Wednesday, December 28, 2011



In his infamous 1925 book "Mein Kamptf" Adolpf Hitler coined the term "the big lie". This lie, he said, should be so "colossal" that no once could believe anyone quote "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously."

This is Alex Smith. I am sorry to report the government of Japan, the Prime Minister of Japan, has resorted to the big lie, trying to cover up the on-going nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Number 1 nuclear power plant.

On December 16th, Prime Minister Noda announced all reactors at Fukushima had reached the safe and stable state of "cold shutdown". The accident is over, he said, and carry no further signficant danger to the public of Japan or the world.

We'll talk to nuclear industry expert Arnie Gunersen about this lie, and the truth of Fukushima.

I'll also interview Janette Sherman, co-author of a peer reviewed paper suggesting 14,000 Americans died due to the wave of radiation that swept over North America in March and April of 2011, after four massive explosions at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi site. That is an idea so shocking, we want to deny it immediately. Radio Ecoshock will investigate. Scroll down for that big story, which you won't see in any mainstream media.

You'll also hear a short clip from Japanese activist Kazuhiko Kobayashi, translated from his tour in Germany in October.

Kobayashi reveals the secret power structure of Japan, an explanation of how a government with a the sad history of nuclear bombing, could lie now about this horrible nuclear accident, costing still more lives in Japan.

The same infernal hidden Troika of power keeps nuclear power going in North America and Europe.

So much to hear, to absorb, to know deeply.

Here is the big lie, as carried on NHK English language TV from Japan.

"Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda says the crippled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have been successfully brought to a state of cold shutdown.

The state is a target in the second phase of a timetable established by the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company to bring the plant under control.

At a meeting of the government nuclear disaster task force on Friday, Noda declared that the reactors are now stable and that the second phase is complete.

He said radiation levels at the periphery of the plant site will remain low if another accident occurs."

In this Radio Ecoshock program I interview Arnie Gundersen, a long-time nuclear industry executive, who left the field after blowing the whistle on unsafe reactors. We talk about what "cold shutdown" means, and whether that applies to Fukushima.


I also ask Arnie whether there is still a possibility of another explosion at Fukushima Dai-ichi. Gundersen explains the operator, TEPCO, must constantly pump nitrogen into the reactors, because there is a bubble of hydrogen at the top. The nitrogen is to keep out oxygen, which could lead to another massive explosion, and
more serious radiation. If that system fails, another reactor, or three reactors, could blow up again.

Gundersen has done calculations on the remaining mass of fuel, now called "corium" because it is a mixture of metals, mostly around 100 tons of hot uranium, but also all the metals used in the fuel rod containers and other inner parts of the reactor, which melted down together.

A serious question: could one of these three reactors experience a "China Syndrome"? That is where molten fuel melts through the last of the containment concrete, burning down to the water table below, and then suffering a massive radioactive steam explosion. Arnie calculates that a China Syndrome is unlikely now at Fukushima. There just isn't enough heat piled in the right way to burn all the way out, so long as water is circulated around it. Listen to the interview for his full explanation, and watch this video.

[Radio Ecoshock Arnie Gundersen interview - 22 minutes, audio only]

You have been listening to Arnie Gundersen, the nuclear industry executive who has become an expert witness and public voice on nuclear power safety. Find his videos at Be sure and support their important work.


As you have heard, to paste the idea of "cold shutdown" into the triple melt-down at Fukushima Dai-ichi required a series of sub-lies. According to a report of the Japanese announcement by Tim Hornyak at CNET, TEPCO said "cold shutdown," meant, quoting Hornyak, "the reactors can be safely kept cool and that radiation exposure is limited to 1 millisievert per year at the site's boundary."

One millisievert per year at the Fukushima site boundary! The radiation leaking out into the sky and the sea is many, many times that right now, and every day. You have just heard Arnie Gundersen describing the on-going radiation leaks into the air, around Fukushima, and blown by the wind over Japan, and over the Pacific.


During a real state of "cold shutdown" there should be no radioactive leaks into the sea either. Japan needs another big lie to make that possible. As our favorite Fukushima blogger at writes:

[the Japanese newspaper] "Tokyo Shinbun reports that NISA has decided to basically "nullify" the leaks of contaminated water from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in the past, and declare that there will be no leak in the future either, even if there is actually a leak or deliberate discharge. Why? Because NISA says so.

From Tokyo Shinbun [(via Asyura, so that the link doesn't disappear;][December 16, 2011] 12/16/2011):
'NISA considers the amount of contaminated water into the ocean to be zero

There have been several leaks of water contaminated with radioactive materials from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Tokyo Shinbun has found out through own investigation that the Nuclear and Industrial Safety

Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has treated the amount of the leaks as "zero" from a legal [or regulatory] point of view, because it was a "state of emergency". The Agency has said it will treat the future leaks and deliberate discharges into the ocean the same way. The national government is scheduled to declare a "cold shutdown state" on December 16, but we are suspicious of the government's position that seems to ignore the suppression of the radioactive materials released from the plant, which is one of the important conditions [of the cold shutdown "state"].

Just the leak found April 2nd, 2011, from Reactor Number 2 at Fukushima released, quoting Tokyo Shinbun again"

"4,700 terabecquerels (according to TEPCO's estimate), already more than 20,000 times as much as the maximum amount allowed.

Both domestic and foreign research institutions have disputed TEPCO's estimate as 'too low'.

On December 4, the water that contained 26 billion becquerels of radioactive strontium was found leaking into the ocean from the apparatus that evaporates and condenses the treated water.

Furthermore, the storage tanks that are set up inside the compound are expected to become full in the first half of the next year. The water in these storage tanks also contains radioactive strontium. TEPCO is contemplating the discharge of the water into the ocean after further decontaminating it, but facing the protest from the fisheries associations the company has said it will postpone the discharge for now."

End quote from Tokyo Shinbun newspaper, as translated by the blogger ex-skf.

According to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shinbun "462 trillion becquerels of radioactive strontium have leaked to the Pacific Ocean since the March."

So Fukushima is still leaking tons of highly radioactive water into the Pacific, even in December 2011, and plans more intentional dumping into the ocean, but declares their emissions to be "zero" due to the technicality of declaring it "a state of emergency".

It is hard to imagine a bigger lie.

The government has no guages to measure the escaped and melted nuclear fuel, dripping somewhere below the reactor. They don't know where it is, and cannot approach it with anything to find out.


Lies piled upon lies. Why? The goverment announced a time-table shortly after the accident. Within 9 months they would reach a state of cold-shutdown. It is nine months, so it must be so.

Even the timid Japanese press isn't buying this latest announcement. For example the Asahi Shinbun newspaper ran a series of articles with titles like "Few believe assertion that Fukushima crisis is over" (December 17th). That article reveals some of the real reasons for saying Fukushima is over: the economy.

Quote: "A total of 44 nations and regions have restricted the imports of Japanese agricultural products and in the extreme case of Kuwait, all food products from every prefecture in Japan has been banned for import.

The negative publicity has also led to a sharp drop in the number of foreign tourists to Japan. In November, there were about 552,000 visitors, a decrease of 13.1 percent compared with November 2010

Local mayors, in cities and towns still evacuated, expressed severe doubts about the government's announcement of "cold shutdown". Even Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato said ""The accident has not been brought under control..."

The German press Deutche Welle roasted the "cold shutdown" announcement, saying the reactors are "far from cold".


But the nuclear power structure in Japan has important allies. US Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides was in Japan for the announcement. Nides said the U.S. is happy to hear about the "cold shut down" and congratulated Japan. Nides is part of an American business delegation seeking new contracts for decontamination. Of course, America doesn't like to officially discuss the weaknesses of the U.S. design for the Mark I General Electric reactors which blew up at Fukushima. Or the military personel exposed, and still exposed to radiation from this on-going disaster.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the NRC, also blessed the cold shutdown announcement.

