Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Transforming Power - Judy Rebick

Floods and extreme snowfall events, once in a hundred years, are almost every year. No matter what the season, we keep on pumping up more carbon into the Earth's thin atmosphere.

The actors on the scene, most voices and talking heads, learned and ignorant, are mostly white men, the silver-backs. What about women? And aboriginal people pushed to the fringes?

Welcome to Radio Ecoshock. I'm Alex Smith.

In the radio broadcast (click the title above) you hear a powerful speech by Judy Rebick, as she describes lessons from the women's movement, and the transition from anti-globalist protests - to climate action.

Rebick concludes that anti-globalist protests, like that in Seattle in 1999, were supressed in North America, in the anti-terrorist, super police binge following 911. But anti-trade, pro-job rallies continued in Europe.

Many of these activists have now recognized climate change as the supreme threat to the existence of humans and other species, much less our civilization.

Her background is interesting - and it's good to get a woman's point of view, after so many male scientists and experts. In our current failure to deal with the crisis, certainly we need other voices.

Judy Rebick is a Canadian feminist and broadcaster, now committed to save our climate for future generations. She rose to national attention as president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women from 1990 to 1993. In the late 90's, Rebick co-hosted the prime-time debate program "Face Off" on Canadian Broadcasting, plus a women's talk show "Straight From the Hip".

Judy Rebick moved early into electronic broadcasting, as she helped found a multi-media discussion and distribution site for independent Canadian producers on the Net. It's called

Currently the Chair of Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University in Toronto, Rebick's latest book is "Transforming Power: From the Personal to the Political."

This speech, "Transforming Power, Effective Action for the Planet," was recorded at the Spirit of Red Hill lecture series in Hamilton, Ontario on November 3rd, 2010. It was first broadcast by independent radio journalist Maggie Hughes, as part of her on-going programs called "the Other Side - of the News" on CFMU, McMaster Campus Radio in Hamilton, Canada.

I'll just add two closing comments.

I liked this speech, but don't agree with all of it.

I'm worried any trend returning to superstition when confronted with giant challenges like climate change. The worst case scenario, in my opinion, just happened when long-time "doomer" and operator of the Peak Oil news site "Life After the Oil Crash" - just quit to devote himself to Astrology. I'll stick to science, and modern knowledge, thank you.

Second, my thanks and appreciation to Maggie Hughes for keeping up the good fight. Maggie has specialized in finding a voice for the voiceless. She specializes in poverty and disability issues. Maggie also takes on the world, with climate change, and social justice. She's one of the best of independent, volunteer radio journalists. Find her web site at Thanks Maggie, for all that you do.

That's it for Radio Ecoshock this week. Find all our past programs, as free mp3 downloads, at And write me any time. The address is: radio [at]


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Bringing our war dollars back home.

Radio Ecoshock December 24, 2010 Holiday edition.

The Christians call their founder "The Prince of Peace." Yet America, which loudly proclaims it's Christianity, has been at war for decades, all over the world, during most of my life.

American states, cities, and towns are broke. They are laying off services to the most needy, cutting off even essential things like police and firemen. The media says America is too poor to deliver universal health care delivered by every other developed country. Following the real estate and banking crash, the States are going broke. While delaying payment of bills, States depend upon constant cash infusions from the Federal Government, which owes to many trillions, it prints money on demand, while buying their own bonds, through the Federal Reserve.

At least half of all available tax dollars, after the interest is paid on the massive Federal debt, goes into maintaining over a hundred military bases all over the world. By published figures, ten to twelve billion dollars a month to into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Others speculate the real bill is much higher.

Why don't Americans demand their war money back? To spend it on rebuilding their own declining services? A finish to endless war, and the self-appointed role of Policemen of the World. Will America withdraw from militarism gracefully, or spend to the end, as the Soviet Union did?

A world at peace, with nobodies soldiers, in other people's lands. That is my idle day-dream. Peace seldom makes the newspapers, the television, or the violent movies and games. Who could talk about real peace?

My mind goes immediately to Bruce Gagnon. He is the coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. Bruce has a blog, a world campaign, a public access television show in Maine, and appearances in alternative video. He speaks, writes and protests. Bruce Gagnon has a lifelong commitment to the unsung underdogs of another American Dream: Disarmament, and Peace.

Even in my own mind, I'm not sure a less armed world is possible.

Bruce and I discuss some of the obvious objections to American withdrawal, the ones activists like Gagnon hear all the time. Against closing U.S. bases around the world, and resigning as the self-appointed "cop" of global affairs.

We hear about the award winning film "Pax Americana" and the Maine campaign to "Bring Our War Dollars Home" (which is spreading across the country).

The interview goes deep, into what makes America tick. Don't miss it.

Finally, we get a brief look at arms conversion in the United Kingdom, another former world empire that rapidly collapsed.

