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.
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.
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.
Northern California’s now infamous Camp Fire was not only the largest, longest, and deadliest wildfire in the state’s history, it also produced record amounts of smoke. Schools closed, there was a run on protective masks, and people were fashioning do-it-yourself air purifiers because there were none left in stores. And it looks like we will only see an acceleration of wildfires in the future. This grim forecast has brought a surge in traffic to websites that monitor air quality like AirNow, Weather Underground, and PurpleAir. This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak with the founder and CEO of PurpleAir, a company that sells laser air quality sensors for home use at a reasonable price, and posts all the results in real-time on its site. We discuss PurpleAir’s business model, its unique brand of crowd-sourcing technology, and examine the ways that it casts the world in a different, and sometimes frightening, light.