Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Desperately Seeking Solutions

This is a Radio Ecoshock replay, from October 30th, 2013. I've picked some of my best shows, so if you haven't heard it, check it out please.

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

Or you can listen to it right now (or download) here on Soundcloud.


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.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


The cultural taboo against talking about global warming - George Marshall. Report on world fires and global smoke July 2014. Review of movie "Snowpiercer" by Gerri Williams. New song: Time of Trials by Alex Smith.

In just a few minutes, we're going to talk about the unspeakable. Why do humans shy away from talking about climate change. In the work place, at family dinners, all around, we instinctively sense the unfolding tragedy of global warming isn't a welcome topic of conversation.

Lifetime environmental activist and human rights campaigner George Marshall will join us from Wales in the UK. His new book is titled "Don't Even Think About It - Why Our Brains Are Wired To Ignore Climate Change." That's going to be a fascinating ride, from the Texas Tea Party to why we lie to ourselves. Don't miss it.

But first, I know Radio Ecoshock is one place we CAN talk about climate change. There is huge news coming from fires in the United States, Canada, and Russia. Fires so many and so large this spring and summer of 2014 may be the largest fire season ever. They create their own local weather systems, and have rapidly become a chain-reaction of carbon that could trigger changes to world weather we've barely imagined.

Listen to/download this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Or listen/download right now on Soundcloud


Right about now, in the middle of July 2014, much of the Northern Hemisphere is covered with a blanket of smoke. It's smoky in the valley outside my door, from the forest fires in British Columbia and Eastern Washington State. The runaway fire in Washington is the largest ever in that State's history. We are rapidly approaching the age of superfires, where humans have no hope of controlling them.

There's been a smoke haze over Edmonton and western Canada from all the fires further north. In fact, those smoke particles have blown 5,000 miles further east, reaching the Great Lakes and cities like Toronto.

It's not just Canada. Over at the Weather Underground, Jeff Masters and his crew have posted a video showing a blackened haze pouring from numerous fires in hot, drought-striken western states all the way to the Great lakes, into Ohio. According to a NASA map released July 18th, the smoke has even reached Maryland, West Virginia, and Tennessee. All this is a danger to people's health, especially to the millions of new cases of asthma springing up across America, and around the world.

Last week there was even a thick black arm of smoke running up to the Arctic, to Hudson's Bay and Baffin Island. It's starting to reach Greenland.

That isn't the worst of it. More gigantic fires are racing uncontrolled across the Canadian Tundra in the Yukon. These are beasts that reach from the tree tops to the deep peat below the soil surface. These are the most powerful fires seen in decades in the North. The smoke clouds look like volcanoes have erupted. Thirty one new fires popped up a single day, with at least 2500 fires this year, and almost 3 million acres burned so far. Canadian authorities report the area burning is six times greater than the 25 year average.

The dean of Canadian wildfire experts is Dr. Mike Flannigan, a professor of Wildland Fire in the University of Alberta’s renewable resources department. I've recorded and played you his talk at the American Academy for the Advancement of Science conference in Vancouver in 2012, and broadcast it April 18th of that year. I've interviewed him directly for this program. Then, and now to the media, he emphasizes, quote:

What we are seeing in the Northwest Territories this year is an indicator of what to expect with climate change.” “Expect more fires, larger fires, more intense fires.

Some of those fires are so hot they sterilize the ground. In some places, Flannigan says, the slow-growing Boreal forest may not return, especially after multiple burns.

In just a minute, I'm going to explain why this growing trend to a burning sub-Arctic, and especially this year, is a danger to us all, wherever you live on the planet.

But first, let's escape the North American news lens to get the other part of this story. Siberia is burning, again.

The year 2012 was a terror for forest fires in the Russian sub-Arctic. The Russian authorities admit 548 wildfires that year, with a loss of 22,500 hectares, over 50,000 acres. The reality may have been much greater.

As of July 10th, 2014, the Itar-Tass news agency reports 13,500 hectares burned. It's so dangerous, local authorities in Siberia have banned residents, or anyone, from going into the woods. NASA reported the Siberian smoke had curled round the world to reach the west coast of America.

According to the Moscow Times, on July 18th, the size of fires in the Buryatia region doubled overnight. The Siberian Irkutsk region already declared a state of emergency in May as fires raged there.

Once again, the particles from these fires will rotate around the upper northern hemisphere, around the world.

So let's review some basic facts. Due to our carbon emissions, and increasing methane emissions in the Arctic, heating in the polar and sub-polar regions is the fastest on Earth. It was tens of degrees warmer in Alaska last winter, and tens of degrees warmer than the average around 1950, for the whole Canadian sub-Arctic, and for much of Siberia. The Yukon has seen temperatures you might expect in a Colorado summer. Like the American West, it's been abnormally dry in the Canadian north-west, as the slower Jet Stream seems to freeze into a constant weather blocking pattern.

Being the Arctic, there are collisions with colder air masses, and from that, lots of thunder storms. Lightening sets the tinder below ablaze.

As Mike Flannigan told us on Radio Ecoshock, the thinner sub-Arctic soils dry out amazingly quickly. Just three days after a rain-storm, the soils can be tinder dry, in hot weather. And they are getting plenty of hot weather.

