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Joined up thinking for the Irish Left
Right2Water and Podemos Thu Dec 18, 2014 20:47 | Richard
The Disillusioned Citizen Wed Dec 17, 2014 14:15 | Kathy
The Power of Paint Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:33 | Seán Sheehan
If this is a recovery why are people getting poorer? Mon Dec 15, 2014 17:36 | Michael Burke
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en Latest science, authors, issues - from climate change, oceans, forests, pollution, Peak Oil, the economy, and peace. Ready for re-broadcast, computer, IPOD, or mp3 player. Creative commons copyright. As heard on CFRO Vancouver, and over 85 college & community radio stations. Show blog published Wednesdays.
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STORMS OF RIGHT NOW Thu Dec 18, 2014 03:13 | firstname.lastname@example.org (Alex Smith)
Kathryn explains this was the largest Atlantic storm ever, at over 1,000 miles in diameter. Operators in the International Space Station were amazed to see a continent-sized storm. It was larger than all of Europe.
After Hurricane Sandy raked the Caribbean Islands, 39 out of 40 weather models showed it spinning harmlessly out into the Atlantic. That's normal, as both the prevailing winds, and the spinning of the Earth, takes storms toward the East. I didn't know, until Kathryn told us, that hurricanes do not have much propulsion on their own. They more or less float with the prevailing wind and pressure systems.
The European weather modellers said Sandy would take a left hook into the area around New York City. Kathryn did exhaustive research with weather and climate scientists for this book. She says a combination of factors, including hotter seas, and a blocking high pressure zone over Greenland, pushed Sandy into combining with a different type of storm known as a "Nor'easter".
When "Hurricane Sandy" became this hybrid - the National Hurricane Center stopped sending warnings to top government agencies. Their aging software couldn't handle this hybrid, and they are only directed to work on "Hurricanes". So warnings fell to local stations of the National Weather Service.
No wonder then that various authorities fell into confusion! In this interview we cover the big difference between the approaches taken by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and then New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Having been stung by unnecessary evacuations for the previous Hurricane Irene, Bloomberg held a press conference telling New Yorkers not to worry. Then a 34 foot high wall of watery storm surge washed over the city, flooding downtown Manhattan, subway lines, businesses and homes.
By contrast, Chris Christie told people in no uncertain language to "get the Hell off the beach" and evacuate. No doubt he saved some lives. But even so, and this is critical in evaluating human response to extreme climate events: 70% of the people told to evacuate did not. They stayed put, were flooded out, and some died.
Author Miles looked into that too. It turns out humans need at least three days of warning, with repeated warnings, before they will really act. Apparently it takes us that long to believe. Maybe that applies to government officials as well? I'm thinking of the terrible fires in Australia - "Black Saturday" in February 2009. The government wrongly advised people to stay and defend their homes, facing an incredible climate-driven firestorm. 173 people died.
In the story of the late Robin Waldridge, the Captain of the sailing ship "The Bounty", Kathryn brings out a case study of our weakness in judging risk. That human flaw in risk judgment applies directly to our ability to survive a lot of things, including droughts, heat, storms, and fires. If we haven't seen it before, or we were always fine in the past, we don't get out of the way, or change our behavior. You can expect to see this time and time again. It may even happen to you!
Predictably, the only fiery criticism Kathryn received after writing "Superstorm: Nine Days Inside Hurricane Sandy" was from Meteorologists! Some weather specialists still don't get the long-term storm implications of climate change. Some continue to deny climate change plays a role.
Others, and certainly the climate scientists she interviewed, are certain a warmer world plays several key roles in extreme storms.
1. this warmer world holds at least 4% more water in the atmosphere. That gives storms more power, and can cause extreme rainfall events, as happened during Hurricane Irene.
2. the oceans are measurably hotter. It turns out, the ocean off New England is quite bit hotter during the last few years. That also adds to the power of extreme storms.
3. the seas are rising. I'll talk more about this with our next guest Adam Sobel. The water around New York City is about one foot higher than it was in the year 1900. There are several reasons for that, it's not just climate change. But a higher sea adds to the storm surge, and that was the most damaging part of Hurricane Sandy.
Climate scientists are less certain about other impacts of a warming world. Most think we may get fewer hurricanes or tropical cyclones, but the ones that do come will be more powerful. There's a lot we don't know for sure about that.