Likewise Yukiya Amano of the International Atomic Energy Agency congratulated Japan on reaching cold shutdown. The IEA's Director Generla Amano was previously a Japanese bureaucrat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


And that brings us to this snapshot of Japanese power from a business consultant turned nuclear critic named Kazuhiko Kobayashi. Kobayashi is fluent in German, and just went on a speaking tour for the anti-nuclear activist group The Association of Citizens' Environmental Protection, the OTP.

He also wrote an empassioned letter for the Foundation Ethics & Economics, as they awarded the International ethecon Black Planet Award 2011. That Black Planet award went to Tsunehisa Katsumata, Masataka Shimizu, Toshio Nishizawa, and other responsible executives and the major shareholders of the energy Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO.

His talk was titled ""German nuclear phase-out has given the world hope!" Find links to the video and audio below.

A German friend of Radio Ecoshock writes:

"In a recent speech at protests against the Gronau uranium enrichment facility, Japanese Germanist Kazuhiko Kobayashi spoke about his country traditionally being run by a sort of unofficial troika of influential state officials, prominent politicians and corporate managers. [There is] an organised fluctuation between the three groups to ensure connections, whose particular interests have hampered the disaster relief efforts time and again."

Keep in mind, Germany is attempting to lead the world out of nuclear power, with some back-sliding by politicians. Their struggle should be known by all the world, but that is another story.

Right now, we will hear Kazuhiko speaking to German activists, translated into English by our friend of Radio Ecoshock.

Kazuhiko Kobayashi:

"In our country, a case of high-ranking government officials is playing an enormous role.

Once it's members went through certain universities, and passed the [unknown word], they are on a free ride to certain positions and departments. And once they are there, their power is so enormous that they can do virtually everything without any inspection. So our government officials can take it all.

Once they retire, they are being put in executive posts in big corporations. They enjoy their time as Directors.

And during those five to ten years they act as agents of plutocrats corporate interests to the same government Ministries where they had been working before.

Now their successors are in their old positions and listen exactly why their former bosses are saying, because they know if they do what they are being told by the corporations, once they retire they will get the same fantastic posts. In their last decade they can make just as much money as in their entire career.

Nevertheless this pays off for the corporations, because it allows them to control the government and gives them a free ride. So this relationship is mutual.

Of course the career politicians join in as well, since they are being bribed by the corporations, as in many other countries. But in our country, the influence of the government of these officials is enormous.

Over a hundred years, since the end of the Samurai era, these three groups have been establishing this Troika. Time and again, together they represent political and economic power, for which they are ready to sacrifice everything. And to which the life of we the people does not matter.

This is the sad truth, and it became quite obvious in Fukushima

That was Kazuhiko Kobayashi, translated from the German speech.

Find the audio of the full 42 minute Kobyashi speech (38.8 MB) in Gronau (10/20/2011) (in German) here.

A You tube video of his presentation, again in German, is here.



Before we return to the fight to shut down unsafe nuclear power plants in the United States, and lessons from Japanese activists, I want to investigate the stunning new study claiming 14,000 Americans have already died from radiation floating over from the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.

Two long-time American anti-nuclear activists, with decades of experience in the field, uncovered unsettling information even in the sparse announcements published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Centers for Disease Control, the CDC.

Joseph J. Mangano, the Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project at, co-founded by Dr. Ernest Sternglass. Mangano has published scholarly articles and books like "Low Level Radiation and Immune System Disorders: An Atomic Era Legacy", and "Radioactive Baby Teeth: The Cancer Link."

On December 19th, Joseph Mangano, with co-author Janette Sherman, issued a press release about their newest medical article titled "14,000 U.S. Deaths Tied to Fukushima Reactor Disaster Fallout".

This caused a storm of criticism and alarm.

I heard about Janette Sherman a couple of years ago, as a seasoned doctor and medical researcher. She was part of a study of thousands of baby teeth. The teeth showed higher levels of radioactive strontium-90 in children within 40 miles of any nuclear power plant. Sherman, as we will hear, was also the English editor of a large collection of papers on the impacts of the Chernobyl nuclear power accident in the Ukraine.

Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman published their peer-reviewed study in the December 2011th edition of the International Journal of Health Services.

Let's talk with Janette Sherman.

[Sherman interview]

Our guest has been toxicologist and internist Janette Sherman. She is adjunct professor, at Western Michigan University, and contributing editor of "Chernobyl - Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment" published by the New York Academy of Sciences in 2009. Download or read that huge report, consisting of translations from articles and reports from the Ukraine, Russia, and Eastern Europe, here.

Janette is also the author of the book "Chemical Exposure and Disease and Life's Delicate Balance - Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer." Find out more here.


Did an extra 14,000 Americans dies from Fukushima?

The sub-title of the December 19th Press release reads "Impact Seen As Roughly Comparable to Radiation-Related Deaths After Chernobyl; Infants Are Hardest Hit, With Continuing Research Showing Even Higher Possible Death Count."

This takes us into one of the most controversial areas of nuclear affairs. What is the safe level of radiation?

Study after study shows there is no safe level of radiation. More details below.


Reading further from the RPHP press release:

"Just six days after the disastrous meltdowns struck four reactors at Fukushima on March 11, scientists detected the plume of toxic fallout had arrived over American shores. Subsequent measurements by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found levels of radiation in air, water, and milk hundreds of times above normal across the U.S. The highest detected levels of Iodine-131 in precipitation in the U.S. were as follows (normal is about 2 picocuries I-131 per liter of water): Boise, ID (390); Kansas City (200); Salt Lake City (190); Jacksonville, FL (150); Olympia, WA (125); and Boston, MA (92)."

So there is no doubt elevated levels of radioation was measured by the American goverment all across the country, but especially on the West Coast.

Radio Ecoshock ran an interview in the Spring of 2011 with a Canadian scientist, Dr. Krzyztof Starosta at Simon Fraser University, who also measured elevated levels of radioactivity on Canada's West Coast. Hear that interview in this Radio Ecoshock program "Fear and Loathing in Fukushima" (1 hour 14 MB)

The RPHP press release says, quote:

"The CDC issues weekly reports on numbers of deaths for 122 U.S. cities with a population over 100,000, or about 25-30 percent of the U.S. In the 14 weeks after Fukushima fallout arrived in the U.S. (March 20 to June 25), deaths reported to the CDC rose 4.46 percent from the same period in 2010, compared to just 2.34 percent in the 14 weeks prior. Estimated excess deaths during this period for the entire U.S. is about 14,000."

The government reports an unusual rise in deaths, without any explanation. We know radiation hit North America, and can be harmful, especially to infants in the uterus, and up to one year of age. Janette Sherman says adults with compromised immune systems, perhaps after cancer treatment for example, are also vulnerable to more radiation as generated by Fukushima.

You can find the full journal article as a free .pdf file here.

The Radiation and Public Health Project also posted a 42 minute audio press conference with journalists. I note that no major news sources attended. Not Associated Press or Reuters. One journalist asked if there could be multiple causes beyond Fukushima for these excess deaths, and Joseph Mangano agreed there could be other causes as well. He called for more research.


Mangano answered another doubt, with this explanation of three cases where low-level radiation impacts were denied, but then finally admitted by the government or the courts.

[Transcript by Alex Smith from Press Tele-Conference for journalists December 19th, 2011]

"This is Joseph Mangano... Any statement, such as the one you just mentioned, i.e. the levels of radiation exposure are too low to cause harm, are in conflict with the agreement of expert scientists.

