Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Burying the Future: Tars Sands, Pipelines, & Melting Arctic

Canadian scientist Paul Beckwith explains how the Arctic warming emergency is changing your weather. But first, the story of an anti-pipeline media warrior, John Bolenbaugh in his own words. The leaks, scandals and deaths behind Tar Sands pipelines. Radio Ecoshock 130424 1 hour.


Listen to/download the John Bolenbaugh interview (27 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Listen to/download the Paul Beckwith interview (28 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Feel free to pass on or share those links. For Net use, most people prefer the faster loading/downloading Lo-Fi version.


John Bolenbaugh, anti-pipeline warrior.

Are you sick of hearing about Tar Sands pipelines, from the Gateway project to the Keystone XL? Maybe you should hear from the people who are sick and dying from a leaking pipeline.

Watch this short video of sick residents.

I'm calling up John Bolenbaugh. He's a decorated Navy vet now qualified with Federal Emergency Management Agency, trained to clean up spills. John was hired after the Enbridge pipeline in Kalamazoo, Michigan had the biggest inland spill in the United States. That was on July 25, 2010 - but the cleanup and the story are far from over.

At his web site, John writes:

"...he exposed the truth with video proof, the fact that the Enbridge Company never cleaned up the oil; how they covered it up instead. One year after the oil spill, Enbridge and the EPA said that your kids could swim in the river, and that it was clean enough for you to eat the fish.

Two years later, in 2013, the EPA ordered Enbridge to re-dredge the Kalamazoo river, which cost Enbridge $175,000,000 dollars and proved that both Enbridge AND the EPA lied about the clean-up: The OIL IS STILL THERE. This makes it clear that tarsands oil is nearly impossible to clean up. John is also responsible for proving that over 12 tarsands oil spill sites were still contaminated, needing to be re-dredged, after the EPA and Enbridge had already signed off on them as 100% cleared, cleaned and restored in 2010.

John tells us how he got NPR and the Canadian CTV network to follow him as he demonstrated the oil was still there. Under media pressure, the EPA recently ordered the company to clean up the river.



At 5 min 38 seconds of this video, a Nebraska land-owner claims there is a 1.5% leakage allowed in these pipelines with no need to report on it...

John tells us he heard about that, but didn't see proof until he visited Keystone XL protesters in Nebraska. He was shown web pages from the site of Transcanada Pipeline saying they can't even detect a spill until the pipeline pressure drops at least 1.5%. So there can be lots of bitumen oozing out of faulty welds, nobody knows, nobody reports it, until it starts showing up in the land, water, or a major aquifer.

Transcanada is now controlled by a conglomerate of Chinese corporations. Forget the "Canada" part. Bolenbaugh wonders if China is also interested in gaining rights to the aquifer water (30% of America's fresh water supply by some accounts) via this Keystone XL deal.

Remember, tar sands bitumen is so sticky is doesn't flow like oil. If normal motor oil has a viscosity of 5 or 6, bitumen is at least 11 on the same scale. They heat the pipeline, they pressurize it with pumps, and the companies mix in many, many other chemicals, including toxic benzene, to keep it flowing. All that comes out in small leaks, and big spills.

Bolenbaugh says this mixture from the tar sands is like sandpaper, always wearing away at any weakness in the line. That's what makes the recent crazy to repurpose old pipelines, and natural gas pipelines, to move tar sands bitumen - so crazy! The big spill in Arkansas is a case in point.


In late March, a pipeline built in the 1940's and owned by Exxon broke open in Arkansas near the community of Mayflower. While initial estimates said 5,000 barrels spilled, State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel now says the leak was much larger.

At first Exxon tried to say it wasn't tar sands bitumen from Alberta. Then the truth came out.


Exxon, really Exxon/Mobil, is possibly the world's most profitable corporation, making as much as tens of billions of dollars profit every quarter. But this oil behemoth says it doesn't have to pay for the cleanup because technically it wasn't oil, but bitumen. Under U.S. law, all oil companies pay a certain amount per gallon into a spill cleanup fund. But the legislation technically refers to "oil" and Exxon says bitumen from the Alberta tar sands isn't "oil" - so the world's most profitable company is ducking the bill for this nasty spill. We'll see who ends up paying millions for this "cleanup".

Exxon also claims the oil has not reached the nearby lake, just the "cove" of the lake. Arkansas authorities point out the "cove" is part of the lake. The horror is: this bitumen does not float on top of water, as normal oil or gasoline does, but sinks to the bottom. The entire bottom of any affected river, lake, or presumably in the case of ocean tankers, the sea bed, has to be dug up. Imagine the ecological consequences, cost, and impossibility of really restoring natural habitat.

John Bolenbaugh notes Exxon claimed they shut off their pumping stations within half an hour of the Arkansas spill report. What the company doesn't say is the line will continue to gush out bitumen for a long time, as up to 50 miles of pipeline empties by gravity. It's hard to say how much really came out.

It takes a lot of heat and pressure, plus a toxic mix of poisonous chemicals just to make tar sands bitumen flow. So why are oil companies putting that combination in old, old pipelines? Because they can't get approval to build new ones? John says it works out economically better for these companies to keep pumping, even knowing a spill will happen eventually, since insurance will pay for the cleanup and any lost profits. I haven't confirmed that. Still, it sounds like the nuclear industry: push the the old pipelines until they break, rather than replace them.


