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Talk in Twisted Times Déar DFómh 23, 2014 02:06 | firstname.lastname@example.org (Alex Smith)
New England's Gail Zawacki is fed up. The Flood Wall Street protest never delivered on it's plan for civil disobedience arrests. It gave up and ate pizzas without ever reaching Wall Street. Zawacki covers a lot of ground in these times of despair and failure. She's also been on a one-woman campaign against the almost unknown threat posed by low-level ozone smog.
From Georgia to New England, leaves are blotchy, trees are dying. It's a sign of the same polluted air that puts up to 20% of our kids with inhalers in the classroom. Low-level ozone is a plague around the world. It weakens plants for a deluge of fungi, insects, and diseases. Yet hardly anyone knows about it. Gail does, and she tells all.
The blog is called Wit's End. So far, it's been read over 11 million times. The author - I want to say artist - is Gail Zawacki. She's edgy. She's on a campaign to save trees from air pollution. But mostly Gail's in a battle against the never-ending conceits humans use to pretend
LINKS FOR THE GAIL ZAWAKI INTERVIEW
We begin by talking about the Flood Wall Street protest. Gail's description of the way this degenerated into a happy pizza party is funny and sad. Revolution? Not!
Read that here.
I just love the photo Gail contributed this week. Gail's dog knows where Wall Street is on a map, why don't the protesters?
Gail talks about the book An Appalachian Tragedy. It detailed the on-going impacts of ozone pollution on America's forests, from Georgia to New England. Nobody in the EPA was interested, and in fact, one person Gail wrote snapped the only "tragedy" was that the book was written at all!
We also discussed the Jack Fishman lecture to celebrate scientist Paul Creutzen's 80th birthday. Fishman realized the threat of low-level ozone back in the early 1990's. View that presentation here.
After a few formalities for Creutzen, Fishman launches into a powerful case indicting ozone. The video is described as: "Tropospheric Ozone in the Anthropocene: Are We Creating a Toxic Atmosphere? Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie Published on Feb 19, 2014
"Talk of Jack Fishman Saint Louis University, USA at the Anthropocene Symposium, Mainz, 2 December 2013. The scientific symposium has been organized by the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in celebration of the 80th birthday of Paul Crutzen, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1995."
Get this. This scientist asks if we are "creating a toxic atmosphere". How many people are interested. When I checked, there were 238 views on You tube. Yawn. Toxic atmosphere... who cares?
You can find out about Jack Fishman's "Ozone Gardens" in St. Louis in a .pdf here. School kids get to learn which plants die fastest from our air pollution.
Excerpts from Jack Fishman's 1990 book "Global Alert" are reprinted in this Zawaki blog post (scroll down past the gory photos of plants and trees blighted by ozone...)
Gail talks about the BBC "Global Dimming" documentary (which shows how our dusty pollution is shading Earth enough to hide up to 1 degree C of the greenhouse gases we've actually put into the atmosphere.
Find a transcript of that program here.
Watch the documentary here.
The Radio Ecoshock special on global dimming (20 minutes, 18 MB) is available as a free .mp3 here.
A transcript of Radio Ecoshock special on global dimming, (broadcast Sept 8, 2006) is here.
We also talk about what can happen if the smog on the air stops suddenly, say due to an economic crash, a solar storm knocking out electric grids, or whatever. Will the Earth experience a sudden burst of warming? Probably.
The Radio program Gail recommends is from Radio Lab, "Dust of This Planet" broadcast September 8th. She also likes the following program on September 19th, called "Staring into the Abyss".
Gail mentions Mark Jacobson, a Professor at Stanford who published a plan to switch the world to renewable energy by 2030. Dr. Mark Jacobson will be my guest on Radio Ecoshock soon.
Gails' Wit's End blog often features paintings by the Medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch. Find out more in this Wiki entry.
You can view the complete works of Hieronymus Bosch here.
Gail mentioned the World Bank applauding China's effort to impose a carbon tax. Find that news article here.
The New York Time article by Justin Gillis about ozone damage to crops is here.
Gail says pollution-damaged crops produce less at harest time, but also have less nutrition. Find the Article in the journal Nature "Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition" reference here. (Only the Abstract is available for free.)
Find the "Apocalypsi Libary at The End of the World" here.
For the Dead Trees - Dying Forests website, click here.
Find Gail's book "Pillage, Plunder & Pollute, LLC" as a free .pdf download on this page.
Or order the print version of the book here on Amazon. It's Gail's terrific summary of her almost one-woman campaign to wake us all up to the on-going damage caused by invisible ground-level ozone pollution. I recommend it.
And of course, don't miss her witty blog, here.
You can download or listen to the Radio Ecoshock interview with Gail Zawacki in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
Gail sailed through a lot of cutting edge material. All of it is backed up by recent papers and articles you will want. Follow the links for yourself.