I'll refer you to a report, a blue ribbon panel called BEIR 7, Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation. They have produced seven reports over the years. And in their most recent one, 2005, they agreed that based on hundreds and hundreds of scientific articles, that even at low doses, there is risk to humans.

And I'll follow that by giving three examples of historically, where there were assumptions that low doses were not harmful to people only to have that belief overturned.

Number one is the practice of giving pregnant women abdominal x-rays. Which doctors did not to harm people, but simply for diagnostic purposes, to see, you know, how big the baby was and where the position was.

The first article that this raised childhood cancer risk to the foetus took place in the late 1950's. It was met by a huge wave of opposition by obsteticians, by radiologists, by the nuclear industry. More articles came out about that. And finally, in the late 1970's this practice was discontinued.

The second example was the fallout from atomic bomb tests in Nevada in the 1950's and 60's. For years years government officials declared no harm, until 1997, when the National Cancer Institute put out a report
estimating that up to 212,000 Americans developed thyroid cancer alone from the Iodine in bomb fallout.

The third one is the case of workers in nuclear weapons plants, which again for years the government measured their doses and declared that they were below 'safe and permissable limits'. In the year 2000 the
Energy Department put out a report stating that, it was based on dozens of articles, the workers were in fact susceptible to a variety of cancers. And now there is a program to compensate former workers with cancer.

In summary, there is a basic dynamic here which starts with an assumption of low doses being harmless - only to find out that after study, in fact the opposite is true.

So I think we must maintain an open mind here when studying Fukushima."

Find a .pdf of the BEIR 7 report here.

The Wiki article on ionizing radiation says this:

"The linear dose-response model suggests that any increase in dose, no matter how small, results in an incremental increase in risk. The linear no-threshold model (LNT) hypothesis is accepted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the EPA and its validity has been reaffirmed by a National Academy of Sciences Committee (see the BEIR VII report, summarized in [8]). Under this model, about 1% of a population would develop cancer in their lifetime as a result of ionizing radiation from background levels of natural and man-made sources."

That does support what Mangano and Sherman are saying.


And here is a key statement by Joseph Mangano in that press tele-conference, namely that 14,000 MAY have been killed due to Fukushima, but the researchers cannot prove that actually happened.


"Correction, we haven't said that Fukushima DID in fact cause these excess cancers, but MAY have caused. I want to make that quite clear. It's really a call, a clarion call, for more extensive research."


Given that doubt, I find the headline for the study press release misleading. We don't know Fukushima fallout caused 14,000 American deaths.

But the thrust of the study seems valid. A big impact of fallout over a large population is possible. It happened during atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, and again after Chernobly. The American government has made no effort to find out why more people died after Fukushima. If they have an alternative cause, let's hear

We also see how very weak government death reporting is. Thousands could die of radiation poisoning, or other causes, and we might never know it.

It seems biologically reasonable to me that many people in fragile states, whether infants or adults with medical problems, died following the blast of Fukushima radiation hitting North America, and Europe for that matter. When critics keep citing weak external radiation, you know they are dodging the real risk of ingesting
long-lived radioactive particles through food and water.

I would also expect more cancers to develop in the population during the coming decades, due to exposure to radioactive particles from the Fukushima nuclear accident. That is just common medical knowledge, as we learned from the Chernobly accident as well.

Because increased radioactivity stays with us for generations, even hundreds of years, and because it can alter genes for all subsequent generations, I feel nuclear power is far too dangerous for human use.


Fukushima teaches us to seek cleaner energy options.

Here is another message for Americans, and everyone still living in the shadows of nuclear disaster.

The setting was a concert at the Shoreline amphitheatre in Mountain View CA, on August 7, 2011. On stage Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Jason Mraz, The Doobie Brothers, Tom Morello, John Hall and many more.

Watch clips from this classic concert for clean non-nuclear energy on You tube here (42 minutes with all-star cast).

Listen for Eileen Miyoko Smith on stage. She is a Japanese activist who fought against using deadly plutonium as a fuel called MoX at the Fukushima reactors. Now she worries California reactors on quake fault lines, like Diablo Canyon and San Onofre could go the same way. They should be shut down.

And you also hear one of the original Americans fighting dangerous nuclear power, Harvey Wasserman. He started in New England in the early 19070's. Wasserman's latest book is "SOLARTOPIA: Our Green-Powered Earth, AD 2030", introduced by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and with the song "Solartopia" by Pete Seeger. Watch and listen to that Pete Seeger "Solartopia" song on You tube here.

Long-time folkie turned rocker Bonnie Rait was one of the MC's at the Musicians for Safe Energy concert.

I'm your host, Alex Smith.

Thank you for listening, and for caring about your world.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Green Music Festival

Blah blah blah. All those words fill our brain, and miss our hearts.

That is where the musicians step in, to move us along. I'm Alex Smith. Welcome to our annual best of green music show. You'll hear the songs of activism, despair, and love of Mother Earth.

This year we've added three songs for broken economy. You'll hear two new songs for the Occupy Movement.

We kick off with "Change Change" by the Canadian group Thistle, starring Debra Lee Halinda.

"Change Change" Thistle 2:43

More Thistle music on CD Baby.

Next up, some Frackin Good music from Australia, "My Water's On Fire Tonight" with David Holmes and Dean Bekker, from the album "Wholelottafracking Going On"

"My Water's On Fire Tonight" David Holmes & Dean Bekker 2:32

For those tired of the city, here is the Canadian hit group Mother Mother with "Dirty Town."

"Dirty Town" Mother Mother 2:28

Web site.

You are listening to the Radio Ecoshock green music special - eco activist songs from around the world.

From Germany, here is Michael Montecrossa with his Fukushima song, "Talkin End Game"

"Fukushima Song Talkin End Game" Michael Montecrossa 3:51

You tube video.

Michael's web site.

American singer-songwriter Neko Case is best known in the Canadian group "The New Pornographers" Here Neko solos with "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth"

"Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth" Neko Case 2:10

Let's dive back down under. We'll start with Australia's Combat Wombat from a benefit album to stop the destructive Lake Cowal gold mine proposed by Barrick. This song is called

"Alternative Energy" Combat Wombat (from the album "Water More Precious Than Gold").

The album isn't online any longer, but you can hear more tracks from it in this April 27th 2006 "Podcasting Nimbin" show.

From New Zealand, with a Polynesia flavor, here is the group Te Vaka, with the song "Our Ocean" written for Greenpeace New Zealand.

"Our Ocean" Te Vaka

Their web site is cool.

You are tuned to the Radio Ecoshock Green Music festival.

This is the Seattle Band, Million Dollar Nile with their song "Don't Kilowatt".

"Don't Kilowatt" Million Dollar Nile 4:10

Before we get to our set of new Occupy songs, let's remember what this Earth is all about.

We start with "Hallowed Be Thy Ground" by Casey Neill

You tube video of that song here (audio not as good as studio version).

That is followed by "Earth" by Imogen Heap, ....

Here is a You tube video about Imogen's film "Love the Earth"

And here is her web site.

Then: "Where We Going to Go" by Ellis Music Productions.

Watch it on You tube here. Written and sung by David Todds, who allows reproduction for non-profit use.


It's time to Occupy ourselves with the economic banking rip-off. In music of course, with Radio Ecoshock.

Whether you are talking consumer excess, the banking crash, or the fast-track to wrecking the environment, you can't beat this song:

"Run Away Train" by Texas singer/songwriter Eliza Gilkyson.

There are lots of You tube live versions of this song, but none beat the studio version in this program. Visit Eliza's web site for the latest.

"Runaway Train" Eliza Gilkyson 4:11

I was also struck by the Texas bravery of Gilkyson's 2008 song "Man of God" deep in George Bush country. (Not included in this show).

