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IS OUR FUTURE POSSIBLE? Déar Feabh 11, 2016 00:08 | email@example.com (Alex Smith)
Dr. Nate Hagens
I first learned about Nate from speeches made at Peak Oil conferences. We talk about that a bit. But the bigger problem here is the big problem - the nexis of threatening developments that seem too large to grasp. We have guests that see everything in terms of energy. Others focus only on the environment. I've talked with a few eco-psychologists. Nate is one of the few who attempt to wrap them all up together.
The course begins with the real overview: the first photos of Earth from space. Then it gets into "Systems theory and complexity" with a combination of You tube videos and Nate's own unreleased writing.
A QUESTION OF EXTINCTION
There is a course section on geologic time, and paleclimatology. Dr. Peter Ward, a several-time guest on Radio Ecoshock, is twice featured in the syllabus. I've got Peter lined up for a return trip to Radio Ecoshock soon. He's one of the few scientist to crystalize a working theory of how mass extinctions in the past really worked. They all developed through climate change, except for the great asteroid strike in the Gulf of Mexico about 65 million years ago. And even there, the dying animals (including dinosaurs) and plants may have already been weakened by a planetary warming that began a few million years before the asteroid hit.
You can watch a video interview I did with Dr. Peter Ward on this page. Here are the two key interviews with Peter Ward on Radio Ecoshock, as audio files: "Under a Green Sky" (2008) and "The Medea Hypothesis" (25 minutes)(2009). This are still very valid and powerful today.
In the course "Reality 101" there is a segment on mass extinction. I ask Nate Hagens where he stands on the idea of human extinction, either this century, as suggested by Dr. Guy McPherson, or in the near-coming centuries? If I can summarize Nate's reply, it would be that humans are very ingenious and adaptable. He doesn't think there is any basis for worrying about a near-term extinction, certainly not in this century. But please listen to the interview to get it in Nate's own words.
COPING WITH A STONE AGE MIND
I watched a "Reality 101" course video about evolutionary psychology. It is a You tube interview with John Tooby and Leda Cosmides on "Stone Age Minds". Contrary to some tenets of psychology, they say the human mind arrives not as a blank slate, but with structures designed to cope with problems of a hunter-gatherer society. Tooby and Cosmides talk about mismatches between our ancient mental capabilities and the newly-minted modern world. That could explain a lot. Find that video here on You tube, courtesy of Reason.tv
Nate also offers his students an unpublished (yet) article "The Psychological Roots of Resource Overconsumption". You won't find that anywhere online, but it may appear in Nate's upcoming book "Bottleneck".
Then we have to consider how many of our problems dealing with the world are based on sexuality and addiction.
A PROSPEROUS WAY DOWN?
On Resilience.org I found another text required in the course. It's called "A Prosperous Way Down" by Howard and Elisabeth Odum. Actually, that article is a short-form introduction to their book of the same name. Is there a prosperous way down, and why should we accept going "down" at all? Nate explains why we either throttle back consumer society by choice and plan - or we collapse into a very nasty chaos.
The students wrap up the "Reality 101" course with a group discussion "What to do as individuals". That's a big one. As Nate wrote in an email to me: "What does a rational, non-sociopathic human facing the multiple bottlenecks of the 21st century DO?" Talk among yourselves.
There seem to be only two doors: (1) we keep on going and trust the next generation will figure things out, or (2) we are so completely doomed we might as well enjoy the end of days. Some of us hope there is a third door, but is there really?
This interview is kind of a warm up, for a longer interview I hope to do with Nate Hagens, when he and his co-author bring out their new book "Bottleneck" later this year.
Download or listen to this 30 minute interview with Nate Hagens in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
Nate has a Masters Degree in Finance from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He left Wall Street money to become an alternative social critic. His personal web site is called "The Monkey Trap" (which is seldom updated).
Here is a cool Nate Hagens You tube talk, given for the Worldwatch Institute. I also like "The Converging Economic and Environmental Crisis" July 2014 found here.
DR. ALEXANDER "SANDY" MACDONALD AND DR. CHRISTOPHER CLACK
Scientists say wind and solar CAN power America
Wouldn't it be great if most of the electricity generated in America came from wind and solar, instead of climate-wrecking fossil fuels? Of course it can't be done, except it can. Who says so? Hippies from California? Not quite.
It's all in a new paper by a former senior scientist at NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a physicist/math whiz from CIRES, The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, at the University of Colorado Boulder. Our guest are Dr. Alexander MacDonald, known as "Sandy", the recently retired director of NOAA?s Earth System Research Lab, and Dr. Christopher Clack from CIRES - all in Boulder Colorado.
Dr.Alexander MacDonald and Dr. Chris Clack
We talk about a new article titled "Future cost-competitive electricity systems and their impact on US CO2 emissions" published online in the journal "Nature" on January 25th, 2016.
Maybe the best way to begin is to give you the links sent to me by the Public Affairs Officer at NOAA Communications. My thanks to Theo Stein for getting me up to speed on this breaking paper.
The NOAA/CIRES press release is here.
"At the bottom of the CIRES release are animations of solar potential, wind potential and a power flow animation showing how a system dominated by renewables and supported by a HVDC grid might dispatch power around the country to meet demand."
The FAQ is here.
CIRES also put together this brief video explainer.
THE BIG NEWS ABOUT ALTERNATIVE ENERGY IN AMERICA (and everywhere else)
So what is the big news?
(1) The United States could power at least 80% of it's energy needs, maybe more with just solar energy and wind power. That's amazing and encouraging but there's more.
(2) Electricity from this system would not cost any more than it does today.
(3) Nuclear plants could be shut down. All coal-fired power could be closed. Only a few gas generators to pick up occasional slack would be needed.
