Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Extreme rainfall events are cropping up around the world. In England, once in a thousand year floods have repeated 3 times now, in five years. Records are falling in many countries. In a warmer world, we've gained 7 percent more water vapor in the atmosphere. It has to come down somewhere.

The short news clips about extreme rainfall events around the world came courtesy of BBC, Reuters, Fox, ABC, CBS, Euronews.


A few weeks ago, our guest David Wasdell suggested the outcome of our current path of emissions would eventually be a world at least 8 degrees C hotter on average, maybe more. Some questioned that. It is now the most heavily downloaded interview I've posted on soundcloud. If you missed it, listen in here.

This week the University of Edinburgh released a paper echoing Wasdell's climate. Eight degrees is possible, according to Professor Roy Thompson, as published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Find the University press release here.


Climate change does not occur in a steady economy, or a peaceful time. This Fall we saw in Paris how terrorism empowered politicians to ban climate action, in the name of public safety. The terrorists knew they were attacking before the world flooded to the COP21 climate talks. They succeeded in disrupting the essential public voice.

But in this show, we ask two questions: will the fossil-based economy collapse just as extreme weather events punish property and infrastructure. What if we are too broke to rebuild or cope? There's a blog for that. It's theeconomiccollapse blog, with millions of readers. We'll look at frashing warning a new depression is forming, with blogger Michael T. Snyder.

Then, believe it or not, there are darker things to consider. If climate disrupts agriculture, as expected and already happening, social violence and wars may become worse. Our guest Professor Tim Snyder explains why climate change may open the door to more mass murder. It needs to be said.

Off we go, with black clouds hanging over economies around the world.

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB) Or listen on Soundcloud right now!


The Federal Reserve just said the U.S. economy is so rosy they can raise interest rates by .25%, the first rise in about 7 years. So why is this environment reporter covering just the opposite?

Remember Hurricane Sandy, all pumped up with rising seas and a hot ocean off the U.S. East Coast. The damages from that one storm were estimated at $60 billion dollars, or about 55 billion euros to "fix". That didn't include bolstering the shore-line, or the estimated $10 billion dollars our Radio Ecoshock guest Professor J. Court Stevenson recommended to create flood-gates to protect New York Harbor. Download that 21 minute interview here.

What about the billions lost in the California drought, or more tens of billions with Hurricane Katrina? Politicians, and we the public, always presume there will be money to rebuild. Except we're already in the total debt economy, nationally, regionally, and personally. If the massive global economic system experiences a crash, there will be no money to recover from recurring climate damage. We will get hit - that's pretty well guaranteed from rising seas, extreme rainfall events (I report on a few of those in this show), agricultural losses, record wild-fires - you know, a lot of bad things.

The good news could be that only a global economic crash can prevent us from terra-forming the planet into a dying world. Things like the tar sands won't be worth developing, and ditto for dangerous Arctic drilling. The history of the past few decades shows only an economic collapse, like the fall of the Soviet Union, has led to genuine reduction of emissions.

The bad news is a lot of bad news. For example, if there is no money to invest, we may not make the transition toward cleaner solar and wind energy, or electric cars. We may be stuck with whatever inefficient grid and coal power plants we've got, not to mention aging nuclear hulks run way past their best before date. We may get stuck in the 20th century.

Of course there's a lot more. Pension funds could go broke. Governments could go broke (some already are). People will lose jobs, the poor will get even less, some of us will lose hope. It's a Depression with a capital "D".

Ever since the last "recession" of 2008, when major institutions teetered on the brink of global ruin - Michael T. Snyder has been writing a blog saying nothing has been fixed from that time, and in fact, most things have become even more precarious. For the past few months he's been posting various warning from the internal workings of the macro economic system that tell us another crash is developing. In the past few weeks, a lot of what Michael warns about is coming to the surface, even in the mainstream popular press.