Read more about it here, or download the 13 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Mike Flannigan here.

There are so many reasons why these fires are really a global climate emergency. You know Boreal forests were carbon sinks, soaking up a lot of our excess carbon, and storing that CO2 in the woody fibre of the trees. But when they burn like this, boreal forests reverse that process, releasing CO2, loading the atmosphere. Add methane coming from both melting permafrost on land, and shallow sea beds in the Arctic Sea, and we get localized warming. That's the positive feed-back effect - the way the Arctic climate is spiralling out of control into warming never known during the time of humans on this planet.

That extra heat melts more sea ice, which exposes more dark ocean to the summer sun's 24 hour rays, making the ocean hotter, eating away at the edges of glaciers, speeding up ice loss. And so it goes.


There is another even more serious threat here. Some scientists have reported that up to half of all melting of glaciers and snow in places like Greenland, comes from the deposition of black particles, falling out of the atmosphere. Some of that is just our urban pollution wafting north, captured by the winds circling toward the cooler poles. They call it "dark snow". The darker color, even if just a shade of gray, attracts much more heat from the sun than a pure white snow. This soot, from all sources (fires, ships, cities) is causing significant ice melt, and then rising seas. Other science indicates up to 18% of all global warming comes from soot and other air pollution.

The same effect has been measured by scientists in the Rocky Mountains. Black particles, mostly from Asian coal burning, turn snow a grayer color, resulting in earlier spring melts, a longer fire season, and more forest fires in North America. Carbon soot bounces around the world, creating more warming, creating more carbon soot...

With that extra heat in the Arctic, more ice melts, which will speed up sea level rise around the world. You may be on a low-lying delta in Bangladesh or coastal Australia, and get the extra sea rising due to these far-away sub-polar fires.

Underlying much of this, says one of my favorite bloggers Robert Scribbler, is the change in the Polar Jet Stream.

Read this from Robert's blog posted July 17, 2014:

"Potential Amplifying Feedbacks in Context

During recent years, scientists have been concerned by what appears to be an increased waviness and northward retreat of the northern hemisphere Jet Stream. This retreat and proliferation of ridge and trough patterns is thought to be a result of a combined loss of snow and sea ice coverage over the past century and increasing over the past few decades. In 2012, sea ice coverage fell to as low as 55% below 1979 levels with volume dropping as low as 80% below previous values. Over the past seven years, not one day has seen sea ice at average levels for the late 20th Century in the north.

Meanwhile, northern polar temperatures have risen very rapidly under the rapidly rising human greenhouse gas heat forcing, increasing by 0.5 C per decade or about double the global average. It is this combination of conditions that set the stage for fixed ridges over both Russia and Canada creating extreme risk for extraordinary fires.

Should both the current sets of fires continue to rage under anomalous high amplitude jet stream waves setting off extreme heat in these Arctic regions, it is possible that large clouds of heat absorbing black carbon could ring the Arctic in a kind of hot halo. The dark smoke particles in the atmosphere would trap more heat locally even as they rained down to cover both sea ice and ice sheets. With the Canadian fires, deposition and snow darkening are a likely result, especially along the western regions of the Greenland Ice Sheet — zones that have already seen a multiplication of melt ponds and increasing glacial destabilization over recent years.....

And though climate models are in general agreement that the frequency of fires in tundra regions will increase, doubling or more by the end of this century, it is uncertain how extensive and explosive such an increase would be given the high volume of fuel available. Direct and large-scale burning of these stores, which in tundra alone house about 1,500 gigatons of carbon, could provide a major climate and Earth System response to the already powerful human heat forcing....

Read that whole post in Robert's blog here.

Robert Scribbler adds this as an update:

"Atmospheric black carbon and methane loading (more in a new post) likely contributed to temperatures in the range of 95 degrees F (35 C) near the shores of the Arctic Ocean’s Laptev Sea yesterday as recorded in the following screen capture from Earth Nullschool/GFS..."

When the high Arctic is 95 degrees, 6 degrees hotter than the same day in Richmond, Virginia - we can truly say the roof of the world is on fire. We are in it now. Global warming is feeding itself, with multiple feed-backs, and the big action is thousands of miles away from you, far from the big city news cameras, from all the trash filling our air-waves and our minds. As climate disasters continue to unfold, most of us are not even paying attention.

Although, here is a good article about the multiple feed-backs of forest fires in Mother Jones.

Radio Ecoshock listeners are, and it's up to us to spread the word, starting those difficult conversations that nobody wants to talk about. Stay tuned as George Marshall tells us why its hard, and how to do it.


Scientists warn we are headed into catastrophic climate change never before seen during human existence on this planet. Yet the most alarming facts hardly touch the lives of most people. Author George Marshall found out why. He says our minds are programmed to ignore climate change.

George is an old-school environmentalist, having worked as a senior campaigner for both Greenpeace in America, and the Rainforest Foundation. In 2004 he co-founded a charity based in Oxford UK, called the Climate Outreach and Information Network. They specialize in reaching all sorts of organizations, from churches to service clubs, scouts, trade unions and governments.

Now he's written a new book "Don't Even Think About It - Why Our Brains Are Wired To Ignore Climate Change." From Wales, George Marshall joins us.