John had a whistle-blower lawsuit against the smaller contractor that hired him for the cleanup, after he outed the Kalamazoo Michigan spill. Bolenbaugh tells us the suit was settled. He got some money, without having to keep quiet. John says he spent all that money, and sold the truck he bought to visit other pipeline sites, to pay for protest t-shirts and signs (which he gave away free), and to travel to support people in places like Nebraska.

Now he's broke, and is appealing for donations, in part to help him get to Arkansas to help those people.

I know John is not perfect. But based on what I've seen of John's activism, he should be helped. Bolenbaugh is playing a vital role, helping others defend themselves against spills and abuse by large corporations. He's the real deal.

You can donate at his web site.

Here are some select John Bolenbaugh You tube videos:

1. Testimony of a Police Officer and oil spill victim

2. Environmental inspector calls Enbridge a liar

3. One of many John Bolenbaugh video proofs of buried oil and attempts to stop him from filming


On March 11th, 2013, over 100 young people invaded the offices of Transcanada Pipeline in Westborough Massachutsetts to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline. They carried a coffin to symbolize the Tar Sands burying our future.

Watch and hear the "Digging Us A Hole song" in this You tube video.

More info here.

Music and lyrics by: Melodeego. Hear the whole song, with improved audio, in this Radio Ecoshock program.


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U of Ottawa scientist Paul Beckwith.

While we were fed news about a new Pope, the economic breakdown on the little island of Cyprus, and two crazy bombers in Boston - a major event occurred unreported in the Arctic. It's a very bad sign.

Let's go back to Paul Beckwith. He's the PHD student and part-time professor of climatology and meteorology at the University of Ottawa, in Canada. Paul is also a member of AMEG, the Arctic Methane Emergency Group.

Paul sent me a disturbing video, of the Arctic ice north of Canada and Alaska during the part of winter which should be frozen solid. Instead, we see a mega-vortex of breaking ice, with large cracks of open water. Yes, cracks in the winter ice have happened before, but never on such a scale! The only explanation is that after the 2012 record breakdown of Arctic sea ice, the much thinner regrowth has become unstable.

See the NOAA video based on satellite imagery here.

You can also listen to this excellent interview with AMEG scientist and Cambridge polar specialist Peter Wadhams. Hear how much thinner ice is now, than in the 1970's or even the year 2,000. It's from the Alpha2Omega podcast. Great interview.

Paul Beckwith wrote about this incident in the Beaufort Sea, and what the disappearance of Arctic sea ice (in summer) really means for all of us, in this blog entry.


Beckwith says it is possible the Arctic sea ice cover could disappear this summer, in 2013! Even NOAA, the U.S. government agency, now predicts the Arctic Ocean will be "nearly ice-free" possibly within the next 10 years. They say "nearly" because small bits of ice may hang around the protected Canadian archipeligo (islands) - even while the rest of the polar sea is wide open, and sucking up the Sun's heat.

Paul notes that if you take the same amount of solar energy it takes to melt one gram of ice, and apply that to that water, the water goes up about 80 degrees C!

It's a huge heating affect, which will change the "air-conditioner of the world". With less temperature difference between the Pole and the Equator, the Jet Stream winds that separate our weather systems slow down and become more wavy. Beckwith explains how that brought the recent record cold spring to the UK and parts of Eastern Europe. Is it coincidence, Beckwith wonders, that there was an excess mortality in the UK this spring of more than 5,000 people? The final figures aren't in, but it's possible we are already seeing climate-caused deaths in Britain.

Weather in the Eastern part of the U.S. and Canada also went wonky this year, with late snows and record flooding.

You get an in-depth interview where science begins to make sense for all of us. Paul Beckwith is a cutting edge scientist at the University of Ottawa in Canada. He's willing to speak out. For example, Beckwith wonders whether the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) will stick with models that show Arctic ice disappearing after 2050 - even if it breaks up this year or next? The models have fallen far short of reality, again.


If the Arctic goes ice free, then a group of heavy duty scientists suggest we may have to spray sulfur aerosols into the Arctic, just to save the remaining ice cap - while humans figure out what to do! Yep, that's geoengineering, and I am against geoengineering. But I don't see any good choices here.

Check out this short video with top scientist Ken Caldiera. He too supports saving the Arctic ice with geoengineering.

Other scientists have severe doubts about this kind of geoengineering, saying it could have unforseen consequences. For example, Jim Haywood from the UK's Met Office Hadley Centre just wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change: such fine particles sprayed into the atmosphere could increase horrible droughts in the Sahel region of North Africa.

Even talking about spraying sulfur from airplanes will trigger another popular Internet meme: that governments have been secretly spraying materials into the atmosphere for years. It's the chemtrail conspiracy theory.

So a move to save the Arctic ice doesn't happen on a blank social canvass. A whole group of Net -connected people already suspect it is happening, and may whip up opposition, not understanding the science or consequences at all. Others think global warming is not caused by burning fossil fuels, but by a plot by world bankers through the US government HAARP radio transmitters in Alaska. So there is warming, they way, but we can just keep on driving our SUV's! Any form of denial will do.