The U.S. currently has 500 un-staffed positions in the National Weather System, including staff needed to run radar and work. Their budget cut by 8.5%. America has Doppler radar that crashes, satellites beyond their lifespan. The Hurricane warning service has to borrow from other countries, including some excellent work done by Cuba. This weakness in predicting extreme weather is a national crisis, and a personal threat.
Aside from all the science and research in Kathryn Mile's book, it's a terrific drama, wound around a series of personalities well-drawn by the author. It's literally hard to put down.
You can download or listen to this interview with Kathryn Miles in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
ADAM SOBEL: SANDY, CLIMATE AND EXTREME WEATHER
We are lucky to have an extreme weather specialist and atmosphere scientist here to help. Columbia University Professor Adam Sobel just published his new book "Storm Surge: Hurricane Sandy, Our Changing Climate, and Extreme Weather of the Past and Future".
Adam wrote me saying he's just returned from the Eighth International Workshop on Tropical Cyclones (IWTC-VIII) organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). That was held at Jeju Island, South Korea. It's invitation only for the world's top forecasters and researchers. They go over the past 4 years of new science on tropical cyclones (which are also called hurricanes or typhoons).
The Philippines was just rocked by cyclone "Ruby" also know in Asia as "Hagupit". I'm beginning to wonder if some places in the world will be so badly damaged by repeated storms that people will abandon coastal settlements. Certainly some Pacific Islands are already threatened, with Kiribati likely the first to go underwater during storms.
But will we have more storms due to climate change? I remember back in 2006 when the New England scientist Emanuel Kerry produced papers saying hurricanes would be more frequent due to climate change. Then he backtracked, and it seems to me they haven't been more frequent since the year 2000, compared to the late 1900's. Adam Sobel agrees, but cautions we don't know how this experiment with climate will translate into weather. Some scientists think we will see more large storms. Forget the "storm-of-the-century" lable. We'll see plenty of them.
Let's talk about the sea level around New York City. Sobel says the water is about one foot higher now than in 1900. Like many coastal cities, New York was actually partly build on former swamps and lowlands. Some of it is extended with landfill into the former ocean. Adam says about 2/3 of that foot higher water around NYC is due to rising seas, due to simple expansion of the hotter ocean, and new water pouring in from Greenland and Antarctica. The other 1/3 of a foot is due to a pattern of sinking coastlines, as a slow reaction to the retreat of the heavy glaciers thousands of years ago. It's called subsidence, which means the land is sinking.
Our guest last year, J. Court Stevenson from the University of Maryland explained that for 10 billion dollars New York could build tide and surge control gates at the three entrances to New York harbor. These would be like the surge gates on the Thames in London, or in the Netherlands. So far, following the Bloomberg lead, this is not part of the plan. I think it's only a matter of time before the next Sandy floods New York.
We also got a harsh lesson on the real value of coastal real estate. There's no doubt that during this century, humans will have to exercise a planned withdrawal from many parts of the coast-line. That will include from parts of mega-cities from New York to Shanghai. As Dr. Peter Ward warned, sea level rise will reshape geography and economies around the world. (Ward's You tube lecture on his book "The Flooded Earth, Our Future in a World Without Ice Caps" is here).
It seems strange that many New Yorkers think more about a single day terrorist attack on their city, than they do of a coming century of floods and multi-billions of dollars of damage from climate change. In 9/11 we found out how critical New York City is to our economic system. I think if New York is faced with rising seas, high storm surges, and probably killer heat waves, that is also a national security issue.
Here is a climate central article on new wave of research into impact of climate change on severe storms.
You can download or listen to this interview with Dr. Adam Sobel in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.
If you want to get more detail on the damage to New York City during Sandy, try this fascinating interview by WNYC Pacifica host Leonard Lopate, talking with Dr. Adam Sobel.
STARTLING NEW SCIENCE ON PEAK CO2
Every now and then there's a game-changing scientific paper about climate change. I saw this one , and right away invited our next guest. Katharine Ricke, known as Kate, joined well-known scientist Ken Caldeira to investigate a critical question: how long does it take the carbon we emit today to reach it's peak heating potential. If you answered 50 years or more, you are in for a shock.
The title of the new paper is a give-away: "Maximum warming occurs about one decade after a carbon dioxide emission". That was published December 2nd, 2014 in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
The lead author is Katharine Ricke, a Post Doctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institute for Science, at Stanford University in California. She is our guest in this segment of Radio Ecoshock.
This study is a bombshell. We've been told for years that carbon emissions will really impact our children and grandchildren, not us. Now we find out the peak heating is only ten years after emissions.
Or course it doesn't end there. The warming action of carbon dioxide goes on not just for centuries, but for tens of thousands of years. That's because carbon dioxide is a relatively inert chemical in the atmosphere. It doesn't change much chemically over time.
Contrast that with methane. After only ten years or so, methane starts to break down - mainly into carbon dioxide. That is why scientists like David Archer argue that we must concentrate on carbon dioxide, rather than fear methane emissions. That's another whole argument we've been carrying in various Radio Ecoshock shows.
An obvious question from a non-scientist would be: why does a puff of carbon dioxide take ten years to become most active in trapping heat radiation? Why doesn't it have the maximum impact as soon as it rises up into the atmosphere? Katharine answered it's because the oceans are slow to react, but to be honest, I still don't understand the answer to this question. If any scientists are reading this right now, or if you think you know why this delay occurs, please email me. The address is radio //at// ecoshock.org. Or post your response in the comments below.
Former US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said "It may take 100 years to heat up this huge thermal mass so it reaches a uniform temperature ... The damage we have done today will not be seen for at least 50 years."
I found plenty more like that. This is a long-running misconception. It has shaped climate negotiations and government responses. Now we have science that shows CO2 in a different light.
This discovery is personal too. If I think my crappy low-mileage car won't affect me, maybe I won't try to bike or use public transit. But it's a different story if my emissions could change the climate just ten years from now, isn't it?
Drawing from over 6,000 runs of the best climate models on the planet, about 90% of the results showed CO2 hitting it's great heating potential around 10 years. The window was something like 6 years at the earliest, with a few showing a period as long as 30 years. But the science is pretty clear on 10 years.
There are some large uncertainties, including climate sensitivity, and the reaction of the carbon cycle (including carbon used by living things) and thermal inertia of the oceans.
This paper was written partly in response to a school of scientific thought, lead by Matthews and Solomon's 2013 paper, saying our past emissions do not determine future warming. Our future emissions do. It's a tricky problem to explain. The paper is "Irreversible Does Not Mean Unavoidable" published in the journal "Science" on April 26, 2013.
WARMING IN THE PIPELINE
Following their paper, the excellent science blogger John Cooke bluntly says there is no warming in the pipeline. Future warming is only determined by future emissions, so we can control climate change by controlling our emissions. More warming is not "baked in" they say.
My understanding was that people like Dr. James Hansen talk about up to 1 degree, or more, in the pipeline, because of heat stored by the oceans and global dimming, or the aerosol pollution that diminishes sun arriving to the surface. Dr. Ricke agrees there is warming "in the pipeline" beyond the ten year lag you found in this new research.
AS AN ASIDE: WOULD "INDUSTRIAL SHUTDOWN" START RUNAWAY CLIMATE HEATING?
This debate about what happens if our air pollution clears up (likely a burst of heating) is discussed in yet another seminal paper by Andrew H. MacDougal, Avid and Weaver titled "Significant contribution to climate warming from the permafrost carbon feedback". For you doomsters out there, these scientists look at a case they describe as "industrial shutdown".
A guest article by Peter Cooke at Climate Progress says:
"Thawing permafrost will release carbon to the atmosphere that will have an appreciable additional effect on climate change, adding at least one quarter of a degree Celsius by the end of the century and perhaps nearly as much as one degree (about 1.5°F).
The permafrost feedback response to our historic emissions, even in the absence of future human emissions, is likely to be self-sustaining and will cancel out future natural carbon sinks in the oceans and biosphere over the next two centuries."
Thus, even if we "stopped emissions tomorrow" the MacDougall study suggests, contrary to Matthews and Solomon, that CO2 would not decrease (and so warming would continue) if only because of the warming set in motion now that the Permafrost is melting.
This Climate Progress article also discusses "the industrial shutdown experiment". The authors (MacDougall et al, including Canadian scientist Andrew Weaver) imagined a complete shut-down of carbon emissions in 2013, and in 2050.
It notes that because the added permafrost heating could be balanced by ocean and biosphere uptake, this feedback effect does NOT equate with a runaway greenhouse effect.
"Note that a self-sustaining feedback is not the same thing as a runaway greenhouse effect."
The shutdown in 2013 results in CO2 stabilizing around 400 ppm for at least the next 300 years. A shutdown in 2050 yields a stable level around 550 ppm, on average, with a higher or lower level dependent on the as-yet-uncertain climate sensitivity.
Find more on the "industrial shutdown" experiment in this article by John Cooke. It's deep.
A further article on this study can be found here.
Scientists generally consider the "industrial shutdown" scenario so unlikely, they either ignore it, or just look at "what-if" scenarios. However, it is conceivable that an industrial shutdown could occur due to a mega solar storm knocking out electric grids, a major nuclear war, an unstoppable disease in humans (think ebola on steroids), a meteor striking the Earth, or even a collapse of the current system (similar to the collapse of the Soviet Union, but globally, and on a much larger scale).
A cessation of human caused carbon emissions sounds possible by 2050, but is not really viable if we keep our present system of agriculture, and persist in terraforming, such as deforestation, both of which contribute to substantial emissions even without an industrial culture.
BACK TO PEAK CARBON DIOXIDE
In a well-written article at climatecentral, Andrew Freedman found scientists who temper your discovery for several reasons. Some say the timing doesn't matter, all that matters to the climate system is the total greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, whenever that comes.
Another caution is from Zurich scientist Reto Knutti, who tells climatecentral, quote:
"It takes only a few years for the climate to respond to emissions, but it takes a generation, at least, to change the emissions. We are slow, not the climate.?
We discuss all that in our interview.
After reading this study, I was left wondering how long a particular carbon emission can stay active in the atmosphere. Your graphs appear to stop after 100 years, with the carbon impact still pretty high. In fact, it doesn't decline much after the 10 year peak. How long does carbon dioxide stay potent as a warming gas in the atmosphere?
I interviewed David Archer about this. In his book "The Long Thaw", and in his Radio Ecoshock interview, Archer said that CO2 emitted today would remain in the atmosphere for at least 50,000 years, if not 100,000. You can see a You tube video of that Radio Ecoshock interview here. Archer did not mean a particular molecule of CO2, which is recycled through the biosphere, but that additional molecule level would be maintained for a very long time. The paper by Ricke and Caldeira stops at 100 years not because they disagree, but because that was the time frame of the best data sets - and all they needed to answer their principal question: how long does it take for CO2 to reach it's peak potential for heating the atmosphere?
This was also published in this scientific paper: Archer D et al 2009 Atmospheric lifetime of fossil fuel carbon dioxide Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 37 117?34
EVEN IF CARBON REACHES A PEAK IN 10 YEARS, THE TRUE IMPACTS MAY TAKE MUCH LONGER
From the paper by Ricke and Caldeira: "While the maximum warming effect of a CO2 emission may manifest itself in only one decade, other impact-relevant effects, such as sea level rise, will quite clearly not reach their maximum until after the first century (see, e.g., figure 2(c) of Joos et al (2013)). For many impacts, such as changes to natural ecosystems, degradation is the result of the cumulative effects of consecutive years of warming or precipitation change (Parmesan and Yohe 2003). Ice sheet melting can persist for thousands of years following a warming (Huybrechts et al 2011). As such, even if maximum warming occurs within a decade, maximum impact may not be reached until much later. From this perspective, Steven Chu's statement that today's damage 'will not be seen for at least 50 years' may well be accurate."
THIS NEW SCIENCE PUSHES MORE URGENCY TO ACT ON CARBON REDUCTIONS
This new science may help push climate negotiations into high gear in Paris next year. Now we know we don't have time to set long-term goals and slowly reduce CO2. Our emissions now will hit us hard and fast within 10 years!
From the conclusion of this paper:
"Our paper corrects a potential misconception that the largest effects of today's emissions will be felt only by future generations. Benefit from avoided CO2 emissions will most likely be manifested within the lifetimes of the people who act to avoid those emissions."
Find links to this paper, a video of Katharine explaining it here.
Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Katharine Ricke in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
CONGRATULATIONS IF YOU MADE IT THIS FAR!
I admit this week's blog is too long. But I got almost a year of education just researching for this week's guests. There was way too much to cover on the radio, and I found deep tunnels going into science that can determine how our future develops, and maybe whether we will survive our own carbon civilization.
I invite you to follow up on the links, and ask yourself the same hard questions.
A NOTE TO N. IN BOSTON
I need to tell my anonymous donor and supporter "N." in Boston: I got your letter and I'm looking into your suggested reading and guests. Thank you.
