Sammy Roth: Salton Sea Lithium

If you follow tech news, it’s pretty hard to miss stories reminding us of the tremendous potential that lithium-ion batteries have in store for the world – longer times to gaze into our dazzling new smartphones  and longer distances to travel in our cutting-edge electric cars without a re-charge. And yet, most of us probably don’t think too much about the environmental cost of mining all of this lithium. In Australia and South America where 80-90 percent of the world’s raw lithium comes from, the extraction process is dirty and energy intensive. This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak to Sammy Roth of the Los Angeles Times about the promise of extracting lithium in a much cleaner way right here in the US. We learn about plans to extract lithium from the Salton Sea geothermal fields in the Southern California desert, how this process will be viewed by environmentalists and what it could mean for the lithium industry.

Ben Ehrenreich: PG&E and the Nasty Side of Capitalism

There’s a quote often attributed, perhaps incorrectly, to the great economist John Maynard Keynes that “Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all.” The absurdity of this notion is being played out in real time in the form of smoke-filled air and rolling blackouts in Northern California, courtesy of the state’s largest monopoly, Pacific, Gas & Electric, better known as PG&E. This week on Sea Change Radio, journalist Ben Ehrenreich joins the show to discuss his piece in The Nation on PG&E and the utility company’s most recent episode of malfeasance. Ehrenreich provides an overview of PG&E putting profits before people, looks at some possible solutions to the problem and reminds us that capitalism’s nastiness is often at odds with a healthy planet.

Helen Mountford: The US Leaves Paris

For years, climate denialists put forth the narrative that it would cripple the US economy to sign on to international climate agreements like the Kyoto Protocol. They said that other major carbon emitting countries like India and China needed to be on board in order for the US to join. It’s clear now, however, that this narrative was always just a smokescreen. The Trump Administration is pulling the US out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which notably does include India and China, and is an historic accord representing more than 87% of global greenhouse gas emitters. This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak with Helen Mountford the Vice President for Climate and Economics at the World Resource Institute. She breaks down what the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement means. We look at when this withdrawal would actually go into effect, examine some Trumpian lies about the Agreement itself, and discuss the impact it will have on the US and the planet moving forward.

Carter Rubin: Traffic In Transition

Do you ever find yourself driving down a familiar street and suddenly encounter an unfamiliar right turn only sign that diverts all traffic off your intended route? The changing landscape of your city’s streets may be disconcerting and inconvenient, but there’s usually a fair amount of thought and intentional planning behind those changes. This week on Sea Change Radio, we learn about how transportation planning can limit car traffic and even improve socioeconomic equity. We speak with Carter Rubin, a mobility and climate advocate for the NRDC, who discusses various efforts to make cities like Barcelona, San Francisco and New York more livable for mass transit users, cyclists and pedestrians. Take a listen and maybe the next time you’re unceremoniously diverted from a main thoroughfare, your annoyance will be mitigated by a pinch of appreciation.

Amazon Update With Christian Poirier

Over the past fifty years, around 17% of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed, according to the World Wildlife Fund, but as this week’s guest on Sea Change Radio explains, with fires and deforestation out of control, the situation could get even worse before we see any significant improvement. We speak to Christian Poirier of Amazon Watch to get a clearer picture of this largely man-made disaster in Brazil. While some steps to control the fires have been made recently by the Brazilian government, rampant deforestation continues unabated. Poirier gives us a closer glimpse into the agribusiness giants that are involved in the devastation, what his organization is doing to help stop it, and tells listeners what they can do to get involved in the struggle. Then, we take a peek into the Sea Change Radio archives and hear Kevin Walker talk about what he calls our grand food bargain.

Doris Kearns Goodwin: Leadership In Turbulent Times

What makes a great leader? This week on Sea Change Radio, we are honored to have Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin here to give us her take on that question. Goodwin’s book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, just released in paperback, re-examines four US presidents she has studied in the past: Abe Lincoln, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. She discusses the contrast between these presidents’ leadership and the behavior of the current grifter-in-chief, puts today’s impeachment proceedings in historical context, and hypothesize about how past presidents might have addressed momentous issues like climate change and election tampering. Then, we dig into the Sea Change Radio archives and listen to Rebecca Vallas, a Vice President at the Center for American Progress, talk about the Trump administration’s absurd claims that poverty and hunger are now things of the past in this country.

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.

Chris Martenson: Dow Obsession Syndrome

The Dow Jones Industrial Average. What does this omnipresent ticker in the corner of our TV screens really mean? Is it a gauge of our country’s economic health, an indication of corporate growth, or something else? This week on Sea Change Radio, we discuss the Dow and the stock market as a whole with economic researcher Chris Martenson. The co-founder of Peak Prosperity, Martenson talks about how our obsession with the Dow helps the investor class, describes the economic indicators that environmentalists should be looking at, and weighs in on whether it’s OK to root for the Dow to go down.

Ian Urbina on “The Outlaw Ocean”

This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak to Ian Urbina, a longtime investigative reporter for the New York Times whose latest book The Outlaw Ocean reveals many of the hidden costs of the seafood and shipping industries. After listening to Urbina discuss his book that took five years to research and led him around the globe through some of the deadliest waters on earth, it’ll make you realize that the reason something is impossibly cheap is because far too often it involves impossible human suffering.

Karla Mendes on Brazil’s For-Profit Fire Disaster

The Amazon is burning. And we’re not talking about the ubiquitous online store, although profit and commerce are just as involved. According to preliminary data from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE),  deforestation of the Amazon rose 92 percent in the past year to 2,472 square miles – an area larger than the state of Delaware. And these fires, while posing a grave risk for wildfires, are not naturally-occurring. These are for-profit fires, intentionally set and on the rise, fueled by a right-wing government hostile to environmental interests. This week on Sea Change Radio, we get an inside glimpse into this environmental disaster with Brazilian environmental journalist, Karla Mendes. A Contributing Editor to Mongabay, Mendes explains how the new right-wing government in Brazil has paved the way for deforestation and exploitation by big business in some of the world’s most pristine rain forests. Then, we cast our net to the archives and hear from sea forager extraordinaire, Kirk Lombard.