Locus Focus

Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein talks with local, regional and national experts, activists and policy makers about climate change, food policy, land use, salmon restoration, forest management and all the other things that matter in our environment.

Coming Soon

The politics of land use and art in an evolving New West, with author and activist Lucy Lippard.
 

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Episode Archive

Locus Focus on 04/15/09

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Locus Focus
Air date: 
Wed, 04/15/2009 - 8:00am - 9:00am
Short Description: 
A conversation with economist Chuck Collins on restructuring tax codes to fuel economic recovery

If the most affluent 400 Americans as of 2006 had paid as much of their incomes in taxes as the top 400 did in 1955, the federal treasury would have collected an additional $35.9 billion more in revenue in 2006 just from these 400 ultra-rich individuals. Guest Chuck Collins (Locus Focus' official economist) co-authored a Tax Day report "Reversing the Great Tax Shift: Seven Steps to Finance Our Recovery Fairly,” which offers proposals that would raise $450 billion of revenue to support economic recovery. 

 Here are some of the reports modest proposals:
Introducing a modest financial transaction tax that will chill speculation and generate $100 billion a year.
Implementing an estate tax reform that taxes inheritances over $2 million at progressive rates.
Setting an emergency tax rate on extremely high incomes that would generate over $60 billion a year.
Eliminating the tax preference on capital gains and dividend income, generating $80 billion.
Closing overseas tax havens for individuals and corporations, generating $100 billion.
Scrapping $18 billion in tax breaks that subsidize excessive CEO compensation.
 
“By seriously taxing the top, as we did in the 1950s, we could raise the revenues we need to better invest in infrastructure, education, and retrofitting our energy system,” says Chuck Collins, an IPS senior scholar and co-author of the new IPS brief. “Appropriately targeted, higher taxes on the top would also serve to dampen the speculative frenzy that has cratered our economy.”

 

At 8:20 we're joined by journalist Reese Erlich, whose new book Dateline Havana: The Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Future of Cuba explores Cuba’s strained history with the United States and the power of the Cuba Lobby. We'll talk about Obama's new Cuba policy and what impact that may have on improving the relationship between our countries.

 

Reese Erlich is the author of The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Middle East Crisis and co-author of the best-selling Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn’t Tell You. He reports regularly for National Public Radio, Latino USA, Radio Deutche Welle, Australian Broadcasting Corp. Radio, and Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Radio. He also writes for the San Francisco Chronicle, St. Petersburg Times, and Dallas Morning News.

Locus Focus on 04/08/09

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Locus Focus
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Wed, 04/08/2009 - 8:00am - 9:00am
Short Description: 
Is nuclear power a solution for climate change?

In 1980 investigative journalist Karl Grossman wrote a book called "COVER UP: What you are not supposed to know about Nuclear Power." That was a year after the meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power facility in Pennsylvania scared the nation into rethinking its faith in nuclear power as a source of energy too cheap to meter. After a thirty year hiatus, however, nuclear power is back on the table, this time touted as a carbon emission-free source of electricity. But Karl Grossman is still here to tell us what we're not supposed to know about Nuclear Power.

Locus Focus

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Locus Focus
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Wed, 04/01/2009 - 8:00am - 9:00am
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Does it make sense to replace the current bridge across the Columbia with a 12 lane megabridge?

Consensus is growing that the future bridge across the Columbia River on I5 will be a 12 lane mega bridge. But many people in the community disagree and are raising their voices in concern that such a massive infrastructure will encourage the kind of car and oil dependent way of life that many in the Northwest profess to want to change. Guests Mara Gross with the Coalition for a Livable Future, Metro Councilor Robert Liberty and Joe Kurmaskie, who is helping organize a rally on April 5 to oppose the mega bridge proposal, will discuss Columbia River Crossing alternatives that will not encourage sprawl and increase our carbon footprint.

