Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Climate Change - We Don't Want It

SUMMARY: Dr. Bill Miller, author of "The Microcosm Within" on climate & new diseases. From Wales, Lloyd Jones' new "cli-fi" work, and "Victory Gardens" Vancouver co-founder Lisa Giroday on urban farming.


There's lots to do and hear in this edition of Radio Ecoshock. I start out asking Dr. Bill Miller about climate change and disease. But we dig into humanity's weak spot - the balance of immune systems which can wipe out any species quickly - or help us evolve. Miller says the microcosm rules all.

Then we're off to a tiny village in Wales, tucked into the United Kingdom. From his family farm, author Lloyd Jones tells us about his cli-fi book, a tale of the unwinding of our good times as climate change grinds things down.

The finale is a bright young voice from Vancouver, Canada. Lisa Giroday explains her Victory Gardens workers co-op, and the ways to create green jobs deep in the city.

Off we go.

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

Or listen on Soundcloud right now!


Dr. Bill Miller has been a radiologist for decades. That brought him out of any specialty, and into the world of tiny things within our bodies. He realized the human DNA, recently discovered, hardly covers what we are as an organism.

In fact we are a confederation of tiny beings. At least 9 out of 10 cells found in the human body are not ours! We host other organisms on every part of us, from eyelashes to toe-nails. There is far more foreign DNA and tiny organisms in our blood, guts, - everywhere. This conglomeration of co-dependence would total a much larger DNA picture, something Miller labels the "Hologenome".

Science shows that each of these organisms, from bacteria on up, have a type of cognition. They solve problems. Miller gives the example of an organism that enters our bodies, but seeks and finds our bones as the only place to live. There's a kind of spooky recognition that we don't know who we are at all, and our daily consciousness doesn't reflect decisions made all over our bodies without our knowledge.

Miller writes:

"Current research has unexpectedly revealed that all cells and microbes have elemental cognition and a previously unappreciated capacity for discrimination and awareness. From these faculties, cooperative natural genetic engineering is enabled; and it is from this starting point that biological complexity evolves. The Microcosm Within illuminates how immunological factors dominate evolution and extinction."

This vision of the multi-self, if you will, led Miller to realize that the immune system is key to both evolution and extinction. Sure Darwin's slow process of natural selection of the fittest takes place. But there are also sweeping changes of biota due to changes in the immune landscape.

On the larger human scale, we can see this in the great plagues of the Middle Ages, or the decimation of the aboriginal people in the Americas, once European diseases arrived. There was no immunological resistance. Scientists recently found evidence of an "end-of-the-world" class disease in Ancient Egypt.

That's the great fear behind things like SARS, the Bird Flu, or the Middle Eastern disease MERS.

Bill Miller adds a new disease to our radar: Chikungunya. This tropical disease has spread in the CariBbean, and is now showing up in the US South and Latin America. With proper medical care (which is not available in many countries) you can survive Chikungunya. But then years later you suffer painful after-effects which can be disabling. Check out this recent article in Wired magazine about the disease.

The point is with climate change, the range of formerly "tropical" diseases is moving north (or south in the Sounthern Hemisphere). We're seing Dengue Fever in Florida and Texas. Nile Fever has spread as far north as Canada. Malaria has moved into the highlands of Africa which used to be safe.

Miller suggest it may be disease which determine our fate, personally and as a species. Not just our diseases, but diseases of our food animals and plants as well. The Koala Bear is threatened by a new disease, as are bananas and many other crops. Perhaps, says Miller, we should spend less on massive projects like Carbon Capture and Storage, and more on the study of the immune system which protects - or fails to protect, all of us.

Extreme weather can also affect disease. When we get those torrential downpours, a sewage plant can flood out, or mosquitos thrive - just when the human community has been weakened, possibly by homelessness or lack of food. Extreme heat also weakens us.

It's a stimulating take not just on climate change, but what life really is. I found our talk eye-opening.

You can find a lot more in his book "The Microcosm Within, Evolution and Extinction in the Hologenome" and at his website.

Download or listen to this interview with Dr. William B. Miller Jr. in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Sometime we can see things better from the edge. Our guest, the Welsh wanderer and cli-fi novelist Lloyd Jones reports back from his personal edge.

