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.

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Climate Change and the Western Wildfires
 

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Episode Archive

Locus Focus on 06/06/11

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 06/06/2011 - 10:15am - 11:00am
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Will China's new 5 year plan deliver a carbon free future?

WILL CHINA BECOME THE WORLD'S LEADER IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT?

After many years of being considered the carbon-emitting elephant in the room, now China is being touted as the new leader in green and carbon-reducing technologies. A new report produced by the Climate Group describes China's plans, spelled out in its 12th Five Year Plan covering 2011 - 2015 to curb its carbon emissions and set significant targets for low-carbon energy, energy efficiency and clean technology over the next five years.

Locus Focus on 05/23/11

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Mon, 05/23/2011 - 10:15am - 11:00am
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How population explosion challenges the survival of the planet

IN THE YEAR OF SEVEN BILLION: An Interview with Andrew Revkin

Andrew Revkin's Dot Earthblog covers climate change, the environment and sustainability, and introduces itself in this way: "By 2050 or so, the human population is expected to reach nine billion, essentially adding two Chinas to the number of people alive today. Those billions will be seeking food, water and other resources on a planet where, scientists say, humans are already shaping climate and the web of life." This year the earth's population is expected to exceed 7 billion people.

Locus Focus on 05/16/11

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Mon, 05/16/2011 - 10:15am - 11:00am
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The series of calamitous misjudgments that caused the Deepwater Horizon blowout last year.

A SEA IN FLAMES: An Interview with author Carl Safina

Soon after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20. 2010, environmental writer and advocate Carl Safina traveled to the Gulf to find out firsthand what was going on. The result of this months' long Oddesey is a new book, A Sea in Flames, in which he takes us across the Gulf of Mexico to make sense of an ever-changing story and its often-nonsensical twists. On this episode of Locus Focus, Carl joins host Barbara Bernstein to deconstruct the series of calamitous misjudgments that caused the Deepwater Horizon blowout during the summer of 2010.

Locus Focus on 05/09/11

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Mon, 05/09/2011 - 10:15am - 11:00am
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Bent Skovmand's struggle to keep precious plant genetic resources free and accessible to everyone

 THE VIKING IN THE WHEAT FIELD: An Interview with Author Susan Dworkin

Locus Focus on 05/02/11

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Mon, 05/02/2011 - 10:15am - 11:00am
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Why the Lower Snake River Dams are salmon killers

RECOVERING A LOST RIVER: An Interview with Author Steven Hawley

Locus Focus on 04/25/11

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Mon, 04/25/2011 - 10:15am - 11:00am
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What lessons must the Hanford handlers learn from Fukushima?

HANFORD'S NUCLEAR LEGACY & LESSONS UNLEARNED FROM FUKUSHIMA

The nuclear crisis that was triggered by the massive earthquake in Japan on March 11 has raised many questions about the vulnerability and safety of nuclear power installations throughout the world. But we've heard little discussion about the on-going saga of the radioactive wonderland two hundred miles upstream from Portland, at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Locus Focus on 04/18/11

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Mon, 04/18/2011 - 10:10am - 11:00am
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Individual action that slows climate change

Portland Climate Action Now!

In October 2009 the Portland city council adopted a climate action plan, setting in place the city’s ambitious sustainability roadmap to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. A year and a half later the city is putting the action plan to work with its Portland Climate Action Now! campaign. As daunting a challenge as climate change presents, the city is helping its residents understand how individual choices we make everyday can have a huge impact on our collective carbon emissions.

Locus Focus on 04/11/11

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Mon, 04/11/2011 - 10:15am - 11:00am
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The nuclear crisis in Japan and its implications at home.

Update on Nuclear Disaster in Japan with Nuclear Expert Arjun Makhijani

Day-to-day coverage of the ongoing nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power complex has slipped from the headlines. But the severity of the nuclear crisis in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan continues to unfold. Right after the earthquake, nuclear expert Arjun Makhijani was on Locus Focus discussing the short term and long range impacts from the damage to the Japanese nuclear facilities. He focused in particular on the danger of spent fuel rod pools overheating, something no one was talking about at the time.

Locus Focus on 04/04/11

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Mon, 04/04/2011 - 10:15am - 11:00am
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How climate change is altering the patterns of disease in plants, animals and humans

Changing Planet, Changing Health: A Conversation With Author Dan Ferber

Climate change not only threatens the earth's ecosystems—it is damaging the health of people around the world. While early warning signals of ecological havoc brought on by climate change are being detected in arctic regions, its serious health impacts are most notable in the tropics. But as the planet continues warm, we're beginning to see tropical diseases and the pests that spread disease moving into temperate regions around the globe.

Locus Focus on 03/28/11

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Mon, 03/28/2011 - 10:15am - 11:00am
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The changing relationship between people and food.

