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.