Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Summary: Dr. Robert Kopp explains why humans die in heat waves, and why that will get worse as climate change develops. Then the incredible Dr. Jeremy Leggett on "Winning the Carbon War" Plus climate music from Melody Sheep. Radio Ecoshock 150624.

Welcome back to Radio Ecoshock. I'm Alex Smith with two powerful interviews for you. First Dr. Robert Kopp explains why humans die in heat waves, and why that will get worse as climate change develops. Then the incredible Dr. Jeremy Leggett returns, talking about his open source book "Winning the Carbon War", his booming solar business in the UK, and a project to light up Africa with solar lanterns. All that plus two climate songs.

Let's get going.

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Are we making a world where it will be too hot to go outside? Is the latest deadly heat wave in India a sign?

We'll talk about all that and more with out next guest, scientist Robert Kopp. He's an associate professor in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He's Associate Director of the Rutgers Energy Institute. He was an author in the Fifth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Dr. Kopp is also a co-author of a thought-provoking op-ed in the New York Times, published June 7th. The title is "The Deadly Combination of Heat and Humidity". That was spurred by the massive heat wave that had just hit India, killing hundreds. It might just as easily have been written about the new deadly heatwave that struck this week in Pakistan, leading to more heat deaths. Read about that event, where the "wet bulb temperature" was over 33 degrees C. - in Robert Scribbler's blog here.

You can find Bob Kopps technical notes to the New York Times article on heat, humidity and climate deaths here.


Radio Ecoshock guest Dr. Jeff Masters also has a related post on India heat wave deaths here. Jeff Masters on the end of this heat wave, here. Jeff writes: "According to the India Meteorological Department, a warming climate increased heat waves in India by a third between 1961 to 2010." The source for that statement, with more data on deadly Indian heat waves, is here. You can also check out this study "Intensification of future severe heat waves in India and their effect on heat stress and mortality" Kamal Kumar Murari et al, published August 9, 2014.


The key fact Kopp raises is one we understand physically, but poorly intellectually. We all know heat feels worse when it's humid, or muggy as we say. What happens in the body to make humid heat more dangerous?

Yesterday here in Western Canada it was 101 degrees in the shade, or 38 degrees Centigrade - pretty hot for mid-June. I was still out gardening, because it's very dry here, a semi-desert. I did not understand until I read that New York times article that a lower temperature, with high humidity, might actually be more dangerous than a hotter drier day. How can we communicate this better?

Canadian weather forecasters try to combine heat and humidity into something called the "Humidex Index". I think we need a better word to get the public to understand this danger.

It's not just India or Pakistan. It's Australia, Siberia, Brazil - and the United States.


In the U.S., in the New York Times, the article says:

"In work one of us (Robert Kopp) led for the Risky Business Project, we found that over the period from 1981 to 2010, the average American experienced about four dangerously humid days, with wet-bulb temperatures exceeding 80 degrees. By 2030, that level is expected to more than double, to about 10 days per summer. Manhattanites are expected to experience nearly seven uncomfortably muggy weeks in a typical summer, with wet-bulb temperatures exceeding 74 degrees, about as many as residents of Washington have experienced recently."

Kopp adds in the technical notes:

"These results come from the forthcoming book Economic Risks of Climate Change: An American Prospectus, much of the text of which is available as a report at "

"Some summers would have days so stiflingly muggy that a healthy individual would suffer heat stroke in less than an hour of moderate, shaded activity outside.

These stiflingly muggy days are Category IV (‘extraordinarily dangerous’) on the ACP Humid Heat Stroke Index, with wet-bulb temperatures exceeding 92°F. Such days have no precedent in U.S. history. In the ACP analysis, they are expected with 6%/year probability in Illinois and 1%/year probability in New Jersey under RCP 8.5 in 2040-2059. By 2080-2099, 4 such days are expected per summer in Illinois and 1 such day in New Jersey. The average American is expected to experience such a day with 1%/year probability in 2040-2059 and 80%/year probability in 2080-2099.

About an hour of shaded, 150-watt activity at a wet-bulb temperature of 92°F leads to skin temperatures of 100°F and core body temperatures of 104°F (the threshold for heat stroke), based on a Danish study conducted on twelve trained, male endurance athletes, ages 23–34. 150 watts corresponds to ‘moderate effort’ on a stationary bike – about 40% of maximal aerobic capacity for these individuals. The athletes, dressed only in swim trunks and shoes, were asked to pedal to exhaustion on a stationary bike in a room with an air temperature of 95°F and relative humidity of 87%, corresponding to a wet-bulb temperature of about 91°F. After 45 ± 3 minutes of exercise without acclimation, or 52 ± 2 minutes with acclimation, these individuals reached exhaustion and a core temperature of 103.8 ± 0.2°F.


"And carrying on this way through the 22nd century locks in a trajectory where summer outdoor conditions could become physiologically intolerable for humans and livestock in the eastern United States — and in regions currently home to more than half the planet’s population.

This remark is based upon a 2010 paper Matt co-authored with Steven Sherwood. This study found that conditions physiologically intolerable for humans (conservatively defined there as areas with peak wet-bulb temperatures exceeding 95°F during the peak of the summer, well into ACP Category IV, and well beyond the current planetary experience) cover regions home to more than half the planet’s population with about 11°C (20°F) of global warming. The regions affected include much of the eastern U.S., China, India, Brazil, and north Africa. Based on simulations with the MAGICC simple climate model, as run for the ACP, such conditions have about a 20% chance of being realized by 2200 under RCP 8.5

But this is not yet locked in, Kopp says, if we take greatly reduced emissions pathways.


"Since we can’t avoid it now, we must make our communities more resilient to heat and humidity extremes. One step is to expand access to air-conditioning for those who can’t afford it. We must also improve cooling in stiflingly hot factories and warehouses, strengthen public health systems, improve public warnings when heat and humidity are dangerously high, and be willing to shift outdoor work schedules.

There are some additional options we didn’t have space to mention here. These include technologies for passively cooling buildings and urban areas, such as cool roofs and pavements, as well as the broader set of energy efficiency measures to reduce the need for active cooling.

Cool roofs and pavements link here.

Dr. Kopp told us on Radio Ecoshock:

"In the second half of this century that's where we really the effects of changes in greenhouse gases that we start making today. So if we continue on with a fossil fuel intensive growth trajectory, the average American might be experiencing around 17 dangerously humid days in a typical summer in the 2050's."

Bob Kopp also did background analysis that lead to the breakthrough report called "Risky Business", launched by luminaries like Hank Paulson and Michael Bloomberg. The report warned of the economic costs of climate change.

Along those lines, I ran into an new Australian study that found even indoor office workers, who presumably have air-conditioning at work, become a billion dollars less productive during heat waves - because their sleep is disturbed during hot nights. We talk about what hot humid weather really means in terms of worker productivity in a hotter world.

I also find it interesting the electric grid is also less productive during heat waves. It takes more power just to cool electric generating plants, and the actual grid is less efficient. Kopp notes that nuclear plants sometimes have to shut down during heat waves (just as millions of people are cranking up their air-conditioners) - because nuclear power plants cannot operate if their cooling water (often drawn from rivers or lakes) is too hot. The same limitations can apply to coal power plants which also have to cool their operations.

In a radio interview on WHYY radio in Philadelphia, Kopp talked about many risks that could be assigned a dollar value, easily understood by business. Then he said there are risks that cannot be expressed economically, but still keep him up some nights. That's in this Radio Ecoshock interview.

Listen to that Bob Kopp interview on Whyy audio, July 1, 2014, with Kate Gordon, Executive Director of the Risky Business project, on the RadioTimes show with Marty Moss-Coane, here.

Despite all this, Bob Kopp is not a total doomer, thinking it's all over. We discuss how we can cope with this climate mess, now that we have changed Earth's primary systems. Part of the problem, which Kopp outlines in his work, is climate change impacts vary from region to region, while the solutions need to be global. This adds a stumbling block to faster action. I may be experiencing a heat wave, just as you are thinking it's cooler than normal where you live. It's hard to get us all motivated at the same time.

Bob Kopp did his PHD thesis on the opposite world - the time where the planet nearly froze over. He tells us about "Snowball Earth", and how close we came to extinction of life at that time, about 650 million years ago. And yet life on Earth came back with a roar, as the first multicellular organisms appeared. It was so prolific of species, the time was called "The Cambrian Explosion" I suppose it's comforting to know that so far life systems can recover from climate catastrophes, even if most of the known species die off (likely including us in the worst case scenario).

Find out more about Dr. Bob Kopp at

Listen to or download this interview with Dr. Robert Kopp in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


After we visit with out second guest, Jeremy Leggett, I've got more critical informaiton for you about heat, humidity, and human deaths. Then we can look into a new weather development where storms get stronger, not weaker, as they move over land. It's called the "brown ocean" effect.

Before we do that, let's get in a quick bit of music that is spreading into classrooms and chatrooms around the world. It's a technique of using a kind of hip rap to communicate science. The band calls themselves "The Melody Sheep" and you can find their series called "Symphony of Science" on You tube.

This piece is titled "Our Biggest Challenge". It's a climate change music video, posted on You tube September 12, 2012, with more than 600,000 views so far.

You can download the radio version here.

"Melodysheep is John D. Boswell, creator of the acclaimed Symphony of Science music video series and other viral web videos, as well as a host of unique audiovisual projects. His webby award winning work has been featured on CNN, NPR, Wired, Adult Swim and more."


He's been involved in the climate battle for decades. Jeremy Leggett founded the business Solarcentury, and the charity SolarAid. He's Chair of Carbon Tracker, and author of many books on climate, energy and society. Until recently, Leggett felt what we all feel, that the fight to decarbonize, -to save the planet, - is being lost. Now his web site bears the banner "The Winning of the Carbon War".

It's a pleasure to welcome back one of our more popular Radio Ecoshock guests, Jeremy Leggett.

There was a time, way back when, that as an Earth scientist Leggett did research for the biggest oil companies. Then, worried about what he found, Jeremy started writing reports for Greenpeace. I remember in the mid and late 1990's, Jeremy brazenly told big oil they should stop looking for new reserves, because the deteriorating climate meant they could never be burned. He was way ahead of the game before the more recent pronouncements of unburnable carbon and "stranded assets".

As you'll hear in the interview, Jeremy Leggett went into a different kind of climate activism. He established a solar business in Britain, which isn't known for it's long sunny days. It's been a success, and gone international. Leggett tells us his firm Solar Century did over 200 million pounds of business last year, and is financianlly stable. That's quite an accomplishment, and it means a lot more renewable energy in Europe and abroad.

Solar Century takes 5% of it's profits to create a charity called SolarAid. That charity has distributed millions of subsidized afforadable solar lights in Africa. There are homes where students can study in the evening, and mothers can see to cook, because of SolarAid. It's a super vision.

Through all this, I've seen Jeremy keep a catalog of the most important news in energy, climate change, and the environment generally. He published it for years on his site, as the "Triple Crunch Blog". Now Leggett has taken that skill, plus about 5 hours out of every day, to collect the signs that we may finally be winning the war against depending on carbon emitting technology. Those first voices are becoming a chorus of demands for action, and real solutions, around the world. You and I may miss those signs, thinking we are stupidly going down with the carbon ship, but Leggett has moved from deep pessimism to possible optimism.

That reporting coming out monthly on his web site. These are really chapters in his upcoming new book titled "Winning the Carbon War". It's an inspiring combination of journalism and open publication of a book as it develops. The final chapter, he tells us, will be written at the end of 2015, after the Paris Climate talks.

Here's an easy to digest article about this new book.

We are at a pivotal moment in the history of this civilization. Leggett says it is still possible for humans to wreck our whole system, with something crazy like a major war. But except for such a major intervention, we may already be on a path toward saving ourselves from utter climate disaster. That's as good as optimism gets these days.

Listen to or download this interview with Dr. Jeremy Leggett in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Let's get back to what we need to know to prevent heat deaths, or at least some of them. The essential concept is supposedly easy, but I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it. Perhaps it's because the "wet bulb measurement" adds a new dimension to thinking about temperature.

Temperature is easy, whether you think in Fahernheit or Celsius. Bigger numbers are hotter. But when we add the dimension of humidity, a bigger number is not necessarily more deadly. It could be 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38 degrees C - but if it's dry, humans can still sweat and cool themselves.

But if we take a common thermometer, mercury in a glass tube, and wrap wet material around the bulb - the essential result is: at what temperature does that wetness evaporate, or conversely, take in even more water from the sourrounding atmosphere. That temperature/humdity ratio is called "the wet bulb temperature", but confusingly, it's also called "the dew point".

What is a dew point? Wikipedia defines it this way, quote:

"The dew point is the temperature at which the water vapor in a sample of air at constant barometric pressure condenses into liquid water at the same rate at which it evaporates. At temperatures below the dew point, water will leave the air. The condensed water is called dew when it forms on a solid surface."

Our interview with Dr. Kopp makes this clearer with some examples. A dew point of 86 degrees or above, he says, is dangerous for human health, especially for more vulnerable people like the elderly, babies, and people with certain medical conditions. It's not safe to work outside, doing strenuous tasks, if the dew point is 86 degrees or more.

How high can it go? Again, Wiki says this, quote:

"A dew point of 91 °F (33 °C) was observed at 2:00 p.m. on July 12, 1987, in Melbourne, Florida. A dew point of 90 °F (32 °C) has been observed in the United States on at least two occasions: Appleton, Wisconsin, at 5:00 p.m. on July 13, 1995, and New Orleans Naval Air Station at 5:00 p.m. on July 30, 1987. A dew point of 95 °F (35 °C) was observed at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, at 3:00 p.m. on July 8, 2003. Dew points this high are extremely rare occurrences."

The very high dew point reading in Wisconsin in 1995 co-incides with the infamous Chicago Heat Wave that killed at least 750 people. I recall the city of Chicago morgue was overwhelmed, and had to bring in refrigeration trucks to stack the bodies. Note that the wet bulb temperature in the recent heat wave in Pakistan was a punishing 93 degrees F.

We already know from climate science that the world is getting hotter, and the atmosphere is getting wetter. Warmer air holds more water vapor. In general, the world's atmosphere contains about 7% more water now than it did in 1970. That's a huge amount, almost oceans of water, running through the air. In some cases it forms "atmospheric rivers". If those coincide with a heat wave, deaths of unprotected, uncooled humans will result.

We all need to learn this, and learn the numbers, whether it's called "wet bulb temperature", "humidex" or "dew point" - weather forecasters, city authorities, and citizens will need to really grasp this increasing threat with climate change.


More and more, we are finding that climate change develops into new phenomenon not seen before. These are seldom good. That's why some prefer the term "climate disruption" for this transition into a different climate.

The novelty of these discoveries means we all need to become students again, no matter how old we are, or what our profession might be. Here's another one, courtesy of NASA, the U.S. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It's called the Brown Ocean effect. I owe our Radio Ecoshock guest Robert Marston Fanney a tip of the hat for bringing this to all our attention, in his entry in Robert Scribbler's Blog.

Here's my understanding of this new thing. In our experience of storms of the last century, in the 1900's, any hurricane, typhoon, or cyclone tended to pick up extra energy from a warm ocean, and then lose strength as it passed over land. There was less water over land to add energy through evaporation. All weather forecasts took this sort of law of storms for granted.

Now, in a climate changed world, that may not happen. NASA tells us that if certain conditions are met, storms may now keep their strength over land, or even get stronger.

Here is what NASA said in a study in 2013:

"A Brown Ocean environment consists of three observable conditions. First, the lower level of the atmosphere mimics a tropical atmosphere with minimal variation in temperature. Second, soils in the vicinity of the storms need to contain ample moisture. Finally, evaporation of the soil moisture releases latent heat, which the team found must measure at least 70 watts averaged per square meter. For comparison, the latent heat flux from the ocean averages about 200 watts per square meter."

So the wet land acts like a watery energy source, like a "brown ocean".

Let's go to a concrete example. There was a lot of concern that the most recent Tropical storm to hit Texas, named "Bill", might meet these conditions. Texas and Oklahoma had just been slammed with record rains and flooding. There was lots of water left on and in the ground. Would "Bill" pick up strength as it headed inland? In this case, it appears that did not happen. NASA has documented such "Brown Ocean" cases, with the best known storm happening in Texas and the central states in 2007. In fact, there have been 16 cases where tropical cyclones kept their power, or increased it, while travelling over land.

NASA also expects more brown ocean events as climate change develops. That turns storm forecasting on it's head. What used to weaken over land, can maintain it's destructive power, or get even worse. It's another development in our understanding of extreme weather events, in an era of human-induced climate change. You'll hear more about violent storms that won't quit, even if the weather person on TV doesn't tell you why.


I don't know if this will be the hottest June the human world has ever recorded. It sure feels like it here, where the temperature soars over 100 degrees, or 38 degress Celsius, day after day, in what should be the Canadian spring. The fact that the El Nino hot water system in the Pacific has not declined probably aids our journey to another record hot year in 2015. Somehow that Southern and Central Pacific hot water seems to have split into a new hot blob of water off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. It's amazing. The rainy city of Vancouver Canada just had it's driest month of May ever. June is hot and dry. It's like San Diego moved way north.

That's why I'm reviewing Marjory Wildcraft's You tube video on gardening in hot weather. I'm hoping next year to begin some experiments of my own in cooling and adapting a garden for extreme climate change. Marjory is way ahead of us on that, and I hope to get her back to talk about ways to prepare your food production for extreme climate change.

We close out this program with one of my new songs, called "Step Out". It calls us all to move away from screens and tiny rooms, to get outside.


Now that the Pope is saying what I and my guests have been saying for 8 years, is it time to retire? Not likely. But next week will be my last of the regular season. I produce 45 new shows a year, starting in September and running straight through until the end of June.

During the summer, I work through our archives, to find the key interviews many of you may have missed. There will be a "best of Radio Ecoshock" every week.

One more new show to go though. Stay tuned!


Radio Ecoshock

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


SUMMARY: Pacific Northwest fights becoming a carbon colony. Vancouver protests American coal expansion (Kevin Washbrook, VTACC). Daphne Wysham: Oregon kicks out Canadian propane peddler. The unreported stories. Radio Ecoshock 150617

Welcome to Radio Ecoshock. This week we investigate attempts by the fossil fuel industry to capture otherwise green-thinking ports in the Pacific Northwest, of the United States and Canada, to export carbon to Asia. It's a battle you hardly hear about. Citizens are lining up against huge corporations with huge money, to fight off giant coal ports, liquified natural gas ports, even propane ports. If we commit to that infrastructure, we commit to devastating climate change - not to mention the explosive, toxic and polluting impacts of these big projects on the Pacific coast.

We first hear from activist Kevin Washbrook reporting from Vancouver, Canada, and then from green radio host and activist Daphne Wysham from Portland, Oregon.

I wrap up with some new science presented at a Harvard University research talk. Dr. James Anderson talks about why climate change is coming much faster than anyone thought possible. And why it's irreversible.

It's eco-shocking radio. I'm Alex Smith. Let's roll. But I first want to thank George from Australia. George generously covered all the telecommunications and download costs, for all Ecoshock listeners, for the whole summer. That's a load off my mind for sure. Thank you George!

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

Or listen right now on Soundcloud!


Multinational corporations would like to turn the gorgeous port of Vancouver, Canada into another fossil fuel colony. After coal port proposals were blocked by public outcry in the American Pacific Northwest, they want to ship out coal to Asia through Vancouver. There is an active proposal to steer dirty Tar Sands oil into hundreds of tankers through Vancouver's scenic inlets. Even liquid natural gas is trying to use Vancouver at an outlet.

We've reached activist Kevin Washbrook in Vancouver. He's part of the group Voters Taking Action on Climate Change, or VTACC.

NASA scientist James Hansen famously was arrested protesting mountain top removal for coal. But in Vancouver, Simon Fraser University Professor and world energy expert Mark Jaccard was also arrested, blocking a coal train. The scientists are increasingly fed up with the failure of governments and official "climate talks" while carbon to the atmosphere keeps rising.

Trying to stop fossil fuel exports is like playing the game whack-a-mole. You find one project, and then another pops up, like the recent proposal to ship out Liquid Natural Gas via the historic Fraser River. We get a rather scary update on that project, with information anyone living near a proposed LNG terminal needs to know!


Here's the scoop. Canada hardly requires any environmental assessment for liquid natural gas ports. Remember, these are not just "ports" but large industrial operations where natural gas is frozen at hundreds of degrees below zero Centigrade, which compresses it for shipments (often to Asia). The company on the Fraser River just looks at their immediate site, to list what environmental impacts that might have, and IS NOT REQUIRED TO ASSESS POSSIBLE DAMAGE CAUSED BY RIVER SHIPMENTS.

So the VTACC group had to look to the United States, which does require a full assessment, right out to the ocean. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recognizes that liquid natural gas is a terrorist risk. The Canadian government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper talks a lot about the reality of terrorist theats to Canada, but doesn't assess the possibility of an attack on an LNG tanker or barge.

The U.S. Coast Guard also looks at possible risks. According to Kevin Washbrook, his group found a U.S. report by Sandia National Lab that says an "unignited" cloud of natural gas could spread up to 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) on either side of the ship used for transportation. Presumably, that cloud of gas could ignite into an unGodly big fireball. That's just one of the things they don't tell you.

Who knows what could happen if terrorists bombed and exploded a giant LNG tanker near any port or city. It would look nuclear.

You can find one report on all this from the U.S. Sandia National Lab, published in 2008, here.


Tsawwassen, a suburb of Vancouver, Canada hosts one of the busiest coal ports in North America. It's called "Westport", shipping 33 million tons of carbon-loaded coal a year. About 8 million tons of that is American coal brought up from the Powder River open pit coal mines in Wyoming. It comes on U.S. trains owned by Warren Buffett.

The obvious question: why don't they ship this coal out of American ports? As we'll hear next from Daphne Wysham, that's because coal port proposals in Oregon and Washington States have been shot down by public resistance. Nobody wants them, and no wonder. The coal trains themselves leave unhealthy coal dust all along the way. The companies say they don't but photographs taken by activists show they do. Plus the trains are way above the World Health Organization guidelines for night- time noise. Every train going by leads to more storms, droughts, and heat.

Four out of six coal ports proposed for the US Pacific Northwest were shot down. The largest still being pushed by industry is for Cherry Point in Washington State, near the Canadian border. That's been rejected by the local tribe.

So as Kevin puts it, British Columbia has become the back-door dirty doormat to ship American coal to China and Asia generally. The coal industry always wants to expand their ports, to double their shipments and their profits, and to double their emissions into the already damaged atmosphere. There is another proposal to build a coal port in another Vancouver suburb, the City of Surrey.

Naturally, in the environmentally-conscious Vancouver area, there is lots of push-back from concerned citzens. The regional government has objected to the Surrey coal port. But the port system is not run by the City of Vancouver, but rather by the fossil- friendly Federal Government.

There is no democratic input into where these shipping facilities are built, and whether they should be built at all. Building coal ports now seems like such a waste of capital. It's like building barns and herds of horses in the year 1905, just as the horseless carriage was starting to take over. Coal is so done.

Keep in touch with Kevin Washburn on his Facebook page.

Listen to or download this interview with Kevin Washbrook, in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


What's happening on the U.S. West Coast, where fossil fuel companies race to export carbon to Asia? Let's tune in with a long-time friend of the environment, Daphne Wysham. For 8 years, out of Washington D.C., Daphne hosted the syndicated radio show "Earthbeat",on the Pacifica network. Her articles have been published by both mainstream and alternative media. Now Daphne is in Portland Oregon, as Director of the Climate and Energy Program, at the Centre for Sustainable Economy. At the same time she's an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Daphne and I were just on Post Carbon radio, on KWMR in Northern California, with Bing Gong and Karen Nyhus. It was a wide-ranging talk and you can listen to it here.

Green radio host, researcher, and activist Daphne Wysham

In this show we drill into what is happening in Portland, the state of Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest - when it comes to transporting fossil fuels. Note that Portland was the first city in the United States to have and implement a climate action plan. Even so, the Mayor pushed a proposal to open a propane loading facility.

The corporation involved, Pembina Pipeline Corp., operates in the Canadian Tar Sands of Alberta. For them, propane is just a bi-product they can sell. Of course it's wildly explosive, and adds more carbon to the atmosphere. Natural gas is lighter than air, so it rises when it leaks. Propane is heavier than air, so it flows along the water or land, into low spots, where it can pool and then violently explode.

Pembina tried to tell the public the propane would go to help poor women in Asia have lighting and cooking facilities. Environmental groups found out the real destination was for making propylene in Chinese factories. The carbon emissions from this one propane port over a few decades would be larger than the emissions from the whole city of Portland. What good are bicycle routes and electric cars if the propane port overwhelms all the green good we can muster?

The Portland propane facility has been turned away for now, being wildly unpopular. But the situation always requires vigilance, and these projects are seldom killed forever.

Meanwhile, there's another fossil fuel port proposed for Vancouver, Washington, right across the river from Portland. If approved, that could be the largest oil terminal in the United States - larger even than the giants in the Gulf of Mexico.

Daphne Wysham tells us the whole Pacific Northwest is in the cross-hairs of the fossil fuel industry. They want to build ports and shipping facilities that would allow a carbon river much larger than the Keystone Pipeline. Projects arrive, and small environment groups can't possibly match corporate funding for research and legal battles. The infamous corporate lobby group Alec, which funds politicians who write fossil-friendly laws, makes Oregon it's number three biggest target for funding, Wysham tells us.

That is why Oregonians are now demanding a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure. That's the real answer. The moratorium movement is spreading to Washington State, and only needs British Columbia to get on board, to stop this fossil madness.

We all seen what happens when mega-corporations start playing with local or state politics. The money and big promises of jobs lure in the politicians. Are these forces compatible with democracy and self-determination? Is there still enough freedom left on the Pacific Coast to avoid becoming the kind of carbon colonies that developed in Texas, Alberta, and Louisiana?

Listen to or download this Radio Ecoshock interview with Daphne Wysham in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


In the short time we have left, I'd like to pass on some quotes and some notes from a deep and important talk from Climate Week at the Harvard University Center for the Environment. The speaker is Dr. James Anderson and the title is: "Coupled Feedbacks in the Climate Structure That Set the Time Sale for Irreversible Change: Arctic Isotopes to Stratospheric Radicals."

Watch the full talk by James G. Anderson on Vimeo here.

This talk on April 8th, 2015 was part of a series of presentations. I found this on Vimeo thanks to a tip from a Radio Ecoshock listeners, and I'm so glad I did.

The talk, as Anderson tells us, is fairly high level, a presentation of on-going research into some important developments in the climate. Anderson covers a wide range of science. I can only cover a few important points.

James G. Anderson, Harvard

For example, research into past ages showed the stratosphere, that upper layer of Earth's atmosphere above the weather, was far wetter than today, in past greenhouse ages. The wetting of the stratosphere should be happening now, but until very recently, nobody knew how that could happen.

Anderson also points out a key difference between past hot house worlds and today. This time around, humans also injected chlorinate substances, like ozone-destroying CFC's, that were never there in past ages. How does that affect climate change?

And as we'll hear from this opening quote, scientists are gaining new knowledge on changes we've made that cannot be reversed, at least not in any time scale that matters to humans. Here are some key quotes from Dr. Anderson, speaking at Harvard.

Quote 1

"This is really a research talk about two aspects of the climate structure both of which are coupled through irreversible connected cycles. So I'm going to talk about experiments done 5 meters above the surface, and then experiments done 20 kilometers above the surface. And you'll see why those are linked.

I want to emphasize some points. The first is this global climate structure is changing far more rapidly than we believed was possible even five years ago.....

The next issue is the feedback in the climate structure because it's these feedbacks that set the time scale for irreversibility, and I'm going to take a very brief tour through the climate system to show how that functions.

Next we'll hear about the fragile Arctic and how that determines so much of our weather. Note how Anderson also stresses a point made again and again by our guest scientist Paul Beckwith, when explaining the new disruption of weather in the Northern Hemisphere: the temperature difference between the tropics and the poles, and as polar regions warm up, that difference is declining. The result is a slower and wavier Jet Stream.

Quote 2

"The climate structure depends in large measure on the temperature gradient between the tropics and the polar regions."

"During the Eocene there was very little temperature difference between the tropics and the polar regions, and in that particular structure the stratosphere had to be wet ... I don't think there's any possibility of having that climate structure without a moist stratosphere. And as we'll see, moisture entering the stratosphere today has a very different connotation because it triggers catalytic cycles involving chlorine and bromine that were not present during the Eocene.

I'll also talk about deep convective injection North of the sub-tropical Jet which, as we saw from Brian's talk, is a potential way of transitioning from the current structure of the climate to one in which there is a far smaller difference in temperature between the equator and the polar regions. So this convective injection of water turns out to be unique over the U.S. And it's couple to also anti-cyclonic flow over the U.S. that's created by the North American monsoon. So we have this convective injection into this anti-cyclonic motion which is a demonic combination created by the dynamics, but is has a very strong coupling into the catalytic chemical structure of the stratosphere.


As a side-note, Anderson explains why both the Left and the Right may support further research into geo-engineering. First he refers to the National Research Council report on climate engineering, particularly solar radiation management. Quote 4

"It [Geoengineering research] is being pushed, actually in a bi-partisan way. The right would like to have solar radiation management so more fossil fuels can be burned. And the Left believes that intruding in natural systems like this is a very dangerous adventure. So research on the topic is gaining bi-lateral support, which is highly unusual these days. And we'll see that it engages exactly the same catalytic chemistry."


Next we hear why James Anderson thinks "global warming" is so horribly wrong as a term to describe the current climate shift.


"This term 'global warming' applied to this problem makes me shudder, because 70 per cent of the globe is covered by ocean with an average depth of 3500 meters, and it has massive heat capacity. So in my mind the most degenerate variable you can discuss is mean global temperature. And it also carries this connotation of something that's happening slowly. You know, 1 degree Centigrade per century doesn't carry a huge amount of political imperative behind it. It also carries the connotation that you could watch things slowly change and then if you don't like it you can just slow down the release of carbon dioxide and return to the initial [state] - and nothing could be further from the truth. I always avoid the term ['global warming'], and I cringe every time I hear it."


We'll never have time to get to all the great science in this talk, but I want you to hear this:

"The next point involves these methane clathrates. These are these beautiful structures: ice cages within which Nature inserts methane produced anaerobically [without oxygen] by decomposition of organic material. It's entropy that's driving this entirely because Nature of course abhors a vacuum. You want to stuff molecules into every possible nook and cranny in order to engage the inclusion of the energy states. And it turns out methane fits beautifully into these water cages. This is ubiquitous. Methane clathrates contain about three times the chemical energy of all known fossil fuel reserves in coal, petroleum, and natural gas.

And they reside not only in the surface soils of Siberia and Northern Alaska but also they are ubiquitous across the ocean basins

Anderson gives the example of a clathrate pulled up off the West Coast, from a depth of about 100 meters, that could be ignited with a match.

"But the numbers, as Steve Wassi (sp?) pointed out are quite concerning. If you plot the CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning in gigatons of carbon per year (so you have to convert back from CO2)....In 1990, about 6 gigatons of carbon was added to the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning - and that was basically a textbook number for many, many years. But in 2000 it started to take off, and when the 2007 IPCC report came out these were the release scenarios. This was the worst possible case this upper red line. And of course we've exceeded it every year subsequent to 2007.

The key point is that just a half a percent of the labile carbon in the suface soils of the North Slope of Alaska and Siberia - just half a percent release rate per year gives us around 8 to 9 gigatons per year which doubles the carbon added to the atmosphere by all fossil fuel burning world-wide.

So that constitutes the next exhibit for feedbacks.


Anderson starts with data produced at the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington. Their research focuses not so much on the area covered by Sea Ice, but on the volume of the ice (which also accounts for it's thickness). Shockingly, in 2007, there was less ice in the Arctic than the 2007 IPCC report predicted for the end of the century.

"The volume allows you to calculate the heat, the internal energy going into the system to melt that amount of ice, per year. And that turns out to be about 1 part in 40,000 of the circulating infrared radiation between the Earth's surface and the atmosphere/water/carbon dioxide cloud structure. And so just a very small shift in the Meridional inflow of heat into the Arctic has huge ramifications in terms of losing this permanent ice."

"So the second point here is it's these feedbacks within the climate structure that are driving both the first and second derivative of that ice volume. And of course as ice pulls back, one of the feedbacks is that the ocean exchange brings in warm water from lower latitudes bringing heat into the Arctic basin. The other thing that happens is that as ice and snow disappear, the atmospheric transport that used to come in and radiate as T to the Fourth into the cold ground below it - would be stripped of it's internal energy before it even got into the Arctic Basin. That's not true any more. In fact about three quarters of the heat transport is by the atmosphere."

"Then of course the most obvious is the rejection of incoming solar forcing. Ice reflects 90 per cent of it, ocean water absorbs about 90 per cent of it. On the face of it that's important to the energy balance of the climate. But the University of Washington also discovered that what in retrospect is quite obvious but very important - and this that the dominant amount of that energy goes into just the upper few meters of the Arctic Ocean. And the mean depth of the remaining ice is only a meter and a half. The entire edges are slushy and gets broken up. And so all of that solar forcing goes right into the heat bath within which that remaining ice resides. And this is why you see such a dramatic combination of feedbacks."

Due to the multiple feedbacks in place "...from my perspective it's from the Arctic that all these problems evolve. This brings up the problem of high latitude melting of clathrates and permafrost. Of course the immediate question is can we lose 70 percent of the ice volume in 30 years and return to a stable condition. I don't know anybody who has suggested how heat can be extracted from this system to re-form the ice structure. All of these feedbacks are operating in the same direction. And there's no known mechanism that can extract heat to re-form these ice structures... and so when you look at this question [of reversing Arctic ice loss], the answer quite clearly 'no'.


Well, we didn't get to the strange way chlorinated substances play back on other climate feed-backs in the atmosphere. Plus, and this is a spoiler alert, scientists have discovered a way the stratosphere can become wetter, as it did in past greenhouse worlds. Many, many hours flying around the world found the stratosphere has the same low amount of water vapor.

But in a kink in the system, a collision of weather factors over the continental United States creates a kind of heat funnel that does inject more water into the stratosphere. There are several other sites like that, Anderson says. They have the mechanism that will wet down the stratosphere over time.

As I say, there is a huge range of cutting science in this talk by James Anderson. Some of it is difficult for the lay person to understand. But most of it is very clear, and we learn of feedbacks which make this developing climate shift into a major geological event that cannot be reversed. We have already gone over the climate cliff. How far we fall depends on whether we can reign in our fossil burning emissions before they trigger much, much larger carbon or methane inputs from the previously frozen lands and sea bed in the Arctic.

Then Anderson wraps up with a passionate talk on why Harvard University MUST divest it's multi-billion dollar investment fund from fossil fuels.


Ahh, we've blown through the time barrier again. Get all our past programs as free mp3s from our web site at Listen any time on the Radio Ecoshock page on Soundcloud. Support the on-going work of Radio Ecoshock here.

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


SUMMARY: Author and finance guru Jeff Rubin "The Carbon Bubble: What Happens To Us When It Bursts". Science journalist Emma Marris on re-crafting the wild. Radio Ecoshock 150610

"Look we recognize that climate change is happening. The dilemma for society is addressing climate change, and balancing it with development. So we have to be realistic. Renewables and alternatives will all play a role, but even if those forms of energy grow by orders of magnitude over say the next fifty years, traditional hydrocarbons - oil and gas - will still make up the majority of the energy mix for at least the next century."

- Curtis Smith, Shell Oil.

That is Shell Oil spokesman Curtis Smith, speaking on the Platt's Podcast "Capitol Crude" June 1st, 20154. Curtis Smith was explaining why Shell Oil wants to spend $7 billion dollars looking for more oil in the Arctic.

In an internal Shell Oil paper, leaked by the Guardian newspaper, the company recognizes that their energy strategy will lead to 4 degrees Centigrade of warming - twice the safe limit, and then to 6 degrees of warming, a level scientists suggest could wreck civilization.

So they know. And they want to find more carbon to burn anyway.

Before you kiss our chances good-bye, there is some really good news from our feature guest this week. Author and financial expert Jeff Rubin says the carbon bubble is already bursting. Governments and mainstream media will hardly tell you. But the markets are already heading for the exits away from such stranded fossil assets. The stock values of companies in the mega-polluting Canadian Tar Sands have fallen by 70%. Coal company stocks are collapsing, down 90 percent.

Stay tuned for a ring-side view of a falling petro state, right here on Radio Ecoshock. Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB).

Or listen on Soundcloud right now!


With the Tar Sands and the crash in oil prices, Canada went from being a world petro-state to an economy in trouble. Our next guest says the carbon bubble is bursting in Canada, and that may not be a bad thing.

Jeff Rubin is no ordinary critic of fossil fuels. He was the Chief Economist for CIBC World Markets, the investment arm of a Canadian mega-bank. Since then he's written the books "The End of Growth" and "Your World is About to Get A Whole Lot Smaller". Now Rubin has a new work out: "The Carbon Bubble: What Happens to Us When it Bursts."

The obvious question, which everyone asks: what is a carbon bubble?

A bubble is an expansion which is based on a false premise. For example the 2007/8 housing bubble was based on an assumption that American mortgages were reliable, when they were not. In our present case, Rubin says, the false assumption is that we can burn as many fossil fuels as we need or want to. In reality, there is a limit to the amount of carbon dioxide the atmosphere can tolerate, before the climate becomes unsafe.

Canada, under the leadership of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has bet it's economy on the Tar Sands in Alberta. Most of international and domestic policy is geared to further expansion of Tar Sands production and sales.

As a result, the Canadian currency became a "petro-dollar" that went up with Tar Sands production, until it was worth more than the U.S. dollar. Other Canadian sectors, like manufacturing and exports of commodities like lumber, suffered due to the high Canadian dollar. Then when OPEC decided to ramp up production, even as oil prices fell, the Canadian dollar crashed by over 20 percent, going less than 80 cents to the American dollar.

Manufacturing in Canada should rebound, but so many companies shrank or went out of business, it may be a slow climb back.


What ever politicians may say or do about climate change, Jeff Rubin says the market has already spoken. The stock value of coal companies in the United States lost an astounding 90 percent of their value. Canadian Tar Sands companies lost 70 percent of their value.

Rubin tells us the heavy oil from the Tar Sands (or "oil sands" as the industry tries to say) costs more to refine, and gets less on the market - perhaps forty something a barrel, versus the 50 or 60 dollars a barrel we hear quoted as "the price of oil". Considering even the most efficient Canadian producers of tar sands bitumen need to get at least $60 a barrel, somebody somewhere is losing big money.

Natually, the expansion promised by Tar Sands companies (and Stephen Harper) has been cancelled. Layoffs in the province of Alberta have been massive. Expected energy revenues to governments have crashed, meaning more cut-backs and layoffs. The carbon bubble has burst in Canada.

Rubin says that may not be a bad thing. Canada's real resources, that the world needs, are not climate-killing heavy oil, but food and water. A warming climate will change agricultural possibilities in Canada. A longer growing season means new crops can be grown - say corn and soy, instead of just wheat.

Rubin says Canada should aim to be "the breadbasket of the world." Farmland has become the new darling of billionaire investors and giant pension funds. The Canadian Pension investment board bought massive acreage in Assiniboine farm land, but Saskatchewan is banning some farm ownership schemes. See this.

Middle East Sheiks have purchased a large share in wheat distributor "The Canadian Wheat Board". Germans and Asians are buying giant farms in Canada. And not just in Canada. Wall Street investors and Chinese companies are buying farm land all over the world.

George Soros is reported to be buying farmland. Investment guru and billionaire Jim Rogers advised buying farm land several years ago. He was ahead of the curve.


The crash of tar sands and coal stocks is just the beginning. Fracking companies are also losing big. University endowment funds are getting out, as Stanford University did with coal. After all, why educate students and then toss them into a wrecked world?

Jeff Rubin was one of Canada's top investment analysts with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Now he advises investors to run, not walk, to the exits on the what have been the most profitable of all investments: oil and gas. People save their money, while saving the climate, Rubin tells us.


I ask Jeff Rubin about the multi-billion dollar proposals to build ports to export Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) from British Columbia. He says those projects are dead before they begin. Why? Because the major buyer was supposed to be China. But China just made a much cheaper deal for Russian gas brought in by pipeline. They have no need to go through the expensive process of freezing and compressing gas, and then decompressing it again before use. They don't need Canadian LNG.


Jeff Rubin says the other commodity Canada has, that the world wants, is water. However this discussion makes me, and many Canadians, very nervous. Most of the talk is about exporting water to the United States, where drought is already limiting farm production, and not just in California.

Most of Canada's big rivers actually run north to the Arctic Ocean. For decades, there's been talk about diverting them south. But remember, this plot to divert rivers was actually tried in the Soviet Union, under Stalin. The ecological devastation was spectacular. Today, we have no idea what happens to Arctic ecosystems, and the Arctic sea, if we siphon off fresh water flows. I'm guessing it would not end well.

But you can expect pressure from the United States to get more Canadian water, and who knows, in the future a solution forced by military threats is not impossible to imagine.

In the present, Rubin says we already export water - in our crops. Wheat uses a lot of water, and Canada exports a lot of wheat. Australia also exports water (that it can hardly afford) in it's wheat crops. At least agricultural exports are value-added water, and we don't have to divert rivers.


I learned a lot just talking with Jeff Rubin. He's a very smart mind who sees further into the future than most of us. Listen to or download this interview with Jeff Rubin, in either CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

This new book "Carbon Bubble" is mainly about Canada. But it got me thinking about the fossil-dependent Middle East countries, Norway, and even the United States, which is trying to frack it's way back into an oil and gas superpower. This is really a global carbon bubble that is about to burst, with Canada as an early case study.

Here's another useful radio interview with Jeff Rubin, on the Canadian Broadcasting Network program "The Current" on May 19, 2015.

Find Jeff Rubin's web site here.

On You tube, Jeff Rubin talks about (the dismal) future of the Oil Sands here, on the Canadian CTV news channel, May 19, 2015.


We are not alone on this Earth experiencing a rapid shift of climate. Our next guest is a voice for the wild, and what we must do.

A new study in the journal Science finds climate change could push into extinction one of six plants and animals on this planet. That's a huge unimaginable loss. A climate shift won't respect the boundaries of parks and wilderness areas we've set aside. Can we just step back and watch?

Emma Marris says "no". She's been a reporter for the journal Nature, and has a Master’s in Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University. Her controversial book is titled "Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World". Just lately, Emma's stirred up another storm among naturalists with a provocative article in Orion Magazine, called "Handle with Care".

Emma Marris, photo courtesy of Nature Conservancy

From Klamath Falls, Oregon, we welcome Emma Marris to Radio Ecoshock. We have a wide-ranging discussion about what our role is in preserving wilderness lands, now that climate change, invasive species and other human influences has re-shaped what we mean by "wild".

My own worry, and it's a big one, is that Emma's proposal could lead less sensitive and ethical people to a justification for "developing" the parks, or "managing" aspects of nature we don't understand very well. Humans are known for their hubris and natural failures. Can we overcome that threat?

It's interesting to compare environmentalism in the United States with Canada or Europe. In Europe, there is practically no original wild space at all, so the discussion there is quite different. Here in Canada, there is so much wilderness there is no hope or idea that humans could or should manage it. We'll have to see how Emma's proposals for "gardening" in Nature resonate in other parts of the world.

Most recently, Emma has been writing about wolves in the crowd-funded journalism site "Beacon". How wild are re-introduced wolves that wear GPS broadcasting collars, names, and intense study and tracking operations? Find that discussion in Beacon here.

Find more about Emma Marris here at her web site.

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Emma Marris in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

You can also listen to Orion magazine host Scott Gast talking with Emma Marris about her controversial article here in a 12 minute podcast.

My thanks to Erik Hoffner of Orion Magazine for suggesting this guest.


To accompany this interview on the wild, I added my new song about the disappearing species at the end of this program. The piece is called "She Didn't Say". It's written and performed entirely with computer synthesizers. You can also listen to or download (free) this song from Soundcloud.


As long-time listeners will know, I don't agree with Professor Emeritus Guy McPherson's argument that humans will go extinct before mid-century, due to multiplying feedback effects and methane driven by climate change. However, I value McPherson's work to identify and track positive feedback effects, which few others do.

Mike Ferrigan, host of Extinction Radio

You can listen to this ongoing argument with a new extended online radio show coming out of Scotland, with host and producer Mike Ferrigan. It features some guests we've had on Radio Ecoshock, and some new voices, with not all of them agreeing with extinction either. It's a radio dialog. Find the web page, and listen to episodes of "Extinction Radio" here.


Thank you to all who "friended" this program on Facebook. We just crested over 26,000 listens on Soundcloud, gaining quickly. We now have more listeners in more countries. Hello to listeners in Scandinavia, Switzerland and Austria, Israel, Russia, India, and many more.

There is a momentum now. It's not yet time to completely give up hope.

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Mobilize to Save the Climate!

SUMMARY: Psychologist Margaret Klein Salamon on movement to mobilize to save the climate - a total shift in society. The transformative power of climate truth. Plus scientist Paul Beckwith on chemtrails and geoengineering.

She's an American clinical psychologist and host of Now Margaret Klein Salamon is calling the United States to an emergency mobilization - to stave off a disastrous shift in our climate. Why it might work. Why it has to.

Then we're back with climate scientist Paul Beckwith to talk over chemtrails or covert climate geoengineering. Maybe it hasn't started, but Beckwith thinks it should.

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

Or listen to it right now on Soundcloud!


I realize not everyone listens to radio. That's why I'm taking the time this week to give you extensive notes on this critical idea of a rapid shift in society to prevent disastrous climate change. It's not a new idea, following the example of what happened in the United States (as well as Great Britain, Canada and many other countries) during World War II. What's new is a movement to really make that big change happen.

Our guest is Margaret Klein Salamon, the author of a widely read article "The Transformative Power of Climate Change".

While studying for, (and getting) her PHD in psychology last year, Margaret Klein Salamon became increasingly aware of climate change. She was also in New York City during Hurricane Sandy. Talking with friends, she decided to start a climate psychology blog, but her friends challenged her, saying writing is not enough. What can we do together to really solve this problem?

Clinical psychologist and climate activist Margaret Klein Salamon

Through her blog, she found more "collaborators" and allies, in particular Ezra Silk. They developed a "social movement start-up." (The Climate Mobilization, and The Pledge to Mobilize). Ezra Silk is the co-founder of the Climate Mobilization. The Pledge was developed with Philip Sutton, the co-author of "Climate Code Red" (2008).

Margaret is the fourth psychologist we've had on the show - but so far, no psychiatrists, even though what we are doing to the planet is pretty crazy. Why do you think there's a difference in response by the two fields of mental health?

She replies that psychatrists are trained like medical doctors, and these days tend toward pharmacology - writing prescriptions. While a psychologist might be able to offer therapy regarding climate change, there is no drug treatment for it. However, Lise Van Susteren is one American psychiatrist who is also a climate activist.


"We recognize that the climate problem is a global emergency that threatens to cause the collapse of civilization within this century."

- Margaret Klein Salamon

That is the starting point. They look at history: the World War Two home-front mobilization in the United States, starting after Pearl Harbor (December 1941) and developing in 1942 and after. The global emergency was the imperial ambitions of the Axis Powers (Germany and Japan).

America rapidly transformed every sector of society and economy. Soldiers, businesses, and housewives went to work on the war needs. It was the first time women went to work in factories (other than during the early industrial revolution). During this time, 40% of produce was grown at home in Victory Gardens. Universities changed to war-related research (a trend which continues today). It's an example of how America, and other countries, could deal with an acute crisis, such as climate change.

This historic example has been used by many climate leaders and thinkers. Hilary Clinton has used that example, as have Executive Directors of many NGO's, including Lester Brown of Earth Policy Institute. He was one of the signatories of a 2008 letter to President Barack Obama, calling for an effort like the World War Two mobilization, but this time to fight climate change.

And yet, no one was directly advocating to go ahead and do this mobilization. That is the role of this new movement called Climate Mobilization. They want to push this forward through the tool "The Pledge to Mobilize". That is a one page document that any American, and just recently any international citizen, can sign. The Pledge contains a platform with five political demands. The signer recognizes climate change threatens civilization, and they endorse this 5 point plan to mobilize all social and economic resources to stop the worst of climate change from developing.

For example, the Pledge calls for the United States to reduce their emissions to "net zero" by 2025, through a complete transformation of the energy and agricultural sectors. It would entail, they say, full employment. It demands the top priority of American diplomacy is to reach global net zero emissions at top emergency speeds.

When signing, you endorse those 5 points, but also make three personal and political commitments. They include "I will vote for candidates who have signed the Pledge, over those who have not." That includes all levels of elections, whether local, state, or national. "I will support candidates who have signed the pledge with time or money or both." Plus the signer promises to spread the truth of climate change and the Pledge itself to others. Margaret says it becomes "like a missionary activity." The expectation is that you will talk to people about the reality of climate change, and what needs to be done, quickly. "It's a way to break climate silence."

Up until Pearl Harbor, many Americans were in denial about what was happening in Europe and Asia. They did not want to become involved in another European war (after World War One) and chose isolationism. Only when the people felt directly threatened at home, did the big swing take place. Where people wanted their personal lives, suddenly they developed a sense of duty before self. If each of us continues pursuing our own happiness only, then we will face collapse.


A huge number of people who distrust any government action. Does climate mobilization have to come from the federal government?

"Yes", says Klein, the scale of changes are so large that they must be coordinated nationally. A city-by-city, state-by-state approace won't do enough, fast enough. And yet City and State action are also needed.

She wants a declaration of emergency, or maybe even a declaration of war against climate change.

Localized agro-ecology is part of the required change, giving us near zero emissions supply lines, rather than long-distance trucking or air transport of food. Agriculture should also sequester carbon into the soil. This will also offer more protection against food shocks.

International relations would be built on countering the climate emergency. It might involve technology transfer, similar to the "lend-lease" that occured during World War Two. Except we might ship out solar panels or electrified mass transportation systems instead of guns and tanks. It will require "all hands on deck" which means anyone who wants to work would be employed in this climate emergency (full employment) as happened during World War Two.

The Republican majority in Congress is filled with leaders who deny climate change is real, or that humans are causing it. That's kind of a stumbling block, isn't it? Yes and no, says Klein. We should not waste out time arguing with deniers, but work with the majority of people who know climate change needs to be stopped.

We must ask our politicians: "do you have the ability to protect our country - and the world - from collapse, or not?"

Another part of World War Two, for people in many countries, was curtailing consumer spending and even rationing. Do we need that now, and won't that be a very difficult sell, to promise people less?

It seems just to fill up our car one more time, or pay that electric bill for coal-powered juice, we all need to be able to turn off our knowledge of climate change. Margaret, what tools can psychology offer to help us overcome the bits of denial we all need, in order to keep functioning in a fossil-powered world?

Klein says psychoanalytical work helps a patient accept conflict, within themselves. For example, you might both love someone and hate them. We will have similar mixed emotions, because in spite of our climate knowledge, the fossil powered world around us is almost inescapable on an individual level. Still, we feel guilty about our energy use.

Psychology suggests we should expect the mind to do anything and everything to protect us from full knowledge of what climate change means and will do. We've never been perfect as information processors. "We don't want to know, on the most basic level, because it hurts to know."


Denial is just one of our mechanisms. Most of the time we operate in "dissociation". The most extreme dissociation is an out-of-body experience, or creating multiple personalities. We all dissociate in lesser degrees, by putting unpleasant realities out of our minds. We may plan video games, watch TV or do many things to think about anything other than climate change. "Zoning out" works. Dissociation, Margaret says, is the lack of normal integration between thoughts, feelings, and action.

People understand the climate threat intellectually, and may talk about a billion people dying, but their feelings and actions don't reflect what they are talking about. Margaret references David Robert's recent piece about the awful truth about climate change - but his language reflected a kind of emotion numbing.


Another psychological defense against really knowing about climate impacts is "wilful ignorance". It's when you "know enough to know you don't want to know any more." We may start reading an alarming article on climate change, then quickly move on to another news item, and "forget" about it. The person could learn more about it, or really throw their lives into it, but claim they are not experts, not scientists, so they bear no responsibility.


If we really tune in to what humans are doing to this planet and other species, we may feel strong emotions, like grief or anger. Do you advise people to let those emotions happen, or to calm themselves in various ways?

Margaret says we must experience these emotions, but we may need to find ways to contain or structure, so they don't overwhelm our lives. "If you haven't cried about climate change, maybe you don't quite understand, or more likely, maybe you are dissociating." But we need to find the right time and place. It doesn't work to cry about climate change at an important meeting, "or to become furious about climate change in front of your young children." Holding feelings in can create psychological problems, she says.

Margaret started a Facebook group, now run by others, called "Climate Change. It's Personal". It's about how we as people live in these times. We don't have to experience the climate crisis alone.


We recently had the Norwegian eco-psychologist Per Espen Stoknes on the show. He says we have to stop frightening people with climate forecasts, which may only paralyze them into inaction. What are your thoughts?

She wants to read more about his position, but mainly disagrees. Climate change is frightening, if the facts are understood. However, Klein wants us to channel emotions like grief, fear, anger into mobilizing to do something about the situation. The Pledge to Mobilize solves the problem Stoknes is talking about. There is a huge solution on the table that everyone can be part of. "If we don't solve this, all is lost."

She believes in "climate truth" and recently published an essay titled "The Transformative Power of Climate Truth". It was published on Common Dreams, and has been a top story on the site Climate Code Red, while trending high on Reddit, and of course in her blog

Klein tells us: "If you're not talking about the fact that climate change will cause the collapse of civilization, if we don't take drastic action, I think basically you are bull-shitting people."

Her use of "bull-shit" comes from the piece "On Bullshit" by Philosopher Harry G Frankfurt. It shows how especially in America, and especially in politics, experts recommend avoiding the truth, to communicate instead just some message that works to bring people toward what you want. It's called manipulation, and it's the new method of operation for control by politicians, corporations, and anyone with a cause.

Even phrases like "green jobs" or "clean energy future" may hope to trick people away from the awful truth of climate change, and the much stronger path we need to take, says Salamon. Honesty offers us the enormous power of transformative truth. The fact we've gone this far, toward warming the planet, is a sign of wide-spread institutional failure.

"Our institutions are not working. It has to come from us, from the people living in this fateful hour." She's seen this inaction. For example, some have change jobs, so they have more time for climate activism. They become the kind of fuel for the massive social transformation that we need.

Of course I agree with Margaret: this is the hour. People are either going to answer this threat in reality, or not.


Margaret says she derived some hope from the book "No Ordinary Time" by Doris Kearns. The full title is "No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II" and it won a Pulitzer Prize for history after it was published in 1995.

During the isolationist phase in the United States after World War One, military production was largely decommissioned. Germany built a war machine never seen before, with the Blitzkreig and tanks, while the U.S. was still using horses - the Cavalry - in the military. After the attack on Pearl Habor, there was a transformation on every leve in America, with massive public participation. It gave her hope we could make a massive change to save what's left of the climate.


I worry a return to military imagery has it's draw-backs. Militarism is part and parcel of climate change and the bad things that might happen when droughts, famines or repeated extreme weather strike. Is this really the best example we have?

Klein admits it's not the best example, but it may be the best we have in living memory. Plus, the climate mobilization will be much better, because it leads to more life and living things, rather than death and destruction.

However, in some ways it's easier to sell war. It's been part of our evolution as a species. If the North Koreans (or pick you enemy) was destroying our climate, we might rally against them sooner. But really, we ourselves are the enemy wrecking the climate. That's difficult.

There are bad actors, like fossil fuel companies and denial think-tanks. But they don't actually cause the problem as much as our willing dependency on burning fossil fuels. Without a visible "enemy", the climate mobilization will require a higher level of human consciousness and functioning.


How do you see this call for climate change going international - to countries like India, who never experienced the big shift in World War Two, or Scandinavia, where they didn't mobilize against Hitler? I guess I'm asking, is this really an American movement, when we need a global response?

Klein replies that very recently they introduced an international version of The Pledge to Mobilize. They had to take out the World War Two metaphor, as it doesn't apply everywhere. Plus they changed the target of getting to Net Zero to 2030, to give developing nations a little bit more time. Instead of relying on the U.S. Constitution, it calls on the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. People from all over the world are now taking the Pledge to Mobilize. It can apply in any country that has elections, because it calls on pledgers to choose climate-active politicians. I presume it cannot yet reach into dictatorships or kingdoms, like Saudi Arabia.

We must choose leaders who will "protect civilization" - the "pro-civilization party".


Ralph Nader, the famous consumer advocate and Presidential candidate, has signed the Pledge.

The first Climate Mobilization Day of action will be on June 14th, 2015. That's anchored by their San Diego team. They had a march/rally where they posted the Pledge on the Federal Building in San Diego. They will follow that up with former Congressman Jim Bates who has signed the Pledge. Bates will recreate Paul Revere's ride in the streets of San Diego - warning that the climate crisis is coming and we must mobilize, ad Revere warned of the coming British troops in the Revolutionary War.

Now the movement will build on that to call on Mobilizers all over the country on June 14th. Their longer goal is about the 2016 elections in America. The huge media coverage of this long drawn-out election cycle is a good opportunity to get the Mobilization message out.

Climate change is so evident now, everyone can see it in their community. What initially seemed like a wild idea now seems almost self-evident - that we need a massive change to save ourselves. Who could have imagined the Roman Catholic Pope Francis would spear- head the climate message?

People wanting to take the Pledge and become climate truth activists should go to

Download or listen to this 44 minute interview with Margaret Klein Salamon in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


A lot of interest in geoengineering from former chemtrails people, who think geoengineering is already happening, being sprayed from planes.

On our Radio Ecoshock show for March 18, 2015, Harvard scientist David Keith said we would know if geoengineering was being done on a scale that matters was happening. That show was picked up by Dane Wigington, host of Suddenly that show was downloaded a month later another 500 times from Soundcloud.

Dane is one of the more charismatic and savy people to emerge out of the "chemtrails" movement. They don't refer to "chemtrails" any more, but position themselves as an anti-geoengineering group. Some environmentalists also oppose geoengineering, like the ETC Group. But Wigington, and apparently a large number of people connected via the Internet, think covert spraying of the sky, to cool the planet, is already happening.

The former chemtrails movement has splintered somewhat. Some still believe the spraying is done to enable the secret Alaskan radio frequency site HAARP to control our minds. That may be the origin of the "tin foil hat" expression, as believers suggested metal foil could repel these waves from our brains. I got an email from another chemtrails enthusiast who thought the spraying was CAUSING global warming, not cooling the planet. Other's don't believe in climate change at all, so it's all over the map.

Wigington has no doubts that the world is set to warm in a dangerous way. He says governments, or the Powers That Be, are panicked, and are spraying aerosols to try to control what would otherwise be runaway warming. They may also be playing with controlling the weather, a project the U.S. military has tried in the past.

I haven't been able to find any peer-reviewed, published scientific work establishing the existence of a massive covert project to stave off climate change with aerosols launched from aircraft, commercial or otherwise. Being a science-based program, that doesn't leave me much to cover, other than asking other scientists what they think about it.

University of Ottawa climate scientist Paul Beckwith

Two weeks ago, we had Paul Beckwith on Radio Ecoshock, for a tag-team effort to cover major climate change stories around the world. After our talk, I asked Paul what he thought about covert geoengineering, and about new scientific calls to do research into ways we could cool the planet on an emergency basis. Paul agreed to have this conversation broadcast, and that's what you'll find in this week's show.

I'm just making notes on a major climate research talk given at Harvard University. The speaker, Dr. James Anderson, says there is support for geoengineering research coming from both the Left and the Right. The Left hopes to show the big risks of doing it, the Right wants to find a way to keep on burning fossil fuels. Meanwhile, the U.S. National Research Council has called for funding research into geoengineering. However, I haven't heard of that resulting in new funding announcements yet.

As a member of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG), Paul Beckwith joins a few other scientists, including Dr. Peter Wadhams of Cambridge (also a guest on Radio Ecoshock) in calling for geoengineering to cool the Arctic. They want to save what is left of the sea ice, saying when that goes, runaway feedbacks will develop that will speed glacial melting, increase methane emissions to very dangerous levels, and further destabilize the weather in the Northern Hemisphere, by disrupting the Jet Stream.

In another Radio Ecoshock interview, Beckwith suggested that just a few airplanes could spray sulfur or other materials to create a localized volcano-like cloud in the Arctic to deflect some solar energy back into space. He's now looking at other ways to create clouds in the Arctic, and is open to many varieties of geoengineering, such as biochar, and of course technology to remove carbon from the air.

Does he think there is a global conspiracy of geoengineering right now? He hopes not, "because it certainly isn't working." Like David Keith, he thinks any spraying effort large enough to make any difference would be detectable in various ways, and it hasn't shown up.

It's a simulating talk, which no doubt will add to both or our resumes on the Chemtrails "Disinformation Directory".

I've been told in a half dozen emails that eventually I will be tried and convicted of some sort of crime for not admitting that there is a conspiracy to poison the sky. It's rather amazing that we picked up that number of listeners who came to hate. That's new for Radio Ecoshock.

Listen to Paul Beckwith on geoengineering and conspiracy here in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

My thanks to those whose ongoing monthly support keeps this show on the air. You know who you are. And a special thanks to Pat for her generous donation this past week. Find out how to support the show here.

I'd also like to thank Jack Wolfe for helping to manage the Radio Ecoshock Facebook page. Jack's doing a tremendous job, helping to announce each new show on a wide variety of internet forums. With that help, we reached over 19,000 people on Facebook in one week. You can help us spread the word, by "liking" Radio Ecoshock on Facebook here. That helps us get wider exposure.

The folks who retweet my humble weekly show announcement are also helping a lot. It's a kind of radio/Net activism.

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