Yearly Archives: 2013

Rhett Butler on the Palm Oil Industry (re-broadcast)

RhettButlerpalmoilThe global expansion of the palm oil industry is one of the largest upheavals in modern agricultural history – and one that many Americans know nothing about. And yet palm oil is now everywhere in this country – in our food, our cosmetics and someday soon maybe even in our gas tanks.

This week on Sea Change Radio, we learn about the palm oil explosion over the past two decades from Rhett A. Butler, the founder of the popular environmental news website, Mongabay. Butler talks with host Alex Wise about the social, economic and environmental impact of this rapidly expanding crop in the tropical countries where it’s grown – and what measures are being taken to mitigate the damage that a monoculture like palm oil can inflict.

The Grass Is Always Greener: Scott Zeramby and Shaka King

ShakaKingScottZerambyWhen most people think about a controversy surrounding marijuana, they think about medicinal uses or outright legalization. But there’s also an environmental controversy. Would you be surprised to learn that indoor cannabis production is responsible for about 3% of all electricity use in the state of California? When you consider that a single industrial grow light uses about the same amount of electricity as 28 refrigerators, it starts to make sense.

Our first guest this week on Sea Change Radio is Scott Zeramby, a contributor to a recent study that documents the energy consumption associated with indoor cannabis growing. Mr. Zeramby discusses the forces responsible for the shift to indoor growing, and how the study makes a case to oppose this trend and instead let the grass grow where it’s greenest — outside.

After this high-minded discussion, host Alex Wise speaks with filmmaker Shaka King, whose debut feature film “Newlyweeds” depicts one young man’s complex relationship with marijuana. They talk about the problems that arise when you combine policies that criminalize cannabis and practices that unfairly target communities of color.

Post-Plastic Entrepreneurs

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Can you think of two everyday materials with a worse environmental rep than Styrofoam and plastic bottles? From production through disposal, these things produce toxic gasses, are major culprits in our single-use disposable culture, and are rapidly invading our oceans and destroying marine food chains. This week’s guests on Sea Change Radio are each working on eco-friendly alternatives to these environmental villains.
First, we hear from Eben Bayer, one of the founders of Ecovative, a company that has developed a mushrom-based alternative to extruded polystyrene foam (more commonly known by its copyrighted name, Styrofoam). He tells us how Ecovative’s biologically-based material is replacing packing materials, insulation and maybe soon food storage containers that were previously the exclusive domain of polluting, non-biodegradable stuff. Next, host Alex Wise talks to Rick Eye, CEO of Blue Can Pure Water, a company offering an alternative to those ubiquitous plastic water bottles: on-the-go water in aluminum cans. He explains why it has taken so long for this much better idea to spring up, and discusses how he’s doing his part to reduce plastic waste.

Lab-Grown Beef: A Meat Pie in the Sky?

Tom Levitt736603953_771bbfcfc5_qCruelty free products abound in our 21st Century market place, from cosmetics to fake fur. But can you imagine a cruelty free filet mignon? It sounds like an oxymoron, or the stuff of a wacky sci-fi flick. But, as this week’s guest on Sea Change Radio explains, lab-grown meat is here and could hit the shelves within your lifetime. Continue reading

Beer Is Good: Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Geoff Larson

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BeerDo you think beer is good? If you do, you’re not alone. Beer is the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage worldwide, and one of the earliest fermented products humans ever crafted. There’s a new trend brewing in the ancient art of beer making – sustainability. Our guest this week on Sea Change Radio is Geoff Larson, co-founder of Alaskan Brewing Company, a craft brewer that is just as committed to environmental stewardship as it is to making a tasty libation.

Geoff and his team are at the cutting edge of what they call beer-powered beer, using innovation to make beer without a drop of energy wasted. He’ll tell host Alex Wise about the technology they’ve developed to reduce and reuse in their brewing process, how they keep up with consumer demands for flavorful and ecologically-conscious beer, and how they try to meet the challenges of keeping their carbon footprint low in the distant climes of the US’s northernmost state.

Strange + Rare Birds: Ralph Steadman & Ceri Levy (re-broadcast)

RalphSteadmanCeriLevyConfronted with the topic of extinct birds, filmmaker and author Ceri Levy took an unorthodox route to raising awareness. He enlisted the irreverent and intoxicating painter, Ralph Steadman, who’s most famous as the partner-in-crime and illustrator for legendary gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson.

Levy and Steadman embarked on the project, Extinct Boids, and created a coffee table book that documents in colorful hilarity many species of birds that have ceased to exist on the earth, as well as some that only ever existed in the recesses of Steadman’s unrestrained mind. A portion of the proceeds of the book go to supporting wildlife preservation through BirdLife International. While the book is at once a joyful exploration of imagination and a somber reflection on conservation, the conversation you’re about to hear in which host Alex Wise attempts to keep up with the creators of Extinct Boids is almost completely inane.

Global and Local Generations of Energy

ChrisCannonAshKalra2How many of us have ever watched the boundless energy of little kids playing and thought, “if only you could capture that energy, you could light up a whole city!” Well, our first guest this week on Sea Change Radio, Chris Cannon, is doing just that – his nonprofit, Empower Playgrounds, taps the kinetic movement of children at play and converts it into usable power in electricity-deprived locales in the West African nation of Ghana.

In the second half of the show we move from the global to the local. Working in California’s third-largest city, and the tenth-largest city in the US, City Councilmember Ash Kalra expends a large portion of his energy ensuring clean air, water and transportation are available in San Jose and the surrounding area for generations to come.

The Best Things In Life Are Free: Adam Browning and Chuck Leavell

AdamBrowning2ChuckLeavellThis week on Sea Change Radio, we dip into the archives to reconnect with three timeless essentials – the sun, the trees and music. First, we hear from Adam Browning, the executive director of Vote Solar, a non-profit organization that advocates for solar power adoption. He talks about the lessons we can learn from success stories like the German solar industry and look at some of the financial innovations emerging around solar.

Then, it’s rock and roll legend, conservationist and environmental author, Chuck Leavell. He has played keyboards for the Rolling Stones since 1985 and is also known for his work with artists ranging from The Allman Brothers Band to Eric Clapton to The Black Crowes. Leavell talks to host Alex Wise about the ins and outs of his stellar career as a musician, his founding of the Mother Nature Network and his tireless work for sustainable forestry.

Arctic 30 Update and Fog Harvesting

GarethMcKinleyKeillerMacDuffBy now you may have heard about the arrest of 30 activists in the arctic by the Russian government. This week on Sea Change Radio we hear the harrowing tale from Keiller MacDuff, a Greenpeace colleague of the imprisoned group that has become known as the Arctic 30.

Then, host Alex Wise speaks to Gareth McKinley, an MIT professor whose students have come up with a potential solution for the rainless days that await many regions as climate change takes hold – a technology that effectively converts fog into potable water.

Carbon Footprints: from Corporations to Keychains

JamesLeaton1GrahamBerghThis week on Sea Change Radio, we hear from the Research Director of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, James Leaton. He discusses his organization’s ongoing effort to inform the public about the quantities of fossil fuels and greenhouse gasses various companies are emitting. His team’s findings have been important talking points for Bill McKibben and 350.org‘s recent divestment campaign.

Next, host Alex Wise speaks with Graham Bergh, the founder of Resource Revival, a small company that collects tons of bicycle parts each month from bike shops all over the US. to create beautiful, low carbon-footprint, everyday products like picture frames and candle holders.