Perhaps it’s cold comfort but it turns out that we human beings are not the only species on earth hell-bent on destroying our own habitat. We share that ignominious honor with the venomous, carnivorous, and highly invasive lionfish. This week on Sea Change Radio, we talk about what these marine invaders are doing to the ocean’s coral reefs, and what is being done to reduce the damage. Our guests today all are working in Bermuda, one of the regions of the world where these creatures are wreaking havoc on the coral reef. First we hear from Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot the company that makes the robotic vacuum-cleaner, Roomba, and his wife, biologist Erika Angle — together they have devised a way to use vacuum robot technology to catch the intrusive but tasty lionfish. Then we’re joined by Jeremy Pochman from 11th Hour Racing, who tells us about how his organization is leveraging the America’s Cup, set to take place in Bermuda this June, to raise global awareness about the problem.
California’s soggy winter and spring belie its long-term water prospects. While it’s true that the Golden State is experiencing record rainfalls, California’s water problems have far from evaporated. A warmer globe means wilder swings of storms and drought, deluges and scarcity. Is the most populous state ready for these wild swings? What are they doing with the surplus that is literally spilling over aquifers right now? And how will they ensure that groundwater stores are not completely depleted? This week on Sea Change Radio, we hear from environmental writer Jeremy Miller who discusses his recent New Yorker article chronicling California’s deep, systemic water problems. Miller talks about the impact of the flooding in Northern California, shares ideas from experts on how to re-charge the state’s stressed groundwater reserves, and posits that California needs a more sustainable model for fresh water that is less dependent on the snow pack in the Sierra Mountains.
When we last covered the Supreme Court it was after Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in February 2016. At that time many of us naively assumed that President Obama was going to be able to fill the vacancy, and we were concerned with specific issues like upholding the Obama administration’s clean power act. But, oh so much has transpired since then! And so much more is at stake, including but not limited to the preservation of the most fundamental environmental protections. This week on Sea Change Radio we speak with UC Irvine professor, Rick Hasen, about the fight over the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the nation’s highest court. We delve into the intricacies of the filibuster, and wrestle a bit over whether this is the appropriate time for Democrats to use it.
In 2011, in the wake of the devastating nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor, thousands of Japanese people relocated, the world held its breath, and the Japanese government began to re-evaluate the country’s reliance on nuclear power. This week’s guest on Sea Change Radio, Kaz Makabe, was out on the streets of Tokyo on the fateful day of March 11th when the Tohoku earthquake struck. The incident inspired Makabe to investigate what makes Japan’s electric grid tick. We discuss his new book, “Buying Time: Environmental Collapse and the Future of Energy,” explore the dismantling of Japan’s nuclear power facilities, and talk about the energy future in the land of the rising sun.
Did you know that a metric ton of electronic waste can contain 8 to 16 ounces of gold? Whether we like it or not, precious metals show up in more than just that gold necklace or platinum ring we might have purchased – from the titanium used in our high-end mountain bikes, to platinum in our cellphones, to silver in our solar panels, precious metals are all around us. And the mining of these materials often comes with a steep social and environmental cost. This week on Sea Change Radio, we talk with an engineer who has chosen to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal from his former employer, a large gold-mining enterprise. We learn about the use of water in the extraction of precious metals, how common mining practices create hazardous slurry ponds, and the enormous amount of energy required to carry out these operations in remote locations. Then, we dig deep into the Sea Change archives to hear from Jem Bendell about the unlikely intersection between luxury and sustainability.
With drought-stricken California enjoying its wettest winter in decades, it can be easy to forget that water scarcity is among the globe’s most deadly threats. This week on Sea Change Radio, we discuss groundwater with Bill and Rosemarie Alley, the authors of High and Dry: Meeting the Challenges of the World’s Growing Dependence on Groundwater. They take us on a journey around the world and back in time to examine how humans scheme for and squander earth’s most precious resource. We talk about wildcatting for water in the 19th century, India’s water management quandary, and some of Saudi Arabia’s more imprudent water policies.
On his first day on the job, newly appointed Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, rode to work on a horse. This was obviously a rugged, outdoor enthusiast – someone who must care about the environment, right? Well, that same day, one of Secretary Zinke’s first acts in office was to repeal the ban on lead ammunition in national parks, tribal lands and national wildlife refuge areas — an order that the Obama Administration had signed near the end of 2016. This week on Sea Change Radio, we revisit our 2015 discussion with Kelly Sorenson, executive director of the Ventana Wildlife Society, one of the organizations that was at the forefront of the struggle to ban lead in order to bring the California Condor back from the brink of extinction. He explains the dangers of using lead ammunition, the tactics employed by the gun lobby to fight regulation, and how his group helped to advance protective legislation in California. Zinke’s rash decision seems like a good opportunity for us all to review what we know about this damaging neurotoxin and how it moves through the food chain and ecosystem.
As more of us are becoming aware of the dark side of the seafood industry, the locavore revolution has been moving full throttle into seafood. This week on Sea Change Radio, we hear from Kirk Lombard, the founder of a community supported fishery or CSF called Sea Forager. We learn about the ins and outs of his business, the challenges facing smaller players swimming with the sharks of industry, and why Lombard and other CSFs hope to attract good citizens rather than just typical consumers.
What do a 13 year old in Louisiana, a 14 year old in Oregon and a 16 year old in Hawaii all have in common besides possibly the number of hours a day they spend on Instagram? Actually, these teens are among a group of 21 very serious youth plaintiffs who have leveled a legal challenge to climate change policy. This week on Sea Change Radio, we break down Juliana v. U.S., a landmark case wherein children are suing the US government for allowing dangerous CO2 levels to permeate the atmosphere and disrupt the future environment.
Our guest is Philip Gregory, the lead plaintiff attorney on the case, who breaks down the timeline of the proceedings, the potential impact it could have both in the U.S. and overseas, and the role former Exxon Mobil CEO and current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has in the case. Historically, lawsuits have been an effective way to move what appear to be intractable policies and practices. Could this group of young people topple the protective wall the government has built around the gas and oil industry? And if they do, what Instagram filter will they use when they post their victory?
There’s no denying that the current moment is grim, for the environment, civil rights, and plain old human decency. But I once heard a wise man say that cynicism is the real enemy of progress. So now more than ever we must find ways to keep ourselves from falling into a cynical frame of mind. One way to do that is to reflect on the accomplishments of the brave people who have come before us to fight for justice and topple seemingly unstoppable Goliaths. This week on Sea Change Radio our guest is Larry Nielsen, a Professor of Natural Resources at North Carolina State and the author of a new book called Nature’s Allies. The book profiles some of the heroes that shaped the modern environmental movement, from famous figures like John Muir and Rachel Carson to lesser known activists like Ding Darling and Billy Frank, Jr. Then we dip into the Sea Change Radio archives to hear from an MIT grad turned knife-maker extraordinaire.