Yearly Archives: 2011

Stewards of Other People’s Money… and The Planet

Socially responsible capitalism – is this an oxymoron? Not according to this week’s guest on Sea Change Radio. Graham Sinclair is a South African sustainable investment consultant and the President of the Africa Sustainable Investment Forum. Money managers like him attract conscientious investors, using the tools of capitalism to pressure corporations to be more socially responsible. Today, Sinclair talks about the past and future of sustainable investing, and what it means for corporations, investors and consumers. Host Alex Wise also discusses with Sinclair the particular importance of socially responsible investment strategies in developing countries.

The Peaks & Valleys of Clean Energy Innovation

The bankruptcy of solar startup, Solyndra, earlier this year had the clean energy naysayers up-in-arms, saying that Solyndra’s demise proved that governments shouldn’t be wasting taxpayer money on businesses that could fail. We all know that startup businesses are inherently risky and in the clean energy space, they can be quite expensive but who’s better suited to foot the bill and assume the risk, private companies or government-backed efforts?

This week on Sea Change Radio, we welcome back to the show, Jesse Jenkins, the Director of Energy and Climate Policy at the Breakthrough Institute, a leading progressive public policy think tank. Jenkins and host Alex Wise discuss his white paper titled “Bridging the Clean Energy Valleys of Death” which gives an overview of the challenges facing clean energy commercialization and outlines proposals that may allow green technologies and entrepreneurs to better compete with their fossil fuel-based brethren.

An Eco-Literate Conversation With Richard Heinberg

This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise talks with Richard Heinberg, author and senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute who’s written extensively on energy, economic, and ecological issues. The last time he was a guest on this program, he described some of the fundamental problems surrounding our carbon-based economy outlined in his book, The End of Growth.  This week we welcome Mr. Heinberg back to the show as we discuss his latest article published in Energy Bulletin titled, What We Are For. In the next half hour, listen as Richard Heinberg gives us his thoughts on how to promote eco-literacy, why empowering women is good for the planet, and what environmentalists can learn from the Occupy Movement.

Busting Convention With The Combustion Engine

Do you ever try to envision a world where all the cars are electric – quiet, clean and carbon-neutral? Sounds great, but the truth is that the shift to a fossil-free fleet of vehicles on this planet is likely to be a slow cumbersome process that unfolds over several decades. In the meantime, however, there are some bright, inventive minds trying to ease the pain associated with the dirty, carbon-intensive status quo.

This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks to two men whose start-up companies are reworking the old-fashioned combustion engine into cleaner, greener machines – a seemingly simple solution whose time should have come long ago. First, we hear from David Johnson, the CEO of Achates Power, whose new version of the diesel engine promises to significantly upgrade transport and hauling. Then, Alex talks to Ron Hoge, whose company, Pinnacle Engines, is building car motors that are more efficient but can be dropped right into existing automotive assembly-lines with minimal modifications. This week on Sea Change Radio, a practical interim solution to the carbon-free utopia we all dream of.

Solar Power To The People

Solar power is an essential part of the green technology revolution, a movement that has the potential to create jobs that are good for the community and the environment. But when we think about who’s actually benefitting from solar right now, it tends to be mid-to-upper income individuals and households. This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak to two women whose organizations are creating templates to make solar power an equitable component of a carbon-free tomorrow.

First, we hear from Erica Mackie, the co-founder of GRID Alternatives, a non-profit solar installer that focuses on getting solar electricity to low income families. Then, host Alex Wise speaks with Jeanine Cotter, the CEO of Luminalt, a San Francisco-based solar installer that hires much of its workforce through local community based organizations. Both women envision a solar industry that benefits a wider swath of the community and offers working people a fair living wage.

Future Food Production: The Sky’s The Limit

We often hear about vertical economic growth and vertical integration in business but the idea of growing our food vertically sounds fantastical.

Our guest this week on Sea Change Radio is Dr. Dickson Despommier, a microbiologist and ecologist who’s a leading proponent of vertical farming, a concept that argues the viability of cultivating plant or animal life within skyscrapers. Host Alex Wise talks to him about some of the problems with traditional agricultural methods and why he believes that vertical farming would conserve water and fossil fuels. When it comes to meeting the challenge of feeding an exploding global population, perhaps the sky is the limit.

Rainmakers and Water Misers

Remember when Lex Luthor designed a weather-controlling machine? Superman, of course, foiled his sinister plans…or did he? Using technology to control the weather sounds like the exclusive domain of comic books and science fiction, but it’s happening in reality, both in the US and in China.

This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise talks with Kathryn Flagg, whose recent article in Orion Magazine discusses the practice of cloud seeding, including its history, how it helps, and how it may harm. As the projected impact of climate change includes widespread fresh water shortages, people are searching for answers. Of equal importance, though, are our practices around water use and conservation. A little later in the show we hear from Peter Williams, the Chief Technology Officer for IBM’s Big Green Innovations Unit. He tells us about how a smarter design in our water meters can help advance more conscientious consumption of the earth’s most precious resource.

Power: Easy As Riding A Bike

Since man’s romance with fossil fuels and electricity began, bicycles have mostly been viewed as an obsolete technology. But pedaling remains one of the most efficient mechanisms to harvest human energy. While it falls short of a panacea, increasing our use of pedaling beyond traditional transportation is on the rise – and it shows what’s possible. The simple, healthy act of pedaling is replacing fossil fuels for a growing list of innovative projects.

Around the world, bicycle-based systems are powering boats and snowplows, school busses, water lifting machines in farming villages that have no electricity, gyms and rec centers, and even music concerts. And with gas-powered generators in New York’s Zucchotti Park being banned, the protestors at Occupy Wall Street have turned to pedal power for alternative electricity generation as well.

From obesity to climate change, solving some of our most seemingly intractable problems start with the simplest of steps, or in this case, pedals. This week on Sea Change Radio, we talk pedal power with two evangelists for the technology. First, host Alex Wise speaks with Adam Boesel, whose Green Micro Gym in Portland, Oregon is raising awareness alongside pulses. Then, we hear from Paul Freedman, the founder of Rock The Bike, a San Francisco organization that puts on pedal-powered concerts and other events. Later in the show, Wise reads excerpts of “Power For The People” by Kate Gordon at the Center for American Progress.

Urban Environmental Pioneers: Hunters Point Family

If you drew a map of San Francisco and plotted all the spots where there was environmental blight, then plotted the city’s population by race, you’d find an alarming overlap between where chemical waste and other hazards are located and the highest concentration of the city’s African American community. Namely, you’d find the Bayview-Hunters Point area. This week on Sea Change Radio our topic is environmental racism, and our guests are Lena Miller and Takai Tyler, co-executive directors of Hunters Point Family, a community-based organization located in the heart of San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point. These women are driven by a vision to empower at-risk youth. They tell host Alex Wise how they realize that vision by giving inner-city young people the tools to become the environmental entrepreneurs and green job pioneers of tomorrow.

Tapping Into Geothermal Energy

Humans have been capturing and using geothermal heat from the earth for a very long time. Geothermal energy was being used in China back in the 3rd Century BC and the Ancient Romans, of course, used it to heat their baths and their buildings. Now, in the 21st Century, geothermal power comprises a significant portion of the energy grid in countries ranging from the Philippines to Nicaragua. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise talks with Karl Gawell, Executive Director of the Geothermal Energy Association, an organization that advocates for the expansion of geothermal for electricity production. He explains how geothermal works, tells us who the major players are in the industry, and talks about what needs to happen to move the United States toward fully embracing this ancient but largely untapped resource.