Wednesday, October 29, 2014


SUMMARY: Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen: Fukushima continues to irradiate the Pacific. Plume reaching West Coast. Where is next American Fukushima? Diablo Canyon in California? Then Naomi Klein's new vision "This Changes Everything".

Welcome to Radio Ecoshock and what a show we have for you this week! Arnie Gundersen covers the world's worst nuclear dangers, from the on-going poisoning of the Pacific Ocean by the melt-downs at Fukushima Japan, to America's disaster-in-waiting - right in California. Oh yeah, and the nuclear plume is hitting the West Coast right now.

Then we'll talk through the battle of capitalist profits versus the climate, and all of nature. Our guest will be Naomi Klein, author of the new book "This Changes Everything".

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We get an update on the Fukushima mess from our favorite correspondent, Anrie Gundersen. He's a former nuclear industry executive who now gives expert testimony on reactor safety. His videos on the web site are the best anywhere. This interview ranges from Japan to California reactors unsafe at any speed, and even to the possibility of a massive nuclear melt-down right near New York City. Why not... Tokyo is already radioactive!

We begin by talking about the impact of the big typhoons that just swept over the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster complex. There were two typhoons in a row, Phanfone and Vongfong. The second one dumped 10 inches of rain (254 mm.) in 24 hours - right on to a site where groundwater running through the melted reactor cores is already overwhelming TEPCO's ability to pump it into temporary storage tanks.

Three hundred tons of radioactive water runs off the site each and every day into the Pacific Ocean. It was much more during these two storms. The operator hasn't said how much more, but we know in one previous incident Fukushima leaked 600 tons of water into the Pacific, twice the "normal" highly nuclear runoff. We also know from other news reports that new record high levels of radiation was measured after these typhoons in various trenches and wells. Consider the giant amounts of radiation previously measured at Fukushima, we don't wan't to hear about new record highs.

The Japan Times reported "Tritium up tenfold in Fukushima groundwater after Typhoon Phanfone"

"Some 150,000 becquerels of tritium per liter were measured in a groundwater sample taken Thursday from a well east of the No. 2 reactor. The figure is a record for the well and over 10 times the level measured the previous week."

"Tepco also revealed that, at a separate well also east of the No. 2 reactor, a groundwater sample was giving off a record 2.1 million becquerels of a beta ray-emitting substance, nearly double the level from a week earlier.

The cesium activity in the sample was 70 percent higher at 68,000 becquerels

There was even worse news after Typhoon Vongfong, one of the strongest in a generation.

Arnie Gundersen makes this stunning statement: just one month after the accident "there were things they could have done back then. I recommended pumping down the groundwater, but between the pumps and the nuclear reactor [they should] have something called a zeolite trench. Zeolite is a really good material - it's volcanic - that would capture all the radioactive Cesium, and most of the other isotopes.

Well I was told three years ago that Tokyo Electric didn't have the money. It's one of those 'pay me now or pay me later'. Because they didn't keep that groundwater under control three years ago now they are paying the price

Arnie says the total releases from Fukushima now are much higher than from the Chernobly nuclear accident in the Ukraine in the 1980s. It is without a doubt the world's worst nuclear disaster.

One sign of that: the site is so highly radioactive that even now, three years later, nobody knows where the nuclear cores of those 3 reactors are. Within about a year and a half, the world saw photos of the nuclear cores at Three Mile Island (in Pennsylvania) and Chernobyl. There are no such photos, or any kind of record, of the reactor cores at Fukushima.

By the way, a Korean government report estimates Fukushima may have released up to 4 times as much Cesium as Chernobyl did.

Arnie Gundersen of


Every week, TEPCO has to construct two new giant storage tanks to hold still more radioactive water pumped from the site. There is a vast tank farm on the hill above the former reactors. But, Gundersen warns, these temporary tanks are not "seismically qualified". That is, they are not intended to withstand a serious earthquake. If such a quake hits Fukushima, "they'll all fail and run down into the Pacific en masse, which would be an insult to the Pacific which has never occcured in the history of the world". But hey, what are the odds Fukushima will be hit by a major earthquake (again)!


Arnie Gundersen is the only person I've heard raising yet anothe serious problem arising from this triple reactor melt-down. Major media have completely missed the fact that TEPCO is filtering out up to 90% of the major radioactive materials. Essentially, they are reconstituting nuclear cores in these filters. But what will they do with this brand new form of super-radioactive waste? Where will the filters be stored safely (for at least 300 years)? What place in Japan will have that dark honor? The filters contain not just cesium, but uranium and plutonium. They may need 250,000 years to be really safe.

When the water is filtered, with just 10% of the radiation left, the Japanese want to dump it, and probably already are dumping it, straight into the Pacific Ocean. As Gundersen says, they think 90% is good enough. If any other nation, in any other circumstance, was dumping even that 10% of radioactivity into the ocean (how much is it?) - there would be international outcry. Japan is using the Pacific as a nuclear waste dump.

Gundersen: "So by filtering the water, they've reduce the liquid problem, but they've created a huge solid radioactive waste problem that no one... you've got an exclusive here Alex. No one in the world is talking about where in the world are they going to store all of these filters for a quarter of a million years."


TEPCO needed to reduce the continuing airborne emissions of highly radioactive materials floating out of the wreck of the Number One Reactor building. They constructed a fabric shell around the building (which also hid the wreckage from international photographers). Now that shell is absolutely loaded with radioactivity. The company is in the process of removing it. We discuss the dangers.

This week, an unexpectedly high gust of wind shook a crane removing the cover, and tore a large hole in it. It's a very risky operation. Gundersen says without the cover, more radioactivity will be carried away by the winds.


Alex: In these first few years after the nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima, we've heard almost nothing about the impacts on people in that region. There are accounts of strange tumors, kids dying, pets dying. What have you heard, and can we ever expect an honest accounting from Japanese authorities?

Gundersen: That's a pretty good summary, frankly. We continue to get information from people who live there about cancer rates and illnesses in general. Not just cancer. You know we think of radiation as a cancer-causing thing, but it also causes many other ailments.

Arnie then tells us about a woman 30 miles from Fukushima who has grown and stored seeds for a very long time. Now three years after the accident, she is see "gargantuism" (a.k.a. gigantism) in plants. When plants (or animals) mutate to become abnormally large, or have certain organs or parts growing very large, this is a sure sign of genetic damage caused by radiation.

Gundersen: "We are also working with doctors in Japan. Some brave doctors are saying that they are being threatened, that their hospital rights have threatened. If you tell your patient 'this illness is radiation related' you will lose your right to practice, and things like that. So there's an enormous pressure on the medical community to tell the patients that what they are experiencing is not at all related to radiation."

They key, Gundersen says, is statistics. We haven't received real verifiable date on cancer rates and other illness from Japan, since the reactor accident. We're not likely to get it. It turns out that under a prior agreement, all the statistics and reports have to go first to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who must approve them. "Article Two of the IAEA's Charter, is to promote nuclear power" Gundersen tells us.


Reuters news service reports Japanese prosecutors are once again considering criminal charges against executives from the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO. Last year they said "no charges". But a special citizens' panel is forcing them to reconsider. The almost invincible insider reputation of TEPCO is legendary. Is there any chance those who allowed this disaster to happen will be exposed to justice?

Gundersen thinks it's unlikely under the Japanese system of authority that any charges of TEPCO executives will be successful. The charges, if any, would not be for allowing the accident to happen (e.g. they knew the sea-wall was too low...) - but for hiding the true risks after the accident (and thereby endangering people's health). Lawyers in Japan are progressive, Gundersen thinks, but the judicial system is legendary for its conservative nature.

Shortly after this interview, we received news that the Japanese prosecutors have delays their recommendation about charges for another three months. Don't hold your breath.

Gundersen has a chance to speak in depth with former Prime Minister of Japan Naoto Kan, who was in charge at the time of the accident. Kan said he got bad information from both TEPCO and MITI, the organization responsible for nuclear matters. TEPCO wanted to abandon the site, Kan told Gundersen, but the Prime Minister said "no".


We also talk about the move by former Japanese Ambasador Mitsuhei Murata to have the 2020 Olympics held somewhere other than Tokyo, due to the continuing health risks. I ask Arnie whether Tokyo is radioactive.

Gundersen: "Yes Tokyo is radioactive. I've spoken to Ambassdor Murata. My problem is we worry about the exposure to Olympic athletes who are going to be there for three weeks, what about the exposure to the people who live in Tokyo for the last ten years - nine years, from 2011 until the two thousand twenty Olympics. I'm afraid it's a little bit elitist to worry about visiting athletes who are going to be there for three weeks, when in fact 35 million people are exposed to this radiation for nine years.

Now I think the government of Japan should be aggressively cleaning up Tokyo. But to do so would spread fear, and that in turn would stop the Olympics, which would then crush nuclear revival that the [current Prime Minister] Abe regime is so desiring. It's so desirable to the Abe regime to get those nuclear plants running again."


Why is Tokyo radioactive? You would need to scan back through my past Fukushima shows, and the special podcasts I sent out at the time to get the details. All of that is available at my web site at Just type "Fukushima" into the search box there.

In a nutshell here are just some of the pathways radioactivity took to get to Tokyo:

1. In the first days of the accident, most of the radiation was blown north and west, but there were some reversals of wind, where the radiation was carried south and bathed Tokyo with nuclear particles. These were measured around the metropolis at that time. Various Japanese corporations considered moving their head offices out of Tokyo (some did). It later came out the whole government considered moving out of Tokyo.