Lloyd Jones discusses his relationship with the land and his concerns about global warming - the catalyst for his magnificent novel, "Y Dwr" (Water). We start with the moving audio in a short film on the farm in north Wales where he grew up. The film was created by Sara Penrhyn Jones for Wales Literature Exchange.

The farm is near the village of Abergwyngregyn, near Bangor Wales. The short film on Vimeo, about his life and work, touched me on several levels. In some ways, it captures a bit of my own journey, and this program.

As Jones says in his Vimeo presentation, it's not like Wales can affect this path toward a new and unknown climate. Can people in Wales really picture this coming future? Is there anybody left who knows how to survive without plenty of cheap oil and gas from abroad?

I asked hopefully if Lloyd, in his travels, encountered people organizing to live differently, say in Transition Towns, co-operative farms, or with self sufficiency? Sadly, he replied "No". In fact, during his walks, most often people are locked away each in their own homes watching television. We talk about what modern agribusiness has done to food and farms.

The novel "Y Dwr" (the Welsh word for Water) is set in rural Wales in a world changed greatly by global warming. Civilization has not been able to cope with the blows, and the cast of characters must re-learn how to survive directly from the land around them, as Lloyd's parents did on their farm. It's not easy, and in fact Jones does not provide a stock happy ending. The story of climate change may not end well for most humans.

The novel is available on Amazon in the UK (and so anywhere in the world). It is listed as a Kindle edition as well. Be warned: the novel is written in Welsh, not English!

Y Dwyr should not be confused with Llamhigyn Y Dwr, the mythological Welsh creature also called "the water leaper". That one looks like a cross between a bat and a frog.

There's a real charm about Lloyd Jones. It's hard to describe, but I think you'll like the interview, as I did.

Listen to or download this interview with Lloyd Jones in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

A tip of the hat to journalist Dan Bloom in Taiwan for steering me to Lloyd Jones. Dan coined the term "cli-fi" for the new genre of climate-based fiction.


As soon as you start to grow food, whether in your own yard or a community garden, you'll find a network of humans comes along too. Barely a day goes by, when someone doesn't show up at our door with extra tomato plants, an arm-load of rhubarb, or a tip on where to find wild-growing cilantro.

A team of urban gardeners-for-hire in Vancouver Canada is taking that spirit to the world. It's called Victory Gardens and you can expect their video tips to show up on Youtube.

Joining us from Vancouver is one of those Victory Gardeners, Lisa Giroday.

I see urban farming as a terrific way to create a lot of green jobs. I ask Lisa for tips for people who want to start out doing this.

Listen to, or download this can-do interview with Lisa Giroday here.

Here are more links to learn about the Victory Garden project, for ideas you could apply in your own city. Their groovy web site is here. Find them on Facebook here. And check out this first Victory Garden You tube video.

I learned about the Victory Garden project from this excellent article in the Vancouver Sun newspaper.


You can download any of our years of past programs as free mp3's at our web site Or try us at radioecoshock on Soundcloud.

It's my continuing pleasure to make these programs for you. I'm Alex Smith. Tune in next week for Radio Ecoshock.

We leave the program with a snippet from a new climate song I'm working on. It's called "Climate Change - We Don't Want It." That could involve you at your next climate action, or even a rave dance. This is the chorus to chant:

Climate change

We don't want it

Climate change

We can't stand it

Climate change

Don't let it happen!

I'd love to see that chant spread around the world. If you can have a choir sing that, or record a crowd chanting it - I'd like to add that to my song.

May of 2014 was the hottest May on Earth since humans learned how to keep records of temperatures. This may end up as the hottest year ever. And those records will be broken as long as you live. Let's use music to spread the word about the challenge of global warming!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

96F/36C Degrees in the Shade!

Coping with extreme climate heat. Carbon farming with Courtney White, socially responsible investing with NYC advisor Louis Berger, plus tips for staying alive, and keeping the garden alive, during extended heat. Radio Ecoshock 140618

Yes, the hot summer is coming to the northern Hemisphere. If you are in the American south or California, it's been toasty for some months already.

