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.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Climate Catastrophe Past and Future


Washington University's Peter Ward specializes in the 4 past extinctions from global warming. He's appeared on TV, author of 14 books, and warns rising seas will change America forever.

Dr. Morgan Schaller of Rutgers tells us about a sudden heating event 55 million years ago when Earth warmed 9 degrees in 13 years. Could it happen again?

Plus Stephanie Goodwin of Greenpeace on the "Arctic 30" protesters being held for months in a Russian prison, after climbing on an Arctic drilling platform. Why are they charged with "piracy"? Radio Ecoshock 131023 1 hour.

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


It's been another week of trouble on Planet Earth. Multiple cyclones hit Asia, plus tropical storm Wipha dumped so much water on the blown reactors at Fukushima, struggling utility owner TEPCO announced the highest radiation reading on record, 400,000 becquerels per liter near one of their storage tanks. We were told that was all over, everything under control.

Down under in Australia another fire season has hit earlier than ever, following that country's hottest year ever, and hottest September ever recorded. Naturally the new Abbott government is doing all it can - to dismantle every carbon control and climate change law in Australia. Nice work fellas - enjoy your hot new times.


Dr. Peter Ward

Of the five great extinctions, many people know a meteor crashed into Earth killing off the dinosaurs. The other four were caused by global warming - a fact that hasn't penetrated the minds of the public or our legislators.

Dr. Peter Ward is an expert on past climate and mass extinctions. He's an author, reseacher, paleontologist, and professor of Biology and of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington. Among his 14 books, we find recently "Under A Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future"; "The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive?"; and "The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps".

You can download or listen to this 25 minute interview with Peter Ward here in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

I strongly recommend you watch this great Peter Ward video. It from the Brown Bag Lecture Series at Edmunds College in Seattle Washington on Apr. 11, 2013.

For the awful truth about rising seas, watch Peter in this National Geographic special 'Earth Under Water - Worldwide Flooding".

Peter assures us that rising seas, not heat, will be the most devastating impact we will feel under the new changing climate.

Or try this Radio Ecoshock You tube version of my previous 8 minute interview with Peter Ward about rising seas.


What would happen if world temperatures jumped 5 degrees Centigrade, 9 degrees Fahrenheit, in just 13 years? Impossible says mainstream science. But a new paper published this September, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows a rapid wild heating event struck before on this planet, 55 million years ago. Could it happen again?

Our guest Dr. Morgan F. Schaller is from the Wright Labs, at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Along with James Wright, Morgan is co-author of the paper “Evidence for a rapid release of carbon at the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum."

This is a hugely important paper. Joe Romm did an excellent article about it at Think Progress. Please take a look at it.

Listen to or download my interview with Rutgers scientist Morgan Schaller in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


I need to add this note about numbers. In this interview Dr. Schaller uses figures of elemental carbon emissions of all types emitted by humans, and in the atmosphere, rather than carbon dioxide only.

For example, while I was correct estimating the current mass of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 3,000 gigatons, Schaller sees that as 800 gigatons of elemental carbon, which is also correct.

We emit around 30 gigatons of carbon dioxide a year, but scientists consider this as the elemental mass of about 8 gigatons. There is no conflict in these numbers, but a different language and perspective.

I was confused, because Schaller says (7:50) we are releasing carbon into atmosphere at about 8 GT a year. But this article, apparently sourcing Alan Robuck, says we are releasing 30 GT a year.

That is based on this table from the EIA, the U.S. government Energy Information Administration, with a country by country total.

North America alone emits about 8 GT a year from energy consumption.

But remember, this is a case of apples and oranges. Morgan Schaller is not calculating the total mass of carbon dioxide, but just the carbon (in various forms) in the atmosphere. For me, it was another learning moment, as we attempt to translate deep science into the public domain.

You can find good graphics on the amounts of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere here.


We finish with an up-to-date issue: about a month ago, the Russians seized the Greenpeace ice-breaker "Arctic Sun Rise" - plus all of it's crew and journalists on board. They are being held in a jail for months, while prosecutors try to work up a case of "piracy". Piracy!

In reality, a few climbers tried to mount a Russian Gasprom oil rig, one of the first to drill in the Arctic for oil. Of course drilling there is very dangerous. An oil spill could last years, even decades, in the cold Arctic environment. The microbes that helped eat up some of the spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, after the BP Deep Water Horizon disaster, do not thrive in cold Arctic waters and ice.

