June 2012

Monthly Archive

Ecotopia #192: Nuclear Hangovers and Property Rights

Posted by on 12 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

June 12, 2012

This week on Ecotopia will be addressing two environmental topics.  In the first half hour, we’ll talk with Harvey Wasserman, who is an anti-nuclear power activist, about his research into world wide reaction to the Fukushima-Daichii disaster a year ago.  It seems that a number of nuclear power programs are now on hold or even being abandoned as the world recognizes the catastrophic consequences of unsafe nuclear plants.

Then in the second part of the show, we will talk with Case Western University law professor Jonathan Adler.  He has some interesting ideas about how we might be able to use property rights–the right to protect our own property–as a way of taking on larger issues of environmental degradation.|

Our Questions for Harvey Wasserman

Our guest in this segment, Harvey Wasserman, is a world renown expert on utility deregulation, atomic power and  renewable alternatives. He is Editor of www.nukefree.org website and his frequent commentaries are widely circulated on the internet.    We spoke with Harvey about a year ago following the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.  He has recently written two articles  about how reactions to Fukishima have slowed the development of nuclear power worldwide.  Welcome, Harvey.

–Your most recent article carries the title, “Hot Sushi.”  Please tell us what has happened.  [Cesium 137 in tuna off the coast of California, NPR reassurance that it is safe to eat.]

–You have also researched and documented a number of slowdowns and protests around the globe.  Please tell us what is happening in:

… Japan [total shutdown of nuclear plants, note that GE and Westinghouse are Japanese owned]
…China [30 reactors on hold]
…India [hunger strikes outside Koodankulam nuclear facility]
…France [election of François Hollande reduces pro-nuke pressure]
…Germany [focus on green energy policy]

–When we spoke a year ago, you were concerned about the U.S. plans to provide $37 billion in loan guarantees to the nuclear industry.  Please tell us about that and other roadblocks to the nuclear industry.  What is happening in:
… Georgia [Vogtle loan $8.33 billion on hold]
… California [San Onofre shutdowns]
… Nebraska [flooded Calhoun]
… Vermont, New York, Ohio, Texas.  [pressure to forever close Vermont Yankee, New York’s Indian Point, Ohio’s Davis-Besse, South Texas and more continues to escalate]

–Where do things stand with the Yucca Mountain project for nuclear waste storage?  If Yucca is delayed or canceled, wouldn’t this also slow down nuclear power development?

–What can our listeners do to be more involved and to register their concerns?  [Sign the petition, visit www.nukefree.org]

Our Questions for Jonathan Adler

Jonathan Adler is Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where he teaches several environmental law courses. He is currently a contributing editor to National Review Online and regular contributor to the legal blog, The Volokh Conspiracy. We were intrigued by a blog he recently posted on atlantic.com entitled “How Property Rights Could Help Save the Environment.”  Welcome Professor Adler.

–You begin your essay on atlantic.com by referring to something called “the tragedy of the commons.”  What is that concept, and how does that relate to your idea of “approaching environmental problems from a property rights perspective”?  How can “the creative extension of property rights to ecological resources … help address many environmental problems”?

–You discuss the fishing industry as an example, writing that  “Fisheries are in trouble the world over, but property-based management regimes are a demonstrated way to prevent overfishing and fishery collapse.”  Please explain.

–You also discuss the Endangered Species Act as a complex example of how property rights and the environment could work toward a common goal, but you also note that the ESA, “in effect, punishes private landowners for having maintained their land in a way that is beneficial for listed species.” Could you tell us a little more about this, especially from a legal perspective?

–Susan take this one > Monsanto/Morton. You argue that “In principle, a commitment to property rights should entail a commitment to protecting people and their property from unprivileged or unconsented to invasions.”  You also note, “In practice, however, this can be difficult to do.”

[On this program, we have frequently discussed the problem of pollen from genetically modified plants (particularly corn and beets) drifting onto an organic farmer’s or seedgrower’s land and polluting the crops.  Yet the organic farmer is held liable for patent infringement. How might this be addressed from a property rights perspective?]

–Are there test cases concerning the environment and property rights that are going on presently?  Could you give us an example or two?

–What kinds of cases would you like to see introduced in the future to put the theory into action?  What is the longer range potential of this approach to be systematically a part of environmental actions and protection? [“Though I believe in property-based solutions to many (if not most) environmental problems, the viability of such approaches should not be oversold….The question is not which approach is perfect, but which approach is better (or not as bad) as the others.”]

–Where can our listeners learn more about this approach and even become involved in the movement?   [http://home.earthlink.net/~jhadler/ ]

Playlist:

1. Nuclear Infected (Album Version)     2:16    Alice Cooper    Flush The Fashion       Rock            5       7/19/11 7:54 AM
2. Nuclear      3:25    Ryan Adams      Demolition      Rock
3. The Rape Of The World        7:08    Tracy Chapman   New Beginning   Folk            5       12/12/11 8:41 AM
4. Lake Funt Property   3:54    Sukpatch        Honky-Tonk Operation E.P.       Rock
5. Weave Me the Sunshine        4:28    Peter, Paul And Mary    The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary   Folk            99      5/22/12 8:05 AM
6. The Invention of Nuclear Power       2:46    Peter Adams     The Spiral Eyes Rock            7       7/19/11 7:53 AM
7. This Land Is Your Land       2:27    Peter, Paul And Mary    The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary   Folk            22      5/9/11 1:47 PM

Ecotopia #191: EcoLit 191

Posted by on 11 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Date: June 5, 2012

Tonight on Ecotopia we’ll be bringing you another of the series we call “EcoLit”, reading from works we think are powerful not only because of their Ecotopian content, but because of the quality of the writing. We receive a number of examination copies of environmental books here at the station, and we aren’t always able to interview the authors. So we have gone through the bookshelves to find passages that are just plain good reading, literary reading in the sense of materials where the words and the content mesh in ways that are, well, Ecotopian.

Listen to the Program

The Readings

(The introduction to each reading is provided, not the text itself.)

We’ll start with reading from a book by a local author and KZFR programmer, Chris Nelson, who’s written a wonderful travel book called THE VEGGIE VOYAGERS; AN ECO-FRIENDLY, LOW BUDGET LOOP OF NORTH AMERICA’S WILD PLACES POWERED BY USED COOKING OIL. The title pretty well sums up the story: Chris and Michael Pike fitted their camper out to burn vegetable oil, not the biodiesel that requires a good deal of chemical processing, but veggie oil that Michael filtered and then centrifuged with a modified Acme Juicer.Chris writes in the introduction: “This book is naturally dedicated to the people we love and care about, but deeper than that, to our poor planet. Humans have no right to overwhelm the earth or to harm one another. Nor do we humans have the right to destroy the habitats of other species. We individuallyand collectively must learn sustainability. We must take responsibility for what we do minute to minute and implement the collective actions that will save the future for the health and survival of all we know and love. There is no alternative.  In the passage we’ll read now, Chris and Michael have traveled across the U.S. and Canada to Maine, and what Chris calls “the crisp shine of the Atlantic,” to a refuge honoring one of the pioneers of the current ecological movement:  Veggie Voyagers: p. 62 You can also follow her writings on environmental and peace issues at www.veggievoyagers.blogspot.com.

Appreciation of and respect for the land and its beauty comes in many ways. Our next reading is from an autobiography by Canadian writer Sharon Butala and her book, Perfection of Morning. Here she writes about the differences in perceptions of the land between her husband, Peter, and herself, a city kid moved to the ranch.  Subtlety of the Land 166-167.  Sharon Butala, Perfection of Morning, Published by HarperCollins in 1994.

In their book, Edges of Bounty: Adventures in the Edible Valley, William Emery, writer, and Scott Squire, photographer, describe their learning quest about food and its production in the Central Valley, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. In this passage, they described what they learned from Stuart and Emily Rowe, who are dairy farmers near Dixon.  William Emery and Scott Squire, Edges of Bounty, Heyday Books, 2008.

And speaking of visiting the farm, here’s a passage from a book by Catherine Friend called Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep & Enough Wool to Save the Planet. It’s a collection of anecdotes about hers and her partner’s fifteen years of sheep farming, often comic, but with deep underlying appreciation of the ways of people and animals.  Sheepish, by Catherine Friend, DaCapo Press, 2011

An issue that we have explored frequently on this program centers on the apparent assumption–especially here in the New World–that whatever is out there in nature, whether it be trees, minerals, or animals, is free for the taking, the more the better. For example, much of the exploration of the United States, from East to increasingly West, was driven by the fur trade, fueled by the passion for beaver-skin men’s hats in London. In Fur, Fortune, and Empire, Eric Jay Dolin explores what he calls “The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America.” Here’s a passage that traces the fur trade all the way back to the Plymouth Colony, though in this case a naïve and unsuccessful venture by a man named Thomas Weston.  Fur, Fortune, and Empire, Eric Jay Dolin, Norton 2010, and Dolin goes on to describe how the beaver was nearly hunted to extinction, saved, in no small measure, because beaver skin hats went out of fashion.

Mark Kurlansky has written a book for younger readers about another kind of extraction, one going on today that could lead to a World Without Fish. Mark Kurlansky, Workman Publishing, 2011.|

Nor is extraction-to-extinction limited to fish and animals. In this next segment from her book A Doubtful River, writer Mary Webb describes how the Truckee River, which starts at Lake Tahoe and ends at Pyramid Lake in the Nevada desert northwest of Reno, was dammed, sluiced, canaled and channeled, almost to extinction. A Doubtful River, by Mary Webb, with photographs by Peter Goin and Robert Dawson. University of Nevada Press, 2000.

Channeling the water also leads to chaneling people, mostly toward the water. In his book, Bird on Fire, Andrew Ross describes lessons that could or should be learned from what he calls “the world’s least sustainable city,” Phoenix, Arizona. In this excerpt, Ross discusses the voracious appetite of Phoenix for new land, new subdivisions, and speculates about possible results, comparing modern-day Phoenix to the prehistoric Hohokam (hə-hō’kəm) people who occupied the same territory and constructed an elaborate system of canals and drainages. Bird on Fire. Andrew Ross. Oxford, 2011.

OK, we’re done with the apocalyptic warnings and stories of overextraction. Here are few description of wilderness and wildness, places where, to quote Sierra Club pioneer David Brower, “the hand of man has not set foot.” (Kenneth Brower, The Wildness Within, Heyday Books, 2012).

Here’s a selection that focuses on the planet rather than people. Here, from his book Cold, is a description by Bill Streever of the planet during the Pleistocene era, the last ice age.  Cold, Bill Streever, Back Bay Books, 2009.

And in our own time, here is John Hanson Mitchell, lying on his back in the meadow on a Sunday afternoon, just . . . looking up:.  “Sundays in the Sky.” John Hanson Mitchell in Soul of the Sky. Mt Washington Observatory, 1999,

Thank you for listening to Ecotopia this evening as we’ve explored some recent environmental writing, from observations of the world to catastrophic predictions about our common future.