Is living sustainably a plausible proposition? That’s the crucial question today’s first guest on Sea Change Radio, David MacKay, is trying to answer. MacKay, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change in Great Britain and the author of the seminal work, “Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air,” is one of the most important figures in the environmental policy field. A physicist and information theorist, MacKay is a master of breaking down the numbers for us all to better assess the planet’s renewable energy options. He discusses his pro-nuclear stance and his advocacy for the development of carbon capture and storage technology, which remains unpopular in many environmental circles. Next, host Alex Wise speaks with the Mayor of Sebastopol, California, Michael Kyes, who has advanced environmental policy in his own way – the small town recently passed an ordinance requiring all new homes to be solar-equipped.
The policy decisions we make today will have an impact on the next hundred years and beyond. It kind of makes you think, what policy decisions from the last century are we dealing with today? This week on Sea Change Radio, we focus on lead, a heavy metal whose regulation was slow to follow the discovery that it was highly toxic. The lag time meant the widespread use of this hazardous element as an ingredient in everyday substances like gasoline and house paint, and a toxic legacy that is still being felt.
First, host Alex Wise speaks to Mother Jones political writer Kevin Drum, who’s recently published a set of high-profile articles suggesting a link between lead levels in our environment and crime rates. Then, we hear from Alex’s sister, Sarah Hess, who shares her personal story of lead exposure and how it inspired her to become a community advocate for safe and lead-free playgrounds.
How do we advance sustainable practices in a world driven by the profit motive? Public policy that mandates the use of renewables by private companies is one way. Not surprisingly, though, this sort of approach is often blockaded by those private interests. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise talks with Ezra Garrett, the Chief Sustainability Officer from Pacific Gas and Electric, or PG&E, a private company that appears to be getting out of the way of sustainability advocates. This is no small matter, given that PG&E has a veritable monopoly in California, the nation’s most populous state. We hear from Mr. Garrett about PG&E’s track record on sustainability, what they are doing to get to the mandated threshold of 33% renewables within the next seven years, and whether they feel more comfortable backing policy or backing off from politics altogether.
The Carbon Tracker Initiative and the Carbon Disclosure Project are two ongoing, vital efforts to help us better understand how much fossil fuels and greenhouse gasses companies are emitting. First, host Alex Wise speaks to Sea Change Radio co-founder Bill Baue who explains how the projects work and what needs to happen to act on the findings of these organizations. Next, we hear from the Research Director of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, James Leaton, to discuss the methodology, impact and real-world application of his team’s work.
*Here’s a link to Bill McKibben’s Rolling Stone piece that was inspired by Leaton’s research.
The Ceres Conference is an annual gathering where organizations as different as the Sierra Club and Shell come together to discuss ways to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world. On the eve of the conference which takes place May 1st and 2nd in San Francisco this year, we thought it would be worthwhile to get a sneak peek at some of the Ceres speakers.
This week on Sea Change Radio, we hear from two Ceres speakers. First, we are joined by Lester Snow, the executive director of the California Water Foundation. He gives us an overview of some compelling water issues concerning the American West. Then, host Alex Wise speaks to Bennett Freeman of Calvert Investments, an investment company that has been on the forefront of the socially responsible investment movement since the 1980s.
Are you interested in knowing the facts about the Keystone XL pipeline? Well, depending on the source, the “facts” vary wildly. Proponents tout the Alberta tar sands as the new Saudi Arabia, claim that the Keystone pipeline will bring 100,000 jobs and help get the US off of foreign oil. Critics, on the other hand, say the jobs are more like under 50, that all the oil will be exported, that tar sands crude is highly prone to spills, and that this project would endanger pristine wildlife habitats. So who is right? This week on Sea Change Radio we hear from longtime Washington Post energy correspondent Steven Mufson who has recently completed a book on the topic. Based on meticulous, hands-on research, Mufson’s work reminds us that when two competing interests have conflicting sets of facts, someone’s facts are fiction.
Promoters and detractors of wind power have one point of agreement – both see the transmission lines that carry wind energy as inefficient and very expensive to build. If wind power is going to fulfill its potential as the natural, pristine and infinitely renewable energy source that it could be, this obstacle will have to be overcome.
This week’s guest on Sea Change Radio, Michael Skelly, has a solution that he thinks will move us past the transmission obstacle and into an era of efficient wind power use and transfer. His company, Clean Line Energy Partners, believes it has a better way to transport wind energy, using a new technology based on the old standard direct current electricity: high voltage direct current transmission lines. Listen now as Skelly describes to host Alex Wise how a 19th century technology may be the answer to the 21st century energy question.
Can a spirit of adventure lead us toward more sustainable living? This week on Sea Change Radio, we try to answer that question. First, host Alex Wise speaks with Jem Bendell, a sustainability professor who has organized the upcoming Adventures in Sustainability Conference taking place in London May 28th. Next, we hear from Kate Rawles, an environmental travel writer who rode her bike from Texas to Alaska to raise awareness about climate change. Then, Alex talks to Ed Gillespie, a sustainability communications consultant who circumnavigated the globe without flying.
Last week on Sea Change Radio host Alex Wise spoke to Adam Browning, the executive director of Vote Solar, a non-profit organization that advocates for solar power adoption. This week, the second part of his discussion with Browning. We discuss the lessons we can learn from success stories like the German solar industry as well as high-profile flops like Solyndra. Then, we dig into the Sea Change Radio archives to hear from Matt Wasson, whose non-profit Appalachian Voices works to reduce the impact of coal on the Appalachian region.