Wednesday, February 23, 2011

PEAK TROUBLE: Navigating the Chaos

Don't you hate it when a shadow comes into another nice day?

All my weather worries are far away. The East Coast is grumbling under more snow. The deep South may be freezing the Canadian "Snow Birds." There is another crazy cyclone over Darwin Australia, dumping over a foot of rain in 24 hours.

But hey! The sun shines where I am. Then I see the sign by the produce stand. It says:

"Due to extreme cold in California, Arizona, Texas, and Mexico produce prices will go up. Farmers lost nearly 80% of their crops. Expect higher prices, shortages, and lower quality."

I head over to the bread isle, and get more sticker shock. My favorite Flax Bread is now 5 bucks a loaf. Pretty soon I'll need to dip into those big pails of hard red wheat I put away for hard times, to make my own. That investment went up 25% in value, in just two years.

Gas here is $1.25 a litre - more or less five bucks a gallon, and climbing. So far there is plenty of it, but speculators are going wild, as Libya shuts down production. Are the Saudi's next, the headlines ask?

How will we know when the crisis has come?

I'm Alex Smith, and I can't avoid this simple fact: we are all connected now.
This week on Radio Ecoshock, we'll talk energy news, with an eye-out for the early stages of oil depletion, while solar just gets cheaper. Dr. Jeremy Leggett, geologist, oil expert, climate campaigner, and British solar entrepreneur joins us for a no-holds-barred talk of the world.

Later, we'll get back to solutions from the Transition Movement. But this time our guest Carolyn Baker suggests we need to look deep inside. Are you really ready for the wild changes coming up in the next few years? Carolyn gives us tips from her new book "Navigating The Coming Chaos: A Handbook for Inner Transition."

All the music you'll hear comes from the new Radiohead album "The King of Limbs."

READ MORE (with tons of links)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

TRANSITION - The West Coast Scene

Finally, a shaky roadmap toward sustainability, in troubling times. I'm Alex.

This week we go for the Transition movement - West Coast style.

What started with Rob Hopkins in the village of Totnes,England, is evolving in North America. We hear from early adopters in Colorado, Los Angeles, and Vancouver.

Our guests are Michael Brownlee from Boulder, Joanne Poyourow from Village L.A., and Vandy Savage from Vancouver.

We top that off from with two speakers I recorded at a Village Vancouver meet-up, Ann Pacey and Ross Moster.

It's crammed full of ideas for your own action plan.

The Village Vancouver meeting gives you some ideas of how you can run your own group.
First of all, there were notices in local event listings, on the Net, and through word-of-mouth, about the meeting. About 35 people came, to a free meeting room in a local community centre. Budget for the event: zero.

There was a long table to receive the pot-luck food that arrived with the participants (and there was almost more than could be eaten). This was important because the meeting was held around 6:30 pm, after a working day, and before many people got a chance to have dinner. The food was vegetarian, home-made, some of it locally grown.

Everone gathered around one large table to start. There was a round of introductions - and I was amazed at the gathered talents of people there. We could have run a small city with just the folks who showed up. And produced a lot of food.

Then Ross and Anne did an introduction to Transition for any newcomers. They showed a film clip of Rob Hopkins, and another of urban farming in Cuba, where the Soviets suddenly cut off oil. The Cubans had to grow their own due to the American embargo, with very low oil. It was amazing - from the video "Power of Community." An example to us all.

We also got brief reports from local organizing groups. One person reported a local money system that was working well. Even a few area merchants were accepting "Dunbar Dollars".

Most groups seemed organized around areas of a few blocks, or at least walking distance. About a half dozen participants were gay or lesbian, and there was talk of organizing along those lines as well.

Then everyone broke up into local areas, to communicate and strategize. The real work of the evening. I left quite hopeful that we might at least survive with dignity.

Everyone involved admits Transition isn't the perfect answer. It may fail. But it beats giving up - and you can get involved directly, without counting on rotten politicians.

If oil becomes expensive like gold, or stops. If the climate shifts. If the economy falls apart. These neighborhoods are working now, to keep going. Community building. Transition Towns. You get a peak into the West Coast scene, this week on Radio Ecoshock.

Next week we'll continue with another look into "Deep Transition" with Dr. Carolyn Baker. Expect other surprise guests.

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock


The Wikipedia Transition entry, to get an introduction, and more links.



His page.

Key article: "The Evolution of Transition in the U.S."
by Michael Brownlee, Transition Colorado, Nov 26, 2010


U.S. NATIONAL ORGANIZATION: - with links to transition groups around the country.

BLOG BY ROB HOPKINS, founder of the movement. Updated 5 days a week


Colorado networking site


Also this running Transition L.A. blog.

Our guest Joanne Poyourow's blog.

The Cluk Trek - a tour of local L.A. chicken coops....

VANCOUVER CANADA - Village Vancouver


A regular Transition online newspaper.

This Transition Network site, based in the UK, which has this alphabetical listing of 713 Transition Towns around the world.

Transition Info in other languages.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Welcome, welcome, to the house of Ecoshock.

Last week we tried a little shock therapy: a modest proposal from Dr. Jack Alpert to sterilize everyone, to bring about Rapid Population Decline. Birth permits, just 350,000 a year, would be awarded to the lucky few by lottery. Earth would head back down to the 100 million human animals it can support forever.

For now, that's just dark science fiction.

But the reality of over-population, and over-consumption, is not.

Right now the Egyptian people are celebrating just the possibility they might escape the torturous grasp of the new Pharoah Mubarak.

But there are no happy days coming for anyone in the Middle East. The number of people in most countries there has doubled since 1980. About a third of the population is under the age of 24. Half of all adults are unemployed. Humans have outgrown the land-base, and food must be imported always. There is no possible political solution, from anyone, no matter how well-intended.

We can say the same for Mexico, for India, for much of the world.

As fossil fuels run out, get crazy expensive, and wreck the climate, we'll find out Earth cannot support 7 billion humans for long. And we are still expanding by 217,000 humans a day.

It's time to drag this out of the closet!

This week on Radio Ecoshock, we'll take another crack at it, as part of the month of February "Population Speakout."

You can find one of the front lines not in some far away slum, but right where you live. Every child born in high-consumption countries, in places like North America, Europe or Australia - consumes and pollutes hundreds of times more than a baby born in the poorest agrarian countries.

We suck it all up, and throw it all away.

Our governments, and our deepest social and biological roots, continue to push for even more fossil-fueled kids. It's a home-grown Ponzi scheme built out of human lives, and soon, endless human suffering.

Can we change all that? Can we head back down the mountain, toward sustainability? Making our numbers match the true Natural production of the land where we live?

In this program, you will hear three voices with solutions. Not drastic voices, but human ones, with real choices.

We'll kick off with Lisa Hymas, co-founder and Senior Editor of the most successful online green magazine on the Planet: She'll tell us about GINKs, Green-Inclined, No Kids.

Following Lisa, clinical psychologist Dr. Ellen L. Walker will talk about the good and the bad of going childfree. Can we be "Complete Without Kids"?

And don't miss our third interview. The grand-daddy of the whole population movement, Dr. Paul Ehrlich, joins us. His 1968 book "The Population Bomb" woke us up. Now he's got a surprising new tool that could help us survive the multiple crisis we face.

Right now. On Radio Ecoshock.

On the show I play two quick clips from the classic "Having My Baby" song released by Paul Anka in 1974. The first version is a recent cover by the cast of Glee. In 2006, a CNN poll voted it the number one worst song of all time.

Did you feel the warm glow. We have "babylust" built into us, a yearning and a duty, hard-wired into the brains. And just like bacteria, we'll do it until we bust the world.

Speak out! Head to to find out more.

And I've got a few other free audio downloads on the Population page of our audio on demand menu, right on the main page of

It's time for the population bomb. Be sure to listen to Paul Erhlich. At age 78, he's smarter than I'll ever be, with stamina to fight on, while others give up.

You have heard it all. Check out Download this program as a free mp3 from our web site, And do something, damn it!

I love you all - and thank you for listening.

Next week, we'll join the people looking for a transition to a more sustainable world.

We go out with a bit form the song "2525" - this version by Venice Beat, with Tess Timothy.

Radio Ecoshock

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Radio Ecoshock February 4, 2011.

Welcome to Radio Ecoshock. I'm Alex Smith.

When it comes to "the population bomb", our feature speaker today makes Paul Ehrlich sound like an optimist. Now that it's over 30 years into the tragedy of exploding humanity on a small planet.

Jack Alpert says it's time for "Rapid Population Decline or Bust." That bust may haul down civilization, taking us back thousands of years. In Roman Times, there were about 100 million humans on the planet. It turns out, with reasonable scientific investigation, that is the maximum sustainable population - 100 million - to live anything like our current lifestyle, in the developed world.

This year of 2011, somewhere on the planet, the seven billionth baby will be born, along with almost half a million more babies, that very same day.

Of course others will die. All told, the number of humans on Earth increases by about 217,000 a day, and climbing.

This crushes people, economies, governments, other species, and the whole global environment. As can see in the Middle East, the crisis has arrived.

It is time to hear from Dr. Jack Alpert, of the Stanford Integrated Research Laboratory. Long ago he invested seat belts, saving hundreds of thousands of lives, perhaps millions. He went on to research perculiarities in the human brain and personal functioning. Strange human traits that could end this civilization, to dangle on the edge of extinction.

Those are strong words - and this is a strong radio program. I don't recommend this program for the severely depressed, or impressionable young children, say aged 9 or under. Save this one for the grown-ups, and young people whose lives are threatened.

There are three reasons why Jack Alpert will never be popular, and why this radio program is difficult to make, and difficult to listen to:

1. Jack admits he is not a master communicator. He is an engineer often operating in fields before their time, before social acceptance.

2. the material is difficult to communicate. It must cross boundaries where conversation has been hidden or forbidden. At times, he is trying to express his studies into the limitations of the human mind - but those same limitations prevent people from readily understanding it.

3. the subject and options are so horrible, we don't want to hear it, much less think about it.

The food riots have already begun to bring down governments, threatening us with chaos,. With the spectacle of mass suffering and starvation all over the world, - the heart-break will enter even the most prosperous houses, like an accusing ghost over the dinner table.

We must try!

The scene of this recording was an unassuming living room, in the home of a Greenpeace founder, in the City of Vancouver, where Greenpeace was born.

Six of the brightest minds around gathered to hear Jack Alpert, and to again work through the endless question: "What Is To Be Done?".

Plus one Alex Smith, with not enough microphones. Permission granted to record what I could. My main microphone went to Jack Alpert.

Then I did three follow-up phone interviews, go get audio suitable for radio. The interviews are with:

Rex Weyler, Greenpeace Co-founder, historian for that organization, regularly published pundit on the environment and Peak Oil.

Dr. William (Bill) Rees, the co-inventor or the ecological footpring, an amazing thinker and scientist at the University of British Columbia.

Vandy Savage, a community organizer, project leader and person extraordinaire.

In a week or so, I'll get those interviews posted separately at, on the "Population" page of our Audio-on-Demand menu (right on the main page). In the meantime, if any listener wants to make a transcript of these interviews, I'd love to have them, and would add them to this blog. Write me: radio //at//

READ MORE (with lots more from Jack Alpert, quotes and all)