A grassroots coalition of Portlanders and Vancouverites opposed to the current scope and direction of the Columbia River Crossing project will host an Opposition and Alternatives Rally at Waterfront Park. The event is schedued for noon, Sunday, April 5th, on the lawn of Portland's Waterfront Park - just north of the Hawthorne bridge. Rally organizers call this the opening salvo in a sustained campaign to block funding for the project in its current form, and to offer alternatives that match the desires of a community to be fiscally responsible, address environmental challenges and tackle livability issues effecting the region.  

"This part of the world has made truly sustainable choices in the past, an urban growth boundary, investment in mass transit, bicycle infrastructure and the stoppage of the Mt Hood Freeway and Harbor Highway," rally organizer Joe Kurmaskie said. " Innovative decisions that have made us an attractive city to live in or visit. Putting up a four billion dollar, 12 lane mega-bridge will change all that, and not for the better.

"The project is based on models done before peak oil and the arrival of an economic crisis that's changing every aspect of people's lives, including their transportation choices. The CRC is 20th century thinking applied to a very different world today. The Coalition For A Livable Future has long said that we can not hope to build our way out of congestion. As proposed, this bridge promotes single occupancy vehicle use, invites unchecked sprawl to southern Washington and opens the door to widening I-5 through the heart of Portland."

The Waterfront Park rally will include speakers, calls to action, information booths, distribution of lawn signs and tangible steps citizens can take to oppose the project, as well as the announcement of teach ins by smarterbidge.org, and other organized events in the future. Speakers will include elected officials, transportation experts and community leaders explaining their opposition to the project while proposing alternatives.

So far, confirmed to speak are former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury (who give’s Al Gore’s climate change presentation all over the country), Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz (the only city council member who voted against moving forward on a 12-lane CRC bridge), and Metro Councilor Robert Liberty (who voted against the project in the past and has offered specific alternatives) and  Bicycle Transportation Alliance advocate and educator Michelle Poyourow.

Locus Focus

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Wed, 03/25/2009 - 8:00am - 9:00am
Short Description: 
In the past week there has been intense outrage over AIG executive bonuses and other manifestations

In the past week there has been intense outrage over AIG executive bonuses and other manifestations of corporate greed. How do we go beyond the angry mob mentality? Guest Rob Johnson, who co-wrote "Too Big to Bail: The 'Paulson Put,' Presidential Politics, and the Global Financial Meltdown" with Thomas Ferguson, provides a larger context for understanding the current financial crisis and analyzing the knee-jerk responses that currently rule in the mass media.

Robert Johnson was formerly a managing director at Soros Funds Management and chief economist of the Senate Banking Committee.You can read a recenty article by Johnson and Ferguson at http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090309/ferguson_johnson?rel=hp_picks

Locus Focus

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Locus Focus
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Wed, 03/18/2009 - 8:00am - 9:00am
Short Description: 
Why we need to make the Holgate Channel Ross Island lagoon wake-free or non-motorized zones - and wh

Between Ross Island and the east bank of the Willamette lies the Holgate Channel, a patch of natural paradise only a couple miles south of downtown Portland. Sitting above the river on the eastbank, with osprey and eagles and blue herron as your companions, you have no idea you're anywhere near a city. . .except for the roar of jet skis and motor boat engines - not to mention the bass enhanced stereo systems booming across the river. Bob Sallinger, Urban Conservation director for the Portland Audubon Society has been working hard to create a wake-free zone in the Holgate Channel and ban motorized craft outright from neighboring Ross Island Lagoon. Tune in to hear why he believes this is necessary to make the Holgate Channel a safer place for humans and wildlife.

