January 11, 2011

Tonight we’ll be talking with Scott McNall, author of a new book, out just this week, Rapid Climate Change: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions (London and New York: Taylor and Francis).

Following that, we talk with Chris Kerstin of Chaffin Family Orchards about a visit by renowned agricultural reformer, Joel Salatin, who is coming to Chico next week.

[Sadly, we failed to record this show, which was an excellent one.  All the more reason for you to tune in live to the show each week!]

Our Questions for Scott McNall

Scott McNall is the founding Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development at the University and he served as three years in that capacity. He is also a professor of Sociology and served as the University’s provost for 13 years. He now focuses his energies on teaching and writing about issues of climate change and the business of sustainability.

1. Can you start by giving us an overview of the book? What topics do you cover? Who is your audience?

2. What prompted you to write Rapid Climate Change?

3. Your first chapter, “Why is the Earth Getting Warmer and What Difference Does it Make?,” summarizes the science, and you talk about seven tipping points. Can you describe what those are and what makes them so important?

4. One concept you explain in the book is “overshoot,” about the limitations of growth and the system dynamics model it’s based on. And you also talk about “peak everything.” Could you tell us a little about how we’re managing resources in the world?

5. And you talk a lot about how “culture” shapes our use of resources. Describe the difficulties of balancing social, economic, and environmental interests.

6. A continuing theme in the book is how climate change will have a disproportional effect on the poor. Tell us why that’s the case.

7. The book devotes a whole chapter to climate change deniers. You talk about four overlapping themes of deniers. Can you tell us about those themes?

A rejection of scientific literature.

The prioritization of other problems, i.e., the economy is more important.

A free-market philosophy and pro-growth perspective.

The view that environmentalism is a threat to progress.

8. And who’s behind the climate change deniers? What are some of their more egregious claims?

9. How is climate change a moral issue? How do our world views affect our attitudes toward climate change? What do we have to do to address that issue?

10. You also talk about risk assessment and what gets people to act and why they don’t act. Can you tell us what that’s all about?

11. You describe climate change as a “wicked problem,” and we’d like you to talk about that concept a bit. It’s an issue that a lot of our guests address–the interrelatedness of problems–the economy, the environment, population, technology, distribution of wealth, etc.

(Problems to solve: population growth, increasing emissions, degradation of Earth’s ecosystems, and poverty)

12. What are some of the solutions proposed to solve the climate change problem? You pose the question of what we expect government to do and what should we as individuals do? What’s your answer to that? What do governments have to do? What can other groups do? What can individuals do?

13. The book is short but synthesizes enormous amounts of material and draws on myriad resources. Can you talk a little about how you managed the process of synthesizing so much information?

14. If we have time, could you talk a little about the efforts at Chico state in sustainability? We could talk about the various ways the university demonstrates its concern for sustainability.

Chris Kerston on Joel Salatin:

Joel Salatin will be speaking “About the Power of Local Food” on Monday, January 15, at he Masonic Family Center. Doors open at 5:30. Salatin’s Polyface Farm was featured in Michael Pollan’s bestselling book Omnivore’s Dilemma as the example of the ideal pastoral based farming model. Though Joel has long been a role model among alternative farmers with a very popular series of farming books, he has since become a bit of a superstar to mainstream America. His farm was showcased last year in the film Food Inc. which went on to be an Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary. He was also featured in the popular and film FRESH.

According to Chaffin Orchard’s announcement in Facebook, “Joel Salatin is an extremely well educated but light hearted and humorous speaker. He makes the power and mystery behind food and farming come to life for eaters of all walks of life. His ability to communicate the importance of traditional foods, clean grass based farming, and local foods is amazing. You will be entertained and your heart will be touched. He is a master at empowering individuals to move mountains and make real change in their communities.”

For tickets go to http://chaffinorchards.eventbrite.com/

Bring Gerard Home

Another event we’d like to announce is a fundraiser called, “Bring Gerard Home.” Gerard is Gerard Ungerman, whom we’ve interviewed a couple of times on Ecotopia, once to talk about his film, Belonging, and again to talk about his efforts to create Chico as a Green Transition Town.

Gerard is in France, unable to get his visa to return to the United States. A legal effort is being launched to bring Gerard home to his family and friends and work. The fundraiser is being held on Sunday, January 23, from 5-10 PM at the Chico Women’s Club. The event will include hors d’oeuvres, a wine and beer cash bar, live music, and a silent auction. We hope the wholecommunity turns out to show its support of Gerard.