Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Welcome to another packed show from Radio Ecoshock!
This week we cover:
* behind-the-scenes panic over reports of methane blowing out of the sea-bed in the Eastern Arctic. This could dramatically increase global warming.
* activist resistance against a wave of gas frackin in Australia - with a new album of great songs
* a feature interview (you heard it here first) with Craig Rosebraugh on his new film about the oil giants: "Greedy Lying Bastards"
* second feature interview with Peter F. Sale. He's the coral expert (20% of coral dead in last two decades) who looks at the "Holocene Mass Extinction Event" (going on right now)
To start you off, here are some links for this program (with more in the articles below)
"Whole Lotta Frackin Going On" album. Some green music sucks. These songs shine. Check them out, listen for free, download cheap, help the cause.
Albums from world music master Ariel Kalma, now living in Australia. He was a pioneer in ambient music, nature sounds, and trance. Now showcasing artists from around the world, especially India and Afria.
Film trailer for "Dirty Lying Bastards"
Book site for "Our Dying Planet" by Peter F. Sale
RUSHED EXPEDITION FINDS "METHANE TORCHES" IN THE ARCTIC
The research ship RV Polarstern has returned to Bremerhaven, Germany with it's crew of scientists from six countries. They travelled almost 12,000 nautical miles on the 26th Arctic expedition, measuring ice in the polar seas.
The verdict: Arctic sea ice is young and very thin. For centuries, the polar seas have been covered by a thick layer of ice built up over many years. America designed a nuclear submarine capable of breaching up through thick tough ice. Now it's weak, with much less mass - the first step toward losing the Arctic Ice cap due to global warming.
The Greenpeace ice-breaker "Arctic Sunrise" is just now returning to Amsterdam, after a two month expedition with scientists from Cambridge studying ice thickness.
The news is alarming, as the Earth's new dark seascape in the Summer Arctic will pump more heat into the oceans, and add to long-term climate change. Scientist Wieslaw Maslowski's team predict the Arctic Ice cap could disappear in Summer as early as 2016.
There is worse - and you won't hear this in the mainstream media at all.
Behind the scenes, officials and scientists in various governments went into panic mode this September. The problem: a big increase in methane gas has been discovered in the Eastern Arctic.
If frozen methane gas under the sea, technically called "clathrates", melt in quantity, we are on the road to a dramatic climate shift beyond imagination.
It happened before, around 56 million years ago. In less than a hundred years the temperature of the Arctic seas rose several degrees, reaching almost 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or 30 Centigrade.
Here is what we know. On September 2nd, the Russian news service RIA Novosti announced, quote:
"A group of Russian and U.S. scientists will leave the port of Vladivostok on Friday on board a Russian research ship to study methane emissions in the eastern part of the Arctic.
'This expedition was organized on a short notice by the Russian Fund of Fundamental Research and the U.S. National Science Foundation following the discovery of a dramatic
increase in the leakage of methane gas from the seabed in the eastern part of the Arctic,' said Professor Igor Semiletov, the head of the expedition.
The group consists of 27 scientists who would attempt to measure the scale of methane emissions and clarify the nature of the process.
The 45-day expedition will focus on the sea shelf of the Laptev Sea, the East Siberian Sea and the Russian part of the Chukotsk Sea, where 90% of underwater permafrost is located.
'We assume that the leakage of methane results from the degradation of underwater permafrost...A massive release of such a powerful greenhouse gas may accelerate global warming,' Semiletov said."
End quote from the Russian press, September 2nd.
Methane is generally said to be 20 times more powerful than CO2 when it comes to trapping solar heat. That is really just an average, because when it first emerges, methane can be as much as 75 times more powerful. It degrades more quickly than C02, becoming less potent in 10 years. But methane degrades into CO2, continuing the greenhouse gases for up to 100,000 years, according to Dr. David Archer.
So what did this hurry-up research find?
We go with a report September 29th from the Russian news agency Itar-Tass: "Heavy methane emissions found in Arctic Eastern sector."
In the northern sector of the Laptev and Bering seas, the Chief of the expedition, Igor Semiletov reported by phone that "methane torches" (his words) are coming from the ocean sea bed into the atmosphere. Also on board were scientists from Alaska Fairbanks Scientific Research Center and Georgia University.
I can only conclude that as the Arctic sea ice melts back every summer, and seas warm, methane from either deep in the ground, or from clathrates on the shallower sea beds, are starting to melt. The Russians, and scientists from the National Oceanography Center in the UK, has found methane is leaking up from fissures deep inside the Earth. So we have both frozen methane on shallow sea beds, and geological methane, coming up.