Bob Sallinger is the Conservation Director for the Audubon Society of Portland where he has worked since 1992. His current responsibilities include managing the Audubon Statewide Important Bird Area in Oregon, recovery of imperiled species, promoting wildlife conservation in the Portland Metropolitan Region, and overseeing the Society's wildlife rehabilitation center. He has a particular interest in anthropogenic impacts on wildlife and promoting wildlife stewardship in urban ecosystems. His favorite pastime rappelling off Portland area bridges to monitor the region's growing population of bridge nesting peregrine falcons. Bob has a B.A. in Biology from Reed College and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Coalition for a Livable Future and the East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District. He lives in Northeast Portland with his wife Elisabeth Neely, two children, a dog, a cat (indoor!) and a couple of chickens

Locus Focus

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Wed, 03/11/2009 - 8:00am - 9:00am
Short Description: 
Now that the Bush adminstration is history how do we hold Bush and his advisors and their cronies in

The Bush administration is now history but its legacy continues to tear the world apart. Senator Patrick Leahy wants to create a Truth and Reconciliation Commision, modeled after ones in South Africa and Latin America - to probe the potentially criminal actions of this administration but many people are calling for stronger measures to hold these culprits accountable for the pain and destruction they have caused. A couple weeks comedian Bill Maher suggested executing a couple bankers who "poisoned our financial markets with tainted investments" as a warning to other greedy financial captains. A more serious proposal has been offered in an commentary for New American Media by today's Locus Focus guest Roberto Cintli Rodriguez.

Locus Focus

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Program: 
Locus Focus
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Wed, 03/04/2009 - 8:00am - 9:00am
Short Description: 
Nuclear energy, long discredited as a dangerous and costly source of power, is now being ressurected

Thirty years ago this country's nuclear program came to a halt after the disasterous accident and meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear facility in Pennsylvania. Since then we are still debating how to safely store in perpetuity countless tons of high level radioactive waste that is the legacy of this program that once promised "energy too cheap to meter," but resulted in massive cost-overuns and environmental hazards. So why has the nuclear option returned to the table as we look for alternatives to carbon emitting climate changing fossil fuels? What forgotten lessons of the 1970s do we need to remember?

Locus Focus on 02/25/09

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Wed, 02/25/2009 - 8:00am - 9:00am

Pratap Chatterjee talks about why the privatized, outsourced military Barack Obama has inherited from the Bush administration will prove a done deal.  Pratap Chatterjee's article, "The Military's Expanding Waistline, What Will Obama Do with KBR?," appears at http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175036

Pratap Chatterjee is an investigative journalist and producer and the program, director/managing editor of Corpwatch. He is the author of Iraq Inc.: A Profitable Occupation and The Earth Brokers. He hosted a weekly radio show on Berkeley station KPFA, was a global environment editor for InterPress Service, and wrote for the Financial Times, the Guardian, and the Independent of London. He has won five Project Censored awards as well as a Silver Reel from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters for his work in Afghanistan, and the best business story award from the National Newspaper Association (U.S.), among others. He has appeared as a commentator on numerous radio and television shows ranging from BBC World Service, CNN International, Democracy Now!, Fox, and MSNBC. The winner of a Lannan Cultural Freedom Award in 2006, he lives in Oakland, California.

Locus Focus

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Wed, 02/18/2009 - 8:00am - 9:00am
Short Description: 
A look at the political and psychological as well as economic implications of the new economic stimu

President Obama has just signed an 787 billion dollar stimulus package into law. So what does it all mean and what can we hope for? Locus Focus Resident Economist Chuck Collins joins Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein to discuss the political and psychological implications - as well as economic - of the struggle to get this package enacted. Is it big enough to really have any impact? What else is needed to turn the economy around?

Chuck Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy (IPS) and directs IPS’s Program on Inequality and the Common Good. He is an expert on U.S. inequality and author of several books, including Economic Apartheid in America: A Primer on Economic Inequality and Insecurity (New Press, 2005). He coordinates a national effort to preserve the federal estate tax, our nation’s only tax on inherited wealth. He co-authored with Bill Gates Sr., Wealth and Our Commonwealth, a case for taxing inherited fortunes.