Author and activist George Marshall

This interview is quickly becoming one of my favorites. George explains how people most anxious about climate change can turn to denial as a way to avoid that unpleasant/horrifying feeling. Polls taken in places where climate change has added to a disaster, like Hurricane Sandy, find that people who were inclined to deny climate change become even more convinced "it's just natural weather" or "God's Will", rather than our carbon pollution.

Perhaps this explains why Australians, very hard hit by drought, floods, and fires, could elect a climate denier as Prime Minister. Or why people in the American south (also hit by droughts, floods, and extreme heat) elect Tea Party members of Congress who swear climate change is an elaborate hoax.

George Marshall has met with Texan Tea Partyers, and tries to tell them that ignoring developing climate change will lead to the their worst nightmare. In the near future, desperate people may demand a climate dictator, taking away the rights and freedoms cherished by the Tea Party and Libertarians.

In fact, discouraged by seeing the same old faces at every climate rally, George and the Climate Outreach and Information Network are making special efforts to reach out to conservatives, to explain their most basic values are threatened by this problem.

Climate change is not an environmental issue, Marshall says, and it's been a mistake to label it that. It's a threat to all people, and all people need to become involved. He even found some Evangelical church leaders who raise climate change as a threat to the unborn. You may feel differently about abortion and women's rights, but we have to agree global warming is certainly a threat to the unborn.

We also have an fascinating chat about the work of Eviatar Zerubavel, Prof Sociology, Rutgers University. Eviatar has specialized in those possible topics of conversation that are somehow sidelined, and seldom talked about. You know, the silences we all agree on.

When I was growing up, the Holocaust was such a silence. I learned about it by accident from a book on my Grandfather's bookshelf. No parent, teacher, or anyone living told me about it, and it was never mentioned in any conversation. Now climate change is like that.

Perhaps you disagree, as Radio Ecoshock listeners are among the few to really talk about climate change. But polls in many countries consistently show, Marshall says, that one third of people have NEVER had a conversation about climate change. Even climate-aware people always over-estimate the actual number of conversations they have about it. The topic is forbidden at most dinner parties, or gatherings of any kind. Younger women with children are the least likely to talk about it, or tolerate talk about it. Even though this threatens their childrens' future more than anything else! We have to find a way to break through the social silence.

I ask George how to speak to a family member, work-mate, or associate who is very strongly denying climate change. You should listen to his helpful answer, but in a nutshell, don't try to tell them how wrong they are. That doesn't work. You can start out with respect for their willingness to take a position, and then explain how YOU came to your decision, without pushing it on them. George explains all that better than I can.

We get into the psychology of why the human brain did not evolve to understand or respond to a long and slow threat like climate change. This is key stuff. Give it a listen.

Climate Outreach and Information Network, or COIN, also helped broadcast "Climate Radio" with Phil England, a host I admire and learned from. The archives for that program are at climateradio.org. Phil is doing occasional climate broadcast these days, sometimes for Resonance FM in London, which also broadcasts Radio Ecoshock.

Now we are seeing melting Arctic ice, extreme rains and flooding, especially in the UK, or massive droughts and fires in the sub-arctic of Canada, Alaska, and Russia. Many of us hope the public will finally get on board for climate action,. Is it possible many people will harden their resistance to the truth instead? How nutty will this get?

I'd like to point listeners to a another really useful video on George's site. It's from a 2009 lecture Marshall gave at the University of West England. That is called "The Ingenious Ways We Avoid Believing in Climate Change".

Or watch it on You tube here.

George's web site is climateconviction.org

There you have it. I've worried we don't have the mental capacity to face the climate challenge. Now activist George Marshall has done the homework, and published an essential new book "Don't Even Think About It - Why Our Brains Are Wired To Ignore Climate Change." Find the book it the usual places. It's available in Europe now, and will come out in North America in August 2014.


If you were thinking of seeing the new climate-aware action film "Snowpiercer" - our own Gerri Williams has a cautionary review for you. Gerri is an independent radio journalist who also reports for Radio Ecoshock.

Essentially while Gerri was pleased to see a popular format action pic with ANY connection to climate change, this one isn't what she was waiting for. It's got the violence and all that, but doesn't really capture climate change, but rather the opposite, a freezing world after geoengineering efforts to stop climate change have gone horribly wrong. Despite the awful cold winter in central and Eastern North America last year, cold is not our problem. We've just had the hottest April, the hottest May, and the hottest June ever recorded.

You can be sure climate-driven media of all kinds will grow as our predicament deepens. There is a very busy Facebook page for cli-fi media now. The Collins dictionary is recognizing the word cli-fi, and major authors are already endorsing it. Gerri's right, given how hard it's been trying to get the real science of climate change out to the public, climate fiction, films, drama, and art of all kinds may be our last best hope.

I'm sticking with radio. You can download all our past programs as free mp3 files, perfect for your phone, IPOD, or computer, from our web site at ecoshock.org. Or try things out on our Soundcloud page.


We'll go out with another of my attempts to create a new wave of electronic music, so popular with the younger generation who will live with continuous climate challenges. Like the cli-fi authors, I'd love to see music carry more of the message, both of climate despair and the hope of a response worthy of intelligent creatures.

