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en-us Indy Media On Air

RSS Feed for 'Indymedia on Air' from the LA Indymedia broadcast on LA KPFK

offsite link Indy Media On Air - Tue, September 16, 2014 Luan MFómh 15, 2014 23:00
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offsite link Indy Media On Air - Tue, September 9, 2014 Luan MFómh 08, 2014 23:00
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offsite link Indy Media On Air - Tue, August 19, 2014 Luan Lún 18, 2014 23:00
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offsite link Indy Media On Air - Tue, August 12, 2014 Luan Lún 11, 2014 23:00
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offsite link Indy Media On Air - Tue, July 22, 2014 Luan Iúil 21, 2014 23:00
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KPFK - Indy Media On Air >>

From Alpha To Omega

en-ie Hosted by Tom O'Brien this podcast hopes to feature in-depth interviews with leading figures in the fields of Economics, Peak Oil, Democracy, Politics, Science, Mathematics, Philosophy, Complex Systems, Agnosticism, Permaculture, Collapse, and the Environment.

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offsite link #053 What's Next? Part II Sath Lún 30, 2014 11:53 | Tom O'Brien
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This week we have part two of our discussion with Professor Peter Hudis, of Oakton Community College, about his book 'Marx's Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism'. We talk about the Soviet experiment and the alienation of labour, the role of the state in a post-capitalist society, the Spanish revolution and the anarchist understanding of revolution, and the co-operative model as an alternative. You can get the Professors book here:

offsite link #052 What's Next? Sath Lún 16, 2014 22:40 | Tom O'Brien
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This week I am delighted to welcome Professor Peter Hudis, of Oakton Community College, who has recently published his new book: 'Marx's Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism'. We discuss what Marx had to say about post-capitalist societies, and the reluctance of those on the left to talk about what it might actually look like. We also talk of the theoretical reasons for the failure of the Soviet and Maoist projects, how abstract labour dominates our lives, and how not even the capitalists are in control of the current system. You can find the Professors book here: Enjoy!

offsite link #051 Cry Me A Volume Domh Iúil 27, 2014 17:21 | Tom O'Brien
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This week I am delighted to welcome back to the show, the Jazz Pianist, Marxist auto-didact, YouTube star, and the man behind the Kapitalism 101 blog, Brendan Cooney. I?ve recently just finished reading volume II of Marx?s Das Kapital, and so I?ve invited Brendan on the show to see what he makes of it all. We discuss Marx's concept of science, dialectics, Rosa Luxembourg and empire, the role of gold and silver in Marx's work, and the games people play. You can check out Brendan's Blog here: http://kapitalism101.wordpress.c... And his great YouTube videos here:

offsite link #050 The Matrix Aoine Meith 27, 2014 23:00 | Tom O'Brien
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This week I am delighted to welcome back the economist, economic historian, and extremely prolific author, Professor Michael Perelman of the California State University, Chico. We talk about the latest book he is working on: 'The Matrix: An exploratory political economy of the dangerous, paradoxical interactions between war, the economy, and economic ideology'. We discuss unintended consequences, the difficult of decision-making in complex situations, US Imperialism, Vietnam, Heavyweight Boxing ,and the little talked about darker side of Winston Churchill. You can check out the Professors books here: And here is his blog: http://michaelperelman.wordpress... Enjoy!

offsite link #049 Cold Fusion, Brains, and Computers Máirt Beal 20, 2014 22:14 | Tom O'Brien
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This week I am delighted to welcome back to the show, the renowned mathematician and computer-scientist, Prof Gregory Chaitin. We discuss his new paper: 'Conceptual Complexity and Algorithmic Information', which details his thoughts on a new theory of the brain, and what it would mean for consciousness. We also talked about another passion of the Professor - low energy nuclear reactions, or as it is more commonly known, ?Cold-Fusion?. In the past episodes, we've talked with a number of people about the coming energy and environmental crises. Now we get a chance to hear some positive news from the more eclectic end of the research spectrum. You can find the paper we discuss here: The Professors website is here: And you can find all his books over here: Enjoy!

From Alpha To Omega >>

The Radio Ecoshock Show

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. No copyright. As heard on CFRO Vancouver, and over 75 college & community radio stations, WPFW Pacifica in D.C. plus KNEW 960 AM, San Francisco & Resonance FM London. Published Wednesdays.

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offsite link Near-Term Human Extincton: Making the Case Déar MFómh 11, 2014 05:35 | (Alex Smith)
SUMMARY: Retired ecology Professor Guy McPherson says extreme climate change will wipe out humans before 2050. Psychologist Carolyn Baker says grieve now for lost future. Environmental Horticulturist Kim Eierman on eco-beneficial home planting. Radio Ecoshock 140910

LISTENER WARNING: If you are feeling depressed or even considering suicide, this is not the program for you. People suffering from PTSD may want to think twice. The subject matter is very depressing. However, in next week's show I will attempt to counter the argument made by our guests, with at least some bleak optimism, and why we may not be doomed.

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality or Lo-Fi. And here is a short link you can use to share this interview via Facebook or Twitter:

OR... you can listen to it right now, and share it, via Soundcloud.


