As Californians continue to look beseechingly to the skies for signs of any kind of rainfall, the effects of this drought are indeed far-reaching. The policies that emerge from this disastrously dry year may ultimately alter what foods we eat, where we build new homes and even what sports we play. Earlier this year, we heard from the President of the Pacific Institute, Peter Gleick, as he told us of the critical nature of this drought, even in its early stages. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks again to Dr. Gleick for an update and to get a glimpse into the future of what a permanently drier California might mean for us all.
2013 was the driest year on record in California, and the state’s snowpack is at 12% of what it should be. Considering that this state alone houses an eighth of the US population, maintains over 25 million acres of farmland with a GDP larger than that of Canada, the current California drought reaches well beyond the borders of the golden state. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise talks with Peter Gleick, President and Co-founder of the Pacific Institute. They discuss the realities and implications of the current water crisis, how better agricultural policy may help lessen its impact, and look at some of the innovations that have been developed in other arid geographies.
When 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.
How 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.
Today’s show starts off in Zambia. Worldwide, an estimated 1.5 billion people do not have access to electricity. In Zambia more than 80% of the population has no access to electricity according to the World Bank. It has been shown that providing access to power can be tremendously beneficial to people’s education, their health and their livelihood.
Our first guest on Sea Change Radio this week is Moira Hanes, who describes what her relatively small nonprofit, Empowered By Light, is doing to try to change this big problem, harnessing solar power in sun-drenched areas like sub-Saharan Africa.
Next, we come back to California where, after 80 years of extinction, a lone wolf has appeared in the Golden State. Author Joe Donnelly recounts the tale of California’s lone wolf who wandered in from Oregon and unwittingly raised a controversy between environmental groups who want to protect the possible resurgence of wolves in California, and ranchers and others who don’t.
How do we advance sustainable practices in a world driven by the profit motive? Public policy that mandates the use of renewables by private companies is one way. Not surprisingly, though, this sort of approach is often blockaded by those private interests. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise talks with Ezra Garrett, the Chief Sustainability Officer from Pacific Gas and Electric, or PG&E, a private company that appears to be getting out of the way of sustainability advocates. This is no small matter, given that PG&E has a veritable monopoly in California, the nation’s most populous state. We hear from Mr. Garrett about PG&E’s track record on sustainability, what they are doing to get to the mandated threshold of 33% renewables within the next seven years, and whether they feel more comfortable backing policy or backing off from politics altogether.
Listening to the national dialogue on energy policy can be a little discouraging. Not only does it feel like progress is not happening fast enough, it often feels like as a regular person you’re just not going to have any way to influence energy policy. Enter Vote Solar. Vote Solar is a grassroots solar policy advocacy organization that reminds us that all politics is local and that tremendous progress can be made by focusing on local regulatory roadblocks.
Our guest this week on Sea Change Radio is Adam Browning, the executive director of Vote Solar. Driven by a vision of affordable and widespread renewable power, Browning co-founded the organization after a successful campaign in San Francisco for a bond measure that would enable more residents to adopt solar power. While they now have national reach, Vote Solar does not concentrate its efforts on a national front – as Browning likes to say, “If your plan involves congress, it’s a bad plan.” Listen now as Browning describes to host Alex Wise how solar initiatives are being advanced from deep blue California to scarlet Georgia, on the basis of simple economic sense.
Like it or not, genetically engineered foods make up a significant portion of our nation’s food supply. Approximately ninety-three percent of all U.S. soy and canola and eighty-six percent of our corn are genetically modified. There are informed positions on both sides of the debate around genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, pertaining to the health and long-term safety of these food products. But many assert that as long as this debate still rages, consumers deserve to know whether they’re eating and serving foods that have been genetically modified.
Advocates for environmental sustainability would all agree that long-term solutions are going to require changes in consumer behavior. But even the most conscientious consumers sometimes find themselves stumped by confusing labeling and policies that get in the way. Our two guests this week on Sea Change Radio are each trying to make it easier to be a responsible consumer. First we will hear from Rodney North of Equal Exchange, the first organization that promoted socially responsible goods as “fair trade.” He provides the background and discusses some of the controversies around fair trade labeling of goods. Next, host Alex Wise talks with the Sierra Club’s Evan Gillespie, who’s leading a campaign to push for energy reform in California, including a solar bill of rights.
It’s the tenth largest city in the United States and the third largest city in California, but San Jose is often overshadowed by its popular neighbor to the north, San Francisco. This week on Sea Change Radio we talk about San Jose and the little-known ways that this big city is leading the charge toward sustainability. Our guest is Councilmember Ash Kalra, who talks with host Alex Wise about the successes and challenges of promoting environmentally sound policy in a city that’s one of the most ethnically and economically diverse in the nation. Councilmember Kalra tells us about the progress being made there, from hybrid busses, to a city-wide plastic bag ban, to the mission to make San Jose a zero-waste city. He also shares with us some of the challenges the city’s policymakers have encountered, including the economic downturn and a pervasive not-in-my-backyard attitude that stands in the way of progress. Listen now as we examine how the lessons learned in this urban microcosm of the United States can be applied to any city working for a greener tomorrow.