April 19, 2011

Tonight our topic is “Changing Planet–Changing Health.” In the first part of the program we’ll talk with author Dan Ferber, who has coauthored a book with that title. He and Paul Epstein have explored in depth the proven and possible consequence of climate change on human health globally. Wonder why you’ve been sneezing more? We’ll ask Dan Ferber to explain.

Then we’ll talk to Chicoan Pamm Larry, who is interested in protecting our health from another threat, genetically modified organisms. She is part of a team sponsoring a ballot initiative that would require labeling on GMO products in California so that consumers have a chance to know what they are eating and make informed decisions about it.

Listen to the program.

Our Discussion with Dan Ferber

Part 1–The Threat:

On previous editions of Ecotopia, we have discussed climate change and how it is affecting the health and survival of wildlife on the planet.  Tonight, we turn to people. Our guest is Dan Ferber, co-author, with Paul Epstein, of a book titled Changing Planet, Changing Health.  Dan is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine and has written widely on science issues, including articles in Popular Science, Audubon, and Nature Conservancy.

The subtitle of your book is How the Climate Crisis Threatens Our Health and What We Can Do about It.  Let’s save the “what we can do about it” part for later in the show and start with the the threat to our health. Broadly, what’s your view of the relationship between climate change and our health?  Why are we in trouble?

You’re not talking about a “theory” or “thesis” here.  You say, “Clearly climate change is hazardous to our health.”  Why do you and Paul Epstein find the evidence so persuasive?

The opening chapter of Changing Climate–Changing Health focuses on Mozambique as an example of the climate-induced health crisis and presents a substantial and frightening list of diseases and epidemics: “an epidemic of epidemics.”
–Why did you choose to begin the book in this way?
–How does Mozambique bear out the theories of early 20th-Century Austrian ecologist, Ludvig von Bertalanffy?
–What is “the science  of the whole”?

A chapter entitled “Every Breath You Take” offers an explanation for  increased sneezing! What’s the relationship between climate change and respiratory problems​?  Who has lobbied against proposed agreements such as Kyoto and Copenhagen (not that the U.S. was signing on to these anyway)?

The book covers a vast range of planetary ailments.  Could you review (your choice of) one or several of these:
–toxic oceans and declining fisheries
–forests in trouble
–agricultural problems
–storms and sickness

You have a chapter called, “Sobering Predictions.”  As we end this segment, we want to ask an impossibly broad questions: Could you please give us a sobering prediction of how health will worsen over, say, the next 50 to 100 years if we do not alter the rate of climate change?

Part II: Solutions Along with sounding the alarm, you and Dr. Epstein have recommendations for “what we can do about it.”  Let’s talk about some of these.

What do you mean by “Gaining Green by Going Green”? 
–How might going green positively effect, say, the insurance and banking industries?
–How else might the economy actually be improved by fighting global climate change?
–Could you please talk about Gary Hirshberg and his dispelling of myths about:  externalities, sending away waste, and pollution dilution?

Can green captialism produce the needed changes?  (We’ve had people on this program argue that by its very nature, capitalism can never be green–it will always be devoted to squeezing out maximum profits by exploiting any resouce it can. What do you think?)

Throughout the book you refer to Kyoto and other international agreements (or non agreements) on climate change.  What’s your view of the possible success of these kinds of global efforts?  Will they produce the change we need?  How can we “prod the politicians”?

Do you sense that community-level strategies can be successful, e.g., smart growth, campaigns and targets to lower emissions?  (In Chico, our Sustainability Task Force is working on these problems.)

What advice do you have for individual listeners to help us “veer from our tarnished history, creating a legacy of healing for both the Earth and ourselves.”

The book is Changing Planet–Changing Health, by Paul Epstein and our guest, Dan Ferber, and it’s published by the University of California Press.  You can learn more about the book at http://www.changingplanetchanginghealth.com/.  Dan also has a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ChangingPlanetChangingHealth, that includes blogs, comments, and links to other articles. We’re posing all those links on our own website, ecotopiakzfr.net.

Our Discussion with Pamm Larry

Pamm Larry has lived in Chico for 33 years and has worn many hats in her tenure here–one as a farmer in the mid ’80s to ’90s. She’s a mother and a grandmother and has been a mini activist for decades. After years of being depressed about the future of our food she had an epiphany on January 20, 2011 to take a strong stand and organize the state for a ballot initiative to require mandatory labling of genetically engineered foods and the factory farmed animals that eat them. 

1.  What was your epiphany?
2. What is the ballot initiative you are creating? What would it require by way of labeling?
3.  Why is it important to have GMO food labeled?  (Does labeling
actually protect us from GMOs or simply alert us to food content?)
4.  Please tell us about your fundraiser this coming Saturday.  (We’re
not allowed to state ticket prices over the air–goofy FCC rule–but
you can tell people how and where to get them.)
5.  How can people learn more about the initiative and get involved?

Playlist for Eco 133: Changing Planet–Changing Health

1. Global Warming Blues 3:42 Lenny Solomon Armando’s Pie
2. Danger (Global Warming) – Radio Mix 3:35 Brick Casey Danger (GlobalWarming)
3. Health 2:50 Electric Guitars Health
4. Good Health 3:37 The Dixie Hummingbirds In Good Health
5. Health and Strength 4:28 Pressure Riddim Ruller: Drop It Riddim
6. Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28 Peter, Paul And Mary The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary
7. The Health And Welfare 8:58 Urlaub In Polen Health And Welfare