George Monbiot on the Power of Narrative and Altruism

As 2020, aka the year from hell, rolls on, we thought it might be a good time to revisit an uplifting voice from less troubled times. This week on Sea Change Radio, we dig into the archives and listen to our 2017 discussion with British writer and environmentalist, George Monbiot. We talk about his book, Out of the Wreckage, where Monbiot examines how our politics have been mired between the redundant doctrines of Keynesianism and neoliberalism – and he reminds us of the importance of recognizing altruism and of the power of narrative in the human psyche. In addition to providing some insight into how we ended up here, it’ll hopefully help you take your mind off of this dismal year.

Daniel Kirk-Davidoff on Grids + Climate Reports

Did you lose power at some point this summer? Between the gaps in electricity service, sheltering in place, the fires on the West Coast, and the multiple tropical storms hitting in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, people in the US have many reasons to be averting their gaze from the future of our climate. There are, however, a few courageous souls in our institutions of higher learning who persist in imagining what the world will look like a decade or more into the future. This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak to Daniel Kirk-Davidoff, a research scientist at Underwriters Laboratories. He gives us a glimpse into the 2035 climate report from the Center for Environmental Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley – there’s actually some good news in there. He also sheds light on the complex choices and gambles that result in rolling blackouts across the US. While record high temperatures battered the world this summer, not every country’s electrical grid responded in the same way.

Holy Smoke! Air Quality Meteorologist Scott Landes

With record-setting wildfires blanketing large swaths of the Western United States in smoke, we thought it appropriate to speak to someone who knows a thing or two about wildfire smoke. This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak to the chief air quality meteorologist for the State of Colorado, Scott Landes, to learn more about the cause of these fires, their harmful effects, and what we can do to protect ourselves.

John Stoehr on the 2020 Presidential Election

In a little over 10 weeks, every American citizen will have the opportunity to have their vote counted to either elect a new president or to keep the current president in place. Or that’s what’s supposed to happen in theory, anyway. In reality, the principle of “one person, one vote” is violated in American electoral practices. This week on Sea Change Radio, we talk to political writer John Stoehr of The Editorial Board about the upcoming American presidential election, and about the gross inequities built into the electoral college system. We also discuss whether the goal of unifying the country should take a backseat to advancing truth, justice, and equity. And we contemplate what Donald Trump’s end game is for this election — is he truly driven by a desire to lead the country for four more years, or is he mostly just thinking being president is the best way to stay out of prison?

Under Pressure: Jeremy Hance

These dark and troubling times have left very few of us stress and anxiety free. So we thought we’d check in with an expert on germophobia and anxiety. No, our guest this week on Sea Change Radio is not a psychologist. He is an environmental journalist, writer for Mongabay, and long-time friend of the show, Jeremy Hance. Hance has struggled with mental illness and anxiety for decades, and recently wrote a book documenting his travails. “Baggage: Confessions of a Globetrotting Hypochondriac,” is brave, thoughtful and often quite hilarious. Our discussion with Hance may just give you a different perspective the next time you read an investigative piece that takes place in some exotic locale. Perhaps it will also lend perspective as we all struggle with our own negative thoughts and uneasiness.

Patrick Hruby: Sports In The Time Of COVID

Not too long ago, it was fairly normal for many of us to spend 4-5 hours a week yelling at the TV, providing valuable encouragement and critique to athletes who cannot hear us. If you’re a sports fan, or if you live with one, you know what I’m talking about. This week on Sea Change Radio, we take a look at how sports are adapting in the time of COVID-19 with sports journalist Patrick Hruby. While Clemson University’s star quarterback Trevor Lawrence made some waves by kicking off the #WeWantToPlay meme among college football players, more rational minds like Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle asserted that sports should be “the reward of a functioning society.” Hruby talks about where things stand as sports resume in empty arenas across North America, and about how effective leadership ensures smoother transitions to normalcy. Can sports resume the way the NFL and major league baseball are hoping, or do the leaders of these industries need someone to offer them some good advice from the sidelines?

Michael Mann: Agency and Urgency (re-broadcast)

Back in 1999, a team of scientists published a graphic depiction reconstructing northern hemisphere temperatures for the previous 1000 years. The steep increase from the 1900s on inspired the scientific community to give this visual a clever nickname: the hockey stick graph. This week on Sea Change Radio, we sit down with Michael Mann, the lead researcher on that study that introduced a generation to the notion of climate change. He is widely published and has received a number of awards, the most recent being the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement in April of 2019. In our conversation, we talk about why academics should bust out of the ivory tower, examine the climate change denial movement, and explore how the adage, “the best defense is a strong offense,” has served him well.

“Vertical Farmers Never Have To Pray For Rain”

Nine years ago on Sea Change Radio, we spoke to the self-proclaimed founding father of vertical farming, Dickson Despommier, about the concept of moving crops onwards and upwards (literally). In an interesting twist, the global COVID pandemic has resulted in a lot of abandoned office buildings. To proponents of vertical farming, these spaces may represent unprecedented opportunity. We thought this seemed like a good time to revisit our original Sea Change Radio interview with Dr. Despommier, unedited, in its entirety. In fact, Dr. Despommier co-authored a paper just last week for the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) titled “Wheat Yield Potential in Controlled-environment vertical farms.” In the paper, the authors write that “although it is unlikely that indoor wheat farming will be economically competitive with current market prices in the near future, it could play an essential role in hedging against future climate or other unexpected disruptions to the food system.” Now, let’s go back to our interview from November 2011.

James Quilligan: The Commons and the Future of Democracy

What is the American dollar based on? It was based on the gold standard until 1971 when it transitioned to a floating monetary system. This week’s guest on Sea Change Radio believes US currency now rests unofficially on the price of oil. What will a successful Green New Deal will look like if the underlying currency upon which the US economy rests is based on fossil fuels? We speak to James Quilligan, the Managing Director of Economic Democracy Advocates and longtime policy analyst in the international development space. Quilligan explains the history of the commons and monetary policy, points out some of the shortcomings of capitalism, and lays out how to ensure the survival of democracy. He argues that understanding the complexities of our global economic system is the first step in fixing it.

For-Profit, For Planet: Propagate Ventures + Parx Materials

This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak with the CEOs of two startups that are trying in very different ways to help the planet. First, we hear from Ethan Steinberg of Propagate Ventures to learn more about how his company helps promote agroforestry efforts across the country. Then, we travel to Rotterdam and talk with Michaël Van der Jagt about his Dutch company, Parx Materials, which uses bio-mimicry to forge chemical-free, bacteria- and virus-resistant polymers, enabling the safe re-purposing of ocean waste plastic among other things.