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.
The Copenhagen Climate Talks yielded disappointing results. But there are many effective initiatives we can take to reduce global greenhouse emissions that don't require international treaties. HEAVY WEATHER, a new radio documentary by Barbara Bernstein explores the connections between increasing extreme weather and our changing climate and landscapes. It presents solutions that are community driven, based on decisions we make to change the ways we live and travel. Changes that actually can improve our quality of life.
For a hundred years people in the Pacific Northwest—and much of the world— have transformed the landscape to suit their needs. At the same time we’ve pumped enough greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere to transform the climate, forcing us now to rethink the shape and placement of our built environments. Now the burden of past decisions rests on our shoulders. Heavy Weather looks at what kinds of choices we can make to lighten that burden for future generations.
HEAVY WEATHER spends time in several communities around the Pacific Northwest, contrasting differing responses to the dramatic flooding that has occurred in the past 14 years and which will probably increase as the climate changes. It looks at the important role that remaining wetlands play in managing storm water in an ecological and healthful manner, as well as efforts to "re-nature" the city, like Portland's Environmental Services project, Tabor to the Willamette Project. HEAVY WEATHER explores how the transition from engineered solutions for managing water to natural processes, including protecting natural wetlands, helps clean our rivers, protect salmon and buffer us from flooding that will only get worse as the climate changes.
We hear the voices of climate scientist Philip Mote, ecologist Kathleen Sayce, environmental ethicist Kathleen Dean Moore, sustainable farmers in Oregon and Virginia, as well as elected officials in Lewis (WA) and Tillamook (OR) Counties, Metro councilor Rex Burkholder and Portland and Vancouver, WA mayors Sam Adams and Tim Leavitt. Portland's urban naturalist Mike Houck takes us on a tour of the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge and wetland in the Sellwood district of Portland. Former Lewis County public works director Mark Cook shows us around the suburban sprawl spreading across the Chehalis River floodplain. And Portland State University faculty member Vivek Shandas guides us through the Brooklyn Basin, where Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services is trying to replicate with ecoroofs, curbside and parking lot swales and tree planting, the course and function of a historic creek that flows under the streets of SE Portland on its way to the Willamette River.
HEAVY WEATHER was produced with funding from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, Oregon Humanities (an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities) and the Ralph L. Smith Foundation.
is available on CD from Feather & Fin Productions, P.O. Box 82777, Portland, OR 97282. Check out the Heavy Weather Journal at
300 miles of creeks lie beneath streets and buildings of Portland. In this segment of Locus Focus we explore a creek that flows under the streets of SE Portland and what the city is doing to recognize and replicate the important functions that creek once performed. Brooklyn Creek's headwaters are on the west slope of Mt. Tabor (a dormant volcano that hovers on the near horizon of SE Portland). Until it was culverted many years ago, the creek flowed through what are now the Sunnyside, Richmond, Hosford, Abernathy and Brooklyn neighborhoods, on its way to the Willamette River.
Host Barbara Bernstein talks with Dean Marriott, director of Portland's Environmental Services and Anne Nelson, the environmental program coordinator for the Willamette Watershed about the Brooklyn Basin Project aka Tabor to the River, in which the city is creating scores of green streets to mimick the way that Brooklyn Creek once handled rain water that fell in its channel. We talk about why, as the old infrastructure of concrete and pipes that currently handles stormwater is beginning to fail, it's important to learn some lessons from nature about the most efficient and flexible ways to manage stormwater. This project will help keep the Willamette River clean while it helps mitigate against the inevitable increase in rainfall we can expect as our climate changes.
What does population growth have to do with climate change? We hear from what the connections are from Laurie Mazur, who has edited a new book called A Pivotal Moment: Population, Justice and the Environmental Challenge.
In this collection of essays, the authors concur that we are living in a pivotal moment. While many people are aware that we have a brief window of time to address climate change and other environmental problems, fewer people recognize that we are at a similar moment for world population: choices made today will determine whether human numbers - now at 6.8 billion - will grow to 8 billion or even 11 billion by 2050. Laurie Mazur tells us why 8 billion people will create much less stress than 11 billion on our already stressed out natural systems. We talk about why controlling the world's population by ensuring access to family planning and reproductive health services worldwide, will empower women as well as promote sustainable, equitable development, and ultimately save the world.