The future looks hotter still, as our emissions cause the climate system to swing toward it's greenhouse state. Farms will be in trouble, and so will your own home garden. Later in this program I'll continue with our series on growing in the heat. We'll hear great tips from experts in Florida and Colorado - ideas I'm already applying in my own garden.

I also have two interviews for you. Pretty well every aspect of our problems, and the solutions, involve the flow of big money. Many of us are unwilling partners in the mal-investment in corporations profiting from damaging the environment. It could be pensions, investments, or just your savings in the bank - where is it going? We'll talk with a heavy-weight New York investment advisor about the realities of Socially Responsible Investing.

But first, I want to get back to one of the few natural big-scale possibilities to save ourselves from the worst of climate change. It's not glamorous. It's just really, really important.

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


You know we are in a big mess with climate change. At this point we need big solutions - and there may be something much more natural than geoengineering. Is it possible we could even turn back the clock, even a little, on global warming?

I've interviewed experts about the importance of carbon in the soil. Some stress there is more carbon in the earth than in the atmosphere, so we must not continue to release it by poor agricultural practices and deforestation. Others strongly believe we can capture a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere, putting it back in the soil. This could be the best, or even at this point the only, way to actually reduce the build-up of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

We've had Alan Savory as a guest on Radio Ecoshock. He pioneered the use of carefully controlled cattle herds to replenish carbon in the soil. We just had a guest, Kip Anderson of the film Cowspiracy, tell us that some researchers, including the World Watch Institute, say the livestock industry is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. Can we still eat meat without killing the climate?

I keep listening for more soil carbon news. It's not big on CNN or You tube, but it's big news for the future. That's why I was pleased to find Courtney White has tied a lot of on-the-ground experience together for his new book "Grass, Soil, Hope." In a foreward, Michael Pollan wrote "this book promises to stir up hope even among those made cynical by relentless bad news."

Courtney White takes us on "A Journey through Carbon Country."

It's pretty wild that governments are willing to spend countless billions on all kinds of schemes, including giant farm subsidies, but I'm not aware of any government willing to pay carbon farmers.

Courtney, was a Sierra Club activist, but now he calls that the "conflict industry". We talk about why.

White went on to found the Quivira coalition, which he led until recently. Now he's taken time off to tour the country to research this book, and the promise of soil carbon.

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

More links for Courtney White:

Here is a video about the new book.

Here is a link to the publishers page for the book.

And you can read famous foody Michael Pollan's foreword to "Grass, Soil, Hope" here.

Find the Quivira Coalition web site here.


Here on Radio Ecoshock we normally interview scientists, authors, and activists. But behind almost every problem and solution we encounter, there is a flow of big money.

After the financial crash, and admissions of guilt by major institutions we trusted, many of us are suspicious of investing. Big money is being channeled into projects that actually wreck the world. Is socially responsible investing possible?

Whether you have money to invest or not, the answer to this question could literally determine your future and the fate of our civilization. We can pretend that world of high finance is too dirty, or will fall any day. Instead, I've called up Louis Berger, the Principal and Co-Founder of Washington Square Capital in New York.

Berger was big in the financial end of Hollywood, before becoming an advisor for the Swiss bank UBS. He then co-founded his own investment firm.

I hang around the Zero Hedge website, with peak oil people, and a crowd with a bleak view of our prospects. So I ask Louis if he is optimistic or pessimistic about the economy? He is guardedly optimistic, seeing many signs of recovery - but says the original problems in the financial system were not fixed. Also, the whole market system is still too heavily dependent on the Federal Reserve buying 35 billion dollars worth of assets every month.


We talk about the move for Universities and Churches to divest from fossil fuels. Berger says the big fossil fuel companies are a bad investment in the long run anyway. as people become more aware of climate change, he thinks some kind of carbon tax is inevitable.

We discuss how to find out if "green" investments really are OK for the planet. And we talk about Louis' article about the risks of some green investments, based on the case of Mosaic - the crowd-funded company investing in small-scale solar projects. It's a good company he says, but it could be hard to get your money out if needed, and there is some risk the project could fail.


