Friday, July 19, 2013

Global Heat Emergency Special Podcast

Hello wherever you are, and whenever you hear this heat emergency podcast from Radio Ecoshock.

It takes a lot to get me to make an special message like this. The last time I pulled the trigger was on Friday March 11th, 2011 - the very day the Fukushima nuclear reactors blew up in Japan. I knew those reactors had melted down. I knew it was a historic moment of high risk for the Northern Hemisphere, if not the planet. I made five special podcast over the next five days, and then covered Fukushima ever since, including the historic conference in New York in the Spring of 2013.

Now I can't stay quiet about what is obviously one of the first great heat alerts running almost completely around the Northern Hemisphere in this summer of 2013.

Here is a link to the audio podcast. It is 20 minutes long. Starting in the Far East, Japan suffered absolute record heat with many deaths. The whole society suffered and electricity use neared the breaking point.

Crossing the Pacific to California we find more record heat waves inland, with giant fires reaching even to the coast. You heard about the record-smashing heat in Death Valley, almost reaching the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth. Nevada, Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico went into melt-down mode with no relief for weeks. It's still simmering there.

At the same time, the Eastern half of North America went through a series of extreme precipitation events, mostly rain, but even hail several feet deep in places. There were so many floods the media skipped through a dozen quick photos, never having time to really report on them all. We don't know how many areas flooded. We don't even have a reporting system to calculate it all. This weather is so new, we don't know how to track and describe it.

Then the heat struck the East. All through the mid-West to the East Coast, the temperatures went to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and well above. The humidity stayed so high, it felt more like 45 degrees in Toronto Canada. That is 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

All the major cities of the East, from the Carolinas right up through Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the Canadian Provinces of Ontario and Quebec are stuck under giant domes of particulates - urban smog that clogs the lungs. Children are dying. Masses of elderly people are dying.

The cause of death is often listed as "heart attack" but as I first reported on Radio Ecoshock back in my April 2008 show "Highway to Hell - How Smog Kills" - Dr. Joel Schwatz of Harvard was briefing Congressional staff on the sudden surge of DOA cases, dead on arrival, during these hot smog waves. The victims don't even make it to hospital.

Before we head on around the world, let's take one more look - this time at the Canadian North. There are 85 giant fires in the Yukon Territory alone. The smog is being pulled right across the continent. The fires are burning out of control, un-opposed, and releasing vast amounts of stored carbon into the atmosphere.

Move on to Northern Quebec, where the second largest fire in Canadian history, over a million hectares, is burning in heat running over 90 degrees. And that's just one fire set, of many, many in the Canadian Arctic. NASA can see them in satellite passovers. Your major news networks don't bother to look, to count, to count the carbon cost. It's a direct blast of carbon into the greenhouse.

Check out Jeff Masters Weather Underground blog dated July 13, 2013 for an extensive report on the record smashing fires in northern Quebec, Canada.

Oh, and by the way, I provide a link (here) for the scariest forest fire video I have ever seen. I've witnesses a forst fire fairly close up. I've seen trees "candle" - the jumping of fire ball across the tree tops. But few have ever witnessed one of the new super fires racing over a hillside at more than 20 miles an hour straight for the camera. They have to floor their truck and run to get out alive.


Now over to Britain. It's so hot in the UK that an estimated 760 deaths are attributed to the heat wave already. Some are the usual: people inexperienced with lakes and rivers are so desperate to cool off they dive in and many drown. The same happened in Russia in 2010 during their continent-sized heat wave. People in North America do not know, and are not told, about the heat wave in Japan or in Britain.

We can keep going across hot Scandinavia, but some parts of Russia, in Siberia, have not yet heated up. The whole circumferance of the globe is not yet involved. It is not yet full circle, an entire hemispheric heat wave. But it's the first sign of such events, and they will come, more and more often.

I used to think once people experienced the extreme heat that climate change is bringing our way, they would turn in a tide of recognition and demand action. That has not happened yet, and may not happen until it is far too late to save the climate we once knew and depended on.

As just one example, the extreme precipitation event in Calgary, Canada's oil capital, has not brought any fundamental calls to reevaluate the Tar Sands. Just a couple of weeks later, Toronto Canada flooded in a freak event. Now it's boiling hot and so soggy, hardly anyone can stand it. There are no visible calls for climate action.

