Wednesday, April 30, 2014


SUMMARY: We use the magic of radio to fly around to garden roof tops in Brooklyn USA, a permaculture fruit farm in Quebec, and small acres restored in Nottingham UK. Buckle up.

On the rooftops of Brooklyn New York, the Brooklyn Grange raises local food and hopes in America's largest city. Anastasia Cole Plakias is the Vice President and a Founding Partner of Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm.

Olivier Asselin is a film-maker and free-lance photographer, recently back from years in Africa. Now in the Canadian province of Quebec, he set out to make a film about permaculture. That sounds simple enough, but along the way, Olivier discovered it's a big task with many fertile directions.

Courtesy of film-maker Olivier Asselin we'll hear the audio from his first short film on the permaculture orchard founded by Stefan Sobkowiak in southern Quebec, Canada. It's turned the whole idea of monoculture orchards on into a natural fountain of many fruits.

In the UK, Rob Carlyle built a low-energy house. With partner Jill, they are refashioning an overgrown woodland into gardens suitable not just for humans, but for all the creatures. His blog at sustainablegarden.blogspot was named one of the ten best garden blogs by Ecologist magazine. Radio Ecoshock investigates.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock Show in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)


As global oil becomes more expensive, and then runs out, major urban centers need to figure out their local food supplies. We find a solution in Brooklyn, New York. Anastasia Cole Plakias is the Vice President and a Founding Partner of Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm.

I expected to find container gardening on these roofs, but a video on your web site seems to show a virtual dirt field right on top of one building. One of my first questions: What are the advantages of avoiding container gardens?

The buildings used by the Brooklyn Grange are old cement monsters with plenty of capability to hold the load. Of course they got that checked out by engineers first. Anastasia tells me containers actually waste space that could be planted, plus there is the weight of the containers themselves. As you can see in this picture, they just planted everything between the parapets.

One rooftop is about an acre, the second an acre and a half. The group gets at least 50,000 pounds of produce out of that. Their growing season in Brookly was longer, with some greens and root crops coming out of the farm as late as November. This may be partly due to the urban heat island effect: New York City throws off a lot of heat. This year may be different, as the very cold winter turned into a later and colder spring.

Everything grown is organic. These farms not only feed customers in Farmers' Markets and restaurants, but also the families of the farm crew. They don't want pesticides in their own food, and don't want to add more to NYC.


Speaking of that, the bees in their sub-project, the Brooklyn Grange Bees Apiary, do better than some in the country. This may be due to fewer agrichemicals and pesticides in the city! They do lose bees over each winter, but then overcome that and gain bees during each summer season. Anastasia tells us the NYC spring honey is excellent, with almost a menthol taste coming from the flowers of the city's many Linden trees.

People may wonder if the honey contains pollution from the city. I can tell you my friend at the University of Exeter, Toxicologist Paul Johnston, tested honey from hives on a rooftop in down-town London. He found the honey was completely free of harmful chemicals. The bees purify their honey, no matter what the pollution. Isn't that amazing?

The Grange helps organize the annual New York City Honey Festival every year. The next one is September 7th, 2014.

Also: the air is far less polluted up on the rooftops, than it is down in the street.

Our guest has here own radio show on the internet Heritage Radio Network. It's called "Anastasia’s Fridge".

One point of this interview is that while cities will never feed themselves, they could go a long way toward providing fresh, natural produce in season. The Brooklyn Grange folks train others to make rooftop gardens, including some restaurants who now grow their own greens and herbs.

In the interview we also talk about educating inner city kids about the benefits of compost and bugs, plus the effort to get more nutitious fresh food to the "food deserts" which previously only had convenience stores full of junk food. There are so many angles to this story, so many positive solutions from the city Grange idea.

Check out the Brooklyn Grange here on the Net, and on Facebook or Twitter.

Download or listen to this 21 minute interview with Anastasia Cole Plakias in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

Or listen on Sound Cloud


We're up against a challenge greater than any in history. What is possible? Maybe we should check that out at

Our guest is Olivier Asselin. He is a film-maker and free lance photographer, recently back from years in Africa. Now in the Canadian province of Quebec, he set out to make a film about permaculture. That sounds simple enough, but along the way, Olivier discovered it's a big task with many fertile directions.

In fact, Olivier found so many stories in permaculture, after his successful Kickstarter campaign, he's releasing a series of shorter videos free on his web site.

As some inspriation, Olivier also mentions Paul Wheaton and who helped promote the Kickstarter campaign.

Courtesy of film-maker Olivier Asselin we hear the audio from his first short film on the permaculture orchard founded by Stefan Sobkowiak in southern Quebec, Canada. You can watch that 9 minute video on You tube here. It gave me ideas of things I'd like to try, if we get land enough some day.

Listen to/download this 20 minute piece with Olivier and Stefan's film clip in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.


In our continuing journey to discover balanced lives, we travel to the hill country of Nottingham, inland in north England. Our guest is Rob Carlyle. With his partner Jill, Rob has built a low-energy house. They are refashioning an overgrown woodland into gardens suitable not just for humans, but for all the creatures.

His blog at sustainablegarden.blogspot was named one of the ten best garden blogs by Ecologist magazine.

In restoring his land, Rob used the lasagne method. You layer compost, ferilizer and cardboard until the unwanted species disappear, and you can plant something better. Read about lasagne gardening here in the Mother Earth News, or try this video on You tube.

Most of my shows warn we are more or less going to hell in a handbasket, as we wreck the atmosphere, land, and sea. Rob describes the personal feeling of salvation of leading a more honest, balanced life. It may not save the world (right away) but it may save you.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Rob Carlyle in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

That's our tour of growing solutions this week on Radio Ecoshock. You can suggest guests any time, using the contact form on the show web site at - or email me. The address is radio //at//

Let's do it. Let's make a permanent culture to replace the tottering throw-away world we have now.