COMING UP ON RADIO ECOSHOCK
Frank Rotering talked about Naomi Klein's new book "This Changes Everything". Naomi will be my guest on Radio Ecoshock two weeks from now. Gail Zawacki mentioned Stanford's Mark Jacobson, who worked out a path to a world powered by renewables by 2030. Mark will join us soon on the show.
But next week I want to dive into a great gaping sink-hole of mainstream media news coverage. No doubt you've seen fast clips about the two typhoons flooding Japan lately. They don't tell you what is happening at the Fukushima nuclear disaster site, where tons of radioactive water flow straight into the Pacific Ocean on a good day. It's time for a Fukushima update, with our best guide, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen. Plus, Arnie has been sending reports to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about California's most dangerous reactor, Diablo Canyon. As we found out from Fukushima, a blow reactor anywhere in the world quickly becomes everybody's problem, no matter where you live. Stay tuned to Radio Ecoshock.
Our Soundcloud page went over 10,000 listens this week. Check that out. Get all our past programs as free mp3 downloads from the show web site at ecoshock.org. They are only free to all the world thanks to the people who donate to Radio Ecoshock. You can help here.
Donors and subscribers also fund my work on 87 non-profit radio stations. These stations do not pay me anything, and they forbid any program to fund-raise. So I'm counting on you, the podcast subscriber and blog reader, to keep on going.
I'm Alex Smith, saying thank you for listening, and thanks for supporting this show on your non-profit radio station.
I close out the show with a bit of my latest music.
Future Past Céad DFómh 15, 2014 23:33 | email@example.com (Alex Smith)
That's in the journal Nature Climate Change, a closed journal, but you can get the abstract and some of the charts in this article.
The more scientists look, the impacts of overpopulation are impossible. A new study from the University of Washington projects world population by the year 2100 will be 12 billion people, 3 billion higher than figures accepted by the United Nations.
Even if it's 9 billion people, a study out of Cambridge University calculates the greenhouse gases just to feed that population will swallow the entire budget for greenhouse gases. Even at our current 7 billion plus people, we are cutting into rich biological forests like the Amazon and Congolese rainforests, to grow more food, especially for meat production.
The Cambridge study predicts the world will lose yet another 10 percent of existing forests in the scramble to feed ourselves. Are you worried about losing half our wildlife in the last 40 years? Bojana tells us that agricultural deforestation is the Number One cause of loss of biodiversity.
These scientists tell us that by 2050, emissions from the food system will be 80% higher than they were in 2009 (when they were already at a record high amount).
I asked Bojana if their study also included a scenario where the world population went DOWN. That seems like a fair question in these days of Ebola. They did not consider this. She recommends the work of Dr. Hans Rosling on population predictions. Rosling offers many statistics on why we shouldn't panic on population. I disagree, but you can see his video "Don't Panic, the Truth About Population" here.
When we burn or cut forests, we lose carbon to the atmosphere twice. The trees themselves are made of carbon. That is released to the air. But forests also buffer some of our carbon pollution, and we lose that too.
ANOTHER POSITIVE FEEDBACK LOOP
We encounter rapid human population growth as yet another positive feedback mechanism. Bajzelj covered that in another paper, released this summer with Keith S. Richards. The title is "The Positive Feedback Loop between the Impacts of Climate Change and Agricultural Expansion and Relocation". I'll pass this one to Dr. Guy McPherson, in case he's missed this for his grand list of positive feedback loops. Find Guy's list here. Scroll down to "Self-Reinforcing Feedback Loops"
If the population does increase to 9 billion, we have to clear more land for agriculture. That deforestation creates more global warming. Climate change causes more damage to agriculture than benefits. So climate change means we would need to clear even more land for farming, especially given the current global trend toward inefficient meat consumption. We clear more land, raise more methane producing livestock, get more warming, get more climate damage, clear more land.... and that's the loop. The author of the study doesn't think it classifies as a major positive feedback loop, but it is definitely another one.
The really stunning thing is the need to do these two studies. Here we are with a population that keeps booming, and keeps demanding more meat. Both subjects are almost taboo with politicians who hope to get elected. There isn't a zero-population, veggie-promoting leader anywhere on the planet, that I know of. How the heck can we get a few billion people to take off the blinders, and see where this train is headed?
TRIMMING FARM EMISSIONS
Yes, this problem includes you, assuming you eat food, and don't grow it all yourself. So what can be done?
First of all, about half of all food grown in the world is simply wasted. Even in a hungry country like India, over half the crops grown are lost to pests, lack of refrigeration, poor transport, and uneven distribution. Here in the developed world, we also waste about half the food grown, but in a different place in the food chain: restaurants, grocery stores, and homes toss out mountains of food. We could greatly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by cutting out that waste.