One of the suprise hits of the Occupy movement comes from Hawaii. Singer Makana was the official music for the APEC Summit leaders dinner. He sang "We Are the Many" - over and over for the surprised dignitaries of the 1 percent.

Makana "We Are The Many" 5:23

You tube video here.

His web site.

I first heard this David Rovics "Occupy Wall Street" song from an Iphone at the protests in New York City. David went into the studio, to make this one for the world.

"Occupy Wall Street (We're Going to Stay Right Here)" David Rovics 6:07

Official "Occupy Walls Street" song video here.

More about David Rovics at his web site.

In the hour-long non-stop version (and podcast) we hear one more quick one from David Rovics...

"When The Oil Runs Dry" David Rovics 2:03

We'll wrap up this Radio Ecoshock music special with our number one downloaded green tune. It's "Power from Above" by New England folkie Dan Berggren.

Power From Above Dan Berggren 2:49

Download the whole song here.

To book Dan for a performance, or just find out more, go here.

Sorry I didn't have time for this great song, "Good Planets Are Hard to Find" by American folk singer Steve Forbert.

You can always send your green music suggestions to: radio //at//

I'm Alex smith. Thanks for listening. And have a good holiday.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Diplomats from all over the world are returning home after a hard-won agreement in Durban, South Africa.

They agreed to do nothing to save our climate from disaster.

Our governments will talk until 2015, and then maybe do something serious about greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. By then, as Radio Ecoshock listeners know, we will be committed to at least 3 and a half degrees Centigrade hotter world in 2100, than our ancestors knew in 1750. It will only get hotter after that.

In this Radio Ecoshock special, we hear four reports.

From India, journalist, author and political analyst Praful Bidwai tells Stephen Leahy of IPS a failure in Durban would be better than what we got. We go outside the spin of Western media.

Then to San Francisco, to hear NASA's Dr. James Hansen at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. He describes our unique and dangerous path.

Back to South Africa, where Janet Redman has survived the gruelling Durban conference sessions, to give us the wrap up. What did and didn't happen, along with the American role.

We finish up with an interview with Dr. Michael Raupach from Australia's National Science Agency. He's part of the Global Carbon Project which just published the bad news about our "monstrous" increase in emissions.

New science, predictions of doom, and a world in paralysis - it's another Radio Ecoshock show.


At the Durban COP-17 Climate conference, India was blamed for not going along with the game. We're going to hear from Praful Bidwai, the author of "The Politics of Climate Change and The Global Crisis" and a well-known Indian commentator. Praful was interviewed by Stephen Leahy of the Independent Press Service on Friday December 9th. The meeting was not over, but everything in the interview stands.

Praful agrees the Indian economy is growing fast - but all the profits are going to the upper 10 or 15 percent of the population. While 500 million people still don't have electricity, India can hardly be counted as a "developed" country.

Bidwai also talks about the bullying, and outright bribery of countries at these climate conferences. Small Island states, who may disappear with rising seas, are told to agree to offers from large polluters, or risk getting nothing at all. Other countries are threatened by the risk of withholding loans or investments.

The European Union wanted a legally binding treaty. They offered to extend the Kyoto Protocol, and meet their commitments within that. Russia and the United States didn't want to extend the Protocol. Canada came to the conference threatening to withdraw first, because Canada has no intention of meeting those emission reductions. Production from the Tar Sands comes first, and Canada is already at least 25% over what it promised in Kyoto.

The United States never ratified Kyoto, despite it's promotion by Al Gore.

India objected to being legally bound to reduce emissions, even before it produced electricity for its citizens. Why should they do without, while the West continues to reap the benefits, and waste even more?

In the end, as we hear from Janet Redman, the Durban conference agreed on something called an extention of Kyoto, but without any legally binding reductions until at least 2020.

Every other commitment was likewise hollowed out, becoming many steps backwards, says Praful Bidwai. Payments into the $100 billion a year climate adaptation fund are uncertain, and not coming any time soon. The whole idea of the West taking responsibility for climate change (due to long-term emissions) - or reducing quickly to allow developing countries their share of the atmosphere - all that is out the window. Bidwai says this is worse than Copenhagen, it should have been voted down. Failure would have been preferable.

Don't miss this insightful interview by Stephen Leahy, of the Independent Press Service (IPS).

Stephen Leahy immediately sent this interview to Radio Ecoshock. Stephen is one of the few all-out environmental journalists left anywhere. He needs your support to keep covering the world. I'm asking you to make a donation of any amount, at

Our Radio Ecoshock coverage of the Durban climate conference continues with a long-distance call to Africa. We talk with Janet Redman. She knows the ropes of international negotiations, the activist scene, and politics back home in Washington.


Dr. James Hansen, from the Goddard Space Center at NASA, is possibly America's top climate scientist. He was certainly the first to warn Congress, back in 1988, that global warming threatened the world.

Hansen's papers are widely cited as ground-breaking research. His latest book "Storms of My Grandchildren" is popular.

As the Durban climate conference was meeting, on the other side of the world, in San Francisco, the American Geophysical Union was holding its annual conference. Some of the most important climate science of the year is presented and reported.

We only have time to give you a brief excerpt from an hour long press briefing on December 6th, 2011. It was a panel discussion between three of the leading lights. I'm going to focus on a few clips from NASA's Dr. James Hansen, plus a bit from Eelco Rohling, Professor of Ocean and Climate Change, Southampton University, U.K.

Watch the full 1 hour press briefing, which also includes Ken Caldeira, here.

Note all the other AGU 2011 videos that show up on the You tube page. And visit the AGU site.

The presentation is called "Paleoclimate Record Points Toward Potential Rapid Climate Changes".

Find a related NASA press release here.

It begins:

"In recent research, Hansen and co-author Makiko Sato, also of Goddard Institute for Space Studies, compared the climate of today, the Holocene, with previous similar 'interglacial' epochs – periods when polar ice caps existed but the world was not dominated by glaciers. In studying cores drilled from both ice sheets and deep ocean sediments, Hansen found that global mean temperatures during the Eemian period, which began about 130,000 years ago and lasted about 15,000 years, were less than 1 degree Celsius warmer than today. If temperatures were to rise 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, global mean temperature would far exceed that of the Eemian, when sea level was four to six meters higher than today, Hansen said.

'The paleoclimate record reveals a more sensitive climate than thought, even as of a few years ago. Limiting human-caused warming to 2 degrees is not sufficient,' Hansen said. 'It would be a prescription for disaster.'

Find Briefing Materials

Related feature article by Hansen and Sato


Reporting from South Africa, our guest is Janet Redman. She is Co-director of the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network, at the Institute for Policy Studies, in Washington D.C. Janet attended the 17th Conference of the Parties, known as COP-17. That United Nations climate conference wrapped up a day and a half late, in the wee hours of December 11th, 2011.

I'm not able to summarize everything in this detailed interview.

Janet expresses her disappointment with a "hollowed out" agreement. Nothing is binding, all is voluntary and unmonitored. Essentially, from now until 2020, it is a free-for-all where every country can emit as much as it wants.

The result for the climate will be a disaster. On our current course, with emissions rising by 3 to 6% every year, there is no way to avoid at least 3.5 degrees C global mean temperature rise by 2100, and it could go to 5 or 6 degrees. That will ruin the Earth for humans and most species.

Janet explains the role of the United States, and how American actions in Durban are tailored to the electoral cycle. America is not taking on its responsibility for being the biggest single cause of climate change. A combination of bullying and evasion replace that.

We talk about Canada, and the unusual role of China. China is now the world's largest emitter, although still far down the list of per capita consumption.

China is also a leader in renewable energy, partly due to government policies supporting it. But American labor unions, and the U.S. government, are taking legal action against China - because it supports renewable energy!

China is also the de facto head of the G-77 countries, and is expected to speak for the developing world, against the major Western powers and Japan, if needed.