(4) massive power storage would NOT be needed. That's a huge break-through.
(5) no new technology is required. We have the tools and we know how.
This system would require the construction of nation-spanning DC High Voltage lines. Current AC transmission lines are incredibly wasteful, losing up to half of all power created. And because AC cannot transmit power efficiently, (a) you have to build nuclear plants dangerously close to cities and (b) AC line cannot bring wind power from the central plains to New England (for example).
High Voltage DC lines already exist. There is one in Alberta Canada, and one running from Oregon to California. It's not unknown or untested tech. We can do it.
The real breakthrough comes from studying weather, in great detail, on a very big scale (across the United States). NOAA and CIRES has all the weather data to do it. They did and this paper is the result. So if you study alternative energy just within one state, it won't work to replace what we have. But if you look at national resources, and have a way to transmit them, it's all possible.
Of course the sun only shines during the day. But it turns out that the wind is strong enough at night to keep things going (when demand is lower anyway). We don't need storage, these two scientists say.
Just check out their press release, the short video, and their great maps and you'll see the future of energy.
Download or listen to this 24 minute interview with Alexander MacDonald and Chris Clack in CD Quality or Lo-Fi. Please pass these links on to your friends and on social media.
GET THE WORD OUT!
Don't forget you can find all our past interviews with scientists, authors, experts and activists on our web site, at ecoshock.org. Those are free for download or listening, anywhere in the world.
This program is also available by podcast. Currently my Itunes podcast is down - because this blog is too long, with too many links, for Itunes to digest. I'm working on a solution. In the meanwhile, you can get this podcast through podbean. Here is the link for that:
If you find this program useful, please tell your friends. I also welcome your financial support, if you are able. Find a link to donate on this blog, or other options here on my web site.
I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for listening, and caring about your world.
Climate: Misunderstood Impacts Déar Feabh 04, 2016 01:01 | firstname.lastname@example.org (Alex Smith)
Dr. Andrew J. Pitman
Pitman is co-author of a new piece in the journal Nature, titled "Allowable CO2 emissions based on regional and impact-related climate targets". The lead author is Professor Sonia Seneviratne from the Swiss Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science.
You can read an article/press release from the University of New South Wales, explaining this paper, here.
The title of the press release says a lot: "How a 2°C rise means even higher temperatures where we live. Land based temperatures rise much faster than global average temperatures".
I think one startling result in this paper is the timing of climate impacts. We are used to reports talking about things happening by 2100, after we are dead. Now science has shortened that fuse. Serious impacts are less than 15 years away, or, as Pitman points out, they are already happening.
Let's face it, the Arctic has already warmed well beyond the two degree C danger mark. We had reports that parts of Siberia were warmer in the last week of January than Taiwan, which is right on the edge of the tropics. North-Central Siberia reported temperatures 20 degrees Celsius above normal for this time of year. That's 36 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than it should be!
According to lead author Prof Seneviratne:
"At 1.5°C we would still see temperature extremes in the Arctic rise by 4.4°C and a 2.2°C warming of extremes around the Mediterranean basin."
In our interview, Andy Pitman says two important things about the two degree C "safe" level of warming.
First of all, two degrees C warming is demonstrably not "safe". We are already experiencing extreme weather events, ocean acidification, coral die-off and much more. Pitman says the two degrees was accepted not because it was scientific, but because it was thought to be possible.
Secondly, the whole concept of a two degree global mean temperature as a goal is almost meaningless. We do not live in "average" climates. Their study found several parts of the world that will warm by two degrees (or more) as early as 2030. We're talking about the Mediterranean for example. That region will dry out and heat even more. You think you've seen mass migration now? It's only going to become worse, as more agriculture fails in North Africa, the Middle East, and places like Greece, Italy, and Spain.
Here is more from that University of New South Wales press release (and pay attention to the methane warning!)
"The extreme regional warming projected for Alaska, Canada, Northern Europe, Russia and Greenland could have global impacts, accelerating the pace of sea-level rise and increasing the likelihood of methane releases prompted by the melting of ice and permafrost regions.
'The temperature difference between global average temperatures and regional temperature extremes over land not only has direct climate impacts, it also means we may have to reconsider the amount of carbon dioxide we can emit,' said co-author and Director of ARCCSS Prof Andy Pitman.
'For instance, to keep extreme temperature changes over the Mediterranean below a 2°C threshold, the cumulative emissions of CO2 would have to be restricted to 600 gigatonnes rather than the 850 gigatonnes currently estimated to keep global average temperatures increase below 2°C.'
According to the researchers, if global average temperatures warm by 2°C compared to preindustrial times this would equate to a 3°C warming of hot extremes in the Mediterranean region and between 5.5 -- 8°C warming for cold extremes over land around the Arctic. Most land-masses around the world will see an extreme temperature rise greater than 2°C."
From our Radio Ecoshock interview, Andy Pitman says:
"Two degrees isn't safe because a two degree warming is expressed over the land surface by warming of much more than two degrees. And it's not expressed as a regional average warming of two degrees. It's expressed for instance by earlier spring heat waves. Or the ability of a landscape to continue growing through winter because the winter is several degrees warmer than it used to be.
Or it's expressed by summer heat waves lasting longer. And as your listeners would know, if you have a heat wave that traditionally lasts three days, and it starts to last five days, the impacts that that has on ecosystems but also primarly on human health can be way out of proportion to only an extra day or two."
What Pitman doesn't say, but I know from previous interviews with scientists and doctors, is that extra day or two of extreme heat is when people can begin to die off in great numbers. It happened in Russia in 2010, in France during the great heat of 2003, where tens of thousands died, and now arrives too often in Australia during extended heat waves. We've been told that heat is now a greater killer in Australia than car accidents.