But the real kicker is nobody would be drilling in the Arctic if the oil companies had not aleady triggered so much global warming that the Arctic Ocean experience record sea ice melt-back. Now they want to create even more global warming to finish the job?

Listen to or download my interview with Stephanie Goodwin, BC director for Greenpeace Canada in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Greenpeace isn't against the Russian government, or any government. They just want to protect the Arctic, and our children. Putting a few protest ropes on a giant oil derrick is hardly "piracy". The Russians have way over-reacted. Even President Vladimir Putin commented he thought piracy charges were not appropriate.

The Executive Director of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, grew up with resistance to Apartheid in South Africa. He bravely offered to go live in Russia, as a guarantee the protesters and crew would return for trial. That offer was not accepted.

Even a couple of journalists were dragged in to jail, and languish there. If an American citizen was taken in Iran, we'd hear about it forever. What about the American, and people of conscience of all nationalities taken from the Greenpeace ship, in international waters, and held for months?

Finally Hilary Clinton's office called for their release. The Dutch government has protested, and asked for the ship's release - but then a Dutch representative was strangely beaten up in Russia. It's a tough dirty game out there.

You can help free the Arctic 30 by going to Greenpeace.org, selecting your country, and following the suggestions there, asking for their release.

Here is a rare photo of Alex Smith, on the bridge of the Rainbow Warrior III in Vancouver in October.

Too bad my eyes were not open! But trust me, I'm not asleep at the wheel.

The Warrior III is a custom-built ship which can use sails instead of oil to cross the Pacific. It's a fast unique design, with a new type of mast, that any sailor would envy.

While the Warrior was in Vancouver, it launched an action against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline from the Tar Sands to the Port of Vancouver. Hundreds of tankers would to through the port, carrying diluted bitmumen. Unlike oil, "dilbit" sinks to the bottom as a gooey mess. What will they do to clean up the inevitable spill? Dam up the First Narrows and drain the whole port, to scrub the bottom?

One of the world's most gorgeous cities is under threat from the Tar Sands. But then, all cities are threatened by the Tar Sands, as our first speaker Peter Ward explained.


A small group of donors and members keep me going with Radio Ecoshock. We need a few more monthly members. Please join us, here at ecoshock.org.

While you are at the site, feel free to download a ton of free mp3's. Pass them out far and wide.

Background music for this program was provided from album "Deafmix" by Shane Philips from Vancouver Island. Thank you Shane. Check him out on You tube. Shane is a one-man band beyond belief.

We are out of time. Thank you for listening.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I Have A Confession To Make

Emerging threats analyst and author Robert Marston Fanney on new frontiers of climate change. Dr. Alex Rogers of Oxford: State of the Oceans 2013. Radio Ecoshock 131016 1 hour.

Illustration by Marek Okon for Luthiel's Song by Robert Marston Fanney.

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


Yes, we are in trouble. Last week, in this interview with Nicole Foss, we peered into the impending crash of the economy. It may dance on for a while using funny money from the Federal Reserve and other central banks. But fall it will.

A mere Depression would be good news, if the climate could stay the same for humans and all creatures. But even during hard times, we'll keep on dragging more and more dirty fossil fuels out of the ground. It's a burning party, maybe a funeral pyre.

Coming up we'll talk it all through with emerging threats analyst and author Robert Marston Fanney. You'll also hear an interview with a top marine biologist from the UK. Alex Rogers is the co-lead author of the new State of the Oceans 2013 report.

Alex reminds us that global warming is more a story of the oceans than our experiences of floods, fires, and storms on land. Most of our excess carbon is going into the sea, changing its chemistry, temperature, and the basis of the food chain. The ocean is where it's happening, and the ocean is a news nowhere land where reporters don't go, and humans don't care.

Going through the emerging science, I'm also alarmed to discover big changes in Antarctica can reshape our world. Climate change is like the many-headed Hydra. We think we know it, but we don't. The Earth is re-arranging in all the places humans don't look: at sea, at the poles, deep in the melting permafrost, and in the farthest forests and mountain tops.

In our opening show this Fall of 2013, climate scientist Paul Beckwith suggested warming could come very suddenly, even in a decade or two. A new paper by Morgan Schaller and James Wright of Rutgers finds, as Joe Romm writes, "When CO2 Levels Doubled 55 Million Years Ago, Earth May Have Warmed 9°F In 13 Years". It's a shocking example of what could happen.

The helpful Rutgers press piece on this study is here.