Don't forget to visit our new Radio Ecoshock page on SoundCloud, where you can listen or download right now.


We're wrapping up the April fund-raising drive. That's where I try to raise enough money to pay the bills right through the summer months. I hate asking, but it costs money to make all our past and present programs available as free mp3 downloads.

That's so important to get the word out on these under-reported issues. Literally thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of Radio Ecoshock shows are downloaded every month of the year, by people all around the world. That takes bandwidth. I also have equipment to replace, and general costs like long-distance telephone calls all over the world, studio rent, and all that.

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In fact, to any of you that I missed, don't think I ignore your donations. I appreciate all of you so much.

Even if you are not in a position to help financially, it means a great deal that you are willing to donate your valuable time to listen to the program each week, and get informed on the truly important issues of our day. You can still help by Tweeting, Facebooking, and otherwise passing on news about Radio Ecoshock, and links to the show, so others can listen. Like this cool photo montage and promo for the program created by my Facebook friend Michael MadLove.

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I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for caring about your world.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Climate Beyond Imagination

QUICK SUMMARY: Witnessing plot of climate denial in Bush Whitehouse; how the 1% control us; climate fiction "cli fi" new and old; why predictions of the cost of stopping climate change are ridiculous. Radio Ecoshock 140423

Welcome back. This week we're going to stretch our minds into a developing future beyond any human experience. We'll talk to authors in the new genre of climate fiction - cli fi - the classics and new writers.

Right off the bat, we run into climate denial and the way the 1 percent control the rest of us.

The show closes with a new study revealing estimates of the cost to fix climate change are misleading, wrong, and a waste of time. That's just as the IPCC reports on the cost of reducing climate damage or letting it run rampant over the planet. The value of a living planet: priceless.

I'm Alex, and this is Radio Ecoshock.

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


America has two political parties. Maybe it's really just one party by and for big corporations and big money. That's the experience of our next guest. I'll introduce him with a quote from his own blog:

"Twice a surrogate ‘stem cells’ spokesperson for the George W Bush White House, J. Perry Kelly ended his association with the political right over its distortion of global warming. Having witness[ed] the psychology of worldview exploitation firsthand, he spent four years crafting “The Sibyl Reborn,” a psychological thriller."

He wrote pieces for Conservative journals like "Human Events" and "The National Review".

Whatever listeners think about stem cell research, pro or con, you raise the critical point: our views, and that debate, just become part of a larger plan for corporate and political control. J Perry Kelly saw this machinery of divide and conquer on issues in the medical field, and then, to his horror, found his Conservative allies lining up to deny climate change.

James became disabled due to a spinal cord injury following a car accident. He looked good being wheeled into Conservative functions, questioning what was being promised by big-pharma for stem cell research. On the platform, he was sometimes accompanied by Tony Perkins, President Family Research Council - the same Tony Perkins listed in my blog last week as part of the "Green Dragon" anti-science group. Some of those people and groups received funding from fossil fuel companies, as they attacked environmentalism and the need for controls on carbon emissions to the atmosphere.

Listen to/download this J. Perry Kelly interview in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

HOW THEY CONTROL US The Bush Whitehouse, and no doubt Obama too, were well aware of studies about a universal human weakness done by psychology expert Drew Westen of Emory University in Atlanta. His 2006 study used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to show human brains react to criticism of their deeply held world views by changing or denying their perception of reality to fit those views.

Here is a key quote from the Wikipedia entry on Drew Westen:

"None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged... Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want... Everyone... may reason to emotionally biased judgments when they have a vested interest in how to interpret 'the facts.'[5]

The study was published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 18:11, pp. 1947–58, a peer-reviewed scientific journal."

Doesn't this explain why Texans in one of the worst droughts in memory, sweating it out in unbelievable streaks of days over 100 degrees F, still deny climate change, and even elect representative sworn to fight any climate legislation? We humans spin obvious facts until we get the (foregone) conclusions we want.

Here is the full citation, for those of you who want to follow up on this key research.

Westen, Drew; Blagov, Pavel S.; Harenski, Keith; Kilts, Clint; Hamann, Stephan (2006), "Neural Bases of Motivated Reasoning: An fMRI Study of Emotional Constraints on Partisan Political Judgment in the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election", Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) 18 (11): 1947–1958, doi:10.1162/jocn.2006.18.11.1947, PMID 17069484

Westen then published the book "The Political Brain". Westen's lab is here.

Industry, politicians, and media spin-masters know this about us. They take full advantage of it. All humans have this weakness (it is "universal"). In his fiction cli fi novel, James Perry Kelly makes that a central feature of why humans are on this Earth. He calls it "the taint".

Essentially, all any of these actors need to do is tell us what we want to believe. It also turns out we are more than willing to believe the worst about any person or group we consider as adversaries, and so we believe that too, even when it is contradicted by easily available facts. Scary stuff. Kelly's book "The Sibyl Reborn" should be worth the read just to digest this key operation in the human brain, with it's widespread implications for social control on a number of levels. Practically every institution does it.

Find out more with J. Perry Kelly at his blog "Quantum Fires" the journal of unbiased thought. The book's web site is here. Buy if from Amazon here.


Both James Perry Kelly and Mary Woodbury were suggested to me by Dan Bloom. Dan coined the term "cli fi" to fit the genre of fiction which includes a theme of the new world under a changed climate.

Dan Boom is living in Taiwan. I first met him online several years ago, when he proposed "Polar Cities" - the new settlements near the Arctic Sea, as predicted by James Lovelock, as the rest of the world gets too hot for us. Find Dan Bloom's blog "Cli Fi Central" here.