We have some more tough questions in coming shows. I found a great radio documentary on the perils of dreaming about eco-community, and survival after oil. Then I'm going to challenge another green dream: alternative energy. Is it real, or just another carbon-dependent mirage. Stay tuned.
You can download all our past programs as free mp3 files from the web site ecoshock.org. Listen to our most recent programs on Soundcloud here. There have been so many top scientists, authors and activists on Radio Ecoshock its almost an open university, cruising the past interviews.
As always, I sincerely thank you for listening, and for caring about our world.
ECO HORROR Wed Dec 10, 2014 21:20 | email@example.com (Alex Smith)
RUNNING OUT OF FUTURE Thu Dec 04, 2014 02:01 | firstname.lastname@example.org (Alex Smith)
Dr. Kevin Trenberth
According to news reports, water off New England is warming faster than almost anywhere on earth. Why is that, and what does it mean? We find an interesting connection between colder weather in Europe in recent years, and a warmer North Atlantic ocean.
He says the hotter North Atlantic may be partly a decadal rhythm. Then he adds:
"We think part of the reason the North Atlantic is as hot as it is actually stems back to some of the actions in the Pacific Ocean, through what atmospheric scientists call "Tally connections" - large waves in the atmosphere that have been associated actually with cooler conditions in Europe at that time. So the main cold outbreaks that have occurred in recent years have been in Europe rather than over the North Atlantic. As a result, the North Atlantic has been more benign and the temperatures have warmed up there."
In his answer Dr. Trenberth mentions "Talley Connections" named after Professor Lynne D. Talley, Scripps Institution. Dr. Talley is an oceanographer and co-editor of a textbook and scientific reference used by millions.
EL NINO - YES
Even though scientists have not declared a full El Nino for 2014, Trenberth says:
"There's a developing El Nino and I think we are actually in El Nino conditions, and that has altered conditions throughout the tropics and sub-tropics, and is also having an influence over the West Coast of North America."
He also connects this developing El Nino for the very active hurricane season (with major and even record storms) hitting places in the Eastern Pacific (including Japan).
SEA LEVEL RISE IS THE BEST INDICATOR OF GLOBAL WARMING
One way we can be sure ocean temperatures are rising, beyond the wide-spread network of ocean buoys, is the steadily rising sea level. Since 1992, we have satellites accurately measuring sea level. It's going up at 3.2 millimeters a year, now. That's expected to increase as warming gathers strength. For non-metric people, that adds up to a rate of a little over a foot per century - caused by two processes: ice melt from land-based glaciers like Greenland or West Antarctica; and heating of the oceans (heated water expands).
He says that sea level rise is a better indicator of climate change than measuring just global atmospheric temperatures. Other new science suggests we have underestimated warming in the oceans.
IS THERE A WARMING "HIATUS" AND IS IT OVER?
I ask one of the key questions for both scientists and the public: a few scientists suggest this ocean heating may signal the end of the alleged hiatus in global warming. Do you agree there has been a pause in warming, and second, does this imply a new warming spell is arriving?
Kevin Trenberth explains that ocean temperatures, global mean temperatures, and temperatures experienced by humans over land all operate differently. The alleged "pause" experienced on land temperatures has not been mirrored by any pause in ocean heating, or the rise of sea levels, which are steadily upwards. 2014 is on track to be the hottest year on record. I will add this note: even though North America is experiencing a cold spell, Australia is quite hot, and the Arctic is way over normal temperatures.
Trenberth also says starting from the previous hottest year on record, during the 1997/98 El Nino distorts our view. We need to start from at least 1990, and then the trend is up, up, and up. "The two thousands are certainly a lot warmer than the 1990's. The "haitus" could be over, but it's hard to tell, because the current El Nino conditions are releasing heat from the Pacific Ocean.
He describes the strange increase in Antarctic sea ice area (though not necessarily an increase in volume). A change in the winds are part of that. Just as the northern hemisphere Jet Stream has loosened into larger slow loops of weather, the southern Polar winds have drawn closer to Antarctica, reducing rainfall in Australia.
I ask if this just shows the different in polar geographies, where the North Pole is in an ocean surrounded by continental land, while the South Pole is itself a small continent, surrounded by vast oceans. He says that is partly true, especially since the Arctic sea ice can never expand beyond the boundaries imposed by land.
THE LINK BETWEEN THE OZONE HOLE AND ANTARCTIC SEA ICE
A second important factor is the ozone hole in Antarctica!
