Wednesday, June 15, 2011


"How Will We know the crisis has arrived?"

The signs are all around us. You know what I'm talking about.

As our first guest Ellen Laconte says right on the book cover: "Why so much is going wrong everywhere at once - and how Life teaches us to fix it."

This is a wise woman with new rules, Life Rules.

To give you the flavor of our interview, I'm just going to brazenly cut and paste from Ellen's excellent web site.

"We’re Not Done Yet: Five Ways Humanity Can Save Itself

Humans are a remarkable, resilient, and creative species. “We’ve used our brains for the past 6,000 years or so to try to outsmart Life,” LaConte says. “We can choose to use them to get Life-smart.”

Life has encoded in other species a set of rules for living—together—sustainably on this planet. It’s a sort of ten commandments for living within earth’s means. LaConte says we can consolidate those ten into what she calls “the 5 Ds”:

1) Downsize. Natural economies are locally and regionally self-reliant. If we consolidated the 100,000 years of modern humans into a 24-hour day, we’ve depended on a global economy only for the last minute of that day. Surely we can relearn how not to depend on it.

2) Diversify.
Investment counselors tell us to do it with our money. We should actually do it with our whole economic model. Our economies need to be as different from each other as the places in which they are located and the resources available to them there.

3) De-carbonize. Solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, and human and animal. Fossil fuels are out. They soon will be anyway at the rate we’re using them, and they’re changing the weather. De-carbonizing would tend to detoxify most of what we produce, too.

4) De-materialize: Use less of everything. Recycle; reuse everything. Produce nothing that can’t be food for or good for someone or something else alive. Rely on renewables.

5) Democratize: “As I show in my book, relationships and behaviors and methods of organization that are deeply democratic got built into Life’s operating

system early on because they permitted species to live within earth’s means,” says LaConte. “Democracy in natural economies is not about having more; it’s about lasting longer.”

# # #
About the Author:
A memoirist, magazine and book editor, and freelance writer, Ellen LaConte has been published in numerous magazines and trade journals on subjects ranging from organic gardening and alternative technologies to the evolution of consciousness, democracy theory, and complex systems. After three decades of homesteading in Connecticut and Maine, she gardens now on a half-acre in the Yadkin River watershed of the Piedmont bioregion of North Carolina.

About the Book:

Life Rules: Why so much is going wrong everywhere at once and how Life teaches us to fix it (Green Horizon, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-4502-5918-7, $21.95."

Or check out this article from Counter Punch: "The Future of Agriculture
Garden as If Your Life Depends On It--Because It Will

You really should listen to our radio interview. After we cover the converging crisis of our times, and some sane responses - I discover Ellen was a homesteader, and spent a lot of time with the iconic first homesteaders of the 21st century, New England's Scott and Helen Nearing.

In fact, Laconte wrote two books about the Nearings in later life. Scott and Helen wrote the long-lasting oft-republished series "Living the Good Life". As Scott passed away at age 100, he also died well. Helen also adapted a late life philosophy that could help a lot of people, as they age.

If you are interested in homesteading, or doing that in the city, check out the Nearing book series, and Lanconte's books about them.

To get you started, here is a link to a "Yes" magazine review of "On Light Alone" about Helen Nearing.

The book about "good dying" is called "Free Radical".


Out of that army of trouble, we'll go again at the big one, the developing shift in our climate. Right now the Arctic sea ice has retreated again, as we warm the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. The oil companies causing the Arctic melt are pushing into the newly exposed waters.

How could it happen? The sea ice has barely exposed the fragile Arctic sea, and the very industry responsible for the big melt is already rushing in to ice-berg laden waters. It's another risky move from the oil addicts that rule the world these days.

What happens when their wells off the cold coast of Greenland blow, like the BP Deep Horizon did in the Gulf of Mexico? Greenpeace has a ship watching over, activists storming the rig in a last ditch effort to stop the Arctic oil rush.

We talk with Vicky Wyatt, climate campaigner for Greenpeace International.

See video of the Greenpeace ship asking for emergency plans from the giant rig. Of course there are plans says the company, Cairn Energy. Ask the government of Greenland. The government says the plans are secret.

And they should be. The BP Deep Horizon blew up surrounded by the heart of the U.S. oil industry in Louisiana, Texas the Gulf, to one of the world's largest oil companies with deep pockets. Cairn Energy has practically nothing around Greenland. Help is far away.

The company will just go bankrupt if billions of costs arise from a blow-out. If the accident happens in late August, the ice will come in soon, meaning the spill will just go on for another year, under the Arctic ice. There are far fewer organisms to eat spilled oil in the cold Arctic waters. Oil lasts and lasts, for decades if not centuries.

Emergency plan? We don't need to tell you the plan. I hope it's not cut-and-run toward Bankruptcy. Is that the real plan?

Drilling in the Arctic is just another sign of our madness as a species, as an oil-addicted culture. After fossil fuel burning exposed more ocean, it's like finding a person bleeding, and then discovering a new market selling the blood collected from the wound. Greenpeace is right, this needs to be stopped before it begins. Hell no!

Cairn Energy tells stock investors the Greenpeace protest didn't stop work, no problem. So why are they threatening to sue the famous non-profit organization?

Here is the story of how the Danish Navy removed the Greenpeace protest pod from the rig.

And speaking of extinction, check out this article by Joe Romm on methane from the Arctic permafrost. Then tell me you want to grab a whole bunch more fossil fuels from the Arctic, to make our final bonfire as a species, one tail-pipe at a time.


The show wraps up end up with new scientific research. All the news, this whole media circus is all about the humans. Our faces, our lives, our world.
What is happenng to the rest of living things, as the climate heat up? How do animals and insects tolerate heat? We'll talk to the investigators, two scientists, with the first clues.

Our guests are PHD candidate Jennifer Sunday, and Dr. Nicholas K. Dulvy, associate Biology professor at Simon Fraser University in Canada, and co-chair of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Along with Amanda E. Bates from Deakin University, Australia, they've just published a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. Don't let the title scare you off: "Global Analysis of thermal tolerance and latitute in ectotherms". It's about the heat tolerance of animals.

Their article was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy.

Serious scientists, whole Academies of Science from many countries, now predict the world will warm by four degrees this century. That means hotter, meaner summers for you and me. More records, more heat deaths, more drought, more crop loss.

The little creatues are finely attuned to heat. It is a timing signal, a challenge, and for some, a threat of extinction. But how much extinction? Dr. Dulvy, who is deeply associated with the conservation movement, says about 20 percent of all species were expected to go extinct by 2100, on our current path of emissions and climate change.

That calculation was based on the idea that creatures would be pushed further toward the Poles, to escape heat, and then beyond their level of adaptability.

We could picture animals moving up mountains sides, until they reach the top, and run out of room. Or perhaps insects like butterflies would move as far as the Arctic, but then there is nowhere further to go, other than extinction.

Underlying this worry was the generally held idea that some creatures are adapted to the climate of a certain latitude. I am not a scientist, and I'm likely going to a little off, but I think our guests are saying research shows that idea is not correct.

Let's take the same species of frogs. We presumed those living at the Equator have a higher tolerance for heat than the same animals living in Alaska. But research shows that is not true. For one thing, the Alaska frogs may experience for a few days the same high levels of heat that tropical frogs have for long periods. It turns out also, that the frogs use the same techniques to handle heat, and have for millions of years. They had to: the climate changed many times, including ice ages and hot ages, during their evolution.

This research, based on thousands of studies that were carefully organized and catalogued, may alter our calculations about extinction as climate change progresses. Find out more here.

Both Canadian study authors, from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada - have expertise in sea creatures. Their study showed that the general tenet of similar heat tolerance among insects and cold-blooded animals on land - does not apply so well in the oceans. Marine species may be more specialized to their latitudes. Is it because they had less variation in climate (expressed as heat) than land animals?

This whole subject of how other species will handle the predicted global warming, and whether they will survive, needs a lot more research. My impression was that our guests have almost founded a new technique for the subject. Perhaps that is going too far, but certainly this is important new knowledge for all of us concerned about climate change in the natural world.

One hour, three interviews, one goal. Welcome to all our new listeners on stations across North America, and around the world. This is Radio Ecoshock.


Time ran out. I never got to my big stack of jaw-dropping climate news.

The new heat records in the U.S., the early mountain snow melt in the Rockies that may parch California agriculture.

Amazing drought in China grounds boats, dries out crops, kills off wild plants.

But then just as we went to air - parts of China were hit with devastating floods!!

Another big drought in the Amazon means more of that great forest is releasing carbon to the sky and the oceans. "Two Extreme Droughts In Five Years Alarm Scientists"

Here is a Bloomberg article on droughts killing off crops around the world.

The Canadian and Northern U.S. wheat crops are in danger, due to late high flooding of fields. It's been too wet to plant so far into June. The crops will go in eventually, down millions of acres - but an early frost in the Fall could slap down this year's production of food.

According to the Globe and Mail (Canada) the price of wheat shot up over 60 percent in the past year. It's now about $7.60 U.S. a bushel. The price of corn has doubled, running around $7.55 per bushel. Maybe you can afford the price hikes at the supermarket, but these are riot levels for the billions of poor around the world.

There is even a drought in Europe. Food production there will be down.

We don't know if some nuclear power plants will have to close for lack of cooling water. Governments are scrambling to respond, but the warming is just too big. We are past that point now, past the point of emergency aid and government plans.

The natural world is acting on it's own, now that we have passed the tipping point.

Please keep tuned to Radio Ecoshock, as we report the big picture, and find more ways for all of us to bring the big change. As Ellen Laconte wisely said, we humans must "rise to the occasion".

I'm Alex. Get more from our web site at

Thank you for caring about your world.

Alex Smith

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