We know there are almost 50 million Americans on food stamps, and millions more very poor people in Canada, the United Kingdom, - pretty well everywhere in the developed world. At the same time, there are more millions who are making good money, plus a wave of inheritances as the generations change. What questions should the millenial generation have for experts who advise where to invest?

This whole question of investing puts some people in a strange spot. They may picture themselves critical of banks and the stock market, and yet depend on them, whether they know it or not, for pensions and savings. That's a stress-point for some folks, and they try to sit on the sidelines with cash. But is there really any "sidelines" or opting out of this financial system? All the money flows somewhere.

There is a growing resentment against Too Big To Fail Wall Street Banks, who appear to get away with price fixing or even fraud with no criminal charges. It's my impression this resentment is spilling over to ANY investment, or anyone in the investment field. This kind of disconnect could hurt the whole industry - and Louis Berger says the distrust is valid, considering the way the Too Big To Fail banks operated.

Here are some key points from investment guru Louis Berger:

"* Our view on socially responsible investing is that it's a way for a person to take ownership and responsibility over their investments -- to ensure that the companies they're invested in are aligned with their values.

* In the last several years, many progressives in the US have begun questioning their consumer choices -- where/how their food is grown, goods are made, energy is sourced etc. It's a natural progression to begin thinking about how and where their money is invested.

* Traditionally, most people have separated their investments and their philanthropy -- invest their money at a bank or brokerage and make a charitable contribution to a non-profit working in a space they care about (ex: environmental protection). Trend is now towards merging the two.

* There seems to be a movement towards SRI in the millennial generation. We're encountering new clients that are young and care about environmental/humanitarian issues. Often, they've inherited money from a parent or grandparent. They also inherit a financial advisor who is either not interested or incapable of providing SRI advice. We see it as a major growth opportunity going forward as this wealth transfer continues and the vast majority of financial advisors are not equipped to provide SRI advice. The big banks have begun to take notice as well.

* While we understand there are limitations to the amount of social good one can make by investing in the public markets, the fact is we live in a world (perhaps more so in the US) where at least some portion of our net worth is tied up in the stock/bond markets (brokerage account, retirement/pension account, college savings account, etc). This is the way our financial system currently works. Therefore, it's imperative for those people who care about environmental and humanitarian issues to ensure the companies they invest in are on the same page. By investing in oil/gas, weapons manufacturers, mining companies, tobacco companies etc -- even if it's unintentional -- you are not only endorsing their corporate behavior, you are helping to foster their growth.

* SRI is challenging many companies and industries to begin changing the way they do business. There is still a very long way to go, but it's definitely moving the needle in the right direction."

Find more info about Louis Berger here.

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


Last week we heard Marjory Wildcraft with tips on gardening in extreme heat. Marjory will be joining us in a program soon. You may think you will grow some of your own food - but how will you deal with record heat or drought? Even more worrying, as we heard on our show a couple of years ago from You tube garden guru HumptyDumptyTribe, if the nights don't cool down, plants won't produce fruit. You can have flowers, busy bees, and still get no tomatoes. That's going to be a problem for most of us in the coming years.

Let's start with this recording of a You tube video from Carol Omera, a horticulture expert from Colorado State University. She recorded this essential video during one of Colorado's stunning heat waves. Her tips are basic, about how we plant, ensuring enough water, and the big lesson for me: get your shade cloth ready. If you want to keep your cool-weather plants like peas and lettuce producing, we will have to shade them.

Watch the video with Carol Omera on You tube here.

So let's get to Florida, where it's hot, hot, hot - and humid too. Sumter County Extension Agent Brooke Moffis tells us how we can keep ourselves safe from heat stroke, while keeping summer plants alive. Yep, it involves broad-brimmed hats, being sensible about when you are out there, and learning the signs of heat stroke (one of which is impairment of judgement...) Then Brooke talks about plants that will still produce in high heat, like Okra.

My thanks to the University of Florida for that audio. Watch it here.

This has been Radio Ecoshock. Don't miss our Soundcloud page, and all our past programs as free mp3 files at

The theme song this week was "96 degrees in the Shade" by the band Third World. The song is about the Jamaican hero Paul Bogle, who was hanged in 1865 after demanding civil rights for all.