Business and political leaders have already announced they expect, or will tolerate a doubling of CO2 levels from the pre-industrial level of 270 parts per million to over 600 parts per million. We are already on our way, touching 400 parts per million this year, and adding more carbon faster every year, as the fossil fuel party expands around the world.

Canada, Australia, the UK, Europe, Brazil, and every country who can is promising to develop more fossil fuel resources. We are investing billions, possibly trillions, into more mega-coal mines, more fracked gas and Liquid Natural Gas plants, bigger tar sands and shale oil projects. Humans seem intent on fossil suicide.

Next week we'll talk with Morgan Schaller to find out what can happen in a mere 13 years on this fragile planet.


Look at it another way. Another paper released this week says that by 2047 the coldest years will be hotter than the warmest years of the last two decades. We've already set new temperature records, and those will be the old years we look back on.

This paper was published in the Journal "Nature", by a team of post-grads at the University of Hawaii, led by Dr. Camilo Mora.

In an article by Justin Gillis of the New York Times, Dr. Mora says: quote

Go back in your life to think about the hottest, most traumatic event you have experienced.” “What we’re saying is that very soon, that event is going to become the norm.

Do it. Remember the heat wave you prayed would end. The day the sun seemed to be the enemy. You waited impatiently for the cooler darkness. That's the new day in 2047. Just 34 years from now. How old will you be then? How about your kids or grand-kids?

Other scientists suggest a concerted effort to kick the fossil fuel habit, going with reduced energy from renewable resources, could delay that heating by at least 25 years. That's more precious time for humans to move away from the rising seas on the coast, to re-think the whole food supply system, to work out ways to survive the coming heat. We must at least give our children that time.


That climate hydra pops out of this new paper again. I thought, and many scientists have suggested, that climate change would be less stressful around the equator. Most models suggest the extra heating will be the most extreme in temperate areas, and even more closer to the Poles. Certainly that's where we see the big news stories, about storms and fires in North America, Europe and Russia. Plus those crazy heat waves developing around the Arctic.

Dr. Mora says it only takes a small change in the tropics to create major damage. Why? Because the plants and animals there developed into a stable climate that doesn't change much during the year. Even a degree or two, combined with some changes in ocean or atmospheric currents, could bring down the rainforests, wreck the coral reefs, and cause mass extinctions of species. Tropical plants and animals are less able to adapt.

We simply haven't thought it through. Our unintentional geoengineering of the Earth has created a maze of cascading changes beyond our imagination. We are heading to a different world, if we survive to see it.

I'm asking for your help. I'm asking you to use every engine of communication, and every link to all the people you know, to raise the alarm. Join with me in this pledge I make for Radio Ecoshock: say it. We will speak the truth about what we are doing.

Our political and corporate leadership is bankrupt and dangerous. They don't know what they are doing, or their short-term gain seems worth risking the whole future. We let them, because we are comfortable and most of us too well fed. Geared to hunt and migrate as a species, now we have super powers to travel and kill. All of us have a thousand energy slaves to serve us delicacies every day. We're addicted to fossil fuels.

I don't know what twelve-step program can break us out of this master complex. I don't know if we will survive the fossil trap. But we have to try.

Nobody want to hear this. Your friends and family don't. But honestly, when we add up the science and our experiences in the real world, when we look the unstable weather in the face, there is no choice but to speak up.

Forget the envy of a better car or truck. Forget chasing paper wealth. Look at the young innocents and the other un-knowing species, the other passengers on this planet. Even in small steps, whatever changes we can make in our own lives matters most. Whatever sign we can make, whatever we can do, matters now.

Become a climate activist. Start with this interview with Robert Marston Fanney.


Download/listen to this Robert Fanney 34 minute interview in CD Quality (31 MB) or Lo-Fi (8 MB)

We begin with Robert Marston Fanney reading from the introduction to his new book "Growth Shock, Tragedy and Hope at the Limits of a Finite World".

"I have a confession to make. One that is not easy to vocalize. One that is equally difficult to listen to. My confession is not one of a personal nature. I am not revealing my own, petty, individual sins. Instead, I’m making a confession for us all. A revelation of the ongoing and maturing tragedy of our race. One we will each need to be made aware of soon if we are to effectively act. For the age of excess is rapidly coming to a close and we are now entering a difficult and hard to manage age of consequences.

My confession is simply this: we are in trouble...

We'll get to the book, but that isn't why I called Robert. He captured my undivided attention with his searing analysis into large-scale patterns of climate change, based on real-time events happening around the world, right now. That's in his blog called "robertscribbler" at wordpress.com.