In 1995, he co-founded United for a Fair Economy (UFE) to raise the profile of the inequality issue and support popular education and organizing efforts to address inequality. In 1997, he co-founded Responsible Wealth, a project of UFE to bring together business leaders and investors to publicly speak out against economic policies and corporate practices that worsen economic inequality. He was Executive Director of UFE from 1995-2001 and Program Director until 2005.

Locus Focus

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Wed, 02/11/2009 - 8:00am - 9:00am
Short Description: 
What are the links between economic stimulus and health care?

This week the news is about Obama's economic stimulus package passing the Senate and about to be enacted into law. Last week it was about Tom Daschel, Obama's nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services, having to withdraw his name because of his problems with the IRS. So what are the connections between economic stimulus and health care? Barbara Dudley, a regular guest on Locus Focus, joins host Barbara Bernstein, in a discussion about these links. . .and more.

Audio

HURRICANE SANDY, SEA LEVEL RISE AND THE WORLD WE NOW LIVE IN

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 01/07/2013

The storm surge generated by Hurricane Sandy, flooding significant areas across Greater New York and New Jersey, demonstrated that the specter of climate change and the disasters it will wreak are now upon us. As the Northeast engages in a slow recovery from the storm's damage, a debate is now raging about how to prevent similar destruction from the inevitable next super storm.

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with climate scientist Todd Sanford about the public health impacts of climate change-induced storms such as Sandy, and what it will take to build communities that are more resilient to the ravages of extreme weather events in a warming world.

Todd Sanford is a climate scientist with the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. His main areas of focus are the public health impacts of climate change and the "social cost" of carbon—the various financial costs associated with climate change.

Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 12/24/2012

 Rebroadcast of program originally aired on 3/7/2011

Until World War II, Odessa was one of Europe's great multicultural cities, a place of optimism and light. For nearly a century its colorful street life inspired poets and writers like Alexander Pushkin, Mark Twain and Isaac Babel. It was also a major center of Jewish culture, and by 1941 Odessa had 200,000 Jews living within its bounds—over a third of its population. But by the end of the war there were only 48 Jews left. Many had perished in a gruesome—but still largely unknown—episode of the Holocaust.

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with historian Charles King, author of Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams. His new book explores the greatest port on the Black Sea, examining the enduring mystery at the heart of Odessa’s story: how a city once known for its freewheeling and cosmopolitan culture ended up nearly destroying itself during the Second World War.

Charles King lives in Washington, DC, where he is a professor of international affairs and government at Georgetown University. He is the author of four books on Eastern Europe and a frequent commentator on events in the region for television, radio, and the press.

NOTHING THAT IS POISONED CAN GROW: THE RICHMOND OIL REFINERY FIRE

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 08/20/2012

At 6:30 in evening on Hiroshima Day this month, the Chevron Oil Refinery in Richmond exploded in a massive fire, spreading a mushroom cloud of thick black smoke over the homes and gardens of the residents of this marginalized community. That night thousands of people flocked to local hospitals complaining of respiratory problems. No one seems to know what toxins were contained in that dark cloud that settled over the city for a couple hours, before the winds changed and the toxic cloud dispersed above more affluent communities. In the aftermath of the fire which burned out of control for over six house, Richmond residents not only worry about the toxins they may have inhaled during the fire. They are worried about what poisons linger on the plants in their vegetable gardens and in the soil, rendering their gardens toxic.

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Doria Robinson, who heads Urban Tilth, a Richmond resident-run urban agriculture program, operating 11 different school and community gardens in the city. She'll talk about why it's urgent to hold Chevron accountable for the release of a myriad of dangerous contaminants into the air, that among other things, may result in the potential loss of thousands of pounds of food grown by local school children and residents, intended to help alleviate problems of food scarcity.

Urban Tilth cultivates agriculture in west Contra Costa County to help its community build a more sustainable, healthy, and just food system. They work with schools, community-based organizations, government agencies, businesses, and individuals to develop the capacity to produce 5% of their own food supply. Urban Tilth believes that environmental restoration is inextricably connected to economic and social restoration. They are committed to training and employing local people, working collaboratively within the community, engaging in local policy decisions and growing their food (and themselves), locally and organically.