The second big move is too obvious. We need to greatly reduce meat consumption in the developed world, and head off that ominous trend in the developing world. China has moved big-time "up" the food chain, eating billions of tons more chicken and pork. At least those animals produce less methane than cows do. Cows are the number one biggest emitters - personally as they give off methane, but also in the huge amounts of food required to produce a single pound of beef.
The relationship of vegetables to meat is something like 10 to 90. Growing vegetables producesabout 10 percent of the greenhouse gases versus 90% for the same amount of food power from meat. See my interview with Kip Anderson "Cowspiracy".
Personally, after talking with many scientists, I think any carbon budget for 2050 is not workable. By then, we must find a way to reverse our civilization, so that we are drawing carbon back out of the air, rather than adding any at all. Assuming we are going to continue eating, this study emphasizes the huge amount of carbon draw-down we'll require just to break even, just to take out as much carbon as agriculture requires.
WHEN OUTER SPACE HITS BACK: THE GREAT METEOR STRIKE
Humans seem set to trigger a climate change at amazing speed. We could experience a greenhouse world from just 150 years of fossil-fuelled civilization. It's likely one of the most rapid world-scale changes in nature in this planet's 4 billion year history.
We're going to journey back millions of years, to explore the fastest mass extinction event we know much about. Maybe we'll learn something about our future. Our tour-guide is Dr. Benjamin Blonder, from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, at the University of Arizona.
Blonder is the lead author of "Plant Ecological Strategies Shift Across the Cretaceous?Paleogene Boundary" It is published in the journal PLOS Biology, which is open to the public. Anyone can read the full paper here.
THE BIG BANG THAT ...
Seventy million years ago, Earth's climate was in flux, changing from ice-house worlds to greenhouse times. Then 66 million years ago, a chunk of rock 10 kilometers across hit the Earth. We think it landed on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, creating a crater in the Gulf of Mexico. A kind of matter called "Iridium" spread all over the world. Iridium comes from outer space, so we know approximately when this disaster happened.
Immediately there was a giant tsunami, but also a great cloud of smoke and particles that went round the world. We don't know how long it was dark, but possibly for years. About half of all plant life on the planet died off. So did many animals, including most of the dinosaurs (except those which could fly, becoming our modern birds).
The event has been compared to a nuclear winter, but much bigger. It's thought the meteorite exploded with the force of 100 teratons of TNT. That's such a big number. I did a little math. The largest nuclear weapon ever tested, the 1960's Soviet "Tsar Bomba" - that was 58 megatons of TNT. It looks to me like this 100 teraton meteorite blast was the equivalent of about 2 million of the largest nuclear weapon ever made, all blown off at once. That's a big bang.
... SHAPED OUR WORLD.
One result of that meteor impact, and this was the major point of Blonder's paper, is the widespread deciduous plants we see today, in the Fall colors of North America, Europe and Russia. Prior to the impact, most of that region was clothed in slower-growing flowering evergreen plants. These survive today in things like ivy and mistletoe.
When the sky went dark, plants had several possible survival strategies. One was to drop their leaves, and wait for the next patch of sunlight. Evergreens couldn't do that, and died in great numbers. Plants also migrated, invasive species filled up the ecological holes, and so the Earth saw many of the responses we might see again with a rapid climate shift.
It's difficult to apply this meteor-strike science directly to modern times, because the research method cannot be more accurate than 10,000 years. That means they just don't know what happened in 100 years, for example.
The science involves the study of fossil leaves, which can tell us a lot about the ecology and biology of formerly living things. It's similar to the work explained by Dr. Robert Spicer to Radio Ecoshock listeners in our 2008 interview. Find that here.
My friend and correspondent Dr. Andrew Glikson in Australia made a time map and catalog of all the known meteor stikes during the last billion years or so of Earth's history. Things arrive from space from time to time. is there anything stopping another big comet or meteor showing up and hitting the Earth again? Not at all, says Blonder. His University of Arizona is a leader in tracking activity from outer space, (the "Space Watch program") - but surprises are always possible.
Personally, I don't worry about rocks from space. The most dangerous thing around here is a species that can't live up to it's name "homo sapiens". Dr. Blonder says there is no point in worrying about such a meteor strike, as there is absolutely nothing we can do to prepare for it, or survive it. There may be no big strike in the next 50 million years, or it may come next year. Nobody knows for sure.
GIANT SEA LEVEL RISE UP TO 5 METERS (16 FEET)
In a warming world, we picture sea level rise creeping up slowly, measured in inches or milLimeters. Maybe not. According to new science, at the end of the last five ice ages, the seas rose several meters per century, more than 10 feet. There was such a case about 14,600 years ago.
Eelco Rohling is a Professor of Ocean and Climate Change at the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton, in Australia. He's the co-author of the paper "Sea-level variability over five glacial cycles." That was just published in the journal Nature Communications. As that is a closed journal, here is a good science-based article about this new study.
