Thursday, February 26, 2009


Holy Hanna - the wheels are coming off the gilded wagon of capitalism. Part of me is excited that the zombie system killing the planet has cracked open. My other side is fearful. I like peaceful streets and grocery stores with food in them. Damn it, I'm cheering and weeping for both sides!

Let's have a little chat.

In addition to surviving, we'll also talk about whether you should homestead where you are, or plan to eco-migrate. The show includes an interview with Eco-migration expert Dr. Norman Myers of Oxford. He practically founded the field with a paper written in 1993. Myers is author of 19 books and winner of many prestigious awards.

After last week's program, where I realized the climate has already tipped, I briefly considered ending Radio Ecoshock. Part of my mission was to save the climate, to stop the change. Now, with the latest science in, I don't think that is possible. We have inadvertently tripped a switch that will end up, as James Hansen says, with a different planet. Just with the greenhouse emissions already released, and committed by our dependence on coal and oil, the irreversible melting of the Polar ice has begun, along with the world's glaciers. It's just a matter of how fast, how bad, and can we adapt.

In this time together, I'll give you my best guesses, and my own puny plans, and chatter from the Net.

Is it co-incidence that the financial world has collapsed just as we learn our climate fate? I don't think so. The same people who looted our pension funds and banks were allied with the fossil fuel and automotive lobbies that quashed the early warnings on climate. Even deeper, three out of four Americans now know how serious climate is. They've seen it in the fires, floods, droughts, and storms. A poll done by Rasmussen Reports found 23 percent of Americans, one in four, say it is somewhat likely that global warming will destroy human civilization within the next century.

You and I need to prepare for turbulent times - on two different but related paths. We hope to stay fed, in our homes, in the short term. Yet some of us may have to move, as climate migrants, in the coming decade or two. We'll call it the three month strategy, and the three year plan. That is coming up, along with another installment of my audio blog on long-term food storage, where Alex finds out not everything goes as expected.


MUSIC PLAYLIST AND CREDITS: song clips from reggae master Jimmy Cliff, "The Harder They Come", Mark Knopfler and Emmy Lou Harris "Beachcombing", and Canadian artist Shane Philip, "See You In the Sun" Leonard Cohen with "Closing Time". Check out You tube for The Monster Crash with lyrics by Martin Eiger, and the comedy bit Greensumption from If you need more time for station ID, cut in at 29:55 and then take time from end song.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Forget the Economy - Is It Too Late for Our Climate?

This is the Radio Ecoshock Show. I'm you're host and tormentor, Alex Smith.

Yes I know the economy is crashing around the world. Eastern Europe threatens to bring down the Austrian and Italian banking systems. Britain is in the tank, along with Spain, Greece and Ireland. Everybody is hoping the Germans have saved enough to bail out the European Union.

It's as bad or worse in Asia. Japan's exports have plummetted, the results so terrible the Japanese Finance Minister was dead drunk at his press conference. Singapore was stung badly by Wall Street scams. Dubai, the fabled playground of the Middle East rich, is tumbling. South Korea wants to jail bloggers who reveal how bad things are in that country.

Now the latest American scamster, Allan Stanford has ripped off billions from investors all over the world, especially in Latin America. ABC News is reporting the Texas big man, lately based in Antigua, is connected to money laundering for Mexico's most vicious drug gangs. And speaking of off-shore pirates, the giant Swiss bank UBS is paying up 780 million in taxes ripped off from the American government, as the Swiss advised the very rich how to avoid paying their share. Really, it's been a pirate economy all along - and the worst scams were run by the very best companies.

Against the backdrop of kicked out families, closed factories, and worried populations, our climate threatens changes worse than any all-our nuclear exchange. Scientists warn the coming changes are huge, irreversible, and likely fatal to most species we know. Including us.

In this program, I'll pass on some of the horrible climate news, hot off the scientific press. Then we'll ask: is it already too late? Major scientists, in the United States, Australia, and Germany say the world is loaded up for at least 2.4 degrees Celsius of warming - that's over 4 degrees Fahrenheit AVERAGE global change. Temperature increases over land, and especially over the Arctic, will be much higher. The only thing saving us so far is smog, which can dissolve in a matter of weeks.

These warnings come not from fringe scientists, but key advisers to governments in Western countries. I'll tell you who. This is major news: global warming has already taken place. Television and newspapers have not told the public, who are living in an illusion, a fairy tale, about their future. Things are not going back to normal. Not for thousands of years.

As we will hear, one of the co-Chairs of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admits their reports greatly underestimated our real situation. We'll cover the latest news, and then work with reports from V. Ramanathan, of the Scripps Institution, and Joaquim Schnellenhuber, a science top adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The music for this program is "Don't Let The World Swallow You" by Canadian artist Andre Ethier.