Doria Robinson is a 3rd generation resident of Richmond, California and the Executive Director of Urban Tilth. Formally trained as a Watershed Restoration Ecologist, Doria has also worked on organic farms in Western Massachusetts where she attended Hampshire College; at Veritable Vegetable, a women owned organic produce distribution company; Real Food Company and Mixed Nuts Food Co-op. She is passionate about  physical, social and economic health being dependent upon ecological health; the restoration of one depends on the restoration of the other. She was recognized as Environmental Advocate of the Year for Contra Costa County and as Woman of the Year for Contra Costa County in 2010 and in 2011 she was presented with a Community Resiliency Leadership Award from Bay Localize. Doria currently lives in the neighborhood she grew up in in Richmond with her wonderful 10 year old twins.

Learn more about Urban Tilth and how you can support their efforts to keep growing abundant gardens in Richmond in the aftermath of the August 6 refinery fire by visiting their facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/urban.tilth

Urban Tilth is featured in an upcoming documentary film Gaining Ground, produced and directed by Elaine Velazquez and Barbara Bernstein. You can learn more about the film and see a clip featuring Doria Robinson at http://mediaprojectonline.org/

A preview edit of Gaining Ground will be screened at the Northwest Film Center in Portland, OR on September 13.

A NEW URBAN FOOD ZONING CODE FOR PORTLAND

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Locus Focus
program date: 
Mon, 07/30/2012

Portland has long been a center of ad-hoc urban agriculture. For many decades, Portlanders have grown vegetables in their backyards. Over the past 30 plus years, community gardens have sprung up where people without adequate yard space can also garden. And now an increasing number of folks are raising livestock in town as well. The City of Portland has supported in theory this booming movement of farmers' markets, community gardens, backyard farming, community supported agriculture and food buying clubs. But zoning code regulations have not kept pace and in many cases are cumbersome or contradictory.

So now the City of Portland has approved an updated food zoning code. It's the city's first broad look at how regulations affect the activities associated with growing and distributing food in our neighborhoods. And hopefully the new code will reflect the changes and needs of a city that is trying to feed itself.

On this episode of Locus Focus we find out about how this new code will hopefully encourage more agricultural activities within the city, as we talk with Portland's "food czar" Steve Cohen and senior planner Jessica Richman, who is part of the team that wrote Portland's new food zoning code.

TEN YEARS AFTER THE BISCUIT FIRE: A RETROSPECTIVE IN A SUMMER OF FIRE

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 07/23/2012

TEN YEARS AFTER THE BISCUIT FIRE: A RETROSPECTIVE IN A SUMMER OF FIRE

In mid July of 2002 a series of lightning strikes ignited a number of small fires in some very remote mountainous areas of SW Oregon. The fires merged into what became known as the Biscuit Fire, the largest fire that year in North America. Burning across an area of over 500,000 acres it was the largest fire in Oregon history - until this summer. Once the fire was extinguished political conflagrations erupted over how to manage the fire-affected wilderness landscape. Those arguments are still echoing ten years later as we experience another summer of extreme wildfires across the West.

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk again with forest ecologist Dominick DellaSala about the lessons learned from the Biscuit Fire. We'll discuss why there is a key difference between the impact of that fire - and other large Oregon wildfires - and the devastating human toll that this summer's fires in Colorado, Utah and New Mexico are taking. Could it have something to do with Oregon's land use laws?

Dr. Dominick A. DellaSala, President and Chief Scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, is an internationally renowned author of over 150 technical papers, including the award winning “Temperate and Boreal Rainforests of the World” (www.islandpress.org/dellasala). He has appeared in National Geographic, Science Digest, Science Magazine, Time Magazine, Audubon Magazine, National Wildlife Magazine, High Country News, Terrain Magazine, NY Times, LA Times, USA Today, Jim Lehrer News Hour, CNN, MSNBC, “Living on Earth (NPR),” several PBS wildlife documentaries and is a frequent guest on Locus Focus. Dominick co-founded the Geos Institute in July 2006. He is motivated by leaving a living planet for his daughter and all those to follow.

