Wednesday, October 28, 2015


SUMMARY: This is the second program from International Permaculture Convergence, in London. Keynote speech by internationally known Geoff Lawton. 3 interviews by Albert Bates: from UK, Andy Goldring of Permaculture Association; from Germany Declan Kennedy; from USA Andrew Millison.Real solutions for the real world. Radio Ecoshock 151028

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Would you like a persistent source of short videos of hope, where people like you generate abundant food working with nature, rather than against her? Just get on Geoff Lawton's mailing list. He's turned me on to permaculture do-ers who have ended up as guests on Radio Ecoshock.

After writing books on permaculture, and teaching literally thousands of students, Lawton is among the few who have designed and guided major eco-restoration projects in many countries, including at the request of governments. In the last few years, he's put out tons of videos (many free) and DVD courses for sale. His videos have made him famous. Here is a list of 200 of his videos on You tube!

So it's fitting that despite a belief in non-hierachical networking, Geoff Lawton give a first keynote speech at the 15th Annual International Permaculture Convergence, held in mid-September 2105, in London.

Here is that talk. Download or listen to this 25 minute presentation by Geoff Lawton (lightly edited for radio) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

The Lawton presentation came at the International Permaculure Convergence, in mid-September in London. Find more about Geoff at

You can find a whole series of You tube videos of presentations at this Convergence on You tube here.


Next up, Albert Bates interviews the Octagenarian permaculture activist, transplanted from Ireland to Germany, Declan Kennedy.

Wiki tells us:

"Declan Kennedy (born 24 July 1934, in Dublin) is an Irish architect. He was a leader of the Global Ecovillage Network Europe (1995–99), Director of the Permaculture Institute for Europe (1984–89), and Vice President of the Berlin Institute of Technology (1975–78). He has been Professor of Architecture at the TU Berlin since 1972."

Declan Kennedy

Here is Declan's page and bio at Gaia University.

Download or listen to this 5 minute interview by Albert Bates with Declan Kennedy in CD Quality (only)


Albert is the author of books like "The Biochar Solution: Carbon Farming and Climate Change" and "The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing Times". He is the host of "The Great Change" blog at Bates has lived at the iconic Tennessee intentional community "The Farm" for decades.

While attending the Permaculture Convergence, Albert volunteered to interview some of the top permaculture leaders for Radio Ecoshock. Thank you so much Albert!

If you are attending cool conferences, why not take along a good recording device. Think of all the air miles you've save me - and Radio Ecoshock listeners. Best to check with me first, using the contact form at my web site,, or just write me: radio //at//


Albert's next guest is one of the long-serving leaders and communicators of Permaculture in the United Kingdon. For many years, Andrew/Andy Goldring has been the Co-ordinator and CEO of the Permaculture Association in Britain since 1999.

We find out more in this interview by Albert Bates...

Download or listen to this 13 minute interview by Albert Bates with Andy Goldring in CD Quality or Lo_Fi

Andy Goldring is a driving force toward a greater international organization and wide-spread skill and knowledge sharing.


Albert Bates contributes our last interview, this time with Andrew Millison, from Corvalis, Oregon. Let's get this American perspective on the highs from the 15th International Permaculture Convergence in London, last September. Andrew Millison is a professional permacultural designer working out of Corvalis, Oregon.

Download or listen to this 13 minute interview by Albert Bates with Adrew Millison in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


It's fair to say this world, our times, are suffering from growing pains. As a core project of our civilization and existence, we grow food in unsustainable ways, threatening the future, and destroying nature in the present. I'm convinced. In my little village plot, I have started down the road toward a culture than can last through the ages. What about you?

One further note: please help pay the bills at Radio Ecoshock if you can. You can become one of my treasured supporters who pay $10 a month automatically via PayPal, or make a single donation of any amount. Get the details and easy buttons to click on this page.

Thank you for listening to these alternative voices on Radio Ecoshock. And thank you for caring about our planet.

Next week, I'll be covering some very serious news about the climate, and troubles to come in our developing future. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Permaculture, Climate & Survival

SUMMARY: From 15th Annual International Permaculture Convergence in London, September 9th, 2015: "Cool Talk" by Albert Bates from The Farm in Tennessee. Albert interviews Transition Towns founder Rob Hopkins. Australian permaculturalist Rosemary Morrow tells us Western permies are the minority, compared to East Asia, India, Africa, and the Pacific Islands.


If you don't know what permaculture is when we start, you will by the end of this intensive radio feature.

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

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Albert Bates is the author of books like "The Biochar Solution: Carbon Farming and Climate Change" and "The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing Times". He is the host of "The Great Change" blog at

But that just touches the surface. Formerly an environmental lawyer, Bates is one of the long-time residents of the Tennessee intentional community "The Farm". That's where so many great alternative ideas and low-tech solutions are created. We last had Albert on Radio Ecoshock for an interview on January 29th, 2014. Find the blog for that show here. Or you can download or listen to that previous interview here.

Albert Bates

This time around, Albert contacted me with some great suggestions for a couple of programs on his passion, permaculture. There is a huge long video of a day-long series of talks on You tube (links at the bottom of this post), from the 15th Annual International Permaculture Convergence held in London on September 19th. Actually there were official presentations, by most of the leading names in permaculture, but also workshops, and meet-ups of all kinds. I'll be playing you a couple of the best talks.

Even better, Albert arranged to interview some hard-to-find permaculture folks, specifically for Radio Ecoshock. You'll hear him talk with Transition Town co-founder Rob Hopkins this week, and with more internationally known permaculture leaders next week.

Here is Albert Bates' own presentation in London (19 minutes). He calls it "cool talk" and he explains why "cool" works better than something like "carbon sequestration". It's all in our tribal memes. Anyway, you'll hear about "cool food" and other cool products - including biochar paint that can actually clean the air in your room, and cows that don't need antibiotics.

Here's the big, big news in my opinion. You know that almost everything we do creates carbon emissions, as we burn fossil fuels. Bates says there is a different way to burn... almost anything - and not create greenhouse gases. In fact, the "pyrolysis" method of burning (can be done in a cheap camp stove even) - grabs and stores carbon instead of releasing it. The "bio char" remainders can be used in many products, fed to cows, or just dumped in the ground - where it will hold on to the carbon for up to 1,000 years.

That means we could create a society where almost everything we do LOWERS the carbon in the atmosphere. The test workshops for that society are the "eco-villages" which Albert and other permaculturalists are building in many countries. Bates has a big carbon negative settlement in the works, in an undisclosed location, working with a national government.

It's possible we could lower carbon in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, or even lower. There is a way. That's big. Huge.

So listen to this 19 minute talk from Albert, in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.


Next Albert interviews Transition Towns founder Rob Hopkins for Radio Ecoshock. Rob Hopkins is the co-founder of the original Transition Town in Totnes, England, and central to the spread of these low-carbon, more self-reliant communities world-wide. I think there are transition towns in up to 100 countries now.

Albert is also a realist. Things look dark right now. There is a possibility of petro-collapse, as oil and gas dwindle and become uneconomical to get out of the ground. A "ponzi-collapse" is also lurking around the corner. The international trade and monetary system is being kept alive by swindles and money printing. It could collapse at any time. Of course, climate disruption is already upon us, and getting worse.

So Bates asks Rob Hopkins, and again his other guests next week, do they still have hope, and if so, why? I think Hopkins gives a good answer, to help all of us.

Rob Hopkins

Listen to or download this 13 minute interview of Rob Hopkins in CD Quality or Lo-Fi. And don't forget these interview links in the Radio Ecoshock blog are permanent. Go ahead and share them on Facebook, Tweet about them, or share them however you can. Even years later, these links will work, and these interviews will be important for many people.


We wrap with another speech from the latest International Permaculture Convergence in London England last September. Rosemary Morrow started learning about permaculture in Australia in the early 1980's. She's founded branches in Cambodia, Vietnam, and many other places. This speech was recorded at the 15th Annual International Permaculture Convergence in London, September 9th, 2015.

Rosemary Morrow

If you are looking for inspiration, when things look bleak and impossible, this is the talk for you. People who have nothing, living in a war zone, or worse, have improved their lives and survival using permaculture. If they can do it, you can do it, says Rosemary.

Plus, nobody needs to wait for a university education in permaculture. Learn what you can, get a little training if you can, watch some You tube videos, and start trying. You can only improve the planet. I've lightly edited this talk for radio. Listen to or download this speech by Rosemary Morrow in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

Follow Rosemary Morrow on Facebook here. Her two best-known books are "Earth User's Guide to Permaculture" (2nd Edition, 2010) and "Earth User's Guide to Teaching Permaculture" (2014).

You can watch the whole 9 hours of Day Two of the Convergence on You tube here. Or find a listing of various videos from this Convergence here.

My thanks to Albert Bates for his talk, interview, and guidance in assembling this program. We'll have more to come next week. I'm Alex. Help support Radio Ecoshock is you can. Thank you for tuning in.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Will China lead the world into a new "ecological civilization", while America falls behind into the remnants of the old carbon age? Hidden by mainstream media, major changes are developing on the global stage. Our guest Laurence Brahm gives us a tour. Meanwhile, business as usual is setting us up for the awful shocks of climate disruption. Our second guest Gernot Wagner says our economies are heading into a series of hits, something he calls "climate shock".

In fact, scientific studies say there is at least a ten percent chance we won't survive at all. We are gambling with an ecosphere, our descendants and a geological age. Let's hope the ecological civilization comes in time, and let's pay attention to those who try to lead us there.

I'm Alex Smith, and this is Radio Ecoshock.

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

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A successful international trade lawyer helping multinational companies enter China, quits to find himself and the mythical Shangri-La. That journey becomes a book. Along the way our guest finds a passion for restoring ancient buildings of Asia. He founded an influential organization called "The Himalayan Consensus" - which was influential among other things in helping the new secular Constitution of Nepal.

These are among the many sides to Laurence Brahm. He's been listed as a senior advisor to China's Ministry of Environmental Protection. I checked. It's true. When I talked with Laurence in the Spring of 2015 about his new book "Fusion Economics" he said China would come out with a bold new vision to move away from carbon-powered civilization, perhaps surpassing the United States. That plan has been released.

Laurence Brahm

We talk about the developing bi-polar world of international finance and what that could mean for all of us. We look at real roads to climate sanity, and Laurence's appointment as Foreign Policy Advisor to Jill Stein's 2016 Presidential campaign for the American Green Party.

Laurence is a mix of visions to survive amid realism. He says for example that scientists tell him this civilization has only a fifty-fifty change of making it to the year 2100. As a realist, he see the need for governments and private business to cooperate on plans to decarbonize.


I won't go into great detail here about the newly emerging block of China, India and Russia. Following the Asian crash in the late 1990's, and again after the Lehman collapse of 2008, major countries outside America trust Wall Street and the old Bretton Woods banking system less and less. Developing countries in South America and Africa also see that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank do not really operate in their best interests.

In the last few years we've seen the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the "New Silk Road" initiative and the South-South Cooperative Fund emerge. As a former trade and business lawyer, Laurence is in a perfect position to explain what is going on - the news that never makes it into major American media. We also note the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership does not include China, and is likely an effort to isolate China.

As I wrote in my blog on Laurence last spring:

"Laurence has his own You tube channel. He talks about "compassionate capital" and "conscientious consumption". Brahm recommends we set up our own alternative financial systems (like local currencies, or bitcoin).

On BBC in December, Brahm said 80% of the wealth of America comes from betting on stocks, currencies and other financial games, and not from producing goods and services. That is not sustainable.

You can download that Radio Ecoshock interview based on Brahm's book "Fusion Economics" here in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Brahm says that one issue that can unite the world is climate change. It's a global problem demanding global solutions. While America has been investing its technical skills into games and social media companies that can be flogged by Wall Street, China is pouring investment into green energy. Most of the world's solar panels, for example, are now made in China.

That is also part of a major new policy announcement made last April (2015). China is planning to decarbonize rapidly, to build an "ecological civilization". In a centrally planned economy, this is no idle chatter, Brahm tells us. There are a whole range of interlocking finance mechanism, regulations and smart planning aiming to take China away from its current 70% dependence on coal, and into a low carbon, highly energy efficient future. Laurence explains the five major pillars behind this new policy - with lessons that other countries could learn.

Unfortunately, from my perspective, China will partly do this with a gigantic expansion of nuclear power, with dozens of reactors already under construction. They paused after the triple melt-downs at Fukushima, but decided to go ahead, thinking they can avoid the mistakes made in Japan and other parts of the world.

When it comes to alternative energy and "smart cities" China has found a more willing investment and research partner in European nations. He gives the example of tiny Finland, which has created buildings that create energy instead of requiring energy. But Finland needs China's big market to make this worthwhile.


As for the American Greens, Brahm thinks there needs to be a hydrid approach using the free enterprise model, but guided and inspired by a greener government. The Greens are not "anti-capitalist". Brahm points out it is not "unpatriotic" to recognize the United States has serious problems. End the flag waving, and let's get busy solving them, for a better country.

Find out more about Laurence Brahm at or you can go to or follow on Facebook here.

I also found this English language interview on Chinese TV (September 23, 2015) very helpful to understand the macro picture.

Download or listen to this new Radio Ecoshock interview with Laurence Brahm in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.


Are you ready for "Climate Shock"?

Your home probably won't burn down. So why bother buying fire insurance? Because it might. That's part of a powerful new argument for climate action, coming not from scientists, but from economists.

Gernot Wagner is lead senior economist at the Environmental Defense Fund. He advocates for market-based solutions for environmental problems. Teamed up with Martin Weitzman, a Harvard Professor of Economics, Garnot Wagner joins us to talk about their new book "Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet".

Gernot Wagner

Most projections you read about in the media, and many scientific papers, are based on "the most likely" outcome. But like any Bell curve, there is a lower and upper end to risk. In the case of climate change, that upper end is really called "a fat tail" because there is at least a ten percent chance, Gernot tells us, that this civilization may not survive to the year 2100 at all. Read more about "fat tail risk" and the climate here.

The two authors published an article about this in the April 15, 2015 edition of "Foreign Affairs".

A ten percent chance (of oblivion) may sound comforting, but if you had a gun with ten chambers, and put a bullet in one of them, would you be prepared to play "Russian roulette" with the whole future of our civilization, and possibly the ecosphere that supports us as a species? Why would we gamble everything? To keep the casino economy "growing" while we wipe out other species and places?

Looking at risk, for example, official estimates for the amount of warming we will see this century go from a couple of degrees all the way beyond 6 degrees C, or 11 degrees Fahrenheit! And that is based on what we think we know. But what if there are huge possible tipping points that we don't know? For example, nobody expected the massive melting of Arctic Sea Ice in the first decade of this century. What else is out there?

In the economy, these are known as "Black Swan" events. By the way, the author of a book with that title, Nassim Nicholas Taleb has endorsed this book. I've been waiting for this kind of book for a few years now. It's so obvious that climate change is going to hit the economy hard. Wagner gives us a hard-headed look at what could happen to "business-as-usual".

He says: "What we don't know may well dwarf what we know. What we know is bad, what we don't know is potentially much, much worse."

Gernot tell us every ton of CO2 emitted into atmosphere costs us about $40 in damages now. That's the damages we know about. Since there are about half a trillion dollars in global subsidies to fossil fuels annually, that means instead of charging per ton, our societies pay about $15 per ton of CO to not pay for damages. We get paid to pollute.

"The less we know, the more risk there is, and so the more we ought to be doing about the problem in the first place."


Then there's the simple problem of the near-pointlessness of individual action. I may cut my carbon emissions and it makes no difference if the world keeps on polluting. So why bother? The authors talk about this, including voting and recycling, in their Salon article, March 29, 2015.

They discuss two theories of individual action: "Economists are instinctively more comfortable with this crowding-out bias view of the world than the one supporting the self-perception theory, a.k.a. the Copenhagen Theory of Change. "

Some people who consider themselves green blow up all their small action, like cloth bags and a more efficient car - by flying.

Their first advice: scream!

"So: Scream, protest, debate, negotiate, cajole, tweet, use all the means at your disposal to call for the scale of policy change needed to match the magnitude of the climate challenge. To use the economists’ logic of comparative advantage, do what you do best: Teachers, teach; students, study; community leaders, lead. Meanwhile, avoid crowding-out bias at every step and make sure to keep the next step in mind: the Copenhagen Theory of Change in action."

Second: learn to cope with climate change.

And we should do that as a society. One example is not paying people to rebuild on flood-prone lands, especially near the coast.

Step 3: Profit

They talk about investing in the 700 ppm fund, and the 350 ppm fund. They write:

"Stranded assets dominate the picture. Bill McKibben popularized the concept in Rolling Stone. The Capital Institute did the math for him: Just to stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations at 450 ppm, about $20 trillion dollars’ worth of carbon still underground will likely have to remain there or be pumped out only while pumping the resulting carbon dioxide back in, devaluing fossil fuel companies in the process.

In this world, your $1 billion may be best served betting against coal, oil, and gas. They are bound to perform worse than the broader market. Wind, solar, and all sorts of low carbon technologies win. Carbon air capture technologies may be another big winner, assuming that the carbon dioxide price we all pay will be appropriately large. Once again, timing is everything. In order to make a buck, it will be key to get in at just the right time.

Gernot also has solutions in the book. These involve a price on carbon to start with, but many other economic levers that could actually take us on a path to start removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, rather than adding to that burden and that warming.

Personally, I doubt humans will act until irreversible climate change has already taken hold. Some say we are already there. Gernot Wagner knows this situation, but still struggles to warn the business community, and all of us, about the relationship between massive changes to the ecosphere, and our assumptions about the economy.

Find out more at, and get links to You tube videos with Gernot. For example, here is an excellent full-length presentation by Wagner. "Climate Shock : Seeking Insurance Against a Warming Planet." 1 hour 3 minutes. March 18, 2015, presented by the World Affairs Council of Northern California, hosted by Maureen Blanc.

Or try this Gernot Wagner "Authors on Google" interview.

Download or listen to this new Gernot Wagner interview in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.


I think we've covered the 50 shades of doom pretty well lately on Radio Ecoshock. Next week we'll start a short series for change, looking for solutions. I've got the best from the recent Permaculture Convergence in the UK in September, plus custom interviews of major players by Albert Bates. Stay tuned for those who are planting the future.


Going out, I'd like to shout out to the countries where listeners tuned into Radio Ecoshock last week.

Of course there's the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia where this program is broadcast weekly on 87 non-profit radio stations. I'm so thankful for that support. For now, listeners in other countries download or listen from our web site, from my weekly blog, and on the Radio Ecoshock page on Soundcloud(over 40,000 listens so far!). Listeners tuned in from:

New Zealand, Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Russian Federation, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, France, Mexico, India, Denmark, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Norway,Peru, Austria, China, Spain, Ireland, Brazil, Thailand, Pakistan, Belgium, Portugal, Argentina, Iceland, Singapore, Finland, South Africa, Belarus, Philippines, Italy, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and 28 other countries.

If you can offer your support, please visit this page.

As always, thank you for listening, and for caring about our world.

Alex Smith

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


With that short clip from "Time Has Come Today" by the Chambers Brothers, the time has come for many things: for peace, for climate action, for economic sanity, the list is long. Radio Ecoshock 151007.

This week on Radio Ecoshock we thunder into another place humans don't like to go. The nasty truth is we are killing off "the only known living companions we have in the universe", as our first guest says. The venerable biologist and head of the Stanford Center for Biodiversity Paul Ehrlich joins us. He's followed by Will Tuttle, author of "The World Peace Diet". Will says you can't care about climate change and still eat meat, because about half of all global emissions are driven by the industrial slaughter of our fellow species. That hidden holocaust of animals is also eating into our minds, twisting itself back out as illness and violence.

Too much information? Don't worry, be happy with this week's "Climate Variety Hour... In just ten minutes." Get inspired with Bernie Sanders, climate humor from UK's Guardian newspaper, and bits from climate songs by people who can actually sing.

I'm Alex Smith. Welcome to 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!


I always consider it an honor to have a chance to chat with Paul Ehrlich. There's a lot of wisdom stuffed in this interview - so I've transcribed some of the best quotes for this week's Radio Ecoshock blog.

By the way, here is an excellent graphic showing the relationship in animal biomass between wild animals, humans, and our domesticated animals comparing 10,000 years ago to present day.


Among stories of Middle East refugees and stock market jitters, we find brief notices that species are disappearing rapidly all over the world. In a scientific journal and a new book, famed scientists Paul and Anne Ehrlich warn that humans are driving the sixth great mass extinction here on Earth. Just released in September, their new book is titled "The Annihilation of Nature - Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals".

As an author and co-author of more than 40 books, Paul R. Ehrlich is the Bing Professor of Population Studies and the President of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University.

Dr. Paul R. Ehrlich

Paul, welcome back to Radio Ecoshock (this is our third interview for the program).

ALEX: Your book title uses the word "annihilation". Is that just sensational, or do you mean it?

Ehrlich really means it. We are losing "the only known living companions we have in the entire universe."

"Scientists are very scared about this, particularly because people don't really understand the threat."

ALEX: How do we know these extinctions are being driven by humans, rather than being part of a natural cycle so often found in Earth's long history?

For the scientific paper behind the book, the Erhlichs and their co-author studied past extinction events, and then compared "very conservative" estimates of the number of species that went extinct over the past few hundred years. That was cross-checked with the best estimates of extinctions that have occurred BETWEEN mass extinction events, to determine the "natural" loss of species as evolution continues. The extinctions caused by humans are far higher than that number. "Looking at both ends of the story, it turns out the extinction rate today is already 10 to 100 or more times the background rate. Which shows we are starting into a vast new extinction, and it's clearly being caused by human beings."

ALEX: Paul Ehrlich, how does this book relate to the scientific study on extinction you, Anne and Gerardo Ceballos published in June of this year, in the journal "Science Advances".

The book explains more for lay people, and also appeals to our emotions, because so many people are "now isolated in cities and don't know much about what goes on in the natural world - don't know where their food comes from for example." Ehrlich gives the example of a serious loss of pollnators like bees and moths, which are necessary to so many of our crops.

Paul also draws our attention to the biological difference between "extinction" and loss of specific populations. For example, is we lost the honey bee population in North America, that would cost at least $18 billion dollars in crop losses, and lower our nutrition. But honey bees may still exist somewhere else, so they are not technically extinct, even if they disappear on one continent.

The idea of population loss is key, even more than extinction, he says. What difference does it make if there are a few bees in a jungle somewhere, if there are no bees near developed civilization where we need them so badly?

Species go extinct in a process of losing populations in certain regions. When the last population goes, then that animal, plant, or bug is officially extinct. The process can be as painful as the final act.

