When a West Virginia University research team won a grant in 2012 to run some tests on diesel cars, they could not have imagined that their relatively small study would soon be bringing one of the largest, most storied auto makers in the world to its knees — something in the Farfegnugen just didn’t smell right. This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak to New York Times reporter Jack Ewing whose new book, Faster, Higher, Farther takes a deep plunge into the history of Volkswagen and gives us the latest on the company’s emissions scandal. We learn about the Nazi propaganda beginnings of Volkswagen, the company’s involvement in wartime atrocities, and the powerful families behind the Volkswagen brand. We also examine the company’s systematic and dishonest emissions cheating practices, and talk about what lies ahead for the auto giant.
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.
For the better part of the past decade, The New York Times and The Environmental Protection Agency have been frequent punching bags of the right wing. Conservatives allege that The Grey Lady has an open liberal bias and that the EPA is run by tree huggers who care more about owls than jobs. But this week on Sea Change Radio, we speak to Joe Romm of Climate Progress, who is angered by what he believes is a front page hit piece on the EPA by that bastion of liberal journalism, The New York Times. We delve into the details of the piece itself and explore the history of the conservative war against the EPA.
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.
Jim Motavalli blogs on green matters for The Daily Green and Mother Nature Network and he blogs about cars in the New York Times “Automobiles” section. He was also a long-time editor for E–the Environmental Magazine, where he continues as a contributing writer. Motavalli combines his passion for autos and environment in his book, FORWARD DRIVE: The Race To Build Clean Cars for the Future. He thinks its time for the auto industry to wake up and smell the coffee. In his Sea Change ViewPoint commentary, he discusses the significance of President Barack Obama’s executive order directing the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its refusal to grant California a waiver allowing it to regulate greenhouse gases from cars and trucks.
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?
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