Saturday, March 23, 2013

From Growing Greens to Fukushima

Expert urban gardening tips from John Kohler, host of popular "Growing Your Greens" channel on You tube. Then speech by Dr. Helen Caldicott March 12, 2013 on medical and ecological consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Radio Ecoshock 130327 1 hour


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

Listen to/download Helen Caldicott's speech (31 minutes; edited for radio) from the New York City Fukushima symposium in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Listen to/download my interview with urban gardener John Kohler (28 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Hey welcome to Radio Ecoshock. This week it's a best of times, worst of times show.

We start out with John Kohler, the "growing your greens" guy on You tube. John is an enthusiastic learner and teacher about urban gardening. He helped push me further along the path to growing my own and juicing it as great raw plant food. Our interview is full of lots of things you can do. I've posted some links below of my favorite Kohler You tube videos to get you started.

Then it's off to New York City for a dose of the awful truth from the long-term nuclear guardian, Helen Caldicott. In her time to speak on the second anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi triple melt-down in Japan - Helen lays it out. Due to increased radiation, toxic chemicals, and climate change, life on earth is in the Intensive Care Unit. The aging Caldicott says it's up to us - we are all physicians for the Earth now. It's a powerful speech from a famous force for sanity.

First though, it's time to get you growing your greens.



John Kohler

Here is a whole browsing list of John Kohler "growing your greens" videos on You tube.

I like this one about aquaponics in Oakland.

This one of growing veggies in the winter in Cleveland has a lot to say, I think. We talk about it in our interview.

I learned a few more things about the power of growing sprouts from this pro sprout-grower in Florida. It features Shawn from

Looking for plants for quick salads in winter, inside, with minimum equipment?


How to Make Compost Tea.

Why does John advise against planting potatoes in your urban garden?

How to grow a vegetable garden if you rent your home.

Is plastic bad to use as a container to grow food?

Grow 20 Square Feet of Vegetables in 4 ft Square of Space with the Phytopod Container Garden (245,00 views).

Edible garden on a condo patio.

Suburban homestead garden on 1/10th of an acre.

Suburban Homesteading Edible Victory Garden Edible Estate on 1/10th of an Acre (143,000 views).

Solar powered aquaponic system (plus examples of espalier fruit growing for small gardens)(plus two types of tower growing)(

City Encourages Upgrooting Grass to Grow Sustainable Vegetable Gardens.

Best Way to Consumer Leafy Green Vegetables (Juicer).

How to Start A Raised Bed Vegetable Garden In Your Backyard - Planning.

Reduce or Eliminate WhiteFly and Aphids with Worm Castings.

Urban Farm in San Francisco Gives Away Thousands of Pounds of Food Free.

How to Keep Cats Out of Your Raised Bed Garden.

How to Build a 4' by 4' Raised Bed Garden From Start to Finish.

Extended Front Yard Urban Vegetable Garden Tour.

Growing Vegetables in the Shade - What Can I Grow?

John's plant-specific videos are hits, on growing cucumbers, or squash (often with over 80,000 views heading to 200,000 each)


His business is (only ships within USA). But you'd never know that from watching his "growing your greens" You tube channel. John really does give away all he's learning, without pushing his business at all.

John Kohler founded Living

His Facebook page is here.

To get more on John's vision of the healthiest diet visit his site OK Raw

And of course his main "Growing Your Greens" channel on You tube, where you can learn so much.


John has re-inspired me. I was drinking vegetable juice in Los Angeles back in the '70's, and I was growing lots of veggies in the '80s. It's just one of those things that keeps coming back. We learn again, and start again. Sometimes life is more like a spiral than a line through time.

I bought a juicer this week, but not from John. He only sells within the United States. A local drug store chain had a sale on the "Big Boss Vita Press". It's a slow juicer that squeezes the veggies with a rotating auger.

The Breville high speed juicers are great if you are into hard fruits like apples, or maybe carrots or beets. But they don't do well with leafy greens. Plus, a Brevill has an 850 Watt motor, sounding like an airplane in your kitchen. It turns at about 10,000 revolutions per minute. By contrast, my slow-speed juicer needs just 150 Watts, meaning it uses less power. I can run if from my solar panel. The whole process with slow juicing is much more relaxing, I think.

The Vita Press cost me $169 dollars, with a one year in-store warranty, and a two year factory warranty. I seriously considered buying one of the Omega models John shows in his videos. They are probably better quality and may last longer. But like many people, I have a low income. I just couldn't afford more than $300 for my juicer.

I'll let you know how the cheaper one works out. Last night we had a super green drink, including a bargain on organic black Kale. It feels so much healthier than the overdose of bread, cereal, and potatoes I'd been falling into over the winter. I can't wait for the local farmers' market to open. Hopefully by next year we'll be in a place where we can grow most of our own.

John is pretty well feeding himself from a standard house lot in California. He's got several videos of tips for more northern folks, from the compost-heated greenhouse through sprouting greens anywhere inside, in the depths of winter.


For those who heard about my experiment with a little planter with indoor lights, I can report trying a couple of things. First off, I asked myself, what would some listeners do? I tried the Walmart brand planting soil, which promised it would need little watering. That turned out about as useless as I thought it would. The plants were starting to die off, because the soil stays way too wet.

I carefully removed my small plants, chucked the Walmart stuff, and went with a version of "Mel's mix" - one third peat, one third vermiculite (not perlite!), and some compost. I also added some clean sand, heated up in the oven to get rid of any outside life. Small containers benefit from sand, I think, to help drain the soil.