In a strange twist even for futurist, Dan pre-published his own obituary, for the year 2032! Dan explains what Cli Fi is in this piece, "The Origins of Cli-Fi"


A future that is 3, 4, 8 degrees hotter is very hard to imagine. No human has ever lived in such a world. Scientists try to describe what may happen, but artists do better. Enter "climate fiction" now known as "cli fi". In British Columbia, Mary Woodbury is an author and organizer of the first recognized webzine about cli fi.

For me, it started in the 1970's, with the famous Charleton Heston movie Soylent Green. Remember it was all burned out and hot in the cities, with most of nature already dead. Then we discover the seas are dead as well. My first novel of this type was Bruce Sterling's 1994 novel "Heavy Weather".

Mary's website catalogs the best of Cli Fi fiction. Find it here.

Some of these authors might disagree they are writing "Cli fi" - Margaret Atwood comes to mind. Mary tells us it doesn't have to be "science fiction". Cli fi might include short stories, poems, or books like which is very much in the present.

Mary suggests books like "Odds Against Tomorrow" by Nathaniel Rich, or Barbara Kingsolver's book "Flight Behavior". We also discuss the 1960's English novelist J.G. Ballard. His books "The Drowned World" and "The Burning World" are pretty good for predicting some of the problems of climate disruption.

Among promising young new cli fi authors, Mary suggests "A Being Darkly Wise" by John Atcheson. Read Mary Woodbury's interview with author John Atcheson here.

For your young adults or teens, try Mary's recommendation of "Not A Drop to Drink" by Mindy McGinnis. There's lots more for people of all tastes in the more than 100 cli fi novels listed on Mary's site. Browse on!

Mary's own book is published under the pen-name Clara Hume. That's because there is already another Canadian author named Mary Woodbury. Our Mary's cli fi book is called "Back to the Garden".

Listen to/download my interview with cli-fi author Mary Woodbury in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Every half dozen years, official reports estimate the supposed costs and benefits of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, to preserve a livable climate. The most famous so far are the British Stern Report of 2006, and the Fourth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007. Now we have more fun facts and figures in the new Fifth Assessment of the IPCC just released in this spring of 2014.

Top politicians, business leaders and even environmentalists talk seriously about whether it will cost 2% or 10% of the world's economy to switch away from fossil fuels. A new paper says these emperors have no clothes: estimates of the costs and benefits of limiting climate change are impossible. That's according to a peer-reviewed study by Drs. Richard.A. Rosen, Edeltraud Guenther. Its pretty shocking stuff, when you hear what those official estimates leave out.

Dr. Richard Rosen is from the Tellus Institute in Boston. We are talking about his new paper "The economics of mitigating climate change: What can we know?"

I was stumped when I read the Rosen/Guenther study:

"However, surprisingly, most IAMs [Integrated Assessment Models ]discussed in Barker [8] and relied on by the 2007 IPCC report, do not include any estimates of the likely future damage due to climate change at all".

That mean things like the huge costs of Hurricane Katrina, or the $60 billion dollar cost of Hurricane Sandy, is just left out of these models. Isn't that one of the fundamental reasons to mitigate climate change in the first place? Things like droughts, rising seas, more violent storms could bankrupt our already overdrawn economies. How can economists leave that out?

Positive feedbacks, the interaction of things like melting Arctic sea ice and permafrost methane releases, are not included in any of these cost/benefit models.

The paper concludes the results of Barker, the Stern Report, and the IPCC 4th Assessment (2007) are invalid.

The cost benefits models seem to be built on a business view based on what happened in the past. What happens if there is a big economic breakdown, and the industrial system crashes? Can anyone model what happens then?

What if the peak oil people are right, and we start to run out of affordable fossil fuels by 2050. Do economists take that into account, or even believe it is possible?

The authors are aware of this problem, writing:

"For example, in a baseline scenario, the world may run short of fossil fuels so quickly that fuel prices could skyrocket, causing the global economy to crash. No existing climate-related IAM can capture such an effect, despite its very real possibility."

And then we have the Black Swan events. I'm talking about things like a solar storm knocking out electricity in developed countries for a few months or years. Or maybe Ebola or some other virus escapes causing a massive global pandemic. The future seems too unstable to make century-long estimates of costs.

Sure enough, the phony greens at the Breakthrough Institute told the press if it costs 6% of some imaginary future GDP to fix the planet, and just 2% to wreck it, we may as well wreck it. Really guys? So sad.

The conclusion of this Rosen/Guenther study is right in line with my own thinking, and that of our listeners. It doesn't matter what it costs to reduce climate change, if we end up with a planet where it's too difficult for humans and most life we know to survive. Give up the numbers game and lets' save ourselves and the rest of the species while we still can.

Listen to/download this interview with expert Richard Rosen in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

Here are links to the paper we talked about: R.A. Rosen, E. Guenther, The economics of mitigating climate change: What can we know?, Technol.Forecast. Soc. Change (2014),

It's available free in full text here.


Don't forget you can listen to some of our recent shows, and my "climate music" directly from the new Radio Ecoshock Soundcloud page.

I'm still hoping for more financial support from Radio Ecoshock listeners. I've carried the program out of my own pocket for the past seven years, but it's possible I could be knocked out by the recent growing popularity of the program! To maintain our archive of past programs at means a large bill for bandwidth used. It's important to keep all those interviews with scientists, authors and activists available free for people all over the world.

I also need to replace my headphones that are patched up with tape, to the point where they fall apart sometimes during interviews. That's $240 for a set good enough to edit telephone interviews. There's always costs to replace equipment, upgrade software, telephone bills, and all that. Radio Ecoshock has NO corporate or government funding. It's real listener-supported radio.

