As we embark upon a new decade, many of us are contemplating ongoing environmental challenges and what may be in store for the earth in the decade to come. Fortunately, there are some excellent journalists out there with their fingers on the pulse, whose mission is to uncover environmental news both alarming and inspiring. This week on Sea Change Radio we are checking in with Bob Berwyn, an Austrian-based environmental journalist who writes for Inside Climate News and is in the midst of a three-month tour of the western United States and Mexico. Berwyn discusses the fragile ecosystems west of the Rockies, tells us about permaculture in Oaxaca, and examines the ethical dilemmas that both skiers and ski resorts are facing as the planet warms and snowfall becomes less consistent.
As more and more of the western United States suffers from warmer temperatures and in some places desertification, water has become perhaps the most hotly debated topic in environmental newsrooms throughout the region. It’s no surprise then that an environmental reporter from the Palm Springs-based Desert Sun would be covering a whole host of water-related stories. This week on Sea Change Radio, we take a deep dive into a pool of topics with Sammy Roth that hopefully won’t dampen your spirits. First, we breakdown a noteworthy case involving one wealthy farmer’s crusade against his local water district, then we turn to the controversy surrounding two proposed hydropower facilities and last we take a look at a company that’s causing a stir by trying to sell desert groundwater to urban areas.
California’s soggy winter and spring belie its long-term water prospects. While it’s true that the Golden State is experiencing record rainfalls, California’s water problems have far from evaporated. A warmer globe means wilder swings of storms and drought, deluges and scarcity. Is the most populous state ready for these wild swings? What are they doing with the surplus that is literally spilling over aquifers right now? And how will they ensure that groundwater stores are not completely depleted? This week on Sea Change Radio, we hear from environmental writer Jeremy Miller who discusses his recent New Yorker article chronicling California’s deep, systemic water problems. Miller talks about the impact of the flooding in Northern California, shares ideas from experts on how to re-charge the state’s stressed groundwater reserves, and posits that California needs a more sustainable model for fresh water that is less dependent on the snow pack in the Sierra Mountains.
With drought-stricken California enjoying its wettest winter in decades, it can be easy to forget that water scarcity is among the globe’s most deadly threats. This week on Sea Change Radio, we discuss groundwater with Bill and Rosemarie Alley, the authors of High and Dry: Meeting the Challenges of the World’s Growing Dependence on Groundwater. They take us on a journey around the world and back in time to examine how humans scheme for and squander earth’s most precious resource. We talk about wildcatting for water in the 19th century, India’s water management quandary, and some of Saudi Arabia’s more imprudent water policies.
An issue that didn’t come up in Monday’s presidential debate, and unfortunately may not show up in subsequent debates either, is, “What are the candidates’ water policies?” It is one of the most vital issues for all Americans, and for the globe, and yet it is almost never mentioned on the national political debate stage. But if you look for them, you’ll find that each of the two major party candidates for president do have positions on water — well, one has actual proposals, and the other one has a set of ill-conceived opinions that could theoretically inform policy. This week on Sea Change Radio, we hear from the Washington correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle, Carolyn Lochhead, to compare Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on water. We will discuss the preposterous supposition advanced by one candidate that the California drought is just a figment of our collective imaginations ginned up by liberals, the idea that it is wasteful to allow rivers to flow to the sea, and Clinton’s vision for collaborative stewardship. Stay tuned as we dive deep into the politics of water.
As the temperature and population continue to rise in the southwestern United States, water becomes scarcer than ever. How did we get here? Will the water dry up completely? This week on Sea Change Radio, we discuss all things Colorado River Basin with author John Fleck, who’s just released a book on the subject. We look back at the struggle over water rights in Arizona, discuss how Mexico and the U.S. are cooperating over the Colorado River Delta, and talk about the complexities of growing alfalfa in the desert.
If you’re listening to this broadcast, the chances are you can get clean drinking water right from your kitchen sink. But much of the world’s population does not have that luxury. In rural sub-Saharan Africa, the World Health Organization estimates that only about half of the population has access to clean water, and only 23% have access to hygienic sanitation facilities. The burden of this problem falls disproportionately on women and girls who literally carry the water for their communities. Our guest this week on Sea Change Radio is Gemma Bulos, the Executive Director and co-founder of an organization that works to solve the problem by empowering women as technicians and community leaders who build and sustain water-access technology. Bulos explains how the Global Women’s Water Initiative builds capacity, the connection between water access and girls’ education, and the story of how she arrived at this world-changing work.
Discussions about the West’s epic drought tend to focus on the need to cut back on residential and agricultural water usage. The importance of water conservation during this record dry spell notwithstanding, sound water management turns out to be about a lot more than just water use. Today on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with Abrahm Lustgarten of ProPublica, who is writing a multi-part series exposing unfortunate policies and practices vis-à-vis our most precious, life-sustaining resource. Continue reading
As Californians continue to look beseechingly to the skies for signs of any kind of rainfall, the effects of this drought are indeed far-reaching. The policies that emerge from this disastrously dry year may ultimately alter what foods we eat, where we build new homes and even what sports we play. Earlier this year, we heard from the President of the Pacific Institute, Peter Gleick, as he told us of the critical nature of this drought, even in its early stages. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks again to Dr. Gleick for an update and to get a glimpse into the future of what a permanently drier California might mean for us all.
When life gives you lemons they say to make lemonade. And what if life gives you sewage released into an enclosed bay, what can you make? Certainly not lemonade, right? Our guest today on Sea Change Radio is NASA scientist and UC Santa Cruz professor, Jonathan Trent. He has figured out how to use algae to turn wastewater pollution into biofuel. This ambitious project, called Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae (or OMEGA) not only places algae where it can consume waste and excrete oils for fuel, it also creates spaces for low-impact aquaculture, captures CO2, and cleans pollutants out of bays.
The technology also converts wastewater to drinking water, which, with a little lemon and sugar could even be used to make, you guessed it, lemonade. Listen now as host Alex Wise talks with Dr. Trent, an inventor, pioneer, and visionary whose OMEGA project offers hope for fuel, food, water, and a cleaner world.