Laurie Mazur is the director of the Population Justice Project. She is the editor of Beyond the Numbers: A Reader on Population, Consumption and the Environment (1994) and co-author of Marketing Madness: A Survival Guide for a Consumer Society (1995).
Many Portlander's think that we get most of our electricity from the Bonneville hydro system, but in fact 40% comes from burning coal, much of it mined by blasting the top off a mountain in Kirk, West Virginia. This week on Locus Focus, guest Judy Bonds, co-director for Coal River Mountain Watch, talks about the impact of this devastating practice on the lives, economy and culture of her community. We'll also hear an update on what's happening at the federal and local level to end mountain top removal mining and put a stop to the wholesale burying of streams under mountains of mine tailings.
Julia "Judy" Bonds is a coal miner's daughter, granddaughter. She is an Appalachian American and her family has lived in the Coal River Valley in West Virginia for 10 generations.
Julia has been fighting for social and environmental justice for Appalachian coalfields since 1998. Julia and others at Coal River Mountain Watch have embarked on a road show to educate America about the clean water act and to educate and motivate Americans about where their electricity comes from and who pays the true price. Julia says that this road show also serves to dispel negative Appalachian stereotypes.
Julia worked on safety issues on overweight coal trucks and is on the Governor's Safety Committee for commercial trucks. She was named the "Earthmover Award" in GEO Magazine and on Organic Style Magazine's Environmental Power list. She was recently featured in the Marsh issue of National Geographic, the first "green" issue of May's Vanity Fair and in the July issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. The O Magazine issue focused on tough West Virginian women.
To learn more about mountaintop removal mining and what you can do to help stop it, check out: http://ilovemountains.org/. Find out where the coal that provides your electricity comes from.
What's going on with Portland's water? In light of the Thanksgiving weekend e coli outbreak in one of the Washington Park Reservoirs, we look at arguments for and against covering Portland's famously open-air reservoirs. We also talk about the underground water storage facility under construction on Powell Butte and the status of Portland's request for a variance from the EPA for its open reservoirs.
Our guests are David Shaff with the Portland Water Bureau and Friends of the Reservoirs representatives Floy Jones and Scott Fernandez.
Floy Jones is a founding member of the grassroots organization Friends of the Reservoirs. Friends of the Reservoirs organized in 2002 with citizens joining together to protect Portland's historic reservoirs and Bull Run water system.
Scott Fernandez is a microbiologist who is very active with Friends of the Reservoirs. He has served on Portland's Water Quality Advisory Committee and the Portland Utility Review Board.
Climate talks drew to a close in Copenhagen just before Christmas, with little concrete action to celebrate. Our guest Robert Engelman was there and he tells us what happened in Copenhagen, what didn't happen, what we can hope for and what we need to make sure happens soon.
Robert Engelman is Vice President for Programs at Worldwatch Institute, a globally focused environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C. Bob provides strategic direction for the Institute's research and programs and is a specialist in issues of population, reproductive health, global public health, climate change, and food security. Prior to joining Worldwatch, Bob was Vice President for Research at Population Action International, a policy research and advocacy group in Washington, and directed its program on population and the environment. He has written extensively on population's connections to environmental change, economic growth, and civil conflict.
A former newspaper reporter specializing in science and the environment, Bob has served on the faculty of Yale University as a visiting lecturer and was founding secretary of the Society of Environmental Journalists. He is the author of the 2008 book More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want, and his writing has appeared in scholarly and news media including Nature, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
Bob serves on the boards of the Center for a New American Dream, the Population Resource Center, and the Nova Institute. He holds a master's of science degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Chicago. Bob speaks basic Spanish and is conducting a tour of major U.S. cities in May, June, and July of 2008 to discuss his new book, More.
Lauren Moomaw and Maggie Maggio are part of a new community effort, TaborSpace. This coffeehouse and gathering place feels like a throwback to the best of Portland in the 1970s, but it also reflects a uniquely 21st century understanding of how to create sustainable communities. This week on Locus Focus we talk with Lauren and Maggie about creating a neighborhood sense of place through village building.