I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for listening, and caring about our world.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Planet Code Red

The amount of carbon we can burn and still have a safe climate is zero. One Australian calls it Code Red, time for emergency action. Plus new science on why New York City will flood again and again. Guests David Spratt and Dr. Stefan Talke, plus special on gardening in extreme heat with Marjory Wildcraft. Radio Ecoshock 140611 1 hour in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

In this Radio Ecoshock show: we find out the amount of carbon we can burn and still have a safe climate is zero. One Australian calls it Code Red, time for emergency action.

Then we'll zero in on one of the global cities that will flood time and time again. A new scientific report on why New York City is going under.

We end with a quick lesson from a wise garden grower in Texas. How and what to plant in the coming times of heat and water stress as the climate warps far from normal.

I'm Alex Smith. Get ready for Radio Ecoshock.

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


Our talk was pretty wide-ranging. You should listen to the interview if you have time.

We began by looking at who originally set two degrees (Centigrade) as a safe level for the world to warm. We've already seen major melting at both poles, plus storms, droughts and weird weather in between, and that's just at 1 degree hotter over pre-industrial times.

The two degree "safe" limit was from William Nordhaus, who wasn't a climate scientist at all. He was an economist when he made that limit in the 1970's. We've found out a lot since then!

Find out more in my notes on a Guy McPherson speech. Search in that document for "Where did the 2 degrees "Safe" Limit Come From".

David Spratt hit it dead on when he said the politicians think the 2 degree limit is coming from the climate scientists, while climate scientists think the 2 degree mark is just political!

Neither is right. David Spratt explains why 2 degrees is far from safe, and anyway on our current path of fossil fuel burning we are heading to 4 degrees or more. By the way, each 1 degree of warming, David says, adds another 15 meters of sea level rise (almost 50 feet!!)over time.

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with David Spratt in CD quality or Lo-Fi.

You can listen right now on Soundcloud here.

Here is a short URL for this David Spratt interview, in case you want to Tweet about it.


If we do get to 4 degrees what happens?

"If we get to 4 degrees of warming, we think, our best expert guess is that the carrying capacity of the planet will be under 1 billion people. So that's a very strong statement.

Other people were - James Lovelock said that many years ago. And more recently at a presentation in England Kevin Anderson [Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research] said 'I think four degrees is incomaptible with the continuation of human civilization.'

So I think there's a widespread view that it's simply - we could not go on as we are. And obviously at 4 degrees of sea level will in the end go up to 70 meters, that's going to drown most of human civilization. So it's a very dramatic scenario.

On the road to the alleged safe level of 2 degrees, a whole series of reports, from the Stern Report in Britain to the Garnaut Report in Australia, to the IPCC - they all try to calculate "the carbon budget". That's the amount of carbon we can still burn before going over 2 degrees. They talk about gradual reductions of fossil fuels over decades because that pleases industry, politicians, and classical economists.

That whole exercise is not just a farce, says David Spratt, it's an illusion so dangerous it could endanger most of humanity.

Spratt explains the real numbers. Humans so far have put up about 550 billion tons of carbon. Then the real odds chime in.

"If you want a 33% chance of staying below two degrees, then you can have 1500 in your budget. If you want a 50% chance it comes down to 1200. If you want a 66% chance of staying below 2 degrees then it's 1,000. And then if we take gases other than carbon dioxide, because we're putting up methane and nitrous oxide, and so on - then perhaps the budget is 800."

So if you want a two in three chance that we won't ruin the entire planet for all succeeding generations and most other species, the real amount left to burn could be 250 billion tons.

We are currently emitting about 10 billion tons a year, so ostensibly we can go on with our current emissions for another 25 years, and if we are lucky, get away with "just" 2 degrees of warming.

But wait. There are huge holes in even that estimate. For one thing, it doesn't account for increases in emissions. We are emitting more every year, as we fixate on global "growth" of economies. Nor does it count any growth in natural emissions, from positive feedbacks like a warming ocean due to disappearing sea ice. There is no spot in this "carbon budget" for any increase in methane in the warming Arctic, due to either frozen methane balls melting under the sea (the "clathrates"), or from melting permafrost.