ALEX: In a review of your new book in the Los Angeles Times, Fred Pearce says there have been "only" 800 extinctions registered in the last 400 years. He thinks you are being too emotional about all this. What do you say?

Pearce, says Ehrlich, is not a biologist or even a scientist. He makes large mistakes: for example Pearce has written that the gross and growing population of humans on this planet is not a problem. The only problem is per capita consumption.

ALEX: Pearce says Earth dominated by humans is the "new normal" in the anthropocene. Animals learn to adapt near cities, and even in cities. Paul, we know there are climate deniers. Are there also extinction deniers?

Paul says there are people who cannot face the overall existential challenges we face in not just climate change, but loss of biodiversity, toxic products, waste and more. Scientists "have been very forthcoming" about these risks we face - and yet the recent U.S. Presidential candidate debates do not even mention any of these serious problems.

ALEX: I thought birds would be the great survivors, since they can move away from threats and toward better living zones. But your team writes they are in trouble. Why is that?

Bird can move - but the places they can move to are being destroyed by humans, Ehrlich says. Also, their "refuelling stations" for tropical migrant birds have been cut down for our buildings, roads and so on. Like all animals, some birds are much more resilient than others.

All of this "is part of a huge nexus of problems that everybody should be educated about, but which unfortunately, most of our politicians are not."

ALEX: It's interesting that the animals most like us, carnivore hunters, are becoming extinct first and foremost. Tell us about some of the great creatures in jeapardy, and their chances for survival.

Paul tells us about the struggles of the lion. Their populations are falling rapidly. They used to extend all the way to India from Africa, but now, except for a very few in India, the lion is confined to Africa. Amazingly, one problem is lions are suffering from distemper from contacts with domestic dogs. The lion is still being hunted, and sadly even their bones are now a highly prized feature in Chinese medicine.

The Black Rhino is so endangered in South Africa they are being shipped to Botswana, which has the best record of protecting endangered animals. Again, the horns of Black Rhinos are poached because they are thought to be aphrodesiacs in Chinese medicine, or to add male power when made into daggers in the Middle East.

"We thought Viagra might save the Rhino, because Viagra actually works. But it turns out now the dealers are grinding Viagra into the Rhino horn, so that the Rhino horn really works."

The Ehrlichs write that some of the great cats will live on, because they reproduce well in captivity. It will be a strange world if nature's ark of characters is preserved only in zoos.

ALEX: Here in Canada, we just had a hockey player charged for taking macho pictures of himself with a grizzly bear he illegally slaughtered. In America, there's the dentist who shot Cecil the lion. Is this partly just a testosterone problem?

Yes, Paul replies, but we have to remember that as sad and as crazy as sport hunting is - that is a minor factor compared to destruction of habitat and the poaching for supposed medical products. The trade in elephant ivory continues as well, with incredible numbers of elephants killed for their horns.

Ehrlich also raises the example of the scaly ant-eater (Pangolin). There are 13 species of them being killed and endangered all over the world because their scales are used in Chinese medicine. The Pangolins are also hunted for food, being considered a delicacy in parts of China.

The Pangolin endangered - hunted for "medicine".

The only hunting that really threatens species is when poor people hunt wild species for food, called "bush meat". As long as there is poverty and hunger, the local animals will be under threat.

ALEX: In the developed world, we may not slaughter species directly, we just steal habitat that was their home - for resources, new shopping malls and suburbs. Why isn't there a plan to save the species, or is there?

Some countries pay more attention to conservation. "Botswana is way ahead of the United States in conservation. Mexico is way ahead of the United States in conservation." "Most people don't know we are entering a great extinction crisis that could end our civilization, and that's sad, and that's why I'm raving at you on the radio."


EHRLICH: "Several things are missing from the media. For example, have you heard anyone point out the more people there are, the greater the climate change is going to be, because each person contributes greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. The climate-population connection has not been made. The population-extinction connection has not been made. And the connection between climate change and extinction."

Ehrlich gives the example of the forests in Western North America being changed dramatically by drought and new fire regimes which are pumped up by climate change. These kind of rapid changes affect many species severely.


ALEX: Do you think it's possible that DNA from disappearing species could be saved, to bring them back later in a more ecologically sane world? Is such a project in the works?

"There are some people trying to do that but it's actually a total waste of time. It's so much easier to save the habitat while it still exists, and save the organisms while they still exist. The so-called 'de-extinction' movement is basically make-work for idiots." Jurassic Park, Paul says, was a great movie "but scientifically nonsense." Trying to save DNA is actually "a huge threat because it makes people who are ignorant of science believe that they don't have to worry because all we have to do is to put the several billion populations we have on the planet, that are genetically different, in freezers and everything will be fine."


ALEX: We've just received a new study, partly led by the World Wildlife Fund, saying half the fish in the sea have disappeared since you and I were born. It's just another brief headline, competing with Hollywood news and a fixation with the stock market. How can giant and dangerous trends, like the annihilation of the animals, get past the everyday roar of sensational media?

"For you and for me, if we knew how, we'd sure as Hell do it." Ehrlich once suggested to Ben Bradley that the Washington Post "put in every day the numbers of how much CO2 there was in the atmosphere, how big the human population was, how many people were starving and so on. And he told me 'No, we don't want to have numbers in the newspaper. Nobody likes numbers.' And I said 'Have you ever looked at the sports or the financial pages?'... Then he told me that he wanted his science reporters to be utterly ignorant of science so they could be unbiased. And I said "Do you hire sports reporters who don't know what a strike and a ball is?' The media has serious, serious problems as I think you know."

ALEX: There are a lot of gorgeous photographs in your new book "The Annihilation of Nature". How were they selected, and why are they there?

"The whole idea is to make people know what we are losing. Most people don't pay attention. And so we selected what we thought were a lot of attractive and interesting animals." ALEX: A lof of people, if they see your book, may worry for a short time, which doesn't solve much. What are the steps needed to save the species remaining, and what agencies need to take leadership in this?

"The most basic step, as we've published many times, is to reduce the scale of the human enterprise. There are many too many people and they are consuming much too much, many of them, while there are too many of them that don't have enough to eat, so they don't consume enough." Ehrlich says we have to tackle the notion that we can grow forever, in what he calls our "faith-based economic system, which says on a finite problem we can continue to grow forever and not worry about anything."

ALEX: Paul Ehrlich, you don't have a reputation for looking on the bright side of things. Is there any hope for Earth's threatened animal life, or do we just shrug it off and move on, until the specter of extinction finally arrives at the door of humanity itself?

He used to say "I am very pessimistic about where we are going, but very optimistic about where we could go. I now would say 'I'm still very optimistic about where we could go, if we chose to do so, but my pessimism has increased by such things as having political debates in which the critical existential issues are not even discussed."


ALEX: Do we hide this fear of annihilation from school children? What do we tell the kids?

"It's going to be in their laps. We are leaving them a world that is in tough shape, and part of their job is going to be to have to help dig us out of it." Paul believes children can be a big force for conservation. He gives the example of when the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred off Alaska, the kids of the Exxon executives pressured their parents a lot.

ALEX: Paul, is there anything I've missed, that you would like to leave with our listeners?

Essentially Ehrlich says don't take his word for the seriousness of the extinction crisis. Do your own research, see what the scientific community is saying, and then figure out what you can do to help.

"I think every functional human being, who is rich enough not to have to worry about where his or her food is coming from, should be putting something like ten percent of their time into one of the many places in which people can act."

He recommends: go to - become a "mahbster" and help save the world.

We've been talking about disappearing nature with the renowned ecologist Paul R. Ehrlich. With the Mexican ecologist Gerardo Ceballos, Paul and Anne Ehrlich have just released their new book "The Annihilation of Nature - Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals" from John Hopkins University Press.

Download or listen to this 23 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Paul Ehrlich in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


It's not too hard to get sympathy for the awful killing of iconic animals in the wild. Everybody loves the elephants, lions and tigers. It's a lot harder to get anyone to listen to the awful truth about our treatment of the animals who tolerate humans the most: the gentle cows, intelligent pigs, and docile chickens. In the United States alone, 75 million animals are killed every day for the meat diet that is scientifically documented to make people sick and fat. Two out of every three Americans are overweight or obese. It's an epidemic.

Many of our listeners know climate change is real, and not a good thing. Yet we try not to know that at least half of all greenhouse gas emissions come not from cars or factories, but from the far-flung empire of animal agriculture. Don't believe it? Get ready for the man who blows up the lies behind what we eat.

What is at the root of our violence toward nature, our indifference to changing the climate, and our murderous relationship with all other species? Will Tuttle says he knows.

Actually, that's Dr. Will Tuttle. His PhD comes from the University of California, Berkeley, in the philosophy of education. Tuttle is a blazing speaker at conferences organized by vegetarians, animal rights activists, and progressive spiritualists. He also helps organize events like the online Veganpalooza in 2012. Find his personal web site here.

Dr. Will Tuttle

Will's book "The World Peace Diet" was number one on Amazon in 2010, has been translated into at least 18 languages, and continues to sell well around the world.

A listener suggested Will Tuttle for Radio Ecoshock. I had my doubts - until I listened to a couple of his You tube presentations. He is on to something big.

In this Radio Ecoshock interview, Will Tuttle quotes the figure of 51% of climate change emissions driven by animal agriculture. He cites a study by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang. The title is "Livestock and Climate Change".

That report says:

"Livestock are already well-known to contribute to GHG emissions. Livestock’s Long Shadow, the widely-cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimates that 7,516 million metric tons per year of CO2 equivalents (CO2e), or 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions, are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, horses, pigs, and poultry.

That amount would easily qualify livestock for a hard look indeed in the search for ways to address climate change. But our analysis shows that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,564 million tons of CO2e per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.

- Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang "Livestock and Climate Change"

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Will Tuttle in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


After "Cowspiracy" it's time for groundbreaking animal rights documentary, which just launched its crowdfunding campaign. Listen to my interview with Kip Anderson, producer of Cowspiracy on Soundcloud here.

Gary Smith of the socially conscious company Evolotus PR writes me:

"Last year, most of us heard of Bob Comis, the pig farmer in upstate New York who had a change of heart about raising animals for food. For more than ten years, Bob was successful, yet he was haunted by the ghosts of thousands of pigs he’d slaughtered. “The Last Pig” follows Bob’s final year as a pig farmer, including his struggles with their looming deaths, his search for sanctuaries that would take in his pigs, and his courage in starting a new life chapter. (Spoiler alert: Bob goes vegan.)

“The Last Pig” will offer the mainstream an entirely new view of small-scale, “humane,” animal exploitation, which is so often glorified as the answer to factory farms. So as “Cowspiracy” did with its indictment of the environmental problems of “sustainable” agriculture, “The Last Pig” does with the ethical issues. Like “The Ghosts in Our Machine” did by centering completely on Jo-Anne and her work, “The Last Pig” has a personal and sharp focus on Bob.

Filmmaker Allison Argo wants “The Last Pig” to force non-vegan viewers to confront their own belief systems, their relationships to nonhuman animals, and their capacity for compassion. Allison’s work has won more than 100 awards including six Emmys, aired on networks like Nat Geo and PBS, and spans companion animals to endangered species. Even long ago as a vegetarian (now vegan) Allison wanted to focus her camera on farmed animals, but never hit on the right approach or story -- and then she heard about Bob just like we all did".

Here’s the campaign link:

The Official website is

Alright it's time for...

"THE CLIMATE VARIETY HOUR .... in just 10 minutes."

For folks trained by the Tweetosphere, here are some of the climate sounds that zipped past my ears this week, some of them thanks to tips from Radio Ecoshock listeners.


Are you tired of Republican climate deniers, and Democratic wafflers? Here is a minute and a half from Democractic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders' speech to enthusiastic,mostly African-American, college students at Benedict College in Columbia South Carolina, on September 9th, 2015.

[Sanders clip] You can watch Bernie's full speech at Benedict College on You tube here.


In the United Kingdom, the Guardian Newspaper has been showing what climate-responsible media can be. If you've wondered when the Coastal real estate market will crash, here is a Guardian vignette as we enter an over-sized house with the local realtor....

"Looking for a beachfront home with a beautiful deck boasting killer ocean views? Why not check out this dream property in the Hamptons. Just ignore the rising tides, the increasingly severe hurricanes and the swallowing up of the east coast by the Atlantic Ocean. You’d be out of your mind to overlook this steal!"

Watch this short Guardian humor clip here.

If rising seas will swallow the East Coast, just as the climate-hyped rains did this past week - maybe we need somewhere higher to go? All the plants and animals will seek a cooler climate further up the mountains. Here is the Guardian newspaper's fake promo for the city that's safe from rising seas...

Watch the fake Denver promo here.

We'll close out the Guardian climate media with just a brief sample from New Orleans musicians Tom Henehan and David S Lewis. They've had the "Climate Change Blues" ever since Hurricane Katrina nearly drowned their city.

Find the Guardian interview of the musicians here. And you can listen to the whole "Climate Change Blues song on Soundcloud here.

The whole series was sponsored by a progressive ice cream company. Bless you Ben and Jerry.


I know music is a very personal thing. What I like, you may hate, and vice versa. That's why I leave my push for climate change music to the end of the show. Don't be afraid, I'm not going to try to sing this time. This week we have real musicians, the Cantrells. From Nashville Tennessee, Al and Emily Cantrell perform "Goodbye Cool World". You can listen or buy this song on Bandcamp here. Support climate music!

The Cantrells

I'm Alex. Don't forget, (if you made it all the way through this horribly long blog) - you can help keep Radio Ecoshock going by donating at this page.

Thank you for listening to Radio Ecoshock, and be sure and tune in next week, as we investigate "Climate Shock" and China's new plan for an "ecological civilization".