Now my kitchen herbs and lettuce are doing great. I had to cut back the hours of light for the lettuce, and move it back a bit, because it was heading straight to seed under all the light from the T5 flourescent, running 16 hours a day. Things have grown so fast, I had to move the lights up 6 inches in the first two weeks.

I like having the fake sunlight in my studio as I prepare Radio Ecoshock, in the dark spring of rainy Vancouver. Burning just 24 watts, it's not too hard on the atmosphere I suppose - plus all our power comes from hydro-electric dams. Pretty soon we'll have the real stuff from the sun.

My thanks to listeners who responded with ideas for a seed show. I've got something in the works for that. I've also appreciated the feedback on our Facebook page, the blog, and from the contact form on the web site as I can't promise to answer everyone, but I read it all. Listeners provide a lot of direction and tips for this program. That's the way it should be. I appreciate your support.

Stay tuned for one of the great voices of the environment, Helen Caldicott.


Dr. Helen Caldicott

Last week I ran selections from symposium "The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident" New York March 11-12 by Helen Caldicott Foundation & Physicians for Social Responsibility. That program covered 5 key myths about the Fukushima disaster. Things like: It isn't over, the unreported extra dangers to women and small children, and the myth that wildlife is thriving at Chernobyl in the Ukraine, despite the continuing radiation there.

That symposium was full of surprises. The key driving force behind it was the 75-year-old anti-nuclear campaigner, the world-renowned Dr. Helen Caldicott. She helped fund it, along with other medical professionals in the group Physicians for Social Responsibility.

By the second day, Helen was tired. It was her turn to speak. But nothing stops Helen. By the end of her talk, I was touched and restimulated by our duty here, to care for humans, wildlife, and all life. We are part of a giant living planet, attached and responsible. Helen Caldicott reminded me why I make Radio Ecoshock every week, and why you come to listen.

Use the links above to download her speech at the March symposium in New York City. To fit radio time, I removed her reading of a letter from Dr. Arjun Makhijani.

You can view videos of all the speeches as delivered at the symposium here.

I hope Helen is wrong about the future of genetic damage in humans. She says science shows it can take up to 20 generations for the damage from radiation to show up, being carried in recessive genes. If so, the atomic testing, Chernobyl, Fukushima, and every day releases from all kinds of nuclear power plants and nuclear waste - could add up to a future with hundreds or thousands of genetic diseases popping up in humans and wild life. You and I will not live to see it.

I hope she is wrong. But it's probably foolish to bet against Dr. Caldicott, with all she knows. Once upon the world stage, there can be a process where a strong honest person can grow bigger than most of us. That is how I think of her.

Personally I don't believe we are coming to an end, but rather a new beginning with a difficult and strange birth.

Life on Earth is in the intensive care unit, Helen Caldicott says. She passes her torch to us, saying we must all become physicians now, caring for life, for everything that lives. Nothing else in life - not the money, the prestige, the highs - nothing else matters more than we accept this role. We may have to sit up through the night with our patient, with no concern for ourselves.

Nobody around here doubts the night will come. I believe life will continue in a new morning.

I'm Alex Smith. Stay tuned next week for more hope and despair, with some great guests on Radio Ecoshock.

Please support Radio Ecoshock with your donations. You can use PayPal or any credit card, at the upper right of this blog. Would you rather donate a smaller amount per month? Subscribe at our web site, on this page.

Thank you for listening - and for caring about your planet!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Deadly Myths of Fukushima

Selections from symposium "The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident" New York March 11-12 by Helen Caldicott Foundation & Physicians for Social Responsibility. It isn't over. Danger to women, children, wildlife. Radio Ecoshock 130320 1 hour.

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


Last week I sent out by podcast a pathetic audio press conference from the New York City symposium. I called it "Poisoned Flag". Two U.S. sailors tell their stories of being soaked with radioactivity aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.

The sailors tell a harrowing tale of being exposed to radiation blowing from Fukushima, over a period of two months, as close as one mile from shore. They were not told of the accident until weeks later, were never properly tested for exposure, received no preventative treatment, and even now get no medical help from the Navy.

Allegedly forced to sign waivers releasing the Navy from any responsibility, the pair are among more than a hundred American sailors suing TEPCO, the Japanese nuclear plant operator.

If you missed that, find it on the Radio Ecoshock web site at Click on "past programs" and you'll see this special news audio available for free mp3 download.

Or download the 28 minute press conference here: "Poisoned Flag" in CD quality or Lo-Fi

This press conferences kinda says it all for the common person. We do not get support from the governments allegedly elected to protect our interests. It's easy to see where we all stand when it comes to the military industrial nuclear complex: in the dark and in the radiation zone.


In this week's Radio Ecoshock show we hear straight from the conference "The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident" held at the New York Academy of Medicine, March 11th and 12th. My thanks to the Helen Caldocott Foundation and Physicians for Social Responsibility for getting out the truth about Fukushima, about the on-going impact of the Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion, and the radiation still with us from atomic testing. We'll hear scientists and activists explode the myths behind the catastrophe of March 11, 2011 at the TEPCO Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear complex.

From speaker Mary Olson, you hear about the unreported higher impact on women, children and babies. We hear a report about disappearing wildlife at Fukushima and Chernobyl from Dr. Timothy Mousseau, Professor of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina. Arnie Gundersen from Fairwindes, David Lochbaum from Union of Concerned Scientists speak out. Plus everything you wanted to know about Cesium, but were afraid to ask, from Dr. Steven Starr, University of Missouri.