Lauren Moomaw manages the cafe at TaborSpace and is the coffee house consultant. She tries to implement sustainability by buying local products whenever possible and composting food scraps. The coffeehouse replaces coffee grounds into the bags the beans came in and sends them out to the neighborhood to be used in gardens or home composts. And this past summer they used lots of neighbor's zuccini for the cafe's zuccini bread.
Maggie Maggio facilitates the new TaborArtSpace and coordinates the artists showing in the cafe. Formerly the coordinate of the Neighborhood Sense of Place Program at the Northwest Earth Institute, she sees TaborSpace as a perfect example of creating a local gathering place that will help to connect neighbors to each other and to the place where they live. At TaborSpace, Maggie practices what she calls Village Practice. The Cafe is the entryway into what is hoped will become a place alive with neighborhood activities.
Harriet Fasenfest, writer, cook, gardener, food preserver and backyard economist, returns to Locus Focus to talk about the art, economics and politics of householding and food preservation just in time for the holidays.
Born and raised in the Bronx, Harriet Fasenfest has lived in the Northwest since 1978. Now retired from Main Street, she is attempting to raise the bones of home economics from the trash bin of modernity. She teaches classes on food preservation at Preserve and lives happily with her husband and children in Portland, Oregon.
Why do women hold the key to solving climate change? Guest Sarah Craven, chief of the United Nations Population Fund's Washington office, talks about how climate change is more than an issue of energy efficiency or industrial carbon emissions; it is also an issue of population dynamics, poverty and gender equity.
On this show we'll look at how climate change impacts women and whether population growth is a major cause of climate change. What's the best way to protect humanity from extreme weather and rising seas? Could better access to reproductive health care and improved relations between women and men make a critical difference in addressing this long-term global problem?
Sarah Craven is the chief of the United Nations Population Fund's Washington office. Formerly with the United States Department of State and Centre for Development and Population Activities and a Staff Attorney with the National Women's Law Center, her expertise is in rights-based population policies and international women's reproductive health rights.
You can download the UNFPA Report Population Dynamics and Climate Change at: https://www.unfpa.org/public/site/global/lang/en/pid/4500
A couple months ago, Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein leaped at the opportunity to interview Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog creator and innovative futurist. But Stewart has changed his views on some key things since the heady days of the late 1960s and early 70s, when his ideas and projects inspired a huge counter-cultural movement. His primary concern now is curbing climate change and he believes that to achieve the goal of drastically reducing our carbon emissions we must embrace technologies that he (and most of the environmental movement) once eschewed - like nuclear power. His most recent book is called Whole Earth Discipline, in which he champions geo-engineering, bio-engineering, urban shanty towns and nuclear power, as well as restoring the earth's natural systems, as the only ways to curb our carbon footprint.
On this episode of Locus Focus we hear the interview that Barbara conducted with Stewart Brand on October 27, 2009, followed by a live interview with Arjun Makhijani, President, Institute for Energy & Environmental Research, and an opponent of the "nuclear renaissance."
Arjun Makhijani is President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Takoma Park, Maryland. He earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley in 1972, specializing in nuclear fusion. A recognized authority on energy issues, Dr. Makhijani is the author and co-author of numerous reports and books on energy and environment related issues. He was the principal author of the first study of the energy efficiency potential of the US economy published in 1971. He is the author of Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy (2007).
In 1989 he received The John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism of the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, with Robert Alvarez; was awarded the Josephine Butler Nuclear Free Future Award in 2001 and the Jane Bagley Lehman Award of the Tides Foundation in 2008; and was named a Ploughshares Hero, by the Ploughshares Fund (2006). In 2007, he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He has many published articles in journals such as The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and The Progressive, as well as in newspapers, including the Washington Post.
Stewart Brand is the president of The Long Now Foundation. Brand is well known for founding, editing and publishing the Whole Earth Catalog (1968-85), which received a National Book Award for the 1972 issue. In 1984, he founded The WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link), a computer teleconference system for the San Francisco Bay Area. It now has 11,000 active users worldwide and is considered a bellwether of the genre. He is a co-founder and managing director of Global Business Network, a scenario strategy consulting business and part of the Monitor Group, where he works with leading companies and public institutions on their futures.
Brand is the author of many pioneering books including The Clock Of The Long Now in 1999, How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built in 1994 and The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT in 1987.