That the Americans and Russians sent a ship into the Arctic on such short notice tells you how serious it is. Keep in mind, there is no over-all way to monitor methane emissions from the Arctic, although scientists do monitor global average methane content in the atmosphere. According to my limited research, the amounts coming out of the Arctic so far are smaller than emissions from rice paddies.
We haven't seen anything like a giant increase in methane globally yet. But we are seeing the start of a methane source that could, if it grows, easily tip the planet into a new greenhouse world. Keep your eye on the Arctic methane news.
FRACKIN GAS - WE MUST POISON THE EARTH MILES BELOW US!
We open the show with "Act Locally Think Globally" by MC Shea Jasmine and the Awesomes. It's from a whole album of 14 anti-fracking songs called Whole Lotta Frackin' Going On.
That's right. We humans aren't satisfied polluting the atmosphere with toxic guck, radioactive particles and greenhouse gases. Nope. Not finished with spreading all our poisons over the surface of every continent.
We just can't rest until we manage to take the most toxic chemical crap we've got, and injecting it at least a mile underground. All to get some more carbon trapping gases to burn out the climate. It's the last frontier, the deep underground, and we'll poison the last fresh water and blow out the coal seams if we can.
The frackers are hitting Australia right now. Their drilling rigs will set up, blow up the deep, and then move on endlessly, till there's nothing left.
Get ready in Britain for more of the same, now that the North Sea gas field production is 25 percent down. They'll tell you it's "green" - much cleaner than coal! Green all the way down to a wrecked planet with more fossil fuels.
Just wait for the Marcellus gas frackin field in New York State to leak into the watershed for millions of people. Oooops. The roving drill companies will fold into their corporate shells and evaporate, leaving the groundwater poisoned for centuries.
Here are the details on the new album, from singer/activist Laura-Doe:
"Australian musicians create CD to warn of dangers of coal seam gas mining
They may not have big advertising budgets like the mining companies, but a group of Australian musicians opposed to coal seam gas (CSG) mining are using the power of song to spread their message.
‘Whole Lotta Frackin’ Going On', (www.wholelottafrackingoingon.com) is a compilation album featuring 14 songs, in a range of genres, from musicians keen to alert Australians about the dangers of ‘fracking’—a process used in CSG extractions where water and chemicals are injected into the rock bed.
The CD is the brainchild of singer/comedienne, educator and women's sexual health activist Laura-Doe. Laura-Doe said she was inspired to write a song, 'Lock The Gate', after seeing the documentary ‘Gasland’ about Coal Seam Gas mining using hydraulic fracturing in the USA.
'There are hundreds of documented cases of water contamination from CSG mining in the USA,” Laura-Doe said. “The fracking process has not been adequately tested with none of the chemicals used assessed by Australia's industrial chemicals regulator'.
'As big budget advertising is not an option for the people being affected by CSG we wanted to use the power of music to get our side of the story across.'
Laura-Doe said she and her producer, Anando Bharti, put a call out for songs via Facebook and email, and through the campaign groups B.S.A.N.E. (Byron Saving Australia's Natural Environment) and Lock the Gate Alliance.
Most submissions came from artists in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales—next on the mining companies’ exploration agenda in Australia.
'Within two weeks we had over 20 songs submitted. I think this says something about the depth of feeling on the topic amongst the people we reached.'
'Each song on the album conveys a different artist's perspective on the issues involved and they all provide information in an accessible way.'
All songs on the album were donated by the artists for use in this project and the CD was mastered voluntarily by Byron Bay engineer Paul Gomersall. Mullumbimby-based online distributor Music-Mosaic.com have sponsored placing the songs on iTunes and other music sites. Pressing of the CD was funded by the owners of the Crystal Castle at Mullumbimby and online women's web magazine www.yOni.com.
The CD will be offered at cost as a funds and awareness raiser to environmental groups opposing CSG mining.
You can hear and purchase tracks online at www.wholelottafrackingoingon.com and also on iTunes. "
- report from Laura-Doe.
BIG OIL: GREEDY LYING BASTARDS
Soon or later, we see the black dragon behind our oil addiction. These are the megacorporations who span the world. They have private armies of security men, and the biggest military in the world behind them. They own politicians, private jets, and maybe a few countries.
But the most potent weapon in the arsenal of Big Oil is the river of money available for public relations. Advertising soothes us, movie placements make us want more, the oil industry is the subtle pusher, who keeps us addicted, keeps us coming back to the pumps, keeps us buying plastic products, and oil-based foods.
If only someone could tell it like it is.