JOHNSON CREEK: 2012 STATE OF THE WATERSHED REPORT

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 07/16/2012

Johnson Creek flows 26 miles from its headwaters near the Sandy River to its confluence with the Willamette River, passing through five cities (Gresham, Portland, Milwaukie, Damascus, and Happy Valley) and two counties (Clackamas and Multnomah) along the way. Once a favorite camping and fishing spot for Native people, the creek was degraded by decades of abuse when white settlers took over the landscape. For years, Johnson Creek was known primarily as an eyesore that frequently flooded. Over the last few decades a growing number of people have become determined to right past wrongs in the Johnson Creek Watershed and return the creek to something of its former natural glory. In the mid-1980s, a small grassroots group called the Friends of Johnson Creek (also known as the Johnson Creek Marching Band) began leading tours of Johnson Creek, highlighting it as a community asset. It was the first time that any group had portrayed Johnson Creek in a positive light publicly. These days the Johnson Creek Watershed Council is the official body that oversees the restoration, enhancement and protection of the creek.

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Robin Jenkinson, JCWC Restoration Coordinator and author of the recent State of the Watershed Report for Johnson Creek, that looks at several areas of concern in the Johnson Creek Watershed: fish and wildlife, shade and temperature, streamflow, turbidity, pollution and a 2020 vision for the creek.

THE POISON BENEATH US

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 07/09/2012

Over the past several decades, U.S. industries have injected more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth, using broad expanses of the nation's geology as an invisible dumping ground. No company would be allowed to pour such dangerous chemicals into the rivers or onto the soil. But until recently, scientists and environmental officials have assumed that deep layers of rock beneath the earth would safely entomb the waste for millennia

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Abrahm Lustgarten, whose recent series of articles for ProPublica, investigates a legion of problems and potential catastrophes inherent with the practice of pumping deadly toxins beneath the surface of the earth.

Abrahm Lustgarten writes about energy, water, climate change and anything else having to do with the environment. Before coming to ProPublica in 2008, he was a staff writer and contributor for Fortune, and has written for Wired, Salon, Esquire, the Washington Post and the New York Times. At ProPublica, his investigation into fracking for natural gas was recognized with the George Polk award for environmental reporting, a National Press Foundation award for best energy writing and a Sigma Delta Chi award. His reporting on BP and the Deepwater Horizon tragedy was nominated for an Emmy. Abrahm is the author of Run to Failure: BP and the Making of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster and China’s Great Train: Beijing’s Drive West and the Campaign to Remake Tibet.

CASCADIA'S FAULT: PREPARING FOR THE BIG ONE

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 07/02/2012

It used to be that when people talked about the "Big One," they were referring to the next giant earthquake along the San Andreas Fault, that in the parlance of the time, might cause California to fall into the ocean. It turns out that the fault to watch is the much longer and potentially damaging Cascadia Subduction Zone, a fracture in the earth’s crust roughly 60 miles offshore, that starts just north of the San Andreas Fault in northern California and runs all the way to northern Vancouver Island. This fault generates a monster earthquake about every 500 years. The last time it shook was in 1700 and there is roughly a 30 percent chance that just such a disaster could happen within the next fifty years. Or it could happen during this episode of Locus Focus, when we will be talking with Jerry Thompson, a journalist who has been following this story for twenty-five years, and is author of Cascadia’s Fault, which tells the tale of this potentially devastating earthquake and the killer waves it will spawn.