Then David Spratt brings in another budget killer. We need to allow for future emissions from agriculture, to feed the growing human population. We may be able to de-industrialize somewhat, to switch to renewables, etc. - but we will still want food. Commercial agriculture, as we learned recently from our guest Kip Anderson, releases more greenhouse gases than our whole transportation system. Humans also deforest and slash burn for agriculture, which means continuing emissions.

Spratt says once we account for the future food emissions, there is no carbon budget left at all. Zero! His solution is calling for a recognition of this planetary emergency. We talk about the way Britain totally transformed their economy and way of living in 1939, as World War Two developed, and cessation of automobile production in the United States in 1942, for the same reason. We have made a major change before. We can do it again, and we must.

Getting rid of the illusion of having a "carbon budget" left to spend, like secret money in the bank, is one first step to waking up the extreme danger of our situation.

In 2008, David Spratt published his important book "Climate Code Red, the Case for Emergency Action." With his blog, and especially his recent post "Carbon budgets, climate sensitivity and the myth of 'burnable carbon'" - Spratt continues his campaign to get people and world leaders to face the facts raised by science.

Keep in touch with David Spratt's work at his influential blog Climate Code Red.


We saw it in Hurricane Sandy. Parts of Manhattan were flooded, including streets, subways, and buildings. Expect a lot more of that as sea levels rise. But you won't have to wait a century to find more flooding in America's largest city.

A recent scientific letter suggests the odds of storm tides overflowing sea walls in New York City have increased 20-fold since the mid-1800's.

Dr. Stefan Talke has a PHD in civil and environmental engineering. He's studied the way sediments work in rivers and estuaries in Europe and on the Pacific coast, where he teaches at Portland State University.

Along with scientists Philip Orton and David Jay, Stefan Talke just published these startling findings about New York City flooding in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. It's titled "Increasing Storm Tides in New York Harbor, 1844-2013". Find the abstract and paper details here.

Here is one scary quote from that paper:

"Three of the nine highest recorded water levels in the New York Harbor (NYH) region have occurred since 2010 (Mar. 2010, Aug. 2011, and Oct. 2012), and eight of the largest twenty have occurred since 1990."

OK, why is New York flooding? The answers (and there are several) aren't easy, but each one leads to a greater understanding of the planet we live on.

I hesitate to explain what Dr. Talke said eloquently in the interview, but my impressions are these:

1. New York, and much of the coast of New England is sinking. It's called "subsidence". One cause of that was the glaciers of past ages. Not because New York was covered by a glacier, but because it wasn't. Land further inland, that was flattened lower by the huge weight of ice miles deep. That land sank, and is now rising, while the coast is sinking. That is one reason New York will flood more.

2. Another factor is a huge cycle of weather in the North Atlantic. It's called the North Atlantic Oscillation. I wont' go into that here. Google it, or listen to an excellent explanation of that, and it's impact on storm surges and storm tides, in this Radio Ecoshock interview.

By the way, Stefan Talke carefully explains the critical difference between a "storm surge", and a "storm tide". The latter is when a storm surge builds on top of a rising tide, as happened in Hurricane Sandy.

3. Human interference in land use in New York Harbor makes it easier for high water to come in (and get out). There is less friction when wetlands are gone, and most of the sea side is lined with concrete.

4. Finally, as you might expect, there is the issue of rising seas as the planet warms. This adds to all the other factors. In the long run, it will become the biggest driving factor.

All this adds up to America's largest city, the hub of communications and finance, having to spend more and more trying to repair flood damage. Think flooded subways, damaged underground pipes and electrical systems, continual flooding in Manhattan and some boroughs. It's going to weight the economy down, and eventually drive part of the city underwater.

There are possible harbor defences, like tide gates which cost about $10 billion for NYC, as suggested by our guest J. Court Stevenson in my Radio Ecoshock interview linked from this show blog.

But that just adds a few more decades to New York's life. After that, it's retreat from the sea. The Wall Street bankers who finance oil and coal don't really understand that. Or it they do, they obviously don't care. It's a problem for the next generation - or is it?

