Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Radio Ecoshock Green Music Festival 2013

Talk, talk, talk about the end and new beginning. I'm Alex. This week we go for the best environmental songs, in our annual Radio Ecoshock green music festival.

You will hear folk, rock, rap, a bit of dance, a bit of humor. Support these artists who care about our world, and use these tunes to get the message out.

Slap on headphones if you can, or just enjoy as it comes.

1. We open with two Icelanders, Tina Dico & Helgi Jonsson, as recorded in the detektorfm Akustik-Session in Germany. The You tube version has 390,000 hits. It's called "No Time to Sleep."

2. We are off to Sydney Australia for a bit of serious live fun from the group Men With Day Jobs. The tune is "Denial Tango".

3. Next up one of two tunes from the Earth Amplified Mixtape Volume 1, mixed by DJ Sol Rising. This song, Global WarNing, stars Seasunz and J. Bless, with a feature by Stic.Man, from Dead Prez.

4. I heard Australian song-writer and musician Michael Everingham on Under the Pavement, as broadcast on ALL FM 96.9 Manchester UK. With backup from the band Darwager, the song is Coal Gas Man.

5. Hey isn't life great out in the oil patch? Not so much, according to signer-songwriter Kris Kitco. "Frack That Oil" can be found on You tube.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB). Naturally the CD Quality version is recommended for an all-music show like this. 6. The nuclear industry says "Please Take Our Poison" Yeah, nobody wants that radioactive garbage. The song was written by Donald Keesing of NIRS, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (lyrics here), and performed live by Tom Neilson. You can get more radiation protest songs from Tom's album "Dancin' Shoes" on CD Baby.

7. In early December 2013, Radio Ecoshock covered the proposed Polymet copper sulfide mine set to poison the pristine wilderness of Northern Minnsesota USA. Here is the full version of the song "Don't Poop In Your Own Pool Brother". It's performed by Mark Blom of the group The Arrowhead Story" Find their album "Industry.Peace.Environment" at bandcamp.com. It's a catchy piece which stuck in my mind too long. Now its your problem.

8. A good anti-fracking song: "You Can't Be Rich On Shattered Land" by Alex Hickey of Nova Scotia. Find it on You tube, complete with Lyrics, as recorded in her livingroom by the sea.

9. Small & Slow by Australian artist Formidable Vegetable - from his album "Permaculture- A Rhymer's Manual" This guy can take a Ukelele into rock music and get the crowd hopping. Check out the full album.

Ben Sollee

10. Ben Sollee American cellist, singer-songwriter, and composer, with an activist bent. He's been featured on PBS and NPR, being originally from Lexington Kentucky. There is something sadly touching about this song "Panning for Gold".

11. Not professionally recorded but still rocking, this is "Global Warming Day" from the band Breaking Laces.

12. Earlier we heard Global Warning from the Earth Amplifed CD. We're back, with a Remix of Beats Antique Seasunz, Seneca, Ambessa & Tbird doing the track "Runaway".

13. This next song just moved me. It's something you can listen to several times. Join over a million people who watched Maynard James Keenan playing as Pucifer. The song, "Humbling River" was also featured in the trailer for the video game "Transformers: Fall of Cybertron".

14. As featured in an earlier Radio Ecoshock show, we have Toronto artist and animal advocate Gaiaisi singing "Change the Earth" You have to watch the video that goes with it - with moving footage from supporting groups 350.org, Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network and World Wildlife Fund. It just might be the best environmental video/song combination for 2013. Get that link in my weekly show blog at ecoshock.info. Change the Earth.

15. This last entry in the 2013 Green Music Festival is more a clip than a song. It's one of my first productions as I gear up to make the music this show needs. I am Alex Smith, and this is "Always Warming".

That's it for our annual Radio Ecoshock Green Music Festival. If you know good green tunes, or make music suitable for the program, just send me an email. The address is simple: radio at ecoshock.org. That's radio at ecoshock.org. I'm picky about what gets on the air, but I'll give anything a try. Send me your own entry, or point me to the green music.

Thanks for listening. Please support our struggling green musicians whenever you can. Sure it's free on You tube, but I buy the song for a buck anyway, just to keep them going. I hope you will too.

You can find all our past programs, as free mp3 downloads, at my web site, ecoshock.org. If you feel in the giving mood, you can support Radio Ecoshock as well. Details on the web site.

My special thanks to all the hard-working folk and volunteers at community radio stations around the world. Thank you for broadcasting Radio Ecoshock on more than 76 stations on 3 continents.

It's a message the whole world needs to hear.

Hello to all my loyal podcast supporters. Our new 2014 season of Radio Ecoshock is coming right up next week.

I'm Alex Smith, thank you for listening, and caring about your world.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why Is The Weather So Crazy?

Climate scientist Paul Beckwith explains weather distortion & spurt of Arctic methane. NOAA's Dr. Richard Feely on the threat of ocean acidification.

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Download or listen to my 38 minute feature interview with Paul Beckwith in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

It takes a lot of nerve to talk about global warming just after a blast of Arctic weather in the Northern Hemisphere. But all our furnaces, cars, and factories churn out even more warming gases day in and day out. It's going to catch up to us. Scientists report big changes are already occuring, well ahead of previous predictions.

We're back with one of our go-to guys on the cutting edge. Paul Beckwith has two Masters Degrees and is working on his Doctorate in climate science at the University of Ottawa.

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

We start with the big methane debate going on among scientists right now. As part of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, AMEG, Paul is tuned in to alarming developments around the polar sea, which could jolt global climate.

But already, we see the slower Jet Stream allowing Arctic cold and storms into the Northern Hemisphere. Beckwith explains the science of how that works. The interview is very revealing. Get even more in this Beckwith video.

The team of Natalia Shakhova, from the University of Alaska, and Russian scientists including Igor Semiletov, just released a paper on November 24th about methane emissions in the sea off East Siberia. We can also see increased blooms of methane, even in deep winter, on satellite tracking maps.

One thing puzzled me in the maps provided by Sam Carana of methanetracker.org, as published in the Arctic-News blog. Maps showed ribbons of methane rising right across what must be frozen seas in the winter. How can methane come up through the ice cover? Paul says the Arctic ice is not a fixed block, but has cracks and holes all through it.

A group of scientists led by David Archer and Gavin Schmidt at realclimate.org say Arctic methane is still a small part of global methane emissions. They say it doesn't matter yet compared to carbon dioxide emissions from industrial society, and may be a distraction from what really could drive us to extinction.

Read that methane discussion on their realclimate blog here - and take time to read the comments section as well.

Here is a link to my interview of David Archer in December 2012 on the relative importance of methane.

On the other side, here is my Radio Ecoshock interview with renowned polar ice scientist Dr. Peter Wadhams in the same program.

Beckwith replies it's almost a battle between climate modelers, like David Archer, and researchers with observations on the ground, like Shakhova and here Russian counterparts. While it's true methane is not YET tipping us toward a sudden change of climate - it has more than enough potential to do so. Some members of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group critize the IPCC for missing the methane boat, and want an emergency alert issued.

Meanwhile, Archer and others say we can't take our eye off the ball of our own carbon dioxide production. That's something that is known to be changing the climate right now, and something we can allegedly control. Once the methane bomb goes off in the Arctic, both undersea and from melting permafrost, nature takes over. It will be beyond our control. I think both groups are right.


Paul Beckwith is one of the few people I know, with a trained scientific eye, to plow through all 2016 pages of the latest Working Group One report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC. I can already feel some listeners becoming impatient, ready to tune out, and that tells you a lot about how far public perception has fallen about these reports. Is the IPCC still relevant to the developing climate crisis?

We talk over what those limitations are, what the IPCC got right, and where they probably missed out, including the methane threat. Paul notes that ever edition of the IPCC reports keeps raising the global warming potential of methane.