There are a few dozen monthly subscribers paying $10 a month. Those are the people who really keep this operation afloat. Please consider if you can handle that, to keep Radio Ecoshock coming. It's easy to sign up at this page.

Folks who make one-time donations of any amount really help as well. You can do this directly from the top of this blog, or from the web site at

Remember, I can't appeal for financial support from many of our largest radio stations. Their non-profit structure forbids that. Yet independent producers like myself need some kind of income to keep going.

That's why I appreciate your help so much.

Alex Smith

Radio Ecoshock

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Religion Versus Climate Science

Are Christian fundamentalists derailing climate action? Rev Michael Dowd. Then new report from UNEP shows alternative energy strong but slightly down in 2013. Radio Ecoshock 140416

Welcome to Radio Ecoshock, a voice for science and truth, no matter where they lead.

Later in this program we'll reveal the good and bad news about the growth of alternative energy around the world. We go to Stockholm to get the latest from a new United Nations report.

But first we need to tackle a gnarly problem: the marriage of big oil and coal money to large fundamentalist churches in the United States. It appears climate denying preachers are a roadblock to climate action in America.

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


In America, a powerful group religious leaders have declared war against environmentalism and climate science. Allying themselves with Republicans and backed by oil company money, they tell millions of followers that more carbon dioxide is good for the planet.

There is a counter-movement of Christians who embrace reality and science. Chief among them is the Reverend Michael Dowd. He's the author of "Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World". Michael speaks to congregations across the U.S., as a preacher travelling with his wife, author Connie Barlow. Rev. Michael Dowd is currently part of the Great March for Climate Change. He's an author, speaker, and often writes in the Huffington Post.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Michael Dowd in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Connie Barlow wrote 4 books on biology. She says she was blind-sided by the immediacy of climate change, thinking of the long time changes in past mass extinctions. She founded the group Torreya Guardians to help save this endangered Florida conifer.

Michael has just written an article accusing big-time fundamentalist preachers as barriers to American climate change action.

E. Calvin Beisner from the Cornwall Alliance says more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is good for us and good for creation. Media figures like Glenn Beck agree. It seems like madness to me.

Michael Dowd writes "According to recent polls, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary 46% of Americans still cling to the idea that we live on a ‘young earth’ and 41% believe that we are in the ‘end times’, creating a critical mass of voters whose representatives are blocking urgent legislation on climate change." Those are tough numbers to overcome, aren't they?


The big project now is "The Great March for Climate Action". This is not a religious movement, but has the support of many churches as well. Check out the Great March web site to see when it gets near you. Can you be part of the March? I hope so.

Michael describes it this way:

"The group is The Great March for Climate Action. From March through early November 2014, two hundred or more intrepid activists will march from Santa Monica California through the desert southwest, then up the Colorado Rockies and across the Great Plains, skirting the south side of the Great Lakes, aiming to arrive in Washington D.C. just before the elections."

"Connie and I will rarely be walking with the marchers. Rather, we will be speaking in churches, colleges, and other venues along their route. Our role is to rally citizen support to press for changes that will reorient the incentives of American industries and consumers toward a sustainable, green-energy future.

In the months before the action begins, another volunteer climate group is helping me schedule church venues. This organization is Interfaith Power & Light -- whose tagline is "A Religious Response to Global Warming". Truly, a groundswell of Americans -- religious and secular -- are rising up to demand action for intergenerational justice and to ensure ecosystem viability for centuries to come.

Michael is author of Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World -Viking Adult (June 19, 2008. Find more about the book here.

Follow Michael Dowd at his web site, and on Facebook.

Learn more about the books of his wife Connie Barlow here.

Dowd claims God is speaking to us through science, and fundamentalist beliefs will create "Hell on Earth":

Irresponsible ‘end times’ thinking is condemning our children and grandchildren to rising sea levels and a literal hell on Earth. If humanity doesn’t come into right relationship with Reality soon, we will perish.

His 2009 TEDx talk "Why We Struggle and Suffer" is found here.


In our Radio interview, Reverend Dowd was reticent to tell us exactly who among the religious right claim environmentalism is a dangerous enemy, and that global warming is exaggerated and good for us. After all, he meets many from those churches, and hope to bring them around.

I think it's important to know who used Christianity in the service of fossil fuel corporation profits. Let's name names in this hate movie "The Green Dragon".

Speaking against the climate and fate of future generations in the trailer for the CD series are:

* Bryan Fischer, American Family Association

* Pastor jack Hibbs, CAlvary Chapel California

* E Calvin Beisner, Founder Cornwall Alliance

* Tony Perkins, President Family Research Council

* Richard Land, Southern Baptist Convention

* David Barton, Founder Wallbuilders

* Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family

* David Noebel, Summit Ministries

* Wendy Wright, former President of Concerned Women for America

* Harry Jackson, Hope Christian Church

* Frank Wright, President National Religious Broadcasters

* Michael Farris, Home School Legal Defense and Patrick Henry College

* Steven Hayward, Author

...and of course the hostess for the film, Janet Parshall. On her radio show, for example, one of her guests was Mark Musser, author of “The Nazi Origins of Apocalyptic Global Warming Theory”; “Green Lebensraum: The Nazi Roots of Sustainable Development” and other such books. That was on May 6, 2012. Find out more here.

We can add to this list the Canadian educated professor of Physics and Computer Science at Presbyterian College, James A. Wanliss. He's the author of the book "The Green Dragon: Is Global Warming a Religion", and a second book published by the Cornwall Alliance titled "Resisting the Green Dragon: Dominion Not Death".

