Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Climate of Crash and Choice

Radio Ecoshock takes on the financial crash, funding for green jobs instead of banksters, and youth organizing to get green back in the elections.

We start with a brand new interview with independent journalist Mike Whitney. He's been writing searing articles (for the rest of us) at - and many other online journals and blogs.

We talk about the latest grab and run with the money, as the same Wall Street experts who bankrupted the nation - call for even more money (for themselves). How big is the bubble - and how far can it fall. What the Hell does it all mean?? Mike and I thrash through the latest news, and the cross-currents threatening to break the bank. Maybe even your bank, despite the claims you are covered.

Think about it. When George Bush comes on TV promoting something, you know this ain't good.

Then we look at a different option. Two presenters at the U.S. Government's Select Committtee on Energy Independence and Global Warming show how America could build it's way into a safe energy future - and make lots of green jobs. That's from Bracken Hendricks and Robert Pollin, and you can download the Green Jobs testimony from the September 18th webcast, captured here.

In this show, I run just the first 4 minute introduction by Committee Chair Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts. Markey seems for real. He acknowledges the financial crisis, but says an investment of 100 billion dollars would bring not just a wealth of jobs and new industry (in America!) - but also cut the huge balance of payments deficit, as all your gas pump money runs out to semi-hostile states. Solar. Wind. Geothermal. Made and used in America, carbon free.
Good stuff.

OK, then we take a breather with the late great comedian George Carlin on elections. I agree the whole show is corrupt - but it DOES make a difference who gets in, and what promises we can wring out of them before we give our votes.

Especially for young people. Scientists warn that if we don't stop our greenhouse gases soon, the climate will be wrecked for the next generations. The good news is young people are organizing to green the vote in both the United States and Canada.

We start with our interview of Brianna Cayo Cotter, spokesperson for It's an exciting initiative to get the environment back on the ticket, for both parties. Check out their website, sign up, get active.

From Canada, which is already dead into an election battle, we have a speech recorded at the press launch of A surprising number of big groups, from steelworkers to greens to older people, have signed on to an initiative to push all parties on climate action. Again, young people are joining this movement. Just a couple of weeks to go in Canada, let's not leave the climate another four years, with greenhouse gases belching (while white guys get rich....)

This program is also loaded with little clips, to relieve the pressure. We have to laugh or cry, so let's not forget to laugh a little. The weeping will come later (or sooner). Some of the fun election clips in this edition were sent along by our Colorado listener/producer who posted his own sardonic radio piece called "Systemic Failures: American Voting Primer 08" Grab that half hour piece here.

We also get into a scary email from a Russian research vessel off Siberia. A Swedish scientist has discovered fast moving pools of methane breaking out from the sea bed. Our worst nightmare. Other climate scientists advise caution, as the work hasn't been written up in a paper, or peer-reviewed yet - but it is a worry. Maybe instead of paying for the next "manned" space ship to Mars, we should explore our own planet. We need a fleet of research ships in the Arctic, to monitor greenhouse gas release there. Otherwise, a big belch of methane could create a major climate disruption in just a few years time. We need to know.

I got that story from Ross Gelbspan's useful site Ross just posts the need-to-know stories.

It's a packed show.


Production Notes: there is a music bed from 29:38 to 30:50 where you can insert a station ID. (It's "Voting Machine" as composed by Billionaires for Bush in the last election.)

We start the show with "Don't Get Fooled Again" by Richie Havens. And end it with something for the Wall Street banksters: Jimmy Cliff "The Harder They Come" (the harder they fall, one and all....) If your station has announcements, you can cut into this end music.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Robert Jensen's provocative speech launched in Vancouver, appearing on the front pages of Z-Net, Alternet and many more. Our Radio Ecoshock provided the audio links, and thousands downloaded this powerful re-assessment of the Left, and social movements generally.

Jensen is a tenured Professor at University of Texas, Austin. He came to prominence through his work on an feminist perspective of pornography. And then zoomed into news byte of the day status when he said the attacks of 911 were nothing worse than he had seen done to other cities by American forces in pursuit of empire.

The alternative title for this speech is: "The Delusion Revolution: We're On the Road to Extinction and In Denial." How true that is, on many levels, but especially for environmentalists who see the sudden disruption in climate. James Hansen says we are heading toward a new hot-state climate, for example. And species are going extinct at record rates, as we heard from last week's RadioEcoshock guest, Dr. Peter Ward.

Robert Jensen asks whether the old model of organizing for public protests, to modify bad government policies, is just dead. Maybe, as we all crouch on the couch watching the world undress, the days of mass public movements are dead. See also the book "Bowling Alone" which charts how Americans have stopped joining public clubs, social organizations, and events.

Anyway, the dynamics have changed. The authorities have been developing new technologies and techniques to stop mass public expression. Are you ready to have your ear drums damaged, or even feel like your skin is being burned off, as you rally in public spaces? They have the tools. All that was supposed to be developed for people in far away countries, but now the anti-terror cops are ready for any public gathering.

