All posts by Alex Wise

Mark Murray: California Recycling in Decline

In 2013 California boasted a recycling rate of 85%. In 2017 that number is now 79% – that is the first time it has dipped below 80% since 2008. Why is the most populous state in the union moving in the wrong direction on this important indicator? This week on Sea Change Radio we speak with Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, a nonprofit environmental group that was founded forty years ago to advocate for beverage container recycling in the state. He will explain this troubling trend and talk about what can be done to get California’s recycling program back on its previous trajectory.

Measure For Measure: Aclima’s Davida Herzl

Galileo said we should, “Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.” This week on Sea Change Radio, we take a look at two ways that people are trying to apply that wisdom to climate change. First, we speak to Davida Herzl, the CEO and co-founder of Aclima, a San Francisco-based company that refers to itself as a “FitBit for the planet.” Herzl explains how Aclima’s technology works, how the company makes money, and the opportunities that lie ahead as the industry of measuring air pollution evolves. Then, we dig into the Sea Change Radio archives and re-visit our discussion with James Leaton, the research director of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, a British nonprofit that analyzes the risks of fossil fuel investment and presents findings to the financial sector, with the objective of limiting future greenhouse gas emissions.

Champions For Sacred Lands

Was all the work to try to keep the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines from being built done in vain now that Donald Trump occupies the White House? Not if you ask this week’s guest on Sea Change Radio, Kandi Mossett, a leading organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network. Mossett takes us behind the scenes of Native Americans’ fight to preserve their sacred lands. We discuss the connection between protecting the environment and advocating for Native American rights, talk about how struggles from Standing Rock to Bears Ears have stimulated activism and raised awareness, and recognize the value that this movement has, even in the face of setbacks (like the ascension of an obscenely pro-corporate presidential administration).

The Bret Stephens Debate: 50 Shades of the Grey Lady

Is the New York Times enabling a debate that most rational people think is long over? The latest conservative pundit to be hired by the New York Times has progressives and environmentalists concerned. Bret Stephens, a Pulitzer Prize winning “opinion journalist” from the Wall Street Journal made his first splash onto the op-ed page of the Times recently with a controversial piece entitled Climate of Complete Certainty.  In this editorial he asserts that climate science should continue to be debated, despite a preponderance of credible evidence sounding the alarm for immediate action. This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak with two PhDs with differing responses to Mr. Stephens’s perspective and place at the Grey Lady. First, we’re joined by Joe Romm, the founding editor of Climate Progress, who is critical of the new hire. Then, we hear from psychologist Pamela Paresky who thinks that his hiring by the NY Times could actually be a catalyst for productive dialogue that might ultimately bring conservatives over to recognizing the threat of climate change.

Rahwa Ghirmatzion: Green Buffalo Soldier

What’s a great way to lift up an impoverished population within a struggling city where utility bills can cost twice as much as rent itself? Local, engaged clean energy efforts. This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak to the Deputy Director of PUSH Buffalo, Rahwa Ghirmatzion, about the work that her organization is doing to create jobs and ramp up energy efficiency in the third poorest major city in the U.S. Ghirmatzion tells us about how her organization got its start, how its model has evolved and how PUSH Buffalo is trying to meet rising demands for its services in the face of looming EPA cuts.

Invasion of the Lionfish Snatchers

Perhaps it’s cold comfort but it turns out that we human beings are not the only species on earth hell-bent on destroying our own habitat. We share that ignominious honor with the venomous, carnivorous, and highly invasive lionfish. This week on Sea Change Radio, we talk about what these marine invaders are doing to the ocean’s coral reefs, and what is being done to reduce the damage. Our guests today all are working in Bermuda, one of the regions of the world where these creatures are wreaking havoc on the coral reef. First we hear from Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot the company that makes the robotic vacuum-cleaner, Roomba, and his wife, biologist Erika Angle — together they have devised a way to use vacuum robot technology to catch the intrusive but tasty lionfish. Then we’re joined by Jeremy Pochman from 11th Hour Racing, who tells us about how his organization is leveraging the America’s Cup, set to take place in Bermuda this June, to raise global awareness about the problem.

Jeremy Miller on California’s Water Troubles

JeremyMillerCalifornia’s soggy winter and spring belie its long-term water prospects. While it’s true that the Golden State is experiencing record rainfalls, California’s water problems have far from evaporated. A warmer globe means wilder swings of storms and drought, deluges and scarcity. Is the most populous state ready for these wild swings? What are they doing with the surplus that is literally spilling over aquifers right now? And how will they ensure that groundwater stores are not completely depleted? This week on Sea Change Radio, we hear from environmental writer Jeremy Miller who discusses his recent New Yorker article chronicling California’s deep, systemic water problems. Miller talks about the impact of the flooding in Northern California, shares ideas from experts on how to re-charge the state’s stressed groundwater reserves, and posits that California needs a more sustainable model for fresh water that is less dependent on the snow pack in the Sierra Mountains.

Time To Filibuster, Buster!

RickHasenWhen we last covered the Supreme Court it was after Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in February 2016. At that time many of us naively assumed that President Obama was going to be able to fill the vacancy, and we were concerned with specific issues like upholding the Obama administration’s clean power act. But, oh so much has transpired since then! And so much more is at stake, including but not limited to the preservation of the most fundamental environmental protections. This week on Sea Change Radio we speak with UC Irvine professor, Rick Hasen, about the fight over the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the nation’s highest court. We delve into the intricacies of the filibuster, and wrestle a bit over whether this is the appropriate time for Democrats to use it.

Kaz Makabe on Japan’s Nuclear Shutdown

KazMakabeIn 2011, in the wake of the devastating nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor, thousands of Japanese people relocated, the world held its breath, and the Japanese government began to re-evaluate the country’s reliance on nuclear power. This week’s guest on Sea Change Radio, Kaz Makabe, was out on the streets of Tokyo on the fateful day of March 11th when the Tohoku earthquake struck. The incident inspired Makabe to investigate what makes Japan’s electric grid tick. We discuss his new book, “Buying Time: Environmental Collapse and the Future of Energy,” explore the dismantling of Japan’s nuclear power facilities, and talk about the energy future in the land of the rising sun.

Anonymous Engineer Discusses Gold Mining

7022005691_f555a7bef0_zDid you know that a metric ton of electronic waste can contain 8 to 16 ounces of gold? Whether we like it or not, precious metals show up in more than just that gold necklace or platinum ring we might have purchased – from the titanium used in our high-end mountain bikes, to platinum in our cellphones, to silver in our solar panels, precious metals are all around us. And the mining of these materials often comes with a steep social and environmental cost. This week on Sea Change Radio, we talk with an engineer who has chosen to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal from his former employer, a large gold-mining enterprise. We learn about the use of water in the extraction of precious metals, how common mining practices create hazardous slurry ponds, and the enormous amount of energy required to carry out these operations in remote locations. Then, we dig deep into the Sea Change archives to hear from Jem Bendell about the unlikely intersection between luxury and sustainability.