That leave me little time to speak. Please listen to the "Deadly Myths of Fukushima".



Akio Matsumura

This is the huge lie politicians and power companies most desperately want you to believe. I present a clip from the Q and A period, from Akio Matsumura, Founder of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders. Who is he? Lets just say Mr. Matsumura meets with world leaders one on one. As he tells us, when he was invited to dinner with the Japanese Prime Minister, the whole cabinet was invited to join them. What did he tell them?

1. Japanese children will be part of giant nuclear experiment for hundreds of years.

2. Nobody knows where the nuclear fuel has gone, or what state it is in.

Government policies are based on wishful thinking, says Matsumura, because "Fukushima has no time". That is, the radioactive threat will last and last, beyond us and our descendents.

Then Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist for the non-profit group "Beyond Nuclear" demolished the "it's over" myth when interviewed by Karl Grossman Chief Investigative Reporter for VVW Hamptons TV. You'll hear some of that interview.

See that whole series of Karl Grossman interviews at the 2nd year anniversary of Fukushima conference in NYC on You tube here.

In just one of a thousand examples that the Fukushima accident is far from over, just listen to Arnie Gundersen of in that morning Q and A session on March 11th at the symposium. That's right, 400 tons a day of groundwater is mixing with the loose hot nuclear fuel. The contaminated water is being pumping into hundreds of temporary holding ponds that are not rated to withstand an earth quake over 6.0. Fukushima gets lots of earth quakes.


David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists

You think so? Think the next nuclear melt-down isn't just waiting for the USA? Here are two quick clips from David Lochbaum, nuclear engineer from the Union of Concerned Scientists, again from that morning Q and A session. He explains the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission can't even enforce the "no-brainers" like putting vents on the aging Mark I reactors (as every other country has done except maybe India).

Or this one: why can't the NRC force the California nuclear reactors to meet the fire codes? They've had about 25 years to comply, and still get granted more time?

Lochbaum says Californians have won the nuclear lottery - they better hope their number doesn't come up like Fukushima.


Mary Olson, NIRS

This is one of the most important lessons of this symposium. A stream of scientists and investigators have found women, girls, and babies are far more sensitive to radiation than the 30 year old healthy male used to set acceptable radiation standards around the world. If you aren't outraged about what you are about to hear, you aren't paying attention.

You get clips from a presentation by Mary Olson, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Southeast. She spoke on "Gender Matters in the Atomic Age".


Dr. Steven Starr

This talk March 11th is titled: "The implications of the massive contamination of Japan with radioactive cesium" by Dr. Steven Starr from the University of Missouri (and Physicians for Social Responsibility).

Here is a bio page on Steven Starr and another one with some of his history against nuclear weapons.

Find out everything you wanted to know about Cesium, but were afraid to ask. Yep, the kids get it first. Europe and Japan are loaded with Cesium from Chernobyl and Fukushima. A nice dusting hit the American West coast in 2011 too. Cesium never goes away, even though the news media stops reporting on it, and the government stops inspecting food.


Dr. Tim Mousseau

Dr. Tim Mousseau, Professor of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina. We hear a ten minute excerpt from his talk "Chernobyl, Fukushima and Other Hot Places, Biological Consequences".

The story that Chernobyl has become a wild Eden after the accident was founded on zero scientific studies. Mousseau and his team did the studies. They found one third fewer birds even 25 years after the Chernobyl accident. Many fewer insects and species of insects. There are so few mammals that the Ukraine had to install a petting zoo, to provide for the Chernobyl tourists who came to see all the famous wildlife (but they don't see any).

Same again in Fukushima, except the spiders there are doing better, now that there are so few birds to eat them. Radioactive "Eden" isn't going so well, and won't for hundreds of years.


Some so-called "experts" in the Ukraine and elsewhere in the nuclear establishment tried to suggest the growing death rates after Chernobly were only due to alcoholism or psychological stress. It's important to find out what happened to the wildlife, who apparently don't smoke or drink. We don't know if birds were psychologically depressed on reading news about the Chernobyl accident, but somehow I doubt it. Mousseau blows up that whole argument, and gets us outside the human-centric paradigm. As Helen Caldicott says, we humans are not the only living things with genes to be damaged by nuclear mistakes.


As mainstream media fails to report on this frightening new science of nuclear accidents, we have to depend on independent producers. In coming shows, Radio Ecoshock will bring you more from the conference. Maria Gilardin of TUC Radio San Francisco will also bring you more, at Another stalwart of nuclear truth telling is Robert Knight, host of 5 o'clock Shadow on WBAI New York.

We'll hear directly from Helen Caldicott speaking at the NYC conference next week on Radio Ecoshock. She promises that a book with the full proceedings will be available in the next 6 months or so. That is very important for the record, as these things get buried so quickly by the pro-nuclear lobby and the mainstream media.

I'm Alex Smith. We are out of time. Join us next week.

Please help pay for this program if you can. Make a donation from our main blog at - or subscribe to the show with easy monthly donations at our web site. Thank you to all those listeners who make Radio Ecoshock possible.

Alex Smith


Radio Ecoshock

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Citizens Lobby with Life on the Brink

Life on the Brink ...approaching the vanishing point for climate hope. As emissions hit new record, Citizens Climate Lobby Exec. Dir. Mark Reynolds teaches people to lobby the government for sane policy, like Hansen's "Tax and Dividend". Philip Cafaro on new book "Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation." Radio Ecoshock 130313 1 hour.