Talking about Canada (where some residents think they'd like to warm up a few degrees!) Pitman warns:
"If you manage to warm a region of Eastern or Western Canada by three degrees on the annual average, but all that warming happens in July, the amount it warms in July is vastly more than three degrees. You start to get serious heat wave conditions...."
It sounds attractive to have an average annual warming, but the actual impacts may be increased deaths, wrecked eco-systems, more forest fires, or perhaps a whole year's wheat crop wiped out (again, the wheat crop in Russia was devastated).
SCIENTISTS ARE MISTAKEN TO BE SO CONSERVATIVE ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
Andy Pitman on Radio Ecoshock:
"We have probably erred as a science community in being a little conservative in how fast climate can change. And we have also had our eye on the averages more so than the extremes.
Now that's a general statement. There have been some outstanding groups in North America and in Europe that have focussed on extremes. But in general the climate community has been really interested in how much will the global average warm.
I think what our paper says is: it doesn't matter, really, what the global average warms. It matters critically how climate warms spacially, by country, and how that warming is translated into days of heat or cold or days of extreme rainfall - because those are the things that can break a drainage system, break a health system, damage an ecosystem.
Most of what our paper is about is that we have been too generous on the scale of emissions that should be permitted, but if I was going to take the science further, I would encourage the research communities to be targeting the nature and statistics of extreme events into the future, over how much the planet as a whole will warm."
There's lots more in the interview. For me, this backs up people like Ottawa scientist Paul Beckwith, who is studying abrupt climate change, and extreme changes, rather than statistical averages.
Download, listen to, or share this 22 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Dr. Andrew Pitman in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.
JOHAN ROCKSTROM: BIG WORLD, SMALL PLANET
There are limits to what humanity can do on this planet and still survive. Johan Rockstrom led a team that mapped out those Planetary Boundaries. Rockstrom is the Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. He teaches at Stockholm University, and holds many roles in the scientific community. We talk about his latest book, written wtih Mattias Klum, "Big World, Small Planet" - and many other questions we all have about climate change.
Dr. Johan Rockstrom
Here is one for example: At a TED talk, Rockstrom told an audience that climate change may actually not be our greatest challenge! I asked what he meant by that.
His answer makes sense. There are multiple crisis happening on Earth at this time. One very serious and long-lasting change is in the climate. But we are also going through a mass extinction event (assuming we make it through). We can do something about greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, Rockstrom tells us, but once a species goes extinct, it's gone. And all the species that might have interacted with it are also endangered. You can decide to drive an electric car, or travel less, or support carbon capture research - but you can't take any action to bring back species from extinction, or really restore wrecked ecosystems.
I take issue with Rockstrom, when he wrote: "we can trigger a new wave of sustainable technological inventions" to solve our ecological crisis. On Radio Ecoshock, I just talked with another well-known Swede, Alf Hornborg. Alf says there is no technological solution to the problems of technology. We need social and ideological change instead.
Or course Rockstrom is aware of Hornborg's work, and doesn't suggest that a technical fix is all we need. A change in human civilization will also be required. But in general, in this interview and in their new book, Johan Rockstrom takes the positive outlook. He sees grave dangers, but apparently believes humans are smart enough to solve the crisis we create. I'm not so sure, but you decide, after listening to this interview.
Johan explains what is meant by "the Fourth Industrial Revolution" - and his involvement in a project called "Future Earth".
Along the way, of course, you will learn more about our situation. Rockstrom is acknowledged as one of the world's top scientists. His leadership in the concept of Planetary Boundaries is absolutely important for us all. Don't under-estimate him.
Download, listen to, or share this 23 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Dr. Johan Rockstrom in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.
CO-OP POWER: LYNN BENANDER
What is the answer to giant power companies with equally giant greenhouse gas emissions? Citizens doing it for themselves. One of the best examples is Co-op Power in New England. We'll find out what it is, and how this could work in your community, from Lynn Benander. She's the CEO of Co-op Power and Northeast Biodiesel.
My first reaction was to picture a group of middle-class white folks getting together to bypass the system and save money. But as Lynn tell us, this came up at the very first organizing meeting. Some people rent, and still want green power. That's why community-owned power can make more sense than just well-off people installing solar on their rooftops.
Biodiesel got a terrible name as a false climate solution, when industrialized agriculture switched off growing food to make heavily subsidized gas substitutes. How is Northeast Biodiesel different from that? The company is opening a new plant this month, designed to produce over a million gallons of diesel fuel a year. The source stock is waste cooking oil! This doesn't displace agricultural food crops. The carbon load is already in producing the cooking oil, so burning what would otherwise be waste makes green sense. As Benander points out, for now, we still run our trucks, tractors and buses on diesel fuel. Until we can do better, green diesel, produced in the community, is a better solution.
Even the financing for this biodiesel plant came from the community. Read all about that here.
Lynn and I talk about how communities can raise money for alternative energy co-ops. I want you to hear this interview, and dig further into it. We so often have hopeless news on Radio Ecoshock, without enough solutions. Here is a group of New England communities that are not waiting for the grand scheme from the federal or state government, but doing it for themselves. It's inspiring.
Check out this slide and photo explanation of co-op power here.
Download, listen to, or share this 14 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Lynn Benander in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.
Here are some more Lynn Benander/Co-op Power links, courtesy of my friend Erik Hoffner, who suggested this story.
Post Carbon Institute Interview with Co-op Power's Lynn Benander - "Community is Created by Filling the Cup" September 2, 2015
Center for Popular Economics - Presentation on Cooperative Paths to Fossil Fuel Freedom: Stories from Community Energy Co-ops in the Co-op Power Network with Lynn Benander and Temistoclese Blessed Ferreira from Co-op Power August 23, 2015
Grist article on Diego Angarita, "Meet the Food Justice and Clean Energy Advocate who Wants to Shake up the Nonprofit World", noting his work at Co-op Power August 14, 2015
We are out of time. My thanks to the listeners who support Radio Ecoshock with a monthly donation, or a one-time gift to keep this program going. Find out about that here.
Thank you for listening, and caring about our world.
THE DEATH OF NUCLEAR POWER Céad Ean 27, 2016 16:31 | email@example.com (Alex Smith)
Mycle Schneider (photo © Serge Ollivier.)
Experience? They have never run one of these reactors for a single day, and their track record is atrocious. The EPR at Flamanville in the far north of France (just across the channel from Britain) was begun in 2007. It's completion date kept getting delayed and delayed, by years and years. Now they say it will be finished in 2017 - oops, now it's 2018.. But that's unlikely. Areva has recently admitted finding a serious design flaw in the inner reactor. It's so serious, Mycle suggests they might have to tear down and rebuild. The French regulator published information on this flaw, but it has not been communicated to the Chinese people.
The original cost of this single EPR reactor was supposed to be 3.3 billion euros. Now it's over 10 billion euros and who knows what the final cost will be, if it opens.
The situation of Areva's reactor at Olkiluoto in Finland is even worse. This is what Wiki says about it:
"According to Financial Times in December 2014 construction of unit 3 has descended into farce as it is currently expected to open nine years late and several billions of euros over budget."
China has also contracted to buy a couple of experimental, never-before-built "third generation" reactors from Westinghouse Nuclear, now majority owned by Toshiba corporation of Japan. It's the AP-1000. Who knows what it will cost, when it will be completed, and most importantly, if this design is safe?
Mycle Schneider also worries whether China can find the technical culture needed to run reactors flawlessly. Sure China turns out zillions of engineers every year, but none of them have been nuclear operators.
China joins other countries like France in having the builders, operators, and regulators all part of a government-owned structure. Very little is known about this industry in China. There is no transparency, and little room for citizen oversight or complaint. I'll have more to say about that in another program.
Schneider points out that the world has fewer operating reactors (supply power to the grid) now than existed in 2002, even with the construction boom in China. That's because old nuclear plants are being closed in many countries, and not replaced. It's a dying technology.
The few nuclear reactor makers are being killed off in the stock market. Nuclear shares are now at pennies on the original dollar. That's another serious worry. For example, the La Hague nuclear fuel reprocessing site, again in northern France, has the largest supply of high-level nuclear materials in the world. It's run by Areva. Areva stocks have been hammered so low, and their sales so poor, that the company has announced big job cuts. When hundreds of staff are sent home from La Hague, Mycle asks "what were they doing that will not be done now?" Is safety being cut as well? What happens to all the reactors being built or operated by financially failed companies?
That alone is one reason why nuclear power is not a solution for global warming. The economic costs are far too high, and not enough could be completed before lasting damage has been done by the carbon economy it means to partially replace. It's too late.
The big reactor makers were almost toast in the west, despite billions in government subsidies. But they counted on a "nuclear renaissance" in China to survive. Schneider points out the Chinese have been blunt about their game. They are "technology shopping". They buy a couple of reactors from everybody (including from Canada) - and then break down the engineering so they can do it all themselves. There is no big market for reactors in China for any western company.
The end-game of all this nuclear "business" is sadly predictable. Taxpayers, somewhere, will pay and pay to prop up existing reactors, and then pay more or less forever for whatever dismantling and storage can be done. The current players will long-since be bankrupt. The nuclear sales executives will have run away.
All of this comes as the nuclear industry tried desperately, including at the Paris climate talks, to promote their industry as the answer to global warming. They didn't even make the agenda. The public doesn't want it. It's not happening. It's a dead-end.
Be sure and check out Mycle's interview. It's an eye-opener into a nuclear business built on secrecy and incredible risks. He's been an advisor on nuclear and energy to the French, German, and Belgian governments. His reports and expertise are in demand. He knows.
Download, listen to, or share this 27 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Mycle Schneider in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
Use this small URL to pass on the Lo-Fi version of this interview. Tweet on! http://tinyurl.com/z5288cx Here are a few links to follow up:
List of Mycle's publications here.
Check out the World Nuclear Industry Status Report web site.
You can find out more about nuclear energy in China with this January 2016 update "Mind the China Effect".
HELEN CALDICOTT ON EVERLASTING NUCLEAR WASTE
In a populated suburb of St. Louis Missouri, nuclear waste from American bomb-making is washing into surface water. Now all that radioactive mess is threatened by an underground fire just 1200 feet away.
If that's the best the United States can do, what chance does Australia have, with their grand plans to make South Australia a dumping ground for the world's nuclear waste? It's time for another round of nuclear madness, and the doctor is in. That's Doctor Helen Caldicott, the most famous anti-nuclear campaigner in the world.
Download, listen to, or share this 27 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Helen Caldicott in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
Pass on this interview with Helen in Lo-Fi, using this tiny url: http://tinyurl.com/z2u9n8r
Dr. Helen Caldicott
Along the way, Helen tells us about her role in founding the anti-nuclear movement in Australia in the 1970's. Then she spent 20 years in Boston. There she revived a dead non-profit called "Physicians for Nuclear Responsibility" and built it into an anti-nuclear powerhouse.
Helen met for over an hour with President Ronald Reagan. Sensing he knew little about nuclear weapons, she explained not only was any nuclear exchange unwinnable, it would cause a catastrophe where medical treatment was not an option. Reagan after that began talks with the Soviets to reduce nuclear weapons, and reduce political stress points. We owe a part of our survival of that mad nuclear age to Helen Caldicott.
Not that we are safer now. Nuclear weapons continue to be built all over the world, some in very unstable countries and/or dictatorships. The tension between nuclear neighbors has spread from just Russia and the West to places like Pakistan and India. Just yesterday, January 26th, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced the "Doomsday Clock" would remain at 3 minutes to midnight.
Helen continues to warn the world about the danger of nuclear weapons, but that is not why we talked this week on Radio Ecoshock.
First the Australian state of South Australia has a mad idea to replace the car plant jobs they lost. The government is pushing to become the nuclear waste dump of the world. There is a complicated back story, but that's the bald fact.
How they would do this has not been announced. So far it looks like a shed in the desert is the likely plan! South Australia called their own Royal Commission to get submissions on the project. Most of the submissions came from pro-nuclear people. The aboriginal people - who still own the land! - could not make direct entries to the Commission, because they lacked the Justice of the Peace system that was required. Their voices were ruled out.
The Royal Commission is due to release it's predestined "report" on February 15th. On February 16th Helen Caldicott will make an answering speech in Adelaide. It's all very sad.
BACK TO OLD ST. LOUIS
We've been told and told that there will be a new technical solution for nuclear waste. Here is a situation in America which shows what a great lie that is. The original nuclear waste from constructing the atomic bombs dropped on Japan - that waste is still very potent and dangerous. A great deal of it was just dumping in the ground near the airport in St. Louis Missouri.
It was badly looked after. A few tarps cover the ground. Rainstorms wash radioactive waste into local streams, and from there into rivers. The wind blows radioactive materials around. A recent study by scientists, including nuclear scientist Bob Alvarez, checked out an area about 200 kilometers around the St. Louis site near Bridgeton, a suburb. They found lots of radiation. The title is: "Tracking legacy radionuclides in St. Louis, Missouri, via unsupported 210Pb "[Lead] You can read more about that study here.
Guess what. There is a higher incidence of many kinds of cancer around this West Lake landfill site. Our old un-friend Exelon is the allegedly responsible party for this nuclear mess.
Now the kicker. An underground fire has been burning for years in the regular landfill site right next to the nuclear dump. This fire is now burning less than 1200 feet from the nuclear waste! If the atomic materials burn, you can count on radiation spreading far and wide. The US Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a wall be built underground to deflect the fire, but really nothing has been done.
You can hear a local resident and columnist Byron DeLear describe the St. Louis situation here in the Nuclear Hotseat #237 with Libbe HaLevy, from January 6, 2016, here on You tube. (You have to scroll well into the program, but don't! The whole show is very revealing about the U.S. nuclear industry.)
So like the good doctor going to where the sick patient is found, Helen Caldicott is going to St. Louis. She'll help bring the spotlight back where it belongs, on this utter failure to protect even the first nuclear waste created by humans.
Tune in to all things Helen at helencaldicott.com. Be sure to check out the latest book edited by Helen Caldicott: "Crisis Without End, The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe."
Any more money spent on nuclear power is a waste of the dwindling fuel, resources, and carbon space in the atmosphere. Humans will have to be very fortunate to care for the existing plants over dozens of generations. Given our history, our failed economics, and the magnitude of climate disruption developing, some reactors, somewhere, will blow out, one by one, or in concert.
I hope I am not one of the unlucky evacuees if the radioctive tanks blow up at Hanford in Washington State. I hope none of you are predestined to abandon a whole region of your country, with all the beloved places, experiences, and resources lost to humans. Accepting that risk is a betrayal of Nature. It is a betrayal of whatever or whoever initiated the possibility of ever-lasting evolution of life somewhere in space.
That's what I think. That's how I feel.
I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for listening to Radio Ecoshock again this week.
At the end of the program, I play a bit from "Talkin' End Game It's The Radioactive Song" by Michel Montecrossa.
More Stifle Than Drown Céad Ean 20, 2016 23:39 | firstname.lastname@example.org (Alex Smith)
He suggests that a country like France or Sweden could print a "complimentary currency which they distribute every month, to every household, in proportion to the size of those households, which can only be used to purchase local products and local services."
At 17 minutes of this video, he explains in concrete terms how this could work. It would drastically increase demand for goods and services that are locally produced. These are more likely to be equitable between people, and have a hope of being sustainable, without the ecological costs of long-range transport. "It would radically decrease the demand for long-distance imports". Fossil fuels used in global transport would be "radically reduced".
Alf Hornborg became more widely known after his 2001 book "The Power of the Machine". This year he will publish another, titled "Global Magic: Technologies of Appropriation from Ancient Rome to Wall Street.". I ask Alf for a couple of examples of the way his thinking has evolved in the last 15 years.
Hornborg has compared social blindness to slavery in Rome, or in colonial America, to our current rationalization for lifestyles we know are changing not just the weather, but the climate for millennia to come. How does it work, and is there a cure?
We started talking about technology. People grudgingly admit money could be a root of evil, but surely not technology! Is Hornborg suggesting we can unplug, and walk away from the "technomass" we have created? Would not billions of people die in short order if we did?
Actually, Alf says, the fear that billions would die without technology is a myth. There is still enough land to return to, and by the way, if all humans gave up eating animals and animal bi-products, there may be enough to feed 30 billion human vegans.
One justification is the geographical locus of this collection machine has shown an ability to shift over time. We think of the rise of Japan, Korea, and now China as centers of not just technology, but the accumulation of capital. The wealth might appear anywhere, we say. Or does technology always need slums and poverty somewhere else? Hornborg says it does. Provocatively he says "The steam engine would not have been possible without the American slave plantations".
Technology, Hornborg says, is not the idea, or the blueprints. It is the system that keeps the machinery functioning over time - and that always, he says, demands appropriation of the time, resources, or spaces of others who are disadvantaged compared to the user of the technology.
"Technological progress can thus be reconceptualized as the saving or liberation of human time and natural space in core regions of the world-system at the expense of time and space lost in the periphery. I have called this time?space appropriation (Hornborg 2006, 2013)."
I reached Alf at the prestigious Lund University in Sweden, where he has been Professor of Human Ecology since 1993.
SOME ALF HORNBORG LINKS
Download this 27 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Alf Hornborg in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
You can find a wiki-style bio of Alf Hornborg here.
Here is a stimulating interview on the blog "Collapse of Industrial Civilization" about the way we have all been mystified by technology.
Watch this 2013 interview with Alf on Vimeo, from the Paris conference "Thinking the Anthropocene".
SERGEI PETROVSKII - THE OXYGEN THREAT
You have heard that a warming world will flood coastal cities. Hotter seas will drive more extreme weather events. All that may not matter, if a new paper on plankton is correct. The authors say: if the ocean life that creates more than half the oxygen in the atmosphere dies off, we are more likely to stifle than drown.
To understand this new threat, let's get to work. The paper is called ?Mathematical Modelling of Plankton?Oxygen Dynamics Under the Climate Change? as published in the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, with an abstract here.
From the Department of Mathematics at the University of Leicester in Britain, we've reached the co-author Sergei Petrovskii. We learn in the interview that Petrovksii was a senior scientist at the Russian Shirshov Institute of Oceanology for 15 years before moving to Britain. His work in Russia involved modelling plankton growth. So he is more than qualified.
From the paper:
"Plankton consists of two different taxa: phytoplankton and zooplankton. Zooplankton are animals (e.g., krill), and phytoplankton are plants. As most plants do, phytoplankton can produce oxygen in photosynthesis when sufficient light is available, e.g., in the photic layer of the ocean during the daytime. The oxygen first comes to the water and eventually into the air through the sea surface, thus contributing to the total oxygen budget in the atmosphere. This contribution appears to be massive...
It is estimated that about 70% of the Earth atmospheric oxygen is produced by the ocean phytoplankton (Harris 1986; Moss 2009). Correspondingly, one can expect that a decrease in the rate of the oxygen production by phytoplankton may have catastrophic consequences for life on Earth, possibly resulting in mass extinction of animal species, including the mankind. Therefore, identification of potential threats to the oxygen production is literally an issue of vital importance."
1. Most discussion on the impacts of global warming on the oceans focus on changes in global circulation or impacts on polar ice, with consequent sea level rising.
2. But the oceans are also the world's largest ecosystem of living things.
3. Plankton has been studied as the basis for the food chain, and consequently fisheries. It's also a good measure of the biomass in the seas.
4. Plankton also provide the majority of the world's oxygen.
5. Plankton production is well-known to be sensitive to ocean temperatures.
6. The plant type of plankton produces oxygen in the day, and consumes oxygen at night. The difference produced, and released into the atmosphere, is the "net oxygen production".
Scientists know this all-important net production of oxygen (and reduction of CO2) depends on ocean temperatures.
Studies of some plankton species find that oxygen production goes up as the oceans warm, Petrovskii and his co-author Yadigar Sekerci proceed with an abundance of caution. After all there are many, many different types of plankton, and perhaps not all will flourish with warmer water. So the authors make two models, one which assumes that plankton/oxygen will increase as the oceans warm, and one that assumes a decrease.
The amazing (and frightening) result is: whether plankton/oxygen increases or decreases as the oceans warm, IN BOTH CASES a tipping point develops where plankton, and the oxygen they make, crashes, possibly toward extinction levels.
"Our results have important implications. A lot has been said about detrimental consequences of the global warming such as possible extinction of some species (and the corresponding biodiversity loss) and the large-scale flooding resulting from melting Antarctic ice. In this paper, however, we have shown that the danger to bestifled is probably more real than to be drowned."
MY BIG TAKEAWAY - THE PLANKTON/OXYGEN TRAP IN OCEAN WARMING
If I take only one thing away from this interview with Sergei Petrovskii, it is this: reality is littered with traps. In hindsight we can see that a semi-intelligent species discovering mechanical power from stored carbon riches may well self-exterminate with them, due to the carbon/climate trap.
But consider this: if Petrovskii is right, we may advance into the future fooled by the response of plankton. As the world warms, plankton could appear to thrive, providing lots of oxygen, and sequestering more carbon dioxide. We all cheer. Apologists tell us our worries were overblown. But then, a limit beyond sustainable cycles is reached, and plankton world-wide could experience a mass die-off. That's another trap: it looks good, until, as Petrovskii and his colleagues call it, "catastrophe 2" occurs.
Maybe the model is wrong. Maybe our civilization is wrong. I hope the funding and the drive arrives to test out this plankton nightmare rather than waiting to find out the hard way.
Listen to/download this Radio Ecoshock interview with Sergei Petrovskii in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PLANKTON AND CLIMATE CHANGE
NASA's take on global warming and plankton:
Using NASA satellite data, Jorge Sarmiento of Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., and colleagues have demonstrated the close links between ocean productivity and global trends in climate.
Surface warming increases the density difference, or vertical ?stratification? of the ocean waters, leading to less mixing between the surface water layers, where phytoplankton live, and the deeper water layers, which contain the nutrients they need to flourish. This is bad news for phytoplankton that live in the tropics where nutrient supply will be reduced due to less mixing and a shallower ?mixed layer?, but good news for phytoplankton that live in colder regions, where increasing temperature causes the growing season to start earlier in the year. Clearly, a changing global climate will have a different impact on ocean biology in different parts of the world. "
IMPACT OF WARMING ON PLANKTON, ANOTHER SOURCE:
Climate Change Effects on Marine Phytoplankton
CHAPTER · OCTOBER 2013
If you hit the Full Text button for this paper, it works without signing up or needing permission. The lead author is Valeria Guinder, marine biologist at UNS Argentina.
This paper agrees with the work of Petrovskii, saying:
"Temperature is a key parameter that directly affects physiological rates of marine biota at multiple scales, e.g., enzymatic reactions, respiration, body size, generation time, ecological interactions, community metabolism, etc. (Peters 1983). Phytoplankton experience an increase in enzymatic activity and growth rates over a moderate range of temperature rise with an average Q10= 1.88 (Eppley 1972), which suggest that an increase in SST from 18°C today to 21.5°C in 2100 (McNeil and Matear 2006), may lead to an increase of ~25% in growth rate assuming that there are no other factors (Finkel et al. 2010)."
SOME SPECIES OF PLANKTON ARE ALREADY THREATENED WITH EXTINCTION
"Research led by Deakin University (Warrnambool, Australia) and Swansea University (UK) has found that a species of cold water plankton in the North Atlantic, that is a vital food source for fish such as cod and hake, is in decline as the oceans warm. This will put pressure on the fisheries that rely on abundant supplies of these fish.
'There is overwhelming evidence that the oceans are warming and it will be the response of animals and plants to this warming that will shape how the oceans look in future years and the nature of global fisheries,' explained Deakin?s professor of marine science, Graeme Hays."
Find out more here.
According to Wikipedia, many species of plankton went extinct before, and this paleoclimatic record is something Petrovskii continues to study, as he further refines the model. Things like ocean acidification, and ocean stratification with warming also have to be factored in.
FINALLY: GAS PUMP WARNING STICKERS!
Cigarettes kill millions and we warn users right on the pack. Burning gasoline kills the future. In Canada, Robert Shirkey left his law practice to put us right into the climate changer driver's seat.
As Robert writes in the Huffington Post
"On Nov. 16, 2015, the City of North Vancouver made world history when its council unanimously voted to mandate climate change risk disclosures on gas pumps. It's an idea that my organization developed and launched in early 2013 and it has since been endorsed by over a hundred academics from a variety of disciplines at universities across North America, including some of the top climate change researchers in the world.
North Vancouver's vote was covered by the CBC, Global News, CTV, VICE, The Atlantic, Business Insider, and many more. These articles were shared via social media around the globe. While North Vancouver was the first to actually require the labels by law, numerous municipal councils across Canada have passed resolutions in support of the proposal. We're now working to share these examples of Canadian leadership with the world and we're asking for volunteers to help us make it happen."
Read that whole article here.
The essential point is: we all like to fight against pipelines, the tar sands and all that. Meanwhile, we feel pretty innocent about putting gas in our tanks, if we think about it at all. And yet, as Robert shows in a graph, most of the emissions come not from fossil fuel production, but from OUR TAILPIPES and other end uses. We should know that.
The colorful labels fit right on the gas pump handles, where gas stations conveniently places a square spot for advertising. Instead, you get a photo of a polar bear, or a flooded city, with a warning that using gasoline endangers the climate of the world.
Robert Shirkey is the leader of the new group ourhorizon.org. You can help support his campaign to get local governments to force climate warning stickers on all gas pumps, but contributing at his site. Right now he's running the whole thing on his VISA card, he tells us.
Watch Robert's video on gas pump labels here.
Download this 10 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Robert Shirkey in CD Quality or Lo-Fi
I totally support Robert's campaign, and expect to see warning labels on all gas pumps soon.
THANKS FOR LISTENING AGAIN THIS WEEK!
THROUGH A DARK PORTAL Aoine Ean 15, 2016 01:57 | email@example.com (Alex Smith)
In the interview, Stuart recommends a series of maps from NCAR, the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research. These 4 maps of the coming world show a widening band of deserts forming around both subtropical lands of the world. Like parts of Brazil. Like all of North Africa, of course, but also a new desert environment for Portugal, Spain, Southern Italy and Greece. Did I mention the mid-west of the United States? Where so much of the world's food is grown? Or another food producing region in China?
This is like the map of doom that I first saw in 2006. Dr. James Lovelock presented a similar map of Earth with wide belts of deserts in a speech to the Institution of Chemical Engineers November 28th, 2006. You can listen to or download that program again with this link.
Here is one link to the maps. The images are also at this address. Sadly, all the links to Lovelock's map of doom have disappeared over time. I can no longer find it on the Net. If you do, please let me know. You can always use the "Contact" button on my web site to reach me.
And of course, you can see these maps on Stuart's ClimateMatters TV YouTube, where the maps are shown and discussed at about the 16:30 time mark.
As Stuart Scott tells us, even relatively conservative international institutions, and the U.S. government say a huge portion of the current food-production land will become too hot, and especially too dry, to grow crops. That will happen as more billions of humans are added to the planet that does not yet adequately feed the current masses. Add in flooding of fertile lands near the sea, in places like India, Bangladesh, Africa, and South America - and you can see why Scott is so pessimistic about our ability to feed 10 billion people.
I won't go into the horrifying probability of hundreds of millions of climate migrants. That will make the current refugee crisis into Europe look like good times.
WHAT ABOUT CHINA?
We discuss the role of China. Dr. James Hansen has just been there. It sounds like Stuart Scott and Hansen agree that IF there is going to be a tipping point, where one nation takes real action to cut greenhouse gas emissions - it will not happen in a Western democracy. It is far more likely to happen in China, which is currently the world's number two (or number one) polluter of the atmosphere.
But China has a working central government with enough power to literally dictate rapid transition away from fossil fuels. Scott tells us that when China decided to outlaw plastic bags in retail and grocery stores, they reputedly hired 450,00000 inspectors to go into stores and fine anyone using plastic bags. Suddenly Chinese shoppers started bringing their own reusable bags. It was a quick revolution.
From what I've heard, and as Scott tells us, the top leadership in Beijing is very aware of the coming damage from climate change. That is why they concluded a separate agreement with the United States, on greenhouse gases, before the Paris climate talks.
China is already the world's largest producer, and user, of solar and wind energy. The country has also invested heavily in mass transit, including thousands of miles of high speed rail. Neither the United States or Canada has a single mile of high speed rail. North America seems stuck in a dark age, even as their oil-producing economies stagger and fall.
My one reservation is about China's decision to continue on a path of nuclear power. James Hansen is all behind this, as he talks about "Fourth Generation" commercial nuclear power plants which do not yet exist. Meanwhile I understand China is building at least 29 nuclear complexes. They will be "Third Generation" at best - one step better than the old GE reactors at Fukushima. But these are still reactors that can, and eventually will melt down somewhere, again. A large part of China could be devastated virtually forever. In my opinion, nothing is worth that risk.
It's a fruitful talk with Stuart Scott, on a wide range of topics, like the Arctic, geoengineering, abrupt climate shift, clathrates and more.
Stuart Scott's first action alert, where you can help during the month of January 2016 - is to promote a Nobel Peace Prize for Sustainable Development, or more correctly for seminal figures in the creation and furtherance of the field of 'sustainable development'. It's easy to either endorse and in many cases nominate for this Peace Prize, at this web site: http://np4sd.org/
Download or listen to this interview with Stuart Scott in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.
CLIMATE MATTERS TV SHOWS FROM THE PARIS COP21 CLIMATE TALKS
Stuart Scott and his organization created a whole series of programs at the Paris COP21 conference in December 2015. He uses a more relaxed for of presentation, almost like a TV talk show, except it often features top-tier climate scientists and real thinkers. Feel free to watch and share some of the half-hour ClimateMatters.TV shows taped at COP-21 in Paris.
James Hansen Speaking Truth to Power
Moral Obligation, Scientific Imperative (with climate-rapper)
Abrupt Change, Ecological & Economic (with climate-rapper)
Our Challenge to Feed Ourselves
Acceptance & Avoidance Among Evangelicals
What Lies Ahead?
Kiribati, Tuvalu, Miami Beach
May the Force be With You
Emissions Zero Global
COP-21: Conference of Peace
Our Common Home
100 WAYS TO EMPOWER GLOBAL WOMEN: BETSY TEUTSCH
In the media, all we see or hear are relatively wealthy people talking among themselves. Billions of global poor are missing. Many of them are women. Our guest Betsty Teutsch has collected Earth-friendly ideas and technology to help them. Her new book is "One Hundred Under One Hundred Dollars: One Hundred Ideas for Empowering Global Women".
Betsy Teutsch (center) at work.
Betsy is a gem with really good ideas. Strangely, although she was talking about affordable ways that the lives of impoverished women (and their kids) around the world could be improved - I kept thinking how very useful these same ideas are for women in over-developed countries to go more low-tech (and help save the planet).
Tonight, I'm getting a bit tired as I put this blog together. It's always so long and loaded that I wonder how readers make out! Here is the bio from Betsy's site:
"Betsy Teutsch is an artist, blogger, community organizer, and environmentalist who has enjoyed a successful career as an Judaica artist and entrepreneur. As Communications Director of GreenMicrofinance, she wrote about affordable, sustainable paths out of rural poverty. She has also served as a board member for the dynamic Shining Hope for Communities and the Kibera School for Girls, and founded three chapters of Dining For Women, a national network of giving circles meeting monthly to support of women?s grassroots poverty alleviation initiatives. A Fargo, ND, native, she now lives with her husband in Philadelphia, PA."
Find Betsy on Facebook here.
Listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Betsy Teutsch in CD Quality or Lo-Fi. Pass the links on to people you think should hear it.
THE SONGS IN THIS SHOW
In this program you hear a clip from the "Climate Change Deniers' Anthem" created by the comedy group Funny Or Die. Watch the whole video at funnyordie.com.
FINIAN MAKEPEACE "2060"
From Ithica New York, and more lately Venice Beach California, comes Finian Makepeace. As a duo with his brother (taken from four musical brothers in the family) - Finian made it to the Quarter Finals of the TV show "America's Got Talent". And he does have talent. Now Finian is recording with "The Makes". He is also the co-founder and Policy Director for the group "Kiss the Ground" - a non-profit dedicated to restoring soil around the world.
I like this song called "2060" a lot. It's well crafted and performed in a very moving way. I thank Finian for sending it along for broadcast on Radio Ecoshock. He has also performed this song at climate rallies. His heart is in it.
... of this show and this blog. But I've already lined up a deep Swedish thinker on climate and the crash, plus a scientific study which could literally take your breath away. That's next week on Radio Ecoshock.
My super-thanks to those listeners who donated to Radio Ecoshock during January. Frankly, I thought donations would die out this time of year - but not at all. With your help I bought a giant new hard drive. It was needed because each Radio Ecoshock show, with all it's supporting files, occupies two to three gigabytes of space. I don't want to compress the original files, as that reduces sound quality. After ten years of doing this show (and counting on my old hard drive all that time, hoping it won't die today) - I now have a 4 terabyte drive.
I had a pre-amplifier die. That amp brings my microphone up to levels guests can hear on the phone. Thanks to listener donations, I ordered and received a new tube amp, just like the old one.
Seriously, thank you for helping me do this program. If you haven't supported Radio Ecoshock yet, you can do so at this page.
I appreciate your willingness to go "through the dark portal" if that's where the truth can be found. Thanks for listening!
I am a human being therefore nothing human is alien to me
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