June 2011

Monthly Archive

Ecotopia #144–Saving the Earth, One Project at a Time

Posted by on 28 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

June 28, 2011

Tonight, In the first part of the hour we’ll be on the phone to Denver, where we will talk with Nada Culver, counsel for the Wilderness Society. She and the Society are concerned about recent softening of legislation that will undercut the Bureau of Land Management’s ability to protect millions of acres of wilderness from dangers ranging from off-road vehicles to oil drilling and mining.

Later, we’ll review some recent news about other efforts to protect the planet–land, sea, animals and other living things–and to protect our food supply.

Listen to the Program

Our Discussion with Nada Culver

As you probably know, the federal Bureau of Land Management owns and administers vast quantities of land in the west. BLM land is currently under some protection from encroachment by developers, oil drillers, recreational enthusiasts, and other who might despoil the land. But the Wilderness Society reports that some of those protections are under attack. With us on the phone from Denver to discuss these problems is Nada Culver, senior counsel of the Wilderness Society’s BLM Action Center. Welcome, Nada.
–To begin, please tell us a little about the BLM Action Center and its purpose within the Wilderness Society.
–Will you give us some background on the BLM itself? What’s its mission? How much land does it actually control? What legal standing and legislation does BLM have in place to protect those lands?
–The Wilderness Society is concerned about proposed legislation and “a backroom deal”. Please explain for us:
…BLM’s new Wildlands Policy that has been “stopped in its tracks”
…The proposed Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act
–We lived in Nevada for some time and are very fond of Alder Creek, known historically for its connection with the ill-fated Donner party. It’s one of the areas in Nevada that would be under attack. What might happen to Alder Creek if the bill proposed by Rep. Kevin McCarthy passes? Could you give us examples of other areas that might be damaged as a result of the bill?
–What kind of involvement has the Obama administration had in these dealings? Is his administration providing adequate support–or any support at all–to the wildlands preservation effort? What has Secretary Salazar had to say? –What are the next actions that we might see in the halls of Congress? What is the Wilderness Society’s plan and strategy to oppose and reverse bad decisions?
–How can concerned listeners become involved in these actions? We’re posting the link to the Wilderness Society on our website. <wilderness.org/> Are there other organizations or resources that we should investigate?

Other Efforts to Save the Earth

Florida Rivers. Here’s a news story from June 24 from EarthJustice <http://Earthjustice>, a non-profit public interest law firm “dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment.” David Guest writes about the “sliming” of South Flordia: “Algae season peaks with warm sun and abundant nutrients–Green slime on Caloosahatchee River”. He says:

As I write this, half of the 75-mile long Caloosahatchee River in southwest Florida is covered by nauseating green slime. It’s a heartbreaking sight – dead fish wash up along the banks, and waterfront homes have a pricey view of a stinking mess. One dismayed homeowner told me he plans to petition local government to lower his property valuation because his waterfront lifestyle is now so gross that no one would ever want to live there. It is so bad that local health authorities are warning people not to even touch the water, fish or let their pets near it because it is toxic. This toxic algae outbreak is a direct result of too much phosphorus and nitrogen that comes from fertilizer, sewage and manure pollution. This is the same thing that happened last summer on the St. Johns River outside Jacksonville – a 100-mile swath of green slime essentially shut the river down to boaters and fishermen. This is the water that supplies kitchen taps for Florida families. This is the water that tourists come to play in, contributing badly needed revenue into our state economy. As my colleague Joan Mulhern in Washington so aptly described it: The maddening reality is that this pollution is preventable. We sued under the Clean Water Act, and in 2009, we negotiated an historic settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency in which the EPA agreed to set enforceable numeric standards in Florida for phosphorus and nitrogen. On Nov. 15, 2010, EPA set nutrient pollution limits for Florida’s freshwaters and lakes after spending years coordinating with state scientists to get the right numbers. That’s when the maddening political posturing began. Florida sued the EPA to block the new pollution limits. Florida’s new governor, Rick Scott, is doing everything he can to help polluters fight Florida’s water cleanup, even though everyone knows Florida’s tourism-fueled economy depends on clean water. Florida Congressman John Mica acted for polluters and against his constituents by sponsoring H.R. 2018, legislation he characterized as an effort to “rein in” the Obama administration EPA, which he claimed has “run roughshod” over states. Mica’s very bad legislation – which will hamstring the EPA’s ability to enforce the Clean Water Act in Florida and elsewhere — passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee by a vote of 35–20 on June 22. This is not about the state versus the EPA. This is about clean water versus dirty water, plain and simple. This legislation turns back the clock to a time when the Cuyahoga River was on fire, where there were oil spills all across California beaches and the majority of our drinking water was unfit to drink. These politicians are obviously living in a very different universe than the people on the Caloosahatchee River, who look out at the green slime, warn their pets and children away from the water, and ask: Why isn’t someone doing something about this public health crisis? You can read the full story at earthjustice.org <http://earthjustice.org/blog/2011-june/unwanted-green-tourism-slimes-florida>

The Seas. There is also continuing work to preserve Ocean Health, a daunting and occasionally discouraging task. But there are some optimistic signs. A few months ago we interviewed biologist Carl Safina about his book, The View from Lazy Point, describing changes he has seen in fish flows and populations near his home in Long Island. Now Carl has prepared a series airing on PBS. It’s called SAVING THE OCEAN:

In one episode called “Shark Reef,” Carl travels to Belize’s Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, where harks are thriving in the Reserve, in contrast to large parts of the world where the fin trade kills millions of sharks every year. The Reserve, which covers an entire Caribbean coral atoll, allows some fishing but bans longlines and nets – the methods most lethal to sharks. He also heads to the Belize City fish market, where the resident fin trader shows him bags of dried shark fins ready for sale. The huge global trade in shark fins – to make shark fin soup – is driving many shark species to extinction, but Carl finds hope in the idea of marine reserves, and in changing consumer tastes in China.

In another Episode of Saving the Ocean, The Sacred Island , Carl Safina travels to the island of Pemba, part of the Zanzibar island chain off the East African coast, where local fishing villages are winning control over their vital fishing grounds. Once threatened by resort development, Pemba’s pristine reefs and lagoons – World Heritage candidates – are now managed by, and for, the fishermen.

And in a forthcoming episode, The Great Whale Comeback, he studies the near-extinction and remarkable increase of great whales in much of the world. In the North Atlantic the Gray Whale was hunted to extinction and the Right Whale’s hold on existence remains tenuous – but Humpbacks, Finbacks, Minkes and others have increased impressively. In the Pacific the Blue Whale is also on an impressive recovery streak, Sperm Whales are common in some places, and Gray Whales allow tourists to pet them.

Other episodes by Carl Safina on Saving the Ocean include: Have Your Shrimp and Eat Them, where he explores sustainable shrip farming methods that avoid mangrove destruction; and Fish and Rocket Science, dicussing ways of reversing fish declines in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Cape Cod. Additional programs will cover swordfish, the white marlin, tuna and dolphins, and that dinosaur of the deep: the leatherback turtle. Both the dvds and the program schedule are available at the pbs web site<http://www.pbs.org/programs/saving-the-ocean/tv-schedule/>

Farmaggedon. Last week we talked with Chris Kerston of Chaffin Family Orchards about “Farmaggedon: The Unseen War on Family Farms,” being shown tomorrow night at the El Ray theater. Filmmaker Kristin Carty will be on hand to discuss the film, which documents attacks–literal attacks–on family farms that are not part of the industrial agriculture juggernaut. It’s a shocking film and speaks directly to the need for us to protect our access to local, undrugged, unpoisoned food.

The event is a fundraiser for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, which helps protect family farms and other providers of locally sourced products from undue harassment.The last we heard, the show at the El Ray is nearly a sellout, but you can go to Chico Natural Foods to check for tickets or go online to <farmageddon.eventbrite.com> for ticket info. Also, the film will be out as a DVD in a few months; check out the website at Farmaggedonthemovie.com.

Ecotopia # 143 Let’s Move! Chico

Posted by on 21 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

21 June 2011

Tonight we’ll be talking with Carol Lam , a registered dietician and a Nutrition Education Specialist for the Center for Nutrition & Activity Promotion (CNAP) at Chico State, and Eileen Robinson, a board member of the Chico Unified School District. They’ll be telling us about the efforts of Let’s Move! Chico to combat childhood obesity.

We’ll also talk with Chris Kerston, marketing manager of Chaffin Family Orchards to talk about the film Farmageddon the Movie, which is being shown in Chico next Wednesday night, June 29.

Listen to the Program

Our Conversation with Carol Lams  and Eileen Robinon

“Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady [Michelle Obama], dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation. . . .”  Chico has become involved in the Let’s Move! Campaign.

  1. We briefly introduced Let’s Move! at the top of the show, but we’d like to know more about it. Can you describe the impetus for Let’s Move? What’s its history?
  2. Can you tell us some of the health risks of childhood obesity?
  3. What are the causes of childhood obesity?
  4. How did Chico get involved in Let’s Move!?
  5. What are some of the goals of Let’s Move! Chico?
  6. Who are some of the partners working on Let’s Move! in Chico?
  7. Eileen, you’re on the board of the Chico school district. What is the School District doing about helping children combating childhood obesity? How is the school district involved in Let’s Move!
  8. Carol, you’re a registered dietician and Nutrition Education Specialist for the Center for Nutrition & Activity Promotion (CNAP). What does the Center do?
  9. What is the Center’s involvement in Let’s Move! Chico?
  10. Can you describe some of Let’s Move! activities?
  11. And what are some of your plans for the future?
  12. What is your advice for people who’d like to learn more about combating childhood obesity?
  13. And how can people get involved in Let’s Move! Chico?

Our Conversation with Chris Kerson

Chris Kerston. is the Marketing Manager of Chaffin Family Orchards, and he’s here to talk about Farmageddon the Movie. Welcome, Chris.

  1. Tell us a little about Farmageddon the Movie.
  2. Why did Chaffin Family Orchards decide to bring it to Chico?
  3. This is a fundraiser, correct? Who’s getting the proceeds? [This event will be a fundraiser for the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. The FTCLDF is a legal cooperative to help support family farms with top notched lawyers to protect them when they’re harassed and prosecuted unjustly. It’s one of the most valuable organizations in the country. If you join during the month of June by turning in your application to us you will receive a free bottle of Chaffin Family Orchards Extra Virgin Olive Oil]
  4. Who should see this film?
  5. When and where will the film be shown?

Next week: We’ll be talking to the maker of the film Kristin Canty, and she will be here in Chico for the film viewing.
Playlist for Ecotopia #143: Let’s Move Chico

1. Working On A Dream 3:30 Bruce Springsteen Working On A Dream

2. Teach Your Children 3:02 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Four Way Street

3. Chicken Soup With Rice (Album Version) 4:20 Carole King Really Rosie

4. Thank You, Cows 3:30 Ee Sing Along With EE

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

6. Cows 2:51 The Seldom Herd Philadelphia Chickens

7. El Condor Pasa (If I Could) 3:08 Simon & Garfunkel Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits

#141 Population Cluster Bombs

Posted by on 09 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

7 June 2011

This week our guest is Andy Revkin, who is a New York Times blogger for the Dot World site, and a professor of the environment at Pace College in New York. He has a wide range of environmental interests, but tonight will talk with us mostly about population and global tipping points.

Listen to the Program

Our Conversation with Andrew Revkin

Andrew Revkin writes regularly for the New York Times Dot Earth blog.  He’s also a senior fellow at Pace University’s Academy for Applied Environmental Studies. In addition to writing on an array of environmental topics from the Amazon to the Arctic Pole, he’s also a songwriter and musician, and he’s even played with Pete Seeger. During the first part of the program, he will be focusing on his concerns about global population. 

  • You have an incredibly broad background in journalism writing books, articles, and the Dot Earth blog.  But you also have a degree in biology and have worked an environmental studies institutes.  Please tell us a little about yourself and how you became engaged in environmental issues.
  • One of your biggest current concerns is population. We know that the world’s population will pass 7 billion this year, and estimates for the “final” number range from 9 to possibly even 11 billion.  What do those numbers mean for our ability to take care of our environment? 
  • You note that on the first Earth Day, 1970, the planet’s population was 3.7 billion, so we’ve almost doubled in 41 years.  How has that already affected our environment (and social justice)?
    We recently interviewed Paul Ehrlich, who popularized the phrase “population bomb” in the 1970s.  You use the metaphor of population “cluster bombs.”  What do you mean by that?  What do you see as:
    population effects by geographical locations?
    population effects by socio-economic level?
    population effects in by levels of technological sophistication?
    effects in/via developed vs. developing countries?
    [See the article at http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/25/the-population-cluster-bomb/  ]
  • Immigration is another ”hot button” issue. What is the status of population growth in the U.S., and what role does immigration play? You’ve said the issue is usually perceived as being a poor-country problem but it’s not. Please explain  [Link to related post: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/31/whats-the-right-number-of-americans/]
  • Population is only one side of what determines human resource issues, consumption is another.   You’ve said “9 billion vegan monks wouldn’t have much chance of overloading Earth’s systems. And of course we’re not going to all become vegan monks, so….”  Please explain.
  • You had an encounter with Rush Limbaugh, in which he compared you to jihadists and told you to kill yourself. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
  •  In the first part of the program, we focused on population issues–“cluster bombs.”  We’d like to start this next part of the program with a cluster bomb one might not ordinarily see as related to population: tornadoes.
  • In several recent blogs, you have explored this year’s current outbreak of tornadoes (We had several in the California Northstate just a couple of weeks ago–a rarity for our part of the world.) Why has why “this year has been one that we will likely never forget”?
    History and record keeping.
    Population densities and suburban sprawl.
    Climate change?
  • There’s an old joke–not that funny–that tornadoes have an affinity for striking trailer parks.  You’ve done research on ways to increase survivability in the event of a tornado.  What are they?
  • BUT, beyond the issue of survivability and technological fixes, there’s the much larger question of what the world will do to cut down on population sprawl and its effects on the environment.  A question we regularly ask guests on this program.  What will it take for humanity to wake up and stop practicing brinksmanship with the planet? 
  • “Can Humans Move from Tweaks to Leaps” as you discuss in a recent blog?  What’s your optimistic/pessimistic answer?
    What will the necessary big leap require?
    legislation (possibly including population control)?
    green capitalism?
    a voluntary change in human values?
    being driven to or over the edge of the cliff?
  • In addition to looking at your wonderfully comprehensive and educational blog http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/ how can listeners best inform themselves about these “cluster bomb” issues?
  • [Outside our studio hangs an autographed picture of Pete Seeger, who says kind words about the role of KZFR and other community radio stations in the world.  We hate to go vicarious, but what’s it like to play with Pete Seeger?!]