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February 18 2014


February 17 2014


February 07 2014


BBC Discovery: Geo-engineering

Geoengineering is a controversial approach to dealing with climate change. Gaia Vince explores putting chemicals in the stratosphere to stop solar energy reaching the earth.

February 03 2014


The Tense Trail Of The Keystone XL Pipeline

We’ll follow the path of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada’s Tar Sands country through the heart of America and hear the furious debate over its fate.


View this gallery on Flickr »


Coral Davenport, energy and environment correspondent for the New York Times. (@CoralMDavenport)

Tony Horwitz,  author and journalist. Author of the new book “BOOM: Oil, Money, Cowboys, Strippers, and the Energy Rush That Could Change America Forever.” Also author of ”Confederates in the Attic,” “Blue Latitudes,” “Baghdad Without a Map,” “A Voyage Long and Strange” and “Midnight Rising.” (@tonyhorwitz)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Report May Ease Way to Approval of Keystone Pipeline — “The long-awaited environmental impact statement on the project concludes that approval or denial of the pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, is unlikely to prompt oil companies to change the rate of their extraction of carbon-heavy tar sands oil, a State Department official said. Either way, the tar sands oil, which produces significantly more planet-warming carbon pollution than standard methods of drilling, is coming out of the ground, the report says.”

U.S. State Department: Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement — “There is existing demand for crude oil—particularly heavy crude oil—at refiners in the Gulf Coast area, but  the ultimate disposition of crude oil that would be  transported by the proposed Project, as well as any  refined products produced from that crude oil, would also be determined by market demand and applicable law.”

The Walrus: Big Mac — “Until recently, Alberta has been slow to release Crown land to the municipality, mostly because it sits on vast reserves of bitumen. Work is finally set to begin on two new suburban developments, each on the scale of Eagle Ridge, which will provide housing for at least 50,000 people. By 2030, Fort McMurray could be a city of almost a quarter million.”

Key Facts And Figures From The Latest State Department EIS

Read An Excerpt From Tony Horwitz’s “Pipe Dreams”


January 31 2014


January 27 2014


California Drought And The U.S. Food Supply

The drought emergency in California, and what it may mean for the nation’s food supply.

With the edge of Folsom Lake, Calif., more than 100 yards away, Gina, 8, left, and Sydney, 9, Gerety walk on rocks that are usually at the waters edge, Thursday Jan. 9, 2014. Gov. Jerry Brown said he would meet Thursday with his recently formed drought task force to determine if an emergency declaration is necessary as California faces a serious water shortage. Reservoirs in the state have dipped to historic lows after one of the driest calendar years on record. (AP)

With the edge of Folsom Lake, Calif., more than 100 yards away, Gina, 8, left, and Sydney, 9, Gerety walk on rocks that are usually at the waters edge, Thursday Jan. 9, 2014. Gov. Jerry Brown said he would meet Thursday with his recently formed drought task force to determine if an emergency declaration is necessary as California faces a serious water shortage. Reservoirs in the state have dipped to historic lows after one of the driest calendar years on record. (AP)

They are praying for rain in California.  And facing drought.  A drought emergency, Governor Jerry Brown declared last week.  Worst in years.  Winter weather so warm you’ve got a confused bear wandering through skiers on the slopes last week.  So dry that farmers are thinning herds and letting fields go fallow.  Wondering which crops to lose.  Up in the Sierra Nevada, only 20 percent of the normal snow pack.  Less to melt, less to drink.  It’s just dry.  This hour On Point:  fire, food, climate and the drought emergency in California.

– Tom Ashbrook


Bettina Boxall, water and environmental issues reporter for The Los Angeles Times. (@boxall)

Jeanie Jones, deputy drought manager and interstate resources manager for the California Department of Water Resources.

Heather Cooley, co-director of the water program at the Pacific Institute. Co-author of “The World’s Water,” “A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy” and “The Water-Energy Nexus In the American West.”

Daniel A. Sumner, director at the University of California Agricultural Issues Center and Frank H. Buck, Jr. Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis.

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times: California declares drought emergency — “Brown’s drought proclamation follows California’s driest year on record and comes amid dropping reservoir levels and no sign of relief in the near future. Some Northern California communities dependent on shrinking local supplies have already imposed rationing and others are asking residents to eliminate outdoor watering. Many Central Valley irrigation districts are warning growers to expect severe delivery cuts this spring and summer.”

Significant Figures: What Californians Can Expect from the Drought – “It is not too late for some big storms off the Pacific Ocean to bring relief. But the odds are against it andcurrent meteorological conditions are not encouraging. If the rest of the winter months are dry, or even of average wetness, the state will have much less water than normal, and much less than water users want – from cities to farms to our natural ecosystems.”

TIME: Hundred Years of Dry: How California’s Drought Could Get Much, Much Worse — “Californians need to be ready, because if some scientists are right, this drought could be worse than anything the state has experienced in centuries. B. Lynn Ingram, a paleoclimatologist at the University of California, Berkeley, has looked at rings of old trees in the state, which helps scientists gauge precipitation levels going back hundreds of years. (Wide tree rings indicate years of substantial growth and therefore healthy rainfall, while narrow rings indicate years of little growth and very dry weather.) She believes that California hasn’t been this dry since 1580, around the time the English privateer Sir Francis Drake first visited the state’s coast.”

January 24 2014


New Orleans: On Point Live! American Coastline — The View From Louisiana

We take On Point to New Orleans to look at the state of America’s battered coastlines.

On Point Radio host Tom Ashbrook inspects a map of the New Orleans coastline with  Ioannis Georgiou, a coastal guru. (Sam Gale Rosen / WBUR)

On Point Radio host Tom Ashbrook inspects a map of the New Orleans coastline with Ioannis Georgiou, a coastal guru. (Sam Gale Rosen / WBUR)

In Louisiana, they understand how nature and the not-so-natural can hit the coast.  Hurricane Katrina.  The BP oil spill.  Sea level rise and coastal erosion across the Louisiana waterfront.  When Katrina hit, it looked like Louisiana’s problem.  When Superstorm Sandy hit the most populated coastline in America we saw it as everybody’s problem.  Here in New Orleans, they’re just a little ahead of the rest of the country in thinking it through. This hour On Point:  we’re with a live audience in New Orleans thinking about the great American coastline, and how it will change.


Denise Reed, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of New Orleans. Chief scientist at the Water Institute of the Gulf.

Tommy Michot, research scientist at the Institute for Coastal Ecology and Engineer at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Jarvis Deberry, award-winning columnist for the Times-Picayune. (@jarvisdeberry)

From Tom’s Reading List

New Orleans Lens: More massive tar mats from BP oil spill discovered on Louisiana beaches — “According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in the past few weeks this one spot has yielded 1.5 million pounds of ‘oily material’ – a designation that includes oil products as well as associated shell, sand and water. And that’s in addition to 1.79 million pounds already collected from Fourchon, by far the largest share of the 8.9 million pounds recovered from all Louisiana beaches in the past two years.”

Times-Picayune: Louisiana’s top coastal official may explore lawsuit to block levee board suit against energy companies — “To illustrate the damage caused by the energy industry, Jones used historical aerial photographs of wetlands surrounding the Delacroix community in St. Bernard Parish. He said the photos showed how the dredging of canals to access oil exploration and development wells by Devon Energy and Murphy Oil took place in wetlands that later turned largely to open water.”

USA Today: Climate change could spawn more frequent El Ninos – “Some of the worst El Niños, the infamous climate patterns that shake up weather around the world, could double in frequency in upcoming decades due to global warming, says a new study out Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change. During an El Niño, water temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean tend to be warmer-than-average for an extended period of time – typically at least three to five months. This warm water brings about significant changes in global weather patterns.

January 13 2014


Ian Welsh Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd 01/09

Jay and Ian Welsh continue the discussion rerun last week regarding the need to develop a new ideology in the face of the failure of our technocratic centrist elite to deal with the consequences of the petroleum economy: A powerful ideology is a scary thing. If your ideology isn't strong enough, doesn't create enough fervent belief that people will die for it, then it won't change the world. But if it does create that level of fervent belief, then it will be misused, so the question is simply: will this do more harm than good? An ideology which leads to us killing a billion or more people with climate change, let me posit, is a bad ideology. At the end of its run, neo-liberalism will kill more people than Marxist-Leninism did, and will be thought of by our grandchildren as monstrous. Most of them will no more be able to understand how we submitted to it or even believed in it than we can understand how Hitler or Stalin or PolPot or Mao came to power. Hyperbole? Not in the least, because the body count is going to be phenomenal. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking/2014/01/10/ian-welsh-virtually-speaking-with-jay-ackroyd

January 08 2014


David Deutsch: Chemical scum that dream of distant quasars

Legendary scientist David Deutsch puts theoretical physics on the back burner to discuss a more urgent matter: the survival of our species. The first step toward solving global warming, he says, is to admit that we have a problem. http://www.ted.com/talks/david_deutsch_on_our_place_in_the_cosmos.html

December 18 2013


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One other substantive question. During the podcast, Wally briefly mentioned some of the reasons for CCD including pesticide use or some imported disease. Russ also tossed in global warming to see if that would get a reaction or discussion, but it was quickly dismissed. My question/comment relates to a methodological issue with global warming (climate change) explanations for this and other similar phenomenon. The mechanisms behind global warming predict long-term effects, yet CCD was relatively sudden. Additionally, the long-term effects of climate change are predicted to be only a degree or two increase on average over a several decade period, whereas average summer temperatures measured year-to-year can vary by more than the predicted long-term change. In other words, some climate change models predict an average increase of 2 degrees Farenheit over several decades. Yet the temperature in North Dakota during summer can vary as much by 3 or 4 degrees every other year or so. If such temperature changes affected the health of bee hives, would we not see CCD correlated with short-term temperature variations? The meta-question is whether or not it is methodologically correct to causally link short-term changes to long-term variation? I'm wondering if there would be a good podcast topic here related to the various claims about effects made by climate change scientists. http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2013/12/wally_thurman_o.html

November 19 2013


The Great Greening Of The Global North

The fall crop is in, harvested. But the map of what we grow, where, is changing, with climate change. We’ll look at the new map of North American food production.


David Lobell, professor in environmental Earth system science at Stanford University. Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment. (@DavidBLobell)

Wolfam Schlenker, professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Donn Teske, farmer, president of the Kansas Farmers Union.

Woody Barth, farmer, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union.

From Tom’s Reading List

USA Today: Some crops migrate north with warmer temperatures — “North Dakota is at the leading edge of a shift in North American weather patterns, with more variable weather and rainfall; longer, hotter summers; and warmer winters. USA TODAY visited the state as the seventh stop in its look at how climate change is impacting the way Americans work, live and play. In the town of Rugby, N.D., 50 miles south of the Canadian border, climate change is written in the fields. Where once wheat was king, field after field is now full of feed corn. At the beginning of September, farmers are hustling to get combines out to cut the golden wheat but green fields of corn are everywhere — and still a month from harvest.”

New York Times: A Jolt to Complacency on Food Supply – ”This may be the greatest single fear about global warming: that climate change could so destabilize the world’s food system as to lead to rising hunger or even mass starvation. Two weeks ago, a leaked draft of a report by the United Nations climate committee, known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggested that the group’s concerns have grown, and that the report, scheduled for release in March in Yokohama, Japan, is likely to contain a sharp warning about risks to the food supply.”

Mother Jones: Climate Change Is Already Shrinking Crop Yields — “Of course, we can’t tie any individual heat wave to long-term climate trends—there’s plenty of random weather variation even in times of climate stability. But we do know that hot, dry weather can stunt plant growth and reduce yields—and we also know that we can expect more hot, dry weather in key growing regions as the climate warms up.”

November 13 2013


Typhoon Haiyan And Rising Global Tides

We go to the Philippines, to look at Typhoon relief efforts there, and the growing vulnerability of island nations.


David Gazashvili, deputy director for emergency and humanitarian assistance at CARE.

Mike Delaney, director of humanitarian assistance at Oxfam. (@oxfamamerica)

Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

From Tom’s Reading List

TIME: Climate Change Didn’t Cause Supertyphoon Haiyan. But the Storm Is Still a Reason to Fight Warming — “U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change head Christiana Figueres, who will help oversee the Warsaw talks, said the typhoon was part of the ‘sobering reality’ of global warming. The sheer power of Haiyan, as well as the still uncounted human devastation it has wrought, all but assures that the supertyphoon will become a symbol of climate change for years to come, just as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy have. But how much of a role did current climate change actually play in the making of Haiyan? That’s less clear.”

BBC News: Typhoon prompts ‘fast’ by Philippines climate delegate — “The head of the Philippines delegation at UN climate talks in Poland has said he will stop eating until participants make ‘meaningful’ progress. In an emotional speech, Yeb Sano linked the ‘staggering’ devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan to a changing climate. Mr Sano said he was speaking on behalf of those who lost their lives in the storm and his fast would last until ‘we stop this madness.’”

New York Times: Rising Despair as Officials Struggle to Get Aid to Victims – “Philippine officials found themselves on the defensive Tuesday over the pace of relief efforts as Manila struggled to get supplies to the airport in the city of Tacloban, where as many as 10,000 people were feared dead and most of its residents were struggling to get basic foodstuffs and water four days after the typhoon struck on Friday.”

November 01 2013


Week In The News: Obamacare Blowup, NSA Fury And A Year After Sandy

Obamacare hullaballoos. NSA snooping fury still rising. Superstorm Sandy, one year on.  Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.


Siobhan Gorman, intelligence correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. (@Gorman_Siobhan)

Julie Rovner, health policy correspondent for NPR. (@JRovner)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Europeans Shared Spy Data With U.S. — “The revelations suggest a greater level of European involvement in global surveillance, in conjunction at times with the NSA. The disclosures also put European leaders who loudly protested reports of the NSA’s spying in a difficult spot, showing how their spy agencies aided the Americans. The phone records collected by the Europeans—in war zones and other areas outside their borders—were shared with the NSA as part of efforts to help protect American and allied troops and civilians, U.S. officials said.”

NPR: Congressmen Berate Sebelius For Cancellations, Website Woes — “Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius headed to Capitol Hill Wednesday for a date with lawmakers frustrated by the rocky rollout of the HealthCare.gov website. What she got at the House Energy and Commerce Committee was four hours of venting from Democrats and Republicans alike.”

Philadelphia Inquirer: Sandusky Settlements Cost Nearly $60M – “The university’s board of trustees had approved paying up to $60 million earlier this year, and the tab came to $59.7 million, the university said in a news release. The first multimillion-dollar settlement, with a 25-year-old man who was abused in a campus shower, was announced in mid-August. University officials predicted at that time that 25 more settlements would soon follow as part of a global agreement.”

October 31 2013


One Year After Sandy, Tackling Climate Change With New Force

A year after Hurricane Sandy, we look at what’s in the works—and what’s not– to address climate change, from levees to energy policy.


Matthew Schuerman, editor at WNYC Radio. (@MLSchuer)

Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, co-founder of The Solutions Project. Senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment. (@MZJacobson)

Kate Gordon, vice president and director of the energy and climate program at San Francisco-based think tank Next Generation. Fellow at the Center for American Progress, executive director of Risky Business. (@katenrg)

From Tom’s Reading List

CBS News: Climate change may make coastal flooding like Sandy’s more frequent — “Warmer upper ocean temperatures, which have also come as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, are providing more fuel for the hurricanes. So, while the region might see the same types of storms, they may be more frequent and more powerful than before.”

Washington Post: We need climate-change risk assessment — “If the United States were run like a business, its board of directors would fire its financial advisers for failing to disclose the significant and material risks associated with unmitigated climate change. Managing risk is necessary for individuals, investors, businesses and governments. As individuals, we buy insurance for our homes, vehicles and health because the future is unpredictable. Businesses take similar actions and save, when they can, for the next economic downturn. Investors diversify their portfolios and hedge their bets for the same reason. And for governments, managing risk can mean anything from maintaining a standing army (in case of war) to filling a strategic petroleum reserve (to protect against severe shocks in oil prices).”

Bloomberg News: Western U.S. States, British Columbia Agree on Carbon — “The agreement falls short of creating a regional carbon market sought by California. The state began a cap-and-trade program when the U.S. government couldn’t come up with a national system in 2010. A movement to create a market across the western U.S. and parts of Canada collapsed two years ago after some states sought other ways to cut emissions”

October 25 2013


In King Coal's Kingdom

The Hunter Valley in NSW is best known for its vineyards and fine wines. But right now in the Hunter, coal is king. Open-cut coal mines are spreading, with winemakers, horse breeders, local residents and even some mine workers fighting a war of attrition against the coal industry, as Tom Morton reports.

September 27 2013


Politics and Journalism: WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT?

In the aftermath of the 2013 federal election and the demise of the Labor government, there are serious issues to be discussed about the performance and calibre of the journalism, from the Parliamentary Press Gallery through to the tabloids and shock jocks. This public forum discussed three of the most contentious issues in both the politics and the journalism: gender, climate change and asylum-seekers. ## Speakers + Kerry-Anne Walsh, author of ‘The Stalking of Julia Gillard’ + Professor Sharon Pickering, Director of the Border Crossing Observatory, Monash University + Professor Wendy Bacon, Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, UTS

August 22 2013


Science Weekly Extra podcast: Fred Pearce's definitive account of the Climategate emails | Science | theguardian.com

Fred Pearce discusses his new book about the University of East Anglia hacked climate emails saga http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/audio/2010/jun/14/science-weekly-extra-podcast-fred-pearce-climategate-emails

Science Weekly podcast: environment writer Fred Pearce on climate change and biofuels | Science | theguardian.com

Environment writer Fred Pearce discusses his latest book, and Michio Kaku explains the physics of the impossible. Plus, the biofuels and embryology debates that have seen politicians and scientists lock… http://www.theguardian.com/science/audio/2008/mar/31/science.weekly.podcast

August 05 2013

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