Fred Kirschenmann: Building Community Through Sustainable Farming

Oregon is touted as one of the epicenters for the local food movement. As if to reinforce its credentials, there have been food related conferences up and down the Willamette Valley since the year began. Coming up on April 16 is one more conference, this time at the University of Portland in North Portland and it's called Food for Thought. The big name at the conference is food writer Michael Pollan who will be speaking in the evening. But throughout the day there will be several panels, featuring an assortment of interesting folks.

Audio

Nuclear Power - Carbon-free Energy for the Future or Still Just a Bad Idea?

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Mon, 12/07/2009

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.

Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent

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Mon, 11/30/2009

In these end days of peak oil, the Canadian province of Alberta is on a mission to replace Saudi Arabia as the world's major source of petroleum. The once pristine boreal forests of Northern Alberta are being transformed into gigantic pit mines as energy companies rush to extract some of the last of the earth's petroleum reserves. The quest to extract and refine these thick, dirty tar sands that lie beneath what was once a wilderness of wetlands and salmon-rich rivers, threatens the ecology and economy of North America.

On this episode of Locus Focus, host Barbara Bernstein talks with author Andrew Nikiforuk, a journalist based in Calgary, Alberta, whose award-winning book TAR SANDS: DIRTY OIL AND THE FUTURE OF A CONTINENT, exposes this disaster in the making.

Andrew Nikiforuk is an award-winning author and investigative journalist. Over the past two decades, he has written about energy, economics and the West for a variety of Canadian publications including Maclean’s, Canadian Business, the Globe and Mail, and Reader’s Digest. He has won seven National Magazine Awards since 1989 and top honours for investigative writing from the Association of Canadian Journalists. He won the Governor-General’s award for his 2002 non-fiction book, Saboteurs. In 2006, his book, Pandemonium examined the impact of global trade on disease exchanges and received widespread national acclaim. His latest book, the Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, examines the continental impact of the world’s largest energy project and is the winner of the 2009 SEJ Rachel Carson Environment Book Award.
 
Andrew Nikiforuk lives in Calgary with his wife and three sons.

Cap & Trade 101

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Locus Focus
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Mon, 11/23/2009

Cap-and-trade systems are being touted across the country as the most likely way to reduce carbon emissions and they have been in practice in Europe for several years. But cap-and-trade is controversial in the eyes of some envrironmentalists—who see carbon trading as a form of 21st century indulgences—as well as industrial polluters who believe cap-and-trade creates unwanted government regulation. Eric de Place with the Sightline Institute believes that if we create the right kind of cap-and-trade system, we can not only get off the fossil-fuels roller coaster, but speed the transition to a clean energy economy that puts the interest of people before interests of polluters. Eric joins Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein for a conversation about what cap-and-trade is really all about, as they dispel myths from the right and the left.

Eric de Place, senior researcher, contributes research and writing for the Cascadia Scorecard, especially on sprawl, economic security, wildlife, and other topics. He also writes for the Daily Score blog and contributes to a number of other Sightline projects, including climate policy in the western states. In 2006, Eric’s work helped defeat ballot initiatives in several Western states that would have severely eroded community and environmental protections. Before coming to Sightline, he worked with the Northwest Area Foundation, helping communities develop strategies to alleviate poverty. He has a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. After the world gets fixed, Eric plans to spend much more time reading good books beside remote mountain lakes. Read Eric's latest blog posts here.

Learn about how you can benefit from carbon trading in your own home, if you choose to do some weatherization. The Energy Trust of Oregon provides homeowner rebates for weatherization projects like replacing drafty old single pane windows with sustainable double-pane insulated ones. http://energytrust.org/

WHAT IS PLAN B 4.0

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Mon, 11/16/2009

Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, has come out with a new book PLAN B 4.0: MOBILIZING TO SAVE CIVILIZATION. This plan for how we can (and must) cut global emissions by 80% by the year 2020, suggests existing technologies and know-how that will accomplish what political and industrial leaders around the world seem to find so daunting.

In this 4th edition of Plan B, author Lester Brown argues that food may be the issue that convinces the world of the need to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020. Every major environmental trend from climate change to deforestation and water scarcity affects food supplies. In this completely revised edition, Brown focuses on details of the plan and how it is already emerging in the energy economy.

On this segment of Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein talks with Lester Brown's colleague at the Earth Policy Institute, Janet Larsen, about how every major environmental trend from climate change to deforestation and water scarcity affects food supplies. We'll discuss the details of Plan B and how it is already emerging in the energy economy.

More on Plan B

Plan B is a worldwide mobilization to stabilize population and stabilize climate. Plan B replaces the fossil-fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy with a new economic model powered by abundant sources of renewable energy: primarily wind, solar, and geothermal. Its transportation systems are diverse and aim to maximize mobility, widely employing light rail, buses, and bicycles.

A Plan B economy comprehensively reuses and recycles materials. Consumer products from cars to computers are designed to be disassembled into their component parts and completely recycled.

Plan B lays out a budget for eradicating poverty, educating the world’s youth, and delivering better health for all. It also presents ways to restore our natural world by planting trees, conserving topsoil, stabilizing water tables, and protecting biological diversity. With each new wind farm, rooftop solar water heater, paper recycling facility, bicycle path, marine park, rural school, public health facility, and reforestation program, we move closer to a Plan B economy.

Matt Roney is a staff researcher at the Earth Policy Institute, and was closely involved in the research that produced Plan B 4.0.

Farming Beyond the Barcode

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Mon, 11/09/2009

Portland area farmer Clare Carver (Big Table Farm in Gaston) returns to Locus Focus for a chat with Joel Salatin, farmer, food choice advocate and dream-doer, who runs Polyface Farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. We'll discuss the sustainable agricultural methods they practice, based on polyculture and the interweaving roles of farm animals and crops.

Polyface Farm is a family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, whosewner Joel Salatin was featured in Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma. Polyface Farm (farm of many faces) practices both traditional sustainable agricultural methods as well pioneering new practices that mimic nature and heal the earth. Watch Joel in action on Polyface Farm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIbXU5iR2P4

Clare Carver and her partner Brian Marcy farm in Gaston, Oregon, at Big Table Farm, named after their desire to provide a gracious and welcoming table for themselves and friends, with a cornucopia of hand-crafted food and wine. They are establishing a working farm, where they raise pasture poultry, pigs, cows and egg-laying chickens, along with a large garden. Inspired by Polyface Farm, they manage an intensive grazing system of farming, that builds soils and sequesters carbon.

CHASING MOLECULES

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Mon, 11/02/2009

How can green chemistry revolutionize the materials we make, how they're used, and the benefits to our health and the environment.

 

Scientists now say there is substantial evidence that environmental conditions and environmental pollutants—among them synthetic chemicals used in consumer products—have a profound effect on human health. On this program Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein talks with Portland environmental journalist (and neighbor) Liz Grossman, author of a new book, Chasing Molecules, about the potential for green chemistry to revolutionize the materials we make, how they're used, and the benefits to our health and the environment.

Portland's Urban Growth Boundary: Thirty Years Later

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Mon, 10/26/2009

In the late 1970s, an imaginary line was drawn around the Portland area. Inside the line, urban development could flourish. Outside that line the farms and forestland that characterize western Oregon would remain intact. This line, called the urban growth boundary, has saved much of the natural landscape that surrounds the city. But in the thirty years since the UGB was first drawn, it has expanded more than once. Now a lot of people in the region are saying it doesn't need to grow anymore.

On this Locus Focus episode we take a closer look at Portland's Urban Growth Boundary. Urban naturalist Mike Houck, with the Urban Greenspaces Institute; Amy Ruiz, sustainability advisor to Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Metro Councilor Robert Liberty, and urban planning guru Myron Orfield join host Barbara Bernstein to discuss how we can concentrate future development within the current UGB, while at the same time assuring that urban natural spaces and habitat are protected as well.

Friends of Family Farmers

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Mon, 10/19/2009
Eating locally has become a national movement. But how can we eat locally produced food if our nearby family farms are plowed under for subdivisions?

Eating locally has become a national movement. But how can we eat locally produced food if our nearby family farms are plowed under for subdivisions? Host Barbara Bernstein speaks with Kendra Kimbiraskas, co-president of Friends of Family Farmers, about how her organization is working to protect family farms and sustainable agriculture in Oregon, so you can continue to enjoy locally-grown food.

 

 

Friends of Family Farmers is a grassroots organization promoting sensible policies, programs, and regulations that protect and expand the ability of Oregon’s family farmers to run a successful land-based enterprise while providing safe and nutritious food for all Oregonians. Through education, advocacy, and community organizing, Friends of Family Farmers supports socially and environmentally responsible family-scale agriculture and citizens working to shape healthy rural communities. Friends of Family Farmers is building a strong and united voice for Oregon’s independent family farmers, food advocates, and concerned citizens who are working to foster an approach to agriculture that respects the land, treats animals humanely, sustains local communities, and provides a viable livelihood for family farmers.

Living Beyond the Barcode: Backyard Food Production & Preservation

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Mon, 10/05/2009
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Mon, 10/05/2009 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Living beyond the barcode: backyard food production and preservation

Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein continues our journey into the politics of food. This week we explore the original concept of economics, which in Ancient Greece meant "rules of the household." Harriet Fasenfest, writer, cook, gardener, food preserver and backyard economist talks about the art, economics and politics of householding and food preservation.

 

 

 

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.

Real Climate Action

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Mon, 09/28/2009

 

 

 

 

The pressure is on for the United States to emerge from the dark ages of the Bush years and finally pass meaningful legislation to address the coming climate change crisis. So what is happening with the federal Climate Bill and will it have the teeth it needs. Host Barbara Bernstein talks with listeners about what should be in the climate bill and what it will take to get it passed.

 

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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