In fact, although Senator Harry Reid of Nevada bravely stated the huge spike in wild fires in the West are made worse by climage change - his voice is drowned out in Congress by an organized collection of climate deniers. People in states devastated by drought, fires, and horrendous storms, continue to vote in climate deniers. That stage may last for a decade or more.


In my own region of British Columbia, it's been hot, but moderate compared to the rest of the continent. That's likely due to the cooling Pacific. That's a key concept I raised in last week's Radio Ecoshock broadcast. The Pacific Ocean, which you could call the largest "continent" on Earth, has been operating like a planetary air-conditioner, even as we force up the theromstat with ever rising greenhouse gas emissions.

There is a cycle in the Pacific Ocean where the cooler phase, La Nina, can dominate for most years, perhaps for a decade or more. That system then switches to a hot phase, El Nino, as we experienced in the record-setting hot year of 1998. We've had more La Nina lately, and very little El Nino. The Pacific is cooling the world somewhat.

Now imagine the same transcontinental heat waves I've been describing this summer of 2013 - in a period where the Ocean is releasing heat, rather than soaking it up. That's when we'll go over the top into a planetary heat emergency which could last for a decade or more. That's when the crops die, perhaps hundreds of millions of people starve. That's when the economy goes nuts, small wars break out, and society beings to feel the big strain running into every corner of our lives.


About 8 years ago, in 2005, James Howard Kunstler wrote the book titled "The Long Emergency". It was based on the limits of oil production, the Peak Oil theory.

The expected drought of oil and gas was delayed however, by new technology. Yes I mean fracking, but also extreme deep-water drilling offshore too. It is possible drilling for oil and gas in the newly melting Arctic could add another decade of fossil fuels to the mix.

In 2006, I tended to agree with Kunstler and others who predicted Peak Oil would crash this civilization long before climate change arrived. But now I've changed my mind for three reasons. First, as I said, new technology has extended the rein of oil and gas. Second, Asia has risen as the world's foremost economic engine, all powered by coal.

But the third reason is the scariest, and the reason for this emergency podcast. I collect climate information daily. I monitor 50 or more climate blogs, plus scientific publications and science journalist alerts. People all over the world send me links to climate news, or describe the weather right where they live. You know I interview scientists for radio, and I talk with still more in private email.

All of these inputs, colliding with the weather news I've describe above, lead me to the unstoppable conclusion that climate change is arriving much sooner, and much harder than anyone thought possible.

This is the beginning. 2013 is the beginning, of the real Long Emergency of climate change. The whole story will unfold over a couple of centuries, but the unstable, unbearable, and often unsafe weather is with us starting now.

That means I need to ramp up Radio Ecoshock in some new ways. Let me talk to you for a couple of minutes about this program, in the privacy of a podcast. This message will not be broadcast on the 71 stations that carry Radio Ecoshock. It is meant just for you, the podcast subscribers and your friends, both local and over the Net.

Why? First of all, I know that podcast subscribers have already made a committment. Many of you have been getting every Radio Ecoshock Show for years. You are a dedicated bunch. Our podcast list grows slowly. The Itunes segment, which is just part of our total downloads, has been over 1100 people for a few months now. Generally somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people end up downloading each program, but that takes as long as a year. There is an audience over time as well as space.


This summer, as the heat rolls in, something remarkable has happened. Usually our listeners fall to about fifty percent during the summer months. Downloads fall.

The podcast numbers go down a few hundred, as people go out, and until they return in September.

Not this summer. The same dedicated people continue to download, and new people are finding the program. Out audience is threatening to grow, not shrink, during the summer. I take this continued interest as another sign that millions of people are beginning to get the reality of climate change, and hunger for more than mainstream media will ever tell them. Radio Ecoshock can deliver the scientists and activists who will tell all. We do that every week on three continents on radio, and around the world on the Net.

So I need to regroup to do two things: first, I need to survive physically. Then I need to survive a possible wave of demand for Radio Ecoshock.