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

Listen to/download the Mark Reynolds interview (27 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Listen to/download the Phil Cafaro inteview (25 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Kiss your old climate good-bye. That's the word from scientists and measuring agencies on all fronts.

John Vidal of the Guardian was among the first to report that measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere at Hawaii's Mauna Loa observatory hit an all-time new high in February 2013 at 396.8 parts per million.

We are pumping out greenhouse gases as ever faster rates. The increase in 2012 was 2.67 parts per million. That is the second highest on record.

As hope for a "safe" climate "fade away", Mark Reynolds of the Citizens Climate Lobby shows how we can overcome the fossil fuel lobby machine. I didn't believe that either, until Mark explained what they do.

Then a fine new book of essays by environmentalists, some well-known, others new, on the untouchable issue: population. The IPCC knows over-population is one of TWO main drivers of climate change. Why do they only talk about fossil fuels? Why does almost every green group duck talking population (and immigration reform)? Not on Radio Ecoshock, where Philip Cafaro talks about "Life on the Brink".



We are pumping out greenhouse gases as ever faster rates. The increase in 2012 was 2.67 parts per million. That is the second highest on record. The highest was in 1998 at 2.93 parts per million when the Indonesian peat fires made that developing country the third largest emitter in the world.

Scientists used to say we were increasing at 2 parts per million annually. Models were based on that. Now it's heading toward three, and increasing incrementally. The head of the gas measurement program at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pieter Tans said the increase is from fossil fuel burning, and our chances of staying below the 2 degree C safe level are "fading away".

Other researchers from Oregon State University, published in the journal Science, quote " during the last 5,000 years, the Earth on average cooled about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit–until the last 100 years, when it warmed about 1.3 degrees F."

Earth is hotter now than it has been for the past eleven thousand years.

So it's on. Should we just cry about it? Probably. But in this program I'll bring you two voices who claim we could still save a livable Earth. They won't give up on the outside chance humanity could turn back toward survival.

Is the fossil fuel lobby too powerful? Start your own lobby. Mark Reynolds tells us how.

Then we'll talk about the unspeakable. Did you know the IPCC admits there are TWO main drivers behind climate change, but only looks at one? Solar power, wind power, carbon capture and storage, nuclear energy, tech, tech, tech, but our guest Philip Cafaro, editor of the new book "Life On the Brink" is ready to face the nasty issues politicians and environmentalists agree should never be mentioned.

Hot Radio for unstable times. I'm Alex Smith. This is Radio Ecoshock.


Mark Reynolds, Executive Director

All the big corporations have lobbyists in Washington. Every Member of Congress has a posse of lobbyists who visit, make donations, or take them on golf vacations in exotic places. And that's not just in America, but in pretty well every country.

When it comes to climate, who lobbies for us? Who will speak for our descendants? Our guest is Mark Reynolds. He's the Executive Director of the non-profit group called the Citizens Climate Lobby.

We find out Citizen's Climate Lobby teaches people how to lobby their political representatives. It's mainly aimed at American legislators, but there is a Canadian chapter as well. This technique could work in any pseudo-Democratic country.

People gather and get a workshop on how lobbying works. It was modelled after the successful "BUILD" lobby blitz, that brought U.S. funding to fight Third World poverty up from practically nothing to many millions of dollars. After the workshop, there are once-a-month conference calls which feature some expert speakers (like Dr. James Hansen of NASA), plus drills in how to get results with elected representatives.

People also learn how to mount an effective campaign of letters to the editor or op-ed writing. Reynolds say politicians really monitor such things. These groups also try to get many different voices on board. Mark suggests someone from the military, or a preacher, may be quite effective when visiting the politician in their home riding. Once a year they do a full blitz on Washington, trying to see every Senator and Congressman about climate change.

Don't just preach to them, says Reynolds. Listen. Find common ground, something you can relate to, before going.

I know my listeners are already asking themselves a lot of hard questions about this. For starters, the people who control the current House of Representatives in America have publicly stated climate change is a hoax, most likely a plot to tax and ruin American freedom. Do climate lobbyists talk to Tea Party denialists?

Indeed they do. The Citizens Climate Lobby has visited climate denier Senator Inhofe from Oklahoma several times. Reynolds has a good story about that in our interview.

What is the Climate Lobby pushing for? Certainly not bogus solutions like carbon trading. They advocate the "Fee and Dividend" approach suggested by James Hansen. People do pay a "tax" on carbon (raising the price of gas for example). But ALL that money is kept away from government. Instead it is paid back to every citizen in a cheque which eases the pain of paying more. I call it bribing people to do the right thing, with their own money.

During the interview, Reynolds mentions "the Pigou club" Find out more on Pigou here, and the club's founder and premise here. Wiki says:

"[Greg] Mankiw has become an influential figure in the Blogosphere and online journalism since launching his blog. The blog, originally designed to assist his Ec10 students, has gained a readership that extends far beyond students of introductory economics. In particular, he has used it as a platform to advocate the implementation of pigovian taxes such as a revenue-neutral carbon tax; to this end Mankiw founded the informal Pigou Club."

Here is an op-ed by Mark Reynolds, explaining how Republicans could support this climate action plan.

I'm so disgusted with politics, I woulnd't believe this lobby idea could work. But Reynolds mostly convinced me this IS a worthwhile effort. Listen to the interview. Check out this workshop with Mark Reynolds on You tube. Then visit


Philip Cafaro, Colorado State University

The melting Arctic, that's far enough away. Electric cars or solar cities, that's far enough away too. But talk about fewer babies, those lovable babies, or stopping immigration, and maybe state control of family size - those are bombs that stimulate a kind of self-censorship even greens go along with. Start talking about population control, and even the best listeners start reaching to change stations.

