Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Post Climatic Stress Disorder - Climate Psychology

Friends did a month of rain that fall last night? Did rivers flood in the Fall? Did you know 214 all-time heat records were set in the U.S. September 24th?

It was 30 degrees in Toronto, feeling like 37 with the humidity - the heat of the human body. And just lately, Los Angeles hit an all-time high of 113 degrees - in late September!

Worried about your kids?

You might have Post Climatic Stress Disorder. PCSD is a serious condition. But don't worry, professional help is on the way....

This week on Radio Ecoshock, it's Climate psychology 101 - with psychologists Robert Griffin and Joseph Reser. Plus new film on the grand-daddy of the double bind, Gregory Bateson.

How does that make you feel?

What if humans are not capable of conceiving a slow-moving global problem. Maybe, we do not have the mental equipment to "see" climate change. If that were so, we may go extinct, due to a disability in our minds - and evolution works too slowly to fix such things. Do we have what it takes? Are we too stupid or psychologically challenged to survive?


Before I get into the debate and our guests - my own article on controversial psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich was published this Summer in the literary journal "The Centacle." Just click on the cover to get an Adobe .pdf file of this issue. "Wilhelm Reich, The Life and Death of a Social Pioneer" opens the issue.

My thanks to Raymond and his wife - of SpiritPlants Radio! - for patiently transcribing from my reading of this piece, buried on the Radio Ecoshock web site. I wrote it years ago, and then lost the printed version. Better to read it than listen, because as my first recording, I sound like an answering machine. It took me a while to find my radio voice.

Wilhelm Reich began the sexual revolution, and worked for a woman's rights to her own body, decades before the 1960's made it fashionable. He was heir apparent to Sigmund Freud, until his radical views got him kicked out of the Psychoanalytic Association, and Austria/Germany (thus saving his life from Hitler's goons).

But free thinking was no better loved in America, where Reich was among the first to criticize the radiation from nuclear weapons testing. For that, his earlier Communism (it was the McCarthy witch-hunt days), and his medical claims about "Orgone Energy" - the U.S. government arrested Reich and jailed him. This social pioneer died in American prison. Worse, in an under-reported example of American book-burning - the authorities burned all of his books- ironically including the classic "The Mass Psychology of Fascism". Read it and weep.

But on to our show on the psychology of climate change.

READ MORE (with notes on our guests, links to new climate psychology reports and audio - a re-think of how we approach the climate crisis....)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


"I feel great despair. My heart tells me to drop everything and run to the mountains, to try to find a place to take my family to ride out this great demise. Help!
Wednesday September 22, 2010 12:05"

Bill McKibben:
"Hey, me too on occasion. What salves that despair is seeing how many people are coming together to do great organizing. check out the pictures from last year at we may not win, but we're going to give the bad guys a run for their (considerable) money. "

That exchange came early in a online chat event with Bill McKibben. And that's what I'm hearing. Shadows of doubt.

Early in this program, after a solid round of hate rant against the Greens by Texas Talk Show man Alex Jones - we look deeper into the engines of climate doubt.

Dr. Naomi Oreskes has a unique marriage of expertise, in both global warming AND the history of science.

She is a Professor at the University of California, San Diego. Her early books were on Geophysics, Plate Tectonics, and Continental Drift theory. But now Naomi Oreskes enters a more public battle, with her newest book "Merchants of Doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth, on Issues from Tobacco Smoke, to Global Warming."

During my own research in the early 1900's, I found a small group of scientists promoting dubious products, like tobacco and even asbestos. They were joined by other authority figures, like Dixie Lee Ray, a former Governor of Washington State, who never met a toxic chemical she didn't like. Many of the press releases came from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

These front institutions, funded by billionaires and very wealthy industrialists, are the "think tanks" that bring out endless reports suggesting the poor should be dumped, the prisons privatized, and taxes must always fall. They don't like environmentalism, because it costs them money for pollution equipment, or even stops a few big ventures - the ones that can't pass any public smell test. Think the Coors family, and the Koch brothers for starters.

I suppose the surprise isn't that big polluters hire spokespeople, even scientists. My question is: how did such a small number of people get so much media attention, to look like an equal half in the public debate? How did they do it?

Dr. Oreskes did the digging. She found a second thread to this story. Beyond the wealthy polluters, there also lurked a cadre of academics raised on fighting the Cold War, capitalism versus communism. When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, many of the same faces switched over to anti-environmentalism. Since big governments could legislate restrictive environmental protection laws - they must be socialist, if not Communist.