As student fees go up, as businesses go down, as welfare is cut off and pensions cut - people all over the world are calling for an end to wasteful military spending. On 17th November 2010 Stuart Parkinson, executive director of Scientists for Global Responsibility, addressed the Sheffield CND AGM on 'Arms Conversion for a Low Carbon Economy'. I run a small sample, taken from the hour-long presentation, thanks to Sheffield Indymedia.

I wrap up with the song "Peace Train" by Cat Stevens.

READ MORE (with links for all the sources of this program, and follow-up tips).

Thursday, December 16, 2010


The majority of humans on Earth are likely unaware that their 193 governments met in Cancun Mexico in December 2010. Their goal was to agree on ways to save the planet's climate from a brutal catastrophe.

Did anything happen? It depends on who you talk to.

I'm Alex Smith reporting. In this Radio Ecoshock special, you will hear five different voices on what really happened - inside the barricaded conference rooms, and outside in the streets.

Our guests are: Harvard policy expert Dr. Robert N. Stavins; Damon Moglen, head of the Climate Campaign for Friends of Earth, USA; Franklin Lopez, anarchist film-maker reporting from the Mexican climate activist scene; British radio broadcaster Phil England with a European perspective; and South American expert Nikolas Kozloff on Brazil, Bolivia, and the road not taken.

If you think international talks to save the Earth are boring, listen again. While we were waved away by the mainstream press, the usual suspects - from the World Bank to American arm twisters, busily tried to re-write the script.

Will the rich make big money from climate suffering? From the victims of floods, heat, drought, rising seas, and dying agriculture? Without our attention and action, that could be the New Deal.

There is a nexus of American analysts who find the Cancun COP-16 U.N. Conference was a success. The New York Time Headline: "Climate Talks End with Modest Deal on Emissions".

Harvard power Professor Robert Stavins says Cancun "must be judged a success".

We'll begin with Dr. Stavins, and move through more critical voices.


Professor Robert N. Stavins is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government. He is the Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, among many other titles.

His article on the Cancun talks, "What Happened (and why): An Assessment of the Cancun Agreements" has been widely republished in left-of-center media, including and AlterNet. It is the most upbeat, positive analysis I could find.

Stavins thinks the U.N. agreements need to move away from the binding emissions targets of the 1992 Kyoto Protocol, building instead on last year's Copenhagen Accord, which has voluntary targets. At Cancun, there were two principle documents agreed with unwieldy names only a diplomat could love: "Outcome of the AWG-LCA" and "Outcome of the AWG-KP".

These are not legal agreements, but "Outcomes" of "Ad Hoc Working Groups" on "Long-term Cooperative Action" and "Further Commitments" by developed nations to the Kyoto Protocol.

Still awake? We'll get a much clearer picture from our Ecoshock guests, I promise.

I'll quickly run down Robert Stavins' reasons for guarded optimism about Cancun, before our other guests comment.

#1. The assembled countries agreed to limit global heating at 2 degrees C. Most scientists either say that is now impossible, or it is still too high, leading to massive ice melt and other damage.

Stavins then quotes Michael Levi, from the Council on Foreign Relations, who applauds the Cancun results, "not because it solves everything, but because it chooses not to." That sounds perverse to me, but Levi thinks other institutions, like the G-20, should control some climate initiatives.

And Stavins has a good point in the interview, that we despite our needs, we do NOT have a top-down command situation in this complex world. Emissions reductions will actually carried out not just by governments, but by business, small provinces, and myriad others. We have to deal with what is.

#2. There is more talk in the Cancun agreements to monitor and verify carbon emissions. China has resisted this, but agreed. If it works, it could be important for climate science at least, and may help future emissions deals get enforced?

#3. A "Green Climate Fund" was established, reaching $100 billion annually by 2020, to compensate countries damaged by climate change, to help them adapt. That would be run by the World Bank, and the details may shock you.

#4 At Cancun, an agreement on "Reduced Deforestation and Forest Degradation" - called REDD, was reached. It has some loop-holes, of course.

And finally, things like the Clean Development Mechanism, and carbon markets were strengthened. These are all developments favored by the United States, and by Wall Street. Which makes the meeting a success.

Strangely, the American Bloomberg business news service gave the Conference results a thumbs down, with this headline "Global Warming Deal Decades Away As 'Dysfunctional' U.S. Delays Commitment." Decades away, with no deal to reduce emissions, we can kiss our gentle ice-capped Earth good-bye.

Socialist writer Patrick Bond says "'Climate Capitalism' won at Cancun - everyone else loses."

Let's get to it. Here is the other side of the news on the United Nations Conference of the Parties - COP-16 - in Cancun, Mexico.

Following Harvard's Robert Stavins, we continue with Damon Moglen of Friends of Earth, and carry right on through the anarchist report, a Euro perspective, and the South American alternative.

Don't miss the interview with anarchist Franklin Lopez. He talks about his long journey by bus to the Summit, with other Mexican activists. They set up two "climate camps", complete with dome tents and food. Sadly one camp couldn't agree with the other, so no joint actions were held. But some shit was thrown, literally, toward heavily armed Mexican security forces, guarding a government ministry of environment office. Action on the streets.

Lopez reports a unique perspective, especially the hope from many outside the security fences, that the power brokers inside would fail.

Then I'm happy to welcome back the host of Climate Radio, from Resonance FM in London, Phil England. Phil and his team covered the Copenhagen climate summit (COP-15) last year so well! I knew he's be plugged in to the debates around this year's COP-16 in Cancun, even though he was not there.

True to form, Phil raises serious issues about this new climate deal. He suggests that although the poorer countries were promised aid in Copenhagen, to adapt to climate damage caused by the Northern industrial emissions - that has now morphed in Cancun to LOANS. So the poor countries will once again be saddled with debt, for a problem they did not cause - and pay wealthy bond holders interest on their suffering. It sounds like climate imperialism to me.

I suggest you listen again to Robert Stavins' interview, to really hear how all that is phrased. The keywords "private sector" funding, means loans. And the carbon markets are tossed in, along with the impossible daydream of carbon capture and storage, being pushed by the coal industry. That has never worked, and won't.

Nikolas Kozloff always has the inside scoop on countries we don't hear much about. Especially Brazil, which when you count their deforestation and agricultural emissions, are now the world's third largest source of greenhouse gases! And Brazil is breaking out as both an industrial economy and a new oil nation (with their recent large field discoveries off the Atlantic coast.)

We learn, partly from Wikileaks documents, that Brazil failed to fulfill the green role in South America. Despite the Green candidate getting 19 percent of the popular vote in the most recent Presidential elections!

Actually, I have a much longer interview with Nikolas, cut because we had so many guests this week. In a few days, I will post the whole 24 minute talk, all about Bolivia, Evo Morales, and South America's role in the Cancun climate talks. That will be in the "Climate2010" page of our audio-on-demand menu, at Well worth a listen.

That's it for our Radio Ecoshock Cancun climate summit coverage. You heard Dr. Robert Stavins from Harvard, Damon Moglen at Friends of Earth USA, Franklin Lopez, the anarchist film-maker reporting from the Mexican climate activist scene; British radio broadcaster Phil England with a European perspective - a real treat to have the host of "Climate Radio" on the air; and South American expert and author Nikolas Kozloff on Brazil, Bolivia, and the road not taken.

If you tuned in part way, or want to listen again, download this free mp3 from our web site, at

I'm Alex Smith, going hard, to give you a ring-side seat as humans decide whether to sink or swim.

In the full hour piece, you heard a mini-slice of music from Manu Chao's "Radiolina".

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Beyond the Tipping Point

A physicist, a leading expert on clean energy and climate, he was an advisor in the Clinton Administration. His book "Hell and High Water" becomes too true daily. Time Magazine called him “The Web’s most influential climate-change blogger” . Dr. Joseph Romm's "Climate Progress" is the only blog right on my browser tool-bar. It IS indespensible.

We welcome Joe Romm back to Radio Ecoshock.

Among other things, we'll discuss the new theme issue from the British Royal Society "Four degrees and beyond: the potential for a global temperature increase of four degrees and its implications." This series of papers looks at how the climate will shift drastically - if we continue to power our economy with fossil fuels.

Joe has more on the Cancun climate conference, his award winning blog (named one of the best blogs on the Net by Time Magazine) - and the bleak outlook for action by the U.S. or Canada.

That is followed by a knock-out interview with David Wadell. His presentation on "Beyond the Tipping Point" at Tallberg Sweden in 2008 warned that the IPCC, and most governments, were operating on unsafe assumptions about climate sensitivity. David tells us about the "positive feedback loops" that are STILL left out of climate models.

And even without those extra warming powers, the Hadley Centre in Britain, and MIT in the U.S. have proved Wasell's point. Both now say we could experience 4 to 6 degrees of warming in this century. Possibly 4 degrees C. warming (7 degrees F. extra heat as a mean global average) as early as 2070, or even 2060. Younger people will live to see this horror, unless we can turn the carbon clock back, in some as yet unknown social and economic revolution.... as we must.

I'm going to let you listen to the interviews, without further comment here.

Here are a bunch of links, so you can test out what Joe Romm and David Wasdell are saying. Going back to the original science. A link bonanza for you. Go deep, this is the Big One.

The audio from David Wadell's "Beyond the Tipping Point" film, to an international climate conference at Tallberg Sweden, June 28, 2008. One hour, in Hi-Fi (55 MB) or Lo-Fi 14 MB

Joe Romm of climateprogress on Hadley Centre upper projections.