When I add that our guest Philip Cafaro specializes in "ethics", that doesn't help. Ethics is hardly the hot buzzword of the day on TV or social media.

So Philip, we have about thirty seconds to convince our great Radio Ecoshock listeners they need to hear this conversation. Why drag up population, immigration, and birth control, just when we're finally getting the public on board with the reality of climate change?

Personally, I think there is a deep and embedded form of self-censorship at work here. I didn't really look foward to doing this program. The whole issue makes me uncomfortable and unpopular, and that's the point. Stopping climate catastrophe is not all happy thoughts and popularity.

Philip teaches philosophy in Fort Collins, at Colorado State University. He's the co-editor of a new collection of essays called "Life on the Brink, Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation." The contributors are real green leaders, some of them already guests on Radio Ecoshock, like Albert Bartlett, Lester Brown, and Paul Ehrlich. In the book, we hear from the academics, but from activists too, like Dave Foreman of Earth First!, and Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Society.

We start with the contentious issue of immigration. In the United States, new polls show millions of Latinos are concerned about climate change. Now this book seems to be saying we should stop immigration. This is a hot issue not just in the U.S., but in Australia, Canada, the UK, and most developed countries in Europe. Why oh why, would environmentalists get involved in immigration debates? After all, the immigration debate nearly wrecked the Sierra Club of California at one point.

The trouble is: population growth is real and relentless. We can duck it, and the millions more keep coming every month. Earth hit 7 billion humans in 2012, and will be at 8 billion before 2024. The stats are real and undeniable.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there are TWO major causes of climate change. One is fossil fuel burning, agriculture and deforestation. The other, though they never talk more about it, is population. Pure and simple.

Phil Cafaro, co-editor of the new book "Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation" pulls no punches. It's now or never to stop humans from over-running the last of the planet, last stop before die-off.

We could do something about it. It's not quite time to give up. Anyway, giving up is not an option.

Our guest Philip Cafaro is also the president of the International Society for Environmental Ethics, and president of the board of directors of Progressives for Immigration Reform.

The other editor of "Life on the Brink" is Eileen Crist, from Virginia Tech, known for her book "Gaia in Turmoil." The book is published by University of Georgia Press.


As always, please support your local non-profit radio station. One of the best since 1960, WBAI New York is in emergency fund raising mode, to keep their famous transmitter atop the Empire State Building. The station has not yet recovered from being flooded out by Hurricane Sandy. In fact, every non-profit and community radio station needs your help right now. Take nothing for granted. If you love freedom of the airwaves, without corporate control, please get online, or on the phone and put your money where your ears are, to support your local radio station.

A huge thank you to Radio Ecoshock supporters who keep this program on the air.

Rebecca in Australia, your generous donation gave me renewed determination to keep pumping out the awful truth.

I can't thank everyone personally, but listeners around the world make this show possible. I am grateful for donations coming in through our web site and blog. Help yourself to our big library of free mp3 audio downloads at Your support has made more than a million downloads of Radio Ecoshock program happen over the years.


Coming up on Radio Ecoshock: the new wave of low-energy homes, and new waves of rising seas - is it still safe to live near the Coast? Plus a suRprise guest who always puts Earth first.

We'll have to squeeze that in with some powerful talks from the conference in New York City organized by the Helen Caldicott Foundation and Physicians for Social Responsibility on March 11th, 2013, two years after the triple melt down in Japan.

Expect recordings from the conference "The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident" in upcoming Radio Ecoshock shows.

People who subscribe to our podcast should have received a taste with my special news podcast "Poisoned Flag: US Sailors Nuked by Fukushima". Two U.S. sailors tell their stories of being poisoned with radioactivity aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.

It's a harrowing tale of being exposed to radiation blowing from Fukushima, over a period of two months, as close as one mile from shore. They were not told of the accident until weeks later, were never properly tested for exposure, received no preventative treatment, and even now get no medical help from the Navy. Allegedly forced to sign waivers releasing the Navy from any responsibility, the pair are among more than a hundred American sailors suing TEPCO, the Japanese nuclear plant operator.

If you missed this 28 minute press briefing from New York, download it here in CD Quality, or in Lo-Fi.

Even CBS News covered it. (Caution: this page can be slow to load, and puts you through an ad first, but still, you get to see the Vets talking Fukushima on TV...)

I don't do many between-shows news broadcasts, but if you want to receive them, click on the podcast symbol at our web site, That way you'll be sure to get all our programs, plus the extra podcasts that only go out to subscribers!

At the end of this week's show I squeeze in part of another song from Nimbin Australia. The group is Pagan Love Cult. It's their CSG Song, meaning coal seam gas, also known as fracking methane.

Find some of their music here.

I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for listening.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Poisoned Flag: Testimony of 2 U.S. Sailors Nuked by Fukushima


Two U.S. sailors tell their stories of being poisoned with radioactivity aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.

Quartermasters Maurice Enis, and Jaime Plym, now out of the Navy, speak in New York City, at a press conference organized by the Helen Caldicott Foundation and the Physicians for Social Responsibility on March 11th, 2013, two years after the triple melt down in Japan.

In addition to the sailors, we hear from Jeff Patterson, president of PSR, Helen Caldicott, and Robert Alvarez.

Download mp3 in CD Quality (28 minutes).