There it is, the scientific maps and satellite shots of extreme weather events and danger, brought together in ways we can all understand. Then Robert tops it off with analysis that I think raises whole new questions about our future together.

Maybe that's Fanney's previous training as an intelligence analyst, and years gathering scientific and technical assessments, as Editor for Jane's Information Group's emerging threats books, magazines, and electronic publications.

But there's another side to Robert Fanney that helps him imagine the future. He's the author of the science fiction series Luthiel's Song, which attracted a cult following, including many artists. You heard a few snippets written for the book "Luthiel's Song: Dreams of the Ringed Vale" by multi-media artist Ethan Jackson.

Details on composer Ethan Jackson here.


We humans have always believed the sea is so vast we can't seriously damage it. A new report warns this isn't so. It's called "The State of the Ocean 2013: Perils, Prognoses and Proposals". We've reached one of the lead authors, Professor Alex Rogers of Somerville College, Oxford, and Scientific Director of IPSO, The International Programme on the State of the Ocean.

The informative press release about this State of the Ocean is here. It contains a fast summary of the gravest concerns.

Copies of the report can be found here.

The United Nations' latest climate report concludes most of our carbon pollution is falling into, and damaging, the oceans rather than the land.

Download/listen to my 16 minute interview with Alex Rogers in CD Quality (14 MB) or Lo-Fi (4 MB)


That's it this week for radio activism. Download our past programs and help the cause at our web site, ecoshock.org. Next week, the climate scientists speak freely.

Our opening music was DANCE Live at the Labyrinth at Shambhala Music Festival 2011. That closes the show as well.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Carry On Through the Crash

Economy and energy blogger Nicole Foss from The Automatic Earth; J.B. MacKinnon co-author of the 100-Mile diet: what nature was, is now, and will be. South Dakota youth organizer Jenna Grey Eagle looks for a Power Shift.

Are you checking Google News or the stock market to see if the economy has crashed yet? Even the mainstream talking heads and investment managers say it's hasn't felt this ominous since the Titanic.

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


But first... It's time for the Fukushima Funnies!

It's a barrel of laughs at Fukushima Japan, the site of the world's first triple nuclear melt-down. The lost reactor cores were already flooded with runaway groundwater. Now the whole place is drowning as a series of tropical typhoons wash over Japan. According to the Japanese weather Fukushima weather station, they got 6.9 inches of rain in September, with lots more developing in October.

After the leak of 400 tons of highly radioactive water in August, on Tuesday October 1st the operator TEPCO admitted four tons of contaminated rainwater spilled out during a transfer between holding tanks.

The same day, a Japanese fast food company Yoshinoya Holdings announced they would grow vegetables only 60 miles from the leaky nuclear plant, smack-dab in the middle of countryside doused with Cesium and Strontium from the exploding reactor buildings and fuel pool fires. That land will be radioactive for hundreds of years. Mmm, tasty food, and it's already hot!

The very next day, Wednesday, more water spilled out of make-shift storage tanks with rad readings up to 200,000 becquerels per liter. That's about 6700 times higher than the legal limit, which is 30 becquerels. The underpaid workers, likely hired because they owed money to Japanese mobsters - true story! - they didn't notice the latest leak for 12 hours because, quote... "it was raining!"

No worries. With highly radioactive water pouring into our Pacific Ocean, TEPCO had a high-tech solution: they dumped some sand bags into the drain.

The contaminated water tanks are already 98% full. It's typhoon season. Each typhoon adds another 1400 tonnes more water.

No worries. Bloomberg news quotes Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at a press conference, saying of Fukushima, "Overall, we believe things are under control".


You've seen the numbers. Over 48 million Americans on food stamps. One in three Italians lives with their parents. Austerity in the UK fails to halt growing debt. Canadians run up record debt. Hidden behind government figures, unemployment is going up in many developed countries.

How long can our economic system last? That's the big question - and Nicole M. Foss has been travelling in Europe, North America, and Australia to warn us. She was previously editor at the Oil Drum Canada, and a Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. Nicole holds degrees in biology and law, and she blogs as "Stoneleigh" at one of the world's top financial blogs, "The Automatic Earth".

Listen to/download this Radio Ecoshock interview with Nicole Foss (25 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

We talk about Nicole's recent tour of Australia and New Zealand. She's spent a few months there giving talks over the past couple of years. Then we do a quick peek at the economy of the Netherlands (in trouble), the UK (drowining in debt) and Canada (drowning in debt and in a surreal real estate bubble).