I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for listening to Radio Ecoshock and please join us again next week. This is my new song, "Time of Trials". Download it from Soundcloud.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


SUMMARY: In "best of" Radio Ecoshock interviews, Dr. Tim Garrett says civilization must collapse to avert devastating climate change. Dr. Peter Ward says Nature may not have friendly plans for us.

You want the big picture? Here it comes. I've picked two of my favorite power interviews from years of interviewing scientists, authors and experts.

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

Or listen to it right now on Soundcloud


You will hear a little-known Professor from the University of Utah, Dr. Tim Garrett. He's a cloud specialist. But Garrett published a paper published in America's most prestigious journal, after being championed by the father of "global warming" Wally Broecker. It still took two years to get out.

Why? Because Garrett worked out that according to the laws of physics, only a complete collapse of civilization could save us now from devastating global warming. We'd rather keep on driving around that hear about that.

I've tried. I got help from a Pakistani film maker to put out a You tube video version of our 2010 interview. I spent hours typing out a transcript. We did a second interview, even more dynamite than the first. Hardly anyone has heard about it. You will.

Here is a link where you can download or listen to the first Tim Garrett interview (17 minutes) from Radio Ecoshock February 5, 2010.

Here is the description for that interview:

"University of Utah Associate Prof. Tim Garrett says carbon burned = civilized wealth. We must either construct a nuclear reactor a day, or experience harsh economic collapse, to have a habitable climate. Interview from Radio Ecoshock 100205 17 min CD Quality 16 MB or Lo-Fi 4 MB This one shows link between growth economy and climate doom. Stays in the mind."

Read an article about Tim's science "Is Global Warming Unstoppable?" here.

The audio of the You tube version has been muted, claiming that the copyright holder did not authorize it. I am the copyright holder, I did authorize it, and I have complained to You tube. Here is the link, although you will have to wait until this is corrected to hear the interview.

Here is a description of that interview:

"University of Utah Physics Professor Dr. Tim Garrett explains why fossil-based wealth leads to both hyper-inflation and a ruined climate. All from a published, peer-reviewed paper in Journal "Climatic Change". According to our energy and wealth equation, only a sudden economic collapse could save us from 5 degrees Celsius global temperature rise (or more) by 2100. And we'll get over 100% inflation along the way. One of the most important interviews of the year."

His paper is titled "Are there basic physical constraints on future anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide?"

The basic thesis, tested against past industrial development, is that neither population nor standard of living have to be included in modelling prediction of climate change. Garrett concludes that civilization, as measured by gross domestic product, is directly related to the amount of carbon burned. More emissions, more wealth. Fewer emissions, less economic production.

Here is the exact description of the theory, from an abstract of Garrett's paper:

"Here, it is shown both theoretically and observationally how the evolution of the human system can be considered from a surprisingly simple thermodynamic perspective in which it is unnecessary to explicitly model two of the emissions drivers: population and standard of living. Specifically, the human system grows through a self-perpetuating feedback loop in which the consumption rate of primary energy resources stays tied to the historical accumulation of global economic production—or p × g—through a time-independent factor of 9.7 ± 0.3 mW per inflation-adjusted 1990 US dollar."

By applying his formula, Garrett says it would take a new nuclear plant built every single day to keep up our current standard of living. As that isn't happening, and may be impossible, the only other solution is economic collapse. In our interview, Garrett suggests a horrible economic crash, which I imagine as diving perhaps to Medieval standards of life, is required just to reach 450 parts per million of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

In the conclusion of that paper we find:

"Viewed from this perspective, civilization evolves in a spontaneous feedback loop maintained only by energy consumption and incorporation of environmental matter.

Because the current state of the system, by nature, is tied to its unchangeable past, it looks unlikely that there will be any substantial near-term departure from recently observed acceleration in CO2 emission rates. For predictions over the longer term, however, what is required is thermodynamically based models for how rates of carbonization and energy efficiency evolve. To this end, these rates are almost certainly constrained by the size and availability of environmental resource reservoirs.


Garrett published a second paper in the journal "Climatic Change". During our interview, he suggests one of my questions stimulated the new work. Namely, what would it take to keep emissions to the relatively safe 450 part per million CO2 level? The title of the second paper is: "No way out? The double-bind in seeking global prosperity alongside mitigated climate change".

The new paper not only suggests that isn't going to happen, not with all the good will dreams and schemes in the world. It goes further. Using Hurricane Katrina as an example, Tim explains why the on-going pounding of our civilization by a disturbed climate will lead to horrible inflation. How does climate change lead to inflation? I asked, he answered. You must read the whole transcript here. It's from Radio Ecoshock November 19, 2010).

The audio for that interview is available as a separate mp3 file here.


Then we'll go back to one of my favorite climate scientists, Dr. Peter Ward. He's got the history of life on this planet in his back pocket. Some of the long-term future too. Peter Ward says nature isn't nice, and really there isn't much of a plan. We can dream of an intelligent Gaian God already in command of the future. But the biological record, says Ward, is more like Mr. Bean is in charge. We need to get a grip on who we really are, and where we really are.