At one point, China offered to take on binding reduction agreements, if the U.S would do the same. But the U.S. refused. Redman says other countries are very aware that President Obama is not the climate or environmental leader voters expected. She doesn't think he will even mention climate in his campaign next year. Janet thinks Americans will have to take personal action, and organize on other levels, since the federal government is either bought out or politically paralyzed, or both.

There is a lot more in this interview. If you want to know what really happened in Durban, give it a listen.

Find out more about the Institute for Policy Studies here.

My thanks to Daphne Wysham of Earthbeat Radio for helping arrange this interview.


Now on to Australia, to get the latest on climate science and our ever-rising greenhouse gas emissions.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is Australia's national science agency. Our guest Dr. Michael Raupach is a Research Scientist with CSIRO's Marine and Atmospheric Research Division.

Dr Raupach's achievements include:
CSIRO Fellow, 2010
Fellow, American Geophysical Union, 2010
Fellow, Australian Academy of Science, 2009

Back in 2006, Dr Raupach warned the amount of carbon dioxide produced by humans was on the rise. We've just seen that confirmed with another huge increase in 2010. For all the conferences, studies and reports, when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, we're just going backwards.

Michael also participated in research showing the "sinks" that help trap our carbon emissions are weakening. When we look at carbon respositories, like the soil, forests, and especially the ocean, science suggests these are taking up 20% less carbon than in 1970.

Find out more here. (with audio podcast 6 min)

That's a huge concern, since at least half of the greenhouse gases produced by humans have been hidden away in these sinks. If they take up less, we get more staying in the atmosphere, and if we want to survive, we have to burn much less than we thought.

We hear about the recently released report showing humans have managed to raise greenhouse gas emissions an astonishing 5.9 percent in 2010. All during the 2000's, greenhouse gas emissions were increasing around 3% every year, except 2009. In 2009, the economic downturn meant a lower increase.

But by 2010, and again this year we think, despite economic concerns, greenhouse gas emissions are roaring out of our tail-pipes, power plants, gas wells, and agriculture, to name a few.

All this is tracked by the ...


Quoting from Wikipedia: "The Global Carbon Project (GCP) was established in 2001. The organisation seeks to quantify global carbon emissions and their causes.

The main object of the group has been to fully understand the carbon cycle. The project has brought together emissions experts and economists to tackle the problem of rising concentrations of greenhouse gases.

The Global Carbon Project works collaboratively with the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, the World Climate Programme, the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change and Diversitas, under the Earth System Science Partnership.

In late 2006 researchers from the project claimed that carbon dioxide emissions had dramatically increased to a rate of 3.2% annually from 2000. At the time, the chair of the group Dr Mike Raupach stated that 'This is a very worrying sign. It indicates that recent efforts to reduce emissions have had virtually no impact on emissions growth and that effective caps are urgently needed,'...

Their projections have indicated that we can expect greenhouse gas emissions to occur according to the IPCC's worst-case scenario, as CO2 emissions reach 500ppm in the 21 st century

Find the main Global Carbon Project web site here.

Actually, Dr. Raupach told me about the 2010 increase in our interview, but asked me to wait for the paper publication this past week, before broadcasting our chat.

It was a rare opportunity to talk with one of Australia's preeminent climate scientists, especially when it comes to the carbon cycle. In a future show, I'll ask Dr. Raupach about using changes in agriculture to lower carbon, by putting it into the soil.

This week we learned about that carbon cycle, and our emissions.

I asked Michael Raupach about the priorities for climate research in Australia. Then I learned more about North America and Europe as well.

It seems "the sub-tropical ridge" of high pressure is dropping southward toward the Poles. The same ridge in northern latitutes is moving northward toward the Pole. The result is a massive change in weather patterns.

For Australia, and for the southern United States, this change means less rainfall, drought, and fires. Australia has seen plenty of all three, just like Texas and Oklahoma in 2011. Parts of the country are drying out, and may not recover.

Raupach says it is easy to predict a long term warming trend due to increasing carbon in the atmosphere. There will be more brush fires in the countryside, and more heat deaths in the cities, he says.

Here is the difficult subject that needs much more search, Raupach tells me: the impact of greenhouse gases on precipitation. Just as James Hansen told us at the AGU in San Francisco, our models are not yet good at predicting changes in rainfall. We can't say for sure which extreme rainfall events are aided by climate change.

Knowing the impact on rainfall, and therefore on agriculture, is critical for Australia and the world.


There you go. A full serving of science, doom and the human circus.

We don't have time to cover the simultaneous economic collapse. In his latest radio show and podcast, Max Keiser explains why Britain opted out of the European Union economic recovery plan - to keep the City of London as a world base for bankster piracy.

Download "The Truth About Markets" #1228 December 10, 2011 here. (1 hour)

Your new word for the week is "re-hypothication". Look it up, and find the link to a key article in the blog Zero Hedge which explains how money is magically expanded until it bursts.

This article is a bit hard going at the start, I found, but keep slogging along and you begin to get the drift of the game going on in London, and incidentally how Canadian banks are playing there...


The politicians at Durban showed they are not willing to act to save the climate. Maybe a fast deep economic crash is our only hope of maintaining a livable climate for ourselves and our grandchildren.

With that happy thought, I thank you for listening. Download Radio Ecoshock programs free from our web site, You can find my blog and videos there as well.

I'm Alex Smith, saying "Remember, these are the good old days."

Enjoy your holidays.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter Gardening, Guerrilla Gardening Master winter gardener Eliot Coleman grows year round in Maine, USA. UK, guerrilla gardener Chris Tomlinson secretly plants food. "HumptyDumptyTribe" warns global famine from climate change comng soon. Winter greenhouse interview from "Locavore," with Martin Ronda at the U. of Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming. Radio Ecoshock Show 111207 1 hour.


1. "Winter Gardening with Eliot Coleman"

How to grow food in winter, even in Northern climates. Master gardener Eliot Coleman, from Four Seasons Farm in Bar Harbor Maine, grows (and sells) vegetables year-round, using inexpensive portable "hoop house" greenhouses, with no added heat source. Classic how-to interview, from Radio Ecoshock Show 111207 23 minutes 5 MB

2. "Guerrilla Gardening"

How to create an edible landscape on public and private lands. UK "Guerrilla of Love" Chris Tomlinson explains how he secretly plants food, perennials and trees, in waste lands, untended gardens, and even city streets. Fun interview on serious topic, as economy erodes. From Radio Ecoshock show 111207 9 minutes 2 MB

3. "Global Famine Starts in Texas"

From You tube, excellent rant and demonstration of Texas heat killing off ability of garden plants to set fruit. Above 85 degree F days, and without going below 68 F nights - no tomatoes, beans, mellons, nada. A portent of coming global famine as global warming develops, says this You tube poster "Humptydumptytribe". 9 minutes selected for Radio Ecoshock 111207 Global Famine Starts in Texas 2 MB

full video here:

4. "Locavore: Winter Gardening in Canada"

Nuts and bolts of how to grow vegetables even in a Canadian winter, with no extra heating. Walter Garrison, host of "Locavore" on CFRU Guelph, Ontario interviews Martin Ronda in greenhouse of Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming. Excerpts for Radio Ecoshock 111207 18 minutes. 4 MB


1. "Winter Gardening with Eliot Coleman"

We want fresh, organic, local food. Now with a sour economy, and rising food prices, that all gets even better. But most of us buy agribusiness produce in the winter, when Nature doesn't exactly encourage growing our own.

Master gardener Eliot Coleman says we CAN grow food year-round - and you don't have to live in Florida or Southern California to do it. From his famous "Four Seasons Farm" in Harborside Maine, Eliot tells us how, in his "Winter Harvest Handbook".