2. For weeks after the accident, and especially after three reactor buildings blew up, there was continuing air-borne radiation of Tokyo.

3. The hills around Tokyo, were also bathed in radioactivity. Each successive rainstorm brought more radiation into the city. Tokyo has a vast amount of undergound water. Some of the city is build out over what was the ocean. Radiation was measured in the underground water.

4. More difficult to quantify, large amounts of radioactive materials were dumped or burned after the accident. Some radioactive hot sewage sludge was trucked around the country. So was radioactive cement, which used that sludge. Some of all that arrived, as almost everything does, in the hub of Tokyo.

The point is this: radioactivity doesn't go away like yesterday's news. It lasts and lasts, for decades, even generations. Residents of Tokyo hosed down some hot spots, but the city never really admitted the magnitude of the problem. There was no massive clean up of Tokyo (which would help but couldn't get it all). Perhaps this was not done to avoid alarming the population, or to save the economy, which would have crashed in Tokyo was abandoned. So this giant metropolis remains radioactive, worse in some places than others. In my opinion, pregnant mothers should go to a less polluted area, and perhaps raise children to at least the age of 5 before returning.


The Japanese authorities released a report saying the Sendai nuclear plant would not experience a volcanic eruption for the next 30 years. That's convenient, because that would be the expected operating life of this reactor site, if it is restarted. How polite for the volcanoes to wait!

However, on September 27th, there was an unexpected major eruption by another volcano not so near to Sendai. And influential volcanologists in Japan said there is absolutely no way to predict when a volcano will go off, and certainly no 30 year guarantee. br>
Gundersen says the real risk to Sendai is not so much that a volcano would immediately destroy the nuclear plant. The problem is a volcano can dump twelve feet or more of ash on the site, and on all roadways leading to it. It could become impossible to keep cooling the reactor core. If that is not cooled, it blows up, just like Fukshima did. The cooling system has to be kept going at least 5 years without any pause, even after the reactor is shut down. That applies to the nuclear reactor near you! Not that it matters if there is a reactor near you. Fukushima blew radioactive particles around the Northern Hemisphere, and as we are about to find out, the radioactive plume from the leaking site is just now reaching North America.


This spring of 2014, a citizen found a sample of Cesium-134 in a park in British Columbia, Canada - inland from the ocean. What does that tell us? Unlike Cesium-137, which lasts a long time, Cesium-134 only lasts about two years. That means this particle arrived from Fukushima. I think it may be from continuing airborne radiation, but Gundersen suggests it came from the original blowout three years ago.

Gundersen told us in previous interviews that his company Fairewinds tested automobile air filters from Seattle Washington after the accident and found highly radioactive hot particles in those filters. We know from another Radio Ecoshock interview that radioactivity from Fukushima was found in seaweed, and in Vancouver, Canada. Similar Fukshima radiation was found in California, and in fact in many U.S. states including Pennsylvania, and those in New England.

Now we're looking at a new wave of radiation reaching the West Coast. The slowly moving ocean currents are finally bringing the first part of the radioactive plume to Canada and the United States.

A Canadian research scientist named John Smith just told the meeting of the American Geophysical Union that this group has measured a radioactive plume from Fukushima in Canadian waters. The blog Live Science reports: "Smith and his colleagues tracked rising levels of cesium-134 at several ocean monitoring stations west of Vancouver in the North Pacific beginning in 2011. By June 2013, the concentration reached 0.9 Becquerels per cubic meter, Smith said. All of the cesium-134 was concentrated in the upper 325 feet (100 m) of the ocean, he said. They are awaiting results from a February 2014 sampling trip."

There's a long list of proof and sightings.

Ken Buesseler, the senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, had to arrange crowd-funding to measure this radioactivity in the Pacific. The American and Canadian governments don't appear to care. So far Buesseler says the radiation found is weak, and not yet dangerous. We're still in the early days. Buesseler set up this web site.

Gundersen says he receives a lot of worried calls and emails about the safety of West Coast beachs. This follows a couple of erroneous reports of high radioactivity on California beaches which turned out to be not from Fukushima, but left over from Cold War days. Yes, radioactivity from atmospheric atomic testing is still with us - which shows how long lasting any radioactivity is! Thanks to the Japanese experiment with nuclear power, the Pacific will still be more radioactive long after you and I are dead.

However, don't panic surfers! Gundersen says the risk is still very, very low for people swimming in the Pacific. Go for it, if you can stand the cold water. The fish living there are not so lucky. The bottom feeders especially will soak up radioactivity, and this will bio-concentrate as these are eaten by other predators. Is that why the local pod of killer whales (Orcas) in southern British Columbia did not have a baby in two years? The pod just had their first birth, but the baby died soon after. There may be many factors at work, but increased radioactivity in the Pacific is not good for marine mammals. Nobody disputes that.

Gundersen also suggests that fresh water fish in British Columbia, and likely the whole West Coast, may also be accumulating radioactivity. The place to test, if anyone cares, would be bottom-dwelling feeders like Catfish, who live in waters above a dam. The runoff from the surrounding mountains would accumulate in those dam lakes.

Arnie says he won't eat any fish from the Pacific until the government starts testing, and releases the actual data found, so he can make an informed decision about his own health.


So what American nuclear plant will blow up? There's a too long list of possible candidates. All American plants were built at least 30 years ago, and many are operating on extentions granted by the NRC. All that concrete, all those pipes and equipment deteriorating.


That doesn't even include known design flaws. Arnie and I were talking about earthquake risk and of course the last remaining California reactors at Diablo Canyon. Then he surprised me with this:

"By the way, we think of earthquakes as something that happens in California, but the plant with the highest what we call 'core damage frequency' is actually Indian Point. [38 miles from New York City - Alex] It's only a mile away from a Richter point 7 and a half earthquake fault that wasn't discovered until after it was built. So we could have an East Coast earthquake at Indian Point, which would be disastrous."

We talk about the unsafe storage of 1600 tons of nuclear waste at the now-closed San Onofre nuke plant in California. Gundersen says that waste needs to be put into casks right away. The nuke materials in casks at Fukushima were not damaged by the earthquake or the tsunami.


Now to America's biggest nuclear risk: the Diablo Canyon reactors half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles, right on the coast.

Gundersen: "Diablo Canyon is in my mind the most dangerous reactor in the United States. It was known when they built the plant that ground accelerations of .4 G - [which is] four tenths the acceleration of gravity - could hit the plant. And that's the way they built it.

Well, as they were building it, they discovered other earthquake faults that were much nearer to the plant that could double that, to .75 G. They didn't change the plant, they just changed the numberical analysis to make the plant fit an earthquake that was twice as severe."

The two reactors at the Diablo Canyon site. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.



Gundersen: Fairewinds just produced a report that we sent to the NRC. The big thing that they're ignoring is not the gross collapse of the [reactor] building in the event of a Richter .7 G earthquake. It's something called 'instrument chatter'.

It's really not spoken about very often in nuclear circles, but hopefully Fairewinds can bring it to the forefront. You know you have switches on the wall that turn the light on. Well they have switches in nuclear plants too. We call them 'relays'. And if the ground shakes, the relays turn on and off without any human intervention. Now we found an NRC report that shows that the NRC has said there's a hundred percent probability that in the event of an earthquake, some of those relays are going to end up in the wrong position. So if you want a pump to be 'on' the relay's going to be 'off'. If you want a pump to be 'off' the relay's going to be 'on', because this relay chatter will cause them to bounce back and forth, and at the end of the earthquake they won't be in the right position.

It's a really serious problem that has been un-analyzed at Diablo Canyon. In my opinion, Diablo Canyon should be shut down until they analyze that problem. But of course that would be a four or five year effort and they may as well throw in the towels. So they are choosing to ignore the problem rather than really analyze this relay chatter issue.

Alex: This is the first I've heard of this. I guess we can say we are breaking this on Radio Ecoshock.

Gundersen: You are. You are. You know it's in the deep bowels of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's files, but they don't want to talk about it either. People who work with relays have seen them buzz. We'll be posting a video in the next couple of weeks about relay chatter. They routinely will buzz when they are not working right, when the springs are worn and tired, they'll sit there and go bzzzz.

Well, in the event of an earthquake that will happen anyway, even if it's a brand new relay, because they'll just bounce. The switches will turn on and off, on and off, and then when the earthquake ends there's no guarantee they'll be where you want them to be."

So what? If a series of pumps need to be on, to cool the reactor, and the quake leaves them off, the reactor could heat up and blow. These reactors are such complicated systems, that we are not talking about one or two switches that some human will reset. We are talking about a vast system of interdependent switches that will reset themselves in chaotic patterns. It may not be easy to recover... in time.

We go on to discuss a report by David Lochbaum, a nuclear expert working with the Union of Concerned Scientists. Lockbaum says Diablo Canyon has never met basic fire regulations, and the NRC doesn't make them meet the standards. Why can anyone operate a nuclear reactor with faulty fire protection? Arnie Gundersen says Diablo Canyon falls into Region Four of the NRC, which has a history of being lax about enforcing nuclear regulations.

The other trick, applied to dozens of American reactors which fail to meet safety standards, is to "grandfather" them. They are built, it's too expensive to fix (the operators say) and so they must be safe, even though they aren't. That's the kind of nuclear logic that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.