Download in Lo-Fi


The sailors tell a harrowing tale of being exposed to radiation blowing from Fukushima, over a period of two months, as close as one mile from shore. They were not told of the accident until weeks later, were never properly tested for exposure, received no preventative treatment, and even now get no medical help from the Navy.

Allegedly forced to sign waivers releasing the Navy from any responsibility, the pair are among more than a hundred American sailors suing TEPCO, the Japanese nuclear plant operator.

Get more details at This recording has been edited to improve sound and remove distractions, by Alex Smith of Radio Ecoshock. Expect more recordings from the conference "The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident" in upcoming Radio Ecoshock shows.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Growing Food Indoors Under Lights

From herbs to food under new high tech, low-energy lighting. Inventor Philip Be'er. We can lower emissions by growing our own. Plus small scale farmer, author & anthropologist Walter Haugen. Song by Australian band Pagan Love Cult. Radio Ecoshock 130306

Part of doing right, is cutting out the big agri-food machine that is killing people, the soil, and the atmosphere. In this week's program, we'll consider a late winter remedy: growing food under lights. Our guest is Philip Be'er. We start with a show and tell experiment right here in the Radio Ecoshock studio. Later I'll pass on tips from my own career under the lights, plus a conversation with small-scale, low-tech farmer, and anthropologist, Walter Haugen.

We begin with a slice from an ode to the beat poet Neil Cassady, from the Australian band Pagan Love Cult. At the end of this show, you'll bet their full song "Everything I Know".

Sun glasses on. Flick the switch. This is radio that grows.


Download/listen to the Radio Ecoshock show "Growing Indoors Under Lights" 1 hour in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)

Download/listen to the conversation between inventor and Home Harvest Farms owner Philip Be'er (34 min) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Download/listen to my interview with low-energy small-scale farmer Walter Haugen (11 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


My opening guest in the studio is Philip Be'er, owner of Home Harvest Farms in Vancouver, Canada. His company makes durable and portable container garden equipment. Philip also teaches sustainability, so we go beyond business, to talk about our general food supply, and why learning to grow your own makes so much sense these days.

The web site is

I ask Philip to describe some of the products he sells, many of which he invented. You see, Philip began as a technical support person on a Kibbutz farm in Israel. As an aside, his farm developed a technique for pasteurizing vegetables (not milk, veggies!) using only hot water. It keeps them alive much longer, but Philip says although the technology is widely used and successful in Israel, it has not emerged in Europe or North America yet. That may be an opportunity for someone.

Be'er has developed stainless steel growing boxes that are deep enough to get good roots. These can be mounted on carts he provides, so you could wheel your plants out when it's sunny and warm enough, and then indoors at night, or during cold weather. Supplement the outdoor light with fluorescent grow lights that use very little energy (see my notes below). I bought the mini model, suitable for a condo table-top garden for kitchen herbs and lettuce.

In another suprising development, Be'er found that many urban gardeners end up having to move their planting area within three years. Perhaps that free lot is being built-over, or the person moves to another part of the city. Rather than losing all the work they put into developing soil, Philip offers portable growing boxes. These can be moved on a pickup truck for example. You could even move your whole growing box, plants and all, to a new location.

The idea of portable gardens has been taken to new extremes in Vancouver, where Sole Foods has several acres of raised boxes temporarily installed on a giant outdoor parking lot near the arena downtown. Sole Foods has hired some of the poor of Vancouver as workers, folks who might not otherwise get a job. The produce is sold to local restaurants, and gets out in other ways. It's been a real winner in Vancouver, and could be applied anywhere. Find it here (warning, this site may be slow to load, but is worth the slight wait.)

You can watch Philip Be'ers new video on You tube "One billion news jobs ... what we are not being told!" right here. And here is his Facebook page.


ALEX'S NOTES ON GROWING INDOORS (with helpful links)

The kitchen grow-box I bought from Philip Be'er. Note the home-built light stand, with the duller flourescent in the background. You can't see much of the brighter new T5 fluorescent - because the reflector is pointing all that light straight down at the plants. You can see the basil and oregano in front, with a new planting of two cilantro plants in the back. These are transplants, just 5 days in the box.

In my mind there is a hierarchy of home agriculture. First and foremost, we do most of our gardening under the sun, as Nature intended it. That's where most of your growing should happen, whether it's on your city lot, or pots on the patio.

Second, we grab the harvest when it's there. Get the book "Putting Food By" to find out how in detail, for every kind of food. Freezing has it's place, especially for the berries, but I still prefer drying food, and canning the rest. That way we don't depend on the grid, or use still more fossil fuels, just to keep our food over the winter. For the root crops, anybody with a yard can build a root cellar, or use a basement to store that harvest plenty, when prices are cheap, and local food abounds.

Only after that, or in unusual circumstances, would I supplement the real solar harvest with food and herbs grown indoor under lights.


It's super legitimate to get seeds and seedlings started early in the spring under a few fluorescent bulbs. Speaking of that, I dragged out my old 24 inch two bulb fluorescent grow lamp from 15 years ago, to compare it to the new model Philip Be'er brought me. There has been a ton of progress in fluorescent grow lamps, mainly due to stimulation from the multi-billion dollar pot industry.

My old fluorescent lamp is big, it has a ballast noisy with a hum, but the main difference is the lack of pure sun-like brightness. The old fluorescents, with 8 watts per bulb, look pale and pasty, compared to the T-5 Sumblaster I got from Philip. That's a single bulb, 24 watts in the 24 inch model. It doesn't hum, is slim and light weight. The T5 comes from a company called "Future Harvest Development" which has a web site here. FHD only sells wholesale, you have to look up your local dealer for their products.