But Foss recently wrote up the experience of Detroit. She says that's the "poster-boy" for a lot of coming municipal bankruptcies, as Merideth Whitney famously predicted. Watch that on this 2010 video from CBC News.

Whitney may have been early in her call, but not wrong, says Foss. Nicole has written this detailed case study of Detroit as a model of the future. Don't miss it.

Even though climate change is arriving earlier than we thought, and dragging billions of dollars in losses out of the productive economy - Nicole Foss is certain an economic crash will come much sooner. That's the big one to watch, she says. Prepare now.


On November 25th, 2010 at the Museum of Vancouver, I recorded this public presentation by Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon. It was five years after their book that became a social movement, "The 100-Mile Diet".

My transcript notes for this talk are here.

I wondered what independent journalist and author J.B. MacKinnon was up to in 2013. Wonder no more. Through the magic of the mail slot came a symbol of the ancient world of knowledge, a paper-based book called "The Once and Future World".

Listen to/download this Radio Ecoshock interview with J.B. MacKinnon in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Here is a good book review and sneak preview of the new book at Harper's Magazine.

One of the most interesting aspects of this fabulously well-written book: MacKinnon drills down into the ways humans deny what we have done. He takes the examples of animals hunted to extinction in the past couple of centuries. We've denied creatures like the Dodo bird ever existed. Or explain to ourselves the once plentiful Sea Auks on the East Coast were simply "too stupid to survive". There are all kinds of memory tricks we play - and all of them could apply just as well to denial of our role in climate change.

We get an update on the way the 100-Mile Diet has changed the way the world operates. MacKinnon is happy this shows change is possible, but he also worries some people have made it into a kind of green snobbery, a way of become a "status consumer".

Read James MacKinnon's blog at jbmackinnon.com.


We often hear the original inhabitants of the Americas were more in tune with nature. Considering they flourished and did not damage the natural world, I think it's true.

So I am especially pleased to reach Jenna Grey Eagle. She grew up near the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, as a member of the Ogala Lakota people. Jenna has been working with youth, and is planning a delegation to the Power Shift conference in Pittsburg, starting October 18th.

Listen to/download this Radio Ecoshock interview with Jenna Grey Eagle (10 minutes)

We really need younger people to step up now, even though they didn't start the fire of climate change. We talk about what young Lakota people saying and doing about this issue.

Jenna writes passionately about the burdens carried by so many First Nations people. It is hard to get past the stereotypes, even among other climate activists.

We also discuss the blight of "man camps" - the male-only camps springing up all around the oil and gas industry in the United States and Canada. Separated from their families, working crazy hours for big money, these camps can be a real threat for residents nearby, who are often aboriginal people.

These days, Jenna is working for the Energy Action Coalition. Check out their web site for sure.

To get a different perspective on this "energy boom" - Jenna Grey Eagle recommends these sites:

Honor the Earth (featuring the work of long-time aboriginal activist Winona LaDuke)

...and Moccasins on the Ground: Activist Training for Sacred Water/Mother Earth Protectors.


Next week on Radio Ecoshock we'll get back to the story of the millenia, human-induced climate change. I've got a global emerging threats analyst Robert Marston Fanney lined up. Plus guest scientist Alex Rogers on the State of the Ocean 2013.

Thank you for all your tips - talk to me. The email address is radio @ ecoshock.org - or use the contact form on our web site, ecoshock.org I like to hear what is happening in your area, and your country.

My special thanks for those who contribute regularly, through our monthly membership. Join the program at our web site, and keep it call coming.

From the boundary, I'm Alex Smith, for Radio Ecoshock.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Power Down or Power Shift?

Did fracking kill off Peak Oil? Or just the world's hope of alternative energy? Coming up, energy guru Richard heinberg on his new book "Snake oil, How Fracking's False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future."

But if conventional society can't power down, maybe we need a Powershift. Two budding youth activists heading for the October Powershift meet-up in Pittsburg tell it like it is. Later we'll hear Howard University Senior Brian Menifee, but Radio Ecoshock starts right now with this moving story from West Virginia. I'm Alex Smith.

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


Adam Hall was born into West Virginia, near the coal mining operations. His father worked a lifetime for a subsidiary of Peabody Coal. That company was sold, renaming itself "Patriot" - and doomed to failure. The workers lost their pensions, Adam says, including his father.

Adam also mourns the loss of the mountains he grew up with. Many have been blasted away and levelled in "mountain-top-removal" mining for coal. Natural water systems were filled with rubble, and drinking water for many residents was ruined (with no compensation).