Gundersen: "We published a ... I think it's about q 45 page expert report that was sent to the NRC about a week and a half ago, with a legal filing that was sponsored by Friends of the Earth. Basically we determined that Diablo Canyon never should have been allowed to run. Because it violated a federal law. It's called 10 CFR 50. That's a nuclear law and it's part 50-59, which basically says that when you know a plant has problems, and you change your analytical approach to solve that problem, the public has a right to know it.

That didn't happen at Diablo Canyon. The public was not informed that Pacific Gas and Electric, the owner of Diablo Canyon made gross changes in all of the assumptions in order to get Diablo Canyon qualified to a much larger earthquake. The argument should have been made in 1980 and now Friends of the Earth is taking forward the argument 35 years later.


I asked Arnie Gundersen how can we finally shut down these aging dangerous reactors, before another Fukushima happens in America. His answer surprised me: install as much solar power as you can, personally, as a community, as a State.

It turns out nuclear plants actually lose money at night. They only make money supplying electricity during peak usage hours during the day. That's exactly when solar produces it's peak power. If enough solar power comes on line, nuclear plants will no longer make money. That's when they shut down.

You can also help concerned Californians trying to get the dangerous Diablo Canyon reactors closed forever. Contact Mothers For Peace, check out this article, or watch a video about it from EON here.

The Friends of the Earth document on Diablo Canyon is here. The Petition to the NRC just filed by Friends of Earth is here. Arnie recommend his latest video talk, given in San Francisco at the WAVE conference. Find it here, on his web site at

Please listen to this whole interview. There's more than I could capture in one blog.

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Arnie Gundersen of in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Speaking of limitation - apparently Blogger only allows posts of reasonable length, or it chokes. So I'm not going to include my notes on the Naomi Klein interview. She was brilliant as always, pointing out capitalism seems unable to do what is necessary to avoid a global climate disaster. It's a wide-ranging interview with Klein, and I hope more original than the generic Klein interviews now swamping the Net.

Learn which big green groups take money from fossil fuel companies, and which "green" billionaire isn't living up to his 3 billion dollar pledge. Find Naomi's new book "This Changes Everything, Capitalism Versus Climate Change" here. Everyone will be reading it, it's already a hot topic of discussion here and on many blogs around the Net.

Download or listen to my interview with Naomi Klein in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

This is Radio Ecoshock. Post your comments in this blog. If you have tips, or ideas for guests, contact me through our web site at - or just write me. The address is radio //at///

That's it for this week. Find Radio Ecoshock on Facebook. Subscribe to @ecoshock on Twitter. Look for our popular Soundcloud page. Get all our past shows as free .mp3 downloads at the web site

I'm Alex Smith, saying thank you for listening, and caring about our world. And please don't forget to answer the call for our (hopefully short) fall fundraiser. Details here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Talk in Twisted Times

SUMMARY: Deep thinker Frank Rotering introduces his desperate new strategy to split the rich and plunge the world economy into steep contraction. Then Gail Zawacki savages what's left, while she campaigns against the unknown threat of ozone smog. It's a panorama of inner conversations in twisted times.

The weather has gone sideways. Emissions are up. Climate talks are useless. Protests are polite.

Revolution? Not likely. So...

Author Frank Rotering from British Columbia, Canada hosts He called for the usual progressive bottom-up revolution against the consumer society. Now it's too late for that, Frank says. We need to push a schism in the wealthy capitalists who control the game. Some billionaires are beginning to see they will be wiped out along with the rest of us in ecocide.

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock show (141022) here in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)


Politicians, bankers and businessmen religiously tell you the economy needs to keep on growing, with more products and profits for all. Any sane person can see there are limits to growth on a single planet. As wildlife goes extinct, food chains break, and the climate spins out, we have already surpassed those limits. Even a steady state economy, steady as we are now, would crush the biosphere we depend on.

The only and obvious answer is contraction until we reach a sustainable plateau. That's the territory of Frank Rotering. He's the independent thinker from British Columbia, Canada, and lord of the web site Frank has two books out, including "The Economics of Needs and Limits". Prepare to have your basic ideas challenged.

Where to start... Let's say Frank thinks the analysis of capitalism by Karl Marx is still useful, while his solutions are not. Until relatively recently, and in his two previous books, Rotering yearned for the same bottom-up revolution many progressive people want. Stimulated by leadership by indigenous people, greens, and activists for social justice, the masses would wake up and demand change.

Now, and especially after reading Naomi Klein's new book "This Changes Everything", Rotering realizes (a) people in the developed countries are not going to revolt and (b) there isn't time left to educate the populace about the true state of affairs. Climate change is just one of several forces that indicate we have less than a decade left, if that, to make radical changes to avoid catastrophe.

While Frank has been a progressive person all is life, the cold facts drive him to a desperate conclusion. Our best and only hope is that enough capitalists will wake up to the dangers, and force changes themselves. That's not an impossible strategy. As you've heard on Radio Ecoshock in the past few weeks, former and current Secretaries of the U.S. Treasury warn climate change can sink our economy (read the wealth accumulated by the capitalist class). Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is on board the same train, worried about climate. Even the oil-rich Rockefellers say they are getting out of fossil fuel investments.

Rotering says as activists we can help speed up a split in the capitalist class. One party realizes we are engaged in the business of ecocide; the other are intent on making more profits while nature goes down into the sixth great mass extinction event. It will be a battle of the titans.

In the interview, I object that it may be a fantasy to depend on the "hero theory" - that the powerful will act to save us. That also relieves each of us from our own responsibility to make the millions of small changes needed to preserve a liveable planet. Frank points out that Naomi Klein also says a small group of billionaires (like Stayer and Branson) are not going to save us. He is not talking about a group of "heroes", but rather a division in a large class of people around the world - the people who have accumulated all the wealth. Their sea-side estates, their businesses, will be hit by climate change, not to mention other high risks faced by their kids.

It's possible, but I'm still not entirely convinced. You can take part in this discussion. Frank Rotering invites all Radio Ecoshock listeners to write him about this strategy. Pour out your objections to test the theory, ask your pointed questions, or make suggestions of how we can push this historic change. All this will be incorporated in Frank's new book, due out in 2015. Beta test social theory! Contact Frank through his web site at

You can also watch a 2011 video interview with Frank Rotering here. Download or listen to the Frank Rotering interview in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


New England's Gail Zawacki is fed up. The Flood Wall Street protest never delivered on it's plan for civil disobedience arrests. It gave up and ate pizzas without ever reaching Wall Street. Zawacki covers a lot of ground in these times of despair and failure. She's also been on a one-woman campaign against the almost unknown threat posed by low-level ozone smog.

From Georgia to New England, leaves are blotchy, trees are dying. It's a sign of the same polluted air that puts up to 20% of our kids with inhalers in the classroom. Low-level ozone is a plague around the world. It weakens plants for a deluge of fungi, insects, and diseases. Yet hardly anyone knows about it. Gail does, and she tells all.

The blog is called Wit's End. So far, it's been read over 11 million times. The author - I want to say artist - is Gail Zawacki. She's edgy. She's on a campaign to save trees from air pollution. But mostly Gail's in a battle against the never-ending conceits humans use to pretend


We begin by talking about the Flood Wall Street protest. Gail's description of the way this degenerated into a happy pizza party is funny and sad. Revolution? Not!

Read that here.

I just love the photo Gail contributed this week. Gail's dog knows where Wall Street is on a map, why don't the protesters?

Gail talks about the book An Appalachian Tragedy. It detailed the on-going impacts of ozone pollution on America's forests, from Georgia to New England. Nobody in the EPA was interested, and in fact, one person Gail wrote snapped the only "tragedy" was that the book was written at all!

We also discussed the Jack Fishman lecture to celebrate scientist Paul Creutzen's 80th birthday. Fishman realized the threat of low-level ozone back in the early 1990's. View that presentation here.

After a few formalities for Creutzen, Fishman launches into a powerful case indicting ozone. The video is described as: "Tropospheric Ozone in the Anthropocene: Are We Creating a Toxic Atmosphere? Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie Published on Feb 19, 2014

"Talk of Jack Fishman Saint Louis University, USA at the Anthropocene Symposium, Mainz, 2 December 2013. The scientific symposium has been organized by the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in celebration of the 80th birthday of Paul Crutzen, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1995."

Get this. This scientist asks if we are "creating a toxic atmosphere". How many people are interested. When I checked, there were 238 views on You tube. Yawn. Toxic atmosphere... who cares?

You can find out about Jack Fishman's "Ozone Gardens" in St. Louis in a .pdf here. School kids get to learn which plants die fastest from our air pollution.

Excerpts from Jack Fishman's 1990 book "Global Alert" are reprinted in this Zawaki blog post (scroll down past the gory photos of plants and trees blighted by ozone...)

Gail talks about the BBC "Global Dimming" documentary (which shows how our dusty pollution is shading Earth enough to hide up to 1 degree C of the greenhouse gases we've actually put into the atmosphere.

Find a transcript of that program here.

Watch the documentary here.

The Radio Ecoshock special on global dimming (20 minutes, 18 MB) is available as a free .mp3 here.

A transcript of Radio Ecoshock special on global dimming, (broadcast Sept 8, 2006) is here.

We also talk about what can happen if the smog on the air stops suddenly, say due to an economic crash, a solar storm knocking out electric grids, or whatever. Will the Earth experience a sudden burst of warming? Probably.

The Radio program Gail recommends is from Radio Lab, "Dust of This Planet" broadcast September 8th. She also likes the following program on September 19th, called "Staring into the Abyss".

Gail mentions Mark Jacobson, a Professor at Stanford who published a plan to switch the world to renewable energy by 2030. Dr. Mark Jacobson will be my guest on Radio Ecoshock soon.

Gails' Wit's End blog often features paintings by the Medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch. Find out more in this Wiki entry.

You can view the complete works of Hieronymus Bosch here.

Gail mentioned the World Bank applauding China's effort to impose a carbon tax. Find that news article here.

The New York Time article by Justin Gillis about ozone damage to crops is here.

Gail says pollution-damaged crops produce less at harest time, but also have less nutrition. Find the Article in the journal Nature "Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition" reference here. (Only the Abstract is available for free.)

Find the "Apocalypsi Libary at The End of the World" here.

For the Dead Trees - Dying Forests website, click here.

Find Gail's book "Pillage, Plunder & Pollute, LLC" as a free .pdf download on this page.

Or order the print version of the book here on Amazon. It's Gail's terrific summary of her almost one-woman campaign to wake us all up to the on-going damage caused by invisible ground-level ozone pollution. I recommend it.

And of course, don't miss her witty blog, here.

You can download or listen to the Radio Ecoshock interview with Gail Zawacki in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Gail sailed through a lot of cutting edge material. All of it is backed up by recent papers and articles you will want. Follow the links for yourself.


Frank Rotering talked about Naomi Klein's new book "This Changes Everything". Naomi will be my guest on Radio Ecoshock two weeks from now. Gail Zawacki mentioned Stanford's Mark Jacobson, who worked out a path to a world powered by renewables by 2030. Mark will join us soon on the show.

But next week I want to dive into a great gaping sink-hole of mainstream media news coverage. No doubt you've seen fast clips about the two typhoons flooding Japan lately. They don't tell you what is happening at the Fukushima nuclear disaster site, where tons of radioactive water flow straight into the Pacific Ocean on a good day. It's time for a Fukushima update, with our best guide, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen. Plus, Arnie has been sending reports to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about California's most dangerous reactor, Diablo Canyon. As we found out from Fukushima, a blow reactor anywhere in the world quickly becomes everybody's problem, no matter where you live. Stay tuned to Radio Ecoshock.

Our Soundcloud page went over 10,000 listens this week. Check that out. Get all our past programs as free mp3 downloads from the show web site at They are only free to all the world thanks to the people who donate to Radio Ecoshock. You can help here.

Donors and subscribers also fund my work on 87 non-profit radio stations. These stations do not pay me anything, and they forbid any program to fund-raise. So I'm counting on you, the podcast subscriber and blog reader, to keep on going.

I'm Alex Smith, saying thank you for listening, and thanks for supporting this show on your non-profit radio station.

I close out the show with a bit of my latest music.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Future Past

SUMMARY: Bojana Bajzelj of Cambridge finds raising food for 9 billion will take all our carbon emissions. Benjamin Blonder tells us how the current plant world was shaped by the last big meteorite hit. Eelco Rohling: sea level rose 5 meters (16 ft) in the last big warming melt. Radio Ecoshock 141015

Welcome to Radio Ecoshock. I'm Alex Smith with a show crammed with science that matters. Three new papers on climate change: rising emissions from our food system, seas rising 5 meters, over 16 feet in a single century, and the big bang of a meteor strike.

Let's go.

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

Or listen right now on Soundcloud.


Several scientist guests on Radio Ecoshock warn we will never be free of carbon emissions because our food system creates greenhouse gases. It comes from clearing forests for fields, from stirring up the soil, from petrochemical-based fertilizers, from cows and other animals (as methane), and then whatever we use to transport the food to your home.

How bad are those food-based emissions? Figures vary from 20% of our total emissions, all the way up to 50%. They are large enough, and growing so much, that in a few decades all the carbon we can possibly afford to release will come from our food system. That means all industry, transportation, and products must be carbon free - or we live in a dwindling damaged climate.

A new study led by Cambridge University in the UK, assisted by Scottish scientists calculates the carbon future of agriculture. I reached the study's lead author, Dr. Bojana Bajzelj. Bojana is from the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. The paper published at the end of August 2014 is titled "Importance of food-demand management for climate mitigation".

That's in the journal Nature Climate Change, a closed journal, but you can get the abstract and some of the charts in this article.

The more scientists look, the impacts of overpopulation are impossible. A new study from the University of Washington projects world population by the year 2100 will be 12 billion people, 3 billion higher than figures accepted by the United Nations.

Even if it's 9 billion people, a study out of Cambridge University calculates the greenhouse gases just to feed that population will swallow the entire budget for greenhouse gases. Even at our current 7 billion plus people, we are cutting into rich biological forests like the Amazon and Congolese rainforests, to grow more food, especially for meat production.

The Cambridge study predicts the world will lose yet another 10 percent of existing forests in the scramble to feed ourselves. Are you worried about losing half our wildlife in the last 40 years? Bojana tells us that agricultural deforestation is the Number One cause of loss of biodiversity.

These scientists tell us that by 2050, emissions from the food system will be 80% higher than they were in 2009 (when they were already at a record high amount).

I asked Bojana if their study also included a scenario where the world population went DOWN. That seems like a fair question in these days of Ebola. They did not consider this. She recommends the work of Dr. Hans Rosling on population predictions. Rosling offers many statistics on why we shouldn't panic on population. I disagree, but you can see his video "Don't Panic, the Truth About Population" here.

When we burn or cut forests, we lose carbon to the atmosphere twice. The trees themselves are made of carbon. That is released to the air. But forests also buffer some of our carbon pollution, and we lose that too.


We encounter rapid human population growth as yet another positive feedback mechanism. Bajzelj covered that in another paper, released this summer with Keith S. Richards. The title is "The Positive Feedback Loop between the Impacts of Climate Change and Agricultural Expansion and Relocation". I'll pass this one to Dr. Guy McPherson, in case he's missed this for his grand list of positive feedback loops. Find Guy's list here. Scroll down to "Self-Reinforcing Feedback Loops"

If the population does increase to 9 billion, we have to clear more land for agriculture. That deforestation creates more global warming. Climate change causes more damage to agriculture than benefits. So climate change means we would need to clear even more land for farming, especially given the current global trend toward inefficient meat consumption. We clear more land, raise more methane producing livestock, get more warming, get more climate damage, clear more land.... and that's the loop. The author of the study doesn't think it classifies as a major positive feedback loop, but it is definitely another one.

The really stunning thing is the need to do these two studies. Here we are with a population that keeps booming, and keeps demanding more meat. Both subjects are almost taboo with politicians who hope to get elected. There isn't a zero-population, veggie-promoting leader anywhere on the planet, that I know of. How the heck can we get a few billion people to take off the blinders, and see where this train is headed?


Yes, this problem includes you, assuming you eat food, and don't grow it all yourself. So what can be done?

First of all, about half of all food grown in the world is simply wasted. Even in a hungry country like India, over half the crops grown are lost to pests, lack of refrigeration, poor transport, and uneven distribution. Here in the developed world, we also waste about half the food grown, but in a different place in the food chain: restaurants, grocery stores, and homes toss out mountains of food. We could greatly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by cutting out that waste.

The second big move is too obvious. We need to greatly reduce meat consumption in the developed world, and head off that ominous trend in the developing world. China has moved big-time "up" the food chain, eating billions of tons more chicken and pork. At least those animals produce less methane than cows do. Cows are the number one biggest emitters - personally as they give off methane, but also in the huge amounts of food required to produce a single pound of beef.

The relationship of vegetables to meat is something like 10 to 90. Growing vegetables producesabout 10 percent of the greenhouse gases versus 90% for the same amount of food power from meat. See my interview with Kip Anderson "Cowspiracy".

Personally, after talking with many scientists, I think any carbon budget for 2050 is not workable. By then, we must find a way to reverse our civilization, so that we are drawing carbon back out of the air, rather than adding any at all. Assuming we are going to continue eating, this study emphasizes the huge amount of carbon draw-down we'll require just to break even, just to take out as much carbon as agriculture requires.


Humans seem set to trigger a climate change at amazing speed. We could experience a greenhouse world from just 150 years of fossil-fuelled civilization. It's likely one of the most rapid world-scale changes in nature in this planet's 4 billion year history.

We're going to journey back millions of years, to explore the fastest mass extinction event we know much about. Maybe we'll learn something about our future. Our tour-guide is Dr. Benjamin Blonder, from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, at the University of Arizona.

Blonder is the lead author of "Plant Ecological Strategies Shift Across the Cretaceous–Paleogene Boundary" It is published in the journal PLOS Biology, which is open to the public. Anyone can read the full paper here.


Seventy million years ago, Earth's climate was in flux, changing from ice-house worlds to greenhouse times. Then 66 million years ago, a chunk of rock 10 kilometers across hit the Earth. We think it landed on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, creating a crater in the Gulf of Mexico. A kind of matter called "Iridium" spread all over the world. Iridium comes from outer space, so we know approximately when this disaster happened.

Immediately there was a giant tsunami, but also a great cloud of smoke and particles that went round the world. We don't know how long it was dark, but possibly for years. About half of all plant life on the planet died off. So did many animals, including most of the dinosaurs (except those which could fly, becoming our modern birds).

The event has been compared to a nuclear winter, but much bigger. It's thought the meteorite exploded with the force of 100 teratons of TNT. That's such a big number. I did a little math. The largest nuclear weapon ever tested, the 1960's Soviet "Tsar Bomba" - that was 58 megatons of TNT. It looks to me like this 100 teraton meteorite blast was the equivalent of about 2 million of the largest nuclear weapon ever made, all blown off at once. That's a big bang.


One result of that meteor impact, and this was the major point of Blonder's paper, is the widespread deciduous plants we see today, in the Fall colors of North America, Europe and Russia. Prior to the impact, most of that region was clothed in slower-growing flowering evergreen plants. These survive today in things like ivy and mistletoe.

When the sky went dark, plants had several possible survival strategies. One was to drop their leaves, and wait for the next patch of sunlight. Evergreens couldn't do that, and died in great numbers. Plants also migrated, invasive species filled up the ecological holes, and so the Earth saw many of the responses we might see again with a rapid climate shift.

It's difficult to apply this meteor-strike science directly to modern times, because the research method cannot be more accurate than 10,000 years. That means they just don't know what happened in 100 years, for example.

The science involves the study of fossil leaves, which can tell us a lot about the ecology and biology of formerly living things. It's similar to the work explained by Dr. Robert Spicer to Radio Ecoshock listeners in our 2008 interview. Find that here.

My friend and correspondent Dr. Andrew Glikson in Australia made a time map and catalog of all the known meteor stikes during the last billion years or so of Earth's history. Things arrive from space from time to time. is there anything stopping another big comet or meteor showing up and hitting the Earth again? Not at all, says Blonder. His University of Arizona is a leader in tracking activity from outer space, (the "Space Watch program") - but surprises are always possible.

Personally, I don't worry about rocks from space. The most dangerous thing around here is a species that can't live up to it's name "homo sapiens". Dr. Blonder says there is no point in worrying about such a meteor strike, as there is absolutely nothing we can do to prepare for it, or survive it. There may be no big strike in the next 50 million years, or it may come next year. Nobody knows for sure.


In a warming world, we picture sea level rise creeping up slowly, measured in inches or milLimeters. Maybe not. According to new science, at the end of the last five ice ages, the seas rose several meters per century, more than 10 feet. There was such a case about 14,600 years ago.

Eelco Rohling is a Professor of Ocean and Climate Change at the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton, in Australia. He's the co-author of the paper "Sea-level variability over five glacial cycles." That was just published in the journal Nature Communications. As that is a closed journal, here is a good science-based article about this new study.

Dr. Eelco Rohling

We should stress that sea level rise comes from land-based ice, and not the more well-known melting of the sea ice cover at the North Pole. Right now, Rohling tells us, land ice is melting rapidly from Greenland, from West Antarctica, and almost anywhere glaciers are found. The recent NASA science showing that Antarctica is also losing ice mass was stunning. I covered that in my Rado Ecoshock show for May 21st, 2014. Listen to, or download that here. The show blog with links is here.

The scientists led by Rohling managed to date several major de-glaciations in the last hundred thousand years, and about 120 lesser melt periods. The largest amount of sea level rise was indeed over 5 meters in a single century (over 16 feet). BUT that record amount happened when Earth was covered by more than twice as much ice as today. North America, for example, was half buried in a glacier more than a mile deep. To look at what could happen today, Rohling says we need to look at the lesser melt events.

For example, there were similar size melts 240,000 years ago, and 330,000 years ago, Rohling tells us. These resulted in about 1.5 meters of sea level rise (almost 5 feet) in a single century. That's pretty close to what the IPCC is predicting as well.

Five feet is catastrophic on it's own. Just think of the amount of delta farming land lost, the major world cities that would need to relocate, the mega-changes to nature on the coasts. And that doesn't include the storm surges from climate-driven monster storms. Add another 20 feet or more for those.

Two more things stand our for me in this study.

1. We shouldn't even be talking about what happens in one century. Rising seas will continue for many centuries. In some case the greatest sea level rise happens 400 years after the melting begins.

2. Related to that, the past history of de-glaciation shows that once this melting process begins, it is "irreversible" (says Rohling). Past major melts were begun in part by changes in the Earth's orbit, slowly leading to warming on Earth. The current melt is being cause by human-induced climate change. It doesn't matter what triggers the melt. Once it's begun, it will continue to unfold - even if humans managed to cool things down, say with geo-engineering or quitting the carbon habit.

We're committed to ever-changing coastlines already. We are imposing a constantly rising sea, an ever-changing coast line, on all humans, animals and plants to come, for hundreds or even thousands of years.

It's hard to picture a civilization where the coast is always changing. I suppose cities now by the sea, and that's many of the world's largest metropolises, would have to be abandoned. Living by the sea will become more dangerous, especially during storm surges.

I also worry that the current melting may not follow the patterns of the past. We may heat things up so fast, that we get the 5 meters of sea level rise anyway, much sooner than anyone expects. Nobody knows for sure where this experiment with the atmosphere is leading.

Blogger Robert Scribbler has a good article, saying "Current sea level rise is faster than at any time in the last 6000 years."


I hate bugging people for money. In my ideal world, science journalists and radio producers would live from some magical grant money. I don't get any grant money, don't run advertisements, and won't take corporate funding.

Right now I need your support to pay the bills, and keep on going. I may have to mount an official fund-raising drive. We'll see. If you can help, please either send a one-time donation, or sign up for the $10 a month membership. Both kinds of donors have kept this radio show going for the past year. Can you help? Visit this page for details.


Coming up: we'll talk about why Progressives (maybe you and I) are part of the problem, rather than the solution. I've got a special on new radioactive leaks into the Pacific from Fukushima coming up. You know, the big storms that hit Japan, and nobody mentions the already flooded reactor cores down there somewhere.... Later in the month, Naomi Klein joins us. Stay tuned.

That's our program for this week. Download all our past programs as free .mp3 files at our web site, I'm Alex Smith. Thanks for listening, and please share the news about Radio Ecoshock on social media. Once a week I Tweet out the show announcement. Follow @ecoshock.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Quick summary: WWF report: 52% of wildlife lost since 1970. Cost of climate change forum with Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Jack Lew. Update on climate march and results. Plus climate poetry and new song by Neil Young. Radio Ecoshock 141008

Welcome to Radio Ecoshock. This week we take a break from interviews with experts. There is just too much stomach-churning news to ignore. I would let you down if we didn't cover the biggest headlines.

There is some recovery time as well. You'll hear a few clips from the massive climate march in New York City and around the world. I've also slipped in 3 new songs and a sample of climate poetry.

Buckle up, and let's slip into the raging river.

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

Or you can download or listen to this program on Soundcloud right now!


The population of vertebrate wildlife has fallen by half since 1970.

We could more or less stop this program right there. Maybe we should fill the rest with a funeral march.

Wait. We are adults, we are conscious, we can take it.

The study is called the "Living Planet Report 2014". It was published by the World Wide Fund for Nature, the new name for the World Wildlife Fund.

The 180 page report features a new way to count the species most like us, those with backbones. That includes mammals of course, but also reptiles, birds, amphibians, and fish. The new method is called "The Living Planet Index".

In addition to the World Wildlife Fund, other groups contibuted heavily to this new assessment. These include the Zoological society of London, the Global Footprint Network, and the Water Footprint Network.

I play short clip from Ken Norris, Director of Science at the Zoological Society of London, recorded by ITN news.

Just a couple of years ago, in their 2012 report, WWF said the wildlife populations were down "only", only 28 percent since 1970. That's almost doubled, to 52 percent, now that scientists have been able to add up the damage in developing countries. Earlier estimates were based on easily available wildlife counts in North America and Europe, where some creatures are even recovering. Now we learn that in Southeast Asia, and Latin America, the animals are disappearing at a terrifying rate.

I know we are all thinking about iconic animals like tigers, elephants and gorillas. These have declined by 38 percent, and some like the Siberian Tiger and the White Rhino are almost extinct. The causes are hunting, for trophies, bush meat, ivory, or alleged medicines. But it's also the same problem faced by animals all over the world: human populations are booming. We want the wood from the forests, the water from the streams, we want to cut it all down for money and places to live and grow our food. That's called "habitat loss".

Ocean species are also declining, by 39 percent around the world since 1970. That's mostly by overfishing, overfishing, and overfishing including by-catch. Governments are still subsidizing the construction of new ever-more powerful fishing boats with underwater radar and all that. We are literally scraping the bottom of the sea into emptiness.

But the largest losers are the creatures who inhabit fresh water. Everything from lake and river fish, to amphibians and fresh water mammals are down by an astonishing 76 percent since 1970. How long until these waters are empty?

The exit of wildlife from Planet Earth is not mainly about climate change. Yet. The WWF report estimates 37% of animals loss is from exploitation, 31% from habitat change, 13% from outright habitat loss, and smaller amounts from invasive species and genes, pollution, disease, and at this point 7.1% from climate change.

Wildlife protection works, sort of. The study found land-based animals within protected zones dropping only 18% since 1970. On the other hand, rhinos are disappearing even in protected area in Africa and Southeast Asia.

We wrap this one up with a quote from Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, recorded for the Telegraph newspaper in the UK.

Here is a decent AP article about this report. Or check out the good charts on it

Do I need to spell out what it means? In the time since some of your were children, in 1970, Earth is bleeding out half the species closest to us in structure, in their brains and lives. As we expand our billions of people, and our endless desires and consumption, we are knocking most other species off the planet. Does anyone really think we can survive without them?

Normally I complain mainstream media doesn't cover the biggest stories. This time they did. The Living Planet Report got video with TV networks, and stories from all the wire services and major newspapers. From there it will head into oblivion, as the next headline pops up, the next video goes viral. We'll re-enter the dream of forgetfulness, only dimly aware of our growing position of lonliness, as Nature exits stage right.


Here is a short climate poem, in the genre known as "investigative poetry." It's read by the poet, Edward Keenan. He's the City Hall reporter for the Toronto Star, and author of a book about the rise of the crack-pot Mayor Rob Ford.

This recording comes from a podcast called "After the Collapse", recorded live at La Revolucion Cafe in Toronto, Canada. That's produced for "Radio Regent" - a virtual station from one of Toronto's poorest habitations, called Regent Park. I love how really local radio is flowering. You can find the After the Collapse podcast episodes at


And I mean really, really hot. Like in Southern California, where it was over 105 degrees Fahrenheit, 40 degrees C, in the first week of October. The Los Angeles Times compared it to Death Valley temperatures escaping into the rest of the state.

In their story headlined "Sweltering heat continues to hold Southland in its grip", we find this quote from William Patzert, a climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge:

"This is not a good preview of coming attractions...Triple-digit temperature, single-digit humidity and gusty breezes — that's a formula for misery and fires." Patzert added: "We're living in a warmer world, so we should expect that daytime and nighttime temperature records will tumble."

And here is what happens when the hot future arrives: it's too hot for many human activities. School districts like Long Beach, without air-conditioning in schools, cancelled classes. In Los Angeles, schools cancelled "all outdoor activities and sports practices". Just imagine trying to do construction jobs, agriculture picking, electric line maintenance - anything that involves outdoor work. These will have to become night-time activities in the coming decades. It will be too hot to go outside in the daytime. In October.

What about the state-wide extreme drought in California and the Southwest?


A new study released by Dr. Toby Ault of Cornell University warns megadroughts are coming, in many parts of the world, due to climate change. Some places will go 35 years of more without any rain. These will be drying and hotter than anything we've discovered in the past.

The peer-reviewed study will be published in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate. It is the first to conclusively prove extreme droughts are caused by climate change.

Dr. Ault told the Independent newspaper in the UK, quote:

We can now explicitly add megadroughts to the list of risks that are being intensified by climate change. Without climate change there would be a 5 to 15 per cent risk of a megadrought in the south-west of the US this century. With it, the probability jumps to between 20 per cent and 50 per cent, with the southernmost part of the country particularly at risk."

We are not just talking about California. These dry decades of megadroughts are expected to show up in southern Europe, in many parts of Africa, Central and South America, and Australia.


Speaking of Australia, new science shows the extreme heat in 2013, Australia's hottest year ever, can be attributed directly to climate change. In 2013, as Tim Radford of Climate News Network tell us, "Australia recorded its hottest day ever, its hottest month in the history books, its hottest summer, its hottest spring, and its hottest year overall."

All that is found in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society titled "Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 from a Climate Perspective". You can download it for free.

There is more here, from NOAA.

The irony is that Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been down-playing or denying human-caused climate change. But this study was partly paid for with tax dollars. Actually, five scientific teams looked at extreme weather in Australia.

Tim Radford writes, quote: "doubled the chance of severe heat waves in Australia - making extreme summer temperatures five times more likely, increasing the chance of drought conditions sevenfold, and making hot temperatures in spring 30 times more probable."

The same collection of papers was unable to agree on the climate influence of the current drought in California, or the strange out-of-season snowfall events in South Dakota or the Spanish Pyrenees. Some scientists found enough evidence for climate drivers, others did not. That is a hung jury among scientists.


What are over-heated Australians to do? One town is leading the way into the new future. Coober-Pedy has moved everything, from homes to a shopping mall, underground to avoid the heat. I've been to a similar underground village in Southern Tunisia.

Coober-Pedy was founded in 1915 for opal mining. The miners left a handy collection of tunnels and underground rooms. Resident re-fashion these into homes called "dugouts". There are 1500 dugout homes, with every modern convenience.

That's the future folks. It's what our early ancestor mammals did to survive an earlier giant greenhouse world a some millions of years ago. Burrow undergound, and come out at night.


Looking for more hot stories. How about this one. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, says 2014 is on track to be the hottest year ever recorded. NASA data shows August 2014 was the hottest August ever, around the world.

As reported by Andrea Thompson at, Jake Crouch, NOAA climatologist told a press briefing:

"If we continue a consistent departure from average for the rest of 2014, we will edge out 2010 as the warmest year on record.”

More from Andrea,

"For the year-to-date, the globe has measured 1.22°F above the 20th century average of 57.3°F, which makes January-August 2014 the third warmest such period since records began in 1880. The record-hot August marks the 38th consecutive August and the 354th consecutive month with a global average temperature above the 20th century average, according to the NCDC."

Maybe folks in the Eastern US and Canada had doubts about this cool summer, but around the world it's been sweltering. There are more reports that the oceans are abnormally hot, but we'll save that for another show.


People know it's hot. Coming up you'll get some clips from the big climate march. But first, it's time to follow the money.

The new game among some big money men, in business and in governments, is to calculate the cost of climate change. Some talk as though it's an item you can put in a spreadsheet, a cost of business as usual. Others sound genuinely worried, as they describe climate damage in language Wall Street can understand.

Let's listen in as former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and current US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, speak at an event co-ordinated by the Hamilton Project on September 22nd, 2014.

These are no lightweights. Robert Rubin is currently co-chair of the very influential power center, the Council on Foreign Relations. And Rubin is clear and concerned about climate change. The two were joined by Michael Greenstone. He's The Milton Friedman Professor in Economics and Director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. Trust me, The Milton Friedman chair is no left wing position. And yet here they all are, talking about climate change.

You can find the video of this event online. Or download the audio here.

I play you the key material from this forum.

Note that at the latest meeting of G-20 leaders of developed countries, the best they could do for the climate was to continue to study funding mechanisms to help those countries wrecked by it. More study! Utterly lame.

Later in the question and answer period, Michael Greenstone said that if scientists are in almost complete agreement about climate change, economists have a big majority who agree on what to do about it. Put a price on carbon. That penalizes big emitters, and rewards those who find cleaner ways.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew must repeat the mantra that the American economy, and the world economy, must continue to grow, despite climate change. He apparently didn't get the memo that scientists, including Radio Ecoshock guest Dr. Timothy Garrett, have shown the economy must actually shrink to have any hope of reducing climate emissions. In a peer-reviewed paper, published in a respected journal, Garrett showed that wealth equals energy equals heat. In fact, at this point, only a rapid collapse of the economy could save us from extreme climate change.

Never mind. All finance ministers must talk about ever-lasting growth, even on a finite planet obviously already under stress. Sooner or later I'm going to interview Professor Niko Paech. He's a professor at the Carl Ostiewsky University in Oldenburg. Niko made himself unpopular by showing how developed economies could shrink themselves, and reduce emissions for real. Aside from consuming much less, Niko Paech calls for a 20 hour work week. Work less, consume less, produce less, pollute less - and maybe we have a chance.


Meanwhile, the huge accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has released a report stating the obvious: the world is failing to cut emissions. Instead we are adding more pollution. The report says we are headed beyond the supposed 2 degree C, 3.6 Fahrenheit "safe level". It's called "Low Carbon Economy Index".

The accountants say, quote: “the gap between what we are doing and what we need to do has again grown, for the sixth year running." They expect us to reach at least 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit of warming by the year 2100. I'd call that an underestimate.


Before we jump off the nearby bridge, there was one big, big piece of good news from the financial world this week. The legendary Rockefeller Brothers announced they are divesting themselves of fossil fuels. The Rockefellers practically brought us the the oil age.

When they get out, it's time to get out!

The Rockefellers says renewable energy is the future to invest in.

According to the Financial Times, the Rockefeller Brothers trust fund joins another 800 institutions and billionaires controlling over 50 billion dollars in investments. In particular, the Rockefellers are withdrawing any money from the Tar Sands. Maybe some day, the Canadian Tar Sands will shut down because no one will invest in them. It's a small hope, but a real one.


Just for a break, here is a short music creation sent in to Radio Ecoshock by long-time listener and musician Dana Pearson from Oakland California. It's all produced at home on synthsizers, and called "Overshoot".

Find Dana Person as vastmandana at Thanks for your work Dana, on behalf of the climate and your fervent dream of solar energy for the world.


So what about the climate march, September 21st, 2014? Somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 people filled the streets of New York city. They marched with very creative floats and banners. They rallied to push for climate action, starting with the meeting of world leaders the following Tuesday, called by the United Nations. There were thousands of other marches in other cities and countries around the world on the same day.

It was the biggest climate protest so far. That is certainly encouraging. Poll after poll find that at least 60%, and often 80% of humans believe climate change is real and caused by human actions.

You can watch or listen to the special Democracy Now! coverage of the New York City climate march here.

I selected clips from the climate march, New York September 21st from Democracy Now with Amy Goodman. Speakers are Leonardo di Caprio, Bill McKibben, Robert Kennedy Jr., Jim Schultz, Katy Robbins, Sandra Steingraber.


And yet, as the satirical headline in Onion News shows: "7.1 Billion Demonstrate in Favor of Global Warming".

"In an overwhelming show of support for dangerously escalating temperatures, 7.1 billion people from nearly every nation on earth staged massive demonstrations yesterday in favor of global warming. 'Whether they were sitting in their living rooms, watching Football at a bar, or just driving somewhere, a sizable portion of the world let its support for climate change be heard loud and clear,' said environmental policy expert Janet Purvis, adding that the protest that began in the morning never lost steam at any point throughout the day. 'This should serve as a wake-up call to officials around the world that the factors contributing to global warming are real, important, and must be protected at any cost.' At press time, the 7.1 billion protesters were reportedly making plans to stage similar rallies every day for the foreseeable future."


The Democracy Now coverage also included the premier of a new eco-song by Neil Young. Here it is, "Who's Gonna Stand Up? (and save the Earth)".

Find that song here on Soundcloud.

Neil Young donated that song "Who's Gonna Stand Up" to the climate protest movement. Thanks Neil!


Earlier we talked about the world of finance, and their role in supporting the continued development of deadly fossil fuels. That was not lost on the climate marchers in New York. They helped resurrect the Occupy banner, to "Flood Wall Street". More here from Ecowatch, including the polar bear arrest photo taken by Shawn Cain.

The protesters made clear they hold "unregulated capitalism" responsible for the continuing heating of the atmosphere, with resulting damage here on Earth. This protest of several thousand people was more tense. The cops arrested over 100 people. One full-size polar bear was also cuffed and removed. Actually inside it was Peter Galvin, co-founder of Center for Biological Diversity.

Naomi Klein, Chris Hedges and Rebecca Solnit spoke at the rally.


After all that, the actual UN meeting of world leaders on climate change was, if you' permit a pun, "anti-climactic". In spite of attention around the world, nothing much was done.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping didn't show up. Those are the leaders of the world's largest carbon polluter, and the up-and-coming candidate for second largest. Two other big polluters skipped this meeting of world leaders: Canada's Mr. Tar Sands Stephen Harper, and Australian Mr. Coal Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Also missing in action was Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

India's absence was really depressing. China at least has made some goals for reduction, and actually implemented new clean energy on a large scale. By contrast the government of Narendra Modi has avoided climate change, while loading up on coal power.

According to the New York Times, India plans to increase emissions. Never mind if the Monsoons don't come, or the heat becomes even more unbearable. We're going to need a whole show on India and climate change.

Some promises were made. President Obama outlined his country's plan to reduce emissions. The European Union promised to cut emissions by 40% of 1990 levels by the year 2030. That's huge. Most of the emissions explosion happened since the year 1990, so the Europeans have a big target.

Britain's David Cameron was more long term, promising to cut emissions by 80% by 2050. He'll be dead then, so it's OK. The climate would be irretrievably lost at that rate.

According to a handy round-up of climate meeting promises in the National Journal, quote: "Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli repeated China's previously stated goal of cutting carbon emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020." Find that article here.

Japan made no commitments at all. Canada said they would cut emissions from cars, but said nothing about the Tar Sands or other fossil fuel production. It was all under-whelming. If these are our brave world leaders, there is nobody there to save us, or our grandchildren.


That's my Radio Ecoshock climate round-up for this week. Next week we'll be talking with scientists about shocking new developments in climate change. Did you know the sea level can rise 5 meters in a century, once the ice starts melting? It's happened before.

Christine donated enough to pay for our entire month's worth of Radio Ecoshock downloads from the Internet. Thanks Christine! You can help keep this program going. Get the details here, or click the donate button above. It all helps!

We've indulged in a little music and poetry this week. I want to close out with my own heart-break for the hundreds of thousands of ordinary families in Syria who lost their homes in the past two weeks. They were kicked out at gun-point, with women kept behind, and head-of-households executed. I had to pour out my feelings into music.

I'm Alex Smith. Thanks for listening, and please tune in again next week.

Here is my new song: "Allah weeps".

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why Lie to Ourselves About Methane?

Welcome to another packed Radio Ecoshock show. I'm your tour guide, Alex Smith.

This week we look into why the U.S. government, and governments around the world, continue to kid themselves about the power of methane, the number two global warming gas in the atmosphere. With a threat this serious, coming from the melting Arctic, warming oceans, fracking, agriculture, and all or natural gas use - it isn't "kidding". It is lying to ourselves at great cost. A group of esteemed scientists have written to top levels of American government calling for a change toward reality on methane.

Then we'll investigate some of the costs of carbon pollution, with seasoned journalist and author Mark Shapiro. His new book is called "Carbon Shock" The show wraps up with a turn toward the spiritual, a kind of scientific change in our whole story. Andrew Beath is our guest.

Onward and upward.

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

Or listen to/download this program right now on Soundcloud!


While the world's focus is on carbon dioxide, a group of powerful scientists have written an urgent letter to the directors of five U.S. government agencies. More than 21 scientists wrote the letter on July 29th, 2014. It's just now surfacing in public, brought to my attention by Paul Beckwith.

The scientists worry the American government, like other governments around the world, is not paying attention to the big risks posed by methane. That's methane from the Arctic, as you've heard on this program, but also methane from gas fracking, which our guest Robert Howarth warned us about years ago.

One of the lead agents behind this letter is Anna Moritz, known as Mickey. She's a legal fellow at the Center for Biological Diversity. Moritz has published a lot, including as co-author of this just released paper on "The Worst Case and the Worst Example: An Agenda for Any Young Lawyer Who Wants to Save the World from Climate Chaos". She's also a co-author of the university level book "Climate Change: A Reader".

This letter is one of those rare historic and extraordinary warnings from scientists to top levels of government. It reminds me of the letter written by Albert Einstein to President Roosevelt, warning atomic power is real, and could be used to make a super-bomb never seen before on Earth. Now we have the methane bomb.

Read the letter for yourself here.


I am not a scientist. I've learned from my guests and research. I welcome any corrections to this primer.

Here is the situation in a nutshell: carbon dioxide is measured as a global warming by it's climate forcing over a 100 year period. That is given the value of 1. There are other greenhouse gases that are many time more powerful than carbon dioxide, so they get a higher number which is meant to compare them to CO2.

Methane (CH4, also known as "natural gas") deteriorates in the atmosphere, devolving into more carbon dioxide, among other things. The life of methane at it's most powerful levels is around 12 years. In order to compare methane to carbon dioxide, it was given a comparative number of 20. If we look at the warming potential of methane over 100 years, pound for pound, or kilo by kilo, it would be 20 times more powerful at trapping warmth than CO2.

Here's the trouble: during it's (approximate) 12 year life in the atmosphere, methane is actually at least 86 times as powerful as the same amount of CO2, according to the most recent science, and it's very good and dependable science. Other scientists suggest that for very short periods, perhaps a year, methane could be 150 times more powerful than CO2, or even higher. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has moved a bit, raising methane's Global Warming Potential (GWP) from 20 to 34 - but that's still based on 100 years, and is still misleading and dangerously low.

Previously, say in the 1990's, governments took the long-term view of global warming. It was something that would develop over centuries, and wouldn't likely be seen much until later in this century. They talked about limits for greenhouse gases for the year 2100. Then big impacts of climate change showed up at the START of this century. Arctic sea ice melted away to levels not seen in human history. Glaciers began to disappear. The weather went strange, heat records climbed, ocean acidity rose, and the weather went wonky. It turns out the Earth's sensitivity to greenhouse gases was far great than science previously thought.

So now it matters very much what happens in the short term, including in the 12 years methane is in the atmosphere. Worse: that 12 year term assumes methane appears, and then disappears. But what if we have a steady source of methane, something that keeps on replenishing the load in the atmosphere, or even increases it annually, and decade by decade?

We've found many such steady sources of methane. As the human population increases, and there is more demand for meat all over the world, methane from crops (like rice paddies) and from animals (principally cows) goes up. Let's add the big expansion of natural gas drilling, especially fracking. Over-flights measuring methane in the United States found certain fracking regions are "super-emitters" of CH4. "Natural gas" is also leaking from transmission pipelines, and aging city delivery systems. We've had several guests on Radio Ecoshock explain this, including Dr. Robert Howarth (blog and interview here), Dr. Adam R Brandt from Stanford (blog item and interview available here) and Scott Miller (interview here)

Paradoxically, the Environmental Protection Agency has a chart on their site saying methane emissions from the United States have actually gone down a little in the 12 years from 1990 to 2012. They don't post more recent information, which would include fracking. Radio Ecoshock guest Scot Miller from Harvard was part of a group of scientists that found real methane emissions in the atmosphere are at least 50% greater than EPA calculations. The EPA used a ground-up figure, trying to add up things like gas wells, wetlands, and cows. Meanwhile other scientists flew in the air and measured what was up there. It's almost like the Agency doesn't want to know, or is stuck in the past. Can this letter give them a push in the right direction?