Dr. Peter Ward with his Medea hypothesis, the mad drive of blind biology, was from the Radio Ecoshock show October 16, 2009. This is from my Radio Ecoshock blog for that program:

"Gaia - the great interconnected force of living things on a minor planet called Earth. British scientist James Lovelock wondered how life created it's own space, with the oxygen and nutrients we all need. It's a soothing idea. Some Greens took it further, suggesting Gaia is a super-consciousness that watches over balance and survival. A few worship Gaia.

Dr. Peter Ward, a deep time digger and climate investigator says Gaia, if there is one, can also be a mass murderer. The rock record shows at least 5 great mass extinctions before us. Ward offers us a different Greek myth: Medea - the wife of Jason the Argonaut, who swiped the Golden Fleece. In a fit of rage against her husband, Medea killed her own children. In a new book, the Medea Hypothesis, Peter Ward says Gaia is out.

Bountiful Nature can become ecocidal, and only intelligent life can stop the death cycle we are now approaching.

Dr. Peter Ward still teaches at the University of Washington, while continuing his research trips all over the world. The broad public still hasn't absorbed his ground-breaking explanation of why land animals were killed off in such great numbers, in past extinction events.

Peter's more recent book is "The Flooded Earth: Our Future in a World Without Ice Caps". I highly recommend this book as visionary, and I still think his first big climate book "Under A Green Sky" is one of the most frightening, readable, and informative books you can find on what our past history tells us about the future hot Earth and our prospects of extinction.

Here is a Youtube video of me interviewing Peter Ward about the coming "Flooded Earth".

or watch it on Youtube here]

Here is Part 2 of that interview on the Flooded Earth.

And Part 3 of that interview.


Last week I ran clips from the former US Treasury Secretaries who say climate change will ruin any future economy. It was one of the most important stories so far this year. We had some problems with the Radio Ecoshock server, so if you missed the "Crashing Climate News" show, be sure an grab it from our Soundcloud page. Our server is back to normal now, after a mysterious attack.

We just passed 5,000 listens on Soundcloud, not too bad for a startup a couple of months old. Thanks for tuning in.

Last week we also ran a convincing interview about the high danger of Arctic methane, with Dr. Peter Wadhams of Cambridge. That is part of a longer interview done by Nick Breeze. I mistakenly said the film was for AMEG, the Arctic Methane Emerency Group, but really it's a private venture by Nick Breeze. Follow up on Nick's work, and more of his videos, at envisonation.co.uk. Thanks Nick!


It may be summer holidays, but the climate news keeps on rolling in. New York state has tornados now, when it never did before. The whole water cycle of Canada's mid-West has shifted, with floods in July instead of Spring. Waterways that were always bone-dry this time of year just hit record highs. What could it be?

Meanwhile North America's West keeps on baking in record heat and drought, while the East seems to be re-experiencing something like the Polar Vortex, with cooler than normal temperatures. Even mainstream media can see the Jet Stream has changed it's character from anything we've known before. It's just another strange coincidence, isn't it?

I do have at least one new program coming up this summer, so stay tuned!

I'm Alex Smith. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


SUMMARY: Plutocrats admit U.S. economy is "Risky Business" during climate change. It will not be safe to go outside. Cambridge Polar expert Peter Wadhams on Arctic methane burst. New climate song "Too Hot". Radio Ecoshock 140709

Four years ago, on Radio Ecoshock I asked if planet Earth could get so hot, it would be dangerous for most humans to go outside on many days of the year.

Now far too soon, a new report called "Risky Business" explains the majority of Americans will experience days too hot to go out for more than an hour or so, without suffering heat stroke. Many will die. In just the South East region of the United States, by the end of this century there will be somewhere between 11,000 to 36,000 more heat deaths every year. They'll get about 130 days a year, four months, of extreme temperatures.

In the United States, as in many other parts of the world, there will be huge economic losses. Crop yields will fall as much as 50%, with some foods disappearing. It will be too hot outside to work in the fields. In fact all outdoor work, from construction to forestry, may have to be done at night.

That's the start of a long-term trend where humans may have to become more nocturnal, and build more underground, just to survive temperatures so hot they have only appeared once before on this planet. Our early mammal relatives survived only underground.

Here is what makes this report doubly shocking: it's published by top business leaders and finance experts, including Republicans. When the 1% who own most of the wealth in the world realize their own money and real estate are threatened by global warming, you know we are in trouble. But maybe that could be the turning point where we finally see some real action to move away from fossil fuels, deforestation, and agribusiness that pollutes the atmosphere with dangerous gases.

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

Or listen to it now on Soundcloud.


I play you key short clips from the report press conference. You will hear former Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson say the climate threat to the economy is far greater than the 2007-2008 economic crash he helped stave off. The famous New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, himself a billionaire, explains we are heading into climate catastrophe. John Hopkins specialist Dr. Al Summers explains how heat deaths work. And Clinton Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin warns we may not even be aware of the worst to come.

Along those lines, I'll also be playing you a the audio from a new interview of Cambridge Polar expert Dr. Peter Wadhams. He says civilization is unlikely to survive if a 50 gigatonne release of methane burps out of the rapidly warming Arctic. Two scientists, one American, one Russian, have explained how that is quite possible.

