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.

Paul Wheaton Pt. II: Permaculture Gardening

As you’re spending more time at home, and hanging out in the back yard or porch more than usual, are you noticing an urge to plant things? Apparently you’re not alone as there are multiple reports of a COVID-inspired surge in home gardening. Millions of Americans are rolling up their sleeves and digging into the earth. This week on Sea Change Radio, the second half of our discussion with author and permaculturalist Paul Wheaton. We discuss his unique and innovative approach to growing and cultivating plants, which he outlines in his book, Building A Better World In Your Backyard. He describes ways to enrich your garden’s soil naturally and affordably all while reducing your carbon footprint and water usage.

Paul Wheaton Pt. I: Home Heating Solutions

Many of us are spending a whole lot more time at home these days, and are consequently knee-deep in a bunch of home improvement projects. A great area for home improvement that may not be on your mind in July, but will surely be a pressing concern in a few months when those utility bills begin to rise, is heating. This week on Sea Change Radio, the first half of our discussion with author and sustainability expert Paul Wheaton about his new book, Building A Better World In Your Backyard. He outlines some innovative ideas on home efficiency, including warming up our bodies rather than the air in our homes, and the advantages of using a rocket mass heater. We also touch upon next week’s topic, gardening and permaculture.

Espen Braathe + Kirk Lombard: Sustainable Seafood

As most of us have been hunkering down over the last few months, we’ve been shopping for more of our own food and eating out less. As you’ve perused the seafood section of the grocery store, you may have wondered to yourself what type of fish is OK to buy. This week on Sea Change Radio, we look at seafood supply chains with Espen Braathe who heads up IBM Food Trust Europe. He works with the company’s clients in the aquaculture industry to help them implement blockchain technology to track the quality of sustainably farmed or fished seafood. Then, we dive into the archives to speak with Bay Area educator and entrepreneur Kirk Lombard to learn more about his sustainable seafood delivery service, Sea Forager.

Lloyd Alter: Innovation in the COVID-19 Era

Human beings are nothing if not innovative. We have invented entire disciplines concerned with design, sustainability, and urban planning. Now, however, a global pandemic is forcing experts in these disciplines to rethink, adapt, and re-innovate. This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak to design expert and environmental journalist Lloyd Alter about innovation and adaptation in the COVID-19 era. We talk about the hurdles we are collectively facing when it comes to things like sky scrapers, air conditioning, and commuting – things that people, including experts, not too long ago took for granted.

Castle Redmond: Hope For Racial Justice

In his book Lies My Teacher Told Me, James Loewen writes that “race is the sharpest and deepest division in American life.” We recognize the peaceful protests that have emerged in the wake of the murder of George Floyd as a force for healing, and for addressing our nation’s shameful history surrounding race. Millions of Americans of all ages, races, ethnicities, and identities are taking to the streets to support the Black Lives Matter movement. It appears that white America is finally waking up and acknowledging that being “not racist” won’t undo the pervasive racism in our collective psyche — rather, we must be actively antiracist. This week on Sea Change Radio, we welcome Castle Redmond, a senior program manager from The California Endowment to discuss why this moment feels different. He helps put the images of looting we’re seeing on our TV screens into historical context, and we look at the places where the environmental and racial justice movements intersect.

Maurice Plaines on America’s Epidemic of Racism

This has been a difficult stretch for the country with millions sick, out of work, or simply stuck at home. But the horrific murder of George Floyd shifted our collective focus to a very different sort of epidemic. Mr. Floyd joined the names of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor and thousands of other African Americans who have been killed by the police in this country. We often hear that at times like this we need to have a national conversation about race, but where do we start? Host Alex Wise decided to start with a personal conversation with a longtime friend, to get his insights into what it feels like to grow up Black in America and to better understand the work that needs to be done on the racial justice front. This week on Sea Change Radio, in the first of two conversations about race, we welcome Maurice Plaines, a high school friend of our host who works for Emerging Scholars Program in the DC Metro area. We discuss racism and police brutality in America, his own reaction to George Floyd’s murder, and the work of his organization to broaden educational opportunity for students of color.