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.
What do you think of when you hear the word, “billionaires?” Ruthless capitalists? Decadent narcissists? Evil cheese-puffs? What about renewable power? Well, today on Sea Change Radio we hear from Sammy Roth, energy reporter for The Desert Sun, who recently wrote a three-part series about how some American billionaires with deep roots in the fossil fuel industry, are planning bold clean power initiatives. We talk about the enormous wind farm that conservative tycoon Philip Anschutz hopes to build in Wyoming, discuss the efforts that famed investor Warren Buffett is making to enter California’s electricity marketplace, and learn what “balancing authorities” are and the role they play in our electric grid. Is what’s happening in the West just another capitalist scheme to benefit the 1%, or might these moves actually reduce climate pollution and lower energy bills?
It has been a nightmarish week. The new president has kicked off his reign with a series of illegal and immoral executive orders and a set of preposterous appointments. Every day we wake up and remember that this is really happening. Many of us are looking to the upcoming Super Bowl more and more for solace and distraction. Today on Sea Change Radio we are having a Super Bowl special of a sort. Our guest is Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation magazine and host of Edge of Sports podcast, best known for his articulate treatment of the intersection of sports and politics. Zirin and host Alex Wise talk about the Brady-Trump connection (or what we are calling ConflateGate), and more broadly about the role of athletes in our political discourse.
When liberal politicians suggest we look for policy-making inspiration from social democracies in Europe, the automatic reaction from some corners of the political scene is something like “well, then, move to Sweden!” or “Love it or leave it!” But today, reflecting upon the millions of women, men, and children who participated in the historical march over the weekend, it’s pretty clear that advocating for change is part of why we do love it. There is no reason that we can’t take lessons from other systems in our collective pursuit of a more perfect union, not to mention a more healthy environment. This week on Sea Change Radio we take a peek at how the Dutch do things. Host Alex Wise speaks with two American environmentalists based in the Netherlands to get their perspective on Holland’s environmental policies and practices. Michael Payne, a wind energy and bicycle advocate, and Mike Fawcett, the founder of Farm Zero discuss the cultural, economic, and financial keys to Dutch sustainability.
This week on Sea Change Radio, we get an update on the sustainable and responsible investment community from Mark Tulay, the Director of the Strategic Investor Initiative. Tulay and host Alex Wise discuss the mission of SII, the progress that’s been made in the SRI space, and how investors, markets and companies are likely to respond to the incoming presidential administration.