February 2009

Monthly Archive

Ecotopia #21 Weather Modification

Posted by on 24 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Tonight’s topic is the weather, what we can and cannot do about it and whether it’s a good idea to fool with mother nature. Our guest is Rosalind Peterson, who is California President and Co-Founder of the  Agriculture Defense Coalition.  She and her organization have studied weather modification programs and projects in California and around the world and are raising serious objections.

Scanning the News on Weather Modification

From Hindustan Times of northeast India covered a huge snowstorm in Beijing, China.  A  story by Reshma Patil dated February 20 reads:

The Chinese can replicate designer handbags, iPhones…and make artificial snowfall over the Great Wall. This week, Chinese ‘weather modifying engineers’ ended Beijing’s longest drought since 38 years by covering the capital with artificial snow. The clouds over Beijing obeyed China’s command to such an extent that 12 snowed-in highways around the capital had to be closed and flights delayed on Thursday. Chinese weather engineers used 28 weather rocket launch bases around the city to seed the clouds with about 500 cigarette-sized silver iodide sticks to trigger the formation of ice crystals and snow.
http://www.hindustantimes.com

 From the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune .On February 20, its editorial board wrote:  “Cloud Seeding Project Should Answer Questions:”

In 2002, then-Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Ron Micheli invited a Utah cloud-seeding consultant to a meeting of our state’s drought task force. Some Wyoming ranchers were convinced that Utah unfairly captured a lot of Wyoming snow that winter by cloud seeding before the Winter Olympics, and Micheli wanted to learn more about the practice. He was skeptical, however, and told a Star-Tribune reporter that he viewed cloud seeding on par with voodoo. Seven years later, there’s still plenty of reason to be skeptical about the effectiveness of cloud seeding — using chemicals to try to squeeze more precipitation out of passing storms. But Wyoming should have a good idea in a year or so whether there’s anything to the practice. […] [S]cientists are in the fourth year of an $8.8 million, five-year pilot project funded by the state to determine whether cloud seeding is a practical way to increase Wyoming’s water supply. […] But there’s little reason to expect that the results will show that cloud seeding makes economic sense for Wyoming. Cloud-seeding scientists estimate that, if done properly, pumping silver iodide into a cloud will increase snowfall in most cases by about 10 to 15 percent. Problem is, that’s roughly the same percentage of natural variability in normal weather patterns.
[…] Wyoming’s effort has been described as the biggest cloud-seeding research project in the country. As a result, scientists from around the world are watching it closely. The results will either give a boost to cloud-seeding believers or throw water on the practice. […] In some ways, it’s nice to see Wyoming on the cutting edge of something. But only time will tell whether the $8.8 million gamble was a wise move or futuristic folly.
http://www.trib.com/articles/2009/02/20/editorial/

A few weeks ago we read a story concerning public protests of PG&E’s plans to do cloud seeding in Shasta and Siskyou counties. Now, From the Shasta News, a February 4 story by Charlie Enkefer announces: “PG&E halts cloud seeding program for this winter”

PG&E announced last week that it plans to cancel its Pit-McCloud Cloud Seeding Program for the rest of the 2009 season.  PG&E representative Paul Moreno said, “Due to the lateness of the season and the fact that the generators are not yet in operation, we thought it best to stop for now.”   Moreno noted that winter cloud seeding season is half over and current drought conditions have resulted in few “seedable” storms. He said PG&E does not feel that is has been missing out on any great opportunities. Mount Shasta resident Angelina Cook, who has been actively involved in the opposition movement to the project, said, “While nature is the primary entity to thank for this development, our incredible grassroots response certainly helped.” PG&E does plan to continue the project in the fall of ’09, Moreno said. When asked if the mounting citizen opposition had anything to do with their recent decision, he said no. “It is simply not feasible for us to continue right now,” […] When the issue was brought to the County Board of Supervisors last November, several community members made public comment, urging the board to look into the legality of the proposed project. Many called for the County to initiate a[n] […] environmental review process, citing a variety of concerns from air and water contamination, to the potential negative side effects of weather modification.
http://www.mtshastanews.com/news/x1452245096/PG-E-halts-cloud-seeding-program-for-this-winter

From History News at George Mason University Bernard Mergen, author of aWeather Matters: An American Cultural History Since 1900”  wants to dispel the myth that: We will soon be able to control the weather.

Call this the scam that will not die. For thousands of years humans have sought to control the weather. Mongols wove a [talisman] into the tail of a black horse to bring rain, and tourists flock to New Mexico to watch Zuni rain dances. Currently, ten western and Great Plains states spend millions of dollars seeding clouds to increase rainfall without convincing results. Sixty years of rain and snow enhancement efforts have culminated in the attitude expressed by a cloud physicist: “Even if it’s wrong, it’s like buying a lottery ticket where not much investment might pay off big.” Weather modification for commercial and military benefit is a dream that fires the imaginations of geoengineers. In 1996, a report prepared for the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force argues for “Weather a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025,” and the president of the National Academy of Sciences and some Nobel laureates are supporting projects to fight global warming by launching small lenses into orbit where they would reflect solar radiation away from the oceans and building ships with tall towers to spray seawater into clouds to increase their reflectivity. In their audacity, such schemes remind me of Soviet era efforts to warm Siberia by damming the Ob River and irrigating the Aral Sea basin. Weather is inherently chaotic. Anyone who has watched a super cell develop over the prairies senses the complexity of these energy systems. Although the atmospheric sciences have advanced considerably in the past century, a good meteorologist, like an historian, is humble in the face of a storm.  
http://www.hnn.us/articles/60058.html

Our Interview with Rosalind Peterson:
Rosalind Peterson is the California President and Co-Founder of the Agriculture Defense Coalition, formed in 2006 to protect agricultural crop production from uncontrolled experimental weather modification, atmospheric heating and testing , and ocean and atmospheric experimental geoengineering programs.

Part I:  Weather Modification and the Specific Concerns for Agriculture here in California:

  • Please tell us a little more about ADC and your work
  • When we first talked with you a few weeks ago, PG&E was planning to do cloud seeding plans for Siskyou and Shasta Counties.  But recently, PG&E cancelled those plans saying that it was too late in the season and that there was a lack of seedable storms. They also said that public outcry had little to do with their decision. Please comment on that.
  • What other programs are going on in California?
  • What is the range of “weather modification programs”?  Who conducts (and pays) for them? for what purposes? What’s the science or technology What might be their effects?
  • The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration conducted some 50 weather modification projects, mostly in the west, in 2007. Please describe the effect of these.
  • What sort of Federal legislation and regulation is required for these projects.   Specifically, legislation for a national weather modification policywas passed by the house and senate in 2006. What did these bills include?

 

Part II: Let’s relate our discussion to global issues and climate change.

  • You are critical of so-called “cap and trade” projects toward carbon emissions and call into question Al Gore’s rhetoric and motives in climate change. Please explain.
  • Some of the projects in “geoengineering” described in your writing sound very much out of science fiction movies. Please explain:
  • the Planktos Project, fertilizing the oceans with iron dust in order to induce algae blooms. What’s that all about? What are the possible consequences?  Who regulates projects like Planktos?
  • shielding of sunlight from reaching the earth through the use of particulates (like sulfur being released into the atmosphere).  Why? to what effects?
  • putting giant sun reflectors into orbit,  Why? What’s the interest?
  • Hurricane Control: the Dyn-O-Mat project, where  jets would drop thousands of pounds of a water absorbing chemical powder  into hurricanes to absorb moisture to try dissipate hurricanes.

Part III:  Community Involvement. You are an activist organization trying to publicize and control weather modification programs.

  • What motivated you to found the Agricultural Defense Coalition? Who else is involved? What activities do you have coming up?
  • What can concerned citizens do?  Whom should they write? How can they become involved?
  • Where can people learn more?

Website = www.californiaskywatch.com

 Do It Yourself:

  • You can learn to measure the weather yourself. When Steve was a kid, he read Athelstan Spilhaus’s WeathercraftNew York: Viking, 1951.  Chico State call number QC 871 S76. A fun book for adults and kids with instructions on how to build your own weather station.

Do-It-Yourself Weather Forecasting, farmer style [this list appears on a number of weather-related web sites, the one we’re reading from was posted in West Virginia and Michigan—so it may not be completely accurate for California]:
Indicators of Deteriorating Weather:
Clouds lowering and thickening, ceiling lowers.
Puffy clouds begin to develop vertically and darken.
Sky is dark and threatening to the West
Clouds increasing in numbers, moving rapidly across the sky.
Clouds at different heights moving in different directions.
Clouds moving from East or Northeast towards the South.
Heavy rain occurring at night
Barometer falling steadily or rapidly.
Smoke from stacks lowers.
Static on AM radio.
Wind shifting North to East and possibly through East to South.
There is a ring (halo) around the moon.
If on land, leaves that grow according to prevailing winds turn over and show their backs.
Strong wind and / or a red sky in the morning.
Temperatures far above or below normal for the time of year.

  • Do you have weather pointers to share?  Please send them to us at ecotopia@kzfr.org and we’ll compile them for a future program.

Playlist

1. Weather Girl          4:37    Fruit    The Trio Album – Live at the Church            Alternative     
2. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!     2:42    Ella Fitzgerald          Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas                
3. The Rape Of The World   7:08    Tracy Chapman        New Beginning         
4. (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave         2:46    Martha & The Vandellas      The Ultimate Collection: Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
5. Don’t Go Near The Water (2000 Digital Remaster)     2:43    The Beach Boys        Sunflower/Surf’s Up 
6. Weave Me the Sunshine  4:28    Peter, Paul And Mary  The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary    
7. Rain Rain Beautiful Rain  3:05    Ladysmith Black Mambazo  Long Walk to Freedom       

 

 

Ecotopia #20 Darwin and Creation

Posted by on 17 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

 

In this program we explore some creation stories from around the world, which we  then link to a discussion of Evolution, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Darwin, through a conversation with CSU professor Chris Ivey.

Listen to Ecotopia # 20 Online Now!
To download file, right-click (Mac: control click) and select “Download File As”.

A Creation Story from the Hopi People:

The world at first was endless space in which existed only the Creator, Taiow . This world had no time, no shape, and no life, except in the mind of the Creator. Eventually the infinite creator created the finite in Sotuknang, whom he called his nephew and whom he created as his agent to establish nine universes. Sotuknang gathered together matter from the endless space to make the nine solid worlds. Then the Creator instructed him to gather together the waters from the endless space and place them on these worlds to make land and sea. When Sotuknang had done that, the Creator instructed him to gather together air to make winds and breezes on these worlds.

The Creator [then] charged [his nephew] Sotuknang [with] creation of life. Sotuknang went to the world that was to first host life and there he created Spider Woman, and he gave her the power to create life. First Spider Woman took some earth and mixed it with saliva to make two beings. Over them she sang the Creation Song, and they came to life. She instructed one of them, Poqanghoya, to go across the earth and solidify it. She instructed the other, Palongawhoya, to send out sound to resonate through the earth, so that the earth vibrated with the energy of the Creator. Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya were despatched to the poles of the earth to keep it rotating. Then Spider Woman made all the plants, the flowers, the bushes, and the trees. Likewise she made the birds and animals, again using earth and singing the Creation Song. When all this was done, she made human beings, using yellow, red, white, and black earth mixed with her saliva. Singing the Creation Song, she made four men, and then in her own form she made four women. At first they had a soft spot in their foreheads, and although it solidified, it left a space through which they could hear the voice of Sotuknang and their Creator. Because these people could not speak, Spider Woman called on Sotuknang, who gave them four languages. His only instructions were for them to respect their Creator and to live in harmony with him. These people spread across the earth and multiplied. Despite their [differing] languages, in those days they could understand each other’s thoughts anyway, and for many years they and the animals lived together as one. Eventually, however, they began to divide, both the people from the animals and the people from each other, as they focused on their differences rather than their similarities. As division and suspicion became more widespread, only a few people from each of the four groups still remembered their Creator. [Thus the Hopi story explains the differentiation among species.   The Hopi story also has a version of the fall from grace, for as people forgot the creator were reduced to the existence of ants and the world was destroyed by both fire and ice. The story concludes:] The Hopi trekked and far and wide, and went through the cold and icy country to the north before finally settling in the arid lands between the Colorado River and Rio Grande River. They chose that place so that the hardship of their life would always remind them of their dependence on, and link to, their Creator.

The Creation According to Genesis:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.  And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.  […] And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and […] And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. […] And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.  And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. […] And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

The Origin of Species According to Darwin:

As this whole volume is one long argument, it may be convenient to the reader to have the leading facts and inferences briefly recapitulated. […] Nothing at first can appear more difficult to believe than that the more complex organs and instincts should have been perfected…by the accumulation of innumerable slight variations, each good for the individual possessor. Nevertheless, this difficulty, though appearing to our imagination insuperably great, cannot be considered real if we admit the following propositions, namely,–that gradations in the perfection of any organ or instinct, which we may consider, either do now exist or could have existed, each good of its kind,–that all organs and instincts are, in ever so slight a degree, variable, –and, lastly, that there is a struggle for existence leading to the preservation of each profitable deviation of structure or instinct. The truth of these propositions cannot, I think, be disputed.

Our Conversation with Chris Ivey:  Chris Ivey teaches  Biology at Chico State. He is a graduate of Evergreen State University in Washington and has his doctorate from the University of Georgia. Chris led the campus and community wide celebration of Darwin’s Birthday this past week.

  • So how did the celebration go? What kind of student and community interest did you see in Darwin and the theory of evolution?
  • In many ways, Darwin’s work has suffered from bumper sticker thinking, “Survival of the Fittest,” Man Descended from the Monkeys, even Social Darwinist oversimplifications that “Might Makes Right” or Hitler’s plan to exterminate some races. What do you see as the “real message” in the Origin of Species? (We realize we’re asking you to compose bumper stickers here.)
  • Farmers have hybridized crops for favorable characteristics for generations. But a great many people and countries object to “genetic engineering,” most dramatically Monsanto’s “Roundup Proof” crops. How do hybridization and genetic engineering fit into the evolutionary pattern?
  • One reads these days about “co-evolution” or Baldwinian evolution, where a culture or environment can shape evolutionary development. In the Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan makes the case that plants like tulips, potatoes, apples, and marijuana have not only evolved, but found ways to gain protection and cultivation from humans’ desires and attentions. Is Pollan anthropomorphizing blind nature? Is there room in the original Darwinian thesis for something like co-evolution or “Baldwinian evolution” ? (If so, can we expect evolutionary changes from global warming?)
  • In the passage we quoted from the Origin, Darwin talks about how species have been “perfected” and that there are “gradations of perfection” in species. Stephen Jay Gould in has emphatically argued that to think of “perfection” or even “progress” in evolution is erroneous. Could you please talk a bit about these ideas . . . is effective function a result of a process of “improvement” or maybe just a happy accident?
  • We read somewhere that Darwin’s reputation is based solely on evolution—that, in fact, many of his ideas were “crackpot”? Is that the case, and if so, was Darwin just lucky with evolution?
  • As we conclude, we wonder if you could tell us a little more of the contributions of evolutionary biology toward resolving various societal problems—e.g., fighting disease, crop improvement, wildlife management.
  • Quote from Darwin: “I feel most deeply that this whole question of Creation is too profound for human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton! Let each man hope and believe what he can.”   London Illustrated News (21 April 1862)
  • Closing sentence of Origin: “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

A Do-It-Yourself Evolutionary Universe

As Issaac Asimov once argued, science fiction (and fantasy)  are actually an extension of our known universe, a “what if” exploration, and that is certainly the case with the Planii, who appear on a very cool Do-It-Yourself science fiction site maintained by Selarpis books. Here’s a passage:

The Plani are a thin bipedal species descended from the Eldrandii. The genetic code for wings was removed from their ancestors as part of their punishment when they were exiled from Eldrand, so that all who descended from the exiles would be distinguishable from the true Eldrandii. They have even thinner bodies than the Eldrandii, and their legs remain unsuited to regular walking despite eons of evolution – only one of many genetic infirmities the Plani face. Their skin is a pale gray, and for reasons difficult to determine, they have none of the variety of other species, including the Eldrandii, in hair color, eye color, or skin tints. Their often sickly forms have had a significant impact their psychology.  The skin of the Plani has notably fewer sensory receptors than human skin has, but otherwise they have similar sensory capacities to Earthlings. They have a greater propensity for nearsightedness, though, but are on the other hand more likely to have an acute sense of taste. In some regions, their local food can seen bland to humans, while human food maybe slightly overwhelming to certain Planii.
Edit the Universe!   http://www.selparis.com/
Site creator Sam Winters explains:
This wiki’s goal is to present a deep, diverse fictional universe … materials on this site can be used in on-site stories…Practically anyone can have talents that might be useful to this collaborative project – artist can draw various species, or cities on other worlds; astronomers, biologists, chemists, and physicists are always useful when trying to manage the possibilities of space and to imagine entirely new possibilities; and writers can submit stories of different worlds, not to mention write compelling descriptions of species and worlds. Depending on the levels of detail, architecture, city planning, history, psychology, philosophy, linguistics, and any number of other interests can be of the highest value in making this fictional universe compelling. There are no limits to the depths of imagination allowed in this project, and while this is undoubtedly a work of science-fiction, fantasy elements like magic are also welcome.

Playlist for Creation Stories and Darwin
Lightning Song (Apache)   2:20    Native American Indians    Music Of The Native Americans  
Dem Bones Gonna Rise Again    2:40    Stephen Moore        Sourwood Mountain: American Folk Traditions                             
The Spirit Of Uluru  7:23    The Australian Aborigine   Spirit Of Uluru – Music of the Australian Aborigine                                   
Pan Gu Creates Heaven And Earth Second Movement          9:41    Chen Yi         The Women’s Philharmonic: The Music Of Chen Yi                             
Tane Mahuta (Album)         2:58    The Ruby Suns        Sea Lion

Ecotopia #19 Celebrating Fair Trade

Posted by on 10 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

In this program, we examine the Fair Trade movement, which aims to pay workers in other countries a fair wage and to provide decent working and living conditions for them. We talking first with Adrienne Fitch-Frankel, who manages the Fair Trade program for Global Exchange in San Francisco, including the Cocoa Program.

Then we go local to talk with Liza Tedesco, the interim general manager of Chico Natural Foods about the Co-op’s program to provide Fair Trade food in the store. 

Listen to Ecotopia #19 Online Now!
To download the show as MP3, right click (Mac users control-click) and select “Download File As”

A Primer on Fair Trade and Free Trade

We begin by explaining the concept and practice of Fair Trade and to distinguish it from free trade, which is something altogether different and in many respects diametrically opposed to Fair Trade.

From TransFair USA, the organization that oversees the movement  comes this description of the origins of the Fair Trade movement:
The roots of Fair Trade can be traced back to projects initiated by churches in North America and Europe in the late 1940s. Their goal
was to provide relief to refugees and other poverty stricken communities by selling their handicrafts to Northern markets. Compared to conventional trading structures, these Alternative Trade Organizations offered higher returns to producers in the developing world through direct trade and fair prices. In the US, organizations such as Ten Thousand Villages and SERRV have followed this model with Fair Trade handicrafts, and in 1986, Equal Exchange was formed to import Fair Trade coffee to the US market.  Five criteria must be met for goods to earn the Fair Trade Label:

·       Fair price [and a living wage for their product.]

·       Fair labor conditions: [ … including] freedom of association, safe working conditions, and living wages. Forced child labor is strictly prohibited.

·       Direct trade: […] eliminating unnecessary middlemen.

·       Democratic and transparent organizations: Fair Trade […] workers decide democratically how to invest Fair Trade revenues.

·       Community development: Fair Trade [businesses invest …] in social and business development projects like scholarship programs, quality improvement trainings, and organic certification.

·       Environmental sustainability: Harmful […] chemicals and G[enetically] M[odified] O[rganism]s are strictly prohibited in favor of environmentally sustainable [production methods that protect workers’ health]  and preserve valuable ecosystems for future generations.

http://www.transfairusa.org/       http://www.fairtrade.net/

From Global Ministries comes this even handed discussion of Fair Trade versus Free Trade:

Free trade agreements can be beneficial.  They provide access to one another’s markets and allow countries to concentrate on the production of goods they are best capable of producing.  According to Oxfam, a British based non-profit organization dealing with the issue of free trade, “participation in world trade has figured prominently in many of the most successful cases of poverty reduction-and compared with aid, it has far more potential to benefit the poor.” 

The drawbacks to free trade described by Global Ministries include:

Multinational companies are also taking advantage of highly exploitative employment practices in developing countries and using relaxed labor laws to their advantage while workers are being denied their rights and are forced to work long hours in hazardous conditions for very low pay.  The issue of patents is another concern.  Developed countries have been trying to protect their large pharmaceutical companies by introducing patent protections into free trade agreements. This would mean that generic brands of essential medicines would not be allowed to be sold and this could result in the doubling of costs of medicines.  This could result in devastating consequences for developing countries dealing with epidemic numbers of people infected with HIV/AIDS.[…]

[Additional free trade problems]  include the privatization of government services such as education, health care, water, environmental protection services, postal services, prisons and transportation.  This will mean that foreign corporations will be competing with local governments to provide basic services thus causing prices for essential services to become unaffordable to many. 

http://gbgm-umc.org/global_news/full_article.cfm?articleid=2081

Our Interview with Adrienne Fitch-Frankel:

Adrienne Fitch-Frankel is Global Exchange’s Fair Trade Cocoa Campaigner. She also campaigns for conflict-free diamonds and was part of the Global Exchange-coordinated coalition for Sweatfree legislation in San Francisco. 

  • Please tell us about your work with the Fair Trade Cocoa campaign at Global Exchange. More broadly, please also tell us a little about Global Exchange’s Fair Trade efforts and on-line store.

·         Why support Fair Trade? Who benefits?

·         Earlier in the program, we briefly reviewed the distinction between Fair Trade and free trade. What do you see as the major differences? What’s wrong with free trade’s efforts to reduce tariffs and open borders? Why do you support Fair Trade?

·         You have been involved in an extraordinary range of activities promoting democracy and human rights, protecting the environment, securing peace, and ending poverty. Who are your role models? What inspired you to become a global activist? 

·         You have been active in a number of local or domestic projects, including Sweatfree legislation in San Francisco. Can the principles of the Fair Trade movement be extended to include the U.S.?

·         A criticism of Fair Trade is that, to date, Fair Trade items are primarily luxury or boutique items: coffee, chocolate, crafts and gifts. For example, on the GX web site, one can Fair Trade buy sneakers, but you can’t get a lot of daily necessities like undies, kitchen or laundry soap, and chewing gum. Is there a chance that will change? Can Fair Trade come to rival Safeway or Target or WalMart in product variety and/or influence?

 Be sure to check out the Global Exchange web site for its Fair Trade campaign and Fair Trade store. The store is at http://store.gxonlinestore.org/, and the main site at Global  is  www.globalexchange.org/.

Our Inteview with Liza Tedesco:

Liza Tedesco is the interim general manager of Chico Natural Foods, the co-op, here in Chico. She also works with Equal Exchange, which supplies Fair Trade products all over the U.S.  Liza has been a speaker at the “This Way to Sustainability Conference” at Chico State and has collaborated with the Chico Peace and Justice Center a Fair Trade meeting for local women. 

  • Chico Natural Foods is a major Fair Trade store here in town. What products do you carry?  Why do you choose to carry Fair Trade?
  • How do the Fair Trade products get to Chico? Who is the supplier?  
  • How do you balance the issue of the buy local movement with the Fair Trade movement?
  • Fair Trade tries to eliminate the “middle man”—why is Equal Exchange not just another middle man? How do prices for Fair Trade compare to prices of other goods you might purchase? Is Fair Trade competitive?
  • What kind of response do you have from customers about Fair Trade products? [Locally, coffee and chocolate seem to be the big items.] Do people want more? Could you supply a greater variety?
  • As part of your work with Equal Exchange, you went to Peru and stayed at the home of coffee growers Carlos and Reyna Herrera. on their two-hectare coffee farm. Please tell us about that visit. What has Fair Trade meant to them? Did you visit any non-Fair Trade coffee farms in Peru, and if so, what was the difference?
  • Please tell us about the “Local Women in Fair Trade” meeting in October. What was the purpose?  Who attended? What was accomplished?
  • Chico has now been designated a Fair Trade Town, recognizing that the Co-Op, along with fifteen other businesses, sells Fair Trade goods.  What do you think this means for the people of Chico? 
  • Putting on your prophesy hat, what do you predict as the future for Fair Trade, especially as we are in the midst of an economic downturn and a crisis in world food prices and availability? Can Fair Trade have a hand in solving those problems?

Do-It-Yourself: Taking Action on Fair Trade

•  Global Ministries recommends that you monitor the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is an agency of over 200 people who  negotiate directly with foreign governments to create trade agreements, resolve disputes and participate in global trade policy organizations. They also meet with governments, business groups, legislators and public interest groups to gather input on trade issues and explain the president’s trade policy positions. You can urge that the Representative always negotiate for fair trade practices when negotiating on behalf of the United States so that all countries involved will benefit.  The contact information is listed on their web site, http://www.ustr.gov/, l and this is a good site to visit to inform yourself about the USA’s myriad and complex trade agreements. http://gbgm umc.org/global_news/full_article.cfm?articleid=2081

•  Learn more about the Free Trade Area of the Americas  You may find information by contacting the United States Trade Representative office or by contacting Oxfam America at 1-800-776-9326 or visiting their website at www.oxfamamerica.org.  You may also visit the official FTAA website at www.ftaa-alca.org/alca_e.asp. And you can learn Frequently asked questions, top ten reasons to oppose FTAA, alternatives, updates, and how to get involved.
www.globalexchange.org/ftaa

·         The next time you go shopping try to purchase products that have been traded fairly.  You can get a good idea about the range of products available at the Chico Peace and Justice Center Fair Trade store 526 Broadway, and CPJC can also give you a list of the sixteen area merchants who care Fair Trade goods.  http://www.chico-peace.org

Playlist  for Eco 19 Fair Trade

1. Koo Koo For Cocoa         2:26    The Hit Crew   Tribute To Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory 

2. Chocolate (Introduction) (Feat. Laure Sardin)           1:04    Juk Woo-Red Rain   Chocolate     

3. One More Cup Of Coffee           3:46    Bob Dylan     Desire                                   

4. The Coffee Song             2:53    Frank Sinatra            Ring-A-Ding Ding                           

5. Day-O (Banana Boat Song)      3:05    Harry Belafonte        Calypso                                

6. Weave Me the Sunshine           4:28    Peter, Paul And Mary          The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary

7. Yes We Have No Bananas        3:20    Banana Airlines       Banana Airlines Beste

 

Ecotopia #18 Intelligent Optimism

Posted by on 03 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Tonight’s show is  optimistic!  But not in a frivolous way—we discuss intelligent optimism, and in the first half of the show, we talk with Jurriaan Kamp, cofounder and editor of Ode magazine—O-D-E—as in Beethoven’s “ode to joy,” which was our opening theme tonight.

Ode magazine is dedicated to intelligent optimism, and its latest issue identifies some optimists who are making a difference around the globe. We’ll talk with Jurriaan about who those people are and how his magazine identified them.

In the second part of the program, we talk with one of those people, Michelle Chan, who has been working in the world of global finance trying to get big business to take a deeper interest in the sustainability and moral value of the projects they invest in.

Listen to Ecotopia 18 Online Now!
 (To download, right click [control click Mac users] and select “Download File”.)

Some Optimistic Global News

From the Russian News Agency Novosti  comes word that:

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has said there are grounds to be optimistic about relations between Russia and the United States.

Gorbachev, who recently held a telephone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama and a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, [mehd-vyeh-def] said in an interview […] that the two former Cold War foes would look to tackle arms control and missile defense shield differences. “There are grounds for optimism so far,” he said. His statement echoes opinions by Russian officials that Obama is less determined to pursue his predecessor George Bush’s plans for a missile base in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic. Moscow has fiercely opposed the plans as a security threat.

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20090202/119925467.html

From a Chinese news service RedNet, comes the headline: “Premier Wen ends EU tour with optimism.” Sharon Lee reports:

Premier Wen Jiabao sounded a note of optimism Monday in London and pointed to signs of economic recovery in China as indicating there is “light at the end of the tunnel” regarding the ongoing global financial crisis. [Along with disccusions about reviving the world economy, Premiere Wen [one] reported on some projects within China:The government has already pledged 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) over the next two years to help boost domestic [programs]. Work on projects including rebuilding the earthquake-hit southwest and improving road and rail links is under way. [,,,] Wen also said that he would unveil stimulus measures for shipbuilding and textiles when he returns home. […]

http://english.rednet.cn/c/2009/02/03/1700639.htm


From the Philippine Star, a report by Helen Flores finds that

A recent survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations showed that more Filipinos expect their quality of life to improve in the next 12 months despite the global economic crisis. […]  30 percent of Filipino adults expect their personal quality of life to improve in the next 12 months, an increase from 26 percent three months ago. […] 15 percent of respondents expect their personal quality of life to get worse, an improvement from 17 percent reported last September.

“This brings the Net Personal Optimism (percent Optimists minus percent Pessimists) back to fair +16 after being merely mediocre, ranging from +9 to -6, during the first three quarters of 2008,” the SWS declared. [,,,]  Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said Filipinos are inherently optimistic about their future. […] “Filipinos are a resilient people. Filipinos are an optimistic people,” Recto said. He said there is reason for Filipinos to be optimistic, considering that the Philippines has a young population compared to other countries. “So there’s no reason why the Philippines should not be among the top 10 in the world considering the resources available to us, the weather available to us,” Recto said.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=436995&publicationSubCategoryId=63

Our interview withJurriaan Kamp, editor of Ode Magazine— that calls itself the “magazine for intelligent optimists.”

  • Please tell us about the concept of “intelligent optimism.”  What is it? Why is it “intelligent”?  What would be its opposite—foolish optimism? cockeyed optimism? pollyannism? intelligent pessimism?
  • In the January-February issue, you talk about why you started this magazine in the Netherlands in 1995. Please tell us a little about Ode. How did you come up with the idea? How did you become a global publication?
  • In that same issue, you highlight the stories of “25 intelligent optimists—people who are creating a better tomorrow today.”  How did you choose these folks? (Who were the judges?) How did you make your final selectiion?
  • We’ll be talking with Michelle Chan, one of the twenty-five, a little later in the program. Could you tell us about some of the other people you’ve identified as being significant change makers?
  • Who are your role models in life? Who inspired and you and inspires you?
  • As we close, could you tell us about the online version of Ode and how people can become involved with the magazine?

Our interview with Michelle Chan, one of the 25 people identified by Ode magazine as an intelligent optimist who is making a difference:

  • How did you learn that you’d been named an intelligent optimist?
  • In a time when few people have kind things to say about the banking industry, you are optimistic that banking practices can be changed for the better. Please describe your work.
  • Please tell us some of the specific agreements that you’ve encouraged banks to adopt?  How are those working out?
  • In the article in Ode, you are pretty candid about your concerns for accountability.  And you suggest that in the current economy, banks may want to back off from their commitments. Yet you remain optimistic? How do you maintain your optimism when things get tough?
  • How did you get into this area of activism? We understand that it came, in part, from your efforts to stop the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River.
  • What are your best hopes for the future?
  • How can people who see the value of this work become involved as supporters or activists?

Do-It-Yourself Intelligent Optimism

*From Ode Magazine is a feature called “Turning Words,” by James  Geary, author of The World in a Phrase and Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorisms.

“Dust is ubiquitous but hidden, until sunlight streams through a window to reveal that we are swimming in it. It swirls around and surrounds us like krill in an ocean current. We cannot escape it. It  falls like rain, incessantly, until it covers everything, like silt at the bottom of a like. The slightest movement stirs up whole galaxies of the stuff, spiral nebulae of hair follicles and skin flakes. We  move from day to day, from room to room, like comets, shredding shreds  and fragments in our wakes. “Whatever shines should be observed,” according to 19th-century astronomer William Herschel. When the light changes, though, the trail vanishes. Dust still swarms in secret onto every surface, but we can’t see it. Even what is nearest, most  prolific, is invisible unless properly lit.

http://www.odemagazine.com/

* From British author G. K. Chesterton on the case for Irrational Optimism:

Ratiional optimism leads to stagnation. It is irrational optimism that leads to reform. […]the more transcendental is your patriotism, the more practical are your politics.

http://irrationaloptimism.blogspot.com/

*An outlet for your optimism: log on to Volunteer Match for a listing of volunteer opportunities in the Sacramento Valley, the foothills, and beyond:

https://www.volunteermatch.org/

Playlist

1. Ode To Joy from Symphony No. 9 In D Minor, Op. 125           8:44    Philharmonia Chorus            Beethoven: The Greatest Moments Ever              

2  A Cockeyed Optimist       1:43    Mary Martin & Girls   South Pacific – Original Broadway Cast Recording                                   

3.  Here Comes The Sun     3:06    The Beatles   Abbey Road

4.  Joy To The World 3:16    Three Dog Night        Three Dog Night – The Complete Hits

5.  Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28    Peter, Paul And Mary           The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary     

6.  Siberian Sleighride         2:53    Don Byron      Bug Music     

7.   Gimme Shelter    4:33    The Rolling Stones    Let It Bleed