Then we'll dive into the Radio Ecoshock archives, where I interview bloggers John Cook of Skeptical Science, and Stuart Staniford of Early Warning, about the science of human tolerance for heat and humidity.

I hope to have time to squeeze in my new climate song "Too Hot" - which I hope you can use as a tool to reach more people.


Let's get busy, with the opening remarks by Hank Paulson for the report "Risky Business,The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States."

This is Radio Ecoshock. We are listening to remarks made at the press release June 24th, in New York City of a stunning report on climate, human health and the economy. It's called "Risky Business". Next up is former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Bob Rubin was also CEO and co-Chair of Goldman Sachs, as well as a Board member at Citigroup.

Henry Cisneros was the first Hispanic-America Mayor of San Antonio Texas, and served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, in the Clinton Administration. He's now Chairman of the CityView companies. Finally, someone in the real estate industry speaks up about the coming price carnage coming as multi-million dollar coastal properties become worthless due to rising seas and extreme storm surge.

Eventually most of Florida real estate will go under, along with the land. The Risky Business report suggests between $238 billion and $507 billion of coastal property will be lost to the sea.

Al Sommers, is the Dean Emeritus of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at John Hopkins University. Here's the short and bitter explanation of how humans die from heat.

Dean Sommers told the press: “Montana summers will soon be the same as New Mexico today.” It will become impossible to be outside there without some kind of air-conditioned suit for about 20 days a year.

Greg Page, the executive chairman of the world's largest grains company Cargill, also spoke, but frankly he used public relations talk, extolling the can-do powers of farmers to adapt to climate change. In my opinion, even Superman can't grow crops when the rain doesn't fall, or extreme heat or floods wipe out the fields.

Others who have made statements supporting this report include former United States Senator Olympia Snowe, billionaire environmental supporter Tom Steyer, and Bush-era Secretary of State and of the Treasury, George Shultz. Professor of Political Science and President of the University of Miami, Donna Shalala minced no words on the clear threat posed by climate change to her state. You can find links to all the videos, statements, and the report in my Radio Ecoshock blog at ecoshock.info. Or go to riskybusiness.org.

RISKY BUSINESS REPORT LINKS (Executive summary, press video etc)


Executive Summary here.

Find risks in your own part of the United States here.

Press release video: http://riskybusiness.org/blog/risky-business-press-conference-live-stream [recorded for this show, with notes]

Joe Romm's take here.

Reuters article here.

More here from Bloomerg and here from UK's Daily Mail (with some good graphics).


As I write this, it is 101 degrees F, 38 degrees C outside my door. I don't know about you, but I wasn't sure I'd live to hear top financial experts from both political parties admitting global warming is becoming an almost unstoppable catastrophe that will threaten the entire wealth structure of America and the world. I feel vindicated and even more worried at the same time.

Even by 2050, not all that far away, the average American will experience tow or three time more days over 95 degrees, or 36 Celsius. By the end of the century, that becomes about 3 months of such weather.

So what you say? First, a warmer atmosphere holds more water. This higher humidity will combine with higher temperatures to kill many of us. We can only sweat ourselves cool enough to avoid heat stroke if the heat and humidity are below certain levels. We'll find out more about that later in this program. Second, if you think air-conditioning will handle it all, consider our grid and power sources are already at the breaking point in hot weather. The price of oil, coal and gas will continue to go up as we go beyond the peak of what can be produced at reasonable prices.

We can't burn all those fossil fuels anyway, without completely roasting out the planet. Can we really expect solar and wind power to cool off all our inefficient shopping malls, office towers, homes and industrial plants? I doubt it.


Bob Rubin raise the problem of extreme changes that are not even quantified by the official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. There's plenty of news from the Arctic to back that up. I could spend 3 programs just updating you on the hot Arctic, the super-heat-cell hovering over Siberia, and the giant forest fires there. But here is the head of the Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, UK, Dr. Peter Wadhams, being interviewed by Nick Breeze for the Arctic Methane Emergency Group.

Watch that interview on You tube here.

Find the Arctic Methane Emergency Group here.

Will we get that 50 gigaton burst of methane? No one knows for sure. It could all come down to good luck, or an undersea land-slide or quake. Meanwhile, as Wadhams says, we do know more and more methane is leaking out of the frozen methane clathrates as the Arctic sea warm to extraordinary temperatures, especially with no sea ice covering. We won't even get into the methane clouds rising from land sources as the permafrost melts.


This is the Radio Ecoshock summer special on extreme heat.

Let's get the mechanics of how humans cool themselves, and why we may not be able to in a hotter and more humid world. We'll start with a slightly shortened version of my 2010 interview with John Cook, host of the popular Skeptical Science blog and video series.

Listen to or download the full John Cook interview here.

Don't forget our interview on climate and human health with Dr. Elizabeth Hanna from Australian National University. That's from our show November 27th, 2013. Here's a quick clip of Dr. Hanna on the response of the human body to extreme heat.

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

Read more about Elizabeth Hanna with links here.

Back in 2010, another enquiring mind, Stuart Staniford, looked into human trying to work in extreme heat in Pakistan. The difference of course is Pakistan has a dryer heat, whereas the rest of us will get a deadly double-dose of heat AND high humidiy. Staniford is the host of the Early Warning blog. Find the link for the full interview here.