To prolong my own survival, I am right now cleaning up our home in Vancouver Canada. Hopefully we'll sell it and move to a rural village in the interior of British Columbia. We already have the land. The plan is to set up a virtually carbon-free home, highly energy efficient, with space to grow at least some of our food supply.

I can name at least two well-known green radio shows, very well done, that went off the air because their hosts could not survive financially. Non-profit radio station do not pay anything at all for programs like Radio Ecoshock. Nothing. And the non-profit stations discourage fund-raising for any show, partly because it competes with their own constant need to run funds to keep independent radio stations going. Fair enough.

But I will need your help to survive financially. I can provide the home, grow some of my own food, and live on the edge from government pensions and a small bit of interest. Still, I need to raise about $15,000 a year to continue personally, and to devote my life as I have for the past seven years, to producing Radio Ecoshock. How can I do it, without using the non-profit air waves?

During this summer heat emergency, I'd like to ask you, the podcast subscriber, to make a further commitment to the program. All I need is 150 people in this great big world to buy the $10 a month membership available on our site.

I'd like to promise you special broadcasts or even videos just for members. Maybe that will be possible. Or may I can offer members these materials first.

But I have to be honest with you. It takes all I've got to do the research, do the interviews, interact with listeners, and distribute the weekly show. It's possilble the weekly Radio Ecoshock Show is all I can do. We'll see.

That is what I am asking you to subsidize - the radio show! If I can develop a larger core of people who are commited to getting this program out, we can continue for years to come, as the emergency deepens. There is a small hope we can still rescue the future from the worst of climate change. To do it, I hope I have a useful role in continuing to campaign with information, getting the big picture out there.

Most of you, and most of my listeners are communicators. I know this from the emails I receive. Many of my Twitter followers are actually large groups, with thousands of followers themselves. Some journalists listen to this podcast and get ideas. It's small, but powerful. Though I know, in the great Internet, Radio Ecoshock numbers are tiny. Still, somewhere out there on over 70 radio stations, a few hundred thousand people hear what is now the alternative version of reality, but actually the science-based best grasp of reality. We are trying to struggle out of a mass delusion - which has ensnared all of us, including you, including me.

Please do two things for me. Whether you can afford to become part of the base which keeps me going with Radio Ecoshock or not, you can pass on this heat emergency warning to as many people as you can. Second, can you go to the web site at, click on "About", and become a member? Everyone who does that, gives me more power to keep on going, even during very difficult times.


Frankly, it's looking bleak. A new Swiss study says if we measure all climate impacts/change, not just temperature, the need for rapid carbon reductions double. And our time to act is cut in half. The Swiss are considering things like extreme precipitation events, stronger storms, higher storm surges as sea levels rise, ocean acidification, species extinction - there is so much more to climate change than just temperature! The current heat alert is just part of the picture.

But the killer news comes from James Hansen, the person who first warned the American Congress about climate change in 1988. Hansen just retired as the Chief Scientist at the prestigious Goddard Space Research Center of NASA.

There is a tremendous must-read article by Nafeez Ahmed in the UK Guardian newspaper on July 10th. Here is the title:

"James Hansen: Fossil fuel addiction could trigger runaway global warming. Without full decarbonisation by 2030, our global emissions pathway guarantees new era of catastrophic climate change."

Let me read you the opening paragraphs, which are littered with direct quotes from James Hansen.

"The world is currently on course to exploit all its remaining fossil fuel resources, a prospect that would produce a "different, practically uninhabitable planet" by triggering a "low-end runaway greenhouse effect." This is the conclusion of a new scientific paper by Prof James Hansen, the former head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the world's best known climate scientist.

The paper due to be published later this month by Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A (Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A) focuses less on modelling than on empirical data about correlations between temperature, sea level and CO2 going back up to 66 million years.

Given that efforts to exploit available fossil fuels continue to accelerate, the paper's principal finding - that "conceivable levels of human-made climate forcing could yield the low-end runaway greenhouse effect" based on inducing "out-of-control amplifying feedbacks such as ice sheet disintegration and melting of methane hydrates" - is deeply worrying.

The paper projects that global average temperatures under such a scenario could eventually reach as high as between 16C and 25C over a number of centuries.