Several points in the CD promotion trailer for this Green Dragon film caught my interest. First, Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention are worries that environmentalists will bring in new regulations on greenhouse gases. That's the first step to total tyranny they tell us. They don't say it could also hurt the oil companies and fossil fuel magnates who funnel large amount of money into their foundations and causes.

They accuse the greens, who have been far from power, of trying to take over the world. That's laughable, when we consider the wealthy 1% are always trying to take over the world, if they haven't already.

Second, these ministers, who demand total obedience from their flocks, right down to denying a scientific education to their children, call environmentalism a cult. Who are the cult leaders here?

The trailer and a shorter promo piece were posted on You tube, and on other web sites. The comments are almost entirely negative. Viewers reject this as the nonsense it is. Only the true believers will accept anti-science, and even in this film they admit their young leave the church, never to return, as soon as they become adults. Is this a dying gasp of older white folks, mostly white men, clinging to the fossil age?

What would Jesus think?

If you don't mind getting mad, check out the Green Dragon promo on You tube.

Or watch the whole awful 12 minute trailer here.

Finally I say this to any parents whose pastor or preacher tells them global warming science is not true, or still uncertain. How can you not speak out for your children? How can you let authority deny them a safe climate to grow up in, the patterns you and your ancestors depended upon? I hope mothers at least, if not fathers, will tell such religious leaders that Hell on Earth is not worth anybody's profits or positions of authority.

The God of love would never approve of wrecking creation for a buck. As Reverend Dowd says, God is not a terrorist.

Please keep in mind, I am not bashing Christianity here. There are plenty of climate leaders who believe deeply. Bill McKibben founder of is an elder in his Church. South Africa's Bishop Tutu has spoken out against climate change. The two most recent Popes have call climate distruption a "sin". The last Archbishop of Cantebury was very outspoken for climate action. Many churches are spearheading the move out of fossil fuel investments, and corporate responsibility. We need the support of good Christians to help stop this fossil fuel juggernaut.

But the Christian climate deniers need to be called out. Others have tracked the trail of oil wealth, from Exxon/Mobil to the Scaife family, pouring money into front groups like the Cornwall Alliance and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow or (CFACT). CFACT received $542,000 from ExxonMobil, $60,500 from Chevron, and $1,280,000 from Scaife family foundations, whose money came partly from Gulf Oil. The head of the Cornwall Alliance is on the Board of CFACT, and they all share the sam eoffice in Virginia. Find more about all this from the Climate Progress blog.

Right Wing Watch continues to watch these Green Dragon participants/conspirators here.

Here is another good piece on the whole Green Dragon ploy by fundamentalist churches and their corporate backers.

That is a great expose on this whole Green Dragon play, written by a group called Right Wing Watch. Look for the report "The "Green Dragon" Slayers: How the Religious Right and Corporate Right are Joining Forces to Fight Environmental Protection".

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Who knows how many millions have poured into fundamentalist churches and their schools from wealthy oil and coal men and their well-hidden foundations?

These are the lobbyists who work connections in the Tea Party, in the Republican Party, and in State Legislature to gut environmental regulations, to deny climate change, to even pass laws outlawing any provisions or preparations for climate change. I have to say it: they are traitors to our children, the future, and all species. And so far, they appear to be winning.


The Guardian newspaper reported last week, a leaked advance copy of the next IPCC Working Group Three concludes: greenhouse gas emissions grew nearly twice as fact in this new century, from the year 2000 to 2010, as in the previous 30 years. The economic troubles did not slow down that outpouring of carbon pollution.

Every year of delay kills more species, kills more changes of living in a world worth living in.

As the retired professor Guy McPherson reminds us there is about a 30 year delay in the full impact of greenhouse gases. The serious disruption we are experiencing now, all around the world, is from emissions in the 1970's and 1980s. We know this for a scientific fact. That means we are already assured of worse to come, from our accumulated and even higher emissions so far this century. All that will strike humanity in the 2020's and 2030's.

With the combined positive feedback effects already triggered, things like melting permafrost, Greenland glaciers, Arctic methane, dying forests, we may already be beyond the point where human intervention can save us. Nature's great wheels of a massive climate shift appear to be already engaged.

There are things we can do. We can probably prevent the climate from soaring up 6 or 8 degrees Centigrade within the lifetimes of the young now on Earth. We can probably still prevent total disaster unfolding over the next century or two. We can certainly begin to prepare a civilization flexible and sustainable enough to maintain a human social life, and preserve many of our fellow species. We can do that.


The United Nations Environment Program, UNEP, has just released a report on the growth of renewable energy around the world. It's good news and bad. The UNEP report is called "Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014". It was launched in the second week of April.

Eric Usher is responsible for renewable energy and sustainable energy finance for UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics. To get the latest, we reached him in Stockholm, Sweden.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Eric Usher in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

According to the report, investments in renewables went down in 2013 despite our hopes and all the hype. But the better news is that is partly because of a steep fall in the cost of solar panels. Even better, "renewables account for 43.6% of year's newly-installed generating capacity".

In fact, you need to know these key findings from the UNEP Press release:

"Frankfurt / New York, 7 April 2014 - Renewable energy's share of world electricity generation continued its steady climb last year despite a 14 per cent drop in investments to US$214.4 billion, according to a new report released today.

According to Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014 - produced by the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance - the investment drop of $US35.1 billion was partly down to the falling cost of solar photovoltaic systems. The other main cause was policy uncertainty in many countries, an issue that also depressed investment in fossil fuel generation in 2013.

Globally, renewables excluding large hydro accounted for 43.6 per cent of newly installed generating capacity in 2013. Were it not for renewables, world energy-related CO2 emissions would have been an estimated 1.2 gigatonnes higher in 2013. This would have added 12 per cent to the projected 2020 emissions gap that needs to be closed to remain within the global target of a 2 degree Centigrade temperature increase (the temperature rise we need to stay under to avoid catastrophic effects of climate change).