That was Stuart Staniford, from our Radio Ecoshock interview June 11th, 2010. Find Stuart at earlywarn.blogspot.ca. Although he hasn't been blogging since January.

Radio Ecoshock was literally years ahead of the mass media in covering this issue. Be sure to stay tuned as we cover climate change and our future, as no one else does.

Find all our past programs, most of them as valid as the day they were born, as free mp3 files at our web site, ecoshock.org.


So here is that song, just right for today's news and the news of tomorrow. It's called "Too Hot". I wrote this song using Ableton Live, a computer synth voice called "Blue Vox", plus voices from TextAloud.

Please forward links to this song to all your friends, and contacts in social media. We need a Twitter and Facebook barage to get out the music of climate change, and the word about this radio program. Thank you for demanding for a better world. Here is the link to share. [ https://soundcloud.com/radioecoshock/too-hot ]

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


SUMMARY: What America believes about global warming, with Edward Maibach of George Mason U. Alex Smith on global threats with John Betz, KOPN radio. New climate song from 70's hit-maker Bunny Sigler.

Welcome to the holiday edition of Radio Ecoshock where we celebrate the right to speak freely about the dangers posed by our own civilization.

We start with a look at who believes we are changing the climate and who doesn't. Then a sample of an interview I did, about Radio Ecoshock and the state of the world, on KOPN radio in the central American state of Missouri. I'll top that off with a surprising new climate change song from an old hit-maker. As always, there's no time to waste.

Download or listen to this program in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Or Listen/download on Soundcloud right now!


Just a couple of quick notes on hot news in climate change. No doubt you've heard the sobering fact that May 2014 was the hottest month of May ever recorded, since we learned how to capture temperature information in the 1800's. Where are all cranks telling us the ice age is coming, or the Earth hasn't warmed, or a cold winter in New York means global warming has stopped? It's getting to the point we should all keep a list of the thought-leaders who denied climate science, who helped sooth the masses into inaction, until it was too late. Will we erect a wall of shame for them, or forget them as fools gone by?

I remember reading several years ago, in Joe Romm's blog called Climate Progress, how most of the extra heat we create was being absorbed by the oceans. About 90% of the heating has gone into the seas. Now in 2014 the gigantic thermal mass of the world's oceans, far larger than the area of land on this planet, has gone up on average about 1 degree compared to the recent period between 1979 to 2000. That's greater than the rise of global average air temperatures.

It's worst in the Arctic, exactly where we least want to see extra heat. We read in the blog of former Radio Ecoshock guest Robert Scribbler, quote:

"For encircling the Arctic from the West Coast of Greenland, to Iceland, to Svalbard, to the Barents and Kara Seas, to the Chukchi and on to the Beaufort we see surface water temperatures ranging from 2.25 to 4 C or more above average. And just west of Svalbard, we have water temperatures ranging in a zone exceeding a terrifying 8 C above average. When a sea surface temperature departure of 0.5 to 1 C above average is considered significant, these values represent extremes that are far outside what was once considered normal."

That is where the sea ice is heading into a possible further record retreat, where the Greenland glaciers are being melted at the edges, and where billions of tons of super-heating methane lies waiting on shallow sea beds, ready to melt into the atmosphere.

As I speak, more extreme rainfall events have struck in North America, and they will continue to flash by in the news around the world for the rest of our lives. The warmer atmosphere is overloaded with extra moisture, extra energy, and a burden of industrial particulates. It's a recipe for getting a month's worth of rain in a day, or an hour.

These are serious times. I'll be watching all this over the summer, plotting the new season of Radio Ecoshock, considering how to report what has never been seen before. And how to spark the action we need to stop troubled times from becoming a long period of catastrophe. If you have suggestions for what I should cover, sources we all need to know about - feel free to write me. The address is radio //at//ecoshock.org. You may not get a reply, as I will supposedly be on holidays for a few weeks, but I will read all emails and appreciate your input.

Well, scratch that a bit. There are so many serious developments on climate science, and social responses, that I'm compelled to delay my holiday and do at least one more new program. Next week I'll be covering horrible news, that it will not be safe for our children to go outside for more than an hour, in many parts of America and the world. Plus, from the strangest corners, business leaders have finally recognized the penultimate risk climate change poses even to the richest oligarchs. Be prepared for a surprise!


The idea that the climate can shift radically is still fairly new. We hardly know what to call it. It started out as "global warming" until others suggested "climate change" was more accurate. Obama science advisor John Holdren said "climate disruption" would be better.

Does it matter what we call it? A new study conducted jointly by Yale and George Mason University says the name matters, if we want the public to act. The title of the new study is: “What’s In A Name? Global Warming Versus Climate Change”. Google that, you can read the full report online, or download it as a .pdf here.

Here to explain is Professor Edward Maibach, the Director of the Center for Climate Change Communication, at George Mason University in Virginia.

They say: "This report is based on findings from a bi-annual series of nationally representative survey studies – Climate Change in the American Mind – conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. The research was funded by the Energy Foundation, the 11th Hour Project, the Grantham Foundation, and the V.K. Rasmussen Foundation."

Edward Maiback was one of the "principal investigators."

Here from the Executive Summary are some of the key findings - you'll have to read the full report to get even more.