Michael T. Snyder

In our interview he gives a list of about ten big warning signs. For example, the junk bond market has already collapsed, as it did before stocks fell in 2008. "Junk bonds" are really higher risk loans to corporations, like Chrysler for example. Most big pension funds are based on a presumed rate of return much higher than "safe" guaranteed interest rates. These funds need money just to pay out retirees now on the roles, much less the baby-boomers hitting the decks. Pension funds were more or less forced into the junk bond market.

Just in the last week, a big junk bond company called Third Avenue had so many demands for payouts (people bailing) they had to deny requests. There wasn't enough money. This triggered a run on many other junk bonds. It's a run on the junk bond bank.

That's just one sign. The near death of international shipping and trade is another. In fact, there have been a series of major banks, well-known international banks, who have warned a "downturn" is just around the corner. Private investment banks are warning their clients about the same. Michael Snyder has lists of them in his blog!


So why isn't Fox News and the general mass media telling you how serious this is? Snyder reminds us that six major media corporations control about 90% of what we see, hear - and talk about. The average American now watches 293 minutes of TV a day. Add in all the other media, like the Internet, social media, radio, newspapers - and those six corporations fill up an astounding 10 hours of the average person's day! Snyder calles it "the propaganda matrix".

It's little wonder that whatever they are blaring out over multiple outlets gets talked about in the office, at home, and on the street. It could be the Kardashians, terrorism, refugees, Donald Trump, somebody to hate, some awful crime - but it's seldom, very seldom, the raw facts that our economy isn't working for 99% of the people.

The world's fifth largest economy, the big hope of the developing world, is officially in a "Depression" according to Goldman Sachs. Do you know what country that is? Probably not. A few dozen stock markets around the world have already crashed. Did you know that? That's why you, and anybody who cares about the future, should listen to this interview with Michael T. Snyder.

Download or listen this Radio Ecoshock interview with Michael T. Snyder in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

If you want to Tweet or Facebook this interview, use this smaller link to the Lo-Fi version (which downloads faster to phones...)


Who is he? As we learn in this interview, Snyder was a practicing lawyer. He was one of the many working in Washington D.C. in the shadow of the Capitol buildings. When the last recession hit, Snyder got out. He's happily living now in the mountains of Idaho. Snyder's blog, gets about a million views a month. But it doesn't stop there. I've seen his posts on dozens and dozens of other blogs, including the biggest, like Zero Hedge.

Maybe you think Michael Snyder isn't qualified, or he's over-zealous. Go ahead, but first argue with the facts he packs into his blog posts - all with links to the original source, which you can check for yourself. Eventually you'll find his blog is a definite worthwhile watching post, as I did.

Snyder isn't adamant about everything. He'll ask the question, and wants you to check things out. Plus, Snyder doesn't say we'll wake up one morning to find everything closed, and start a new civilization from scratch. Rather he sees a downward staircase, where things fall apart, maybe over years. That was the reality of the last Great Depression in the 1930's. But this collapse would be global, and maybe the end of the fossil fuel civilization as we've known it.

I'd like to have Michael back again next spring, when we'll see whether Janet Yellen's official optimism, or Michael Snyder's deep suspicion, turn out to be reality.

During the interview we also discover Michael has a new novel out. It's kind of a thriller, but contains all sorts of projections into the future, from what he sees now. The title is "The Beginning of the End".

Michael also has two other online projects: a blog "End of the American Dream" and his new news web site "The Most Important News".


I heard about the work of Professor Timothy Snyder in a controversial op-ed in the New York Times. It was published September 12th, 2015 under the title "The Next Genocide". He says climate change could drive us again towards mass murder.

The idea that rampant climate change will take hundreds of millions of lives was not new to me. For example, when the major delta of Bangladesh, where hundreds of millions live, becomes too salty for agriculture, due to invading seas - millions of environmental refugees will stream north. The only places they could go are already over-populated and very undeveloped, like Eastern India. It's not going to end well.