Jerry Thompson has worked as a radio and television reporter in Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver and as a network news correspondent on assignments around the world. He has covered everything from forestry and fishing to earthquakes and tsunamis. From geo-engineering the climate, to the ozone hole in Australia, to the struggling Sandinista government in Nicaragua, to ethnic civil war in Sri Lanka, and the chemical disaster in Bhopal. In January 1994, he began writing and directing hour-long documentaries in partnership with his wife, producer Bette Thompson, through their production company, Raincoast Storylines Ltd. In between documentary projects, Jerry has written two screenplays, a television series pilot, and is currently at work on a novel. The Thompsons live in the village of Sechelt on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.

Learn more about the history of earthquakes in North America.

HARVEST THE WIND: An Interview with Author and Environmental Lawyer Philip Warburg

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 06/25/2012

HARVEST THE WIND: An Interview with Author and Environmental Lawyer Philip Warburg

Wth the rising threat of climate change and the steady depletion of fossil fuels, wind power is arguably the only renewable energy resource ready to meet a significant portion of our energy needs. Yet on a national level, the United States has failed to make a meaningful commitment to support further development of wind's full potential to generate electricity. Wind power does not only meet resistance from the fossil fuel industry. Its critics also include segments of the environmental movement, who raise concerns about bird and bat kills and possible health risks from living close to industrial-strength wind farms, which they also view as eyesores on the landscape. On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with environmental lawyer Philip Warburg, whose new book Harvest The Wind, reveals both the remarkable growth of a breakthrough technology and the formidable challenges it faces.

Philip Warburg was president of the Conservation Law Foundation in New England, from 2003 to 2009. Previously he was an attorney at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C. He has also worked with governments and citizen groups on anti-pollution initiatives in Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and across Eastern Europe

THIS IS YOUR OCEAN ON ACID

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 06/18/2012

Over the past 100 years, levels of carbon in the atmosphere have risen 30%—to 393 parts per million. One thing that has kept global warming in check is that the oceans absorb a third of that carbon dioxide. Until recently the process of oceans soaking up our excess CO2 was considered beneficial. But the 22 million tons per day of carbon dioxide that the oceans are taking up is beginning to wreak havoc on ocean ecosystems. Scientists are discovering that all this carbon dioxide is causing the ocean to rapidly acidify, changing ocean ecosystems in profound ways.

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Brita Belli, editor of E Magazine and author of the lead article in this month's issue: "This Is Your Ocean On Acid." We'll discuss how ocean acidification is threatening nearly every aspect of the ocean food web, from shellfish to coral reefs. 

Brita Belli is editor of E and author of The Autism Puzzle: Connecting the Dots Between Environmental Toxins and Rising Autism Rates.

Comments

Global Warming

Barbara, I hope you might forward my comments to your guest. I was only able to listen to part of today's program but I am very interested. I want to raise my concerns about two prevailing frames that arise on your show and throughout serious discussion of climate change that I believe do great damage to the efforts to raise the awareness of the public and help them understand the urgency needed when addressing this issue.
First is the frame that global warming is happening slowly and will continue to do so. I do not believe the facts support such an assertion and not only does no one know that warming will not suddenly serge forward it seems to be doing exactly that. A report out last week raised the projected temperature for the planet by the end of the century to 9F from 4F degrees. That means that we are going to hit 4F by---2040? Until recently no one imagined the arctic ice cap could melt in anything like our lifetimes but in fact it will and it may do so as soon as 2013! The problem with the frames that give people the impression that GW is a slow process is that it provides fauls comfort, "Oh, technology will fix it before it happens," or "It is not my problem." Neither one is the case but too many people still think that way. So please start using a different frame from "by the end of the century," or “future generations." Instead say "within our life times," and stress the urgency. After all it is much more accurate to say catastrophic climate change is happening right now.