Joe Romm of climateprogress on MIT study doubling projections of heating.

Downloads and video, for talks at the "4 Degrees & Beyond" International Climate Conference 28-30 September 2009, Oxford UK

Pay special attention to this talk by Richard Betts, which includes (at 16 minute mark) the very points David Wasdell raises - that serious positive feedback loops are still left out of climate models (which leads to underestimates of the real possibilities).


Joe Romm's introduction to these papers (and why they matter).

The Royal Society web page for the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society "4 Degrees and Beyond" theme issue:

Some of the papers are now subscription only, having been offered to the public for a few days. Given the seriousness of crashing the Earth's climate system, and in the spirit of Wikileaks, I've posted all the papers here, as pdf files.

Editorial by David Garner




Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows
Beyond ‘dangerous’ climate change: emission scenarios for a new world

Niel H. A. Bowerman, David J. Frame, Chris Huntingford, Jason A. Lowe, and Myles R. Allen
Cumulative carbon emissions, emissions floors and short-term rates of warming: implications for policy

Richard A. Betts, Matthew Collins, Deborah L. Hemming, Chris D. Jones, Jason A. Lowe, and Michael G. Sanderson
When could global warming reach 4°C?

M. G. Sanderson, D. L. Hemming, and R. A. Betts
Regional temperature and precipitation changes under high-end (≥4°C) global warming

Fai Fung, Ana Lopez, and Mark New
Water availability in +2°C and +4°C worlds

Philip K. Thornton, Peter G. Jones, Polly J. Ericksen, and Andrew J. Challinor
Agriculture and food systems in sub-Saharan Africa in a 4°C+ world

Przemyslaw Zelazowski, Yadvinder Malhi, Chris Huntingford, Stephen Sitch, and Joshua B. Fisher
Changes in the potential distribution of humid tropical forests on a warmer planet

Robert J. Nicholls, Natasha Marinova, Jason A. Lowe, Sally Brown, Pier Vellinga, Diogo de Gusmão, Jochen Hinkel, and Richard S. J. Tol
Sea-level rise and its possible impacts given a ‘beyond 4°C world’ in the twenty-first century

Mark Stafford Smith, Lisa Horrocks, Alex Harvey, and Clive Hamilton
Rethinking adaptation for a 4°C world

Francoix Gemenne
Climate-induced population displacements in a 4 degree C + world

Rachel Warren
The role of interactions in a world implementing adaptation and mitigation solutions to climate change.


David Wasdell Bio

David Wasdell video presentation, Tallberg Sweden 2008

David Wasdell videos

The Apollo-Gaia web site

Another important Wasdell paper, with the graphs and charts helpful for both his video at Talberg, and his Radio Ecoshock interview. "Runaway Climate Change, Boundary Conditions & Implications for Policy".


"Seeds of Your Past" by Dirtfella (Victoria, B.C.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Local Food - Growing Sane

Avocados from South America. Apples from New Zealand, instead of the next valley. Industrially-grown carrots with no taste, no vitamins, but a microscopic coating of carcinogenic pesticides.

Meanwhile we are paving over the nearby farms, leaving our cities utterly dependent on global corporations. On cruelty to workers and animals. On oil and daily long-distance trucks. If something breaks down, or just runs down into collapse, your city can go to a starvation in a single week.

And the great food system keeps heating the planet, threatening all agriculture.

Against all that, is a rising tide of support for local food producers. It is a food revolution, and I don't use that word lightly. You will hear two voices of sanity, and yes, of hope.

The local food movement started with a book "The 100-Mile Diet" by Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon. In Vancouver, Canada, this couple went a year, eating only locally produced food. It wasn't easy then. It is much easier now, in many North American cities, as the idea of sustainable cities catches on.

Five years beyond the success of their first book, Smith and MacKinnon give us a rapid-fire tour of great ideas, the 10 best local food projects in the United States and Canada. With a culture check against a tiny village in Northern Spain. Are the Europeans really better with their food?

You'll be surprised as local food networks spring up in Toronto, New York, Michigan, and Los Angeles.

This talk was recorded by Alex Smith, for Radio Ecoshock, at the Museum of Vancouver, Canada, on November 25th, 2010. The Museum was one of the sponsors, along with the Tyee magazine, and the Tides Canada Foundation, who funded a series of 10 talks on transition and localization.

We'll tune in just after the introduction by David Beers, the editor of The Tyee, close friend and a food activist at the beginning of this localization of food.

If you want to know more, I'm going to share a few of my rough notes from the talk - but I encourage you to listen to the real thing!

Radio Ecoshock

READ MORE - MY NOTES ON SUSTAINABLE CITY MOVEMENTS from the speech, with many helpful links.