That would be Craig Rosebraugh. Don't be fooled by the technical sounding name of his upcoming film. "Greedy Lying Bastards" is no puff piece for the industry.
Craig Rosebraugh - film maker, academic, writer, and activist. Craig is highly educated, Masters and has Law Degree. The Co-writer is Patrick Gambuti Jr.
He is the film-maker, director, and occasional actor in the new film "Greedy Lying Bastards" to be released in 2012. A rough cut has just been submitted to the Sun Dance film festival.
This is a no-holds barred film about "the power and dominance of the fossil fuel industry." The project started two and a half years ago, going to 14 countries on 5 continents. It covers the poisonous results of spills, corruption, and climate change caused by oil burning.
Some of the locations are Tuvalu (which will disappear as a country due to rising seas), to Uganda (now plagued by droughts and floods), and Peru (where melting glaciers threaten the only water supply for millions). There is also the Niger Delta, where children swim in the goo from oil pollution, and a prominant activist was murdered.
Craig covers a lot of the damage from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.
He finds people who cannot get medical care because Gulf doctors are so dependent on oil company business. Many businesses were wrecked. A group of four Florida tourists became sick swimming in oil and chemical dispersants. One died. A lot of Gulf coverage.
We hear about BP claims processing problems, after the big PR campaign by BP. Initial payouts of $5000 per person. Interim payments have been the problem, as losses continued. Only 16% of interim claims have been paid out so far.
Case: Steven Aguanaga, went to Fla Gulf Coast at beachfront hotel in summer of 2010. No sign of contamination. Hotel told them beach was safe, went swimming one afternoon - came back covered with an orange goo. All four in party felt ill. Steven's friend went back in, felt sick, Merrick Valian died within three weeks. Aguanaga continues to have symptoms of chemical exposure.
Case: Mississipi Shirley Tillman and husband very ill after a direct hit of dispersant, out on a boat helping to clean up the oil. Although they protected their grandson Gavin, no beaches for him, no water contact, but got sicker than rest of family. Got it likely from the air.
Case: Clayton Mathern, Louisiana. Clayton out on water half a mile from the rig when it exploded, on a supply ship. In addition to smoke from burning rig, Clayton was covered in dispersant sprayed from the air. Hospitalized several times. During Craig's interview, he was rushed to the hospital. Diagnosed with paralysis in one of his legs.
Few doctors will treat this toxicity. Some doctors turned away patients when BP chemicals were found to be the source of the problem. Doctors themselves are dependent on the industry and it's suppliers. They also fear the litigation, with the huge legal budget BP has.
BP is not paying the medical costs of ongoing toxic health problems. The company made an announcement in November 2010 that they would not pay for medical treatments
resulting from the spill. They didn't want to acknowledge there was a problem.
The only option left is to try and sue BP - but these are lower income and poor people with no money for lawyers.
Craig interviews people like Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General; Henry Waxman Congressman from California; former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Witman; top scientists from all over the world; and individuals impacted from communities around the world.
He also includes some statements by climate change sceptics.
What emerges is the cost of our deep addiction to fossil fuels and a hope to inspire people to change.
TESTING POLLUTED SEA FOOD
Film makers did their own tests about safety of seafood. They tested shrimp, sand and water. Shrimp was 10 times higher than levels set by Fed Government and BP after the spill.
Oil pollution in Gulf shrimp was found ten times higher than allowed by the EPA. But it is still sold nationally.
At time of Exxon Valdez spill safe level was set at 11 parts per billion in seafood. Then gov't and BP raised "safety" level 45,000 times higher to 500 parts per million, after the BP Deep Water Horizon spill.
Sea food buyers are relying only on smell tests(!) done by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Scientists used their noses to smell levels of hydrocarbons in fish.
"Gulf seafood is still contaminated and ending up in our U.S. food supply." -Craig Rosebraugh said.
Why so many sceptics shown in the film? So many pseudo debates on whether climate change is happening, despite majority of Academies say argument is over.
The fossil fuel industry is the force behind deniers, buying deniers, media, and scientists. They want to create confusion and doubt.
Deniers are buried by their own voices. "Greedy Lying Bastards" covers the industry's PR campaign. Two of worst are ExxonMobil and Koch Industries. In last decade each spent nearly 25 million dollars just funding climate denial campaigns.
HOW CAN WE CHANGE
Forming a new economy. Even the energy companies could convert and make money, but don't. Big oil companies have showcase projects to use in advertisments, but don't plow the investments into making it real. This film shows their investments in renewables are miniscule compared to what they spend on finding and developing more oil.
@greedylyingbast is Twitter url The film is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greedylyingbastards
The oil industry will not/can not regulate itself. Profits are too big a draw. The industry needs an outside government agency. Will Congress do anything?