My take on HAARP is the U.S. military (and the Russians have a similar project) would LIKE to be able to send storms against an adversay, but probably have not yet managed to do it. I totally doubt (my opinion) the HAARP project is seriously meddling with weather on a day-to-day basis, as claimed by some of the You tube posters. There is zero science to back that up.

By the way, governments ARE openly involved in some kinds of climate modification. Just look at the efforts by China to seed clouds during their drought in Northern China. Plus, the U.S. military HAS published documents about using weather as a weapon of war. Are we already modifying the weather?

Back in the real world, Beckwith points out the sulfur needed in the Arctic to shade that part of the planet a bit is far less than volcanoes emit, and even less than the many coal plants of the world emit every year. We are already geonengineering the planet by using fossil fuels. You decide - but listen to the interview!

I admit trouble comprehending what such a massive change on Earth really means. All through human history the northern Pole has been frozen solid year round. It's part of the story of early exploration, a taken-for-granted feature of Planet Earth. I'm just stunned that a new sea is opening up, even in summer. Are scientists as freaked out as I am? Apparently some are deeply worried.

Do you want to follow up on this? Here is a link to Paul Beckwith's blog on the Sierra Club of Canada site.

His bio says: "Paul Beckwith is a PhD student with the laboratory for paleoclimatology and climatology, department of geography, University of Ottawa. He teaches second year climatology/meteorology as a part-time professor. His thesis topic is “Abrupt climate change in the past and present.” He holds an M.Sc. in laser physics and a B.Eng. in engineering physics and reached the rank of chess master in a previous life."


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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Coping: Climate Anxiety, Preparing: Dehydrating Food

How to cope with climate despair. UK psychotherapist & co-founder of Carbon Conversations, Rosemary Randall. Then a practical alternative to industrial food: learn to dehydrate in season with traditional cooking expert Wardeh Harmon. Radio Ecoshock 130417 1 hour.

Listen to/download this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)

Listen to/download my interview with Wardeh Harmon on food dehydration (23 min) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Listen to/download the Rosemary Randall interview on coping with climate change (29 min)


Our music this week is another tune from the Australian band Formidable Vegetable Sound System. From the album "Permaculture: A Rhymer's Manual" this is "Limits".



What if you woke up one morning and realized humans really have changed the world's climate? We show no signs of stopping this unfolding catastrophe. Maybe you already see it, and cannot bear knowing.

We need help. And a pioneering psychotherapist from Britain says we can help each other. Starting in 2005, Rosemary Randall was was part of a team founding a movement called "Carbon Conversations".

We have a conversation with her now on Radio Ecoshock. You can find "Ro" Randall's blog here.

The Carbon Conversations organization has become widespread. It links up people who want to talk about climate change, and puts them into six meet-ups which use the ideas from psychotherapy to talk through their fears and emotions. But it doesn't stop there. Each person develops their own plan to reduce their carbon emissions. It's a movement that needs to happen big-time in North America, and all over the world.

Rosemary Randall tells us about her pivotal paper "Loss and climate change: the cost of parallel narratives" found here.

The "parallel narratives" is best explained by Rosemary in our interview, but in a nutshell: media and scientists paint an awful picture of what will happen in the future due to climate change; meanwhile we try to live "normal" lives, ignoring the fact that climate change is not a future event, but is already happening now. This disconnection between our every day lives and the awful future actually reduces our motivation to make the large changes necessary (or at least fits in with our comfortable carbon lives?).

So when we focus on the Arctic melting by 2020, or the end of coral by 2050, that may also be a form of denial that cripples real action. Climate damage is happening right now!

Please listen to the interview to get a better explanation from Rosemary. It's important stuff and all too true.

I can't tell you how many times friends and listeners have fallen back on the model of coping with the ultimate loss of death, developed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Does that work well for the end of a loved and stable climate? Randall says "no". the Kubler-Ross formula was developed for people who were dying. We need a way to handle the burden of knowing, while we keep on living. So Randall finds more help from a formula developed by William Worden, among others.

J. William Worden wrote the book "Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy" where he outlined "the four tasks of mourning".

Randall has adapted them for dealing with climate change, where we mourn disappearing species, changed places, lost stability of weather, sea level, and so on.

I'd like to pass on two things from that paper. First, we have this helpful table of four steps, each of which can go positive or negative, depending on our choices.

Table 1. The tasks of grief. Adapted from Worden (1983)

1. The task : Accepting the reality of the loss, first intellectually and then emotionally.

Possible negative responses

Denial of the:

- facts of the loss;

- meaning of the loss;

- irreversibility of the loss.

2 The task: Working through the painful emotions of grief (despair, fear, guilt, anger, shame, sadness, yearning, disorganisation).

Possible negative responses

Shutting off all emotion, idealising what is lost, bargaining, numbing the pain through alcohol, drugs or manic activity.

3 The task: Adjusting to the new environment/acquiring new skills /developing a new sense of self.

Possible negative responses

Not adapting, becoming helpless, bitter, angry, depressed, withdrawing.

4 The task: Reinvesting emotional energy.

Possible negative responses

Refusing to love, turning away from life.


Then here is an example from the conclusion of that paper "Loss and climate change." Randall writes:

"My second example is from a public art project. The educational charity Memo is building a memorial on the Dorset coast, made from local Portland stone, to commemorate plants and animals known to have gone extinct in modern times. They describe it on their website:

'The memorial will be a stone monument bearing the images of all the species of plants and animals known to have gone extinct in modern times. It will incorporate a bell to be tolled for all extinct species, including the great many ‘unknown’ species which it is believed perish each year unseen by scientists. The bell will be tolled on the International Day of Biodiversity on 22nd May each year.'"