Such temperatures "would eliminate grain production in almost all agricultural regions in the world", "diminish the stratospheric ozone layer", and "make much of the planet uninhabitable by humans."

That was from the Guardian article by Nafeez Ahmed. In my blog at, under the title "Global Heat Emergency", published in July 2013, you'll find a link to Hansen's latest paper.


We are in danger of losing much more than the public can imagine. Even scientists who work non-stop on climate admit they can't imaging a world three degrees hotter, much less 16 degrees hotter. This generation, this time, will decide whether we plunge into a mass extinction, including humans. That may not come for one or two hundred years, but the action time is more or less now or never.

I'm going out to a dry hot place by the cool river. I'll be rearranging my energy for the coming challenge, and driving deeper roots into the community where I hope to ride it out. In September, we'll mount another battle for the next 11 months.

Meanwhile, you can help me get this critical message out on radio in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. You can help me feed our fans in Scandinavia, Europe, Pakistan, India, China the lot.

I'm looking for 150 brave people to put up $10 a month. Is it you? Could it be someone you know?

Do that, and I'll contribute my 30 years of experience in finding the climate dragon, and finding solutions we can live with. I'll do what I always do: I'll give it all I've got to keep it coming, as real as it gets.

Thank you for being part of a select club: the Radio Ecoshock podcast listeners, and the network of supporters following the weekly blog. You keep me going.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rising Heat, Rising Seas

State of climate science notes (Richard Alley); feature on rising seas - Francesca Rheannon of "Writer's Voice" interviews Brian Fagan, author of "The Attacking Ocean." Plus Alison Martin from the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy on endangered farm animals. Radio Ecoshock 130717


Alex is going on vacation. You can download our "best of Radio Ecoshock" summer replays from our web site, on this page.

Hi there, welcome to another vacation show of Radio Ecoshock. After a few words about a video lecture update on the latest climate science by Richard Alley, you'll hear the awful truth about rising seas around the world. Francesca Rheannon, host of "Writer's Voice" interviews scientist Brian Fagan, author of "The Attacking Ocean". We'll wrap up with my own interview of Alison Martin from the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Yep, we'll talk about the Tennessee Fainting Goat and the need to keep up the biodiversity of your food chain.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock Show in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Listen to this Radio Ecoshock Show right now (courtesy of


Dr. Richard Alley

Dr. Richard Alley is one of America's best known and most cited climate scientists. Actually he was trained as a geologist, and teaches at Pennsylvania State University. Alley chaired a U.S. government panel on abrupt climate change, has testified to Congress and written for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, specializing in melting ice at the poles.

Alley has given an update called "The State of the Climate System 2013" at a special conference of the American Geophysical Union held in Colorado at the beginning of June. It was called the Chapman Conference. I recommend you spend about 45 minutes of your valuable time watching the video of Alley's presentation. Find the link for this important video talk below - or just search for "State of the Climate System" and "Chapman".

I'll just squeeze in a couple of fast observations.

First, Alley does a simple job of explaining the complex relationship between heat in the atmosphere and heating of the ocean. Although our emissions have been increasing exponentially, most of the extra heat held in by the greenhouse gases have gone into the ocean. That is because during the last decade a period of cooler ocean water in the Pacific, called La Nina, has dominated. A cooler ocean surface will soak up more heat from the air. Expect different results when we get more of the hotter ocean in El Nino.

Check out Alley's charts on the heat tolerance of our major food crops, like corn, wheat and rice. We are already above the optimum growing conditions the major crops that feed the world. Actual production figures show that countries hit with just a few very hot days, at critical periods, suffered a loss in food production. That isn't a prediction, that's an observation now. The obvious conclusion: as the earth warms, and hot spells increase, world food production may drop - even as the number of mouths we need to feed increase dramatically.

It's even possible that by the year 2100, according to other research, that parts of the planet may become too hot for unprotected humans and other large mammals to survive. It's also been shown that human productivity, that important economic indicator, drops as the weather becomes hotter. So we'll have less energy to deal with problems of the future.