Read more from this Radio Ecoshock program.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Economy of Climate Burn

The Australian wildfires - a warning to the world? I interview Dr. Barry Brook a climatologist from Adelaide. Brook was named one of the top 10 bright young scientists in Australia. His blog makes a strong case that the drying of Australia shows a radical shift in the climate. More: he argues the recent combination of drought and heat is without precendent in recorded history, and driven by climate change. Check out the particulars in his blog at I've bookmarked it.

Please don't push away the Australian deaths as just another bush fire. This is a big sign. Parts of the world are beginning to burn fiercely due to climate change. The same has already happened last year in California, with more than a thousand fires in a short period, as you might remember. More to come there, and throughout the West. American scientists like Jonathan Overpeck are certain this is the start of the long drying, that may last hundreds of years. It is possible that tens of millions of Americans will have to abandon the South West in this century, and perhaps in the next few decades.

All the climate-killed pine forests of British Columbia will also burn. Vast valleys of dead trees await the heat and the spark.

The Brook interview is followed by a music collage of world deserts expanding. Quotes of the expanding Sahara, Chinese deserts, Mongolia, and then the U.S. South West (per Dr. Jonathan Overpeck of Arizona U).

The fact is, folks, the tropics are expanding due to human induced climate change. That's bad news for all those hundreds of millions of humans currently in the expanding sub-tropics. Because where the tropics end, so does the moisture, leading to new bands of dying trees, drylands, and then deserts. The American South West is no exception.

Witness the incredible statements by Dr. Steven Chu, Obama's new Energy Secretary. He told the Los Angeles Times on Feb 4th that there may be no agriculture in California by the end of this century. He doesn't see how the great California cities can survive either. The water supply in the mountains is no longer coming. There will not be enough water to keep the California civilization going - and with it, the largest source of agricultural products (that means food!) in North America. Not small news.

The clips that help bring it all home are set to "Making Deserts In A Day" by The Henry Gorman Band.

In the second half of this Radio Ecoshock Show: guest host KMO (host of
C-Realm Podcast) interviews Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of "The Upside of Down" & now "Carbon Shift".

I think this is a really important interview. Homer-Dixon explains how collapse is part of Nature, and how that might apply to our current economic collapse. It's something I hadn't thought of - although I'm not sure I agree with Homer-Dixon's apparent conclusions. What do you think?

Homer-Dixon is one of the few thinkers to really draw Peak Oil, climate change, and economic collapse together in a coherent way. I'm happy that Kay Emmo does such a good job with the interview, sitting back when it counts, to get answers to deep questions. That's one of the things I enjoy about "KMO's" podcasts. He gets great guests - and manages to get them enthused about their topic on air. Most of them thank HIM for the interview! Me too.

KMO's efforts also show what a group effort Radio Ecoshock has become. I've had so many great tips from listeners - and I'm pleasantly suprised at what a talented bunch of communicators listen to the show. We have enviro journalists, politicians, scientists, activists, bloggers, radio people, a whole gang of people. I recognize that many of my listeners have more expertise, or talent, than I do. Thanks for the tips people send by email. The address is in the show.

Also in the music mix this week: the background music is "Strategy" by Paul Dickow of Portland. The end music showcase is Canadian Andre Ethier with a clip from "Infant King". I have another of Andre's songs on tap for next week.

Ecoshock 090213 1 hour
CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)


Thursday, February 5, 2009


Whenever politicians and greens talk about alternative energy, the list usually goes wind, solar, and tidal power. But how real is tidal power? Where will it happen and when?

This week on Radio Ecoshock you'll hear Martin Burger, CEO of a tidal power company called Blue Energy. He spoke to the New Energy Movement in Vancouver on January 26th, 2009. This is an original recording by Radio Ecoshock.

In fact, Martin went further. He explained four other neglected new energy sources, the best and most intriguing from a survey of 500 he's examined over the past two decades. I'll add those as time allows.

And, as promised in last week's show, we'll consider how new ways of living appear in a society. Burger says money cannot bring the next wave. It is a problem of consciousness, how we function as big groups, like the flocks and schools of other animals.

Along the way, I'll toss in a few facts about installations around the world, the current state of tidal power.

How about this one. Did you know that days used to be much shorter here on Earth? Like 21.9 hours, just 620 million years ago, instead of 24? Just pumping all that sea water into the bays and narrows of the world uses up mechanical energy that causes the world to spin. The tides are slowing down the planet. The 26 hour day is coming. But don't toss out your clocks just yet - that will be another 600 million years from now.

As we'll hear from Martin Burger, this immense power can be harnessed to create giant streams of electricity. The initial building cost is high, but the long-term maintenance costs are quite low. The impact on the local ecology varies with the design. Martin will be describing a "tidal fence" of spinning rotors, built into a bridge perhaps. It's a big dream, but there are signs tidal power is beginning to lift off in various parts of the world.

I'm going to pick out the tidal info from Martin's speech at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.

More at Script Tidal Power.htm

That transcript from the show includes a quick review of tidal power around the world, along with some of their ecological consequences.

Production Notes: there is a 20 second music bed for station ID at 29:30. No copyright music this show.