Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Growing Through The Storm

What can we learn from the storms and fires? Will gardening still be possible if the climate is disrupted? Where will fertilizer come from after Peak Oil?

In this Fall 2011 Kick-off show, we have three interviews.


"Peak Oil Shrink" psychologist Kathy McMahon starts out. Watching the TV reports, and being kind of a "prepper" - Kathy got caught in Hurricane Irene in Vermont.

As the roads washed out, making a strange journey home, Kathy learned to watch what is developing in the actual emergency around you, rather than going by TV forecasts. What wasn't predicted: the real problem in New England was not high hurricane winds, but the extreme rainfall event.

You've heard Vermont was very hard hit. Not just the mountain roads, but even parts of the Interstate system were flooded out, along with bridges. The Interstate is supposed to be built for the "100 year flood". I guess we just had that.

Kathy has a lot more to tell us about our psychology in an emergency, how we handle ourselves in stressful times. I think this is a really useful interview.


Jules Dervaes and his family started growing food on their standard city lot (1/10th of an acre) in Pasadena, California - because they needed the food. That was about 10 years ago.

Now they produce record "crops" from their home garden, over 7 tons of produce in 2010. They did it even with the usual asphalt driveway, and even a bunch of cement in the back yard.

You will hear how container gardening can be mixed with in-ground to find just the right conditions for each plant. How to save water and weeding by the way you plant. Some tips on keeping the garden alive during high heat waves. That is surely necessary knowledge as global warming develops.

In fact, this year of 2011 was a real challenge for Jules and his three adult children. There was a long period of heat and poor growing conditions in California, and even experienced gardeners are struggling. The Dervaes family will still feed itself handsomely, but they may not have the extra income they hoped for selling the extras to organic restaurants. Nature is always teaching us how to adapt.

Jules has a wealth of knowledge, which the family freely shares on their various web sites.

Start out with their main page at:

Read the family daily blog at:

The Dervaes family also runs a store at:

Or find people in your area through the social network at:

And finally, for those who want to talk about raising chickens, bees, or larger animals in the city, try:

Lots to chew on there! Everybody should hear this interview with Jules, to know your prospects for feeding yourself or family, should the need arise. Self-sufficiency is coming to the city.


Richard Heinberg is one of our favorite guests. He's the Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, and author of so many seminal books. Find his web site here.

Richard is also featured on a news site I check daily, the really helpful Energy Bulletin. Bookmark that.

I really "grokked" Peak Oil by reading Heinberg's book "The Party's Over." He made the case that our energy supplies are limited, and what that means for society.

We last talked to Richard on Radio Ecoshock about his book "Blackout". That one is kind of a sleeper, I think. Not that it puts you to sleep! Not at all.

The book is mostly about coal. You have been told over and over we have enough coal to last a thousand years, or at least 250 years. Now they are saying 80 years, and Heinberg says we'll feel the coal pinch much sooner than that.

The real kicker in "Blackout" (and the reason for the title) - there is no other mass power option waiting, to provide electricity to the world. Unless we can get a solar and wind revolution going now - civilization could "blackout", perhaps in 40 or 50 years. Lights out?

In his new book "The End of Growth, Adapting to Our New Economic Reality" (which follows his previous "Peak Everything") - Richard Heinberg looks at all the lies our politicians and economists tell us: "we'll get back to growing jobs and the economy any day now..."

No, this "recession" is not a temporary blip. The whole model of endless growth was a Ponzi scheme from the start. It is bound to fall into bankruptcy, unless we provide some new models for living.

Richard did a lot of radio interviews about the book. I tried to pick up on three things the others did not cover, that should interest you.

First: it turns out a vital nutrient for all agriculture is also very limited: phosphorus. We minded out half of central Florida to get it. And stripped the South Pacific Island of Nauru until it looked like a moonscape. Now we are getting phosphates from North Africa (what could go wrong there?!)

Heinberg explains how peak phosphates could prevent the world from feeding our current billions, and lead to social unrest.

One solution is self-sufficiency, developed in a network of people who care about one another (also known as "community".) The trouble is, we are just recovering from a pattern of corporate job-moving. A huge number of North Americans have moved around, some every few years, as part of their jobs. That breaks up community.

The extended family has also suffered, for reasons you know well.

People in cities and small towns are now looking to rebuild community, outside the former institutions like the family (or even the church). The Transition Movement is certainly part of that.

In his book "The End of Growth" Richard Heinberg also gives some good solutions, including the "Common Security Clubs" (which are now renamed as "Resilience Circles". Google either of those to find out more. They are frameworks to help one another in difficult times.

In the interview Heinberg gives us a lot of other clues and tools about what we need to do, to survive better in climate disruption, energy decline, and social upheaval.

Three interviews this week - and a lot more to come! My inbox is already filling with interview requests. As usual, I'm also out looking for new things you'll want to hear.

Radio Ecoshock is now broadcast on 41 stations (we just added another college station from Canada this week, CKUW 95.9fm at the University of Winnipeg. We'll be continuing on WPFW "Jazz and Justice" radio in Washington D.C., a long-time 50,000 Watt station I want to support.

Please check out our list of radio stations here, and turn your friends, co-workers, even your family (if you dare) to Radio Ecoshock on a local station. If we are not in your area, and you like this program, I need your help to write or call the nearest community or college station to get deep green radio on the air.

Thanks to all our listeners.

And a special "hello" to Khalid and friends in Pakistan. I will cover the Mangrove problem there. We also have a special guest from India coming up. If we learn anything from the environment this year, it is: the whole world matters.

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock

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