Alley's speech shines when he enters his field of expertise, the melting polar ice. For once there is a little bit of good news. Those pundits and a few scientists who suggested Greenland's ice cap may quickly slide into the sea are mistaken, Alley says. Yes giant new lakes of melt water are forming in Greenland in Summer. Yes they can rather suddenly drain down to the depths of the glaciers. But the land under the glaciers is not a nice even slope toward the sea. There are mountains and ridges down there which he claims precludes a sudden slide-off of ice, which would jack up sea levels around the world. Dr. Alley suggests it will take at least hundreds, if not more than a thousand, years to melt the Greenland ice cap, almost no matter how hot the climate gets.

The same is not true of the ice sheets of Antarctica. Many of these have spread from the land-based ice-cap out over the sea. There are several unstable areas around the Antarctic peninsula which contain enough ice to add several meters or more to sea levels. The good news is they are melting slowly so far. But that could change, and scientists are monitoring them closely, with real concern.

Richard Alley seems almost optimistic about the next 30 years of so. He wonders if we haven't already seen the worst impacts of climate change for the first half of this century. After that, almost all climate science indicates a rapid deterioration with lots of heating after 2050. If we believe Richard Alley, our children and grandchildren will experience frightening changes, while we continue to coast along in our fossil-powered society.

With all due respect to Richard Alley, I'm not sure I do believe that. Pretty well every prediction that was supposed to happen by 2050, according to bodies like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are already surfacing now, way ahead of predictions. We seem to be on a worst-case scenario pathway. Various agencies in Europe, including the International Energy Agency, agree. Perhaps we can't account on a relatively easy ride, if you count extreme drought, fires, floods, and hurricanes as "easy" - for this generation. If the Arctic sea ice melts for example, I'd say all bets are off.

Richard Alley advises governments and the military. So he's less likely to bet on the apocalyptic side. And yet... if you listen closely to this speech at the American Geophysical Union, he describes "The Great Dying" 251 million years ago, and many quite frightening possibilities for the next generations of humanity. Don't miss it. Search for "State of the Climate System" and "Chapman" or find the link below.

June 7, 2013 Richard Alley, AGU Chapman Conference, Colorado

RISING SEAS: BRIAN FAGAN "The Attacking Ocean"

Let's dig deeper into the creeping destabilizer which at least one U.S. military authority thinks is the greatest threat of climate change. Rising seas will remove parts of the world, from Florida to Bangladesh, from the map. Most of the world's major cities, from Shanghai to New York will be flooded, bit by bit, storm by storm.

Francesca Rheannon interviewed Brian Fagan,. the author of a new book "The Attacking Ocean". She's agreed to this rebroadcast of her Writer's Voice program, first broadcast on Pacifica on June 26th, 2013.

My thanks to Francesca for this excellent interview. We all need to know about rising seas.


As this interview was broadcast, new science was released by the Potsdam Institute in Germany. It shows that for every degree rise in global average temperature, the sea level will rise more than two meters, or more than about six and a half feet. Just one degree more would take storm surges over large parts of Florida, New York City, Shanghai and most of the world's coastal cities. Some Pacific Ocean countries would cease to exist.

That sea level rise won't happen as fast as the warming. It might take one or two hundred years for the necessary amount of ice to melt. We don't know for sure. What we do know is the amount of sea level rise if we let the world warm even one degree. Now some mis-informed people, often with industry connections, say we can adapt to two or even three degress of global temperature rise. Not with the civilization we know now.

Here is a link to that new sea level science from the Potsdam Institute, and here a good layman's article from Climate News Network explaining the importance of this science to all of us.


Now let's look at another aspect of the environmental scene you may not have considered. When the Irish potato famine struck in the 1800's, millions died. That is partly because the population depended on a single breed of potato, which caught a disease. It turns our we are putting ourselves in the same situation with farm animals. A single breed of milk cow is dominating the supply, for example, and those Holstein's are not reproducing well.

We need to protect our biodiversity of farm animals, exactly as we struggle to preverve the diversity of plant types, from apples to original corn varieties. Plus some of these breeds are engaging and useful animals developed over centuries. They too have a right to live on this Earth.

Alison Martin, ALBC

I caught up with Alison Martin at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup Washington on June 1st, 2012. We talks about efforts in the United States to keep endangered domesticated animals alive. Alison is with the American Live Breeds Conservancy, the ALBC.

Don't miss Alison's description of the Tennessee Fainting Goat (who don't climb fences) and the Choctaw pig.


That's it for Radio Ecoshock this week. If you can, please support the production of this program. Get the details at our web site at

For the next few weeks, I'll be doing some deeper research, while listening to the voice of my favorite river in the mountains. I've selected some of the most downloaded programs from the past season, to play for the next few weeks as the "best of Radio Ecoshock". Find those listed here at our web site, and load up your mp3 player or computer with lots of key summer listening you may have missed.

New programs will return at the start of September. I'm sure there will be lots to talk about - and I hope you'll be part of the program.

I'm Alex Smith. Thank you so much for listening.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

In These Latter Days

Leave fossil fuels in the ground or roast. But how? Carbon expert Mike Berners-Lee interviewed on his new book "The Burning Question. We Can't Burn Half the World's Oil, Coal and Gas. So How Do We Quit?" Guest host Greg Moffitt of Radio Ecoshock 130710 1 hour.

Welcome to Radio Ecoshock. It's summer: the time on the new planet Earth for more high temperature records in the Northern Hemisphere. Others nearly drown in global wetting. We are all at the mercy of the great stalled waves of the Jet Stream my friends. The new normal is there is no normal.

The high Arctic ice is melting more or less unreported. Canadian cities notice the great clouds of smoke coming from the burning Boreal forests of the north, unquenched, unseen except by satellite. The same in Russia. Deadly super-fires, as predicted on Radio Ecoshock, are already with us, especially in the American West.

It's a perfect time for "The Burning Question. We Can't Burn Half the World's Oil, Coal and Gas. So How Do We Quit?" - a new book by carbon footprint expert, author and Guardian journalist Mike Berners-Lee. His co-author, Duncan Clark, is a consultant editor for the environment section of the UK's Guardian newspaper, and a visiting researcher at the UCL Energy Institute.

The authors conclude the next economic crash may come when the major fossil fuel companies are forced to revalue drastically downward. Why? If the public cannot stomach a climate of extinction, more than half the fossil fuel reserves of the world must stay in the ground.

Only the business community, pushed by a worried public, can force politicians into the global agreements needed to ensure our survival. So far, Berners-Lee and Clark say, neither conferences, energy efficiency or alternative energy have had slowed the year-by-year growth of greenhouse gas emissions.

We find out more in this feature-length interview of Mike Berners-Lee by UK writer and journalist Greg Moffitt. Greg has written for the BBC and other publications.

Now Moffitt has a regular online radio podcast out of the United Kingdom. He calls it "Legalise Freedom".

As I head out to the hills for my summer vacation, let's listen in as guest host Greg Moffitt turns to the burning question.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock Show in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Listen to this program right now, courtesy of

This is a Radio Ecoshock edit of Greg's May 27th show, described as follows:

"Mike Berners-Lee – The Burning Question

May 27, 2013

Mike Berners-Lee discusses The Burning Question, a book co-authored with Duncan Clark.

Climate change is the most fascinating scientific, political and social puzzle of our time. Great minds, enthusiastic leaders and green warriors have all tried to tackle the problem, but so far the world’s efforts at reducing global warming have failed.

We do our best to save energy and technologies have made burning fuels more efficient, but the simple fact is carbon emissions are still accelerating upwards, following an exponential curve that goes back centuries. Like squeezing a balloon, reductions in one place lead to increases elsewhere.

The real barrier to action is that the world has far more fossil fuel in its reserves than it can safely burn – at least twice as much and perhaps ten times as much. These reserves are worth tens of trillions of dollars and solving the problem means persuading the world to abandon them.

The Burning Question asks whether that’s possible and what the side effects might be. Would the global economy sink and oil companies crash as the ‘carbon bubble’ bursts? Or could we transition smoothly to a green future? Looking at the whole issue from a fresh perspective, The Burning Question argues that global warming can still be tackled, but only if humankind wakes up to the threat and demands that the fuels stay in the ground."

Greg Moffitt is a freeland writer, editor and broadcaster. Greg has written for the BBC and other publications. Find him at

You may also be interested in Greg Moffitt's interview with controversial deep green author Paul Kingsnorth. It's called "The Myth of Progress."

Find it all at Greg's site Be sure to use the British spelling of "legalise" with an "s". There is a dash between "legalise" and "freedom".

Maybe it is holiday time in the Northern Hemisphere. But the atmosphere keeps on changing, dragging the climate to places humans have never experienced.

Join us for the ride at Radio Ecoshock. Feel free to support our program at the web site,

Thank you for listening - and warming up to the idea of a big, big social change.

I'm Alex Smith. This has been Radio Ecoshock.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Preparing Personal Solutions

Are your clothes safe? Alina Bartell, owner of The Natural Clothing Company advises on fabrics, chemicals, and organic clothes. Dr. Joe Alton, MD on learning emergency medicine "when help doesn't come". Woody Tasch helps develop local food with "slow money". Radio Ecoshock 130703 1 hour.

Radio Ecoshock is back with more local solutions for global problems - from the Mother Earth News Fair.

This time I've picked three of the most intriguing interviews. Each seemed at first like a small problem, and each guest - all feature speakers at the Fair - takes us much deeper, into the industrial and financial mess - and out again with practical things we can do.


Download/listen to my interview on organic clothes with Alina Bartell in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Download/listen to Joe Alton, MD on emergency medicine in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Download/listen to Woody Tasch on "Slow Money" in CD Quality or Lo-Fi



Alina Bartell surprised me. I mean, do we really need "organic clothes"? Our discussion went from the poisoned fields of Asia and Central America through the industrial fashion machine that feeds the store shelves. The Earth and the workers are damaged at every step.

"Organic" clothing means more to Alina than just a lack of chemicals when you buy it, although that's important too. She started her search for safe clothing after her son developed difficulties. Alina and her husband moved to the country, changed to the purist possible foods, and their child improved.

But many Americans suffer from allergies and skin reactions to the chemicals used in clothing manufacturing. There is a residue of pesticides. Did you know that cotton is the most sprayed crop in the world? Alina tells us cotton occupies only 3% of farm land, but uses almost 25% of farm chemicals. It is not uncommon for pesticides to be sprayed on cotton while workers are in the fields below. There are very high disease rates, especially cancers, in some cotton growing areas.

Since the seventeen hundreds, woven materials like cotton have been treated to make the fabric strong enough to handle machine handling. It is called "sizing" and it used to be common starch. Now sizing is a wide-ranging combination of chemicals. That is why we know enough to at least wash a new shirt of dress before wearing it.

Rayon is made out of wood, combined with chemicals to press it out into fabric. Where did that wood come from? Alina says wood fabric like Rayon can come from sustainable forestry. Or you can buy clothes made out of bamboo. I felt a bamboo t-shirt, and it was soft like very fine cotton.

That is preferable to all-oil fabrics like nylon or polyester. These are made straight from crude oil - not a bi-product, but from crude oil. Did you know nylon manufacturing is a major, MAJOR source of greenhouse gas emissions?

We all need clothes, and every type of fabric comes with it's costs and compromises. The best we can do, Bartell says, is find out where the fabric comes from, was it made safely and ethically? Is it chemical-free?

Apparently the market for organic clothing has not yet taken off. There are only a few organic cotton producers left in America, for example. You will pay more for organic clothing - but the earth benefits, and the clothes should last a long time if well cared for.

You can contact Alina Bartell for more information at her web site.


Joe Alton MD

I'll be frank. At first I thought Dr. Joe Alton, and his wife "Nurse Amy" were kind of fringe characters. Having met Joe, and listened to his story, I've changed my mind.

Alton and Amy put out a series of You tube videos under the name "Doom and Bloom". The bloom part came from their origins as gardeners. Alton is a Master Gardener in the state of Florida. He's also a genuine surgeon, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Amy is a registered practical Nurse, with further training and lots of experience in midwifery.

Their basic premise is our fragile and high-priced medical system (at least in the United States) may not always be there when you need it. Just think of the three days or more in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. You couldn't call 911. No ambulances were in service, the hospitals were closed. What if a loved one had a huge gash from blown debris? Would you be helpless?