We discuss the burst of renewable energy in China. They started making solar panels and wind machines on a huge scale for export. As export markets fell in tougher economic time, more Chinese sustainable energy production was applied in China itself.

I was surprised at some of the countries who spent more on renewable energy. They include Canada, Chile, Israel, and New Zealand.

Japan's investments in alternative energy went up an astounding 80% following the shut-down of their nuclear reactor fleet. Perhaps there was a small silver lining to the radioactive cloud that is the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Find a brief summary of key findings, and other links to follow up on thie UNEP report here.


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Alex Smith

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Climate Change Has Arrived

Coming up in this program: a new report from the World Meteorological Organization tallies the big weather hits in 2013. Is it rampant climate change? Norway decides how to spend almost a trillion petrodollars, and Indian solar loses out. Plus direct from Yokohama Japan, the IPCC press conference promising we can somehow "manage" climate change, a food crisis, and maybe the sixth great mass extinction. Science and hopium on Radio Ecoshock 140409

"Politicians discussing global warming" by Isaac Cordal of Berlin. Great stuff.

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


If you live in eastern north America, it felt like the ice age is returning. Meanwhile millions of people in Europe got a winter of mild rain. So what is it, global cooling or global warming? We don't have to guess. Scientists measure temperatures all over the world, on the ground and by satellite. That information pours into the U.S. National Climatic Data Center. Jessica Blunden is a climate scientist and lead editor writing reports there.

Here is a blurb from NOAA:

"Have you ever wondered who writes the monthly global climate reports? Her name is Jessica Blunden, and she is a climate scientist with ERT, Inc., working here, at NCDC. In addition to writing those reports, which analyze global temperature and precipitation, Jessica is a lead editor for the annual State of the Climate series that is a supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Jessica’s academic training is in atmospheric chemistry and air quality. She did her fieldwork and research in this area for both her Master’s and Doctorate degrees, but she wasn’t always an atmospheric scientist. Before she became a scientist, Jessica spent several years working in the hospitality and tourism industry. During that time, she always felt something was missing. 'I eventually came to the realization that atmospheric science was my true calling,' Jessica said. Her love of weather and climate first blossomed in Mrs. Heath’s eighth grade science class. Jessica found her teacher fascinating and loved studying clouds and weather phenomena.

The State of the Climate series doesn't attribute causes for changes in weather, doesn't suggest policy, and doesn't make predictions about the future. It's an accurate, triple-checked reliable assessment of Earth's climate, month by month, and year by year.

Although it was still pretty cold by our standards, the Arctic was way above average this past winter. The non-scientist, the average person, wonders whether that forced some wicked cold weather further south. What is behind the infamous Polar Vortex that kept pounding Eastern North America?

The World Meteorological Association just released their new report titled "WMO statement on the status of the global climate in 2013". Find a good meaty press release summarizing the report here.

Read the full WMO 2013 report online for free here.

You can also access a fascinating interactive map showing the extreme weather events here. Be patient. It takes a bit to load, but it's worth it.

Get the latest climate reporting about the past winter from NOAA here. Despite what you may have experienced, it was the 8th hottest winter Earth has seen since we began measurements.

Find all the global and national reports on climate from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center here.

Jessica edits the monthly and annual State of the Climate Report.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock 18 minute interview with Jessica Blunden in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Norway, right up to the Prime Minister, made important promises this spring. With a state investment fund of almost a trillion dollars, Norway suggested they would divest from coal, and invest heavily in renewable energy.

Pundits estimated Norway could put 5 to 10% of it's oil and gas fund into solar and wind energy. That would be 50 to 100 billion dollars! Considering the whole world invested about $215 billion in renewables in 2013, that would be a boost of almost 20%. It could make a HUGE difference in the markets and progress toward safer energy.

Justin Guay of Sierra Club India, and author Jigar Shah invited Norway to plug the gap of a measely $500 million needed to finance solar power for about 200 million people in India. They didn't want a grant or charity, it would be a good investment which could change a lot of lives.

Came the day of the announcement last Friday April 4th, the Norwegians pulled back. Instead they promised to study the whole problem for another year (another year of record greenhouse gas emissions on Earth). Even the coal investments stayed in place. There will be plenty of pressure on Norway to keep to their former promises. And along the way, the Norwegians got rid of their pesky ethics committee too. That should solve the problem.

Groups from India have been seeking this $500 million all over. They tried the World Bank, which definitely should have funded this, instead of the failed and dangerous coal plants in India. No luck.

What we're talking about here are millions of people who have no light when the sun goes down. Children can't do homework, home business must close, there are no fans for the brutal summer heat.

Those who have light pay far more than your or I, being forced to buy polluting kerosene for lamps. That's the irony, the poorest people pay more for light than the richest.

A project to install solar in Africa has really taken wings. It's called "Lighting Africa". Instead of having to buy panels up front, a prohibitive cost for the poor of sub-Saharan Africa - companies make loans so the consumer pays as they use the energy. That works!

Next door to India, the renewables company Grameen Shakti is installing solar in 30,000 to 40,000 homes a month. Bengladesh has over 1 million solar installations, already ahead of much bigger India.

As Justin Guay tells us, India doesn't need more centralized plants and money wasted on a huge inefficient grid. They've been trying that for decades, and failed for over 200,000 million residents still without power. Solar takes power right where it is needed, without the 50% loss of energy associated with big energy grids.

Tune in to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Justin Guay here in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

Here are some helpful links:

Jigar Shah is the solar entrepreneur and author of the influential book for developing countries, "Creating Climate Wealth".