A few notes from our interview:

1.1 Coleman uses a combination of plastic and fabric to keep plants from freezing in the Maine winters.

The first is UV-resistant greenhouse grade plastic over simple hoops made out of plastic piping. This outer "greenhouse" is light and portable. Later, Eliot explains why.

Inside, there is a second fabric cover over the rows of plants. This is "spun-bonded" fabric, sold by seed houses and other garden supply stores. It is easily moved off the plants during the daytime, to allow as much light as possible. But it retains the soil heat during the night, to keep crops alive.

2. There are no pots, and no tables. Everything is grown in the ground. See above.

3. The greenhouse is mobile because:

3.1 it can shelter warm weather crops, like tomatoes, to get the maximum, and then moved over the cold weather crops as needed

3.2 fixed greenhouses, Coleman says, tend to build up problems like insects or moulds. If the ground is exposed to the elements for part of the year, this is far less likely to happen.

4. Aside from heat, the critical element is light. Maine, he says, is on a similar latitude to Southern France. It gets as much light as northern Italy, where everyone expects fresh greens daily. There is enough light in the northern U.S., and southern Canada to grow through the winter. (See also the Guelph interview below). People have winter gardens in Norway and Sweden.

5. For sucess, select winter hardy vegetables. These include spinach, arugula, some lettuce varieties, carrot, beets, kale, scallions, swiss chard, and more.

6. Forget the focus on tomatoes! That is not what winter gardening is about.

7. Coleman used some extra heat for about 5 years, but found it was not necessary. Lately his greenhouses have no wood or fossil fuel heat at all.

8. Grow lights are too expensive to run, considering the value of the vegetables.

9. There is a commercial market for fresh winter veggies. They keep longer for restaurants, than those shipped from further South. The most important point is these cold-hardy vegetables respond to the challenge with excellent taste. People love the taste and freshness.

10. Eliot thinks vegetables from California and Florida will not stop coming. They are just so cheap, even if diesel fuel quadruples in price, it won't add all that much to a head of cauliflower.

11. Eliot lives with Barbara Damrosch, author of "The Garden Primer" and more. He started his "farm" in Bar Harbor, Maine in 1968. At that time, all he could afford was acreage with pine-type forest, not farming land at all. Over the years since, he has worked up the soil into prime shape, about 14 acres in production.

12. The new book "The Winter Harvest Handbook" is an update to his classic "Four Season Harvest" (still an excellent investment). The Handbook has more for commercial growers as well, if you hope to make some extra income from winter greens.

13. Coleman is fascinated by the Transition movement. He's glad to see it.


All those public lands clothed in lawns and decorative trees, while people go hungry. Why haven't authorities clued into the rising cost of food and poverty?

We live in lost landscapes of the Victorian and Middle Class past. Chris Tomlinson and the "Guerillas of Love" are determined to change all that.

Actually, Chris confesses he is "the guerrillas of love". While there are lots of other guerrillas out there, Tomlinson needed a name to get a couple of grants to buy trees to plant. The Lush Cosmetics shops helped him with a few hundred pounds. Good on them.

So what is "guerrilla gardening"?

Chris looks for waste spaces to plant perennial food varieties. These may be close to where he is staying, so he can water them during the summer.

But his most successful plantings have popped up in people's front gardens, right on private property.

Chris also plants fruit trees in cities and towns. He may put on a jacket that suggests he is a city worker, as he puts in a new tree.

Occasionally, other city crew see them. A few got yanked out. Others were thought to be official, so they get mulched and maybe even get a railing or fence put around them. Success! More public food planted.

Since tree planting can be time intensive, Chris has also scheduled some activity "in the wee hours of the morning."

In Britain, the worst that can happen is a civil fine - no criminal offence. He's been rousted by a couple of cops. One of them was friendly, and had a garden in a community allotment himself.

Chris moves to different communities. He was in Nottingham for a while. Now he's moved on to places unmentioned.

Tomlinson said he became depressed, partly about the state of the world, a few years ago. "Gardening saved me" he says. Looking back, I think gardening might have saved me too, when I went back to the land (as polluting civilization drove me a bit crazy...)

Many, many people have found balance and satisfaction from gardening. Perhaps you would like to become a guerrilla gardener too? Try for more info. That's Richard Reynold's site in the UK.

Our cities seem purposely hostile not just to nature, but to the citizens. We pave over as much as we can, to save maintenance costs. Then we plant the most boring ground cover, and trees with no possible help for the population. How did we get into such a situation?

When I was in Morocco, the avenues were lined with orange trees. Everyone had free oranges. When will we rethink the ban on creating an edible landscape?

As the economy tanks, Peak Oil kicks in, and climate spikes the food prices, I can see a new department of food and agriculture opening in every city.

With very tough economic times coming, we'll need the food, especially for the poor (which will be most of us). Plant now, and plant often.


I was surfing You tube just this past week, and found a gem in the new uploads.

"Humptydumptytribe" (a.k.a. Hambone Littletail) says he is going to show us the first sign of the start of global famine, due to global warming.

He starts out with his frustration with the deniers in Austin Texas. Then I expect a tour of the dried out caked ground, maybe with dead cows, after the record drought in Texas.

Nope. Not about that. His camera stays on a lush green garden. Why?

On closer inspection, the plants grew big, there are lots of blooms, plenty of bees, and hardly any fruit.

For example, the first row of tomatoes planted in April grew tomatoes only on the very lowest branches, and nothing after that. The second row of about nine plants look grand, and have just ONE tomato.

Searching on the Net, for "poor fruit set on tomatoes" - he found out: if the daytime temperatures are above 85 degrees during the time of fruit set, and night temperatures stay hot (above 68 degrees) no fruit will be set.

This applied not just to tomatoes, but to his melons, and his pole beans. If Mr. Littletail needed this garden to survive, he would starve.

Austin, and all of Texas had the hottest spring and summer on record. This will be normal in the coming decades. Where these heat conditions apply, crops will fail in many parts of the world, becoming a global famine.

Countless scientific studies and food experts confirm and warn this is coming. In just one example, Lester Brown of Earth Policy Institute, a recognized expert in grain crops, said rice is within one degree of its tolerance. If the rice growing areas go up one degree of average temperature, they may not set fruit. No rice, or greatly reduced rise equals mass starvation in Asia.

On our current course, various experts and institutes warn, we are headed for a global mean temperature rise of at least 3 degrees C., maybe 5 or 6 C.

In the You tube video, Humptydumptytribe wonders if the 2010 record increase in carbon dioxide emissions is responsible for the heat and drought in Texas this year. It isn't proved, he says, but it looks like good circumstantial evidence.

In any case, a lot of studies have shown the U.S. south will get around three months of days over 100 degrees every year, or every second year, within a decade or two. Texas almost got that this year. Maybe it has come already?

Check out the video. It's excellent.

Find his video channel here.


We end with this excellent recording about the nitty-gritty of growing veggies in the winter, unheated, in souther Ontario, Canada.

Here is some information about the original program, from the host Walter Garrison's blog.

"I host a radio program called Locavore! on CFRU 93.3 FM, based out of Guelph, Ontario. On this show I talk to farmers, processors, restaranteurs, chefs, retailers, brewers, winemakers, researchers, nutritionists, politicians, pretty well anyone who has an impact on the food system as we experience it.

Fifteen years ago I grew fruits and vegetables for a local restaurant in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. Some people did not believe I could grow field tomatoes commercially in central Alberta. I did.

The Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming is located on-site of the University of Guelph. The farm provides a place for students from the university and the local school board to obtain practical experience in learning how to grow food. It is intended to be a trial garden for urban food production. Martha Gay Scroggins oversees this initiative. A few years ago, Dr. Ann Clark and a number of others on campus decided that they wanted an organic farm on campus. The university donated the northwest corner of the University of Guelph Arboretum for this project."