The Altons also worry a financial or political crash could make medical care unavailable. Plus there are homesteaders and farmers who live too far away from a hospital to treat a serious injury.

Now that you think of it, it's a bit strange none of us are taught any health care these days. Schools don't teach it. Maybe as a Scout or a Guide you might learn how to dress a serious wound.

Dr. Joe thinks the medical establishment is holding on to essential information a little too tightly. By all means, he says, if there is a hospital available, seek professional treament from the system. But if not, why no prepare in advance with some training of your own? They have published a handbook called "The Survival Medicine Handbook (2nd edition)."

Here is their You tube video about that book.

As "Dr. Bones" and "Nurse Amy" the pair put out a series of You tubes with basic information we can all understand. Since there has been a heat wave going in the U.S. West, with lots more heat waves to come with climate change, I ask Dr. Joe about the signs and treatment of heat stress and the sometimes fatal heat stroke.

You can learn about that right in this radio interview.

This medical pair also compile lists of equipment you might need to help your family and your neighbors in a disaster. You can complete your own kits, at different levels, using their lists for free. Or you can buy the equipment from them. Some doctors and emergency workers buy their disaster packs to take to developing countries that have been hit with a hurricane, earthquake or other disaster.

My rating: their presentation is quirky but interesting; the information they teach is important. I'm going to take a look at my own medical supplies, and learn what I can from their videos and site materials.


Woody Tasch

Woody Tasch is a man who worked the finance industry, and then reevaluated his life. He longed to find a way to stimulate the growth of local food-sheds, with local finance. That developed into his book "Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered."

But he didn't stop there. Tasch has crossed the country helping seed slow money organizations. These are non-profits who try various ways to hook up small investors and people in the local food chain. Customers might be a Community Supported Agriculture organization, a small "truck" farmer, an organic dairy, and so on.

The investors are ordinary people who want to put part of their investment money into making sure there is local food that is good to eat. Woody doesn't recommend putting ALL your money into one of these small ventures (he doesn't). He also recommends diversifying, investing in several ventures.

These small loans are kind of the American equivalent to the "Grameen" banks established by Professor Muhammad Yunus in Benglash, and now issuing micro-loans (as little as $50) to people in developing countries all over the world. In the United States a "small loan" might be $14,000 required to buy a used refrigeration truck needed to get produce to the market.

Tasch recommends two different styles of Slow Money. In North Carolina, there is a match-maker linking up investors to food producers needing money. Carol Peppe Hewitt has become a whiz at linking people up. She's written a book "Financing Our Foodshed: Growing Local Food With Slow Money."

At Slow Money Maine, it's a different story. They hold meetings where people looking for small loans make presentations in front of a crowd of possible investors. Slow Money in California does the same, with perhaps a couple of hundred people showing up for a meeting in a tent on a farm.

There has been a national Slow Money conference, where dozens of presenters get five minutes each to make their pitch, hoping to lure the investment money they need.

This isn't a way to get rich. It has risks like any investment - but it's probably no riskier than the stock market. Plus, you are not sending your money to strangers, who may invest in ways to harm the world, on the far side of the Earth. Slow Money investors know exactly who is getting the money, why, and that it will help the local community in eco-safe ways. That's got to be the future of our financial world, if we are going to survive.

Plug in here.


My thanks to the listeners who chipped in to pay my gas to the Mother Earth News Fair. We ended up with a bounty of interviews with thought-leaders in the underground movement to found a new and sustainable civilization. All these things are seedlings now, but they will grow into mighty things.

You can support Radio Ecoshock by telling your friends about us. Feel free to share or re-broadcast any part of this program for non-profit use. You can donate at our web site at or at the top right side of this blog.

I'm also asking you to support your non-profit radio station that takes this message out to three continents. Many stations are struggling to pay their costs, even with few staff, or all-volunteers. You never know how many people your donation to a college or community radio station might reach. Your pledge of support can change minds, and change lives. Please put your money where your ears are. Here are the stations that carry Radio Ecoshock.

My special thanks to all the listeners who send me links and suggestions for Radio Ecoshock. I couldn't do it without you. Write me any time. The address is radio [at] ecoshock dot org.

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