Plus: we must change ourselves.
OUR DYING WORLD WITH PETER F. SALE
Here on Radio Ecoshock, you've heard speakers like Dr. Daniel Pauly lament that humans are stripping the oceans bare of species. Blog entry on Pauly here.
His 47 minute speech (45 MB) on the death of the oceans here.
I've played you a clip of Dr. Wes Jackson, on the possibility of a mass extinction event in the seas. And paleoclimatologist Peter Ward told us up to 90% of ocean life was killed, in a big extinction event many millions of years ago.
I took all this in mind, when I got a new book from Peter F. Sale. He works with the United Nations University, and he is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Windsor, Ontario.
The title of his new book through me off at first. It's called "Our Dying Planet, An ecologist's view of the crisis we face." Sometimes I'm called extreme - why would he say the planet is "Dying"?
I'd say Sale was were exagerating, but a new study published in the journal Nature found 75 percent of all mammal species are at risk of extinction within 300 years...
Nature: climate change leads to 67-84 percent intraspecific biodiversity loss by 2080 – Holocene Mass Extinction within this century
"... A Nature study earlier this year has looked at marine and terrestrial biodiversity threats combined – and found for instance 75 percent of all mammal species to be at risk of extinction within 300 years, and defined such a massive loss of biodiversity as establishing the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event.
That would mean the combined effort of a couple of billion human beings, relentlessly producing and consuming over a couple of centuries time, would somehow have very creatively managed to outweigh the impact of the PETM methane clathrate bomb."
And check out this item: "Climate change will lead to far more extinctions than previously thought..."
We start out the interview with Peter Sale's 40 years in studying coral reefs - how they live, and how they die. I found his description of what coral is, how it works, really kept me going.
We discuss the wonders of coral. Did you know even the sand around coral reefs is biotic, created by the coral?
About 25% of all marine species inhabit coral reefs at some part of their lives. Not all would go extinct without coral, but a lot would.
Since the first major reported mass coral bleaching event in 1983, there have been waves of coral deaths. Sale estimates about 20% of all coral living in the 1970's is now dead.
The main cause is "coral bleaching". This is directly connected to climate change, and heating of the oceans. When there is a hot spell, generally during an El Nino event, global warming adds just enough more to make the corals eject the algae which they use to live. These algae give the coral reefs their color. So the dead reefs are white, instead of a rainbow of bright colors.
Like many species (and crops) coral is already at the top of it's temperature tolerance. Just a little more warming, and we'll lose them all. That will have profound effects, because the coral reefs hold more different types of species (phyla) than even the rainforest. The rainforests have more species overall, because they have so many varied insects. But coral reefs have more different KINDS of animals.
Sale tells us coral reefs also protect the mainland from storms, which will be more important as the seas rise. And they provide billions of dollars of tourist revenues to Australia, the Caribbean, and elsewhere. About 50% of all Gross Domestic Product in the Caribbean is derived from the sea coast. Even if tourists don't visit coral reefs, they lie on beaches created and maintained by coral.
The reasons for coral decline are complex. It is more than raw temperature. Ships break up coral with their anchors. Overfishing deprives the reefs of many key species need to maintain that ecosystem. Peter Sale worries that the environment movement will concentrate on small parts of the puzzle, rather than being able to see the big picture complexity.
Humans are also not very good at understanding exponential change. Listen to the interview for his explanation of why that matters.
Finally, Peter Sale concludes both the book and the interview with his four projections of where this disintegrating ecosystem and economy could go:
1. Belvedere world (the rich countries withdraw into fortresses, and then the rich within those countries go into armed communities, while extinctions continue, and a Mad Max society is left for the rest of us) This is seen as most likely to Sale, the way we are going.
2. Woodstock world (almost hippie-like, humans withdraw into simpler old technology, with less complexity)
3. The third possible future is called "Technopolis". Technology will save us, we withdraw from Nature into a separate tech world. Unlikely says Sale, but some engineers and scientists actually believe this is possible.
4. "New Atlantis" - Sale's vision of how a sustainable but still civilized world might continue. This option is very hard, perhaps unlikely, but a worthwhile goal.
I haven't done justice to the depth of any of these four projections. Get more from our interview, and the longer descriptions in the book "Our Dying Planet".
I thought the book could have been laid out better, with more charts and illustrations. In places Sale tries to approach people unfamiliar with ecology, so Ecoshock listeners might skip those. But there are strong points in the book, and the work on coral shines.
You should get a lot out of the interview, where we took our time to go into depth.
That's it for this week.