Many of us concerned with the environment are conscientious about sorting our garbage. Those of us lucky enough to live in cities with curbside recycling feel pretty good that the majority of our garbage is diverted from landfill. Well, before we get too smug about it, perhaps we should take a closer look at where that waste goes after it leaves our hands. For example, did you know that pretty much all paper milk cartons in this country are plastic-lined and therefore end up in landfills? Or that 15% of the paper we ship to China for recycling doesn’t actually get recycled? This week on Sea Change Radio, Mark Murray, the Executive Director of Californians Against Waste, reveals the garbage in our global garbage systems. We discuss what consumers, manufacturers and retailers can do to improve the current system, where gains are being made, and what areas are ripe for improvement.
Take a look at the shoes you’re wearing right now. You’ve probably logged more than a few miles in them already. But what kind of journey did they take before they ended up on your feet? This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak to Spencer Wise, an author whose debut novel, The Emperor of Shoes, is set in an international shoe-manufacturing enterprise. We discuss the labor conditions of the Chinese shoe factories Wise visited, explore the environmentally treacherous practices of leather tanning, and talk about how over generations a small family business moved into the modern global economy.
Last week on Sea Change Radio, we learned about the new shale gas boom in China. This week, in the second part of my discussion with Jaeah Lee and James West of Mother Jones, we examine the larger questions that surround this shift in Chinese energy policy. Can natural gas be a bridge fuel as the industrial giant weans itself off coal? Will there be enough water to extract China’s significant shale deposits? Will shale gas exploration further divide urban and rural China, or could it help to close the country’s income gap?
West and Lee provide some answers to these complex questions, and also discuss the implications of Chinese investments into the U.S. natural gas sector. Will this big business alliance be good for consumers on either side of the Pacific? Find out on this week’s Sea Change Radio.
There is a relatively unanimous recognition that we inhabitants of earth really need to break our addiction to coal. It’s filthy and there are so many cleaner energy sources. This mantra is now being repeated all over coal-dependent China, where shale gas resources appear to be abundant. It turns out, however, that the transition away from coal may not be so simple – or even a step in the right direction. Mother Jones journalists Jaeah Lee and James West spent a year investigating the ins and outs of the growing fracking industry in China.
Host Alex Wise caught up with them before a recent panel discussion in San Francisco to talk about how U.S. oil and gas interests are exporting fracking around the globe and how the technology may pose risks in China that even exceed those associated with coal. Listen now to the first half of this two part series on today’s Sea Change Radio.
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.
What will a post-carbon tomorrow look like? Most experts agree that the end of the age of cheap fossil fuels will mark a fundamental change in human history. The question that no one can answer, though, is how well will our species adapt to these new realities. [amazon-product]0865716951[/amazon-product]This week’s guest on Sea Change Radio, author Richard Heinberg, believes that a key to better understanding the current global economic slowdown lies in how we gauge progress itself. The author of ten books, including Peak Everything and Blackout, Heinberg’s latest book, The End of Growth suggests that in order to thrive during this post-carbon transition, we need to realign our goals to promote human and environmental well-being, rather than continuing to pursue the almighty dollar. Sea Change Radio host Alex Wise talks with Heinberg about the policies and conditions that need to be in place for our species to evolve in the face of ballooning population, dwindling resources and global climate change.
[amazon-product align=”right”]1900322412[/amazon-product]While some view the negative impacts of economics and environment as separate, Herve Kempf sees financial inequality and environmental destruction as inextricably linked. The author of [amazon-product text=”How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth” type=”text”]1900322412[/amazon-product], Kempf explains how the wealthy of the world are living unsustainable lifestyles, and everyone else is trashing the earth too trying to keep up with the rich Joneses. The solution? Move away from materialism and growth.
CWR News Analysis — The Greening of Wal-Mart?:
—CSRwire: “Wal-Mart Celebrates Thanksgiving by Sourcing Local Food, Supporting Hunger-Relief, and Buying Wind Power”
—GreenBiz: “Wal-Mart’s New CEO: What Does it Mean for Green?”
—The Green Wave Marches On: Wal-Mart in China
—Grist: “Wal-Mart Comes to the Farmers Market”
—Press Release: “Walmart Gives Consumers Opportunity To Support Local Economies Through Locally Grown Program”
—Cornucopia Institute: Wal-Mart Organics: Market Expansion or Market Delusion?
—Press Release: “Wal-Mart Makes Major Commitment to Renewable Wind Power”
—Wal-Mart Carbon Disclosure Project Response, 2007
—Lee Scott Message in Wal-Mart Sustainability Progress report, 2007
Bloomberg Columnist Jonathan Weil, the first journalist to expose Enron’s cooked books in 2001, recently criticized President-Elect Barack Obama’s appointments to the Transition Economic Advisory Board, pointing out that almost half hail from companies that fried their financial statements or fueled the market meltdown — or both. CWR Co-hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon chat with Weil about his critique.
Human rights and trade–the relationship dates back millennia. Despite this long history, however, we still have very little understanding of how to use trade to promote human rights. This according to today’s guest, Susan Ariel Aaronson, author of Trade Imbalance: The Struggle to Weigh Human Rights in Trade Policymaking, out from Cambridge University Press in late 2007. Aaronson, a professor of international affairs at George Washington University, illustrates her research findings using current examples such as how trade sanctions against Burma have complicated relief efforts in the wake of Cyclone Nargis or how the earthquake in China may prove more effective in improving human rights there than boycotting the Beijing Olympics. Aaronson also discusses opportunities–and limitations–on using the World Trade Organization, or WTO, to promote human rights through trade.
—Rockefeller family members join fight to move ExxonMobil beyond petroleum
—Burger King Lets Tomato Pickers “Have it Their Way”
—US senate panel votes to give California the go-ahead to regulate greenhouse gas emissions
CWR co-host Francesca Rheannon speaks with Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board Chair Jerry Hill about its recent precedent-setting implementation of a fee on carbon emissions by companies in 9 counties in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. This development represents the first time that business carbon emissions have been officially regulated in the US, leapfrogging over federal and state regulations.
CWR co-host Bill Baue speaks Michael Conroy, author of Branded! How the “Certification Revolution” is Transforming Global Corporations. Conroy discusses how activist campaigning for improved corporate social and environmental practices has gotten companies to respond. The two sides moved from antagonism to tense collaboration in the creation of certification schemes that solved activist concerns while preserving–and often boosting–companies’ profitability. Conroy brings a hands-on view to the story as a program officer at the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, where he helped fund the activists NGOs as well as the resulting certification processes. He also serves as chair of TransFair, the Fair Trade certifying body in the US, as well as serving on the board of Forest Stewardship Council, which certifies lumber and paper practices.
Michael Ash of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, provides this week’s commentary on the Toxic 100 list of the top corporate polluters that PERI produces.
In the second part of this two-part interview, Corporate Watchdog Radio co-hosts Francesca Rheannon and Bill Baue speak with Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder, co-authors of the new book, The Clean Tech Revolution: The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity. Pernick and Wilder, who helped define the clean tech industry in their work with the research and publishing firm Clean Edge, explain three of the six major forces they identified that are driving the clean tech revolution, all starting with the letter “C”: China, consumers, and climate (they discussed the other three, costs, capital, and competition in part one.)
They also describe plug-in hybrids capable of getting 500 miles per gallon, define the “corn conundrum” pitting fuel against food, and survey green building strategies. In the end, they point out that profitability and environmentalism are not necessarily contradictory, but rather can complement one another–especially in supportive regulatory regimes (which they predict will come in the next US presidential administration.)