Tag Archives: orion magazine

Meera Subramanian: Resilient Lessons from Hurricane Sandy

MeeraChrisCannonAs major weather-related calamities like Hurricane Sandy are teaching us, decisions around where buildings are built and trees are planted are important, especially as they relate to the encroaching coastline and other impacts of climate change. This week on Sea Change Radio, we hear from Meera Subramanian, a writer whose recent piece in Orion Magazine explores post-Sandy restoration efforts that draw upon engineering insights from a hundred years ago, and may reach far beyond the shores of Long Island and New Jersey.

Then, we re-visit host Alex Wise’s discussion with Chris Cannon of Empower Playgrounds, an innovative non-profit that provides equipment to West African villages that converts the energy of playing kids into electricity for their families.

Little By Little: Nanoparticle Technology

HeatherMillarnanopHere’s a little exercise: take a pen and a blank piece of paper and write down everything you know about nano-technology. If you do this, you may find your essay to be pretty brief. You could take comfort to know you’re not alone in your ignorance of nano-technology. But perhaps you should not be feeling so comforted. In a 2013 Orion Magazine article, “Pandora’s Boxes,” this week’s guest on Sea Change Radio, journalist Heather Millar, points out that nanoparticles are ubiquitous.

They are used in everyday products: making hair dryers hotter, toothpaste whiter, sunscreen more transparent, and clothing more stain-resistant. They are also, of course, in the food we eat as additives, pesticides and other hidden ingredients. But what exactly are nanoparticles? Are they harmful or beneficial? Are you wearing some right now? Millar shows us that while there are not adequate answers to many of these questions, they need to be asked. Still, at the end of her discussion with host Alex Wise, you may remain unsure about whether to be afraid of nanoparticle technology or not. In the words of Marie Curie: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

Empowered By Light + California’s Lone Wolf

MoiraHanesJoeDonnellyToday’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.

Teeny Weeny Technology: Heather Millar on Nanoparticles

Here’s a little exercise: take a pen and a blank piece of paper and write down everything you know about nano-technology. If you do this, you may find your essay to be pretty brief. You could take comfort to know you’re not alone in your ignorance of nano-technology. But perhaps you should not be feeling so comforted. In her recent Orion Magazine article, “Pandora’s Boxes,” today’s guest on Sea Change Radio, journalist Heather Millar, points out that nanoparticles are ubiquitous. Continue reading

Rainmakers and Water Misers

Remember when Lex Luthor designed a weather-controlling machine? Superman, of course, foiled his sinister plans…or did he? Using technology to control the weather sounds like the exclusive domain of comic books and science fiction, but it’s happening in reality, both in the US and in China.

This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise talks with Kathryn Flagg, whose recent article in Orion Magazine discusses the practice of cloud seeding, including its history, how it helps, and how it may harm. As the projected impact of climate change includes widespread fresh water shortages, people are searching for answers. Of equal importance, though, are our practices around water use and conservation. A little later in the show we hear from Peter Williams, the Chief Technology Officer for IBM’s Big Green Innovations Unit. He tells us about how a smarter design in our water meters can help advance more conscientious consumption of the earth’s most precious resource.

There Will Be Crud (re-broadcast)

California’s Kern County is the state’s primary producer of oil. But the stuff that comes out of the ground in this desert region of southern California isn’t the black liquid many of us imagine rushing like a geyser out of the earth, but a thick goopy substance that must be forced out of the ground. What do they use to do that? A resource that’s nearly as valuable in this dusty corner of California’s Central Valley: water. For this re-broadcast episode from March 2011, our guest is Jeremy Miller, an investigative journalist who’s written an article in the February issue of Orion Magazine. He tells us all about Kern County, how the methods used to extract the cruddy crude are pitting agricultural interests against oil interests, how water is being expended in the endless pursuit of petroleum, and how, by reducing our dependence on oil, we’d also be preventing the waste of that life-giving compound, H2O. They say water and oil don’t mix, today on Sea Change Radio, we discover what happens when they do.

The Future of Nowhere: James Howard Kunstler

This week’s guest on Sea Change Radio is author and futurist James Howard Kunstler. In his numerous articles and books he paints a future that involves rather drastic changes to business as usual for the human race. His most recent article in Orion Magazine, Back To The Future, attempts to punch holes in the theories of urbanists like Harvard economist Edward Glaeser who believe that increased, more efficient urbanization can be a life raft for a human race that has already depleted many of earth’s treasures.

In his talk with host Alex Wise, you’ll hear Kunstler’s own dystopian theories on the fate of suburban America, the necessary decline of global commerce, and the bumbling nature of grassroots environmental efforts. But, lest this interview leave us all feeling paralyzed by gloom, Mr. Kunstler talks about what makes him most optimistic about a post-carbon tomorrow.

There Will Be Crud

California’s Kern County is the state’s primary producer of oil. But the stuff that comes out of the ground in this desert region of southern California isn’t the black liquid many of us imagine rushing like a geyser out of the earth, but a thick goopy substance that must be forced out of the ground. What do they use to do that? A resource that’s nearly as valuable in this dusty corner of California’s Central Valley: water. Our guest this week is Jeremy Miller, an investigative journalist who’s written an article in the February issue of Orion Magazine. He tells us all about Kern County, how the methods used to extract the cruddy crude are pitting agricultural interests against oil interests, how water is being expended in the endless pursuit of petroleum, and how, by reducing our dependence on oil, we’d also be preventing the waste of that life-giving compound, H2O. They say water and oil don’t mix, today on Sea Change Radio, we discover what happens when they do.