Critics of the IPCC say they use out-dated science, and always low-ball the possibilities, to get approval from all those governments, including oil producing countries. Paul thinks we need more real-time analysis and a faster turn around from a massively funded team, versus today's tiny IPCC staff and guest volunteer editors.


Dr. James Hansen, recently retired NASA scientist, has just released another paper saying the warming limit assumed by all the climate negotiations and governments is far too dangerous. He says that 2 degrees Centigrade, I guess that's about 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit, is already beyond tipping points that will wreck the world as we know it. Paul and I discuss what that means.

We already have scientific conferences called "4 degrees and beyond". Various business pundits assume carbon levels above 550 parts per million by 2100 as though that's just something our kids will adapt to. Let's be real. Is it likely we can hold warming to even 2 degrees mean global warming, the way things are going?

Whatever our prospects, I keep making radio programs, and Paul keeps studying and communicating about climate change. There must be some hope and will to survive at the bottom of that.

Keep in touch with Paul Beckwith's lively climate Facebook feed here.


Download or listen to this 15 minute interview with Dr. Richard Feely in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

No doubt you've heard that fossil fuel emissions are turning the world's oceans more acidic. Scientists are scrambling to find out what that means for our future.

There is a new report out, based on a meeting of 540 experts from 37 countries held in Monterey California in September 2012. It was the Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World.

"Ocean Acidification Summary for Policy-makers – Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World."

Radio Ecoshock is pleased to welcome one of America's top ocean scientists, Dr. Richard Feely. He's from NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

Reading through this report, I became alarmed for our own future, as much as small sea life. The Symposium agreed the oceans have been soaking up 24 million tonnes of CO2 a day - but that buffer, protecting us from worse climate change, may not keep working as well.

A couple of years ago, I interviewed David Archer about his book "The Long Thaw". He made it clear even if we stopped burning fossil fuels today, our impact will continue for centuries. It that true in the oceans as well? Dr. Feely says our oceans are reaching acidification levels not seen for many millions of years - and will stay in this changed state likely for at least hundreds of thousands of years, if not longer. We are changing the oceans for all coming ages.

I'll add this: during some times when the oceans became more acidic because of high carbon in the atmosphere - there was a huge mass extinction event.

When scientists talk about the rate of acidification, the numbers seem rather small. Why does a point 1 change in PH reflect a big change in chemistry? Richard Feely explains that one for us. Due to the logarithmic scale used, just like for earthquakes, a small-sounding change reflects a giant change in the sea.

We can't consider ocean acidification in a vacuum. How does a more acid ocean interact with things like warmer seas, or human encroachment such as overfishing or land-based run-off? It turns out all these impacts feed on one another.

You know ocean dead zones are popping up all over the world. Some people on the Internet are afraid the ocean is dying. Dr. Feely says that is not what there reports says at all. Yes some species important to feeding humans and other large sea mammals are in trouble, or may even die off. But other species, including squid and jellyfish, will thrive on more acidic seas. The ocean is not dying.

I've interviewed scientists who believe human geoengineering is needed to save the Arctic ice, say by spraying sulphur aerosols. How would that affect the problem of ocean acidification? Feely says geoengineering does not stop the uptake of carbon and acidification of the seas. In some cases, and he mentions seeding the oceans as Russ George and the Haida did, may even make acidification worse.

I worry humanity is not taking this issue seriously enough, because we don't live in the ocean, and can't visibly see the change. That's why I took the trouble to highlight this new report, and talk with Dr. Feely.


Coming up next week: I couldn't bare delivering more doom and gloom news during the holiday season. Instead, we're bringing it on in song. It's the annual Radio Ecoshock Green Music Festival - a full hour of environmental songs played in full.

You'll get some humor, so bleakness, lots of bounce, in some songs I guarantee you've never heard before, from artists all over the world. I'll publish a playlist in next week's blog.

We kick of the new year of 2014 with more nuclear scandals. I'm not talking about Japan this time. Even if there is no major nuclear disaster, both Britain and the United States are piling up radioactive wastes with no good answer in sight. Wait until you hear the zany things they are doing with it. Heaven help the generations that come after us.


I appreciate all the listeners who included Radio Ecoshock in our Christmas gift list. Some donations have come in and they all help. I've improved the studio (no more echo) and added some software tools to make the audio sound better. My mixer also had to be replaced, as the old cheapie was starting to leak sound between the channels. That was a big purchase.

If you can help me pay for the costs of producing and distributing Radio Ecoshock, that means so much. I can't afford to bear all the costs myself. Please consider either a one-time donation, or become one of our elite group of supporting members, donating just $10 a month.

The rules of non-profit radio stations mean I can't pitch for fund on air. (And besides, those stations need the money too). So I'm really counting on blog readers and podcast subscribers to help keep Radio Ecoshock on the air. Do it from this page.

Enjoy your holidays - but don't forget, the all-new Radio Ecoshock shows just keep on coming.

Alex Smith

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ugly Times for Ugly Mines

Welcome to Radio Ecoshock. I'm your reporter, Alex Smith. Later in this program we will tackle a serious world-wide problem seldom discussed: the toxic and harsh environmental impacts of mining. We have a case study from the United States, the Polymet mine proposed for Northern Minnesota.

Our environmental correspondent Gerri Williams has been on the job, with original interviews from activists - local people really - trying to protect nature from yet another hack-job.

This isn't a story about Minnesota or even America. Giant mines are operating or being developed all over the world, to feed our consumer desires. They spew pollution, carve into wilderness, and leave behind heavy metal leaching into rivers and lakes for hundreds of years. It's Canada, Australia, Africa, Asia, and all the European companies carving giant holes into the crust of the Earth.

Before we get there, I need to alert you to yet another disgusting development coming from the world nuclear Mafia. It's a general go-ahead to dump hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Incredibly, everyone from the American head of the NRC, to the International Energy Agency, and Japanese authorities are giving a green light to empty those thousands of radioactive tanks at Fukushima right into the Pacific ocean.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock program in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)


Who gives anyone permission to make the seas more radioactive? Why can't the country that used dangerous nuclear power keep the inevitable mess to themselves? Let's dig in deeper to recent developments at the triple-melt down that is the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.

It's hardly worth mentioning this site has set a new all-time record for radioactive pollution.

From Arirang Korea TV News, December 2nd, 2013:

"Now media in Japan on this Tuesday are reporting that the level of radiation detected in an observation at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has soared to an all-time high. Prime operator TEPCO said that 1.1 million becquerels of Beta ray emitting radioactive had been detected per litre in water samples taken on November 28th.

The figure is 36,000 times higher than the normal level of 30 becquerels per litre, and is more than the previous record high 910,000 becquerels per litre detected on November 26th."

And people try to tell you this accident is over.

According to the nuclear industry, 1 million becquerels of radiation is equal to 1 kilogram of what they call low-level radioactive waste - here found in every single litre of water.


Water is now a huge issue at Fukushima Daiichi. Estimates of the amount of highly radioactive water being pumped each day are hard to get, or vary widely. The consensus seems to be about 600 tons a day needs to be stored, perhaps 300 tons being pumped into the ground buildings trying to cool the escaped hot reactor cores, and another 300 tons of ground water flowing down that hill into the site, and mixing with those cores. See these estimates in the Guardian newspaper for example.

Those numbers are too round and neat to be real, but they give you an idea.

All that is being pumped through a maze of make-shift hoses into over 1,000 tanks on the site. These tanks, we know from mainstream news reports, were shoddily made, bolted together without welding, by inexperienced workers dragged in from all over Japan.

On December 5th, Reuters reported the workers were brought in illegally, at time recruited by the Japanese gangs. Workers admit they assembled tanks in weather that did not permit proper sealing. There have been regular leaks of highly radioactive water from these tanks. The Japanese admit up to 300 tons a day of water is escaping already into the Pacific, a continual source of serious radioactivity.