Let me ask you: Do you have days when you feel we are doomed as a species? That's every day, for our next guest.

When a successful Professor of Natural Resources, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology left the University of Arizona, for his mud hut retreat, he probably didn't intend to stir up the world. But that's just what Guy McPherson has done. He's becoming a voice for the worst fears of many people.

In fact, McPherson says climate change has gone so far, so fast, humans will become extinct before 2050. Dr. McPherson makes his case, and offers ways to cope with the ultimate bad news, in a new book co-authored with psychologist Carolyn Baker. It's called "Extinction Dialogs: Living with Death in Mind". That's coming out this Fall.

Eventual human extinction may not be as impossible as it sounds. In addition to James Lovelock, two of the world's top scientists, Professor John Schullnhuber in Germany, and Dr. James Hansen, formerly of NASA, have worried we'll blow past any survivable limits to climate change. In a speech to the "4 Degrees of More" conference in Australia, Schullnhuber suggested that if we reach 4 degrees, the whole thing could easily slide to 8 degrees, which most of us would agree is beyond human tolerance. Hansen wondered if we might blow off the atmosphere altogether, as apparently happened on Mars. That possibility has since been discounted by other scientists.

Most of the big name scientists, other than James Lovelock, hedge their warnings with the idea that we could still save ourselves IF we mount a huge campaign to switch energy to renewable sources, and stop our carbon-wasting ways. Guy says it's too late for all that. We have already committed the Earth to a severe shift in climate, beyond the survival limits of not just our civilization, but of our species.

Let's find out why Guy McPherson thinks we are finished.

I ask Guy what he means by extinction. Does he mean most humans die, but there would be a few left in caves or around the Arctic ocean, as Dr. James Lovelock once suggested? His exact reply was: "I'm a conservation biologist, and when I say extinct I mean every member of the species is gone."

McPherson has woven the risk of nuclear power into his story of our end times. He's right to say that if the global electric grid goes down, for any reason, whether due to a massive collapse, or a solar flare or big nuclear war - then up to 400 nuclear reactors could melt down like Fukushima.

However, we don't know for sure that even those events would bring all electricity down, all over the world. So we may add a lot of radiation, leading to millions or even a billion cases of cancer, but that's not enough to depopulate the world, much less cause our extinction. That's my opinion, and I'm dead-set against nuclear power. I think they should all be shut down as soon as possible.

Guy says the oceans are dying. Anyone who lives near the ocean, as I did for 25 years, knows that isn't true - yet. A growing chorus of the best oceanographers do say ocean acidification from our carbon pollution can change the whole food chain in the seas, hugely reducing an essential source of human food. The oceans may fill up with acid tolerant plants and animals, lots of jellyfish. But I haven't found one ocean scientist that says the ocean is dying right now.

It's a serious worry though. Up to 96% of all ocean life did die off in the planet's greatest mass extinction event, the Permian, known as "The Great Dying." That was about 248 million years ago, and may have been due to global warming. But we think it took a long time, perhaps happening over a couple of million years. Certainly it didn't happen in a couple of decades.


We talk about the threat of methane erupting in large quantities from shallow sea beds, and the melting permafrost. The sea-bed methane is frozen in a watery cage - the technical name for them is "clathrates". Some scientists have suggested that previous mass extinction events occurred when clathrates melt in such quantities that a methane burst destablized the climate into a rapid heating. Methane is at least 20 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Some scientists say for short durations (a few years) methane may be hundreds of time worse than CO2.

This extinction-level emission of frozen methane is called "the clathrate gun". Guy McPherson says the clathrate gun has already fired. He talks about recent explorations into the Arctic measuring methane, and maps released by the Arctic News blog, showing very high levels of methane around the northern polar region. Other scientists, such as climate scientists David Archer, and Gavin Schmidt - both previous Ecoshock guests, disagree, saying the amount of methane released so far in the Arctic is not signficant, compared to our CO2 emissions. David Archer interview here. They also note that methane emissions being discoverd in the Arctic may not be new, but may have been venting for a long time. We don't know all that yet.


Nevertheless, Guy McPherson insists the clathrate release has begun, meaning it is too late to do anything about climate change. Our fate is sealed.

I ask Guy how he arrived at the date of 2030 as the time when humans would be extinct. Guy said he had not calculated the date himself. He relied on outside sources. The only other person he pointed to making that prediction was Malcolm Light, who posts on the Arctic News blog. The exact date humans will go extinct, according to Malcolm Light, is found in this blog posting.

I've broadcast and blogged about the serious problems with accepting Malcolm Light's predictions as science. His blog posts are just that - not papers that have been published in a peer-reviewed journal. His methods are suspect, as I outlined in detail in this blog posting last year.

In this interview, Guy gave us a scenario which leads to extinction. It involves:

* a dying ocean

* extreme weather killing off plants, and with them, agriculture

* a burst of heating due to methane

* a list of 37 positive feedback loops which ratchet up the speed of warming

* emissions of radiation from the world's 400 nuclear plants, when the world's power grids fail (partly due to climate chaos)

That isn't a very good summary. You need to listen to the interview to get Guy's explanation properly.