This memorial to the species project has not yet gone ahead, due to lack of funding. Find out more here, with glorious pictures.

The Independent newspaper in the UK published this powerful article about the Memo project (June 17, 2012)

In the end, Rosemary helps us to understand we are not alone in our anxiety about major changes to the climate, and thus the economy, food system, and the species we love. She offers a method and tips for coping with knowing how serious our situation is. This is already one of my favorite interviews of the year.


It's shocking so many city folk say they are not interested in cooking or preserving food. Don't they eat? Don't they read the headlines about toxic factory agriculture and fast-food restaurants? The awful wave of food-related diseases like diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, obesity, and colon cancer are the result.

Plus, we can save a lot of money, and tons of greenhouse gas emissions, when we grab food cheap when it's fresh, putting it away for times to come.

One of the easiest and best ways to store food is dehydrating. Humans have been doing it for thousands of years. You can too.

Our guest Wardee Harmon lives in rural Oregon. She serves up a wide variety of cooking and preserving courses online from the mysteriously named We're going to get some good tips from Wardee about drying food.

I can think of so many reasons to have good dried foods around. Someone may get sick, and need fast ready foods. We hope there won't be a big emergency like a power-outage from storms, but that is happening more these days. There really are too many advantages to list them all.

The importance of choosing organic whole foods is obvious. But the "grown locally in season" is so important too. A population who depends on fruit flown in from South America or New Zealand is in for some rude surprises, don't you think?


I asked Wardee about the online traditional cooking courses she offers at That's the same as site, but much easier to remember.

In Wardee's courses, you watch online videos, but also end up with print-it-yourself binders and logs. Knowing how fallible my own memory can be, especially after a year has gone by, keeping track really does seem important.

By the way, GNOWFGLINS stands for "God's natural, organic, whole foods, grown locally, in season".

Wardee let me try out her Gnowfglins course on dehydration, which is still in development. There are about 7 classes so far. Each one has at least one video, showing us how to do things (very helpful). That is accompanied by written documentation and worksheets which we can download and print, to create our own course binders. Other courses also have some audio as well.

Basically, you buy a monthly or annual membership to the Gnowfglins site, which lets you take all the courses plus get help from others in the members-only forums. There was some really good advice in those forums. Most of the participants are women.

I'm hoping more men will get involved in cooking and preserving food. The health statistics clearly show on average mens' diet leads to more health complications later in life, - and we die younger. Can we get more men back into the food dialog, and into the kitchen? If you want to be self-sufficient, it doesn't get any better than being able to prepare, cook, and store your own food.


I want to thank my own source for this interview. I first heard Wardee Harmon on the "Get Real Get Prepared" radio show with Vikilynn Haycraft from That was a great show Vikilynn. Listen to/download Vikilynn and Wardee Harmon talking dehydration here (Saturday March 13, 2013). The show description is here.

Wardee has own show on the Preparedness Broadcasting Network.

Here is an episode of "Know Your Food with Wardee" from April 12th, 2013. It features her meet-up with Gnowfglins folk in Arizona.

There is a prepper network in Canada too. It has handy how-to sensible advice, just as you would expect from Canadians.

The American version seems more prone to God, Guns, and a hidden food supply.


Since we talk about the best food dehydrators in our Radio Ecoshock interview, I'm tossing in this You tube video of a comparison of food dehydrators from recent Radio Ecoshock guest John Kohler. Check that out before you get started.

Watch this You tube comparison of Excalibur and Sedona food dehydrators by John Kohler.

Many people start with the far cheaper plastic round dehydrators from places like Walmart. These do work, and may be a good place to try things out - BUT food tends to drip downward into the heater and fan (which you have to clean up), and they can't dry much at a time. Once you get hooked on food dehydration, you'll want a better machine. Many people say The Exalibur 3900 is the best. It's been around for over ten years, with good reviews. I've concluded city folk starting out should go with counter-top electric dehydrators, unless you are going to get bushels of fruit or veggies at a time. Many of us don't have room for an extra out-building to dry. But a solar food drier should be our ultimate goal if we have the right climate for it. It's natural and adds no greenhouse gases.

The food dehydrating and canning season starts right now. The aparagus and rhubarb are starting to come into the markets at seasonal low prices. In my area, rhubarb costs less than $2.50 cents a pound in the spring, compared to over $5 a pound in late fall and winter. It's a half price sale for anyone ready to preserve natural foods at their best.


The new edition from Sally Fallon and Mary Enig is: "Nourishing Traditions" Revised Second Edition, October 2000.

Here is Part 1 or three from a DVD Video with Sally Fallon on You tube. She is a powerful speaker.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is very critical of the Fallon/Price diet recommendations for meat and fats, especially the Price Foundation suggestion that high cholesterol is good for us.

Here is a big long video (2 hours) of Sally Fallon on "The Oiling of America" re cholesterol and cholesterol lowering drugs.

For a shorter meal, try Sally Fallon on breakfast cereal (extreme cruelty to our grains andthe effects of eating extruded grains) 6 minutes


I asked Wardee Harmon what she meant by "Traditional Cooking". There is more to it. Wardee credits Sally Fallon, co-author of the influential 1989 book "Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats".