Sierra Club India on the state of solar in that country. And this piece on solar in Uttar Pradesh, one of India's poorest states, with over 200 million people. Find Justin's piece on solar investment in India here and another here. These are all good reads with hard-to-find info seldom touched by the mainstream media.


IPCC REPORT - My take for Radio

No doubt you've heard the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has released it's second major report. This one is not about proving climate change is triggered by human emissions.

Nor does it suggest how to reduce that greenhouse gas pollution of the atmosphere and ocean.This report says climate change has arrived already, and that further warming will occur. It tries to use science to outline who is most vulnerable to coming impacts, where the greatest risks lie, and how humans can best adapt to changes in everything from rainfall to violent storms, rising seas and a hotter world.

The lead authors present very severe impacts, but remain strangely optimistic that humans will find a way to manage these risks. They assume global governments will react to public pressure, and find rational solutions. In the press conference, co-chair of Working Group II, Chris Field from the Carnegie Institute, still talked about making a better world, as did other speakers on the panel.


Let's go to my recording of the press conference held in Yokohama Japan on March 31st, 2014. First, Dr. Michel Jarraud of the World Meteorological Organization says we now have no excuse for ruining the planet. We cannot claim ignorance.

Then I play you about 10 minutes from the presentation by Co-Chair Dr. Christopher Field, founding director of the Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology.

As you hear, several lead authors remain optimistic we will somehow "manage" the risks of climate change, even as they conclude agricultural production could drop as much as 50% by the year 2100, even as human population increased by billions. At another point they admit some scientists fear we are already entering the sixth great mass extinction. One source of their optimism is due to the assumptions in the reporting process. Pressed by a reporter in the Q and A, Dr. Field admits they did not consider global warming beyond two degrees, because they had no dependable science to predict such a scenario. I've had dozens of scientists on Radio Ecoshock who fear we will go well beyond 2 degrees C of warming. That's a big one to leave out!

Remember that every word of this IPCC report has to be approved by consensus by all world governments. Of course it's going to be political, and watered down, despite this feel-good approach by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri.

To be fair, Dr. Pachauri was the most realistic in his other assessments of our predicament, and I regret we didn't have time to run more of what he said. Pachauri warned that if we cannot reduce emissions soon, the whole of human society is in grave danger. Considering emissions have continued to rise despite more than 20 years of IPCC reports, it's hard to know where he finds even "guarded optimism".

Is is part of a culture of "hopium" at the point where science interfaces with governments?

In a couple of weeks, we'll have another brief round of media attention, as Working Group three releases their report on how to cut emissions. For one day, and one day only, the words climate change made the Google list of top story topics in the news. Considering we risk our future, and the whole ecosphere, should it not be a permanent fixture? Instead of the Karadashians or the latest juicy murder story?

This newest IPCC report is an improvement over the past reports. It has more current reporting, and is more blunt about the challenges we are facing. Even in it's watered-down form, it should be taught in every classroom in the world, starting next week. But who can tell the children what we try so hard to hide from ourselves?

I suggest you spend an hour of your life to watch the IPCC press conference in Yokohama on You tube.

Find the full IPCC Working Group II report "Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability" free online here.

Get my full report on this IPCC release, complete with the key quotes from the Yokohama press conference, here in CD quality or Lo-Fi.

As always, you can help get the word out by reposting those links, or the whole audio piece.


I'm on a fund-raising drive this April for Radio Ecoshock. I'm looking for just 15 brave subscribers willing to help carry the load and keep this going.

Just 15 people can make a huge difference keeping our big archives free and open for thousands of downloads each week, from all over the world. Subscribers also help me cover costs when equipment needs to be replaced, distribution costs, telephone bills, and all that.

Can you help? Head over to the web site at to sign up for a small monthly donation. I'll send my personal thanks, opening up a chance to chat over email if you have suggestions or comments on the program. Monthly subscribers and one-time donations keep this whole show going. I appreciate your support - it inspires and drive me, every week.

By the way, this blog now gets over 10,000 views a week! Plus thousands of downloads. Since I have no advertising budget, that means a lot of you have spread the word about Radio Ecoshock. Thanks!


Take a look at our new SoundCloud page!

Trying to reach still more listeners using every medium, I've opened up Radio Ecoshock on Soundcloud. Please tell your friends. It's a good way to shop around different shows, and download the ones you want.

This will be filed every week. But all the past programs are still at Head over there, and browse through our free downloadable programs from the past 7 years of broadcasting!

I'm thinking of offering private downloads from Soundcloud of the music I'm writing. This would be for Radio Ecoshock supporting members and donors. To add extra value, I'll specify that the member or donor can use these bits of music royalty free for their own podcasts, organization, or whatever.

It's hard to find lively Royalty free music that's affordable for non-profits. Believe me I know. I started writing my own music, to save the costs of buying expensive short pieces for the show.

Let me know if getting some of my music interests you. You can write any time, to radio //at//

I'm Alex Smith, working for you, the listener, and maybe for some other species who cannot speak for themselves. Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Rapid Collapse

Are we headed for collapse? A study partly funded by NASA says a combination of crisis could bring down the global system we count on. It's not guaranteed to happen, and we can't know when. But the world supply chains, just-in-time, makes the possibility of a sudden unravelling more possible. Would you believe everything from food to power to gasoline could disappear in just a matter of weeks? From Ireland, David Korowicz explains how. Radio Ecoshock 140402.

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


There is a small industry of pundits warning something is about to collapse. A large and growing public who suspect they are right. It's hard to pin down what sets analyst David Korowicz apart from the pack. Maybe it's his detailed big picture outlines that just make sense. Is that why he's in demand across the world, advising governments, business, and non-profits alike? Strangely, most of those organizations could become dis-functional very quickly, if David Korowicz is right.