We also discuss how port dredging can lead to ecological dead zones, and some strange stuff about the health of San Francisco Bay. It's real science in the real world. I like this interview.

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Stefan Talke, in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

Or listen on Soundcloud here.


I've been out gardening in some hot weather. I wonder how we'll grow food when it get's even hotter!

We're all wondering how to survive in a heat stressed world. In this program I play you the 8 minute audio from the best short You tube video I've found on this subject.. It's by Marjory Wildcraft, recorded in a garden farmyard of Texas, during their incredible drought and heat wave two years ago. Listen and learn, grasshopper. Here is the link to that You tube video.

Marjory covers several things. First, the old farmers in Texas really had two seasons: spring gardens and fall gardens. Not much grows in the 108 degree heat that's been coming in summers of recent years.

Then she describes at least three food plants which can survive the heat and even drought. It's good survival prepper information, and good for the family budget, even as the climate changes.

This wise advice comes from Marjory Wildcraft at It's called "Gardining in the Heat" posted on You tube in November 2011. And check out her influential DVD called "Grow Your Own Groceries". I'm going to ask Marjorie to join us on the program.

I'll be doing more on gardening in the heat in coming shows.

That is our program for this week, from one species in trouble on the living planet. Get our past programs free from the web site Encourage your friends to listen on their local non-profit radio station, or on the Radio Ecoshock Soundcloud page.

My special thanks to those listeners who donated this week to help keep this project going out to the public.

I've also posted my new song "All the Beasts" on Soundcloud. In addition to some rocking dance music, it features quotes about an earthly paradise of plants and beasts, just waiting for you. Sadly, the recording is from Jim Jones, the deadly preacher who led his flock into a mass suicide. We live in an ironic universe.

Thank you for listening to Radio Ecoshock this week (instead of Jim Jones), and thank you for caring about your world.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014


"Population Bomb" author and Stanford Prof. Paul R. Ehrlich and film-maker, activist Michael Charles Tobias on hope in the midst of danger. Stand-up comedian & economist Yoram Bauman on climate humor. Radio Ecoshock 140604

Knowing what we know about dwindling energy, the total debt economy, and a dangerously sliding climate, how can anybody talk about hope?

I know more people will tune in for the latest disaster news, and there's plenty of that to go around. But this show asks three really smart people how we could tilt all that into worthwhile good lives on a good planet. These aren't pollyannas or professional spin-masters. Our guests are famous in their fields. They've been around the block with human disgrace and our attack on nature.

After publishing "The Population Bomb", written with his wife Anne, Paul R. Ehrlich remains an essential public figure 50 years later. He's the Bing Professor of Population Studies at Stanford University and president of Stanford's Center for Conservation Biology.

Ehrlich teamed up with a green giant of film-making for the new book "Hope on Earth, a Conversation".

The other end of that conversation is Michael Charles Tobias. You've seen his work on TV and films, whether you know his name or not. Animal rights activists respect his work too.

Basically, I grill them both, first about the real world situation, and then how they can find any self-respecting hope.

Then we veer off into the improbable: climate humor. We'll talk with a professional stand-up economist about climate change and comedy. Yoram Bauman has been on Comedy Central, does stand-up tours, and just co-authored a new book "The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change".

It's your long-lost hope and desperate laughs, right here on Radio Ecoshock.

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


Hope is almost a cursed word, especially after disappointment with the first Obama campaign. Maybe it's even hard to hope in the certain knowledge we have disrupted the climate for generations to come. Is hope a damaged word, and what should we hope for?

Some of the rich dialogues in the book are about the intricate patterns of nature. How do these apply to people isolated in heated or air-conditioned boxes, plugged into the imaginary world of electronic selves?

In this new book "Hope on Earth", I was surprised to find discussions about butterflies and bugs - until I dug into Dr. Ehrlich's serious qualifications as an entomologist. I wondered how his professional knowledge of the insect world feeds back into our vision of the human. Are we like the insects in some ways?