Martha Gay Scroggins at the University of Guelph has been one of the driving forces behind this experimental greenhouse.

The interview was posted on last winter, but now I can't find the original link. It was broadcast on CFRU on January 27th, 2011.

The guest is Martin Ronda. He laboriously dug up the compacted soil in the greenhouse, and hauled up many wheel-barrow loads of water from a stream, before a well was installed.

They get electricity from an extention cord from a nearby parking lot. The power runs two fans which blow air to inflate the two layers of plastic on the outside of the greenhouse. It is a fixed base building.

Like Coleman, Ronda uses a second sheet of row covering which can be drawn over the plants at night. Unlike Coleman, the Guelph crew use black water barrels to absorb heat during the day, and keep the temperature up at night.

Most of the same hardy vegetables are planted. There is good advice on timing in the interview. For example carrots and beets might be planted in late August, and then again in September, to give at least two crops. Planting of other vegetables might go on into mid-October.

During the winter, with less light, in fact during the 6 week around the Solstice, plants hardly grow at all. They need no watering at this stage. They they take off again as more light returns. You can still eat most of them right through the winter.

Ronda observes younger "teenage" veggies survive extreme cold better than mature plants.

There is a lot of down-to-earth knowledge passed on through this fine interview. Thank you Walter and Locovore for getting this info out.

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock

Wednesday, November 30, 2011



Please pass that link, or this short link to all your email contacts, or post it in blogs. Add it to comment sections. Help get the word out, so we can get more listeners and more stations. Radio Ecoshock is broadcast on over 50 stations now. I'm working on extending it further, with more news in coming weeks. If you pass around this Grist interview you can really help!


No this isn't another Radio Ecoshock program of doom! Instead, we are going to look at one of several large-scale solutions available. This new/old technology can grab carbon out of the air, and store it back in the soil.

Short Description:

"Desperately looking for a clean way to remove dangerous carbon from the atmosphere, Alex interviews Allan Savory of the Savory Institute. His project to capture carbon into the soil, using intelligent herd management in Zimbabwe, is on the short-list for the Virgin Earth Challenge. We follow up with Abe Collins, a carbon farming leader in Vermont, USA. Plus organizing for local food in North Carolina (even in hard times) - Aaron Newton at ASPO 2011. "


In 2007, billionaire Richard Branson announced the Virgin Earth Challenge. He offered a 25 million dollar prize to the best method to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, with no harmful impacts. Out of 2600 submissions, Allan Savory and the Savory Institute survived to the current short-list of 11 technolgies to do it.

We talk with Allan Savory, the 76 year old pioneer biologist and agriculturalist from Zimbabwe.

Savory is an fascinating interview. He also won the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge, for a world-changing technology.

Plus, futurist Seth Itzkan (who went to Zimbabwe to see for his own eyes) tells me old Allan went out into the African night with a large rifle, to protect the camp from a pride of lions that had taken a big cow the night previous. That's character.

Seth's Africa blog here.

Wanna know what it's like to sit out in lion country without a gun? Check out this short video with Seth and "Knowledge the lion chaser."

Yet, as you hear in this interview, Savory absolutely insists we need all the predators, from lions through hyenas to wild dogs.

The behavior of herd animals changes when predators exist. The herd bunches up, fertilizes the ground and works it in with their hooves, and then move on in a tigher group. This benefits the land, as Savory shows repeatedly on his large experimental farm in Zimbabwe, near Victoria Falls. The vegetation roars back, where neighboring lands experience hard packed soil and desertification. Even the ground water comes back, with year-round ponds appearing. His knowledge could literally transform the landscape of the world, if applied.

Forget what you know about animals and land management. Desertification is not what you think. A very old relationship between animals and grass lands could reverse the damage.

It may even be a mega-solution for climate change. In a classic interview, I talk with a world-recognized pioneer in natural land management, Allan Savory, founder of the Savory Institute.

Allan Savory was born into white-ruled Rhodesia. He became a biologist, a game manager, a member of Parliament. Savory resigned and went into exile over the racist policies of that government. Now the country is called Zimbabwe, and Savory has returned often, to teach and to test his methods of restoring water, life, and carbon to the land.

His best known book is "Holistic Management: A New Decision Making Framework" written with his wife Jody Butterfield.

In 2003, Savory won the Banksia International Award, quote "to recognise extraordinary individuals or organisations that have made, or are making a significant contribution to improving our environment on a global level."

Allan Savory & the Africa Centre for Holistic Management was the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Winner. "Operation Hope" showed a way for permanent water and food security for millions of Africa's poor.

In November 2011, Allan Savory topped over 2500 others to place in the top 11 finalists in the Virgin Earth Challenge. His project not only reverses desertification, but offers a global technique to removed vast amounts of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. It may be a low-tech way to stop runaway climate change.

Here is the Savory Institute You tube channel.

But if you read or look at only one thing about Savory's plan for the soil and the climate, this short paper is it. "A Global Strategy for Addressing Global Climate Change" It opened my eyes.

In 2007, I spoke with Peter Donovan, the publisher of a book by the Australian author Allan J. Yeomans. That book is "Priority One, Together We Can Beat Global Warming." Peter Donovan is now on a road tour promoting the Soil Carbon Challenge. The idea is to get farmers to measure their current carbon in the soil, so they can know what works to capture and keep more of it.

Then I got an email from a remote outpost in Zimbabwe, in lion country. It's amazing to connect with someone so far back in the bush. That's the new world we live in.

It was none other than Massachussetts futurist Seth Itzkan. Seth is and analyst and advocate for sustainable economic development. He's the CEO & Founder Planet-TECH
Associates. Itzkan went to Zimbabwe to see Savory's claims with his own eyes.
Seth was amazed by what he found. As claimed new water sources were appearing where the Savory management technique was used. Properly managed land was rich with
vegetation, in an area generally blighted by on-going encourachment by the desert. Hard, hard soil with a few scrubby bushes can be converted back to moist rich grasslands by natural herd management. Savory mimiced nature to recapture the land, and the carbon from the sky. It works.


The limitations to this technique are several. The main problem: humans need to change their conceptions of agriculture, their opposition to herd management, and the inate social demand to rid the planet of dangerous animals. And we'd have to re-educate millions of poor farmers. I'll consult a leading climate expert on the role of soil carbon in a coming program.

I have to overcome personal resistance too. I've been taught, as millions have, that over-grazing by animals is turning the world into deserts. Now we learn that is due to our unnatural way of raising animals, and killing off predators and the wild spaces they require.

Personally, I'm trying hard to become a vegetarian. North American meat is poisoned with anti-biotics and other chemicals. Red meat is know to raise cancer risks, especially of the bowels. The feed-lot meat production chain is just a giant prison for animals and their suffering.

But that is not at all what Allan Savory, and our next guest, are promoting. Their solution to climate change does involve animals, and meat eating - but it is the most Nature-based geoengineering plan out there.

Here is what these new agriculturalists are telling us: we don't need to darken the Sun. We need to manage grasslands, to use cover crops when growing grains and vegetables, and we need the help of animals and their predators to restore the carbon cycle.

My thanks to Karl Thidemann for pushing me to learn about Savory and soil. Karl's been gently emailing me for years, telling me to look into it. It only took four or five years Karl! I just wasn't ready, or I'm a slow learner.

I'm just glad we got Allan Savory on the air on Radio Ecoshock. You can download or listen to that 24 minute Allan Savory interview here.

