Filmmaker Peter Byck believes that the issue of preserving the environment is truly non-partisan, that when you strip away all the political rhetoric and carefully-crafted media narratives, we all really want the same thing: clean air, clean water and cheap energy. Byck’s 2010 documentary film, Carbon Nation, which features interviews with luminaries such as Richard Branson and Van Jones, tries to pick up where Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth left off, by focusing on an array of possible solutions to our reliance on carbon fuels and the warming of our planet. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with Peter Byck about his film as they delve into surprisingly simple answers to what often seem like insurmountable problems.
“It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.” -Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist and peace activist who was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, died this week from cancer at the age of 71. Maathai was best known as the founder of The Green Belt Movement, a group she started in 1977 that encouraged poor women to collect native tree seeds in the wild in order to ensure they had access to sustainable firewood for cooking and potable water. Eulogies came pouring in from around the globe upon news of her passing. Fellow Nobel Prize laureate Desmond Tutu described her as a “visionary African woman” and Al Gore said that Maathai “overcame incredible obstacles to devote her life to service – service to her children, to her constituents, to the women, and indeed all the people of Kenya – and to the world as a whole.”
Sea Change Radio co-founders Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon sat down with Maathai in the spring of 2009. This week, we remember the spirit of Wangari Maathai by bringing that conversation to you in its entirety.
As the climate heats up, the press treatment of climate change is cooling down. Karl Frisch of Media Matters says it used to be that the press treated climate change as a debate between 2 equal partners — on the one hand, the overwhelming majority of scientists who said climate change was happening–and on the other, the miniscule minority of climate change deniers. That’s gone by now, Frisch says — but the press is still dropping the ball on covering solutions to climate change. Frisch discusses why. He also talks about a column by George Will in the Washington Post that sparked a storm of protest from environmentalists. Andy Revkin of the the DotEarth blog at the New York Times — a reporter who usually gets climate change right — compared Will to Al Gore, embroiling him in controversy.
Sea Change Radio speaks with Bill McKibben about the Capitol Climate Action protest against coal in Washington, DC. And Caroline Rees of the Harvard team behind UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights John Ruggie talks about BASESwiki, a new wiki to help human rights abuse victims resolve grievances with companies — outside the courtroom. The Sea Change ViewPoint comes from Arvind Ganesan of Human Rights Watch on the Employee Free Choice Act.
Each January for the past several years, Bill has surveyed the top Corporate Social Responsibility news stories of the past year for CSRwire.com, where he is a contributing writer. Here’s this year’s edition:
A “green” recovery from economic and environmental meltdowns; the advent of Shareholder Activism 2.0 with binding resolutions at TARP banks; CSR adopts Web 2.0 strategies for sustainability reporting; is Wal-Mart really green?; and much more…
The economic meltdown of 2008 mirrors the simultaneous environmental meltdown fueled by the climate calamity – both share common roots, and many in the Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility (CSR) community believe they share a common salvation. Continue reading
The meltdown on Wall Street has many people asking, how come the government can find hundreds of billions to bailout the guys who brought us this mess–but always claims there’s no money to save homeowners from foreclosure, provide health insurance to those who can’t afford it, or clean up the environment?
Today’s guest David Cay Johnston says it’s all part of an endemic pattern of “corporate welfare”, where government policy is rigged to benefit the richest Americans at the expense of the rest of us. Johnston’s latest book is Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill). Johnston was an investigative journalist for the New York Times before becoming an independent reporter. He won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing loopholes and inequities in the U.S. tax code.
–Millions of new green jobs could light up a gloomy economic horizon
– The devil’s in the details on the bailout bill’s CEO pay provisions
–Al Gore wants you to commit civil disobedience — to save us from climate collapse
In a 2006 Rolling Stone interview, Al Gore infamously likened the practice of extracting oil from tar sands to “junkies find[ing] veins in their toes” to inject heroin. Gore’s image simply extends to its logical conclusion George Bush’s 2006 State of the Union “addicted to oil” metaphor. Clean, renewable energy represents a healthy cure for petro-addiction. Tar sands, which increase the carbon intensity of petroleum extraction, represent an exacerbation of the climate-changing addiction–kind of like trying to cure heroin addiction by injecting arsenic. CWR co-host Bill Baue speaks with Shelley Alpern, director of social research and advocacy at Trillium Asset Management, about her shareholder activism asking oil companies such as ConocoPhillips and BP to assess and disclose the social, environmental, and financial risks of tar sands exploitation. We also hear from the Environmental Integrity Project and Environmental Defence Canada about their brand new report, Tar Sands: Feeding U.S. Refinery Expansions With Dirty Fuel.
–Shell frets over Canadian tar sands
–Postal services around the globe to begin tracking emissions
–Labor organization charges the US violates rights of workers
–James Bond to go after greenwashing villain
Susan Casey-Lefkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council with NRDC’s take on tar sands.
In part one of this two-part interview, British journalist George Monbiot discusses his new book, Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning, with CWR co-hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon. Monbiot applauds the acknowledgment of the climate crisis in awarding of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, but criticizes recipient Al Gore for undermining the Kyoto Protocol when he was in office. He also presents the case for carbon rationing under the “Contraction and Convergence” framework. He emphasizes the necessary role of government regulation in solving the climate crisis, and discusses the paradoxes of how “regulation enhances the sum of human freedom” and how our carbon-intensive lifestyles create a “fantasy of freedom.”
In the current corporate annual meeting season, shareowners have stepped up demands on companies to seek alternatives to toxic materials in their products. A shareholder resolution at Apple calls on the company to set an accelerated timetable for ending the use of certain toxic materials. But why has the Board of Directors, which includes Al Gore, unanimously recommended against the resolution? At DuPont shareholders are continuing their quest for the company to end the use of the so-called Teflon Chemical. Corporate Watchdog Radio cohost Sanford Lewis, who is counsel to the Investor Environmental Health Network, discusses these and other fights with Richard Liroff, Director of the Network. Other companies discussed include Chemlawn, Bed, Bath & Beyond, SC Johnson, CVS, Dow Chemical, Wal-Mart, Mohawk Carpet and others.