Dr. Eelco Rohling
We should stress that sea level rise comes from land-based ice, and not the more well-known melting of the sea ice cover at the North Pole. Right now, Rohling tells us, land ice is melting rapidly from Greenland, from West Antarctica, and almost anywhere glaciers are found. The recent NASA science showing that Antarctica is also losing ice mass was stunning. I covered that in my Rado Ecoshock show for May 21st, 2014. Listen to, or download that here. The show blog with links is here.
The scientists led by Rohling managed to date several major de-glaciations in the last hundred thousand years, and about 120 lesser melt periods. The largest amount of sea level rise was indeed over 5 meters in a single century (over 16 feet). BUT that record amount happened when Earth was covered by more than twice as much ice as today. North America, for example, was half buried in a glacier more than a mile deep. To look at what could happen today, Rohling says we need to look at the lesser melt events.
For example, there were similar size melts 240,000 years ago, and 330,000 years ago, Rohling tells us. These resulted in about 1.5 meters of sea level rise (almost 5 feet) in a single century. That's pretty close to what the IPCC is predicting as well.
Five feet is catastrophic on it's own. Just think of the amount of delta farming land lost, the major world cities that would need to relocate, the mega-changes to nature on the coasts. And that doesn't include the storm surges from climate-driven monster storms. Add another 20 feet or more for those.
Two more things stand our for me in this study.
1. We shouldn't even be talking about what happens in one century. Rising seas will continue for many centuries. In some case the greatest sea level rise happens 400 years after the melting begins.
2. Related to that, the past history of de-glaciation shows that once this melting process begins, it is "irreversible" (says Rohling). Past major melts were begun in part by changes in the Earth's orbit, slowly leading to warming on Earth. The current melt is being cause by human-induced climate change. It doesn't matter what triggers the melt. Once it's begun, it will continue to unfold - even if humans managed to cool things down, say with geo-engineering or quitting the carbon habit.
We're committed to ever-changing coastlines already. We are imposing a constantly rising sea, an ever-changing coast line, on all humans, animals and plants to come, for hundreds or even thousands of years.
It's hard to picture a civilization where the coast is always changing. I suppose cities now by the sea, and that's many of the world's largest metropolises, would have to be abandoned. Living by the sea will become more dangerous, especially during storm surges.
I also worry that the current melting may not follow the patterns of the past. We may heat things up so fast, that we get the 5 meters of sea level rise anyway, much sooner than anyone expects. Nobody knows for sure where this experiment with the atmosphere is leading.
Blogger Robert Scribbler has a good article, saying "Current sea level rise is faster than at any time in the last 6000 years."
I NEED YOUR SUPPORT
I hate bugging people for money. In my ideal world, science journalists and radio producers would live from some magical grant money. I don't get any grant money, don't run advertisements, and won't take corporate funding.
Right now I need your support to pay the bills, and keep on going. I may have to mount an official fund-raising drive. We'll see. If you can help, please either send a one-time donation, or sign up for the $10 a month membership. Both kinds of donors have kept this radio show going for the past year. Can you help? Visit this page for details.
Coming up: we'll talk about why Progressives (maybe you and I) are part of the problem, rather than the solution. I've got a special on new radioactive leaks into the Pacific from Fukushima coming up. You know, the big storms that hit Japan, and nobody mentions the already flooded reactor cores down there somewhere.... Later in the month, Naomi Klein joins us. Stay tuned.
That's our program for this week. Download all our past programs as free .mp3 files at our web site, ecoshock.org. I'm Alex Smith. Thanks for listening, and please share the news about Radio Ecoshock on social media. Once a week I Tweet out the show announcement. Follow @ecoshock.
HOT NEWS FROM AN OVERHEATED PLANET Luan DFómh 13, 2014 06:30 | firstname.lastname@example.org (Alex Smith)
Why Lie to Ourselves About Methane? Céad DFómh 01, 2014 21:47 | email@example.com (Alex Smith)
How methane erupts. Source: TerraDaily.com
Here is an interesting article about that "Arctic Seaved Methane Stores Destablizing and Venting" from TerraDaily.com.
THE "PERMAFROST" ISN'T PERMANENT
The second fearsome giant is more widespread, and possibly impossible to measure at this time. There is methane trapped below the permafrost, the permanently frozen cap covering the northern part of this planet. At least we thought it was permanent. Now with Arctic temperatures soaring 10 or even 20 degrees Fahrenheit above the previous normal, the permafrost is starting to melt. Check out this NASA factsheet on permafrost methane: "Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in the Arctic?" NASA is trying to monitor Arctic methane with a project called "Carve".
As I understand it, melting permafrost opens two great methane risks. The first is release of methane trapped in pockets below. This is thought to be the cause of at least two explosions and craters found recently in Siberia.
The second is more insidious. As the surface levels melt, there are plant materials that have been kept frozen for many thousands of years. These are already starting to melt, and then rot. Plant materials on the ground will release CO2. Those under the millions of shallow ponds in the Arctic will decay without oxygen, and release methane, clouds of methane.