We also touched on the difficulty of facing this end-time, and the recent suicide of the iconic figure of the collapse movement, Michael C. Ruppert. In his last months, Ruppert accepted near-term extinction as a reality, and had Guy McPherson on his Lifeboat Hour radio show. Most of Mike friends though, say he had discussed suicide many time in the past, long before discovering near-term extinction. His closest associates think Mike's own personal problems overcame him. Still, I think human extinction is not a discussion for unstable or stressed out people.

I wanted to give Guy (and Carolyn Baker) a full opportunity to explain their case, without my interrupting with objections. That's the purpose of this show. I've reserved my reservations for next week's program.

You can download or listen to Guy McPherson's interview here in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

If you are tracking the development of various streams of our future and deep climate thought, this is going to be an interview of record and importance. Its' a hard interview to hear if you love life. Don't sell your possessions or make that good-bye video just yet. Be sure and tune in next week when my guests and I try to make the case that humans won't go extinct any time soon. Think deeply about what Guy McPherson says, but don't miss next week's show.


There were a couple of points where I asked Guy to send me his sources. That happened quickly, as Guy appears to keep an exhaustive database of his sources - something he's had to do for his new book.

1. First I asked for the title and author of paper in Geophysical Letters published March 2013 showing warming has accelerated. Here it is:

Magdalena A. Balmaseda, Kevin E. Trenberth, and Erland Källén, 2013, Distinctive climate signals in reanalysis of global ocean heat content, Geophysical Research Letters 40(9):1754-1759. (viewed 5 September 2014,

2. I wanted the title, date, and link to the analysis by Sam Carana on the effects of exponential release of Arctic methane.

Sam Carana's analysis from 1 April 2013: http://methane-hydrates.blogspot... 3. What is the journal article mentioned, where the author suggests we could lose all of the ocean's phytoplankton?

Stephanie L. Hinder, Mike B. Gravenor, Martin Edwards, Clare Ostle, Owen G. Bodger, Patricia L. M. Lee, Antony W. Walne, and Graeme C. Hays, 2013, Multi-decadal range changes vs. thermal adaptation for north east Atlantic oceanic copepods in the face of climate change, Global Change Biology 20(1):140-146. (viewed 4 September 2014,

4. Guy mentioned "David" Jaczko, former NRC Chairman. He meant Gregory Jaczko. While I found news articles with Jaczko saying the Indian Point reactor should be shut down, I didn't find one where Jaczko suggests it could take 60 years to do it. Guy tells me that time estimate by Jaczko is "within this clip, shot by citizen journalist and filmmaker Pauline Schneider: "

You can follow Guy McPherson and a large debate about near-term human extinction at his blog "Nature Bats Last" ( He has a Facebook page here.

There is also a members-only Facebook page devoted to near-term extinction. Find that here.


I've been in contact with Carolyn Baker for years. We've talked in private and on the air about collapse, transition, the incredible flash-floods around Bolder Colorado where she lives, and the psychology behind our ability to deny many big changes are happening. Carolyn also sends me daily news links, from her news service. Some of the stories I've received through Carolyn led me to Radio Ecoshock interviews.

So when Carolyn Baker agrees with Guy McPherson, and co-authors a discussion about how to handle their realization that we are too far gone to hope for a way out, I have to pay attention.

Carolyn is less willing to put any date on when human extinction might occur. She's more concentrated on how people can handle this ultimate knowledge. Her solutions include offering life counselling, and leading workshops on how the hospice movement applies now in the last days of the human race. Hospice, if you don't know, is defined in Wikipedia as "a type of care and philosophy of care that focuses on the palliation of a chronically ill, terminally ill or seriously ill patient's pain and symptoms, and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs."

Human civilization is, Baker contends, terminally ill. Most of us just don't know it yet.

With that position in mind, Baker says we should start caring for one another. Her starting point, it seems to me, is to help people experience the grieving process. What are we grieving for? Everything that will be lost from a formerly bountiful planet. All the plants, the birds, the bees, the animals, the landscapes, and then finally humans, which will go extinct as our ecology spins out of control.

Once we grieve, then there is the work of living in a caring and meaningful way. Then even joy is possible, in our golden years, so to speak. Although Baker knows they will be difficult years.

Personally, I'm starting to think that Baker's process is probably worthwhile, even if we don't go as far as believing humans will become extinct. It is certain that gorgeous creatures are already going extinct, maybe daily. As things are going we are likely to lose iconic animals, like lions and elephants, but also countless species we don't even know about. We are already losing landscapes like the glaciers in Glacier National Park, and maybe soon a lot of the Amazon and Congolese rainforests, with all those species therein.

If we keep polluting at our current rate, it's also possible our descendants will be buffeted by outrageous storms, failing agriculture, rising seas, and many other things. So we may grieve in advance for them as well. Our recent guest from the Australian Psychological Society, Susie Burke, agreed that grieving is appropriate at this time. But she says "don't stop there" and turn that grief into activism. Find that S. Burke interview here.

Carolyn and I have a thoughtful conversation that might stir up a few people. You can listen to or download this interview as a separate item here, but I think it's better as part of the whole program, with Guy McPherson as well.

