Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Has The World Gone Crazy, Or Is It Just Me?

Journalist and scientist Andrew Freedman: what new science is saying about freaky 2013 weather. Plus Dr. Kathy McMahon "the Peak Oil Shrink." Kathy tells us about Nicole Foss, "sucky collapse", and a surprising turn in her own life. Radio Ecoshock 130206

Remember normal winters? Actually, anyone under the age of 26 has never seen one. Maybe we thought global warming would just add a bit more slush. But January 2013 showed us what "climate disruption" can really do. One January day, people in Chicago were out jogging in 60 degree heat, 15 degrees C, with no snow. Just 30 hours later the temperature dropped 60 degrees F and more, with an Arctic blast for a couple of days.

It's been a strange, strange month in the Northern Hemisphere. Here to help us figure out what is going on, we have Andrew Freedman. He's the senior science writer for the respected blog "Climate Central". Andrew is a professional reporter, published widely, and holds a Masters in Climate and Society from Columbia University.

Then you'll join me for a talk with a shrink. With all the bad news, we sure need one. Kathy McMahon is the "Peak Oil Shrink", a clinical psychologist who specializes in energy, climate, and the recovery that looks more like a Depression every day. Kathy tells us about Nicole Foss, "sucky collapse", and a surprising turn in her own life.

Time on and off the couch, with Radio Ecoshock. I'm your audio companion, Alex Smith.


The Radio Ecoshock Show February 6th, 2013 1 hour in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)

My interview with Andrew Freedman, Senior Science writer at Climate Central (20 min) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

The Radio Ecoshock interview with "Peak Oil Shrink" Kathy McMahon (37 min) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Music Credit: "Whose World Is This?" Jim Page.


Andrew Freedman is the senior science writer for the respected blog "Climate Central". Andrew is a professional reporter, published widely, and holds a Masters in Climate and Society from Columbia University.

Andrew Freedman

Freedman tells us Minneapolis, in the Northern State of Minnesota, finally broke a record streak of more than 4 years without going below zero degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 17 degrees C. That stuns me. That is nothing like the northern states winters I grew up with. And it's been really, really strange in Chicago.

People have been enjoying record winter heat, especially in 2012, and then they get battered by weather from some Arctic Hell. In fact, one day the news reported it was warmer at the North Pole than in the northern United States. How could that happen?

We go to the science behind this, starting with something called a "sudden stratospheric warming event". Andrew explains in this great article, which includes a good graphic showing how a dome of warmer air over the Arctic split the cold and pushed it further south.

I picked up on that story January 15th courtesy of this article in the Daily Kos.

Then we discuss one of the big scientific theories out there explaining the strange weather patterns. It was advanced by Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University. She describes observations connecting the massive sea ice melt in the Arctic with disruptions of the Jet Stream that determine much of our weather.

You can download my September 10th, 2012 interview with Jennifer Francis in CD Quality here, or in faster downloading, lower quality Lo-Fi here.

My blog for that program on the Arctic ice melt, including Francis plus Mark Serreze of the National Snow and Ice Data Center and Arctic specialist scientist Cecilia Bitz (University of Washington) is here.

I've just watched a long video on You tube with Dr. Francis updating her research, at the Climate and Weather conference in Breckenridge, Colorado in early January 2013. She and her team found more evidence that the Jet Stream has changed. If you want to keep up to date with this science, put some time into that video.

More details on that conference presentation by Francis here.

In fact, in my Radio Ecoshock interview with Jennifer Francis, she objected to me calling her paper a "theory". She says it is really just about observations of events already seen.

Here are two important articles about freaky weather science in early 2013, by our guest Andrew Freedman at Climate Central.

1. Not reported by most mainstream news, there was a giant Atlantic storm in January. Andrew reported it here, and the Washington Post Capital Weather Gang did a decent job on it too.

2. Andrew Freedman was also contacted by other scientists who said there could be a tropical link to the strange winter weather. Find that story here, and learn about something called the Madden-Julian Oscillation, or MJO. I didn't know about it until now.

