Has this ever happened to you: you’re sitting in your car, engine idling, watching the cars in front of you and behind you move only inches at a time, and you find yourself wishing you had opted for public transportation? So why didn’t you? Were you deterred by the time you imagined it would take? Did the transport system’s notorious unreliability make you nervous? Or perhaps the prospect of sitting on a dingy seat next to a smelly stranger kept you behind the wheel of your own car, where you know you’re in control? Then again, how “in control” can you be – you’ve only moved a foot in the last five minutes, haven’t you?
This week on Sea Change Radio our guest is Tom Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt is the author of Traffic, one of the New York Times’ Most Notable Books of 2008 and he recently wrote an article for Slate exploring the “Best Way To Get Users To Embrace Mass Transit.” Vanderbilt and host Alex Wise chat about the marvels and the miseries of both public transportation and driving, and muse over what it takes to get us out of our cars and onto the train.
The United Nations forecasts that by 2050 the world’s population will exceed 9 billion. How will that affect life on the local level, on the global level, and in developing countries? And what impact will all these new humans have on the climate? Last week on Sea Change Radio we talked with Paul Ehrlich, iconic authority on the subject of population. This week on Sea Change Radio, we continue our exploration of the topic. First, host Alex Wise speaks with New York Times environmental reporter and Dot Earth blogger, Andrew Revkin, and then later with Stewart Brand, frequent guest, former student of Paul Ehrlich, and environmentalist icon in his own right. Both guests share their thoughts on how immigration, urbanization, religion, and the increasing global empowerment of women are affecting the population equation.
For more on the ongoing debates surrounding population, check out Mr. Revkin’s recent posts here and here via Dot Earth. Also, here’s an interesting piece by Adam Werbach in The Atlantic which offers a fresh perspective on the debate, and exhorts us “to move away from the language of population control and towards an even more vibrant advocacy on behalf of women.”
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.
Barack Obama has said time and again that change comes from the bottom up at least as much as from policy directives from on high. He’s right–and he seems to be giving signs that pressure from below is going to be needed to keep him true to his own campaign promises. 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?
In June, the Century Foundation and the The New York Times Foundation invited Corporate Watchdog Radio to a seminar for a select handful of journalists on “Billionaires and Their Impact.” There, CWR co-host Francesca Rheannon heard Chuck Collins speak on a panel about the “Billionaires’ Club” and the impact of extreme wealth on the rest of us. A co-founder of United for a Fair Economy and a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Collins wrote the lead article in a special issue of The Nation on “The New Inequality” that helped frame the seminar.
The ViewPoint from BEN — the Business Ethics Network — comes from Bjorn Claeson of Sweatfree Communities about its recent report, Subsidizing Sweatshops: How our tax dollars fund the race to the bottom, and what cities and states can do.
CWR co-hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon speak with investigative journalist Greg Palast, who notes the coincidental timing of revelations of Eliot Spitzer’s hiring of a prostitute on the eve of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s $200 billion bailout of banks implicated in the subprime meltdown. The former New York Governor was set to unveil plans to pursue prosecution of the banks for predatory lending that is illegal under New York State law, where most of the banks are headquartered, according to Palast. So instead of being busted by Spitzer, the banks behind the subprime mess were rewarded with a fifth of a trillion dollars, printed by the US government.
Corporate Watchdog Radio co-hosts Francesca Rheannon and Bill Baue speak with Laura Berry, executive director of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. Founded in 1971, ICCR pioneered the modern practice of shareowner activism by reviving an obscure rule allowing shareowners to file resolutions addressing social and environmental issues at company annual meetings and on their proxies. Now, over three-and-a-half decades later, ICCR is a coalition of about 275 faith-based institutional investors with over $100 billion in assets who filed over 300 resolutions this proxy season.
Berry clarifies common misconceptions about how the ins and outs of shareowner activism. For example, media accounts often report a less-than-majority vote as a “defeat,” when in fact, companies often implement what resolutions request when they receive 20 percent or more support. She also discusses transformations she sees taking place in the corporate social responsibility landscape.
CWR also debuts a new segment with headlines on corporate sustainability developments from the past week, the first in a series of exciting changes to enhance the show.
Every month all over the globe, people interested in the environment and sustainability get together for “Green Drinks” to schmooze and network. Today on CWR, hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon go to their local Green Drinks gathering at the Northampton Brewery in Northampton, Massachusetts. There, they talk with John Meyercak of the Center for Ecological Technology, based in Northampton, about CET projects like ReStore, which sells second-hand building materials.
Then Chris Landry of the Sustainability Institute in Hartland, Vermont talks about balancing the need to support small farmers in developing nations with fair trade while also fostering living local economies in developed nations. We also hear about the Sustainability Institute’s “Climate Bathtub”.
Also, Francesca Rheannon talks with award-winning business journalist for the New York Times, Louis Uchitelle about his book The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences. It was published in 2006, but with the US facing what could be a long recession, followed by what some experts think might be a “jobless recovery”, The Disposable American is as relevant today as it was when it was published. We talk about how layoffs devastate workers and communities — and also how they hurt businesses.