All this took Adam Hall, a veteran who rebelled against the military, to the steps of Peabody Coal headquarters. His weapon was a bull-horn.

It's a powerful sad story about the true cost of coal, and true grit to fight it.

In our interview Adam Hall recommended about Iheartmountains dot org. He meant Ilovemountains.org.

Find out more about Adam's inspiration, long-time mountain protector Larry Gibson at www.mountainkeeper.org.

If you want to become a coal activist, Adam says this is a good place to start: RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountain Peoples' Survival) is where you can get your action on. That's rampscampaign.org.

Download/listen to Adam Hall's story in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Richard Heinberg

We've all been told hydraulic fracturing - fracking - will make the United States into the new Saudi Arabia. The UK, Poland, China and probably everywhere else, will get new energy riches too. Already, American oil and gas production have increased for the first time in decades. Has fracking proved the Peak Oil theorists wrong?

Here to help us is one of the best known writers on energy depletion. In 2003, Richard Heinberg published one of the first big books on the subject: " The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies". He's been publishing the popular "Museletter" since 1992. Now Richard Heinberg returns to Radio Ecoshock with his answer to fracking, the new book "Snake Oil, How Fracking's False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future". Read the introduction to the book here.

Listen to/download Richard Heinberg on Radio Ecoshock (26 min)in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

A lot of this new book by Heinberg is about the economic illusion behind the fracking bandwagon. Beyond the energy companies large and small, who is making big money from the fracking boom? Mainly Wall Street Investment Bankers. They can make money betting on both the success and failures of fracking companies.

Some of the gas frackers are actually losing money, with the high cost of drilling a fracking well (up to $10 million for one well) and the low price for natural gas.

Of course all the companies are on what energy specialist David Hughes calls "the treadmill to Hell." The fracked wells stop producing commercial quantities very fast, in as little as a couple of years. So thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of new fracking wells must be drilled just to keep up production.

Heinberg says much of his book explains a study done for the Post Carbon Institute (where Heinberg is a Senior Fellow) by the Canadian oil geologist David Hughes. That big report, based on industry drilling info on 60,000 fracked wells - is called "Drill Baby Drill". Find it here.

I wish more people would talk about the sinful idiocy of pushing tons of man-made toxic chemicals into the deep ground ecology. There is life down there, plus important networks of water. Haven't humans just found a new way to expand our sphere of pollution?

Will those million old wells leak, or create unwanted pathways for underground change?

Richard Heinberg is the long-time author of the online journal "The Museletter", he's been the voice of the Peak Oil movement with books like "The Party's over" and "Peak Everything". We've been talking about his latest of ten books, "Snake Oil, How Fracking's False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future". It's a good read, packed with facts we all ought to know.

Find more of Richard's work at The Post Carbon Institute public web site - resilience.org

Learn more about Heinberg's books at richardheinberg.com

You can go to our web site at ecoshock.org and search "Heinberg" to find more than a half dozen speeches and interviews by Richard.


We wrap up this Radio Ecoshock with another voice the mainstream media misses - another young eco-justice activist headed to this year's Powershift in Pittsburg Pennsylvania, October 18th to 21st. Get the details at wearepowershift.org

We find Brian Menifee already a leader in Washington DC as a Howard University senior. When Brian talks about the environment, he always talks about justice too.

Take it from me Brian, once your become a trouble-maker at a young age, it never leaves you. You will never accept bad things going on. You will always be looking for justice. Are you ready? Brian Menifee says he is. Check it out - it's radio you won't get anywhere else.

Download/listen to Brian Menifee (14 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


We need a chance to vote about climate action - that never happens. And every human alive and breathing should get that vote. Give us all a vote on what we really want. Doesn't that need to happen?

Why do we always have to vote for the least-worst candidate, on a basket of issues. If humankind's existence is at stake, let's vote on what we want done to save the climate. Directly.

Join us next week for more Radio Ecoshock - in our first broadcast from the mountains.


All our music this week is from the new album "Rock Beats Paper" by Earthrise SoundSystem from Black Swan Sounds.

Song Clip 1: "Rock Beats Paper" featuring Kevin Mambo, released September 25 on Blackswansounds.com

Song Clip 2: "Let's Get Together" (featuring Srikala and C.C. White)


If you know a station that should be carrying Radio Ecoshock, write me. The address is radio at ecoshock dot org. Download all our past programs as free mp3s at our web site, ecoshock.org.

To help keep this program going, please consider a monthly membership. Check out this page for details.

I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for your support, and a special thanks for caring about your world.