Sally and co-author Mary G. Enig co-founded the Weston A. Price Foundation.

According to Wikipedia, Weston Price was, "a dentist from Cleveland, Ohio, whose 1939 book, 'Nutritional and Physical Degeneration', describes the fieldwork he did in the 1920s and 1930s among various world cultures, with the original goal of recording and studying the dental health and development of pre-industrial populations including tribal Africans and Pacific islanders, Inuit, North and South American natives, and Australian aborigines."

You can watch a You tube video of Sally Fallon explaining how Weston Price judged a person's general health by the condition of their teeth. He visited various pre-industrial people and concluded their diets were the main reason their teeth were generally better formed, with fewer cavities than people living in Western economies.

The science behind the writing comes from the other major player in the Weston A Price Foundation, nutritionist Mary G. Enig. She's the real deal, with a PHD in Nutritional Sciences, experience in research labs, and published scientific papers.

However Enig's theory of the benefits of fatty foods, including butter and coconut oil, and her contrarian views that cholesterol does not lead to heart disease, has earned her criticism from other scientists.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is very critical of the Fallon/Price diet recommendations for meat and fats, especially the Price Foundation suggestion that high cholesterol is good for us.


Fallon and Enig also take up Weston Price's promotion of fermented foods used by many ancient cultures, as an aid to full digestion of both plant and animal products. You may think of sauerkraut, but there is a whole universe of fermented foods out there. Our guest Wardee Harmon has a new book out on it "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods". I know little about this, and Wardee has promised to send me a copy. I'll let you know if I try out some of her recipes.


Sally Fallon has a devastating critique of soy products, especially soy milk. The Weston A. Price Foundation lobbies against the use of soy formula for infants. My opinion is: she is correct in this.

Both Fallon and Enig are major forces behind the push to legalize raw milk. They claim pasteurization kills off beneficial nutrients and reduces our immunity. Personally, I just don't know enough to judge those claims. It's my opinion, and nothing more than an opinion, that most mammals stop drinking milk as they mature, and probably we should too. Wardee says the Bible talks about milk drinking, which is an authority for her, and certainly proof that humans have been drinking milk for thousands of years.

From an environmental standpoint, the whole industrial milk system is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and should be avoided on a mass scale, except for those few people who have pasture land to manage their own cows or goats organically and properly. As we know from Allan Savory, whose work was just featured on Real Time with Bill Maher, proper management of cattle or sheep is one of the few proven tools to take carbon out of the atmosphere, and return it to the soil.

Industrial milk animals are also abused in many ways, and injected with chemicals and antibiotics. I use very few milk-like products, and pour almond milk on my cereal. I don't trust big agribiz meat either, and don't eat it.

Now you have a general idea of what Wardee Harmon means by "Traditional Cooking". Do I endorse all her views? No. Can I learn a ton of things about canning, dehydrating, and organic food prep from her. You bet.

I learned how to graft fruit trees from a Catholic Nun. Simple You tube videos produced by Mormon women helped me prepare my food insurance and live cheaper. So far, I haven't become a Nun or a Mormon. Learn from everybody, that's my motto.


Thank you for listening to Radio Ecoshock. A special thanks to those who supported the broadcast this week. That will help me attend the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup Washington at the start of June, to get a lot of how-to interviews for you. Find out how you can contribute here.

I'm Alex Smith. Let's meet again next week.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Green Seas, Good Food, Bad Numbers

Serial climate hacker Russ George's office raided. Nick Saul takes food banks to a whole new level - feeding citizens during tough times. UC Berkeley political scientist Dr. Martha Campbell - how economists & women's advocates helped enable the next population explosion. Radio Ecoshock 130410 1 hour.


Listen to/download this Radio Ecoshock show 1 hour in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)

Listen to/download the Nick Saul interview (26 min 30 sec) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Listen to/download download my Martha Campbell interview (25 min) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


In the summer of 2012, Russ George, formerly of Planktos Corporation, lead the West Coast Haida Nation into a plot to unilaterally dump 100 tons of iron dust into the Pacific Ocean off British Columbia, Canada.

Now the Haida Salmon Restoration Corp offices have been raided by the Canadian government. The raid happened just two days before the Canadian Broadcasting Corp aired a TV documentary about this ocean dumping, and the disappearing 2.5 million dollars from the Haida Nation. Radio Ecoshock was consulted during production.

Nick Saul is author of "The Stop: How The Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement". He developed a template of food justice for the millions in the West being mal-fed by food banks instead of empowered to grow. Includes Nick's notes on how Brazil does better than North Americans feeding the poor.

UC Berkeley Professor Martha Campbell says UN population theory, and the economists, have it all wrong. We can't wait for "development" to rein in population growth. That never happens when the average family size is five kids or greater. How environmentalists and women's groups went off the rails.

Now Ethiopia is headed for 150 million, and Nigeria will have more than the current U.S. population. What could go wrong?



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1. I'm booked to attend the Mother Earth News fair on June 1st and 2nd in Puyallup Washington. I hope to do a ton of interviews for you - but I could use some help for the gas money.

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Nick Saul, CEO of Community Food Centres (Canada)

Finding good food has become a kind of second job for all of us now, as the agri-business and fast-food empire serve up deadly fare. The left-overs from that giant system go to our poorest people through the food-banks. At least that's the old model.

How did food banks move from a stop-gap measure to an acceptable solution? Can they evolve into a real self-sustaining food movement?

Our guest Nick Saul has gone a long way down that road with an innovative food community in Toronto, Canada. With his wife Andrea Curtis, Nick has just published the new book "The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement".

In a nutshell, Nick describes the sad state of the food bank system. The food is not very healthy, and the "clients" are too often kept in degrading lines, with no input into the system.

Nick Saul transformed one food bank called "The Stop" in Toronto Canada. They began a community garden, to supplement the food and involve poor people in their own food production. Eventually they took over a former transit building to found the "Green Barn" which involves both production and a Farmer's Market. Health services and community were built into the system, partly run by those who needed the help.

Every city can and should do this. That is why after 14 years Nick left The Stop to lead a new organization called Community Food Centres. They are establishing multi-facet food for citizens in a program popping up already in several cities in Canada. It could be a model for any city.

Nick also tells us of the incredible difference in government attitude and support in Brazil. He visited there and found out how a fully-functioning food support system can work. Very inspiring. The book is well worth it.

I also took away the idea that if our current economic system collapses, which is a strong possibility, all of us may have to organize in the ways Nick Saul describes. That makes this an interview for everyone.

Is there a way forward beyond food banks? Can we live without them?

Don't think of this as a Canadian story, though it is that. I found the book has essential ideas for anyone in the Western world, who wants to see food justice done.


Professor Martha Campbell, University of California, Berkeley

It is unthinkable that Ethiopia could double it's population to 185 million people by 2050. But what if that does happen? Can anyone prevent it?

We continue our series on population growth versus the fragile environment. Our guest is a political scientist who specializes in population. Dr. Martha Campbell lectures in the School of Public Health at the University of California Berkeley. She founded and runs the non-profit group Venture Strategies for Health and Development.

I found Martha in an essay in the new book "Life on the Brink, Environmentalists Confront Population". Reading her article "Why the Silence on Population?" my jaw dropped by the second paragraph, where she listed population projections for some of the poorest nations. For example, Pakistan, is just 20% larger than Texas. It is a desert-like country dependent on one major river for water.

Pakistan had 41 million people when I was born, and now 185 million. By 2050, Pakistan is projected to have more people than the United States does now.

The United Nations makes these projections. Of course they don't presume a pandemic or massive starvation will intervene. I ask Martha about all that.

But in just one example, a lot of people think HIV/AIDS has reduced the population in some African countries. Not at all. People have reproduced faster than that disease has killed, especially now that new treatment drugs are becoming available.

Martha says the United Nations and many economists have the population problem all wrong. They say get the economy and education going, and population will level off. In reality, says Campbell, no country with an average family size of five children manages to become developed. The ever increasing kids swamp efforts to build schools, there is very high unemployment of young people, and the economy stalls. Population control comes first!

To emphasize that point, Campbell has written an article "Do Economists Have Frequent Sex?" to show how unreal the various predictions by economists have been on population.

Her other main paper I recommend is "The Impact of Freedom on Fertility Decline".

Why have environmentalists, including Greenpeace, Friends of Earth, and the Sierra Club fallen silent on population, even though the U.N. says the additional people are a fundamental driver of climate change? (No! It's not just consumption in the West!) We have a politically incorrect talk about the reality on the ground in too many countries. How religion, including the new Pope, is preventing population sanity. Why we must criticize part of a culture of patriarchy and failure. It's hot stuff.


Russ George, American businessman

There are many big worries about geoengineering as an alleged "solution" to climate change. Since this program began, I've warned that a single individual, say a billionaire, or a small group of people could decide unilaterally to alter the climate for all of us.

Regular listeners know this happened in the summer of 2012, as the unstoppable Russ George, formerly of Planktos Corporation, lead the West Coast Haida Nation into a plot to unilaterally dump 100 tons of iron dust into the Pacific Ocean off British Columbia, Canada.

Now the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation offices have been raided by the Canadian government. The raid happened just two days before the Canadian Broadcasting Corp aired a TV documentary about this ocean dumping, and the disappearing 2.5 million dollars from the Haida Nation.

Radio Ecoshock has been part of this story since 2006. The CBC program called me during production, and used some of my investigative journalism into this case of rogue climate hacking.

In 2007, I ran an hour-long interview with Russ, and another hour show with his critics. Along with George-watcher and investigative journalist Steve Krivit, we dug into the mysterious stock manipulation and promoters behind Planktos Corp. That company went bankrupt, a disaster for the investors who were promised fabulous returns on the carbon credits George promised would come from stimulating plankton with iron dust.


PLANKTOS: ALGAE SEEDING FOR CARBON CREDITS Company plans to create plankton blooms to capture CO2. Who are they, and will it work? Part 1: Radio Ecoshock full-show interview with Planktos CEO Russell George (56 MB 1 hr); Transcript of that 2007 Russ George interview here.

Part 2: "The Intervention" 3 critics respond + Alex Smith's take. (Ecoshock show - 56 MB 1 hr) Greenpeace (9 min)Science Unit, ETC Group (9 min), and David Baines (16 min)(newspaper business columnist.)

A description of the end of the Planktos venture is in this December 21, 2007 Radio Ecoshock Show

The new Russ George adventure with the Haida Salmon Restoration Corp. is in this program:

GEOENGINEERING THE OCEAN: SERIAL CLIMATE HACKING Climate hacker Russ George with indigenous Haida villagers dumps iron into the sea - in a secret geoengineering project off Canada's west coast. Press conference by Haida Old Massett Village; interview Karen Wristen Living Oceans; Alex investigates with real scientists; Russ George with Guardian's Martin Lukacs.

Radio Ecoshock 121024 1 hour CD Quality 56 MB or Lo-Fi 14 MB. Blog with links & transcripts here.

I interviewed Jim Thomas of the ETC Group about the ocean experiment in the Radio Ecoshock Show for October 17, 2012.

Exellent wrap-up on Russ George, in both nuclear fusion and plankton credit activities, by investigative reporter Steven B. Krivit.

Watch the CBC TV program Fifth Estate documentary on Russ George here. It's titled "The Iron Man".

When I investigated all this in 2007, another Russ George turned up - this one claiming to be an expert and inventor in the controversial field of cold fusion. Once again, Russ George became CEO of a company which promised to revolutionize energy and heating, while saving the world of course, by doing what had never been proven possible scientifically. I'm looking at a photo of the cold fusion furnace the company D2Fusion promised to deliver to hunrgy stock investors. There was no furnace. That company went bankrupt. Are we seeing a pattern here?

The question of fraud is so hard to prove, partly because it assumes the perpetrator knew a lie was being used for profit. But what if that person sees themselves as a well-intentioned visionary trying to save the environment, using the capitalist system? What if he actually believes his own mythology?


I presumed the Russ George story was over with the double bankruptcy. But he rose again. This time George used a relationship he built with the aboriginal people of Haida Gwaii in the early 2000's, again in a plot to sell carbon credits, this time by planting trees.

That fell through, but Russ George apparently pursuaded tribal leaders they could sequester carbon, and make millions of dollars, by seeding ocean plankton with algae. The theory, unproven by at least a half dozen experiments done by real scientists aboard multi-governmental research ships, was that the algae bloom would sink to the bottom with it's carbon.

Somehow the leadership of a tiny place called the Village of Old Massett cashed in previous government settlement money to raise $2.5 million dollars for a new try in the Pacific. If the villagers were not sold on carbon credits, the story changed. Now they would save the dwindling salmon, returning the fishing industry to the many unemployed native people.

In my Radio Ecoshock show for October 24, 2012 I found a scientist who disputed the whole basis of the Russ George theory of plankton starving for iron dust. Russ George is not a scientist, or even a University graduate, despite being called the Chief Scientist on last summer's ocean dumping experiment.

Canadian scientists say there is no way to prove the latest claims. The Canadian Government says Environment Canada advised the Haida Salmon Restoration group not to try it. Now the government has raided the offices. Russ George complains in his blog:

"Just days before Easter our small village research office in Vancouver was swarmed by 11 officers dressed in all black combat gear, armed and imposing beyond belief (similar to those in the photo above.). In the largest assault/raid in Environment Canada’s history the RAID team rushed into the office of 7 people, counting the 2 grandfathers and 2 women present."

What did he expect? - after breaking the moritorium on such experiments, agreed by the London Dumping Convention, specifically after his previous attempts to capitalize on changing our oceans with the Planktos ship Weatherbird II?

Sadly, while George and the Haida may be charged with breaking environmental laws, I don't expect any justice for the highly unemployed people of the Village of Old Massett. Their 2.5 million dollars has disappeared courtesy of a serial dreamer and promoter named Russ George. Watch out if you see him coming again. It seems like nothing but prison could stop Russ George in his mission to save the world while making money.

But George is a small-time operator compared to the multi-billion dollar scams perpetrated on the rate-payers of Europe. They paid for carbon off sets under the World Bank Clean Development Mechanism, to stop climate damaging chemical plants that were never built, or built only to not produce a certain powerful greenhouse gas. Nobody stopped that rip-off for years, and no one was charged.

Even the Government of British Columbia has been making false claims that it offset it's own carbon. Despite a multi-million dollar fund, and many self-righteous green claims by the government, nothing has been offset. It's just like Russ George saying he made the Vatican the first carbon-neutral government in the world. It's all hot air, with nothing behind it.

Sorry, but the whole plan for carbon off-sets and carbon markets fell prey to human greed and self-delusion. We are carbon addicts who will say anything and believe it. The only true solution is to cut the drug off at it's source. Close down the tar sands. Divert military spending and oil subsidies into clean energy. Change our own lives, going carbon free. Anything else is human fraud on a massive scale, setting us up for mass extinction.

As the Arctic melt utterly, and the permafrost gives up it's long-held methane load, there will be more Russ George's to parade across the stage. Will we applaud?

In a coming show, we'll learn more about a call for geoengineering by real climate scientists. They are worried that if we lose the Arctic Ice cap, humans can never recover the climate they need to survive. Stay tuned to Radio Ecoshock.

Please consider supporting Radio Ecoshock. Find out more at our web site, Write me any time. The address is radio at

That's it for this week. Find all our past programs as free mp3 downloads at I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for listening, and please join us again next week.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Green Medley: Climate, Population, Off-Grid

American scientist Virginia Burkett: violent weather threats to coastal energy. Activist Dave Foreman on population & immigration. Sheri Koones "Prefabulous & Almost Off-Grid" green building. Radio Ecoshock 130403 1 hour.


Listen to/download this "Green Medly" Radio Ecoshock in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)

Listen to/download the Virginia Burkett interview in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Listen to/download the Dave Foreman interview in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Listen to/download the Sheri Koones interview in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Dr. Virginia Burkett, USGS

In this show, leading American scientist Virginia Burkett explains how a more violent climate could damage the fossil fuel infrastructure we currently count on. Dr. Viginia Burkett is the Chief Scientist for Climate and Land Use Change at the U.S. Geological Survey. She has been a lead author in past reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Dr. Burkett is from Louisiana, and was a specialist there in the oil and gas sector. She well remembers the impacts of Hurricane Katrina, and has studied the impacts of that 2005 storm on offshore facilities, coastal lands ripped away, and damage to both ports and refineries.

Up to one third of all oil imported into America comes through the Gulf States. When those are knocked out, even pipelines supplying heating oil as far away as New England are threatened.

Add in the constant rising seas, and we could see a situation where gas and oil products could be in short supply if climate change brings more violent storms to the Gulf Coast. Burkett expects those storms will arrive again, and more often.

Massive amounts of American highways also run near the coast. The damage to the bridged and highways of the Gulf States was extreme after Katrina. That means food and other supplies may not get through. Where, in these days of bankrupt governments, will we find the money to constantly rebuild coastal highway systems, including the interstates?

Burkett notes that after Katrina, some freight railway traffic was routed further inland, as far as St. Louis, to avoid the coast. We'll see more of that - but then what happens to the passenger rail trains near the coast, where about 50% of Americans live? Freight generally helps pay for passenger lines. The dream of using more passenger trains to help save climate emissions may be endangered by rising seas and storm surges from existing climate change.

In our interview, we also discuss this document: "Public Review Draft USGS Global Change Science Strategy: A Framework for Understanding and Responding to Climate and Land-Use Change", U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia, Open-File Report 2011-1033, 32 p.


Listen to this Radio Ecoshock show right now.



Dave Foreman

Dave Foremen came to public attention in the early 1980's with his involvement with the Earth First! environmental activist movement. Few people know that Dave worked with more conventional conservation groups in the 1970's, before he realized that wasn't working.

Dave published "Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching" - disabling logging and other equipment to save the ancient forests and habitat for wildlife. The introduction is by Edward Abbey. That book is still available online here.

The authorities didn't like that book and that kind of eco-activism. In my opinion, the FBI entrapped him in the early 1990's, by charging Foreman with handing his book (remember free speech?) to an undercover FBI agent investigating the bombing of a power line in the South West. Dave had nothing to do with the bombing, but got labelled with all that by the media. Some people today still think he's guilty because of that media smear. Learn more about that case here.

In fact, Dave Foreman went on to become a Director of the Sierra Club. He left that group in 1998 when Sierra Club renounced it's previous policy of limiting the size of the U.S. population.

In our interview, Foreman emphasizes he is a "conservationist" rather than an "environmentalist". He wants to save room for other species, and does so through his group The Rewilding Institute.

We talk about world over-population, and immigration. Dave just published an essay on all that in the book "Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation." Plus he has his own book "Man Swarm and the Killing of Wildlife."

Dave Foreman doesn't hold back. We have a lively conversation which is sure to generate some comments from listeners.

Please remember the views expressed by our guests may not reflect my own, or those of our radio stations. On the other hand, unless we want to see Ethiopia go over 100 million people, and Nigeria to 300 million, we've got to start talking frankly about over-population (before the rest of the species and Nature get wiped out!)


Radio Ecoshock is all about local and hand made. So why the heck am I enthused about factory-built homes?

It all started with my interview and recorded workshop on the Austraian super low energy "Passivhaus" design with architect Guido Wimmers. Google "radio ecoshock and Guido Wimmers" to find that on our site at That will take you to a two part workshop on Passivhaus design. Or listen to my 21 minute interview with Guido here.

Guido says in no uncertain terms that we cannot build super tight low energy homes using standard construction on site. They need to be build on jigs, inside, with very strict standards to make everything fit literally seamlessly. It's a new way of looking at Green construction. Plus, there is less waste in the factory production method.

My interest was further stimulated by the new book by Sheri Koones called "Prefabulous and Almost Off the Grid". Sheri uses photos and text to illustrate leading edge prefab homes across the United States - from New England to the South West.

Author Sheri Koones

For example, we find out Christine Tod Whitman, former New Jersey Governor and former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, built a model low-energy pre-fab home. Sheri Koones describes some of the choices Christine made. The home looks like it has been there for 100 years.

Robert Redford wrote the foreword to this book.

I was also interested to see a prefab go up in Chicago, where the building codes are notoriously difficult to meet.

My wife and I are looking into a green-enabled home at a much lower cost from Marlette homes, a subsidiary of Clayton Homes. That is controlled by Warren Buffett. Apparently Buffett decided factory homes are the future of new buiding at low cost, in times of high energy prices.

Check out the Sheri Koones interview for insight into all that. Find her blog here.

Please remember to support Radio Ecoshock at our web site,

Tune in next week, and thank you for listening.