny Schechter said on our program, it's time for Jail Outs, not Bail Outs.

There is no doubt that capitalism is crashing. Unbelievably, the car workers, through their pension funds, may take over General Motors and Chrysler. The retired will now get almost worthless stock instead of the billions those companies owed their pension funds. I don't think either company will survive as anything other than niche memory makers. Financial insiders are already doubting whether any of the big pensions funds - not just auto workers, but municipal, teachers, private company pension fund - all of it may go bust in the coming years. The government is supposed to step in and guarantee all those pensions - but governments too are already bankrupt.

Later in this program we are going to investigate the unreported plight of homeless women. Being without a home is tough, but it's double jeopardy for women, especially older women. You will hear that most women, even those in the Middle and Upper Class, even Oprah, fear deep down they may become homeless.

How do women handle it? Where are they, when TV cameras show us lines of unemployed men at the shelters? Investigative reporter Allart uncovers homeless women with front-line worker Judy Graves, in our second half hour.

Allart interviews Judy Graves. It turns out most women fear becoming homeless one day. They may lose a spouse to death or divorce, or need to leave in a hurry due to abuse or alcoholism. Millions of women are losing their jobs in the economic crisis, and those 45 and older are wondering whether they will get employment again. Many face a life of poverty, despite their University degree and Middle Class background.

How will they cope? It's tough for a man on the streets, but much harder for women. Most avoid it by living in their cars, moving back with family, or couch surfing (sometimes with a sexual price to pay). Listen to Judy Graves, Tenant Assistance worker for the City of Vancouver, who has worked with homeless and suddenly homeless women since the mid-1970's.

Even Oprah has admitted she fears becoming homeless. I've asked women around me, and they secretly harbor the same fear of becoming "a bag lady." Both men and women need to hear this moving interview, which followed the film "It Was A Wonderful Life" - dead on the topic of how homeless women struggle to stay invisible in the big city and small towns.

This week's music theme is "Where We Gonna Go" from Ellis Music Productions. Our web site I'm Alex Smith. Adios muchachos.

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