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Fracking Moves To China, Part II

credit: Steve Webel
credit: Steve Webel

Last week on Sea Change Radio, we learned about the new shale gas boom in China. This week, in the second part of my discussion with Jaeah Lee and James West of Mother Jones, we examine the larger questions that surround this shift in Chinese energy policy. Can natural gas be a bridge fuel as the industrial giant weans itself off coal? Will there be enough water to extract China’s significant shale deposits? Will shale gas exploration further divide urban and rural China, or could it help to close the country’s income gap?

credit: Jonathan Shaw
credit: Jonathan Shaw

West and Lee provide some answers to these complex questions, and also discuss the implications of Chinese investments into the U.S. natural gas sector. Will this big business alliance be good for consumers on either side of the Pacific? Find out on this week’s Sea Change Radio.

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Fracking Moves To China, Part I

Jaeah LeeJamesWestThere is a relatively unanimous recognition that we inhabitants of earth really need to break our addiction to coal. It’s filthy and there are so many cleaner energy sources. This mantra is now being repeated all over coal-dependent China, where shale gas resources appear to be abundant. It turns out, however, that the transition away from coal may not be so simple – or even a step in the right direction. Mother Jones journalists Jaeah Lee and James West spent a year investigating the ins and outs of the growing fracking industry in China.

Host Alex Wise caught up with them before a recent panel discussion in San Francisco to talk about how U.S. oil and gas interests are exporting fracking around the globe and how the technology may pose risks in China that even exceed those associated with coal. Listen now to the first half of this two part series on today’s Sea Change Radio.

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How Carbon Is Changing The Cost of Everything

CarbonShockMarkSchapiroWe hear a lot about putting a price on carbon but what does it really mean? This week’s guest on Sea Change Radio, Mark Schapiro, an investigative journalist and the author of Carbon Shock, helps us understand the bustling carbon market that already exists and explains the carbon taxes that all of us are already paying – whether we know it or not. Listen now as Schapiro and host Alex Wise explore the fundamental question of who should bear the burden of an overheated planet that has resulted from the burning of cheap fossil fuels over the past century and a half.

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A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Sharing Economy

PaulMinettMarkSvenvoldNobody hitchhikes anymore. Back in the 1980s getting a ride with a stranger became decidedly un-trendy. Rugged individualism was in and ridesharing was out. But now, with the advent of social media and mobile platforms, ridesharing is making a come-back. This week’s guests on Sea Change Radio are Paul Minett, the founder of the Ridesharing Institute in Auckland, NZ and Mark Svenvold, a journalist and Professor at Seton Hall University who recently profiled Minett’s work on ridesharing for Orion Magazine.

Dubbed by some as the Johnny Appleseed of the new ridesharing, Minett points out that if everybody carpooled one day a week we could see as much as a 20 percent reduction in traffic volumes. The corresponding reduction in traffic jams and carbon emissions would also be pretty great. Catch a ride with us now, across the planet, to hear what it will take to put ridesharing back in vogue.

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Durwood Zaelke and the Ozone Keepers

DurwoodZaelke3927062424_ba6396a4f8_qRemember the seventies? Remember feathered hair, pull-tab soda cans, debates about the thinning ozone layer? Our guest this week on Sea Change Radio is Durwood Zaelke, a policy advocate and environmental crusader who started working four decades ago to advance policy that would help preserve the ozone layer. Zaelke is the founder and President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) based in Washington, DC and Geneva. He’s a noted international environmental lawyer who received both an Ozone Protection Award and a Climate Protection Award in 2008 for his help in maximizing the climate benefits of the Montreal Protocol.

Now, thanks largely to Zaelke and his organization, debates about the ozone layer are nearly as anachronistic as pull-tab cans and feathered hair. Nearly. Zaelke is still working on ozone protection, and, in line with the times, his organization’s mission has broadened to include combating climate change. Stay tuned as Zaelke and host Alex Wise discuss in detail how the Montreal Protocol succeeded in making inroads to protect the ozone from hydrofluorocarbon pollutants, where the Kyoto Protocol has fallen short, and what needs to happen to make the next international climate change negotiations more productive.

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Nevada: The Paradoxical State

RoseMcKinneyJamesDavidBobzienFrom an environmental standpoint, Nevada is a state of stark contrasts. When we think of the Silver State, most of us picture the Las Vegas strip, but Nevada is also home to picturesque canyons, rare desert wildlife and majestic, snow-peaked mountains. This week on Sea Change Radio, we hear from two participants from the 7th annual Clean Energy Summit which took place on September 4th in Las Vegas.

First, we focus on southern Nevada as host Alex Wise discusses Las Vegas’ energy needs with Rose McKinney-James the chairperson of the Clean Energy Project. Then, we turn to the northern part of the state and hear from David Bobzien, a state assemblyman from Reno who talks about the efforts of the Conservation Lands Foundation as well as the recent announcement that Tesla Motors will be building a major electric vehicle battery plant in his part of the state.

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Parched: California Drought Update

13746618933_6db80552fc_qDr. Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, Calif.As Californians continue to look beseechingly to the skies for signs of any kind of rainfall, the effects of this drought are indeed far-reaching. The policies that emerge from this disastrously dry year may ultimately alter what foods we eat, where we build new homes and even what sports we play. Earlier this year, we heard from the President of the Pacific Institute, Peter Gleick, as he told us of the critical nature of this drought, even in its early stages. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks again to Dr. Gleick for an update and to get a glimpse into the future of what a permanently drier California might mean for us all.

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David Rolf: Fair Wages and Sustainability

DavidRolfwagesEconomists these days are confirming what many already know – the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening. In the face of soaring productivity over the last several decades, today’s average American workers earn about the same as they did in 1970 when adjusted for inflation. So what happens to sustainability in the face of this trend?

Our guest this week on Sea Change Radio is David Rolf, president of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU 775. Rolf and host Alex Wise talk about the interconnections between economic and environmental health and ponder how a movement to improve wages and work conditions can also support efforts to protect the earth.

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Keeping An Eye On The Natural Gas Boom

NeelaBanerjeeJoshFoxEven the most casual followers of energy policy have become aware of the controversy surrounding the massive expansion of fracking in this country over the past decade. Successful attempts to lift the curtain on fracking, like Josh Fox’s 2010 documentary film Gasland, have spurred a grassroots movement to push back on natural gas giants and lobbyists who would have us believe that fracking is clean and safe. So who is winning this battle for America’s health and well-being, fought on the parallel fronts of policy and PR?

This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with Neela Banerjee, a journalist who covers energy and environmental policy for the Los Angeles Times, to get an update on the latest developments in natural gas exploration. She talks about the fight to keep drinking water safe around the 77,000 natural gas wells throughout the country, and the controversy surrounding the use of unpermitted diesel fuel in the fracking process.

*Here’s a link to Sea Change Radio’s 2012 interview with Josh Fox