Adding the optional "Nanotech T5 Reflector" forces all the light downward toward the plant. Just eye-balling it, this unit is far brighter, in the spectrums that count, than the old fluorescent grow tubes you may have seen a few years ago. It runs cool too, meaning you can get it closer to the leaves, where it needs to be. One 24 inch light, with an on-off switch, sells for $32 in Canada.

The reflector is another $20. You could make your own out of aluminum foil, but I like the reflector that fits the unit well.

My only beef with the low-end unit I got from Philip at Home Harvest Farms is the wire supports meant to hold up the light aren't reliable. They are just poked into the soil, and when that soil shifts, the light can fall down. I built a light stand using one 2 by 2 and a 1 by 1, both eight feet long, plus 8 screws and one metal "L" bracket. That way I can use cheap chain to raise and lower the lights as the plants start out or grow. Future Harvest also sells a light stand for the T5. It looks better, but I don't think it would extend high enough for the deep trays Philip provided.

My first intention was simply to have some fresh herbs for the kitchen when cooking. In that scenario, you hope the herbs will grow enough that you can pick them without killing the plant. You are NOT trying to get them to flower, and you don't want them to go to seed.

What if I did want to grow some lettuce, and then save the seed? Or even a small bush mini-tomato plant? When the plants were mature enough, I would have to change the light-bulb in the fluorescent. Most plants depend on subtle light signals to fruit or bloom - the kind of redness in the sky that happens later in the season. The normal "vegetative" bulb in my unit is rated at 6400 K. That's "K" stands for Kelvin. It's a standard way of measuring the mix of light waves, known as the color temperature.

Look it up in Wiki.

To stimulate fruit and bloom, I would change to a color temperature of 2700 K. That's more reddy orange. You would have to order that from a local dealer.


LED grow lights are storming into the scene. There's a lot of debate among indoor growers about how well they work, but some swear by them. I haven't tried LED grow lights (yet) but apparently just red and blue lights will grow plants. You can end up with strange science-fiction-like scenes, where plant leaves under lights look rather black, and the whole room looks like a bad acid trip. Remember, plant leaves only look green because that is the frequency they DON'T need, the color they reject. Green lights wouldn't grow anything.

Still... as you can see in the videos below, LED grow lights work, and have several advantages: (1) they run much cooler, reducing the need for a lot fans, ventilation and noise (2) the bulbs are not cheap, but last for years and (3) they use far less electricity (and so produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions). Plus, there is no mercury or heavy metal problem with this lighting system, as there is with CFL's (compact fluorescents).

Good video on growing cucumbers using an LED light You tube

Here is a description of the lights used in this video

Here is a handy article about an operation in the Netherlands using red and blue LED's to grow vegetables indoors

For absolutely weird ferris-wheel growing check out this video

Yep, its the "Volksgarden" (truly "revolutionary") a rotating hydroponic system. Yes, lettuce and tomatoes grow with their roots upside down and moving! It's $2600! From Omega Garden, in Qualicum Beach, British Columbia.

Want to get reallyt technical: this video compares LED light waves to Metal Halides and High Pressure Sodium

But its a sales video - read the comments below too!

Using their lighting type comparison, the LED's use far less power than a standard HID big bulb (say 600 Watts). If run continuously over a year, their 400 Watt LED would use almost $400 less power (at 12 cents a KWH in B.C.) instead of a 600 Watt HID (which issues comparable light).

There are also compact fluorescent grow lights (CFL). Use 2700 Kelvin for flowering. They run very cool, can even be touched by hands. Or just try the 6400 K "daylight" bulbs for vegetative growth, like lettuce or herbs. Note one blog comment: these CFL lamps only emit plant-growing light from the SIDE of the bulb. Hanging them upside down over the plants will deliver very little useful light to the leaves. The CFL bulbs need to be mounted horizonally.


As soon as I set up my little grow box in the studio, I noticed other changes. When you transplant basil, its aroma fills the room for several days, until it settles down. I hope you like basil.

Next the cat showed up. She did not nibble any leaves, these were not on her menu. But kitty likes to lay down in front of the planter, under the fake sunlight, on a dreary day. Sooner or later some unwelcome insects will find my kitchen garden. They always do. I'll have to have some non-toxic insecticidal soap on the ready for the aphids.

Of course having some extra sunlight in the room adds some cheer. I've got the lights on a timer, running 16 hours, with 8 hours of darkness. That has worked well for me in the past, but if you have better info, let me know.

More than a dozen years ago, I did some indoor gardening for about a year. That was therapy really, as I recovered from two operations on my spine. I couldn't get outside, but still wanted to "get my hands dirty" (without growing pot!).

Due to my disability, we had to rent in a poorer part of town. A neighbor pot grower suddenly had to leave his set up, and was selling off grow lights very cheaply. I bought three: two 1,000 watt metal halide lamps (huge growing power!) and one 600 watt lamp. We painted a spare room white and set it up to grow veggies and even a few ornamentals. It was a lot of fun, and good for my health. Therapeutic gardening is a whole other topic - we could spend an hour just on that!

But now I'm looking at vegetative plants, like herbs and salad fixings. I bought some small herbs in tiny pots, already growing, to stock up: two of cilantro (we are Pesto fans here), a basil plant, two oregano, and one thyme. The rest of the planter will go to heirloom lettuce, likely with either very dark or colored leaves, started from seed.

We've already harvested some basil for a home-made pizza - it was really flavorful.

