Robin McDowell: Exposing Modern Slavery

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RobinMcDowellHuman slavery. Many of us think of it as a terrible chapter of US history that ended in the 19th century. But, according to the United Nations, slavery is a modern reality for roughly 27 to 30 million human beings living, right now. Our guest today on Sea Change Radio is Associated Press reporter, Robin McDowell, who, along with three colleagues, recently won a Pulitzer Prize, for her team’s exposé of slavery practices in the Southeast Asian seafood industry. Not only did this investigation receive the highest honor in journalism, it alerted consumers of how we are contributing to the practice by eating slave-produced seafood, and, most importantly, it precipitated the rescue of 2,000 slaves who are now living free after years and even decades of bondage. McDowell breaks down the details of how she and her colleagues uncovered the story, some of the horrors they encountered along the way, and how it sparked action to dismantle similar operations in the region. (n.b. Ms. McDowell misspoke when she called the Rohingya a persecuted minority from Indonesia. They are from Myanmar).

Companies Corroding Communities

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NeelaBanerjeeAccording to the Supreme Court, corporations are people. The absurdity of this statement notwithstanding, it is clear that, like people, corporations make mistakes, and sometimes commit crimes and atrocities. This week on Sea Change Radio we talk with two experts about the impact that two energy corporations have had on actual people. First, host Alex Wise speaks with Inside Climate News reporter Neela Banerjee about the stark contrast between what happened at Aliso Canyon and what happened near Mobile, Alabama when gas and chemical spills contaminated the communities there. The same company, Sempra Energy, was involved, and yet the response and aftermath were vastly different, with race and class factoring significantly into environmental justice outcomes. Then we hear from John Wilson, Head of Corporate Governance at Cornerstone Capital Group about the death of former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon. Facing widespread accusations that he cheated landowners out of the money they were promised in exchange for letting Chesapeake Energy drill for natural gas on their property, Chesapeake’s founder died in mysterious fashion. Wilson gives us his environmental, social, and corporate governance perspective on the corruption allegations and the demise of the man Forbes Magazine once called “the world’s most reckless billionaire.”

Geophysicist Ole Kaven on Man-Made Earthquakes

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OleKavenApparently things are moving and shaking in Oklahoma, literally. In the past 8 years earthquakes in the “Sooner State” have increased from 2 a year to 2 a day. Is the expansion of gas and oil exploration during that same period of time a mere coincidence? This week on Sea Change Radio, we hear from Ole Kaven, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey. Kaven’s area of expertise is human-induced seismicity, in other words, how human activity contributes to earthquakes. He talks about the work he has been doing studying the effects of carbon sequestration on seismic events, the sharp increase in  Oklahoma’s seismicity, and what the government and the public should know about how oil and gas industry practices could be making the earth move under our feet.

John Wilson: Corporate Governance and the LGBT Movement

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JohnWilsonCalories and sustainability issues aside, would you eat at Chick-fil-A despite the publicly anti-gay positions of its owners? Would a corporation’s discriminatory employment policies deter you from buying shares in it? Millions of Americans have changed their consumer habits based on whether they perceive corporations to be behaving in socially responsible ways. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with John Wilson, the Head of Corporate Governance at Cornerstone Capital Group, about the how the fight for LGBT equality has seeped into mainstream corporate America. They discuss the religious roots of the corporate social responsibility movement, talk about how religion and progressive values are squaring off in North Carolina’s civil rights battle, and contemplate the impact of the most profitable company in the world being led by a proudly gay man.

Gary Nabhan: Seeds of Change

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NabhanThe next time you are putting a slice of tomato on your sandwich, ask yourself where it came from. Not which area of the country, but which seed stock. One of the often overlooked aspects of food insecurity amid climate uncertainty is the push by big agricultural interests to get us to buy their seeds and their seeds only. Our guest this week on Sea Change Radio, Gary Nabhan, has taken the fight to the corporate seed merchants through the local food movement and seed saving community. The Director of the Center for Regional Food Studies at the University of Arizona, Nabhan believes that a healthy food system is a biodiverse food system. We discuss community-based seed banks, look at the role that Big Ag will continue to play in our food system, and examine how climate change and a lack of biodiverse seed stocks affect people in war zones.

Zoe Weil: Sustainable Education, Part II

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zoe_weilWhat if every child emerged from the public educational system with an appreciation for the connectivity of all human and non-human life, and with a commitment to create solutions to the problems that plague that interconnected ecosystem? Today on Sea Change Radio we continue our discussion with Zoe Weil, education reformer and environmentalist who holds that vision firmly in view. Last week we talked about the intersection of sustainability and public education. Today we go deeper into some concrete strategies, programs, and curricula that can help make this vision real. What’s the link between obesity and the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico? How do you bridge the equity gap that PTA fundraising inadvertently widens? And how can teaching critical thinking in public education help to sustain this institution that is the life blood of a participatory democracy? Listen as we grapple with these questions.

Zoe Weil: Sustainable Education

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ZoeWeilWhat’s the purpose of schooling? Reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, right? Well, our guest today begs to differ. Zoe Weil, author and the founder of the Institute for Humane Education, argues that the obligation of education is to cultivate a generation of “solutionaries” – kind, just, and socially conscious people who will protect the environment and promote human rights. We talk about her new book, The World Becomes What We Teach, and touch upon educational equity issues like implicit bias, summer learning loss, the resurgence of school segregation, and how Common Core fits into her vision for meaningful change.

Leaving The Station: John Rennie Short on Public Transit

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JohnShortIf you live in the US, chances are you have at some point been frustrated that our public transit systems don’t do a great job linking urban centers with suburbs, can’t get you to the airport or work in a reasonable amount of time (or at all), and cost way too much. You don’t have to travel to Tokyo, or Zurich, or Paris to see that public transportation in the US is not what it could be, but our guest today on Sea Change Radio has done just that. He is John Rennie Short, a public policy professor at the University of Maryland and he recently published an article in The Conversation detailing the paltry state of public transit in the US, and how we got here. He discusses how the political landscape has affected infrastructure development, and the many costs associated with the decline of our country’s public transportation system, which can be measured in terms of lower GDP, wasted fuel, and lost time, not to mention the terrible environmental toll.

Alexandria Sage on Self-Driving Vehicles

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AlexSageThe glamour of the limousine is undeniable – who wouldn’t want to be shuttled about town without a care in the world? Traffic, parking, sobriety? Somebody else’s problem! With the introduction of the self-driving car, limo luxury could become pretty commonplace. As with many new technologies, though, self-driving cars bring up myriad sustainability, legal. and ethical questions. These questions notwithstanding, it appears that the self-driving car is coming, and coming soon: the Obama administration recently announced that the US government will be pledging to invest nearly $4 billion in autonomous driving technology over the next decade. Meanwhile, deep-pocketed companies like Google, Toyota, Über and General Motors have made their own investments into self-driving vehicles. This week on Sea Change Radio, we learn more about this emerging technology from Reuters Transportation Technology Correspondent, Alexandria Sage.

MIT Team Turning Fumes Into Fuel

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GregStephanopoulosYou know that sick feeling when you look at a smokestack belching noxious gases into the air? Well, what if you knew that the gas waste coming from that smokestack was getting turned into a usable, liquid fuel? That’s the technology that an MIT professor, Gregory Stephanopoulos, and his colleagues are working on and so far, the results have been quite promising. This week on Sea Change Radio, we learn more about this ground-breaking technology from Prof. Stephanopoulos and the promise that it holds. Then, we hear from entrepreneur Todd Thorner about independent power producers and the potential of home battery storage technology.