The tanks were a make-do solution. They are only designed to last until 2016. A new report from the Japanese Ministry of Industry says the Fukushima site will run out of room to store radioactive water within two years.

What to do? Just dump it in the ocean! Here is the alarming news: a chorus of nuclear authorities inside and outside Japan are preparing you to accept this horrible plan. Here is a short list of "dump it all" boosters, as reported in Washington's blog:

"Juan Carlos Lentijo, head of IAEA’s mission to Fukushima Daiichi, Dec. 4, 2013:

'Controlled discharge is a regular practice in all the nuclear facilities in the world. And what we are trying to say here is to consider this as one of the options to contribute to a good balance of risks and to stabilize the facility for the long term.'

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, Dec. 4, 2013:

'You cannot keep storing the water forever. We have to make choice comparing all risks involved.'"

The chair of the American Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Allison MacFarlane was in Japan on December 6th, when she said, at a press conference at the American Embassy, that the International Agency for Atomic Energy's recommendation to dump radioactive water into the Pacific was "appropriate".

Still not convinced they are all in on this? Listen to this brief clip from ABC Australia back on November 20th, under the headline "TEPCO clean-up boss says Fukushima's radioactive water will be dumped into Pacific Ocean" as reported by ABC's North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy.

Willacy: "He's the former chief watchdog in the United States. Now Dale Klein is overseeing TEPCO's efforts to stabilize and clean up the shattering Fukushima nuclear plant.

Klein: 'I think the best word to use with Fukushima is challenging.'

Willacy: Challenging on many fronts, but particularly when it comes to dealing with the growing volume of contaminated water stored at the plant. Dale Klein believes that after the water is treated and stripped of most radioactive elements, it's be safe to dump into the Pacific.

Klein: 'If at the end of the day, when the water is discharged, it will be released in a way when it is diluted so there is no risk to the public health and safety. But it is an emotional issue.'

Willacy: But it's not just contaminated water causing problems at Fukushima. Hastily and shoddily built systems at the nuclear plant have also triggered some anxious moments."

So, TEPCO and/or the Japanese government will decide when it is "safe" to dump their giant cache of nuclear tainted water into the Pacific. The rest of us will have to take their word for that safety - from a government and utility now famous for either lying or withholding the truth for long periods of time.

It's easy to picture the site running out of storage, and a "necessary" decision being made unilaterally by Japan to start dumping the still-radioactive water into the Pacific. Will they even tell us when it starts? Has it started already? With the new Japanese law against revealing any "secrets" denominated by the state, we may never know.

In the interest of truth, all these authorities say the water must first be cleaned up of major radioactive particles like plutonium and uranium. They realize Cesium will still be dumped into the Pacific, plus large amounts of Tritium. They always say Tritium is perfectly natural, go ahead and brush your teeth with it, but that's not at all true.

Then they blatantly say that all operating nuclear plants leak Tritium daily, which you seldom hear. Now they tell you, - to bless dumping Fukushima's problem into our common ocean.

The authorities act as though the technology to "clean up" this water is working. The filter machine on site, known as ALPS breaks down often, including this past December 1st. It has seldom if ever run at its stated capacity. Even if it could, ALPS does not remove Tritium, and has a backlog in those tanks of several years worth. Remember, the tanks will be full by 2016, and weren't designed to last beyond that.

There is some resistance. On November 7th, a consortium of anti-nuclear groups presented a petition of more than 150,000 signatures to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, demanding a global takeover of the Fukushima disaster, for the protection of all. A Japanese group has another petition calling for a strict government policy against contaminating the Pacific with Fukushima radiation. Contact nukefree.org for more information on what you can do.

Bottom line: do you accept that hundreds of thousands of tons, perhaps soon to be millions of tons, of highly radioactive Fukushima water will be dumped into the Pacific Ocean? If that's not OK with you, time is limited.

Contact your government, reach out to your local public, let's stop this next nuclear disaster from happening. The Pacific Ocean is not anyone's nuclear dumping ground. Heaven help the species who live there, and all of the people of the world is we sleep-walk through this awful plan.

I'm Alex Smith. This is Radio Ecoshock.


Environmental Lawyer Paula Maccabee

Next we turn to our guest host for this week's show. Gerri Williams. Our fearless D.C. Correspondent moved up near Lake Superior. Sure enough, she's right in the thick of it there, in the battle to help save that Northern wilderness from a really ugly mine by the Polymet Corporation.

In our first interview, Gerri interviews Paula Maccabee, representing waterlegacy.org. They are battling a copper-sulfide mine by the Polymet Corporation, proposed for an ecologically sensitive area in Northern Minnesota, USA.

We learn that this foreign-owned corporation will export all the Minnesota copper mine benefits to China, leaving the pollution for Americans. Tracing ownership of Polymet's parent Glencore/Xtrata, or it's many overseas subsidiaries is difficult. Parts of the merger of Xtrata and Glencore were negotiated with, and required the approval, of the government of China.

Officially, Glencore is listed as an Anglo-Swiss company trading on the London Metals Exchange. The largest single shareholder is reputedly Glencore Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg. But I don't really know whwho controls the company.

After the $30 billion dollar merger with Xtrata, the new company is the fourth largest mining corporation in the world. This combined company has sales larger than the budget of the whole state of Minnesota.


Glencore Xtrata are also climate-wreckers. Before the merger, Xtrata bought the Australian and South African coal mines previously owned by Glencore. In fact, Glencore/Xtrada is the single largest exporter of coal for power generation in the world. Number one climate wrecker! Ten percent of all coal shipped on the high seas comes from Glencore/Xtrata mines.

Glencorextrata also owns the giant copper-lead, zinc mine called Falconbridge in Sudbury Ontario, plus mines in Peru, the Dominican Republic. It has tentacles all over the world. During the first 8 years of mine operation in Minnesota, we are told all the copper will go to China.

Maccabee, an experienced public interest lawyer, tells us of a study that found despite environmental assurances, 9 out of 10 mining companies leave pollution behind them. In this case, unlike the desert environments where many copper mines operate, the tender wetlands of Minnesota will be polluted for centuries.

Coppper-sulfide mines have a history of leaving behind mercury contamination as well. Paula also tells us the Native American people, including their famous wild rice harvest, are at risk.

In reality, recycling copper uses 10% of the energy of new mining. We have lots of the stuff already above ground, but don't recapture enough of it.


Then it's Bill Carter, author of "Boom, Bust, Boom", the story of world copper mining. Bill is originally from California, and is an award-winning documentary film maker.

We start from the humble former copper town of Bisbee Arizona (where Radio Ecoshock is broadcast on KBRP!) through Alaska, and around the world. It all began when Bill tried to plant a garden in Bisbee, and found the soil had been wrecked for generations by a copper mine. There was no technology to fix soil poisoned by heavy metals.

Copper itself is poisonous to fish. And these mines, as Carter explains, leave behind other heavy metals that are toxic for thousands of years.

Bill and Gerri talk about the Pebble Mine in Alaska, about 300 miles West of Anchorage, in rugged country. It's right near Lake Iliamna, Alaska's largest lake, and the birthing grounds of half of the world's stock of sockeye salmon. Only 14 miles of soggy Tundra separate Pebble Mine from this lake.

Eventually the open pit holes can fill back up with water, like the Berkeley Pit mine near Butte Montana, which is now highly toxic.

Find out more about Bill Carter at his web site.

As I said at the start, there are mine battles all over. Here's shout out to my friends in British Columbia who have so far held off the Fish Lake Mine. And those in Australia trying to kill off the gigantic climate-wrecking Alpha coal mine.


Out of time again, for another week. Keep listening to Radio Ecoshock at www.ecoshock.org. I'm Alex Smith.

Please support this program if you can. Thank you for listening, and let's check in again next week, when I talk over the violent and unusual weather, plus Arctic methane, with climate scientist Paul Beckwith. Dr. Richard Feely from NOAA will also be our guest, as we look into the alarming rise of ocean acidification.

We're heading out with more music from northern Minnesota, from a group of artists called the Arrowhead Story.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The New Truth About Global Warming

In the winter, we dare to ask: why did global warming pause? New science shows it didn't. Official records grossly underestimated real heating here on Earth. You'll hear that science unfold.

What else has been low-balled? The US EPA estimates of dangerous methane emissions in America. Our guest explains just-released science showing humans are emitting 1 and a half times more than the government told you.

We'll wrap up the show with the climate-related death of another dream: the economy of the southern states. Why is the "stormbelt" withering?

I'm Alex Smith. Get ready for Ecoshock.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)


Scientists have been pondering why all our carbon was not showing up as higher temperatures. While extreme weather seems on the increase, climate change deniers are talking about a long pause in warming.

Two scientists have finally figured out where the heat is. In the one hour Radio Ecoshock show I interview Robert Way, a doctoral student at the University of Ottawa. Along with University of York UK computational scientist Kevin Cowtan, Robert just published a startling study in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. They've got scientists talking, and media calling from all over the world, after finding planet Earth is warming more than twice the accepted figures.

Here's the scoop. Big institutions like NASA, the Hadley Centre in the UK, and others in Europe calculate Earth's temperature, to see how much warming has taken place. As you might guess there are large areas where there are no weather stations to make those measurements. That includes places like Africa, but especially in the Arctic.

Up until now, global warming estimates just left those spots out. But using a combination of techniques including satellite measurement, Way and Cowtan found a huge amount of warming was left out. In fact, instead of warming just 0.05 degrees Centigrade over the last decade, earth has warmed more than twice that, at 0.12 degrees C.

It's a ground-breaking paper.

Resources for this interview: Here is the University of Ottawa press release

Here is the Real Climate posting and discussion

Here is the way UK's The Independent newspaper handled it

The website for this paper is here.

The youtube videos are under "media" but here is a good one

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Robert Way (20 min) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


A new university study shows emissions of the dangerous greenhouse gas methane are much higher than the American government reports. Have artificially low figures protected the American cattle industry, and fossil fuel producers?

Joining us is Scot M. Miller. He's from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard. Scot is the lead author of a paper just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science titled "Anthropogenic emissions of methane in the United States."

Scientist Scot M Miller

There has been growing concern about methane leaking out of the melting Arctic. So it's alarming to find government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency have been underestimating real methane emissions in the lower 48 states.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Scot Miller (20 min) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

USA Today coverage of this story.


Remember prosperity in the new American South? Factories opening, people moving down into the real estate boom. Fortunes may still be made there, but for most people, the system shows signs of eroding away.

Robert Leslie is part of a team of artists, writers, and photographers who explored the underbelly of that dream. The result is called "Stormbelt." It's a journey across the southern states. Robert's work has been published in Vanity, the New York Times and the French version of Vogue magazine.

Photojournalist Robert Leslie

Co-authors include Edward Burtynsky, founder of Toronto Image Works Gallery, and Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity and author of "Design Like You Give A Damn [2]: Building Change From The Ground Up".

Listen to/download this Radio Ecoshock interview with Robert Leslie (19 min) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Here is the web site for Stormbelt, with some samples.

If you are a Mac user (Mac computer, IPad, Iphone) you can get a sample of this book from Itunes (doesn't work on a PC or Android device)

The full book is already out in the United Kingdom. It's published by Published by Dewi Lewis Publishing UK (ISBN: 978-1-907893-47-6). Stormbelt should be released in the United States in January.

Stormbelt was just featured in the Guardian newspaper in the UK, with an image-gallery to boot.


Coming up on Radio Ecoshock, we've got more on the harsh ecological impact of both fracking and mining. Plus a look at possible ocean die-off with one of America's top ocean scientists. Did you know that the star-fish population is collapsing off the California coast? Why are more whales and dolphins hugging the shore?

We can only lie to ourselves so long. It's been a fib-fest of climate denial and economic black magic. When reality strikes, our confidence building script wont' cut it. It's not future shock when Nature denies the game of snatch and greed. It's ecoshock, when humans discover our real role here on Earth. We were never Gods, but creatures among a web of co-dependent species, in a thin and fragile atmosphere.

We become part of nature, or fail and fall. What is your decision?

I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for listening. Grab our past programs free at the web site ecoshock.org. Please tune in again next week, for more Radio Ecoshock.

Remember I don't get paid by anybody other than help from listeners. Please help keep Radio Ecoshock going with a donation, or become one of our 150 people keeping this program on the air with a $10 a month membership. Details here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cool Solutions for a Hot Planet

It's a quick one-two punch this week. Later we'll hear from the and only Albert Bates on the wonder of biochar and how it might save the world climate. But first, an Australian expert explains how humans die off in a hotter world.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock show 131127 in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)


For example, people dream of moving to tropical Darwin in Northern Australia. Some do, but then move back when they can't handle heat and humidity. With even Melbourne suburbs hitting almost 50 degrees C. - what will happen to Australia when the world warms more than 2 degrees C? What about Spain, or the Southern U.S.?

Dr. Elizabeth Hanna ANU

Here to help us is Dr. Elizabeth Hanna. She's a nurse with a doctorate, and National Convenor of the Climate Change Adaptation Research Network for Human Health, at Australian National University.

Some scientists, and authorities like the International Energy Agency, warn humanity is headed for a world 3.5 degrees C. hotter in as little as 25 years. More is possible. Hanna says a rise of 4 to 6 degrees C is "not compatible with human existence."

Perhaps you think we will just turn up the air conditioner. But much of the world's work is done outside. Can humans cope with those kind of temperatures?

Did you know more Australians already die of heat than from automobile accidents? That in places like Darwin, 80% of violence, both male to male and domestic abuse, happens during hot, humid spells?

Big corporations talk a lot about worker productivity. Worker safety - not so much. The military found out the hard way (through dead troops) the limits to exercise in heat. But miners, farmers, electric system workers, and even public nurses are under threat during heat waves.

Hospital admissions soar during heat waves. You may not even realize you are approaching a fatal event, as dehydration lowers intellectual judgement. Learn what the limits are in this Radio Ecoshock interview, done while Dr. Hanna was in Warsaw at the COP 19 climate talks.

Download/listen to this 20 minute interview with Dr. Hanna in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.


From America's original back-to-the-land, The Farm in Tennessee, this is alternative guru Albert Bates. His keynote speech at the Bioneers Chicago Great Lakes 2013 conference was recorded for Radio Ecoshock by Kelly Pierce of the Chicago Independent Media Center.

Download/listen to this keynote address by Albert Bates in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

It's hard to summarize this fine speech. It's loaded with facts, insight and ideas. One principal theme: the original inhabitants of South America had a more fully developed civilization in the Amazon than we have been told. They used a type of agriculture which continually enriched the soil, instead of depleting it, as European-style farming does.

This matters a lot. Albert explains the many benefits of biochar. That's vegetative material burned without oxygen. It forms a carbon that can last in the soil for hundreds of years.

Biochar, Albert explains, is porous - full of cavities which become enriched with fungi and bacteria the ecosystem and our gardens require. Even more, if we made biochar in a large way, we could sequester massive amounts of carbon taken out of the atmosphere.

Even Dr. James Hansen has said biochar on a big scale could help delay or even avert the worst of climate change. The soil holds massive amounts of carbon.

We've been releasing it for thousands of years through our farming methods. We can recapture it by using the wisdom of the aboriginal people of the Amazon.

During his talk, Albert Bates also gives us an update on the astonishing growth of eco-villages around the world. There are thousands in Sri Lanka, more in Japan, the UK, Scandinavia, and of course North America. It's almost enough to give a person hope.

Find out more about the many works of Albert Bates here.