"And so the ozone whole has been a really big contributor to ....the 'polar vortex'. There's a very strong set of circumpolar Westerly winds in the Southern Hemisphere. That is partly caused by the lack of ozone. That's for the most part a separate problem relative to global warming but it's contributed so some of the changes and is probably one of the factors in the differences between the two hemispheres as well."
MORE WATER IN THE AIR FUELS STORMS
Kevin reminds us that the warmer atmosphere means there is about 4% more water in the atmosphere now, compared to 1970. That adds energy to storms. It can also lead to extreme precipitation events (happening all over the world) which can be record rain, or snow if the air is colder. Sound familiar?
Increased winds have also created more ocean mixing. That means more heat is being drawn down into deeper levels of the ocean, thus hiding some of our warming impact. But that heat will also come back out at some time. Warmer seas, Kevin agrees, can lead to warming that goes on for centuries, even after we stop pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Kevin Trenberth: "What we are doing now has consequences for decades and even centuries into the future. And this is why scientists are quite concerned, very concerned about the global warming phenomenon.
By the time we, maybe the general public recognizes that it's a serious problem, it's a bit too late to do very much about it, because a lot of it's going to continue regardless, and we will then have to live with the consequences. So this is one of the clarion calls of scientists that we need to worry about the fact that the oceans respond in a very slow and sluggish fashion."
Finally I ask Kevin Trenberth what he thinks of the observations by Dr. Jennifer Francis, that weather over North America has been heavily influenced by summer melt-back of sea ice in the Arctic. He's not entirely sure about that proposal. Instead, Trenberth points out the recent impact of tropical storm Nuri, which pushed Arctic air south. In any case, the Arctic sea ice is frozen over during winter, and so should not be affecting winter weather.
Something is twisting winter weather out of shape, that's for sure. Next week I hope to get in a short ramble about how the Arctic has been abnormally hot, while most of North America suffers through an unusually early deep freeze.
Download or listen to this interview with scientist Keven Trenberth in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
MORE WATER NEWS WITH STEPHEN LEAHY
Either you have enough water or you don't. Life of all kinds depends upon the answer to that question. Along with farmers, all big cities wrestle with water issues. And some of that precious water disappears half a world away, to make the products we buy.
That's all in the new book "Your Water Footprint, The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products." It's by the professional environmental journalist Stephen Leahy.
Environmental journalist Stephen Leahy
This book takes us places I didn't expect. Just the cover is shocking. Really - does it take 240 gallons of water to make a modern mobile phone? How is that possible?
Steve explains all the components of that smart phone take large amounts of water to mine, process, and assemble. That's true when we add up the water required to make practically everything we buy.
Stephen Leahy says "I'm probably wearing about 20,000 liters of water right now. And that's just pants, a shirt, a sweatshirt, socks, and a pair of shoes." That's over 5200 gallons of water for one set of clothing!!!
I remember Lester Brown of World Watch saying on Radio Ecoshock that countries don't export wheat, they export the water used to grow it. Places like Australia can hardly afford to do that.
All this adds up to a hidden international water trade, via consumer and industrial products. If we could see it, Leahy says, these would be rivers of water flowing out of North America as food, and back in from places like China and Malaysia as clothing, gear, appliances and all that.
So what? Isn't there enough water? That depends where you live. There's been a lot of news about millions of people in Sao Paulo Brazil almost running out of water. In the United States, more millions of people depend on the big underground reserves in the Ogallala Aquifer. Folks joke without that, certain States would dry up and blow away. On the plains of India, farmers are drilling deeper and deeper. Water use is far greater than the rate of replenishment. Those wells will eventually run dry.
Leahy tells us right now about 1.2 billion people on earth face chronic water shortages. There's another 2.5 billion who occasionally have water shortages. "Only about half of the people in the world has access to piped water." The rest have to haul it. About 20 percent of people in the world have no access to clean water. They have to use whatever polluted water they can find, and of course many die from easily preventable diseases.
DIRE PREDICTIONS FOR FRESH WATER AVAILABILITY
Leahy tells us:
"Even by 2025, which isn't that far away now, three in five people will be facing water shortages, the experts predict."
That's partly because we need water to produce energy. The oil and coal industry sucks up millions of gallons of water. Fracking grabs mountains of fresh water, pollutes it terrible, and then removes that water from general circulation by pumping it into deep wells.
Add in all the irrigation and other needs to grow food, as the population expands by more billions, and as that larger population demands more consumer products (and meat) - we are headed to a big, big water crisis.
Here's the thing I like about Stephen Leahy's new book (which is based on years of his reporting global environment stories for major news services): it's crammed full of charts and graphs which make it easy. Frankly, I wasn't looking forward to reading another thick book of print. So it was a welcome surprise to find this one beams shocking and important info directly to your eye and brain. Pretty well every page is a large well-illustrated and labelled graphic. It's staying near my desk as a reference.
You can find "Your Water Footprint, The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products" wherever books are sold. Follow Stephen Leahy's reporting at stephenleahy.net.
Many times, I've read one of Leahy's stories, and then found it trending in major media up to six months later. He's one of the last true full-time environmental journalists around. Support him if you can.
As just one example, I ask Steve what he's working on. It involves stories about the next toxic waste sites springing up across the developing world. Factories with little supervision, with the blessing (or corruption) of local governments, are using old toxic techniques to create local labor (and wealth) at any price to the environment.
Think about "Love Canal" the toxic site famous in New York State. The U.S. has hundreds of "superfund sites" that are slowly being cleaned up (somewhat). That manufacturing moves East to China, the Philippines, Malaysia, India, and parts of South America. We can expect to find loads of places where it's unsafe to live, due to chemical or even radiological pollution. Due to poverty, people will live there anyway, and get sick, and their babies will get sick.
Someday a map of the ruined world will be published, and people will wonder why anyone let that happen. We don't ask about toxic pollution from factories that make our consumer goodies. And they don't tell. Stephen Leahy is one of the few journalists on that story. It's going to be huge, and you'll hear about it from mainstream media years from now, after the damage is done. So sad.
Download or listen to this interview with Stephen Leahy in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
For a surprising twist, try this article from the US Geological Survey people. In parallel with the slight US reduction in energy, Americans are actually used 13% less water in 2013 than in 2005. There is less industry, and those that remain have improved their water handling. All that is being counter-balanced by huge increases in water use in other parts of the world.
NATURE DEFICIT DISORDER - ROB ALDRICH
It's not an official disorder taught in medical schools. Yet. But as you'll hear in this interview with Rob Aldrich of the Land Trust Alliance, some doctors are prescribing time in nature for problem children.
The term and idea of "Nature Deficit Disorder" was originated by author Richard Louv in his 2005 book "Last Child in the Woods". The Land Trust Alliance joined other groups in raising the alarm, that this separation from nature is developing into a national health crisis in America, and likely in all industrialized countries.
Rob Aldrich is the community conservation director for the Land Trust Alliance, in Washington D.C. The Land Trust Alliance is formed by about 1200 land trusts, large and small, in the United States. In a land trust, the owners sign a covenant that prevents the land from being broken up, or from being wrecked. Taken together, these land trust are an important buffer where nature still exists.
The land trust movement is also growing because it has tax advantages, especially for farmers. A farmer may not be able to pass on the farm to the next generation, due to inheritance taxes. But if that farmer guarantees it will remain a farm, they can reduce the value of the land (because it won't be developed into suburbs), and so reduce the inheritance taxes.
THE NATIONAL HEALTH CRISIS
Meanwhile, I've had reports that teachers in inner city schools can find up to 20% of the students have an inhaler with them. Asthma is that bad. Obesity is worse. Rob Aldrich describes the awful slide to obesity, even since 1990, in countless American states. Actually, they have counted those states, and in some, a full 30% of all citizens are greatly overweight, meaning 30 pounds or more for a person of about five feet five inches. It's become a national health crisis.
Rob tells us another harsh story. Apparently some maximum security prisons are showing pictures of nature to their inmates, to help them cope with 23 hours of lock-up. But think about it - are some children now kept static in classroom seats, and then driven home to spend hours watching screens on phones, TV and video games - are they not also in a kind of 23 hour lock-down?
We hear about Dr. Robert Zarr and his Parks RX project. Parents with a "hyper-active" and hard to handle young girl came to them. He prescribed two or three hours a day, each weekend, in the largest park in the Washington D.C. area. The girl didn't need drugs, or a fixed program of things to do in the park. Just take her there and let her run around, discovering things. She was cured. She really had "nature deficit disorder."
Here is an NPR story "To Make Children Healthier A Doctor Prescribes A Trip to the Park."
We hear about the "Wingspread Declaration" to get more people out into nature. Visit www.healthandnature.org to learn more about and endorse the Wingspread Declaration.