But what if I want more, like the holy grail of indoor gardeners, the tomato. Frankly, tomato plants are over-rated for the watts they consume. Why not plant things like beets, where you can eat the roots and the tops, instead of throwing out most of the plant?

If you want tomatoes, you need more serious lights, in my opinion. A 600 watt bulb would do one plant, or maybe a 330 watt LED light. A thousand watt bulb would grow several large tomato plants. Again, you would have to buy a thousand watt fruiting bulb, at 2700 K, to make it happen.

The electricity expense will never justify the cost of those tomatoes. But you can get fresh heirloom tomatoes when they are ripe, in December or any time. Perhaps if we subtract all the fossil-based fertilizers and insecticides you didn't use, the tractor fuel, and the trucking emissions to bring them north, the carbon cost might even out. If you know anyone who has done these calculations, please write me. The address is radio at

As I said, I wouldn't take on the big lights at all if your electricity comes from coal or nuclear fuel.

Could you grow with solar power? Certainly you could, using these modern high-powered fluorescents. The four foot long bulbs put out 54 watts of power. That's twice as bright, without using a lot of juice. You might still need either wind power, or the grid to back you up after a week of cloudy, rainy weather. Growing plants indoors requires dependeable light, every day. Otherwise the plants can stall, and you lose more than just a day or two of growth. Commercial greenhouses use the lights every day without fail.

It mainly depends on where you live. If you are in a sunny region, I'll be you could be growing, even during the cold times, using a combination of a skylight or greenhouse, supplemented with fluorescent grow lights. Please let me know your experiences.


Before we get to our next guest, Philip Be'er brought up one scary point. The real bottleneck to the new local food movement might be seeds. What if we are too successful? Could the non-GMO seed houses keep up? What if a stock-market crash convinces millions of people to tear up their lawns and plant. Will there be enough seeds?

I posed this question to Chris at The Incredible Seed Company, a Canadian outfit the provides heirloom seeds. Chris doesn't sell so-called "Survival Packs", even though he could make some extra money at it. Instead, he recommend you start planting, anything, anywhere, and buy a book on how to save seeds. You can't save the seeds from things your grow from Home Depot seeds or Walmart. Unless it says "heirloom" and "non-GMO" right on the package, they will be hybrid seeds that won't grow true to the form you expect the next year. Your seed-saving will be wasted.

Chris isn't afraid we'll have a sudden seed shortage. He suggests the big seed companies would just divert seeds from farm sales (where bulk sales profits are low) to individual buyers, where profits are higher. That might be tougher for farmers though, and then we'd all pay later?

Just a note to my Canadian and overseas listeners. Many governments have regulations about what seeds can be imported. Some of the most popular American seed companies (like don't ship to Canada at all. Others must make substantial substitutions when shipping to Canada. Make sure you know what you will get. I don't know about rules for shipping seeds to the UK or Australia - if my listeners there know, please tell us!

I need to do a whole program on seeds, the survival packs, saving your own, and the various societies like Seed Saviours, and the Seedy Saturday events put on by an outfit called "Seeds of Diversity". You can help. Please send me your experiences, your recommendations for products or companies that worked for you. Or guests I should interview about seeds, for Radio Ecoshock. Send all tips to my email box: radio @ With your help, we can do a good program on seeds.


It's fun and helpful to talk with small alternative growers around the country, and around the world.

We're going to pay a short visit to a man I'll call the spread-sheet farmer. His new book is "The Laws of Physics Are On My Side" but he's no physicist, with training in anthropology instead. Walter Haugen is an educated wanderer, and former field worker turned food grower.

As always, I also ask Walter about how we can produce food even when the climate becomes unstable.

Listeners, you can find a new paper published in February 2013 by Tufts University titled "Climate Impacts on Agriculture: A Challenge to Complacency?" It's by Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth A. Stanton. I found that in Walter's blog.

Here is NYT blog article about this paper.

This is where a surprising chapter in Walter's book comes in handy. Walter grows so many different kinds of plants (including nut and fruit trees) that it's hard to keep track of what is actually growing well, when it was planted, how much produce resulted, and all that. So Walter keeps careful track in a common spread sheet.

Haugen learned during his university studies, direct data from the field, carefully noted, is quite important. For example, he weighs his produce every day as harvested, and notes the variety, planting time, and more. His spreadsheet revealed the farm work became more efficient in 2012. What took 2,000 hours of work in 2011 was done in just 1500 hours in 2012.

As Walter says, his book is about one third analysis (including an overview of the history of agriculture) and two thirds "how to" (including really useful tips on a wide variety of specific crops). Haugen spent more than a decade as an itinerant farm worker, helping harvest American crops. Then he went back to University. So he literally offers an educated hands-on perspective that few people have.

Here is the contact info you need to learn more from Walter Haugen. The web site, Walter says, is useful but fairly static. Find out more about his book here. But most of Walter's active writing happens in the Whatcom Country Transition news. Find that here.


Thanks to a listener from Australia, I've discovered Pagan Love Cult, ""The only cult in the world that tries to brainwash its members to think for themselves."

Visit that web site and for a limited time only, hear their inspiring song "You Are Here". We opened the program with a quick clip from their ode to beatnik Neil Cassady. We finish up with a full tune, complete with corporate angst and common folk rising. It's called "Everything I Know". That tune has been stuck in my brain for several days now.

Thanks to all those who donated to Radio Ecoshock this week, from this blog, or from out web site! Please keep it coming, so I can keep the Radio Ecoshock coming your way.

Alex Smith