During the speech, Albert show a film which could not be broadcast. Here are my summary notes of the part of the presentation:

The film describes projects for soil nutrients. It begins with how to create a large "tea bag" to infuse water with super nutrients. First, the chlorine must be removed from the water. They bubble it for 24 hours, and then added a product called "Micromate" from Mesa Verde which locks up any remaining chlorine.

They add things like different soils, worm castings, bat guanao. Soak the bag in water for 24 hours, trying to get at least 1/3 of bag contents to exit into water. They added "fish hyrolosate", ground up fish in a liquid form, as a micro-meal for fungi and bacteria. You can add kelp, or ground feathers (feathermeal). You can also use biochar, providing that is ground up very finely. After getting your liquid plant food out of teabag, plant the teabag in a compost pile or other area you want stimulated.

Albert also demonstrates an area torn up and compressed by a construction project. It was barren, full of gravel, and soil-less. They sprayed the compost tea, seeded grass and mulched that with straw. They got a lot of growth, in just one month.

The film further explored how to keep carbon in the ground, instead of releasing it as a greenhouse gas. It "is agriculture that builds rather than mines the soil."


Bates cautions against adding biochar straight into the garden. You might actually see a decrease in production the first year. Why? Because the biochar needs to fill up with fungi and bacteria - which are taken from the garden soil. It's like a hotel for micro-nutrients.

The answer is to add you biochar to the compost pile, or a fallow area, for a year or so. Then put that into the garden, for super results.

You won't want to miss this important talk by Albert Bates!


Don't forget, you can download all our past programs as free mp3's at our web site, ecoshock.org. You'll also see information on how to support the program here.

I'm Alex. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dirty Activism

What happens when millions of urban Americans decide to grow food? Soil activist Nance Klehm on "dirty activism" - reclaiming a city waste stream to make new gardens. Why is it illegal? Plus: Fukushima update from Alex & stimulating new green music: after Hurricane Sandy and Taiphoon Haiyan, the rich are heading for the hills.

Listen to/download this Radio Ecoshock show 131120 in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)


Here is the latest from the crippled nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiiche in Japan.

A robotic survey at Fukushima Reactor Number 1 showed what everyone already knew: highly radioactive water is leaking from the containment vessel to the reactor floor in the basement.

One of the few sources of information is a visiting professor to Hosei University, named Hiroshi Miyano. He says these parts may have been dislodged in the hydrogen explosion at Reactor 1 in March 2011, indicating severe damage occured to the reactor.

Miyano went on to say the same level of damage and radioactive leaks can be expected at Reactors Two and Three, which also exploded. The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, did not release an estimate of the amount of radioactive materials leaking from these three reactors.


At Reactor 4, the delicate operation to remove uranium and plutonium in fuel rods perched atop the damaged building has begun. Other governments are pressuring Japan to get the fuel out of Reactor 4 before a major earthquake can crash the building or cut off the water cooling supply.

A popular article in Washington's Blog claims attempts to remove Reactor 4 fuel is the most dangerous moment for humanity since the Cuban Missle Crisis in the 1960s. I agree - but this "moment" will drag on for at least a year, possibly several years. After the press has become bored with that project, the ultimate danger of a large nuclear reaction remains.


The TEPCO fuel removal plan is only slightly less risky than I feared. Each fuel bundle would be lifted by a remote-operated crane, and hopefully placed within a casket - with the whole operation done underwater. If successful, the casket would be sealed, hauled out by a different crane, and trucked to another ground-level fuel pool on the site. That pond is already over-burdened with nuclear fuel from years of operating the plant.

At Reactor 4, the Japanese have not explained what will happen if one of these fuel bundles contains loose or damaged rods which come in contact with one another.

TEPCO has removed the visible debris that fell into the fuel pool, which included the building roof and a giant industrial crane. What really counts though, is what fell into the nuclear fuel bundles themselves. That remains.

What if rods damaged by debris drop extremely radioactive pellets on the fuel pool floor, or deep within the casings? Were the fuel bundles damaged in the major explosion in Reactor Building 4? What if adjacent fuel rods come into direct contact with one another during the operation?

TEPCO just admitted this week there are up to 80 damaged fuel rods in various Fukushima reactor fuel ponds. Several are in Reactor 4, including fuel bundle badly bent. They've known about that one since 1982 and never did anything about it. It makes you wonder how many other reactors around the world could not unload their fuel in an emergency, due to damaged rods that were never dealt with.


TEPCO put a Kevlar shroud over the steel beam structure perched over the damaged building. If radioactive gases are released, the company says this will collect the gases and shoot them up a higher chimney, trying to protect the workers below. Up the chimney to where? To the Fukushima area? To winds over Japan? To winds blowing toward Hawaii, Alaska and California? They don't say.

Some experts fear a nuclear reaction is possible. That could mean the whole Fukushima site should be evacuated. But then who would run the daily cooling pumps required to keep all the leaking radioactive water circulating toward the thousand make-shift holding tanks? Preventing an even greater nuclear disaster, both for Japan and the Pacific Ocean, requires many workers on site daily. One false step could take radioactivity beyond the limits of human survival.

Could a nuclear explosion shoot more radioactive particles high into the atmosphere, to fall on North America and the whole Northern Hemisphere? It's certain the Pacific Ocean would get another burst of radiation. If distributed, there is enough nuclear material in the Reactor 4 fuel pool to poison the northern hemisphere.


There's plenty more nuclear fuel balanced in the roof of the damaged reactor building 3. That building is seldom discussed because that whole building is too radioactive to be approached, even by robots. Reactor 3 was running a special super plutonium blend called MOX when it exploded. Nuclear fuel remains in Reactors 1 and 2 as well.

Keep in mind, removing nuclear fuel from Reactor 4 may be the EASIEST part of this attempted salvage operation. Radioactivity at Unit 4 is low enough humans can walk around in it. No human has been able to approach Reactors 1 to 3 with in their melt-down state. Even robots are damaged by high radioactivity. Plus there is no plan, and no known technology, to retrieve the melted reactor cores. Nobody is sure where those melted cores are, except they are below and outside the "containment" structures.

The Fukushima nuclear accident is far from over. The worst is yet to come.


Musician Geoff Berner of Vancouver

Regular listeners know the million dollar ocean-front properties of the wealthy are due for a rude wave of storms and rising seas. Vancouver song-writer Geoff Berner is on the case with this observation: in more ways than one, "The Rich Are Gonna Move to the High Ground".

Geoff was recorded outdoors in downtown Vancouver, beside a chain link fence and sign saying "Habitat Closed". Watch it on You tube here. Or check out this Facebook page with the lyrics.

Geoff Berner was recorded by Matt Cote for his upcoming film "A Date with Ed". Find it on You tube. Geoff's web site is here.


Our feature speaker this week is Nance Klehm on bioremediation in the cities. She tells us how to read our surroundings. We also learn about plants that soak up radiation - good to know in Fukushima times.

Nance sees compost as an act of revolution. She's a landscape designer, horticultural consultant and permaculture expert. But mostly, I think Nance is a social activist who isn't afraid to get her hands dirty.

This recording was made by Kelly Pierce of the Chicago Independent Media Center for Radio Ecoshock - at the Bioneers 2013 Chicago Great Lakes conference at the start of November.

Normally you'll find a formal introduction and all that. Instead, Nance found herself in a room with no microphone - after leaving a breakout session on direct action. There, the Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping fled the room hoping to avoid being arrested. That's where we come in.

Listen to/download this 45 minute talk by Nance Klehm in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

It's hard to face up to our waste products isn't it? To gather up the goo and turn it into soil for city gardens. It's called bioremediation - returning landscapes to natural production using plants. Our guide is Nance Klehm from spontaneousvegetaion.net. Her latest project is called "The Ground Rules." They gather organic waste from business to create compost and soil for the cities.


Our closing song was created by Toronto-based singer, rapper, filmmaker and activist Gaiaisi.

There is an astounding video for this music which you have to see. It has the best of free footage donated by project collaborators 350 dot org, Climate Reality, Greenpeace, the Rain Forest Action Network and WWF.

But they still need to purchase rights from the BBC series Planet Earth. Gaiaisi needs your help to make sure this video can remain free on You tube, to reach the whole world. Find his change-the-earth-music-video-project on indiegogo.com.

It's one of the best environmental videos of the year for sure. Track it down. Plus here is the Gaiaisi web site with downloads.


Next week we'll hear about one of the few hopeful solutions for climate change. It's the big picture of soil carbon and biochar from Albert Bates, long-time guru at The Farm in Tennessee. Don't miss that.

Please help Radio Ecoshock keep going. You can make a one-time donation, or become one of the needed 150 monthly donors who keep this show on the air. Get the details here.

I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for listening, and caring about your world.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Shopping the Planet to Death

Growthbusters producer Dave Gardner on municipal growth ponzi schemes. Plus hot green "sermon" on direct action vs. consumer stupor - by Reverend Billy Talens of the Church of Stop Shopping. Radio Ecoshock 131112 1 hour

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi

The Earth and it's humans are unsettled as we enter Radio Ecoshock this week. It appears the Japanese government may have censored Internet communication about the impact of the October 25th 7.5 earthquake right off the coast from the blown reactors at Fukushima. Even so, the harsh news about radiation spreading across the Pacific is leaking out from every alternative media outlet, into the mainstream consciousness.


This past week, the strongest tropical cyclone ever to hit land arrived in the Philippines, well south of the capital Manila. Meteorologist and former NASA storm chaser Jeff Masters quotes U.S. Navy satellite estimates of land speed winds of 190 to 195 miles per hour.

Remember when the United Nations climate scientists warned of more violent storms? Well here we are. Super Typoon Haiyan hit with the force you'd expect in a Tornado, but a tornado 600 kilometers, 372 miles in diameter. Take a look: it's a frightening giant storm. on a small planet, and another excursion into the new climate of planet Earth.

Everyone on Earth needs to see this tearful speech by Yeb Sano, Philippines delegate, at the COP 19 climate talks in Warsaw Poland, just after the typhoon struck.

Yeb Sano added:

“We cannot sit and stay helpless staring at this international climate stalemate,” Sano told delegates today in Warsaw, according to a transcript by the Responding to Climate Change Website. “We refuse to accept that running away from storms, evacuating our families, suffering the devastation and misery, having to count our dead, become a way of life.

- from BloombergBusiness Nov 11, 2013

Australian scientists are willing to credit warmer seas with adding strength to Haiyan.

Others rationalize: why were the other typhoons this year not as strong, if those climate conditions were there?

Consider Jim Hansen's argument that climate loads the dice that more extreme weather events will happen.


Meanwhile, we also see a preview of what can be expected from massive dislocations caused by weather panic. Looting, and armed gangs taking food, arrive very early. It may be delayed a day or two in more advanced economies, as people have more faith help will arrive - but when it doesn't the reaction may be even more extreme. The army may be called in to fight off desperate civilians.


Also to be considered: do not think that the images of huge distress and human suffering do not affect people in the West. Those TV images, newspaper images, radio voices will create suffering even in many of us far from the scene.

Much of this operates subconsciously, and piles up in waves of social change - some for better, some for worse in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia, as well as Japan and China. We are all affected, and this will change life, economies, and politics in subterranean ways, as humans become less sure of their surroundings, of nature, of their economies and lives. Climate change is a threat not just to the poor of places like the Philippines, but to us all.

Right now, humans in their homes, in their hearts, in quiet places in their minds are making decisions based on what they experience of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.

Some will make that supply of food and water. Others will buy guns. Some will begin to talk openly of their climate fears; others will bury it even deeper under carefully developed webs of denial, or outrageously stupid hate.


As individuals, we feel so small. What can we do? All around us the blissful crowd is getting ready for a shopping extravaganza. Our "thanksgiving" demands an eruption in the malls. It will transfer more species and toxic materials into our closets, garages, storage units and landfills. We'll celebrate the Christmas holiday with another giant burst of carbon into the overloaded atmosphere.


In this program, Dave Gardner, gives you options, including a free viewing of his influential film "Growthbusters". Find out how you can watch the movie growthbusters for free, at times convenient for anyone anywhere on the planet, go here.

The free screening is on Black Friday, and to accommodate people on any side of the planet, on Black Saturday as weel. As Dave says, instead of shopping for more useless stuff, get your mind out of the consumer trap with this film.

Listen to the Dave Gardner interview (21 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

The "growthbusters" are doing some great work. It goes way beyond shopping, into the way our consumer economy and brainwashed minds work.

Dave Gardner has been an activist in Boulder Springs, Colorado (and even ran for office there). He brings a new outlook to the table: the way municipalities conspire with merchants and developers to always grow, grow grow - even when that overwhelms the quality of life that attracted people in the first place.

Is your city better when the population explodes? Not likely. Transportation snarls, the cost of living goes up, community suffers, and happiness generally goes down.


Then, the man all the advertisers and banks don't want you to hear. The Reverend Billy Talen from the Church of Stop Shopping makes a brilliant speech recorded for Radio Ecoshock at the Chicago Great Lakes Bioneers 2013 conference.

Billy tells us the cost of direct action to save the planet. It's one of the most soul-searching looks into how and when we should take action. Talk, even Radio Ecoshock, is not enough. We are still going down the tubes.

Billy Talen's sermon was delivered while the police waited to arrest him. The government, pretending to represent "the people" want to toss Billy Talen in prison for a direct action at the JP Morgan Chase Bank in New York. The bank, he says, is the biggest climate destruction financier on the planet.

I've recorded a lot of speeches. This is one of the best, don't miss it.

We are sunk so deep in the consumer culture, the economy will crash if we stop. It will crash anyway, leaving a polluted world drained of natural life. Nobody warns us more clearly than the Reverend Billy Talen and his Church of Stop Shopping Choir.

I play you Billy's speech at the Chicago Great Lakes Bioneers 2013. This recording was made for Radio Ecoshock on November 2nd, by Kelly Pierce of the Chicago Independent Media Center.

Listen to this moving 35 minute Billy Talen speech in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

If you like it, share it, pass on the link!

The Reverend Billy Talen is a New Yorker who works with talented artists and activists in the Church of Stop Shopping Choir. All music heard in this show is by the Church of Stop Shopping Choir.

Billy uses fundamentalist-style preaching - but this time to convert us from the consumerism that is wasting the planet.

Right after this speech Billy was arrested for his group's protest the JP Morgan Chase Bank - and possibly for disturbing the peace at the Roosevelt University/Chicago Bioneers direct action panel. More on that next week.

As Billy says, these banks hide behind a cloak of respectability and power, while they loan out money to coal plants, dangerous oil drilling, and a host of projects that are wrecking the planet for all future generations.


You think Russia is punishing Greenpeace activists, the Arctic 30, with crazy overblown charges like Piracy? What about America, where authorities and authoritarianism keeps us all inside the boundaries carefully set by corporate psychology and power?

By the way, the Arctic 30 are still locked up in a Russian prison, for almost two months now, but they were moved in a prison train to Saint Petersburg last week.

Check out this Greenpeace web site, to see who these brave activists (plus two journalists) really are.

The alleged American democracy wants Billy and his crew to spend a year in horrible prison for appearing as extinct frogs in a bank branch. A little group of artists singing and dancing in a bank branch are being charged with "riot". Really?

Is the system that fragile, that endangered, that even a peep of protest means prison?

For every man and woman thrown into jail by the zealous protectors of corporate crime, let another thousand step forward.

As Billy tells us, nothing real has been accomplished for America - in civil rights, gender equality or anything else, without direct activists willing to face jail, or even death. What greater cause is there than trying to pass on a living planet to our children and grandchildren.

Go to revbilly.com to find out how you can help. For one thing, you can purchase the movie "What Would Jesus Buy". I think Jesus would buy this film, but you can watch the whole thing on You tube as well.

At least buy the CD featuring some of the Church of Stop Shopping Choir music I'm playing in today's program.

The Reverend has moved me. Let him move you too. We can't wait for our Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King to show up. The planet is wasting, each of us need to join or make a movement.


Next week we'll hear more from the Bioneers. What happens when most city dwellers realize they should grow some of their own food? It's off to Home Depot to "buy" soil - that is stripped from a farm somewhere else.

You will learn about alternatives, and about soil - the system that feeds us all.

I'm Alex Smith. Help Radio Ecoshock at our web site, ecoshock.org. Pass out our free download mp3s of past shows. Join the growing number of celebrities, local shakers, and scientists speakng out. Become an earth activist!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Is This Peak History?

A joint study between the University of Maryland and a Barcelona University digs deep into our energy future. From Berlin, guest Christian Kerschner. Janaia Donaldson of Peak Moment TV interviews Alex Smith. Radio Ecoshock 131106 1 hour.

Listen to/download this program in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)

Peak oil. It isn't what you think, and it hasn't gone away. From Berlin, I interview Christian Kerschner about a new European-American energy depletion study.

But what is Radio Ecoshock all about? Find out as Janaia Donaldson of Peak Moment TV interviews me - and of course I'll take my turn, asking Janaia why we are all living in the "peak moment" of human history.

In this interview I summarize the historic threats posed by climate change and Fukushima - all based on the scientists and experts I've interviewed.

I'm Alex Smith. Welcome to Radio Ecoshock.


Dr. Christian Kerschner, University of Barcelona

Has Peak Oil been blown away by shale, tar sands and fracking? What industries are already in trouble with today's high oil prices? A joint study between the University of Maryland and a Barcelona University digs deep into our energy future.

Our guest is Christian Kerschner. He's with the Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals, from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. We reached him in Berlin.

Download or listen to this 18 minute interview with Christian Kerschner in CD Quality only.


The project called is "Economic Vulnerability to Peak Oil."

A key graphic accompanies this paper in the journal Global Environmental Change. It is the "vulnerability map" - demonstrating which sectors are most vulnerable to high energy prices or shortage, and even more important, their role in the overall economy.

For example, the actual plastics plants do not rank high in their contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any country. But think about it. Almost everything uses plastic somewhere in its construction. If plastic becomes more and more expensive, the cost of everything you buy goes up. If shortages of plastic develop, even for short periods, there could be giant impacts on the economy and our lives.

I expect some investment firms will look closely at these findings. For example, a pension fund may not want to buy thirty-year bonds in airlines or chemical plants. But guest Christian Kerschner disagrees. He thinks a much-needed function, like chemical production, may simply draw more resources from the overall budget, causing the collapse of other industries, not the chemical plants.

Think of giving up luxury products to buy the necessities. Makers of luxury products fail, not the chemical industry itself. This is just one example from many examined in the study.

Christian Kerschner has a lot to offer. Unlike many peak oil pundits, he's studied and graduated looking at alternative economics. In addition to Peak Oil and resource scarcity, Kerschner also studied and published about steady-state economics.

I think an economy which survives its own carbon use will have to be much smaller. In our interview Christian agrees.

In this paper, I was intrigued by the concept that energy flows may be limited simply by available technology. That imply that no matter how much money we throw at developing fossil fuels, we still hit a ceiling, a point where the return on investment is too low to continue. That's different than saying there is no further oil or gas out there.

Christian Kerschner is an ecological economist from the Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals, at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Co-authors of this paper include Christina Prellb, Kuishuang Fengc, and Klaus Hubacekc, from the University of Maryland.

I think this joint-university work, bridging the Atlantic, is a milestone for the study of Peak Oil, and resources generally. Here is a link to the informative press release, plus the paper abstract complete with the all-important graphics in an easier to see format are further down on that abstract page.


Janaia Donaldson, host of Peak Moment TV

Peak Moment TV has been going since 2006. Host Janaia Donaldson and producer Robin Mallgren travel around the West Coast of North America, looking for issues and solutions. Find out more here.

The program was inspired by the problems of Peak Oil - but expanded into a range of issues, including energy, resource shortages, and the environment. This program looks intently for people who offer solutions.

Judging by their backlog of worthwhile programs on the Net, this dynamic duo found the people you want to hear from most. Shows cover things like local currency, small-scale food production, alternative energy for the rest of us, and much more.

It was an honor to be invited. Janaia offered me the challenge to outline the dual mega-problems of climate change and the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, Japan.

That's a big menu. I did my best to summarize what my guests have taught me - and our Radio Ecoshock listeners. We looked at the sudden arrival of climate symptoms, like the melting Arctic and super-storms - decades before they were expected by mainstream scientists. I explained the vanguard of climate scientists as I've found them.

We also discuss the impact of climate change on the economy, especially our total dependence on the flow of money from fossil fuel exploration and production. If we are to survive, we need to escape that addiction.

Then it's on to Fukushima, where nuclear experts like Arnie Gunderson, and activists like Helen Caldicott, have schooled me well. I've also studied English-language blogs from Japan, Japanese media, and American activists.

Adding it up: Fukushima is out of control. If you think my fears for threats there are too extreme, watch this short video clip of esteemed Canadian geneticist and broadcaster Dr. David Suzuki, recorded from a panel discussion at the University of Alberta on October 30th.

Going even further with my concerns of a building Four collapse at Fukushima, Suzuki says such an event means Japan is "toast". And - the West Coast of North America might have to be evacuated, due to an unprecedented release of radiation.

In this Peak Moment interview, I explain why.

For what it's worth, last month I moved out of Vancouver, two mountain ranges to the East and inland. Fear of Fukushima was not our primary motivation to leave, but it was on my mind. Frankly, we just don't know how this nuclear mega-threat will turn out, do we?

For more, listen to the interview, and our past Radio Ecoshock shows on Fukushima. I've never stopped covering it. The accident will not be "over" in our lifetimes.


Following our lengthy TV interview, I ask Janaia Donaldson about her program. She suggests we are at an essential moment in human history, and the history of the planet. I would interpret this to mean our direction now could determine success or human extinction. This is a critical time.

It turns out that Peak Moment TV is still broadcast on community access television in the United States and other countries - but the larger and developing audience is on the Internet. Programs from 7 years ago, like "Suburban Renewal - One Backyard at a Time" have over 35,000 views. And there are over 250 shows available - all free!

I totally recommend this program. Like me, in these show I think you'll find ideas for your future, for a sustainable and enjoyable future. You will meet and explore with inspiring folks who looked for answers, and found solutions.

Here is the Peak Moment TV channel on You tube. This is the Peak Moment TV web site.

You can download or listen to my appearance on Peak Moment TV, as an audio file, here in CD Quality or Lo-Fi. The audio is courtesy of Robin Mallgren. I'm hoping you can use this interview to educate others coming into these issues. Please spread these links far and wide.

Find Janaia Donaldson as a Radio Ecoshock guest (8 minutes) here in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

The Alex Smith interview will be released as a video later this month.

Thank you Janaia and Robin for everything you do!


Next week we'll visit the best of the Chicago Great Lakes Bioneers conference. You think only the Russian persecute green activists who speak out? Stay tuned, as America goes after it's own conscience - just as we head into the insanity of another "holiday" season of senseless mass consumption and planetary destruction.

Support Radio Ecoshock if you can, at the web site, ecoshock.org. And grab free mp3s of all our past programs. If you search "Radio Ecoshock" on You tube, you will find a few of my own videos.