Jensen says we must re-think, and re-group our efforts for a better world.

We run the whole speech, and then add another 15 minutes of comments from the activist audience, but mostly more strong quotes from Jensen, during the Q and A that followed, in Vancouver, August 11th, 2008.

Enjoy - this is one of the pivotal speeches of the year.

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock

Production Notes: the theme song is by John Gorka "The Old Future's Gone". There is a one minute music bed for station ID at 29 min, and re-intro at 30 min. A bit of a music tail could be cut if you need more time.

Friday, September 12, 2008


A double-header, with two "don't miss it" interviews.

We start out with Dr. Peter Ward author of the revolutionary climate book "Under A Green Sky." Peter has just returned from an exploratory trip in Australia, and will head to Antarctica later this year.

Dr. Ward has summarized the newest science which shows that 4 out of the past 5 great extinctions were not caused by asteroid hits - but by wrenching and deadly climate change. The cause? Carbon dioxide belching out of volcanoes. But now we are the volcanoes - and the end result may be the same: out of control climate turbulence followed by the deafening silence of mass extinctions.

Dr. Ward tells us about the new TV series coming out on Animal Planet - called "Animal Armageddon". Peter is the chief scientists on that project, which hopes to bring the awful reality of climate change to television watchers.

Then we go for solutions. Julian Darley, author of "High Noon for Natural Gas" saw our energy crisis coming years ago. We are hitting Peak Oil - production can't go up, and will go down. You may have noticed this little problem at the pump. And in the storms hitting the Americas, and Asia.

Darley explains why he founded The Post Carbon Institute and gives us some tips on how to solve the energy crisis - without waiting for some miracle technology. We look at emerging solutions like - and his experiment with sharing commercial vehicles. Good stuff.

Production Notes: 1 minute music bed for station ID at 29 min, with re-intro at 30 min. Each interview could be run separately as half hour shows. Music bed is "House of Trouble" by Clatter.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Crappy summer weather?

August was more like November for many across Canada, while the U.S. South was battered by heavy storms, with more to come.

But it isn't just "bad weather". Two scientists from the UK and the U.S. have published a paper in the journal "Science" showing extreme rainfall events are increasing - and they are caused by global warming.

Whenever you hear the phrase "record rain" on TV, or in the newspapers - pay attention. In this program I've collected reports on crazy rainfall events in many parts of the world - just this summer. Many towns and cities in North America, for example, broke records for rainfall in 24 hours, set in the 1800's. Local drainage and sewer systems can't handle it - our infrastructure was not built for the new extreme rain.

The physics is so simple. Warmer air holds more moisture. As the world warms, even slightly, and as the oceans warm - more moisture goes up into the atmosphere.

Naturally, rain continues to fall where rain usually falls, while dry areas can get even drier. So the excess rain comes down by the barrel load. Cape Canaveral got a record 22 inch drowning in 24 hours. Some places got several inches of rain in an hour.

This is happening all over the world, and I think it's one of the under-reported climate stories of the year. Yes we saw pictures of Myanmar (Burma) after a tropical storm wiped out millions of people. That was part wind, part storm surge off the ocean, but also a lot of rain.

And remember, just after the horrible Earth Quake in southern China, and several times since, that area was drenched in unbelievable rain events. Just next door, in Vietnam, same thing. In fact all the countries of the Mekong have been flooding from heavy rains.

Heavy rains, which the UN authorities blame on global warming, also caused a river in Nepal to burst, leading to massive flooding in the Northern India state of Bihar.

We've heard a lot about the threat of rising seas. Now it's time to look at the new climate guest at our doors: extreme rainfall events.

Ooops - I forgot our main event for this Radio Ecoshock Show: George Monbiot. He's a constant columnist in the UK newspaper the Guardian, and a long-time activist against expanded roads, airports, and coal burning. George is also the author of the best-selling book "Heat, How to Stop the Planet Burning" - and now a new book called "Bring on the Apocalypse."

George tells us about the new book. The interview ranges from carbon rationing through global justice all the way to his ideas on eco-incarnation. Monbiot also rates the U.S. Presidential candidates. Don't miss this interview. George doesn't fool around. He loads every answer with strong points, things we need to know and do.

I wrap up with a kind of "where we stand" piece. The situation. How we face it.

We also showcase an old song that most of you don't know: "A Good Planet Is Hard to Find" by Steve Forbert. It's catchy, almost soothing our worries.

Next week: Dr. Peter Ward, author of "Under the Green Sky" talks about past mass extinctions, and whether we are headed for a new one. We'll also chat with Peak Oil specialist Julian Darley. Julian was way ahead of us on oil and gas decline - he founded the Post Carbon Institute to look at life after oil.

We're back for another hard-hitting season - and thanks for the encouragement I've been receiving by email from a lot of loyal listeners.

Hopefully, we'll also come up with more possible solutions this Fall - along with the horror of our times.

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock