Who doesn’t enjoy that refreshing feeling when you walk in from 90 degree heat to the cool blast of an air-conditioned room? Last month extreme heat blistered most of the US, from the Northeast, to the Southwest and practically every place in between. Weather experts are telling us that extreme is going to be the new normal when it comes to summer temperatures. Thank heavens for A/C. Approximately 86% of American households are equipped with air conditioners, and the rest of the world is rapidly catching up. But, while it undoubtedly helps human beings survive extreme heat, A/C is a huge and growing greenhouse gas offender. Our guest this week on Sea Change Radio is reporter, Katie Herzog, who recently wrote a piece for Grist on the social and environmental costs of air-conditioning. We discuss the past and future of these machines, the possibility of solar-powered A/C units, and the irony of this thing that is making us hotter by keeping us cool.
In the words of Robert Bork, the controversial legal scholar and one of the fathers of modern anti-trust law who died this past December 19th at age 85, “Courts that know better ought not . . . to make rules unrelated to reality.” Well, the reality that Prof. Bork and his fellow originalists strived for has manifested itself in a monopolistic food system that keeps prices low and our waistlines bulging. This week’s guest on Sea Change Radio, food writer Tom Laskawy, tells host Alex Wise why he believes that Bork’s ideas of linking economics to antitrust gave us cheap meat and dairy as well as massive quantities of processed food – and why that’s a problem. Here’s a link to Laskawy’s piece in Grist discussed at length on this week’s show.
The U.S. military is far and away the largest consumer of fossil fuels in this country. Reducing the military’s carbon footprint is not only important for the environment, it also would make for a much more effective, efficient military. But efforts to make the military greener are being stymied by Republicans and a few conservative Democrats in Congress. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with David Roberts, a staff writer at Grist.org, and one of the leading environmental journalists in the country, about the current political struggle to enable the U.S. military to use alternative fuels and take other steps to reduce its carbon consumption. Roberts, who’s written a series of pieces on the subject, takes us inside the Marine Corp’s Expeditionary Energy Office and tries to wade through the political morass that’s keeping these forward-thinking efforts from becoming standard operating procedure.
Last week on Sea Change Radio, we spoke with Stacy Mitchell, a researcher and author who believes that Walmart’s sustainability efforts over the past five or six years have only disguised, not improved the tremendous detrimental effects caused by the world’s largest retailer. This week, we hear from a business and sustainability reporter who has a different perspective on Walmart’s green campaign. Marc Gunther thinks that while Walmart still has a long way to go to become a truly responsible corporation, the company’s work in this area represents important steps in the right direction. Gunther and host Alex Wise discuss the parallels of Walmart and Apple’s supply chain troubles including slave-like labor conditions in China, and look at the Walmart situation from both a management and consumer perspective. After hearing both Stacy Mitchell last week and Marc Gunther this week, Sea Change Radio invites you to draw your own conclusions about this retail giant.
Walmart. What does the name of the world’s largest retailer evoke for you? Do you think of its reputation as a poor employer and its anti-union tactics? Do you lump it in your mind with other large corporations who worship profit at the expense of environmental and social justice? Or perhaps you’re among those who respect Walmart’s more recent initiatives to improve its environmental impact, cut back on energy use, and reduce packaging. Today on Sea Change Radio, we begin a two-part series in which we speak with two writers for whom the name Walmart evokes very different things.
This week, host Alex Wise talks with author, researcher and advocate, Stacy Mitchell who recently published a 6-part series for Grist on Walmart’s sustainability efforts. Mitchell believes that the company’s purported efforts to improve its sustainability profile are mostly window dressing, a ploy to change the media narrative of Walmart’s poor track record without actually changing its overall negative global impact. Next week we will hear a contrasting opinion from reporter Marc Gunther who’s written extensively on Walmart, as well. Gunther is more impressed by the company’s sustainability efforts, believing that the perfect should not be the enemy of the good, and that when a giant like Walmart makes moves toward environmental responsibility it is worth taking notice. But first, our discussion with Stacy Mitchell.
Alex Wise speaks with Stewart Brand, author, Merry Prankster, and one of the fathers of the modern environmental movement. In the first part of this two-part interview, Brand discusses his provocative new book, Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto, and makes the case for nuclear energy expansion. Brand’s pro-nuclear stance has certainly ruffled a number of feathers in the environmental movement. Since the book’s publication, Brand has been debating luminaries on the topic from Amory Lovins (Grist article) to Mark Jacobson (here’s video from TED conference):
We talk with food editor Tom Philpott of Grist.org about the impact of the farm lobby on the climate and food safety legislation. And Lisa Hamilton discusses food policy from the perspective of the small farmer. Her book is Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness. Continue reading