Carolyn Baker interview in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

Carolyn Baker is a one-woman whirl-wind. She produces a daily news service with the bleakest headlines from around the world - plus some tips for more positive living. She's the author of several books, including "Sacred Demise", "Navigating the Coming Chaos, A Handbook for Inner Transition" and "Collapsing Consciously, Transformative Truths for Turbulent Times". She's been a leader in the Transition movement. Following the untimely death of Michael C. Ruppert, Carolyn is the host of the popular Lifeboat Hour radio show, every Sunday night on PRN.

Follow Carolyn Baker at her "Speaking Truth to Power" web site here.

Her latest book with Dr. Guy McPherson is "Extinction Dialogs, How to Live with Death in Mind". You can pre-order the book at


Leaping from such a tall building as extinction, at the close of this program we land in our own backyards with environmental horticulturist Kim Eierman. She tells us how to live with nature, instead of creating the "green desert" of lawn-culture.

Sometimes big changes come one yard at a time. You know we need to move from lifeless lawn culture toward letting nature - yes messy nature - occupy our landscapes and our lives.

That's why I've called up Kim Eierman, the eco-beneficial gardener. Kim teaches at the New York and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and gives talks and workshops across America. She's an award-winning Environmental Horticulturist and Master Gardener. It was a relief to here this level-headed person cram so many useful down-to-earth tips into such a short interview.

We are going to have to call Kim back, because I sense a wealth of information in her. Meanwhile you should check out her web site.

You can download or listen to this short interview with Kim Eierman here.


I hope you can tell I respect both Guy McPherson and Carolyn Baker. But at a gut level, and in my brain, I object and disagree with their conclusions. In next week's Radio Ecoshock show, we'll take a look at the other side of this argument, - whether the impacts of climate change will move that fast, and how worth-while human lives could continue into the long future.

Find all our past programs at the web site My Facebook page is here, and I tweet out a notice about each new show - follow @ecoshock A growing number of people access the show from this Soundcloud page.

Listener donations make this show possible. If you feel like giving, and can afford it (don't go into debt for me!) - please click on the donate button on this page, or go to our donor information page at our web site, which has more options, including my address. My thanks to everyone who contributed over the past couple of weeks. You don't know it, but you helped launch yet another season of Radio Ecoshock.

Meanwhile, I have two pots of home-grown tomatoes stewing on the stove, and a big box of ripe pears waiting in the basement. I have to can them tonight, or they will go bad by morning.

The first frost is threatening to strike here, and I have about 20 tomato plants with lots more green fruit still waiting to ripen. I guess I'll be out there by tonight's bright moon, hanging old sheets over my plants. It's busy, busy time around the harvest.

As one of next week's guests would say: "stay well".


offsite link The High Arctic and Eco-Anxiety Céad MFómh 03, 2014 01:43 | (Alex Smith)
SUMMARY: Disturbing climate news from high Arctic with Paul Beckwith. Handling eco-anxiety with Susie Burke of Australian Psychological Society. Radio Ecoshock 140903 kicks off new fall season.

A hearty welcome back to another season of Radio Ecoshock. I'm your tour-guide, Alex Smith.

In this program you'll get a review of some of the disturbing climate news in the high Arctic, trends which pretty well guarantees a hotter and less stable climate for all of us. The knowledgeable climate scientist Paul Beckwith is our guide. He's just back from the glaciers of Alaska.

If you've been experiencing a growing anxiety about our future climate, you'll appreciate an interview crammed with helpful tips from a senior psychologist in Australia. Our guest will be Susie Burke from the Australian Psychology Society. She specializes in mental prepping for disasters, and ways to cope with eco-anxiety.

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

You can also listen to this show right now on Soundcloud.

HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER...(remember those back to school essays?)

On a personal note, I've been back in nature, tubing down the river, soaking in the heat in a remarkably dry summer in British Columbia Canada.

I've also been following my own advice to get local food, and save money by capturing crops during the harvest, with a garden at home and another in the local community garden. In the community-owned canning kitchen, we canned dozens of bottles of plums and peaches, dried more dozens of pounds of cherries, and apricots, while cooking up tomato sauce and freezing our own beans for the winter.

As you know I've been learning to create home-grown music for Radio Ecoshock. This summer I had an opportunity to write pieces for a film score. The Pakistan-produced psychological thriller "Hotal" from Outfield Productions will premier in the New Delhi International Film Festival this coming December. There will be a music credit to Alex Smith, and no doubt I'll squeeze in a few samples for that. You can read a review about this film's big ambitions here. And here is a Vimeo trailer for the new film.

While stretching my music to the sitar, sarod, and tabla, I've also been thinking about the need to expand Radio Ecoshock to cover even more voices and issues from India, which is poised to become the world's most populous country in the coming decades. India's entry to the industrial revolution is powered almost entirely by coal.

At the end of the show, you'll hear a short interview I did over the summer, a kind of introduction for new listeners, with some news about a major mining disaster in Canada.

Plus - many thanks to those whose continuing donations helped pay the bills during the summer! We got a surprising number of downloads of recent and past programs as more people become aware of the program and the issues we cover.

I also appreciate those who ReTweet notice of the new Radio Ecoshock season, including @johnlundin @bluesuezoo @Pcamachobotero @PltBRos @TheEarthNetwork @JTToronto @philrandal @nicorajohns @ecodissident @ArcticBoundCom and more. The program doesn't have a publicity department - so I count on listeners to get the word out by social media. Get news of new programs from my own Twitter feed @ecoshock - and please forward those Tweets to your own lists of friends and followers!

If you'd like to Tweet about this program, here is a handy short URL for it, to save those precious characters:


Before we get started, here are the two super sources Paul Beckwith recommends at the end of our interview. Both are loaded with real-time or very recent maps and charts showing climate change in action:

Be sure and check them out!


So much climate change is taking place in the Arctic, and those giant events could soon sweep the world into a hotter age. There are a few good blogs, like Arctic News and Robert Scribbler, but really we need a full-time Arctic TV news station. Until that comes, let's get some of this summer's top climate stories in the north, from Paul Beckwith. He's the University of Ottawa climate undergrad, with two Masters degrees already to his credit. As it happens, Paul has just returned from a visit to Alaska.

Here are some of the big stories out of the Arctic we talk about. One that got a lot of eyeballs was that crater that blew up in Siberia. Apparently it was caused by a methane explosion - another sign that the melting tundra is removing the frozen cap from methane created millions of years ago. It's not a climate-changer in itself, but the start of something unpleasantly big.

We think the largest and worst amount of methane is similarly sequestered under the shallow Arctic sea of East Siberia. A multi-country research ship went up there this July, and found many methane vents bubbling up to the surface. The Arctic News blog is reporting methane from the ocean went up even further, after that research vessel left. I've also been reading some reports about much warmer ocean temperatures in the Arctic, another reason sea-bed methane could be released.

The well-known ice scientist Jason Box used the F-word in a Tweet, to describe our situation if Arctic methane gets released in quantity. Scientists are really worried about this, while the public has barely heard about it.

There have been heat waves again in the Arctic this year of 2014. Planetary warming may only be around 1 degree on average, but around the North Pole it's up to 8 degrees above normal. That reduces the amount of thermal tension between the Pole and the tropics, which many scientists think has slowed the Jet Stream. Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University has led research into this theory, with new support from a scientific paper released this summer by the Potsdam Institute.

A Jet Stream with less power tends to meander and stall, like a river in a big delta. The weather experienced in the Northern Hemisphere is greatly influenced by that. Jet Stream bends and weather blockage resulted in a generally cooler, wetter summer in the Eastern part of North America, with a hot dry summer in the West. That means soggy floods in the Mid-West and New England, and forest fires and drought from California north.

We had a week or two of forest fire smoke where I live in British Columbia, and a listener from Montana says it was even worse there. I know Washington State experienced its largest wildfire EVER this summer. Perhaps you've seen coverage of the continuing fires in California. Everybody has been warned food prices will go up, due to the drought there. Photos comparing reservoir levels in Northern California to past years are shocking.

There were huge fires in the Arctic this year, including some fires reported burning in the Tundra, where there are not even any trees. Smoke from those fires went around the world, but the soot particles falling on ice, especially in Greenland are a big concern. The darker surface helps the ice melt faster. Some scientists estimate up to half of the rapid ice melt of glaciers in Greenland are due to soot from industry and forest fires make the snow darker.

Arctic fires are fast becoming a positive feedback loop for global warming. More fires lead to a faster snow melt, extending the fire season, leading to more fires. The darker snow and ice lowers reflection of the Sun's energy into space (the planetary "albedo") leading to more heating, leading to more fires. I'd love to see the science that quantifies this feedback effect, now that runaway Arctic fires are common every year, from Alaska through Canada, and especially in Siberia.

Meanwhile in Canada, home of the Tar Sands, our Prime Minister Harper is giving photo-ops on board a military ship searching for the Franklin Expedition, lost in the 1800's. If the explorers had set out today, they probably would never have been trapped in the ice. They might have sailed right through the newly melted Northwest Passage! Prime Minister Harper doesn't see the irony of pushing more oil drilling in the Arctic, now that fossil fuels have melted the sea ice. Maybe he should spend that money re-hiring the climate scientists he's fired...

As always, Paul Beckwith has lots of stories and insight into developing climate change, especially in the Arctic.

You can listen to/download his 24 minute interview here in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

If you want to pass on a link to Paul's interview in social media, here is a tiny URL to save precious space in a Twitter or Facebook post:

Keep track of Paul's many blog postings, videos and You tube videos on his Facebook page here.


Has knowing about climate change hurt your mental health?

Susie Burke is with the Australian Pyschological Society. She's made a specialty of studying the impacts of climate change on mental health. Susie has a lot of useful tips for keeping our own sanity, despite knowing the serious troubles we face in the future.

SUSIE BURKE, Australian Psychological Society

I first found Susie in an article titled "A Climate of Despair" in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. It begins with an environmental scientist with a developing depression about the future. I would think climate scientists are on the front lines, possibly encountering a kind of "pre-traumatic stress disorder." Are psychologists finding more people having difficulty imagining a positive future?

Think about leading climate scientists like Kevin Anderson in the UK, or the German expert John Schellnhuber, who spoke at the "Four Degrees or More" conference in Australia in 2011. I wonder how can they can cope knowing the extreme threats we face? Kevin Anderson has talked about this, and he finds it difficult. Former NASA lead scientist James Hansen is so concerned for the future of his grandchildren, he was forced to become an activist, including an arrest to oppose mountain-top removal coal mining.

What should we call a fear and sadness about wrecking the future for our descendants? Some call it "eco-anxiety". The Australian environmental Philosopher (at the University of Newcastle) Glenn A. Albrecht invented a new word for this condition: "solastalgia"

Here is his official explanation for the term:

"Solastalgia is the pain or sickness caused by the loss or lack of solace and the sense of desolation connected to the present state of one?s home and territory. It is the 'lived experience' of negative environmental change. It is the homesickness you have when you are still at home. It is that feeling you have when your sense of place is under attack. While I claim responsibility for creating the concept of solastalgia and its meaning, I am aware that that the existential experience underlying it is not new ... only that it is newly defined in English (but possibly represented in many other languages). The experience of solastalgia might well be ancient and ubiquitous and under the impact of relentless environmental change, ecosystem distress and climate chaos, it may well become much more common. It is my sincere hope that the negative experience of solastalgia can be overcome by the restoration of ecosystem and human health via every form of creative enterprise at our disposal."

Our radio guest Susie Burke recently gave a presentation at the Climate Reality Project hosted in Australia by former US vice-president Al Gore.

If someone comes to a psychologist or psychiatrist saying climate change is going to wipe out our future, and they are really down about that, would they likely be diagnosed with a mental problem and a drug prescription? Susie doesn't think so. It's more likely a person would get counselling to help them handle their feeling "down" and then get pointed into activism to get going again.

That seems to be the three point method:

1. Allow yourself to experience your real emotions, which may be painful once you admit them. These may include fear, a sense of mourning for what we have lost in nature, or even grief. More about that next week.

2. Find others who feel the same, and share what you are feeling.

3. Then turn outward into activism, in whatever way you can find, preferably with others.

In Australia, the Psychological Society has already had to deal with climate-related disaster victims. There have been extreme fires, including the deadly Black Saturday bush fires where 173 people died. The Murray-Darling River Basin experienced such a horrible long-term drought that many farmers killed themselves, as other Australian farmers have done due to drought. Australians also endured some of the freakiest of freaky flash floods.

You don't have to live in Australia, or wherever climate-driven disasters strike, to feel the pain. I talk to Suzie about "vicarious" climate anxiety. We'll all be feeling that watching TV news as this decade unfolds.

The Psychological Society prepared a pre-disaster planning guide. The main point is that we can think through what may happen, which helps us keep our cool during the actual event. Otherwise people tend to panic, and make bad decisions that endangers lives.

You can find their disaster guide on the Society web site, here.

Here is a link to their .pdf booklet on Psychological First Aid, An Australian guide ot supporting people affected by disaster.

This is where you can find the Psychological Society tips sheets on being mentally prepared - metnal "preppers"!

Next week, I'll talk with American psychologist Carolyn Baker. She's been counselling people to experience the grief of climate loss now. I ask Susie Burke about that - and find she endorses that idea, so long as people don't stop with climate grieving, but go on to climate action.

We also discuss the sad state of Australian climate denial, where the current government is disbanding previous efforts to combat climate change, including study institutes and the carbon tax. Burke reports that surveys show most Australians know climate change is real, and think something should be done about it.

You can download or listen to this interview with Susie Burke here in CD Quality or Lo-Fi. I think it's going to become one of my favorites.

Is it possible the whole world might enter not an economic depression, but an unexpected viral mental depression, as we see the climate deteriorate, with things like repeated extreme weather, countless storm incursions on coastal cities, and so on? I wonder how often people can rebuild their homes and their lives without becoming angry about life, or their leaders.


During the year you will hear little about me, and lots from the scientists, authors and experts that define Radio Ecoshock. In this 2014 kick-off show, I added one short piece with a bit about myself as host, and the vision behind this program.

This is part of an interview I did for the EcoCentric show for community radio in Nelson British Columbia. It followed the Mount Polley mine disaster in that Canadian Province. On August 4th, a giant tailings pond burst, wiping out wide swaths as it raced toward pristine Quesnel Lake. It's one of those mega-mining disasters that keep happening all around the world, in our quest for cheap metals and big profits. Here is that chat during August, hosted by Bruce Edson of Kootenay Co-op Radio. The program is called "EcoCentric".

As always, we've ran out of time, almost before we began. There is lots more to come in the coming year of new Radio Ecoshock shows.


Next week we'll ask the big question: can humans survive the big climate shift we are creating? Dr. Guy McPherson says "no". His co-author in the coming book "Extinction Dialogs", Carolyn Baker, tells us how to keep on living, despite knowing the worst is yet to come.

Then I'll be finding more answers for you, as we try hard to avoid wrecking the world we were born in. Expect strong voices and tough choices, right here on Radio Ecoshock.

I'm Alex Smith. Thank you so much for listening.

offsite link Alex returns from vacation with a whole new season starting September 3. Céad Lún 27, 2014 16:03 | (Alex Smith)
Alex returns from vacation with a whole new season starting September 3.

offsite link I Have A Confession to Make (Replay) Déar Lún 07, 2014 22:41 | (Alex Smith)
This week is another "best of Radio Ecoshock" replay, while Alex is on vacation.

The show "I Have A Confession to Make" was first broadcast on October 16, 2013. Find the blog for that program here.

offsite link Desperately Seeking Solutions Céad Iúil 30, 2014 19:04 | (Alex Smith)
This is a Radio Ecoshock replay, from October 30th, 2013. I've picked some of my best shows, so if you haven't heard it, check it out please.

SUMMARY: A medley of ways. From New Zealand, green alternative economy with Laurence Boomert. Dr. Sharon Gourdji, U of Fla. on crops & climate. Josh Fox (Gasland) riff on fracking. Pacific growing expert Lorene Edwards Forkner.

QUICK WRAP: Laurence Boomert green business and politics in New Zealand. After founding a biz network, he now runs the Bank of Solutions. Terrific ideas for all of us.

Dr. Sharon Gourdji, Stanford University, researches the impacts of climate heating on crops - especially during the critical period when they flower. We talk the case study of her recent trips to Nicaragua.

At Powershift 2013, the Director of the movie "Gasland" wowed the crowd with his anti-fracking speech/rant. France banned it, the Netherlands is next, and fracking protests explode in the U.S. & Canada. Australia and UK take note!

Lorene Edwards Forkner is editor of Pacific Horticulture Magazine, and a home-grower extraordinaire. Tips for grow-it-yourself and local production. This interview was recorded in June 2013 at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup Washington.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock Show 131030 in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Or you can listen to it right now (or download) here on Soundcloud.


Almost every week Radio Ecoshock details our head-long flight into a complex series of environmental, economic, and social disasters. But where are the solutions?

There are many answers out there. What we need is a collection place to gather the things we need to know. Enter Laurence Boomert and the "Bank of Real Solutions".

Boomert is a long-time New Zealand activist who founded the successful Environmental Business Network in the 1990's. Along with a group called "Living Economies", Laurence co-published and wrote for the book "Fleeing Vesuvius: Responding to the effects of economic and environmental collapse?.

Laurence Boomert is currently on a tour of North America with our previous guest Nicole Foss.

Download/listen to this 18 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Laurence Boomert in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Most of the doomers I track, picture New Zealand as the place to run, after Fukushima or the economy blows up. At least New Zealand could feed itself. Is it all a green garden party there down-under?

Laurence says New Zealand has a lot going for it, but the current political climate is anti-green. In fact the Prime Minister formerly worked for a big investment house, Merrill Lynch. Previous green legislation is being dismantled, just like in Australia.

We talk about the political party Laurence co-founded, (the New Economics Party) - but more about his web site The Bank of Real Solutions. Currently it is a collection of things that really work to change the world in New Zealand. Take a look, you will get some great ideas for your own area.

Laurence is just now taking it global, working on founding The World Bank of Real Solutions. Watch for that.

Laurence Boomert, in You tube videos and writing, says cities could be sustainable. Looking at cities designed entirely around automobiles and fossil fuels, I'm not so sure. Can mega-cities really transition?

We also talk about collapse. It can happen quickly, Boomert says. Just look at Argentina in 2001. Or Ireland trying to recover right now.

In the United States, we are seeing shadows of collapse already. Detroit went bankrupt. The federal government shut down. Food stamps stopped working for a few hours, leading to mini-riots. Is there still time to organize and launch local economies? Boomert says yes, if we can get going now.

He offers some terrific examples from New Zealand, like community currency, and time banking that even helps the needy. Ten percent of his own small community operates on local currency.

Boomert suggests you visit this web site from South Africa for a look at more solutions being tried around the world: The full name is Community Exchange.

Laurence also has an ebook - a $3 manual on local currency "Get A Handle on Hands." More info about that here. Or buy it here.

This interview is full of useful tips. Like this organization "Living Economies".

Oh, by the way, Laurence also adapted an Irish idea, helping to organize and publish the solutions book called ?Fleeing Vesuvius: Responding to the effects of economic and environmental collapse.? That book is hard to find at the moment. Look here.

In this You tube video, Boomert says the financial system is "horrifically ruined" and fragile. He claims we have a corrupt parasytical system build on fraud. Then he outlines how you and I can bypass that system to create our own.

Part 2 of that You tube video is here.

Contact Laurence Boomert by email:


Since gaining her PHD in Environmental Engineering, and moving to Stanford University, Sharon Gourdji has specialized in the impacts of climate change and food production around the world.

Her latest co-authored paper was published in Environmental Research letters in June 2013. It's title tells us something important for everyone who eats: "Global crop exposure to critical high temperatures in the reproductive period: historical trends and future projections."

Here is the official citation: Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 8 no. 2, page(s) doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2 June 14, 2013

Your can read the abstract, and the full paper online here.

Download or listen to this interview with Sharon Gourdji in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

I was introduced to this subject by an unlikely source. A hippie You-tuber from Texas complained his garden flowered but set no fruit - because night-time temperatures stayed too high at a critical time. So it's not just that it's hotter, but WHEN it's hotter that counts for agriculture - and gardens.

That full video from "humptydumptytribe" is worth a watch.

But in this show we head for the real science. Sharon Gourdji has just finished a year-long Fulbright Nexus program focused on climate change and adaptation strategies in the Western Hemisphere.

I'm going to quote a communication from Sharon here to explain some of her other work:

"Prior to the extreme heat study, I published a paper looking at gains in breeding wheat for heat-tolerance by the world's preeminent wheat breeding organization CIMMYT (or International Center for the Improvement of Maize and Wheat in Spanish, based in Mexico, primarily responsible for developing the germplasm behind the Green Revolution in Latin America and Asia). The results were that most of the gains in breeding wheat for high yield potential have come in optimal environments with high radiation, cool temperatures and irrigation."

On a down-to-earth level, Sharon has just returned from Nicaragua, where she visited farming regions to determine how climate has affected the bean crop.

Apparently the red beans so loved by Nicaraguans are stressed by excess heat and the yields are declining. Black beans do better in the new growing conditions, but Nicaraguan farmers grow them mainly for export at this time. Folks in Columbia, where Gourdji also did research, like the black beans as a staple.

Complicating all this: Nicaragua has lost at least one third of it's forest cover since 1980. This changes microclimates, rainfall, and soil erosion. Deforestation and climate change can play off against one another.

Lester Brown from the Earth-Policy Institute has stressed some major crops, including rice, are already near their temperature limits. I've covered that on Radio Ecoshock. We discuss these important limits with Sharon.

It's hard to imagine a more important subject for scientific study! How will we feed the world's increasing population if climate change harms the growing cycle at critical times? Gourdji is fairly optimistic. She says farmers have always had to adapt to changes in weather - and there are international organizations working to breed plants better able to produce - even without Genetic Modification (GMO's).

Here is Sharon's professional page.


In previous Radio Ecoshock shows we've had young people testifying about their drive to save the climate and find eco-justice - partly through the Powershift 2013 program in Pittsburg in October.

This week I run an 8 minute riff from Josh Fox, the Director of the anti-fracking expose "Gasland".

You can see the Powershift video here. (It will take a couple of minutes to load to the Josh Fox clip I've selected. Hang in, it's worth it).

France has banned fracking. The Netherlands is about to. People all over the world question why we need to blow up the underground, poisoning it with super toxic chemicals, just to get more dangerous fossil fuels.

Josh's follow-up to Gasland is now playing on HBO.


When I was at the Mother Earth News Fair last June, I had the pleasure of talking with Lorene Forkner.

Her blog is called "Planted at Home".

Lorene is the editor of Pacific Horiculture Magazine, and author of several books. Her latest is "Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting & More".

She's the co-author of 3 previous titles published by Sasquatch Books including: "Growing Your Own Vegetables: An Encyclopedia of Country Living Guide" and "Canning and Preserving Your Own Harvest: An Encyclopedia of Country Living Guide".

With all that going for her, you can bet we have a great conversation about growing food - from California right up to Washington State. People around the world can learn from Lorene Forkner. I did.

Download or listen to this interview with Lorene Edwards Forkner in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


That was a packed show. I hope you pass it around.

I'm Alex Smith. Help support Radio Ecoshock and get free downloads at the web site

Welcome to all our new listeners, and thank you for listening - and caring about your world.

The Radio Ecoshock Show >>

The Gary Null Show


The Gary Null Show

Gary takes on the real issues that the mainstream media is afraid to tackle. Tune in to find out the latest about health news, healing, politics, and the economy.

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offsite link The Gary Null Show - 09/16/14 Máirt MFómh 16, 2014 18:53 | progressiveradionetwork
Today, Gary provides fresh information about American exceptionalism and wars. Also, environmental information including warnings for many California residents. 
Then, a special commentary about Ralph Nader?s public service and platform, and what political, environmental, and social consequences might have been of the popular vote.

offsite link Gary Null Show - 09/15/14 Luan MFómh 15, 2014 21:05 | progressiveradionetwork
As always, gary starts with the latest in health and healing. Then, more empowering news and commentary covering the environment, and social and political issues - including an impassioned discussion of Islam. And more!

offsite link The Gary Null Show - 09/12/14 Aoine MFómh 12, 2014 22:38 | progressiveradionetwork
Today, the latest in health and healing, including how to rejuvenate the aging immune system, and pears to prevent disease. 

Also, commentary on the nature of Islam, and Judaism in Israel, by Rabbi Michael Lerner. 

And more!

offsite link The Gary Null Show - 09/11/14 Aoine MFómh 12, 2014 18:12 | progressiveradionetwork
Join Gary for the freshest health and healing information to empower your life, environmental updates, and social and political commentary.

offsite link The Gary Null Show - 09/09/14 Máirt MFómh 09, 2014 21:46 | progressiveradionetwork
Today Gary will deliver you the freshest new information on health and healing, and how the choices we make can help us live happier longer lives. Plus, a whole lot of commentary and the latest in environmental news and updates. Listen in!

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