But Snyder has thought deeper about the possible consequences of climate change. First of all, he is an internationally-known scholar of the mass murders that happened during the mid-20th century in Eastern Europe. We call it "the Holocaust", but it turns out most of us still don't understand what happened there.

For example, most people were killed by the Nazis in the infamous death camps right? Wrong, says Snyder. While the death camp toll was horrendous, even more millions died outside the camps, slaughtered wherever they were. I ask Snyder why we don't know this. One major reason was that Eastern Europe was behind the iron curtain of communism, where people couldn't travel or speak freely.

Professor Snyder is fluent in at least 10 languages. Most of us couldn't read the original documents, even if we could find them. In 2010, Snyder, a Yale historian, published a book on his research, "Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin". The two dictators supervised the death of about 14 million people in the Eastern European lands between them.

Professor Timothy D. Snyder

I know from my own reading, the Holocaust was also the first case of turning advanced technology into machines for mass murder. Hitler's death camps used a punch-card system designed, provided (and maintained during the war!) by the American company IBM. Ford trucks carried the victims and troops around. Radio transmitted hate propaganda.

So where does climate change come in? I can't do justice to Snyder's arguments. You can find them in the New York Times article, or this one in the Guardian. But news articles just scratch the surface. The real juice comes from Snyder's new book "Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning".

In the interview, we talk about how Hitler and his cronies viewed the environment. In some senses, the Nazi's had a tinge of "green". They wanted to restore some natural species (so they could hunt them), and used "nature" in their propaganda. But like modern climate denialists, Hitler also had a phobia, bordering on hatred, for real science. In some cases, like Einstein's theories, he denounced it as "Jewish science". That may be one reason why the Nazi's never developed the atomic bomb.

Tim Snyder tells us Hitler sold the Germans a fear that they could never feed themselves, so they needed "living space" - to be taken by force from others (like the Poles) who would be eradicated. Germans would run out of food, he thought, because fertilizers, hydridization, and other promises of science were false. It turns out he was totally wrong, and after the war Europe became a major exporter of food, using scientific methods.


One of my key take-aways of talking with Tim Snyder is that mass murder does not require a state where people are at or near starvation. All it requires is that people fear it COULD happen, to justify terrible things.

In fact, it may not require a food shortage. Part of Hitler's argument was that the Germans, as a superior "race", should have the highest lifestyles. He specifically pointed to the developing riches of America. Tim Snyder thinks that someone, or some nation, could justify mass murder solely because people thought their lifestyle was threatened (not just their food). Does that raise any thoughts in you? What if there is an economic crash, or fear of one, and Americans, or Brits, think their lifestyle is going downhill? Could we turn that into an excuse to bomb the hell out of some other people far away? Or justify mass-murder at home?

The worst fear is that a national government will purposefully plan, over time, the mass murder of another population, as happened in Nazi Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union. We're not talking about murderous riots in the street, although those can be arranged. We're talking about applying computer tech, advanced weapons, money, and administration to depopulate some part of the world, or a sub-set of a national population.

That kind of mass-murder as policy could develop in times stressed beyond imagination by climate disruption. Timothy Snyder explains how. As Snyder writes in the New York Times:

"Denying science imperils the future by summoning the ghosts of the past."

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Professor Timothy D. Snyder in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

If you want to Tweet or Facebook this interview, use this smaller link to the Lo-Fi version:


We're pushing the end of our time - at least for Radio Ecoshock this week.

My special thanks to those who reached out with financial support for this program, without much prodding from me. Aside from the help, it also makes me feel appreciated. Find out how you can help here.

I put in about 40 hours a week to produce this program. It's my "job" but I don't get paid for it. As I hope you can tell, each guest sends me on an adventure of research in preparation, plus time spent distributing the program, answering listener emails (write me radio //at//, staying abreast of global news feeds, this blog, the web site, and all that. It's a life work, and I'm just glad you encourage me to do it.

I'm Alex Smith. As always, thank you for listening, and caring about our world.

No comments: