May 2010

Monthly Archive

#87 Smart Landscaping

Posted by on 25 May 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

25 May 2010

Tonight we are going to talk about Lanscaping and gardening. Our first Guest is Sue Reed, author of Energy-Wise Landscape Design: A New Approach for your Home and Garden.  Then we’ll talk with a local gardener:  We visited Jef Inslee in his garden to learn more about how to create a diverse edible and ornamental garden in one’s own back—and front—yard.

Local Connections with Green Landscaping

Since we’re taking about landscaping and gardening tonight, we thought we’d give you some events and resources for gardening.

The Chico Permaculture Guild is holidng a garden wheel and monthly meeting at the Ladwig home in Chico on Saturday, May 29, from 10am to 4pm. For more information call Stephanie at 828-6390 or go to the Permaculture Guild website:

For the past two years, David Grau, of Valley Oak Tools, has been offering an Organic Gardening class from January through the spring, taught by master gardeners and farmers in our region. The newsletters from that class are filled with gardening tips, really, practically a whole course on organic farming and gardening. You can find issues of the newsletter by going to the website: Click on the link on the left “Organic Gardening Newsletter.

 Another great resource in our area is Jennifer Jewell’s website, Her website includes a calendar of regional gardening events; an online journal about plants, food, events, and people in the gardening world; and podcasts of her radio program “In a Northstate Garden.” The site is not only informative but beautiful in its extensive use of lush photos. She also includes extensive resources and links, such as  Botanic, Teaching and Open Gardens; National & State Garden Club Organizations; Regional Garden Clubs; Plant Societies; Master Gardener Programs; Independent Nurseries; Horticulture Libraries & Bookstores; Regional Gardening Publications.

Our Discussion with Sue Reed

our guest is Sue Reed, author of is Energy-Wise Landscape Design: A New Approach for your Home and Garden.  She’s a landscape architect with years of experience helping homeowners create comfortable, livable, beautiful and energy-efficient landscapes. She lives and works in Shelburne Falls in western Massachusetts. 

  1. As the title of your book—Energy-Wise Landscape Design–suggests, you maintain that we can improve our comfort and our use of energy by recreating the landscape surrounding our homes. How can we save energy through improved landscaping?
  2. The first two sections of your book describe ways of cooling our houses in the summer and warming our houses in the winter. Let’s start with cooling, since summer is almost here. What are some ways we can cool our houses in the summer?
  3. And how can we use landscape to keep our houses warmer in the winter?
  4. You also say that we can save energy, time and money by creating a healthy ecosystem. What does a healthy ecosystem consist of?
  5. Later in the program we’ll be taking with a homeowner who has eliminated most of his grass in favor of a garden. What are the advantages of replacing one’s lawn with a garden?
  6. What are some other elements of landscape design that people should consider as they are recreating or creating their land use?
  7. We might have listeners who would like to do one or two things to improve their landscape this summer. What would you recommend for people who want to take on this process one step at a time?

 We’ve been talking with Sue Reed. Her book is Energy-Wise Landscape Design: A New Approach for your Home and Garden, published by New Society Publishers  

Our Conversation with Jef Inslee

We recorded an inter view with Jef in his backyard. If we can figure out the complexities of various electronic devices, we will download it from our fancy “professional grade” recorder and upload it through the mysteries of File Transfer Protocol, whatever that is.  Maybe you’ll find a link to it here.

Ecotopia #86 Oil and Water

Posted by on 18 May 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

18 May 2010

Tonight our topic is Oil and Water, specifically the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that has dominated the news the past several weeks. We talk on the phone with Marcie Keever of Friends of the Earth about the environmental and political consequences of the spill and about some broader issues concerning the role of petroleum in our future.

Some Background on the Gulf Oil Spill

You’ve no doubt been listening to the news about the spill, about its incredible size, about the unknown amount of oil being released, about unsuccessful and semisuccessful efforts to stem the flow, and about finger pointing among multinationals British Petroleum, Transocean Ltd, and Haliburton about who is responsible and who should foot the financial part of the bill. (We know that the environment itself will wind up footing the largest part of the bill through irremedial damage.)  So we thought it would be useful to give you an update on the spill with some stories that have come out within the last twenty-four hours.  From the Associated Press comes this review:

 The Gulf of Mexico oil spill began with an explosion and fire on April 20 on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP PLC, which is in charge of cleanup and containment. The blast killed 11 workers. Since then, oil has been pouring into the Gulf from a blown-out undersea well at about 210,000 gallons per day.

With BP finally gaining some control over the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, scientists are increasingly worried that huge plumes of crude already spilled could get caught in a current that would carry the mess all the way to the Florida Keys and beyond, damaging coral reefs and killing wildlife. Scientists said the oil will move into the so-called loop current soon if it hasn’t already, though they could not say exactly when or how much there would be. Once it is in the loop, it could take 10 days or longer to reach the Keys.

A Washington-based research group says two BP refineries in the U.S. account for 97 percent of “egregious willful” violations given by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The study by the Center for Public Integrity says the violations were found in the last three years in BP’s Texas City refinery and another plant in Toledo, Ohio. In 2005, 15 people were killed in an explosion at the Texas City refinery.

A federal judge has been asked to shut down a BP oil and gas platform that operated with incomplete and inaccurate engineering documents in the same part of the Gulf as the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court says the U.S. Interior Department failed to investigate warnings of possible safety problems with BP’s Atlantis platform.

Chris Oynes, who oversees offshore drilling programs at the Minerals Management Service, will retire at the end of the month, according to an e-mail sent by an agency official to staff and obtained by The Associated Press.

[The chemicals being used by BP to disperse the oil have been called into question:]  A marine toxicologist who was a veteran of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and Louisiana fishermen have called for President Barack Obama to order BP PLC to quit using a chemical dispersant in the Gulf of Mexico. Riki Ott, whose livelihood in the fishing industry was ended by the Valdez spill, said Monday that Venice-area residents are exhibiting symptoms of exposure to the oil and the dispersant, including headaches, nose bleeds, sinus problems and rashes.

[ Both President Obama and the  U.S. Senate are enraged by the handling of the spill by BP, Transocean, and Halliburton.]  Yesterday, California Sen. Barbara Boxer and other Democrats on the Senate environment committee [called] for the Department of Justice to open a criminal and civil investigation into the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Boxer, who chairs the environment panel, said that operators of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig did not appear to have required equipment and technology needed to respond to the spill, which has dumped millions of gallons into the Gulf of Mexico.

[ British Petroleum is engaged in public relations efforts of a sizeable scale.] It is awarding $70 million in grants to help Gulf Coast states promote tourism in the aftermath of the massive oil spill. The company […] announced Monday that it will provide $25 million to Florida and $15 million each to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. BP says the states can distribute the money as they see fit.

 [The Associated Press also reports in its update that:] Delicate coral reefs already have been tainted by plumes of crude oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, including a sensitive area that federal officials had tried to protect from drilling and other dangers. And marine scientists are worried even more of the deep-sea reefs could be damaged as the thick goo creeps into two powerful Gulf currents.

[And finally,] [Louisiana] Gov. Bobby Jindal and leaders from several coastal parishes are pushing a $350 million barrier island repair plan as a way to protect Louisiana’s coast from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and reduce the ultimate cleanup and its costs. Sand dredged from the gulf’s floor would be built up in 86 miles of the gaps between islands, returning land eaten away by decades of storms and slower erosion.

Again, that summary of oil-spill-related events within the past twenty-four hours comes from the Associated Press.

Our Conversation with Marcie Keever:

Marcie Keever is on the staff of Friends of the Earth, which is actively engaged in oil and water issues. Marcie has previously served as program director for San Francisco Beautiful, where she implemented a campaign to stop the proliferation of digital billboards in California and prevented the placement of advertising on the Golden Gate Bridge. She holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco with a certificate in Environmental Law, and a B.A. from U.C. Santa Barbara with a double major in Environmental Studies and Law and Society. So she’s an attorney as well as an environmentalist.

Part I: The Gulf Oil Spill

  • At the beginning of the program, we provided an update on the BP Gulf Oil spill. Could you please tell us what you and Friends of the Earth see as happening at the moment?
  • What do you foresee as the environmental consequences of this catastrophe?  To what extent can we predict the full consequences?
  • What are the various earth-friendly organizations doing at the moment to mitigate the effects of the spill? 
  • In one press release, FOE argues that responsibility for the spill should not simply be borne by British Petroleum (as Obama said it would).  Who else should be held accountable?
  • Please review for us President Obama’s position on offshore drilling and how it has shifted.  [A recent cartoon in Humor Times mocks the President’s drilling plans by saying he’s going after “2% of the proven reserves of Republican goodwill untapped offshore.” Why is Obama catering to or at least trying to appease offshore drilling interests?]
  • A press release explains that “More than 16,000 activists have now joined Friends of the Earth’s call for President Obama to reconsider his plan for more offshore drilling.”  Who are these activists? How can interested listeners participate in this campaign?
  • Please also tell us about FOE’s television commercials opposing Drill Baby Drill.
  • What else would you like to tell us about yours and FOE’s response to the Gulf Oil Spill?

    Part II: Beyond the Gulf

In the first part of our conversation this evening, we’ve concentrated on the Gulf Oil Spill and offshore drilling issues.  But there is more to Oil and Water than that. 

  • You are Director of the Clean Vessels Campaign for Friends of the Earth.  Please tell us about that project.
    • What vessels are we talking about?  tankers?  cruise ships?
    • Leaks and tank cleaning versus dirty bunker fuel?
    • In earlier programs on the Copenhagen conference, we noted that emissions from vessels at sea were never a part of the proposed agreements.  Why not?
    • What sort of regulation or legislation would be required to control pollution by vessels at sea?
    • What initiatives will you be undertaking in coming months/years in the Clean Vessels Campaign
    • Beyond the issues of Oil and Water, FOE has clearly stated its opposition to global dependence on fossil fuels generally—coal as well as oil.
  • What do you see as viable alternatives? Nukes?  Wind and solar? Conservation?
  • A question we like to ask on this program:  Do you see changes in human and industrial behavior coming about through:
    • mandates?
    • incentives?
    • the good will of people?
    • desperation at the brink?
  • As we close, please remind us again of the mission of Friends of the Earth and tell our listeners how they can get involved.

Other Ways to Get Involved

 Here’s a petition opportunity from Avaaz dot org, the group that we also linked up with for our Chico Copenhagen Vigil in December. Avaaz writes:

 We’ve all seen the outrageous images: a monstrous oil spill is gushing as much as 2,500,000 gallons of crude a day into the Gulf of Mexico.

Before the spill, U.S. President Obama and Congressional leaders were planning to ramp up offshore drilling. Now, with the spill, the politics have shifted — and an opportunity has opened for the world’s biggest historical climate polluter to shift away from oil and towards climate-safe energy sources.

At a moment like this, when leaders are making up their minds, the world’s voices can help tip the balance. Sign the petition urging the U.S. to stop offshore drilling and invest instead in clean renewable energy — the signatures will be delivered to the White House in Washington DC when we reach 500,000!

 On a more global note, Global Exchange is continuing its campaign to reign in Chevron, a topic we discussed with Antonia Juhaz in an earlier Ecotopia program. In a press release dated May 11, Global Exchange writes:

[A] Coalition of experts from communities harmed by oil operations [will] release [an] Alternative Annual Report and confront Chevron at a shareholder meeting in Houston, May 26, asking “Is Chevron Next?”

 The Global Exchange press release continues:

 Before it exploded, BP’s drilling rig was run by Transocean, the same company Chevron [uses] for its massive Gulf offshore operations. In fact, Chevron put its Gulf of Mexico ultra-deepwater drillship, the Discoverer Clear Leader, on the cover of its Annual Report this year shortly after signing a 5-year-lease with Transocean for the ship.

U.S. and international experts on the impact of oil will converge in Houston on May 25 and 26 at the time of Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting. They will release “The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report, 2010” written by nearly 50 contributing authors and edited by Antonia Juhasz, author of The Tyranny of Oil. They will expose the looming global disasters of big oil’s dangerous operations at public events, protest rallies, and at Chevron’s shareholder meeting

Just days prior to publication of its Annual Report, 18,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from a Chevron operated pipeline in the Delta National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Louisiana. Chevron has lobbied aggressively to open up more waters to offshore drilling and is right now drilling the deepest offshore oil well in Canada’s history at 8,530 feet. Meanwhile, in Alaska, Chevron has been fighting with federal regulators to allow it to continue to use a corroded pipe that has lost more than 60 percent of its wall thickness indefinitely to carry oil from its offshore operations to shore. 

Global Exchange concludes:

Chevron has pushed the boundaries offshore, just as it has pushed them beyond what should be acceptable in its oil, natural gas, and coal operations. Across the globe, Chevron’s operations put our climate, security, and the health of our communities at great risk. That is why it’s the focus of a growing resistance.

You can read more about Global Exchange and Chevron at

 We also just received an article and press reslease from Dan Jocobson of Environment California, which exposes even more BP violations and provides a petition link calling for Congress to hold BP accountable.  Sign the petition at  You can read the full details at www.environmentcalifornia dot org.

Playlist for Ecotopia #86: Oil and Water

1. North Sea Oil (2004 Digital Remaster)        3:12        Jethro Tull       Stormwatch       

2. Oil Spill Summer        2:47        Butt       


3. Industrial Disease        5:50        Dire Straits       

        Love Over Gold                               

4. Only So Much Oil In The Ground (LP Version)        3:50        Tower of Power       

        Urban Renewal       

5. Nature’s Way        2:40        Spirit       

        Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus       

6. Weave Me the Sunshine        4:28        Peter, Paul And Mary       

        The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary       

7. Zemelya-Chernozem. Black Soil. (Variations )        3:35        Andrei Krylov       

        Russian Classical Guitar Music. Vol 2. Romance, Folk Songs.       

8. Laws Of Motion        6:40        The Tiptons Sax Quartet       Laws Of Motion


That completes our look at the Gulf Oil Spill on Ecotopia, and we will continue to monitor this catastrophe as well as global oil issues in coming programs.

Ecotopia #85 Good Food and the Whole Earth Festival

Posted by on 12 May 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

11 May 2010 

Tonight we’ll be talking with Carol Albrecht. She is the co-owner of Chaffin Family Orchards and co-leader of the Chico-Butte Chapter of  the Weston A. Price Foundation, an organization that is  dedicated to helping people eat healthier with locally grown ingredients. We’ll be talking with her about their healthy foods cooking classes. 

Later in the show Steve will tell us about his bicycle trip to Davis where he attended the Whole Earth Festival. 

Listen to the show:  Click here.

Some Background on Healthy Eating  Organizations 

A national organization that focuses on healthy eating is RAFT. “RAFT is an alliance of food, farming, environmental and culinary advocates” managed by Slow Foods USA.”   The goal of this group is to “identify, restore and celebrate America’s biologically and culturally diverse food traditions through conservation, education, promotion and regional networking.” RAFT is an acronym for Renewing America’s Food Traditions.” 

The Alliance was founded in 2004, and “brings food producers, chefs and consumers together to develop and promote conservation strategies, sustainable food production, and awareness of our country’s unique and “at risk” foods and food traditions.” 

They say: 

“We aim to promote and ensure that the diverse foods and traditions unique to North America reaches our tables by means that make our families and communities healthier and our food system more diverse: ecologically, culturally and structurally. We focus on clusters of foods at risk that we feel we have a capacity to recover, using models of discovery, recovery and sustainability that may inspire others to do similar work.” 

 More information about Slow Foods USA can be found at their website: 

 The local chapter of Slow Foods was founded in 2005. The Shasta/Cascade is made up of Shasta, Tehama and Butte Counties. Information about them can be found at: 

 The Chico Food Network was established in 2001. It began as the “Chico Food Systems Project” and their website explains that the network “originally brought together local farmers, restaurant owners, and health education professionals in an effort to strengthen the bonds between individuals involved in the local food system. Early activities included the hosting of “Real Food Dinners” that celebrated the connection between local farmers and restaurants and highlight local food products. With the establishment of a Slow Food chapter in Chico (which filled this niche), the focus of the Chico Food Network shifted to cosponsoring nutrition education seminars and supporting the efforts of other food-related organizations and projects in Chico. . . . The Chico Food Network is presently focusing it efforts on supporting school and community gardens, and has begun an active grant-writing campaign for the benefit of these endeavors.”

More information can be found about them on their website:

Our Conversation with Carol Albrecht
In a prerecorded interview, we asked Carol to describe the work of the Westin A Price foundation as well as her own work as a healthy food activist.   Check out the Westin A. Price Foundation at


Susan’s Survey of Healthy Eating Cookbooks
After talking with Carol Albrecht about cooking classes, I was prompted to review some my family’s cookbooks. Nourishing Traditions, written by Sally Fallon with Mar G. Enig, has as its subtitle “The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.” As Carol said, Nourishing Traditions grows out of the ideas of Weston Price who studied health around the world, comparing the so-called “primitives” with the so-called “civilized.” The “refined grains, canned foods, pasteurized milk, and sugar” of the civilized resulted, he found, in “tooth decay, infectious disease, degenerative illness and infertility.” Following Weston Price’s  findings, Fallon and Enig attend to both the food quality and food preparation. Carol’s cooking classes make use of these ideas. And you can find many great recipes based on these ideas in Nourishing Traditions. The hors d’oeurvres section alone makes the book worth having: Salmon Spread, Shrimp Platter, Cream Cheese-Flax Spread, Stuff Endive Leaves, Eggplant Relish Mushroom Crustades, Herb Cheese Spread with Whole Grain Crackers, Red Pepper Quiche Squares, Avocado Dip.


Rebecca Woods’ The Splendid Grain explains that whole grains are concentrated sources of nutrients: “The germ contains the spark of life, and the bran gives shape and form to the kernel.” She uses wild rice, corn, mesquite, amaranth, quinoa, Buckwheat, millet, Job’s tears, barley, wheat, rye, oats, sorghum and tef. “Tef” was a new grain to me. It’s a tiny cereal seed from the Blue Nile in Ethiopia. Intriguing recipes include Pueblo Bread Pudding, Cous Cous Marmalade Torte, Barley-Dandelion Coffee, Apricot Millet Breakfast Cake, and Buckwheat Pumpkin Muffins.

For vegetarians, I browsed in “The Sacred Kitchen: Higher-Consciousness Cooking for Health and Wholeness.” Robin and Jon Robertson’s book “draws from scriptural sources, religious philosophy, and every tradition in which a spark of wisdom encourages us to live healthier, more fulfilling lives. . . .” They also “look at various dietary traditions as well as new medical discoveries and come up with an approach to diet that [they] call centered cuisine.” The book, then, is much more than a series of recipes, and recipes include Ecstasy Jade Soup, Golden Sun Saute, and Samadhi-Loves-You Banana-Berry Pudding, Yin-Yang Potato Soup, and Pesto De Resistance.

Yum. You’re probably ready for dinner.

Steve’s Bicycle Trip to Davis and the Whole Earth Festival
Over the weekend, Steve and 17 other Chicoans bicycled 100 miles to Davis to attend the Whole Earth Festival.  The group accompanied Chico musicians Sarah and Karisha, better known as Ma Muse, and the entourage carried the Ma Muse equipment, including a standup bike with its own trailer that looks suspiciously like a coffin. The group pedaled as far as Colusa the first night, then continued on to Davis. 
  • Who went and what was the purpose of the trip?  17 peeps, includling Ma Muse .        
  • Route
    • Factory farm territory       
    • Vast spaces
    • Crop dusting
  • Arriving in Davis: The story of the Domes .
    • 18 units, built in 1972, student housing
    • Domes built “upside down” from molds–fiberglass and insulation
    • Intentional community
  • Whole Earth Festival
    • 42nd annual
    •  Zero waste
    •   Lotsa arts and crafts—much ecofriendly but pricey
  • Technology exhibits:
    •  Home biodiesel conversions—Matt Roberts, Springboard Biodiesel of Chico
    • Electric bikes—BionX $1500-$2000, 20-50 miles, uses the electric motor as a braking and electricity regeneration. (Good for around town, especially hilly, dealer (John Swann) has taken one touring.)
    • Electric cars—Toyota and Nissan, 80-100 miles per charge, “emissions free” (if you don’t count any emissions created by the electricity you plug in to)
  • Especially interesting environmental exhibits
    • Environmental Voices (Deborah Whitman)—concerned with government weather modification and”chem trails” left by weather modification planes.  (Roslyn Peterson—on our show).
    • Center for Outdoor Ethics, Boulder, Colorado—fostering stewardship of the outdoors, training sessions on: hiking, camping, leaving no trace, dealing with human waste, fire and light, respecting wildlife
    • Engineers without borders—engineering students who develop low-cost to promote clean water, renewable energy, and sanitation around the world.  The Davis Chapter is working in Nigeria primarily on clean water and was demonstrating a filtering system that uses sand and gravel plus a biologically active layer to get clean and reasonably pure water.  (There is also a Chico chatper—we’ll need to get them on the program)
    • Green Tortoise Tours—bus tricked out with sleeping bunks.  Sleep and travel at night.  Low cost. Mostly vegetarian food.  Low prices—
Playlsist for Ecotopia #85: Good Food and the Whole Earth Festival 


1. Savoy Truffle  2:55  The Beatles        The Beatles (White Album)  

 2. Food      2:40    The Turtles The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands      

3. Food, Glorious Food (From ‘Oliver’)     3:49  Cast Of ‘Oliver’    Lionel Bart’s Oliver        


4. Food Food Food (Oh How I Love my Food)  2:10  The Wiggles        Toot Toot 


5. MaMuse    (selections from their new album)

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


7. Shortenin' Bread      2:03  Mississippi John Hurt    The Library Of Congress Recordings Vol. 1 Disc. 


Ecotopia #84 Adapting and THRIVING

Posted by on 12 May 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Tonight we’re talking about Adapting and Thriving in a time of climate change and environmental degradation.

In the first segment of the show, will be on the phone with Melanie Lenart, who is a scientist at the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment and author of a new book called Life in the Hothouse: How a Living Planet Survives Climate Change. She’ll talk about some of the ways in which mother nature adjusts to changing conditions, some of the things that happen on the planet as temperatures rise and rainfall increases. She thinks the planet has its own set of adaptation mechanisms, but she also calls on the planets inhabitants to do their share in slowing down the destruction of the planet.

 Then we’ll talk with Andres Edwards who is a green building and sustainability consultant about some of the sustainability initiatives around the world.  His book is called Thriving Beyond Sustainability: Pathways to a Resilient Society.

Both Melanie Lenart and Andres Edwards are realistic  optimists, telling us some of the ways we can take the current planetary crisis and make it the starting point for some needed and necessary changes in human behavior.

Our Conversation with Melanie Lenart

Melanie Lenart  is an environmental scientist and writer as well as an adjunct professor at the University of Arizona. She has a doctorate in Natural Resources and Global Change from the University of Arizona and works with UA’s Institute of the Environment.  She is interested in understanding how the planet responds to climate change, and that’s the topic of her new book: Life in the Hothouse: How a Living Planet Survives Climate Change

  • You open your book with a story of sitting in an Ohio café on a day with 100% humidity—and then it rains.  Perhaps you could retell that story as an illustration of what your book is about.
  • The book is centered in something called “Gaia theory.”  Who is this “Gaia,” and what is the theory? 
    • How does Gaia differ from more traditional mechanistic views of the planet?
    • But you also are a dedicated science and use observations of changes in ice cover, sea level, temperature, and precipitation to consider what this means for global vegetation, especially forests and wetlands. How do you merge the two?
    • Between the physics and Gaia theory, can we get accurate predictions about what the future  holds? 
  • Let’s touch on one or several of the phenomena you describe in the book to see what your research indicates may be taking place:
    • hurricanes
    • greenhouse gas increases
    • the ocean depths/polar icecaps
    • forests and wetlands
  • Let’s turn to we the people.  You write a cautiously optimistic but carefully qualified statement about human futures: “[W]e’re not necessarily holding a one-way ticket to hellish heat.”  (2)
    • Does Gaia “care” whether there are people on the planet or whether they are doing well or badly?
    • “How can we help, instead of hinder, efforts by our planet and its natural systems to control climate and support life?” (191)
  • We’d be interested in your response to a question we’ve asked a number of guests on this show: If there is to be change in human behavior, will it come about through:
    • mandates and laws?
    • incentives to cut down on excess?
    • free market economics?
    • humans’ natural desire to do the right thing?
    • last-gasp desperation?
  • In closing, please tell us anything else you’d like our listeners to know or think about.

 The book is Life in the Hothouse: How a Living Planet Survives Climate Change, and it’s published by the University of Arizona Press.  You can also read more about Melanie and her work at her website: .

Our Discussion with Andres Edwards

With us on the phone now is Andrés Edwards, author of a new book titled, Thriving Beyond Sustainability: Pathways to a Resilient Society. He is an educator, entrepreneur, and author, and he is interested in helping communities develop vigorous and sustainable patterns of living.  

  • You are a person of many interests and talents.  Please start by telling us something of what you do.  And, perhaps, some background: How did you become interested in these topics and educated in them?
  • The central thesis of your book, suggested in the subtitle, is that it’s not enough for humans to become sustainable; we have the potential to thrive in a changed world.  Given our gloomy times, that is an incredibly ambitious goal.  What reasons do you have for optimism?
  • We were interested that you begin the book by looking to ancient and contemporary societies that have managed to thrive under extremely difficult conditions, e.g., Tibetan nomads, the Balinese, the Inuit people, the Kogi of Africa.  What can we learn from these people?
  • What is the SPIRALS framework? How does it work in practice?  (Initiatives that are scalable, place-making,. intergeneratiional, resilient,accessible, life affirming, and involving self care.)
  • Please describe one or several specific projects that you think illustrate the achievement and potential of the SPIRALS model. Here are two that are especially relevant to our listeners:
    • Transitions. We have a Transitions project here in Chico. Could you tell us a little about what is happening with Transitions on a national and global scale?
    • Climate Action Plans. We also have an active Sustainability Task Force in Chico that is preparing a climate action plan.  Please tell us about your observations on this movement worldwide.
    • [In the Foreword to your book, Bill McKibben expresses his unhappiness with the Copenhagen Climate Change conference, and we’ve done several shows on this topic.  Do you see any reason to feel optimistic about global governments as well as the US of A and their willingness to reduce emissions levels?]
    • Greening the economy.  A lot of people (and we’re among them) would like to believe that sustainable commerce can also be green, or that, to be crass, you can make an honest buck or a million by greening up the world.  Is this a sound premise?  (What about greenwashing?)
    • You do a lot of work in “regenerative design.”  Please tell us how that works and give us an example or two.
    • What are “tipping points.”  Where do they come from and what is their effect?  Do you think that humanity is smart enough or ethical enough to create a sustainability tipping point for itself, rather than, say being driven to the edge of the cliff?
    • What else would you like our listeners to know or think about?


The book is Thriving Beyond Sustainability: Pathways to a Resilient Society.   It’s published by New Society Publishers, and includes a number of action lists for groups and individuals as well as an extensive bibliography of sustainability organizations. You can also learn more by visiting his web site:

1.  Nature's Way        2:40        Spirit       
2.  Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus        Death Of Mother Nature Suite (Album Version)        7:54        Kansas        Kansas       
3.  Seed        6:25        Afro Celt Sound System        Seed       
4.  Save the Water        3:36        Stan Breckenridge        Reflections       
5.  Weave Me the Sunshine        4:28        Peter, Paul And Mary        The Very Best of 
Peter, Paul and Mary       
6.  Garden Song        5:34        MaMuse        All The Way
7.  Trophic Cascade        4:12        Ronn Fryer       
8.  Endangered Animals (Environmental  



Ecotopia #83 Endangered Species Faire

Posted by on 12 May 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Tonight we will be talking with Mary Muchowski and Robin Huffman of the Butte Environmental Council.  We’ll talk first with Mary, who is the Education and Outreach Coordinator, about the Endangered Species Faire that comes up this Saturday, May 1, 10 am to 4 pm. 

We’re pleased to say that we’ve been asked to emcee the Faire, so we will be there throughout the day telling folks what’s happening and introducing a range of outstanding guests and musical groups. 

Then in the second part of the show tonight we’ll talk with Robin Huffman, who is the Advocacy Director for the Butte Environmental Council, about some of the major projects of the council, protecting the Northstate’s land, air, and water, and learning how we can all become more involved in the work of the Council. 

Our Questions for Mary Muchowski


Mary Muchowski, Education and Outreach Coordinator of the Butte Environmental Council.  She is organizing this Saturday’s Endangered Species Faire, the 31st annual Faire, a huge project.  Thanks for joining us, Mary. 

  • Let’s start with the history of the Faire, which dates back to the early 1970s.  Where did it come from? 
  • How has it evolved over the years?
  • What are some of the highlights of this year’s Faire:
    • Exhibits and hands on activities for adults and kids?
    • Musical and other entertainment?
    • Exhibitors?
    • Food?
  • How many people do you expect to attend this year’s Faire?
  • [ Remind listeners that it takes place Saturday, May 1, 10 am to 4 pm, Cedar Grove, Bidwell Park.]
  • Is there a charge for admission?  Additional information at
  • Your web site lists the events and gives a good deal more information.
  • In particular, the site lists state and federal endangered species, a list that is long and frightening.  How many endangered species are there in California?  Although we’ll be talking with Robin Huffman in a few minutes about BEC’s programs, could you tell us a little about how, specifically, BEC’s projects and programs are helping preserve endangered species?
  •  Please tell us a little more about your work as Education and Outreach Director.  In addition to the Faire, what does BEC do for the public, the schools, the community?]

Our Conversation with Robin Huffman 

 Robin Huffman is  Advocacy Director for BEC.  

BEC has a wide range of projects underway, more than we can possibly do justice to in this segment.  But perhaps you can give us an overview of some of  these: 

  • Water.  BEC and other organizations just won a lawsuit concerning the use of Northstate waters for alleged “drought” conditions.  Can you tell us a little about this case?
  • The Tuscan Aquifer study.
  • Water bottling—the Orland plant, the foothills 160 af exportation plan.
  • Butte County General Plan 2030. (Regional Conservation Plan.)  Given hard economic times, is the environment more threatened than ordinarily?
  • New Era Mine.
  • Chico/Butte Creek preservation and restoration.
  • Other topics you’d like to cover?

    Obviously these efforts require time and money.  Please tell about how listeners can become involved—maybe as simple as volunteering at the office, but possibly becoming major movers/researchers in some of these causes.  And what kinds of funds are needed to support this work.

   Playlist for Ecotopia #83: Endangered Species Faire

1.   Black Moon (Album Version)        6:59        Emerson, Lake & Palmer        Black Moon
2.   Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)        3:16        Marvin Gaye
                What's Going On
3.   Supernova        4:42        Liquid Blue       
4.   Doctor My Eyes (LP Version)        3:20        Jackson Browne       
        Jackson Browne       
5.   Trophic Cascade        4:12        Ronn Fryer       
        Endangered Animals (Environmental Jenga)       
6.   Weave Me the Sunshine        4:28        Peter, Paul And Mary       
        The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary       
7.   Death Of Mother Nature Suite (Album Version)        7:54        Kansas       

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