Under that theology, several top-rated scientists, including one former President of the National Academy of Sciences, began signing press releases saying the risk of tobacco, DDT, and other chemicals was over-rated. Perhaps they weren't so dangerous. It was, and is, a strategy of casting doubt.

The fact that several well-known scientists went well beyond their fields of expertise to endorse media machines designed to protect chemical, oil and tobacco companies raises my suspicions. At least two were found to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from electric power and coal providers. Others may have acted out of idealism alone, who knows?

That anti-Green machine was established an well-oiled, as the carbon dioxide problem became more visible. Suddenly, some of the same scientists declared global warming to either not exist, or be a harmless natural change. The same think-tanks produced reports saying the same. Delay, delay, and cast doubt, as the tobacco lobby did so successfully for years (at a cost of millions of lives around the world....).

Naomi Oreskes shows the roots, the development and the present growth of this denial industry. Don't miss this interview.

In the next segment, I was moved.

This very day, I went down to the Court House steps, to hear the words of a green grandmother threatened with life imprisonment, just for her activism to protect nature.

We all know Governments and big corporations make big mistakes. They blow up oil wells, reactors, banking systems and whole cities and nobody goes to jail. Nobody. But if you protest the destruction of Earth's environment - watch out! The full force of the law comes down.

I've heard of harassment and dirty deals against the Greens. But I've never heard anything so disgusting as came out today.

In British Columbia, which claims to have a green conscience, the government of Gordon Campbell was determine to ram through new highways in time for the Olympics. Never mind the environment, or the people who objected, including some of the First Nations people, who have never given up claim to that land.

Betty Krawczyk is at least 81. Maybe more. She has a long history of standing up to logging in the woods, or massive construction through the last urban green. She has been arrested many times. Betty wrote a book in her last 10 month jail sentence.

Now in an Appeal Court action, the British Columbia prosecutor is asking for a life sentence!

Her protest was non-violent - she stood on public land, with a First Nations woman, in front of a construction bull-dozer.

Now, without any jury trial, and without a lawyer, Betty Krawczyk will make her Appeal in Vancouver, Canada. The government Prosecutor is calling for a life sentence, comparing Betty's protests to cases of repeated rapes of children.

In Canada, a rapist might get 5 years or less. Murder has been punished with 7 years or less. But environmental protest - throw away the key!

We hear clips recorded from Betty on the Court House steps, plus famous civil rights lawyer Cameron Ward on the abuse of process. Rex Weyler also spoke, as well as a woman representing the First Nations people, who Betty helped many times.

It was a sad affair. If this speech doesn't move you, nothing will.

Then we move on to the inevitable: rising seas.

All our lives, all our maps, our ports, and our commerce depend upon a steady sea level. All places around the world are marked so many feet or meters "above sea level". That is history. Now the sea level will rise, just from the greenhouse gases we have already put in the air, and the heat we have already put into the sea.

I interview Dr. Peter Ward, a thought-leader in the field, and a leading scientist. He's the author of the break-through book "Under A Green Sky". That book explains how relatively sudden (in geological time) mass extinctions could occur - due to greenhouse heating. The very bacteria in the sea change, emitting hydrogen sulfide, which kills off many land animals and plants. This view is now widely held, due to further scientific studies which also lead in that direction.

In his new book "The Flooded Earth" - Peter Ward explains why, how, and how fast the seas will rise, due to global warming. Even this century, we are in for big changes, likely a meter or three feet by 2100. It could be slightly less, or a lot more, we don't know for sure.

And it also looks like the massive process of de-icing the world has begun. If that tipping point has in fact been reached, as scientists like James Hansen fear might be the case even at our present carbon dioxide levels - then nothing can stop a thousand-year melt that will leave the world more or less ice-free.

That has huge ramifications for everything, including the movement of winds and ocean currents. As Hansen says, we may be heading "for a different planet".

Even within the next 50 to a hundred years, Ward says, we could see significant damage to agriculture, just when we need food most for those extra three billion people. Even a small rise in sea levels can send salt into the water tables of low-lying deltas. Hundreds of millions of people depend upon delta food. Even California, in places like San Francisco, could lose a lot of productive land, this century, due to rising seas.

Not to mention the multi-trillion dollar cost of raising all those docks, and moving all those ocean-side homes - at a time when we expect to have less fossil fuels, at much higher prices.

In our interview, Peter Ward claims that the single biggest threat and impact of climate change will be rising seas, rather than hot weather, or even drought. We'll see.

That interview is available in three parts on You tube.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Find more at our You tube channel.

Sure enough, I have my first denialist heckler! Tom Harris from the "International Climate Science Coalition" says my "Russian Heat" video is "spam" because it depicts climate change as a real phenomenon, caused by humans! (When his 137 scientists say it's not). Find the details about Tom Harris here at

Kinda like Dr. Oreskes said. And it just keeps rolling on, even as we set record heat throughout the last decade. etc.

Next week, we'll look into the psychology of climate change. No, no, not the gump fed to governments. Work by field psychologists into the way you and I handle the news. How we adapt - or fail to...

Until then,

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When the World Is Running Down

This week on Radio Ecoshock - the losing game. One in seven Americans are now officially poor. Millions are losing their homes. The "Recovery" was just a fantasy: if we all believed hard enough - the empty shell economy could stumble on forever. Now, even the mainstream media doubts our chances.

I'm Alex Smith. Our theme song this program: "When the World Is Running Down (you make the best of what's comming 'round) by The Police.

There are people who know what is going on...what are they saying? You will hear three voices on the triple crunch. Climate chaos, energy decline, and a global Ponzi economy going bust.

Stoneleigh will warn you.

Laurence Budd explains life after Peak Water.

And we chat with musician and gardener Dana Pearson, about getting out.... and getting trapped.

When the world is running down....

How bad do you think it is? A new survey from StrategyOne finds two out of three Americans expect another "recession". Forty four percent of those people, think the worst is yet to come. Only 5% of those polled really expected a recovery this year.

Real average earnings went up only 6 percent in this decade. But consumer spending increased 54%. Retail chains flourished to serve this mass delusion, as people mistook their houses for a piggy bank.

In Germany, Der Spiegel has finally reported on all those people living in their cars in Ventura, California.,1518,712496,00.html

Radio Ecoshock covered that in our show for May 2nd, 2008 - two years ago. Download our pocket advice for living in your car, if you had to.

The same program, "Radio for Troubled Times" also features off-grid expert Nick Rosen. Tips to unplug.

State and city governments teeter on the edge of bankruptcy. The State of Pennsylvania just stepped in to hold off foreclosure on it's capital, Harrisburg.

Some places cut public buses, others close schools Fridays. Streetlights go dim, police officers get pink slips, along with teachers and even ambulance drivers.

Many of the bankrupt cities spent billions on major capital projects that enriched the bankers and developers. Now they cannot cover the interest - it all sounds so familiar, from the bad old days of "development" in South America and Africa.

Arianna Huffington writes "America is in danger of becoming a Third World Country".

There is a race for who can be most bleak in establishment mouthpieces, like the New York Times.

An alarming number of Americans are just one pay-check away from abject poverty. Others don't get that paycheck at all.

In the New York Times, future-writer Douglas Copeland has a new word for us:

BLANK-COLLAR WORKERS Formerly middle-class workers who will never be middle class again and who will never come to terms with that.

Fortune, say the wise Chinese, is a wheel. It rises, and falls, for everything that lives. In fallen times, is the greatest opportunity.

Did we need those foreclosed monster houses? Did we need all those cops rigged out for terrorism in tiny mid-West towns? Did we need the financial mill-houses? What do we need?

We are about to find out.


At the turn of the 21st Century, 16 percent of Americans moved to a different place - 43 million people. Going for a new job, a relationship, or just to start again - it is the American way. With all the roads in the world, Americans are a mobile people.

All that is changing - and I think this is an under-reported story of the times. In the good old days - which was just 3 or 4 years ago - your sold your home and went wherever.

Now, millions of Americans are stuck. They can't sell because they are "underwater" - owing the bank more than their home is worth. Or because the going price seems ridiculously low. Nobody can get a loan to buy it, and who wants to buy a liability like real estate these days?

That means an end to many dreams, less social mobility. Better marry close to home. No chance to get out and find work elsewhere. I'm not sure the American economy can withstand the uncharted impacts of frozen people in frozen real estate.

Reporters sometimes drain their friends for a story. I volunteered musician and master gardener Dana Pearson to stand in. We had a casual conversation, and Dana is brave enough to let it go on air.

I want you to hear this, because there is a sub-text, for all those planning to escape from dangerous or degraded cities. You may dream of that organic farm in Canada, where the climate will still be kind to your descendents - but is that door already closed?

I want to thank Dana for sharing his story. You will hear more from our listeners as this season goes on.

And you will see more as well. Radio Ecoshock is developing a You tube channel, with selected video interviews, recorded with a new tool called Vodburner. Capturing Skype video calls becomes the new TV. More people now watch You tube than conventional television. Radio Ecoshock will be there. Watch this space.

That's right. I'm "pathunknown" - that's the name Google machinery assigned to my You tube name. I've struggled through various Google help talk, but the bottom line is: if I cancel this account, I am warned I may never get another one! And nobody at Google can change it! The help people sound like my mother "only you can change it..."

Hey, Sergey Brin - the renewable energy fan at Google - if you or your minions read this - can you help me out? Please! I don't want to be "pathunknown".

Although, maybe I should accept that Karma. Maybe my path is unknown. Maybe the direction for all of us is uncertain....

Radio Ecoshock also has a large audience of downloaders - from our web site at, and from other podcast feeders and readers. Last June, we had over 31,000 Radio Ecoshock programs downloaded in a single month.

Hello to all those around the world who volunteer to be disturbed, with the awful truth, from one of the most depressing shows on radio...

And thank you for listening.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010


The deadly culture of cars and air-conditioning.

Radio Ecoshock Show September 10th, 2010


The program begins with a reading from "Autogeddon" by Heathcote Williams.

That was a quote from the long poem "Autogeddon" written by British writer HeathCote Williams and originally published in 1987, the fall edition of The_Whole Earth Review. It was released as a lavishly illustrated book in 1991, and even made into a radio drama by BBC2. The presenter was Jeremy Irons, who, it turns out - loved cars.

The background music was Gary Numan's 1979 song cars.

This is Radio Ecoshock I'm Alex Smith.

Welcome to my hate affair with machines.

Yes I have lived without them. Millions of people still do, but like the bush-men, or Neanderthals, they are pushed toward the distant fringes of our world. At least, until the center collapses.

Our entire lives have been car-jacked, no doubt about it. We'll talk with Anne Lutz Fernandez, co-author of the book "Carjacked - The Culture of the Automobile & Its Effect On Our Lives". My take: the car is a machine to such the money and life out of you. Really.

In our second half hour, more machines to wreck the planet: air conditioners. Our guest is Stan Cox, author of "Losing Our Cool, Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through Summer)." After the world roasted in 2010, with lots more to come in the coming greenhouse world, you might want to find out how to survive, when the big machine breaks down.

READ MORE (partial transcript with links)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Radio Ecoshock Show September 3rd, 2010

GO STRAIGHT TO THE TRANSCRIPT, with lots of links and downloads.

[Radio show starts with a clip from "Fire" by Arthur Brown, 1968][plus news radio clips...]

Welcome back to Radio Ecoshock. Thanks to the 22 college and community stations that carry this show - and Green 960 AM and online, in San Francisco.

And you downloaders and podcast subscribers! You amaze me. I don't keep close track of statistics, but I happened to check downloads of the Radio Ecoshock program for June. These shows come from a dedicated server ( - so I know how many one hour shows, past and present, are carted away by hungry ears.

The total in June alone? Over 31,000 downloads. From all over the world.

It's my privilege to report for you. Find out listing of all our 2010 programs, with links to every program from the past 5 years, here.

It’s all free mp3’s. Load up your computer or IPOD. I claim no copyright on my work – so go ahead and share these programs with people who need to hear them.

In the Summer of 2010, the world witnessed more signs of climatic instability on a grand scale.

The Arctic Ice again retreated to near-record levels. In the United States, new heat records were set in many states. In fact, 17 different countries set all-time heat records this past Summer, from Latin America through Africa and the Middle East to Russia.

In Pakistan, floods beyond imagination created the world's largest humanitarian disaster.

But the harbinger, messenger from the future, took the Russian people into uncharted Hell. Moscow, at the latitude of Alaska, boiled in the weather of Cairo, while gasping smoky air equivalent to two packs a day of cigarettes, for every man, woman and child.

Russian leaders, who bragged global warming would be good for that Northern country, got a taste of the coming century.

Scientists are still debating whether the abnormal heat, drought, and fires in Russia were caused by climate change. But we know for certain: this is the future, in the coming century, as temperatures climb, as the greenhouse atmosphere thickens with the exhaust of our fossil civilization.

Let us see what we can learn. About how people and governments act under stress. About our vulnerabilities. About our chances of survival.

In the radio show, we go straight to Moscow, talking with Vladimir Tchouprov of Greenpeace Russia. He's got news that never made the mainstream news.

That is followed by more analysis from Dmitry Orlov, author of "Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects." Dmitry has been scanning the Russian language press and blog, while talking with people inside and outside the country. Dmitry has some suggestions for survival.

Are you interested in your food supplies? We squeeze in a clip from a press conference with Lester Brown, on the Russian grain export ban, and the impact of climate on world food stocks.

Can we even comprehend these grand events, these warning signs?

I'm Alex Smith, and let's get started.

[READ MORE with all the links - plus 15 lessons from the Russian disaster.]