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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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, ecoshock.org. Write me any time. The address is radio at ecoshock.org.

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

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