I learned a lot from Andrew, and hope to have him back on Radio Ecoshock.


Listener-supported Radio Ecoshock isn't selling anything. If you've been thinking about helping this program keep going, now is a good time. Find out how, at our web site, ecoshock.org.


Kathy McMahon

Has Peak Oil been postponed by fracking, the Tar Sands and deep sea drilling? Why does our society seem crazier by the day?

Do millions of people hope this system will collapse? How do they cope when it doesn't? How will any of us live with the never-ending bad news about climate change? How do we really feel inside?

For a way to find answers, it's time to check in with the original Peak Oil shrink.

Dr. Kathy McMahon is a clinical psychologist. She is recognized internationally for her writing about the psychological impacts of Peak Oil, climate change, and economic collapse. In October 2010, I interviewed Kathy about the "pathological optimism" of people who think this fossil economy will just go on forever, like a 1950's TV show.

Here is a description of that speech and interview with Kathy in 2010:

PEAK OIL VS PATHOLOGICAL OPTIMISM Why are we "the Doomers" for thinking oil is limited? Clinical psychologist Kathy McMahon ("the Peak Shrink") finds people all over the world are worried about fossil civilization collapsing. In this hot new speech, get answers for our own sanity, in a crazy world. Recorded by Alex Smith. Ecoshock 101029 1 hour CD Quality 56 MB or Lo-Fi 14 MB. End music "End of the Age of Oil" by David Rovics. Extra 20 min interview Alex and Kathy here.


Keep up to date with Kathy McMahon at her Peak Oil Blues blog here!

In this new in-depth Radio Ecoshock interview, we talk about the way aging baby boomers tend to clog up the airwaves and group thinking. Then we look at the plight of young people captured by big student debt. Check out Kathy's excellent article about the stress of student debt here.

Our main topic though is what Kathy calls "Sucky Collapse". It isn't zombies or fighting in the street. It's the slow and tortuous decline of so many things we take for granted. We hear about someone being assigned a second job, with the same pay, and fewer benefits. The cans of soup cost the same, but they are smaller. While we are waiting for some big event, money is worth less, and gas costs more, until the whole system kind of sucks us down.

I first heard Kathy talk about "sucky collapse" on the "C-Realm" podcast by KMO. That's a good place to check, find KMO's interview with Kathy here. Thanks for the idea, KMO!

Nicole Foss, also known as Stoneleigh from the popular financial blog The Automatic Earth just visited Kathy. We get that inside scoop on what Nicole is like, and what she's up to. Kathy will bring out her own personal interview with Nicole soon. And Nicole has a new 4 DVD set of her speeches and more. Check that out here.

Kathy says we need happiness in our individual lives, even if the larger world is grim. Is your own area overpopulated? If not, maybe it's good to have a child. Get it? Dont' confuse your personal life with the global situation. They are related but not the same!

This is your only time on Earth, you have a RIGHT to seek happiness, to live fully as you can, as ethically as you can, but live it! Don't give up when everyone else does.

It's a deep and helpful interview. If any of you have time to create a transcript, I know that would be useful. Email me first, so we don't waste time with duplicate effort. My email address is radio [at] ecoshock.org


Next week on Radio Ecoshock, we'll have more science of course. I'll be talking with one of the big brains on biodiversity, Dr. Thomas Lovejoy. He introduced the world to the word "biodiversity", helped found the PBS series "Nature", has advised Presidents, the World Bank and much more.

But we'll also go back to psychology and even (gasp!) spirituality. Why? It seems even when we know the facts, humans don't act. We'll explore those mental blocks, and the people who get past all that, with the popular speaker, author, and adviser Dr. Carolyn Baker.

Thank you for lending your brain toward recognition and real recovery. As Kathy McMahon said, we have but one life to live.

Grab lots of free audio from our web site. Please donate or subscribe to the program if you can. More info

. I'm Alex Smith, saying: be kind to yourself, take it day at a time, and find others to help you through the big change.

We go out the way we came in, with Seattle's Jim Page singing "Who's World Is This?"

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