I'm Alex. Thank you for listening - and caring about your world.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Desperately Seeking Solutions

SUMMARY: A medley of ways. From New Zealand, green alternative economy with Laurence Boomert. Dr. Sharon Gourdji, U of Fla. on crops & climate. Josh Fox (Gasland) riff on fracking. Pacific growing expert Lorene Edwards Forkner.

QUICK WRAP: Laurence Boomert green business and politics in New Zealand. After founding a biz network, he now runs the Bank of Solutions. Terrific ideas for all of us.

Dr. Sharon Gourdji, Stanford University, researches the impacts of climate heating on crops - especially during the critical period when they flower. We talk the case study of her recent trips to Nicaragua.

At Powershift 2013, the Director of the movie "Gasland" wowed the crowd with his anti-fracking speech/rant. France banned it, the Netherlands is next, and fracking protests explode in the U.S. & Canada. Australia and UK take note!

Lorene Edwards Forkner is editor of Pacific Horticulture Magazine, and a home-grower extraordinaire. Tips for grow-it-yourself and local production. This interview was recorded in June 2013 at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup Washington.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock Show 131030 in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Almost every week Radio Ecoshock details our head-long flight into a complex series of environmental, economic, and social disasters. But where are the solutions?

There are many answers out there. What we need is a collection place to gather the things we need to know. Enter Laurence Boomert and the "Bank of Real Solutions".

Boomert is a long-time New Zealand activist who founded the successful Environmental Business Network in the 1990's. Along with a group called "Living Economies", Laurence co-published and wrote for the book "Fleeing Vesuvius: Responding to the effects of economic and environmental collapse”.

Laurence Boomert is currently on a tour of North America with our previous guest Nicole Foss.

Download/listen to this 18 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Laurence Boomert in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Most of the doomers I track, picture New Zealand as the place to run, after Fukushima or the economy blows up. At least New Zealand could feed itself. Is it all a green garden party there down-under?

Laurence says New Zealand has a lot going for it, but the current political climate is anti-green. In fact the Prime Minister formerly worked for a big investment house, Merrill Lynch. Previous green legislation is being dismantled, just like in Australia.

We talk about the political party Laurence co-founded, (the New Economics Party) - but more about his web site The Bank of Real Solutions. Currently it is a collection of things that really work to change the world in New Zealand. Take a look, you will get some great ideas for your own area.

Laurence is just now taking it global, working on founding The World Bank of Real Solutions. Watch for that.

Laurence Boomert, in You tube videos and writing, says cities could be sustainable. Looking at cities designed entirely around automobiles and fossil fuels, I'm not so sure. Can mega-cities really transition?

We also talk about collapse. It can happen quickly, Boomert says. Just look at Argentina in 2001. Or Ireland trying to recover right now.

In the United States, we are seeing shadows of collapse already. Detroit went bankrupt. The federal government shut down. Food stamps stopped working for a few hours, leading to mini-riots. Is there still time to organize and launch local economies? Boomert says yes, if we can get going now.

He offers some terrific examples from New Zealand, like community currency, and time banking that even helps the needy. Ten percent of his own small community operates on local currency.

Boomert suggests you visit this web site from South Africa for a look at more solutions being tried around the world: ces.org.za The full name is Community Exchange.

Laurence also has an ebook - a $3 manual on local currency "Get A Handle on Hands." More info about that here. Or buy it here.

This interview is full of useful tips. Like this organization "Living Economies".

Oh, by the way, Laurence also adapted an Irish idea, helping to organize and publish the solutions book called “Fleeing Vesuvius: Responding to the effects of economic and environmental collapse.” That book is hard to find at the moment. Look here.

In this You tube video, Boomert says the financial system is "horrifically ruined" and fragile. He claims we have a corrupt parasytical system build on fraud. Then he outlines how you and I can bypass that system to create our own.

Part 2 of that You tube video is here.

Contact Laurence Boomert by email: laurenceboomert@xtra.co.nz


Since gaining her PHD in Environmental Engineering, and moving to Stanford University, Sharon Gourdji has specialized in the impacts of climate change and food production around the world.

Her latest co-authored paper was published in Environmental Research letters in June 2013. It's title tells us something important for everyone who eats: "Global crop exposure to critical high temperatures in the reproductive period: historical trends and future projections."

Here is the official citation: Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 8 no. 2, page(s) doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2 June 14, 2013

Your can read the abstract, and the full paper online here.

Download or listen to this interview with Sharon Gourdji in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

I was introduced to this subject by an unlikely source. A hippie You-tuber from Texas complained his garden flowered but set no fruit - because night-time temperatures stayed too high at a critical time. So it's not just that it's hotter, but WHEN it's hotter that counts for agriculture - and gardens.

That full video from "humptydumptytribe" is worth a watch.

But in this show we head for the real science. Sharon Gourdji has just finished a year-long Fulbright Nexus program focused on climate change and adaptation strategies in the Western Hemisphere.

I'm going to quote a communication from Sharon here to explain some of her other work:

"Prior to the extreme heat study, I published a paper looking at gains in breeding wheat for heat-tolerance by the world's preeminent wheat breeding organization CIMMYT (or International Center for the Improvement of Maize and Wheat in Spanish, based in Mexico, primarily responsible for developing the germplasm behind the Green Revolution in Latin America and Asia). The results were that most of the gains in breeding wheat for high yield potential have come in optimal environments with high radiation, cool temperatures and irrigation."

On a down-to-earth level, Sharon has just returned from Nicaragua, where she visited farming regions to determine how climate has affected the bean crop.

Apparently the red beans so loved by Nicaraguans are stressed by excess heat and the yields are declining. Black beans do better in the new growing conditions, but Nicaraguan farmers grow them mainly for export at this time. Folks in Columbia, where Gourdji also did research, like the black beans as a staple.

Complicating all this: Nicaragua has lost at least one third of it's forest cover since 1980. This changes microclimates, rainfall, and soil erosion. Deforestation and climate change can play off against one another.

Lester Brown from the Earth-Policy Institute has stressed some major crops, including rice, are already near their temperature limits. I've covered that on Radio Ecoshock. We discuss these important limits with Sharon.

It's hard to imagine a more important subject for scientific study! How will we feed the world's increasing population if climate change harms the growing cycle at critical times? Gourdji is fairly optimistic. She says farmers have always had to adapt to changes in weather - and there are international organizations working to breed plants better able to produce - even without Genetic Modification (GMO's).

Here is Sharon's professional page.


In previous Radio Ecoshock shows we've had young people testifying about their drive to save the climate and find eco-justice - partly through the Powershift 2013 program in Pittsburg in October.

This week I run an 8 minute riff from Josh Fox, the Director of the anti-fracking expose "Gasland".

You can see the Powershift video here. (It will take a couple of minutes to load to the Josh Fox clip I've selected. Hang in, it's worth it).

France has banned fracking. The Netherlands is about to. People all over the world question why we need to blow up the underground, poisoning it with super toxic chemicals, just to get more dangerous fossil fuels.

Josh's follow-up to Gasland is now playing on HBO.


When I was at the Mother Earth News Fair last June, I had the pleasure of talking with Lorene Forkner.

Her blog is called "Planted at Home".

Lorene is the editor of Pacific Horiculture Magazine, and author of several books. Her latest is "Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting & More".

She's the co-author of 3 previous titles published by Sasquatch Books including: "Growing Your Own Vegetables: An Encyclopedia of Country Living Guide" and "Canning and Preserving Your Own Harvest: An Encyclopedia of Country Living Guide".

With all that going for her, you can bet we have a great conversation about growing food - from California right up to Washington State. People around the world can learn from Lorene Forkner. I did.

Download or listen to this interview with Lorene Edwards Forkner in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


That was a packed show. I hope you pass it around.

I'm Alex Smith. Help support Radio Ecoshock and get free downloads at the web site ecoshock.org.

Welcome to all our new listeners, and thank you for listening - and caring about your world.