The second frame is that one cannot attribute any given weather event to global warming. That is only partly true. In fact one might say that you cannot not attribute any given weather event to climate change such is the post-industrial influence on the pre-industrial trajectory of the climate---we have departed the Holocene and are in the Antropocene some scientist tell us. It is like a basketball launched toward a basket that gets tipped by one of the players. Its trajectory is for ever changed. I think it is more accurate to say that the weather everywhere and everyday has been influence to some degree by GW. This is important because the frame that one cannot tell if an event is caused by climate change is asking them not to believe there own "eyes," experiences, or impressions which are often very astute. For instance in Oklahoma where I grew up we used to have thunderstorms in April and the 100F days did not come until late July. This year they had wild fires near Oklahoma City in April and the temperatures have been in the hundreds throughout much of this June---that has increasingly become the trend and is consistent with climate change projections. Now Oklahomans should by all rights believe that what they are experiencing is in fact global warming. It may be noted that Inhofe is a Senator from Oklahoma and one of the most radical global warming deniers and obstructionist in government.
I have been keeping up with this issue for a long time now and am alarmed at the rapidity that things are taking place. I truly believe we are probably in for crop failures, water shortages, and mass migrations here in North America, in this country, within our lifetimes and whereas I think there is a fine line to be drawn to not panic or send people into despair I think scientist tend to be much too measured in their statements. It is as though there is smoke billowing out of the projection room and the scientists don’t want be caught dead yelling fire in a crowded theater because there is no "proof" that there is in fact a fire.
Scientist have long dismissed the near term risk of a methane/co2 release from the arctic or the ocean meanwhile there is growing indications that that is exactly what is happening. As a NASA scientist you should know that a huge methane release was detected on Mars a few years ago and that is within a much more static system than ours----that should give us pause!
The public needs to be prepared in case there is a sudden spike in methane from the Arctic so I hope in the future Barbara you will direct your discussions of climate change toward the rapidity of changes already taking place and the potential danger of being too complacent and smug about what we know and what we think we do or do not know. Thank you.

Global Warming

I recently interviewed Phil Mote who has replaced climate change denier George Taylor as Oregon's State Climatologist. Like any careful scientist Mote does not feel comfortable attributing specific weather events to climate change. But he gave me a analogy that I like: It's like playing Russian Roulette and adding a second bullet to the chamber of the revolver. If you blow your head off it doesn't really matter whether it was the original bullet or added bullet that did you in.

Solar Energy

I echo Bruce's concerns and add commentary based on  Mon - 14 - Sep show.

While I support solar energy, I warn against pie-in-the-sky proposals that make it sound like we can find new sources to keep living our wasteful lives. The scale of the problem is lost when we pretend that putting solar panels on 100 roofs signifies real change.

There is some hope to be found in using solar power efficiently. This does NOT include powering electric resistance heaters with photovoltaics. It does mean passive solar heating, solar hot water, and solar clothes driers (AKA clotheslines).

When you have used conservation and innovation to convert the wasteful electric grid into a sustainable system, then we can begin the conversation about supplimenting the system for our transportation problems. Until then, the only real sustainable alternatives to petroleum are wind, human, and animal powered vehicles. Coal and nuclear, the primary sources of new electricity, are polluting uses of nonrenewable resources.

Walk, ride a bicycle, sail (without motor), and use horse and ox cart, if you are truly concerned about the serious threat of climate change. Park your car forever. We cannot afford cars any longer.

- Vernon Huffman

   Corvallis, OR

today's show & "socialism"

i think now is a good time to talk more about what socialism actually is - common ownership of the means of production - and what is is not - redistributing wealth. you are right to continue pointing out that what obama is talking about is a progressive tax structure, not socialism.

the progressive tax idea actually comes from adam smith himself, "It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion." [from book 5, ch.2 on taxes]

Intro Music

The intro music to Locus Focus is a song by Hugh Masakela called "Change." It's on his album "Time," which came out a few years ago. I plan on playing the song each week until Robert Mugabe relinquishes power in Zimbabwe.

brain gender

Did you see the piece in the NY Times re schizophrenia and autism having possible roots in parental dna - that is mother mix:father's mix? That is female characteristics manifesting as schizophrenia from mother dna and autistic characteristics from father's?

 

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