HOW AMERICA CAN CHANGE THE METHANE MAP
For all these reasons, it is a dangerous fallacy to only count methane as "20", as though it comes up once in 100 years and then disappears. That is why a group of illustrious scientists have written the American government, asking for the higher scientific standard of 86 to be used, instead of the old number of 20.
If we use the new standard, the real risks of methane become apparent, and that adds heat to the government's responsibility and effort to limit methane emissions in every way we can. It certainly means new regulations to force gas drilling companies to stop venting methane, at drill and storage sites, and to repair leaking equipment and pipelines. It certainly means going further to capture methane from land-fill sites, and push an international effort to change agriculture to minimize methane emissions.
I ask Mickey Moritz why the standard hasn't changed already. After all, as she tells us, other standards for gases have been changed as new information comes along. We can guess the natural gas industry, with all its political donations, is against the change. But Mickey also says there is a problem with international reporting. Countries calculate their emissions using the old standard of 20. If America leads the way to the new methane standard, U.S. emissions will suddenly appear to go up. The scientists suggest America could use a double accounting standard for now: a value of 86 for domestic regulation, and a value of 20 for international reporting, until that can be changed by international agreement. That can easily be done, Moritz says.
For me, and I'm sure for the scientists involved, this urgent letter is more than about book-keeping. To get the kinds of action that have any hope of saving a habitable climate, we need to stop lying to ourselves about the power of methane. It's the second largest source of warming on the planet. Paul Beckwith tells me the "Present radiative forcing of methane is 1 W/m2 [Watts per square meter] compared to 1.7 W/m2 for CO2".
Be sure and listen to this interview with Anna "Mickey" Moritz, available in CD Quality, or Lo-Fi.
Among the 21 scientists who signed this letter are some names you may recognize from Radio Ecoshock. You can find their interviews or speeches by search our program archive at ecoshock.org
* Robert W. Howarth, * J. David Hughes, * Michael C. MacCracken, * Scot M. Miller, * Drew Shindell
The letter was addressed to letter to John Holdren, Gina McCarthy, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Ernest Moniz, the Secretary of the Department of Energy, among others. That was a month and a half ago. So far there has been no reply, but Mickey thinks the wheels are turning.
When America leads on methane, we need to see the world community act in the 2015 Climate Summit in Paris. At the very least, we can stop lying to ourselves about methane.
CARBON SHOCK: THE WAY WE ALREADY PAY AND PAY TO SUBSIDIZE FOSSIL FUEL PROFITS
There are two kinds of climate denial running around: theirs and ours. Some people and politicians still say climate change isn't happening, even as extreme weather events pummel the globe. Others know global warming is coming on much too hard and too fast. That can become to a despair so deep we don't want to talk about the phoney solutions coming from business, national governments, and those failed international talks.
Despite all the green hype, carbon emissions are rising, and the increase is increasing. Face the facts: this is a human problem requiring human solutions. If you don't like the idea of new taxes on carbon, our next guest says we are already paying plenty for climate damage.
As an experienced journalist, Mark Schapiro tackles the whole messy climate problem. His new book is "Carbon Shock, A tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy". Schapiro has appeared everywhere intelligent reporting is allowed, from PBS specials, to features in magazines like Harpers and the Atlantic Monthly. As an award winning environmental journalist, one of his previous books was "Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products."
Here are some of the stories we talk about in this interview:
* the many ways the real cost of fossil fuels is hidden from us (direct subsidies to oil and gas companies, huge health care costs of carbon pollution, all those taxes going into roads, it's a big wild list!)
* the reasons for the California drought (one huge factor: the snow pack is now falling more as rain, and melting too fast and too early to be stored for summer crops)
* why cherries need some cold in the winter (and aren't getting it in recent years in the big California cherry orchards)
* the scandalous loop-hole in carbon accounting, where humans pretend air-planes are not a major source of emissions, and no-one has to take responsibility for aircraft greenhouse gas emissions (Schapiro alerts us to aircraft emissions as the first shot in an international trade war over climate change)
* a few hopes for the 2015 Climate talks in Paris
* some climate initiatives "breaking out all over the world" you may not have heard about
* why some "Conservatives" want to fight climate change with carbon taxes and clean energy (no, the climate movement is not just something that happens in New York or San Francisco).
* the thorny problem of China, verging on being the world's biggest polluter, and needing still more development
Mark Schapiro is now out on a large-scale book tour to promote "Carbon Shock". He'll be blogging all over the place. Keep track of Mark and his work via his Twitter feed: @schapiro.
You can download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Mark Schapiro in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.
(I apologize for mis-spelling Mark's last name in the file name, but that can't be changed at this point)
Along with the book I received a fact sheet which says "Just ninety companies are responsible for two-thirds of greenhouse gase emissions". We all need to know who those biggest polluters are. It shows once again that real climate talks can't just be in New York, Lima or Paris. They need to happen in the Board Rooms of multinational corporations.
"Carbon Shock, A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy" is just out from Chelsea Green books. Find it here.
A NEW CREATION STORY WITH ANDREW BEATH
When I consider the climate movement, it seems almost split into two camps. One is very science-oriented, fending off any suggestion of spirituality. The other is spiritual, where science is almost a side-line. While most of Radio Ecoshock is devoted to science, we all know there are deep movements within us that science can't really touch or fulfil.
I used to think if you gathered all the science-oriented people in one room, and all those concentrating on the spiritual approach in another, you would have more men in Room A, and more women in Room B. Is that sexist, or does there tend to be that difference between genders? But then, all those preachers, mullahs... old-time religion was not just created by men, to worship a man-God. It continues to promote sexism, including denying women leadership roles in the church. So it's little wonder some women are looking for spiritual alternatives.
While science has been dominated by men for a generation, there is a whole crop of really smart women scientists coming up now. It's a breath of fresh air for sure. Meanwhile more men are realizing just staying nailed to jobs and football, while avoiding our inner needs is harmful, if not fatal.
Our next guest has been a green activist for 30 years. He founded the environment group Earthways Foundation in California back in 1985. More recently, Andrew Beath has been considering our green needs for spirituality. For example, he's the author of the book "Consciousness in Action, The Power of Beauty, Love and Courage in A Violent Time." The Earthways Foundation is still going, with some helpful projects in Los Angeles, but also in Latin America. Beath was also instrumental in founding "Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs" which guides people into setting up non-profits for social change.
Beath has helped save Wetlands in L.A., and assisted in starting up Amazon Watch. He's got a long trail of organizations he helped birth.
Now Andrew is publishing a trilogy of books which look at a new story of creation, one based on the amazing discoveries of science, but also new ways of looking at the world. The Trilogy is called "The New Creation Story, Spirit, Eros, and Climate Chaos". Find out more here at the book web site.
Books One and Two are already on sale. Book Three will be released shortly. The new creation story goes right from The Big Bang to modern times, with illustrations of life in between.
Previous religions have begun with an act of God, followed by just a few thousand years of history. Then the bones of dinosaurs and the study of geology showed that timeline was flawed. Now we have amazing views into the galaxies, and with it, into deep time. We need new narrative about the beginnings of things, to know where we are.
We also discuss whether life on this planet has a consciousness, something we could call "Gaia".
We don't really know how human consciousness connects us, or why sudden waves of thought pop up all over the world. The psychiatrist Carl Jung called it "synchronicity". There are lots of people out there who hope, maybe even pray, that a wave of awareness could spread rapidly across the globe, driving us toward action not just on climate change, but in our whole relationship to nature. I ask Andrew if that is his hope, and are there any signs of it? Ever the realist, Beath says right now it looks more like we are going the wrong way. "Business as usual" is still in triumph.
But, in the end, Andrew Beath has not given up. He knows and feels the depths of our damage to the Earth. But Beath tells us: "the destruction we've caused is the catalyst for the next step in human consciousnesss".
You can listen to or download this Radio Ecoshock interview with Andrew Beath in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
RADIO ECOSHOCK NOW BROADCAST BY 87 STATIONS
Once again, we are totally out of time. Thanks for sticking with the program.
It's been a while since I updated our stations list, or counted them up. Good news! Radio Ecoshock is now broadcast on 87 non-profit radio stations in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom (we can still say that), Australia, and now Paris, France.
You make it all happen, by passing on the Tweets, Facebook links, emails and word of mouth. Let's get the word out there.
My thanks to those who donated this past week, to keep Radio Ecoshock going. You covered the electric and internet bills for this month.
I'm Alex Smith, and let's get together again next week.
Is Global Collapse Imminent? Máirt MFómh 30, 2014 17:36 | firstname.lastname@example.org (Alex Smith)
This is Turner's second review of the Limits to Growth. His first was in 2008: Turner, G.M. 2008 "A comparison of The Limits to Growth with 30 years of reality" Global Environmental Change, 18, pp. 397-411.
The original "Limits to Growth" study in the 1970's helped shape the entire environmental movement. It was remorseless trashed by pro-business writers, as proven wrong, and consigned to the dustbin of history. Now many of us sense we are teetering on the edge, so I'm really pleased to have this opportunity to talk with Dr. Turner.
It seems to me, reading this paper, Turner has returned to the Peak Oil scenario, saying the ever-increasing diversion of capital into more difficult to extract fossil fuels is, quote "the primary cause of collapse of the BAU [business as usual] scenario."
Keep in mind, Graham Turner is not absolutely PREDICTING an imminent global collapse. His research shows we are following a path that could lead there. I asked him what signs we should watch for, and one suggestion was infrastructure falling apart. You know, bridges falling down, sewers that don't work, things don't get repaired.
Why? Because governments, corporations (and you) will have to put more and more of our social capital into simply getting more fossil fuels. Think about the costly Tar Sands, deep water drilling, Arctic drilling - these are very capital intensive. As the cheaper easier oil (like from the Middle East wells) gets used up, it will cost more and more to get less and less. Richard Heinberg has released a study saying this applies even more to fracking, as wells run dry quickly, needing more and more expensive drilling.
At some point, there is not enough money left to you and I to consume, not enough money left to start new manufacturing, not enough to re-pave the roads. That snowballs, compounded by continuing climate-driven weather disasters, agricultural crisis and rising population (all part of the Limits to Growth, except climate change.)
The charts which Turner presents in his paper, showing predictions made by the MIT group in the 1970's Limits to Growth track very well with what has actually happened in the more than 30 years since. We don't have to guess.
We can measure what happened, and he does. All the signs point to an eventual collapse of our current system, perhaps our civilization as well.
Download or listen to this interview with Graham M. Turner in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
WILL WE BURN 30% MORE LIQUID FOSSIL FUELS IN 2040?
There is another world out there. That's the flow of business, oil, and governments toward an increasingly high-carbon future. It's stunning to consider, but the majority view is the world will produce, consume, and burn ever more oil, gas, and petroleum produced from coal. Check this out.
I'm on a ton of media press lists, including several from the U.S. government. An American government department has just predicted the world will increase the supply, demand, and consumption of liquid fossil fuels (oil, gas, and petroleum products converted from coal) as this century progresses. Is it a nightmare, or just the hot reality?
We are joined by Linda Doman, the lead energy analyst for their publication, the "International Energy Outlook". Their latest report, released September 9th, 2014, is from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the EIA.
You can download or read that EIA publication online as a .pdf here.
Jonathan Cogan from the EIA helps put this report in perspective when he tells me by email:
"The projections in International Energy Outlook 2014 (IEO2014) are not statements of what will happen, but what might happen given the specific assumptions and methodologies used for any particular scenario. The Reference case projection is a business-as-usual trend estimate, given known technology and technological and demographic trends. EIA explores the impacts of alternative assumptions about oil prices in a low-oil-price scenario and a high-oil-price scenario. The price cases examine a range of potential interactions of supply, demand, and prices in world liquids markets IEO2014.
All of the cases generally assume that current laws and regulations are maintained throughout the projections.
Thus, the projections provide policy-neutral baselines that can be used be used to analyze international energy markets.
Keep in mind that the U.S. Energy Information Administration is a policy-neutral statistical and analytical agency. We are not involved in formulating, promoting, or advocating energy policies."
So what does this report really say about coming oil and gas demand and production?
First of all, they don't foresee a huge rise in prices, which is an important factor in consumption. Oil may be $140 2012 dollars in 2040 they say, although several scenarios are contemplated. Production is expected to increase from the current 87 million barrels a day in 2010 to 119 million barrels a day by 2040.
That's about a 30% increase. When you consider we are already putting record amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere now, with extreme weather as a result, fires, floods, rising seas and all that - a 30% INCREASE as the century goes forward must be absolutely disastrous. But that's not the concern of the EIA, which is only concerned with plotting our trajectory from the now.
Linda Doman tells us production expectations have been raised from the 2013 report, due to the extra production from fracking. They expect fracking to expand from it's base in the United States to countries all over the world.
The EIA says use of oil and gas in developed OECD countries (U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan) peaked back in 2005. More efficient cars, savings by power companies, and an economic recession have all helped push consumption back in these countries. But that is overshadowed, in fact increased, by higher demand in Asia (China, India, Indonesia mainly) and in the Middle East.
Why the Middle East? 1. The young population is coming of age to get driver's licenses. 2. Oil producing governments subsidize fuel prices (like 25 cents a gallon for example) which doesn't limit demand. And 3. (which I will add) - there is a movement toward more industrialization in some Middle East countries. They will consume their own oil and gas in petrochemical refineries, and other manufacturing activities.
There is still a lot of uncertainty about how much oil and gas China and India will burn in the future. The EIA created three possible scenarios. In the highest use picture, BY 2040, India and China would consume about as much in liquid fossil fuels as the whole world does today. That is truly frightening if it happens.
Where will all this oil and gas come from? From fracking for sure. But the EIA also expects more millions of barrels from OPEC members. Plus countries like Iraq and Mexico have not developed their full potential, partly due to lack of investment and infrastructure from larger oil companies and international banks, Doman suggests.
It would be very interesting to get Richard Heinberg's response to this report. I'll send him a link, and see what he says. In the meantime, I thought you should hear what the experts are saying about our carbon-rich future.
Download or listen to this short interview with Linda Doman here.
If you REALLY want to dig deep into fossil fuel projections, here is the You tube recording of a presentation September 22nd 2014 by Adam Sieminiski, the Administrator of the EIA, on this very report (the International Energy Outlook for 2014).
NORTHERN CANADIAN FIRES "A MAJOR EVENT IN THE LIFE OF THE EARTH SYSTEM"
Slate Magazine is running a stunning story "Why Greenland's 'Dark Snow' Should Worry You." Don't miss those photos from Danish scientist Jason Box. They show what should be the white ice and snow of Greenland have turned dirty black. That means the surface absorbs far more heat from the sun, instead of reflecting light back into space. Expect record ice melt, and another jump toward rising seas.
Where does that dirt come from? Certainly from coal power plants in America and China. From polluting industries in Europe and Russia. But I suspect the largest amount comes from soot. Siberia has plenty of fires, but northern Canada just experienced the greatest fire season ever recorded. A Canadian scientist calls them "a major event in the life of the earth system".
The soot from these fires may be a primary cause of Greenland turning from white to dirty black.
Photo by Jason Box.
FIRE EXPERT MARC-ANDRE PARISIEN
Regular Ecoshock listeners know wildfires in the Arctic are bigger and badder than ever. Scientists predict a huge increase over the coming decades due to changes in climate, and various feed-backs triggered by global warming. Could the whole boreal forest burn down?
New research has taken us deeper into fire behavior in the far north. The paper that caught my eye is titled "Resistance of the boreal forest to high burn rates." Our next guest is one of the authors. Marc-Andre Parisien is a research scientist for the Northern Forestry Centre of Natural Resources Canada?s Canadian Forest Service, located in Edmonton Alberta.
Along with scientists at the Centre for Northern Studies in Quebec, Parisien is an author of the new paper "Resistance of the boreal forest to high burn rates" published in PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on August 4th, 2014. You would need to be a paid member of PNAS to read this, but find the abstract here.
Marc most of us can barely imagine the size and condition of the great Boreal forest. It runs from Alaska right across the whole of Canada to Labrador - and that's just in North America. There is more in Scandinavia and Siberia.
Television doesn't report on fires in Canada's far north. Most of these blazes run their course with no one trying to put them out. How large can a fire get? A single large fire can be bigger than the island of Manhattan, which is 9,000 hectares, or more than 22,000 acres. One fire in the Canadian province of Quebec was 560,000 hectares, or 1.3 million acres.
This summer of 2014, Parisien tells us, over 4.6 million hectares of forest burned (11.3 million acres) - that is larger than Switzerland. It's a stunning amount of carbon taken from trees and forced into the atmosphere. That is when forests become a carbon source, rather than a carbon sink. It's also a huge burst of black soot, a global warming agent on it's own, and a contributor to the blackening of Greenland.
There are very different estimates for the increase in northern fires as the planet warms. By 2100, some scientists suggest forest fires in that region will increase by 30%. Others have suggested they might increase by 500%. If that becomes reality, we can doubt whether northern forests will continue to exist.
The one possible saving agent, and the point of the paper by Parisien and scientists from a Quebec University - statistically, forests that burned within the last 40 or 50 years are LESS likely to burn again in our time. It looks like there is a kind of negative feedback loop at work here, at least for forest fires. However, I feel all that is uncertain as the Boreal and Tundra continue to heat up much more than the rest of the planet. We're running a big experiment here on planet Earth.
In this interview, Marc-Andre notes that fires are not the only threat to northern forests. As the permafrost melts, trees can lose their hold in soil, tipping over in a phenomenon known as "drunken forests". These can already be seen in Alaska and the Yukon. We may also see changes in hydrology (when it rains or snows) as the planet warms. And forests have already been hit hard by changes in insects, like the Rocky Mountain Pine Bark Beetle which is killing off whole valleys of pines. These were enabled in such great numbers by a continuing lack of winters cold enough to kill them off.
We didn't have time to talk about the other big threat: logging the Boreal forest. It's huge, all for toilet paper and other items we throw away. Find out about endangered Boreal forest logging at Greenpeace here, Forest Ethics here, or Canopy here.
Marc-Andre listed other Canadian scientists who are studying the impacts of climate change on fires and the Canadian northern forests (despite Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of the Tar Sands). He also recommends this web site: the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System. There you can find all kinds of helpful maps, charts and information. It's a super resource for those who care about what happens in the North. Since the future of the world may be partly determined by what happens there, that's you and everybody else in the world.
Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Marc-Andre Parisien in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
Next week we'll find out why the U.S. government, and governments around the world, are lying to themselves, and us, about the true threat of methane gas. A group of top climate scientists have written a powerful letter to change that.
Join us next week on Radio Ecoshock. You can find all our past programs, as free mp3 downloads, at our web site, ecoshock.org. Don't forget our Soundcloud page.
My special thanks to the hardy band of people who support my reporting with a monthly $10 donation. Find out how you can help here.
I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for listening, and thank you for caring about your world.
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