"This report provides results from three studies that collectively find that global warming and climate change are often not synonymous—they mean different things to different people—and activate different sets of beliefs, feelings, and behaviors, as well as different degrees of urgency about the need to respond.

1) An analysis of public information seeking via Google searches from 2004 to 2014 found that Americans have historically used global warming as a search term much more frequently than climate change.

2) A nationally representative survey (Survey Study 1) in January 2014 found that while Americans are equally familiar with the two terms, they are 4 times more likely to say they hear the term global warming in public discourse than climate change. Likewise, Americans are 2 times more likely to say they personally use the term global warming than climate change in their own conversations.

3) A separate nationally representative survey (Survey Study 2) in November-December 2013 found that almost without exception, global warming is more engaging than climate change. Compared to climate change, the term global warming generates:

* Stronger ratings of negative affect (i.e., bad feelings), especially among women, Generation Y, the Greatest Generation, African-Americans, Hispanics, Democrats, Independents, Moderates, conservatives, and evangelicals.

* Different top of mind associations and stronger negative affect, especially among political moderates:

* Overall, global warming generates significantly more top of mind associations to Icemelt (e.g., “melting glaciers”), Alarm (e.g., “world catastrophe”), Flood (e.g., “coastal flooding”), and Ozone (e.g., “the ozone hole”) categories. Climate change generates significantly more associations to Weather (e.g., “storms”) and Global Warming (e.g., “global warming”) categories.

* Within the Weather category, global warming generates a higher percentage of associations to “extreme weather"...

Essentially most Americans see "global warming" as a more immediate threat, thinking of extreme weather and so on. They are more likely to say that the government should act to stop global warming, than climate change - even if they are not sure humans are causing the shift.

The fact that so many people still think scientists are debating whether global warming is real is no accident. I've interviewed scientists who compare the strategy by big fossil fuel companies to the ploy used by big tobacco, when their PR agencies created doubt about smoking and cancer.

It seems crazy to me that anyone who calls themselves "Conservative", with the root meaning wanting to "conserve" things, could knowingly threaten not only our natural support base, but the future economy as well, not to mention our kids. Is there any way to overcome this, to get the political war out of the way? Maibach says "yes" and explains how.

Part of their answer is to get scientists to say very clearly that there is practically no debate about whether humans are modifying the climate. As soon as the public hears that about 97% of scientists know climate change is real, and we are the cause - the public estimation of the threat moves up quickly, by as much as 20 percentage points.

The American Academy for the Advancement of Science has released an unequivocal campaign affirming human-induced climate change called "What We Know". Other National Academies of Science around the world are doing the same. But the real message hasn't reached the public yet, over the doubts being sowed by the Koch Brothers, and the dunderheads on Fox News and on the Internet. We have a way to go, and little time to save ourselves and our descendants.

Unfortunately, Edward Maibach tells us, the majority of Americans still think global warming will happen in the distant future, and to people in other parts of the world, like Africa or something. This despite recent reports showing climate change is costing the US big bucks right now. It's now, and right in America.

This wasn't part of the study, but I've found when searching You tube, if I use "global warming" I'm more likely to get climate denier information. But if I search for "climate change" I'm more likely to get scientific talks and official materials. By the way listeners, that's a useful tip for you.

My objection to making that switch in terms is simple: there is so much more to this climate shift than just warming. I think it's a bad way to measure things like extreme precipitation events, rising seas, and the myriad of changes involved.

I can almost hear a Broadway show or opera in all this, where two choirs chant "global warming" and "climate change" across the stage. Hopefully we won't get stuck on the name, while we do nothing to save ourselves... is this a false debate or a useful one?

You can find a good write-up on this report, and what it means, here in the Guardian newspaper.


You get a behind-the-scenes look at Radio Ecoshock, and the issues I think top the charts for global threats. This is a shorter version of an almost hour-long interview done by radio host John Betz for the program "Skeptical Eye" on KOPN, in central Missouri USA, one of the oldest community-owned radio stations in the country.

KOPN Radio Host and Broadcaster John Betz

You can download or listen to the full 48 minute interview here.

In addition to revealing a little more about myself, I cover the major issues we face, plus a little of the good news that holds promise we might avoid the worst.


Join Radio Ecoshock on Soundcloud, or download any or all of our past programs as free .mp3s, at the web site, ecoshock.org. Soon we'll be heading into the best of Radio Ecoshock during the summer holidays. But don't miss my summer heat broadcast next week!

But I still have all the usual bills to pay. I'm so thankful to all of you who signed up for a $10 a month pledge to support this program. You are paying for the rest of the world to be able to download this program and all our past programs and interviews.

If you can afford to help, please sign up at our web site - find the details here. Your support makes this program possible for all our non-profit radio stations, and podcast subscribers around the world.

Meanwhile, we finish up this program with a remarkable new climate change song, with the full classic work-up by 70's hit-maker Bunny Sigler. Bunny developed the "Philly sound" and worked with too many famous Philadelphia artists to mention. "Tossin' and Turnin'", "Love Train", "Let the Good Times Roll" - Sigler ruled the air-waves. Thanks for coming back out Bunny, to speak out on climate change!

Watch Bunny perform this song on You tube here.