It doesn't hurt that David is based in Dublin. Ireland just went through an economic beating ahead of us all. He's part of an organization named Feasta, advises government there, and runs his own business called "Human Systems Consulting". We're going to talk about two of his papers that explain why fragile systems, from the economy to the environment, could fall apart much faster than we think.

Here are the two papers we discuss:

1. "Trade-Off: Financial System Supply-Chain Cross-Contagion: a study in global systemic collapse"

This paper is available free from here.

2. The second is: "Catastrophic Shocks Through Complex Socio-Economic Systems: A Pandemic Perspective"

Download that paper as a free .pdf file here.

First, we note Ireland didn't go into the Dark Ages when it hit a financial brick wall a couple of years ago. Public services still work, the roads are open, the supermarkets well-stocked. Why did Irish society surive its flirtation with utter bankruptcy? David explains.

On You tube, I watched one of David's lectures. It was titled "The Modern Economy, Civilization, Complexity, and Collapse". He began with a picture of life in Kyrgyzstan, and how that local and resilient economy will be sucked into our globalized scheme, like everybody else. Won't they be better off? Yes probably, but they will be dependent on a super-system which is in itself very fragile, and open to rapid collapse.

History shows that once a country decides to join the global economy, its difficult if not impossible to go back to self-sufficiency.

We all like to blame the bankers or Wall Street manipulators for the current economic woes, David disappoints many a conspiracy theorist by saying there is no real organizing power behind the global economy. It works the way a forest does, he says. Things work together, but there is no one in charge. That's difficult for us to accept, so this was a good talk.

We also look into how a shut-down of relatively small commodities could ripple into really big events. We discovered that when just one or two factories in Japan shut down after the Tsunami of 2011, much larger car plants in the US and Europe had to close temporarily.

Some system losses are more critical than others. A failure in the perfume supply chain is survivable. A failure in our electrical, food, or sewage systems may not be. Even a small or publicly unknown component, such a rare earths, could trigger a much larger event.

One of the cases we examine in detail is the fuel truck protest on the United Kingdom in September 2000. Refineries were blockaded, and local gas/petrol stations ran out. All sorts of business and government offices had to close or go to a skeleton staff. Supermarket shelves were about to become empty, when leaders in the food industry warned the government to take action. It was a valuable lesson.

So what could happen. Korowicz looked at the case of a failure in the European banking system. We all know Spain, Italy, and Greece banks are close to bankruptcy, requiring aid. If there is a major failure, that will not stay in Europe, Korowicz says, but echo all over the world. In just a few weeks, masses of people could lose their jobs, and maybe their food supply. It's amazing how fast those coupled system breakdowns can happen in these modern times.

It is frightening to realize that most of our goods are no longer in warehouses. The rolling trucks are the only storage for outfits like Walmart or Tesco. If the trucks stop, for any reason, supplies end, with no backup. We see this in miniature when severe weather closes roads. How many days food supply does the average city have now? Maybe 3 to 5 days worth?

The second of his papers considers what could happen if a virulent disease erupts somewhere. It could be a new strain of Bird Flu in Asia, or SAARS or something we haven't seen before. With international air travel, it could spread widely in the world in just days. Our health systems might be overwhelmed. People would be afraid to go to work.

What if 50 million people died, as happened in the 1918/1919 outbreak of Spanish influenza? David tells us when at least one third of Europeans died during the Black Plague, around 1348-50, society was far less specialized. No technology was lost. But today, if we lose just a small number of key scientists, experts, or highly specialized workers, others cannot simply fill in those gaps. Systems begin to collapse.

I won't go on about solar storms - other than to say even the U.S. Federal Electricity Regulatory Commission, FERC, quietly admitted that if just 9 key electric substations went down, the whole of the United States could be without power for weeks, or maybe even months. Don't believe me? Check it out here, here, and here (last one is a paywall Wall St Journal).

These substations could be attacked by terrorists, as we now discover happened last year when a unit was shot up by snipers. A single solar storm could do it. Or they may just fail because the U.S. hasn't invested in it's electricity system in decades.

Picture a modern country without electricity. No gas pumps, no supermarket checkouts, no heating or cooling. Municipal water systems would fail. You wouldn't have a TV or the Internet to hear about it. Social chaos is guaranteed.

That's just one scenario among many. We return to David Korowicz, who studied the possibilities due to an infectious disease, like Bird Flu, SAARS or even Ebola getting loose. Are you ready? Nobody is.

Don't miss this in-depth interview. Find out more about David at his web site or on Facebook.

Still hungry? Try this History Channel special, packed with experts, on what happens with a global pandemic, on You tube. THANKS FOR SUPPORTING RADIO ECOSHOCK!

Radio Ecoshock is listener-supported radio. My thanks to those who keep it going. Download this program, and all our past programs as free mp3s from our web site at

As we close up shop for today, I've got one last musical comment on the push to distract everyone with a new version of the old Cold War. The TV talking heads and right-wing politicians want you to get pumped up for a new enemy, 1984 style. Never mind the weather has gone strange. A nice little war, and some fat military spending, might cover up the holes in our economy, the shady banks, and all the coal and oil we burn every day.

Feel free to use my new song in any way you like, except selling it. I'm Alex Smith. Thanks so much for listening to Radio Ecoshock, and caring about your world.

Listen to this song, "Let's Have A War" or download it, here.

It was all written using my beloved DAW program Ableton Live 9 and the Massive Synthesizer from Native Instruments. My thanks to the Ableton crew in Germany for getting me this software at a big discount to help Radio Ecoshock's non-profit effort.