African Americans are getting on board with this health need for nature, with groups like "Outdoor Afro".
Nature Deficit Disorder: I think we all have it. I make myself go outside for at least a couple of hours a day, more during the warmer months. We moved from the big city to see hills and the night sky. It's working. How about you?
Check this interview out, for yourself, and for your kids. Download or listen to Rob Aldrich in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
That's it for another week of Radio Ecoshock. Please support your non-profit radio station, the people brave enough to tell it like it is. As always, you can listen again on our Soundcloud page, or download any and all of our past programs, from the web site, ecoshock.org.
As an aside, I'm adding some Indian instruments to my new tracks, thanks to an amazing plug in for my computer music program. It's called "Swar Plug" from swarsystems.com. In Sanscrit, "Swara" means a musical note in the octave. You can listen to my first production with sitar and veena at the "Swar Cafe." Scroll down on this page. It's called "California East".
I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for listening - and caring about your world.
THE ANTHROPOCENE AND TECHNO-UTOPIA (ready for a new age?) Thu Nov 27, 2014 04:02 | email@example.com (Alex Smith)
The next speaker from the forum "Techno-Utopians and the Fate of the Earth" is the famous eco-feminist Susan Griffin. Her topic is "Women & Nature" Speed, Consciousness & Quantification". Find Susan's web site here.
To meet our time limitations, I removed a few minutes of Susan Griffin's comments on education in the United States. Here is a link to the full talk.
You can see videos of the presentations and panel discussions here.
I'm sorry I don't have the energy this week to give a full review of these worthy talks in my blog. If any listener would like to comment on these speakers, please do.
That's it for this week. Join me again for Radio Ecoshock.
I'm Alex Smith.
Healing Green Despair? Thu Nov 20, 2014 07:11 | firstname.lastname@example.org (Alex Smith)
Now Moore is back, talking about an epiphany she had one sleepless midnight in Alaska - when the temperature even at night was 93 degrees F! (34 C). Talk about global warming!
So this week I'm running that podcast interview from Orion Magazine, with Kathleen and Assistant Editor Scott Gast. She describes how a river changes, and what that means for we who despair of our civilization ever reducing greenhouse gases.
Follow Kathleen Dean Moore at riverwalking.com. My thanks to Orion magazine for this thoughtful interview. Be sure and visit orionmagazine.org.
Download or listen to this segment with Kathleen Dean Moore and Tim Fox, in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
TIM FOX: A DIFFERENT RIVER
We've heard the story of the river from Kathleen Dean Moore. But there is another river flowing over the world, and that is us.
Whenever I encounter a nexus of enquiring minds, like Orion magazine, I don't quit with the main article. It really pays to surf through the intelligent comments as well. That's how I found our next guest. Tim Fox lives in Blue River Oregon, in the Cascade Mountains. He saw that other river.
So it's appropriate that Tim tells the tale of a great raging river in the Pleistocene - that age running from about 2.5 million years ago to around 11,000 years ago (though to be the beginning time of modern human civilization). That river came as ice dams repeatedly melted from the glacier Lake Missoula.
Moving up to 60 miles an hour, this vast collection of rushing water - think of a land-based tsunami - reshaped the landscape, creating among other things the "Badlands" of Montana.
Tim's point: we are that kind of river. Humans are flooding the globe, remaking the landscape as we go. We talk about what that means, and how we can ever hope to change a current like that.
Tim Fox writes for various alternative press outlets. He's also been an owl biologist. Apparently the famous endangered spotted owl is being threatened not just by habitat loss, but also by one of it's cousins, the newly arrived Barred Owl.
Some ancient forests in the US Northwest, like those near where Tim Fox lives, are protected under the Endangered Species Act because of the spotted owl. If that owl goes, the forests are no longer protected. Tim calls on us to revere the ancient forest for their own values, not just one species.
In the interview, I ask Tim to read out his very sane comment on the Kathlene Dean Moore podcast, and his own reaction. Tim Fox is a gem worth finding, and I thank Erik Hoffner for putting me, and all of us, in touch with him.
Here are some links to Tim's writing. His comment in Orion can be found here. He's just published in the recent Issue 5 of Dark Mountain. Here is his article in Yes Magazine.
That's it for our time together this week. Our web site is ecoshock.org. Find us on Soundcloud.
If you would like to help this program cover it's costs and keep going, find out how here.
I'm Alex Smith, saying thank you for listening, and caring about your world.
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