Speaking of warring ants, I aks Paul what he makes of the resurrection of the Cold War, with the United States and it's allies against Russia, and maybe China? Considering all the real problems we humans have, Ehrlich finds posturing by the United States preposerous, but he's no friend of the politics in Russia these days either.

It's a wide-ranging interview from a mind exceptional even in his 80's. Erhlich tells us he's just getting started, with lots of work yet ahead of him.

Download/listen to this interview with Paul Ehrlich in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


He's an author, a true ecologist, and mountain climber. You've probably seen his work as a film-maker. Michael Charles Tobias created the 1991 "Voice of the Planet" series for Turner Broadcasting, with William Shatner as host. He's done a slew of documentaries since then, including "Hotspots" for PBS.

Back in 2006, I interviewed Howard Lyman, the Mad Cowboy who converted from raising cattle to becoming a vegetarian. But Tobias was there first, with his documentary in 2005.

Tobias is equally well known in the animal rights and conservation movement, where's received awards and accolades for his work. He leads the Dancing Star Foundation devoted to species preservation.

Now Michael has teamed up with Stanford's Dr. Paul Ehrlich for a deep conversation in the book "Hope on Earth".

As a radio host covering science, it still bothers me that all the talk about climate change, even among major environment groups, is the impact it will have on humans, our gross domestic product, or whether big cities will flood. Michael Charles Tobias has been speaking up about climate disruption on behalf of the rest of the species that inhabit this globe.

I suppose the media knows that humanism sells. We are interested in much beyond ourselves, except cat videos. How can we break this generation out of the electronic matrix, to really care about other creatures?

It's come to the point that anyone who speaks out our treatment of farm animals, or even photographs the awful truth, is branded a terrorist. But Tobias doesn't fear, and counts people like Ingrid Newkirk of PETA as his friends.

Michael found the Dancing Star Foundation, which among other things is involved in Animal rescue in California and New Zealand. But it's a lot deeper than that, using many venues in its mission "Helping humankind protect the natural world."

Here is Michael's own web site.

Download/listen to this interview with Michael Charles Tobias in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Or listen to this interview right now on Sound Cloud.


You know it's global warming when:

Middle East oil producers feel at home everywhere.

Hot water comes out of both taps.

You find out ashphalt has a liquid state.

The four seasons are: tolerable, hot, really hot and ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?

- found at

Our next guest is an economist who has assessed climate change. But wait, before you hit the snooze button, Dr. Yoram Bauman bills himself as the world's first and only Stand-up Economist. He tours the country doing comedy gigs that connect with ordinary people, explaining difficult concepts.

I suppose it's appropriate that from Comedy Central Yoram has moved on to publish a book on global warming - all in cartoons. I'll do anything to reach the public, and so will Yoram, so let's do it. Let's dare to talk about the economics of destroying the world's climate.

The book is "The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change" with illustrator Grady Klein, published by Island Press. I've looked it over, and I think anyone over the age of 8 could enjoy it. This should be a good tool to reach work-mates, family and friends with a simple and easy to access explanation of climate science.

Before we get to the comedy, I ask Bauman about his day job, which includes calculating ways and means to change our economy to reward carbon reductions, rather than our current system of rewarding carbon emissions.

It seems to me that billions spent rebuilding after something like Hurricane Sandy is money that isn't spent on public health care, rebuilding ricketty bridges, or replacing our wasteful electric grid. Does it matter what we spend the money on?

My theory is that climate damage - just the impacts of all the extreme weather events - will eventually cause an economic crash the likes of which we have not seen before. Can we run out of wealth to rebuild?

Bauman is more optimistic than I am about our continuing economy. I also don't agree with his opinion that the car economy will (and should) keep going for another few decades while emissions come down. Do we really have decades to keep polluting the Earth?

On the other hand, Bauman, through his act, his humor, and now this cartoon explanation of climate change - is taking these important scientific messages to people who otherwise might shut it out. I think he's doing important work.

Find Yoram Bauman's web site here at Get a taste of his stand-up comedy here on You tube.

Download/listen to this interview with Yoram Bauman in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

How do Prius owners drive?

One hand on the wheel, the other patting themselves on the back

That's it for Radio Ecoshock this week. Thanks for all your support!

Alex Smith