Added to those human sources of methane, we have two new giants on the block. The first is frozen methane in the ocean, blobs of methane and ice called clathrates. These are found in both the Pacific and the Atlantic. The Japanese talked about mining them for energy. But the biggest threat appears to be clathrates located on shallow sea beds in the rapidly warming Arctic. There's a lot of hurried, almost desperate, research going into that now, with a focus on the shelf off the coast of Eastern Siberia. Scientists have already found funnels of methane bubbling to the surface, more than a kilometer across.

How methane erupts. Source:

Here is an interesting article about that "Arctic Seaved Methane Stores Destablizing and Venting" from


The second fearsome giant is more widespread, and possibly impossible to measure at this time. There is methane trapped below the permafrost, the permanently frozen cap covering the northern part of this planet. At least we thought it was permanent. Now with Arctic temperatures soaring 10 or even 20 degrees Fahrenheit above the previous normal, the permafrost is starting to melt. Check out this NASA factsheet on permafrost methane: "Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in the Arctic?" NASA is trying to monitor Arctic methane with a project called "Carve".

As I understand it, melting permafrost opens two great methane risks. The first is release of methane trapped in pockets below. This is thought to be the cause of at least two explosions and craters found recently in Siberia.

The second is more insidious. As the surface levels melt, there are plant materials that have been kept frozen for many thousands of years. These are already starting to melt, and then rot. Plant materials on the ground will release CO2. Those under the millions of shallow ponds in the Arctic will decay without oxygen, and release methane, clouds of methane.


For all these reasons, it is a dangerous fallacy to only count methane as "20", as though it comes up once in 100 years and then disappears. That is why a group of illustrious scientists have written the American government, asking for the higher scientific standard of 86 to be used, instead of the old number of 20.

If we use the new standard, the real risks of methane become apparent, and that adds heat to the government's responsibility and effort to limit methane emissions in every way we can. It certainly means new regulations to force gas drilling companies to stop venting methane, at drill and storage sites, and to repair leaking equipment and pipelines. It certainly means going further to capture methane from land-fill sites, and push an international effort to change agriculture to minimize methane emissions.

I ask Mickey Moritz why the standard hasn't changed already. After all, as she tells us, other standards for gases have been changed as new information comes along. We can guess the natural gas industry, with all its political donations, is against the change. But Mickey also says there is a problem with international reporting. Countries calculate their emissions using the old standard of 20. If America leads the way to the new methane standard, U.S. emissions will suddenly appear to go up. The scientists suggest America could use a double accounting standard for now: a value of 86 for domestic regulation, and a value of 20 for international reporting, until that can be changed by international agreement. That can easily be done, Moritz says.

For me, and I'm sure for the scientists involved, this urgent letter is more than about book-keeping. To get the kinds of action that have any hope of saving a habitable climate, we need to stop lying to ourselves about the power of methane. It's the second largest source of warming on the planet. Paul Beckwith tells me the "Present radiative forcing of methane is 1 W/m2 [Watts per square meter] compared to 1.7 W/m2 for CO2".

Be sure and listen to this interview with Anna "Mickey" Moritz, available in CD Quality, or Lo-Fi.

Among the 21 scientists who signed this letter are some names you may recognize from Radio Ecoshock. You can find their interviews or speeches by search our program archive at

* Robert W. Howarth, * J. David Hughes, * Michael C. MacCracken, * Scot M. Miller, * Drew Shindell

The letter was addressed to letter to John Holdren, Gina McCarthy, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Ernest Moniz, the Secretary of the Department of Energy, among others. That was a month and a half ago. So far there has been no reply, but Mickey thinks the wheels are turning.

When America leads on methane, we need to see the world community act in the 2015 Climate Summit in Paris. At the very least, we can stop lying to ourselves about methane.


There are two kinds of climate denial running around: theirs and ours. Some people and politicians still say climate change isn't happening, even as extreme weather events pummel the globe. Others know global warming is coming on much too hard and too fast. That can become to a despair so deep we don't want to talk about the phoney solutions coming from business, national governments, and those failed international talks.

Despite all the green hype, carbon emissions are rising, and the increase is increasing. Face the facts: this is a human problem requiring human solutions. If you don't like the idea of new taxes on carbon, our next guest says we are already paying plenty for climate damage.

As an experienced journalist, Mark Schapiro tackles the whole messy climate problem. His new book is "Carbon Shock, A tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy". Schapiro has appeared everywhere intelligent reporting is allowed, from PBS specials, to features in magazines like Harpers and the Atlantic Monthly. As an award winning environmental journalist, one of his previous books was "Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products."

Here are some of the stories we talk about in this interview:

* the many ways the real cost of fossil fuels is hidden from us (direct subsidies to oil and gas companies, huge health care costs of carbon pollution, all those taxes going into roads, it's a big wild list!)

* the reasons for the California drought (one huge factor: the snow pack is now falling more as rain, and melting too fast and too early to be stored for summer crops)

* why cherries need some cold in the winter (and aren't getting it in recent years in the big California cherry orchards)

* the scandalous loop-hole in carbon accounting, where humans pretend airplanes are not a major source of emissions, and no-one has to take responsibility for aircraft greenhouse gas emissions (Schapiro alerts us to aircraft emisisons as the first shot in an international trade war over climate change)

* a few hopes for the 2015 Climate talks in Paris

* some climate initiatives "breaking out all over the world" you may not have heard about

* why some "Conservatives" want to fight climate change with carbon taxes and clean energy (no, the climate movement is not just something that happens in New York or San Francisco).

* the thorny problem of China, verging on being the world's biggest polluter, and needing still more development

Mark Schapiro is now out on a large-scale book tour to promote "Carbon Shock". He'll be blogging all over the place. Keep track of Mark and his work via his Twitter feed: @schapiro.

You can download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Mark Schapiro in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

(I apologize for mis-spelling Mark's last name in the file name, but that can't be changed at this point)

Along with the book I received a fact sheet which says "Just ninety companies are responsible for two-thirds of greenhouse gase emissions". We all need to know who those biggest polluters are. It shows once again that real climate talks can't just be in New York, Lima or Paris. They need to happen in the Board Rooms of multinational corporations.

"Carbon Shock, A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy" is just out from Chelsea Green books. Find it here.


When I consider the climate movement, it seems almost split into two camps. One is very science-oriented, fending off any suggestion of spirituality. The other is spiritual, where science is almost a side-line. While most of Radio Ecoshock is devoted to science, we all know there are deep movements within us that science can't really touch or fulfil.

I used to think if you gathered all the science-oriented people in one room, and all those concentrating on the spiritual approach in another, you would have more men in Room A, and more women in Room B. Is that sexist, or does there tend to be that difference between genders? But then, all those preachers, mullahs... old-time religion was not just created by men, to worship a man-God. It continues to promote sexism, including denying women leadership roles in the church. So it's little wonder some women are looking for spiritual alternatives.

While science has been dominated by men for a generation, there is a whole crop of really smart women scientists coming up now. It's a breath of fresh air for sure. Meanwhile more men are realizing just staying nailed to jobs and football, while avoiding our inner needs is harmful, if not fatal.

Our next guest has been a green activist for 30 years. He founded the environment group Earthways Foundation in California back in 1985. More recently, Andrew Beath has been considering our green needs for spirituality. For example, he's the author of the book "Consciousness in Action, The Power of Beauty, Love and Courage in A Violent Time." The Earthways Foundation is still going, with some helpful projects in Los Angeles, but also in Latin America. Beath was also instrumental in founding "Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs" which guides people into setting up non-profits for social change.

Beath has helped save Wetlands in L.A., and assisted in starting up Amazon Watch. He's got a long trail of organizations he helped birth.

Now Andrew is publishing a trilogy of books which look at a new story of creation, one based on the amazing discoveries of science, but also new ways of looking at the world. The Trilogy is called "The New Creation Story, Spirit, Eros, and Climate Chaos". Find out more here at the book web site.

Books One and Two are already on sale. Book Three will be released shortly. The new creation story goes right from The Big Bang to modern times, with illustrations of life in between.

Previous religions have begun with an act of God, followed by just a few thousand years of history. Then the bones of dinosaurs and the study of geology showed that timeline was flawed. Now we have amazing views into the galaxies, and with it, into deep time. We need new narrative about the beginnings of things, to know where we are.

We also discuss whether life on this planet has a consciousness, something we could call "Gaia".

We don't really know how human consciosness connects us, or why sudden waves of thought pop up all over the world. The psychiatrist Carl Jung called it "synchronicity". There are lots of people out there who hope, maybe even pray, that a wave of awareness could spread rapidly across the globe, driving us toward action not just on climate change, but in our whole relationship to nature. I ask Andrew if that is his hope, and are there any signs of it? Ever the realist, Beath says right now it looks more like we are going the wrong way. "Business as usual" is still in triumph.

But, in the end, Andrew Beath has not given up. He knows and feels the depths of our damage to the Earth. But Beath tells us: "the destruction we've caused is the catalyst for the next step in human consciousness".

You can listen to or download this Radio Ecoshock interview with Andrew Beath in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Once again, we are totally out of time. Thanks for sticking with the program.

It's been a while since I updated our stations list, or counted them up. Good news! Radio Ecoshock is now broadcast on 87 non-profit radio stations in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom (we can still say that), Australia, and now Paris, France.

You make it all happen, by passing on the Tweets, Facebook links, emails and word of mouth. Let's get the word out there.

My thanks to those who donated this past week, to keep Radio Ecoshock going. You covered the electric and internet bills for this month.

I'm Alex Smith, and let's get together again next week.