I should just add the importance of grass fires when it comes to climate change. In the interview, Savory clearly explains how damaging slash and burn agriculture is. All over Africa, and all over the world, subsistence farmers burn the fields over to clear them. This releases more carbon than millions of cars. Some of it is recaptured by new growth, but the overall
impact of the black carbon, and the burst of carbon during fire season, further damages both the climate and the soil. I haven't said it as well as Allan does. Please listen to the interview.


Then to Abe Collins, a farmer in St. Albans, Vermont. He uses methods to capture carbon with agriculture. Collins started out working with the Navajo in Arizona, applying techniques learned from Allan Savory, to reverse the deterioration of Navajo land. They all learned together how to use animals to reclaim desert land, rather than creating more of it.

Collins returned to Vermont, and converted a former dairy farm to a beef operation. He measures soil depth, and carbon content, to see improvements as they develop.

It takes nature about one thousand years to create an inch of soil. The modern farmers hope to do it a lot faster, without using a lot of fossil fuels.

The extra soil also helps with flood control. Vermont surely needed that, when tropical storm Irene flooded towns and wiped out roads. We discuss how proper soil managment can help with extreme rainfall events accompanying climate change.

We also talk about the "Keyline" system developed by P.A. Yeomans in Australia. His son, Allan Yoemans published a book in 2007 on ways to save the climate using agriculture. It's called "Priority One". You can order the book, or download it from this site.

Collins was part of a crew, including Peter Donovan, who attempted to get "carbon farming" recognized in the New England carbon trading scheme. Why pay big companies to off-set emissions, or even worse, fake green geoengineering, when farmers can capture carbon - AND feed us sustainably?

At the end of October 2011, Abe Collins kicked off "the Soil Carbon Challenge" in Vermont. Video here.

Or check out this: Part One of a five part You tube presentation by Abe Collins: "Presentations from the Quivira Coalition's 9th Annual Conference, November 10-12, 2010, in Albuquerque, NM "The Carbon Ranch: Using Food and Stewardship to Build Soil and Fight Climate Change". The rest of the talk will pop up on the right side of the You tube screen.

To keep up with the whole discussion of carbon farming, Abe recommends this site:

Download the Abe Collins interview (17 minutes) here.


The program wraps up with a new presentation from the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas conference in Washington D.C. in November 2011.

Aaron Newton is the Local Food System Program Coordinator for Cabarrus County, North Carolina. He tells us how to develop your local food-shed, even in hard times. And why the most important crop may be... new farmers.

It's a really helpful short presentation from Aaron. The ways the County used the tax structure to both keep farmers, and to fund community organizing around local food. Lots of good tips for localizing your own community. The Newton talk is dead-on for how to create a local food-shed getting ready for Peak Oil.

Our D.C. correspondent Gerri Williams was at the ASPO conference, and sends this recording. My thanks to ASPO USA for sharing the audio, and for getting localization on the Peak Oil menu.

Listen to/download the Radio Ecoshock broadcast of Aaron Newton at ASPO 2011 here.


We'll be doing a second show on sequestering carbon in the soil in two weeks time. Next week, we look into a different sort of growing: winter gardening (and why extreme climate change may make you do it...)

Radio Ecoshock

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fracking Gas = Climate Crash

MUSIC CREDIT: the theme music this week is "My Water's on Fire Tonight" written and performed by David Holmes, Andrew Bean, Niel Bekker. Australian compilation album: "Whole Lotta Frackin' Going On"

Recording credit: Robert Howarth speech at ASPO recorded by Carl Etnier of Equal Time Radio, Vermont. Speech courtesy of ASPO USA.


For years, governments, industry, and TV ads told us natural gas is the safe bridge fuel while we move away from dirty coal and oil.

Cornell University scientist Robert Howarth wondered "Is that true?". When Howarth found no science to back up big claims for the gas industry, he and a team from Cornell went to work.

The results are startling. In the short-term, escaped methane from gas fracking threaten to tip us into catastrophic climate change. The total impact of the shale gas industry may be worse than coal. In the United States, where thousands and thousands of new gas wells are drilled, almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions may come from methane. The "natural" gas industry is the largest single source of methane emissions.

The frackers vent loads of gases for the first two weeks after drilling, before connecting pipes. They could collect (and sell) this "waste" methane (read "climate killer") but don't bother. Natural gas storage facilities also vent methane as part of their designed operation. Old leaking gas delivery systems complete the job.

Methane is rising in the atmosphere. New science from Dr. Drew Shindell shows in the first 20 years, methane is 105 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2.

Even at 100 years, Shindell finds methane is combining with other air pollution to generate an impact 33 times more powerful than CO2. Not 21, as determined in the 1990's by the IPCC. That old figure is still being used by industry and governments. Expect a change as Shindell becomes the new lead author of this section in the upcoming IPCC.

You must hear Dr. Robert Howarth explain the importance of new science on methane. he is the expert, I am not.

The industry insists we only calculate methane over a 100 year period. But the latest report from the International Energy Agency (generally a conservative source) says our climate future will be determined in the next 5 years. More new science suspects the burst of methane helped tip us into a mass extinction 250 million years ago.

The 20 year time frame for methane could be the jolt that tips other systems into positive feedback loops. Like igniting the peat in the Arctic. Or warming shallow seas enough to release frozen methane clathrates from the bottom (which started to happen last year). If either of those go, we are toast.

Robert Howarth has taken a lot of abuse for even daring to assemble a comprehensive look at the total greenhouse gas impact of the gas fracking industry, whether it is coal bed gas or shale gas. And we haven't even discussed the fact fracking is now known to cause earthquakes, uses incredible amounts of fresh water, and risks polluting whole watersheds with a single leak of the mass toxic chemicals pumped underground.

The United Kingdom may be next. With gas production from the North Sea fields down by 25 percent, there is a public relations push to get lots of gas fracking in the UK. This may be the next big environmental battle there.

Fracking mania has hit Canada and Australia as well. Everyone needs to know what the latest science says.

Program includes 27 minute speech by Professor Robert Howarth of Cornell at ASPO USA 2011, November 2nd in Washington D.C. Recorded by Carl Etnier of Equal Time Radio, Vermont. My thanks to ASOP USA for this fine presentation.

Then a follow-up interview this week with Robert Howarth, to fill in his hurried climax of the speech - that methane emissions, when calculated over 20 years, using the new higher rate discovered by Drew Shindell - could add up to at least 44% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States! We discuss this, and the importance of a 2006 paper by Dr. James Hansen of NASA, on the importance of controlling methane emissions.

I covered that in 2006 here for blog entry, or download the audio here.

In 2006, I also put out a "Methane Primer" which is still helpful. Blog for that primer is here, and the audio for download here.

But now I'll have to revisit that piece, since like the IPCC, I was told methane was only 21 times more powerful than CO2. The science moves so fast, it is already outdated just 5 years later.

Essentially, if we cannot control methane, we still lose the climate known over millenia, even if we could limit carbon dioxide emissions. Methane alone can tip us.

The natural gas industry, Howarth says, is the single largest source of methane in the U.S. Shale gas fracking makes that much, much worse.


We add an interview promised last week, with Samuel Labudde, about the billion dollar scam ripping off carbon credits.

Companies in China are threatening to release powerful greenhouse gases, unless these fake credits are continued. Ratepayers in Europe are being blackmailed.

LaBudde, a noted wildlife biologist, is also covering the climate beat for the Environmental Investigation Agency for the American branch of the organization.

To honor the craziness of gas fracking in Australia, the theme music this week is "My Water's on Fire Tonight" written and performed by David Holmes, Andrew Bean, Niel Bekker. Australian compilation album: "Whole Lotta Frackin' Going On"

The lyrics in "My Water's On Fire Tonight" is a product of Studio 20 NYU ( in collaboration with ( The song is based on ProPublica's investigation on hydraulic fractured gas drilling (read the full investigation here: