Monthly Archives: August 2010

Plastic Horizon: From Ocean Trash to A Renewable Breakthrough

“There’s so much plastic in this culture that vinyl leopard skin is becoming an endangered synthetic.”  -Lily Tomlin
We all know plastic is a problem. It has been estimated that between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are manufactured across the world each year. In the US alone, 12 million barrels of oil go toward plastic bag production. And with the popularity of bottled water, the number of plastic bottles disposed of every year around the world has soared to 200 billion. This massive use of “disposable” plastics creates an enormous amount of harmful waste, and exacerbates our unhealthy reliance on petroleum. So what is to be done?
This week on Sea Change Radio we speak with the leader of an organization that’s trying to raise awareness of a particular plastic problem, and with a scientist whose team is developing a new process that could help actually solve the plastic problem. First, we talk with Doug Woodring, a Hong Kong-based entrepreneur and environmentalist whose Project Kaisei is making strides to highlight the enormous floating plastic mass in the North Pacific known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Then we hear from the head of IBM’s Almaden Research Center, Chandrasekhar “Spike” Narayan, who describes his team’s latest breakthrough, an earth-friendly, endlessly recyclable plastic.

Things That Endure: A New Indestructible Soccer Ball and the Beauty of Cape Cod

This week on Sea Change Radio, Alex Wise speaks with Eric Frothingham of the One World Futbol Project, an effort underwritten by Sting, to create a soccer ball to last a lifetime. Next, we hear from photojournalist, Ethan Daniels, who recently published a photobook entitled Under Cape Cod Waters, which provides a fascinating glimpse into the hidden beauty of one of America’s natural treasures. 

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The Biofuel Boom: Innovations in Driving for Today and Tomorrow

Producing biofuel is kind of like brewing beer, a practice that’s been around since the Phoenicians and Egyptians first fermented things, according to Bill Haywood, CEO of the San Francisco-based company LS9.  He explains to Sea Change Radio host, Alex Wise, how his company uses gut bacterium E. Coli’s digestion capabilities (which have been around for billions of years) to convert sugar to biofuels and chemicals. The LS9 interview ends asking, where can we drivers actually get these biofuels?  That’s the question that Karri Ving, Biofuel Coordinator for SFGreasecycle, seeks to answer. The program diverts fryer oil from being dumped in San Francisco’s sewers to turn it into biofuels that power the city’s entire diesel fleet.

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Genetically Modified Organisms: Part II of our discussion with Stewart Brand

In Part I of Alex Wise‘s Sea Change Radio conversation with Stewart Brand, Brand makes his case for expanding nuclear energy. In Part II, Brand takes an unexpected position on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), one which calls into question fundamental assumptions that underlie environmentalism itself. Stewart Brand is an American writer best known as the editor of the Whole Earth Catalog. He founded a number of organizations including The WELL, the Global Business Network, and the Long Now Foundation. His most recent book is Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto.

Other recommended reading on plant breeding by Stewart Brand includes Noel Kingsbury’s Hybrid: The History and Science of Plant Breeding.

Eat, Drink and Be Sustainable

We profile two pioneers in the local food movement on Sea Change Radio this week. Host Alex Wise speaks with The Breakaway Cook, Eric Gower, about fusing locally-grown food with global flavors and The Ethical Butcher, Berlin Reed, about selecting food from local farms and farmers’ markets. Both guests are commited to sustainability in their food preparation without compromising the search for authentically delicious culinary experiences.