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.
Genetic diversity is nature's path to survival. But over the course of agricultural history human beings have done an exceptional job at narrowing the genetic diversity of the crops we grow and eat. This limiting of the genetic pool ultimately results in crop failures and famine when disease or pestilence strikes. For the past century several scientists have worked tirelessly to rebuild a repository of seed varieties from around the world that can be used as breeding stock to breed new varieties of crops, such as wheat, that are resistant to whatever the current pestilence may be. On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Susan Dworkin, whose book THE VIKING IN THE WHEAT FIELD, portrays the struggle of scientist Bent Skovmand to preserve the world's harvests, by insisting on keeping precious plant genetic resources free and accessible to farmers and breeders everywhere. The story of Skovmand, who died in 2007, is especially relevant in this age of genetically engineered crops, as Monsanto and other chemical companies jealously guard patents of plant breeding and sue farmers whose crops are accidentally contaminated by their neighbors' GMO crops.
Susan Dworkin has written several biographies, including The Nazi Officer's Wife, and her articles have appeared in numerous magazines.
In the Pacific Northwest, the Snake River and its wilderness tributaries were once some of the world’s greatest salmon rivers. As recently as a half century ago, they retained some of their historic bounty, with millions of fish returning to spawn. Now, due to four federal dams, the salmon population has dropped close to extinction. Efforts at salmon recovery through fish ladders, hatcheries, and even trucking them over the dams have failed.
On this episode of Locus Focus, host Barbara Bernstein talks with Steven Hawley, journalist and self-proclaimed “river rat.” In his new book RECOVERING A LOST RIVER, he recounts the story of the Snake River, its salmon, and its people and raises the fundamental questions of who should exercise control over natural resources and which interests should receive highest priority. Hawley's book also offers surprising counterpoints to the notion of hydropower as a cheap, green, and reliable source of energy, and challenges the wisdom of heavily subsidized water and electricity.
Steven Hawley, an environmental journalist, was among the first to write about the historic agreement to tear out Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River in Maine. Since then, his work has appeared in High Country News, Bear Deluxe, National Fisherman, OnEarth, Arizona Quarterly, the Oregonian, and Missoula Independent. He lives with his family along the Columbia River.
More information on breaching the Snake River Dams:http://www.wildsalmon.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=91&Itemid=63
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 wasteland two hundred miles upstream from Portland, at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
This World War II era complex not only houses a vast legacy of toxic chemical and high-level radioactive wastes. It is also the site of the Pacific Northwest's singular nuclear power reactor. And a couple months ago, the Seattle-based watchdog group Heart of America Northwest exposed a secret plan to use a Plutonium-based fuel (called MOX), similar to the fuel in the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. As we recall the desperate images of workers deploying fire trucks and helicopters to dump seawater on the crippled reactor, we need to remember that cooling the No. 3 reactor was of particular concern because the Plutonium fuel has a greater risk for significant plutonium release and subsequent plutonium contamination of areas around the plant.
On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Gerry Pollet with Heart of Americal Northwest about his group's efforts to expose and prevent MOX from becoming the fuel of choice at Hanford's remaining nuclear reactor. We'll also talk about the latest developments in the long drawn out drama of cleaning up Hanford's toxic legacy. What lessons must the Hanford handlers learn from Fukushima?
Heart of America Northwest lawsuit exposes secret plan of Energy Northwest (formerly WPSS) to use Weapons Plutonium to fuel commercial reactor at Hanford - read Seattle Times front page March 19, 2011 Same experimental Plutonium fuel as causing highest risk of radiation release in Japanese reactor meltdown read complaint
SPEAK OUT to PROTECT THE NORTHWEST FROM HANFORD BEING USED (again) as a NATIONAL RADIOACTIVE WASTE DUMP:
Hearings on USDOE's Plan to send 12,000 truckloads of EXTREMELY radioactive "GTCC" waste to Hanford for burial – will these trucks be coming through your community?: Portland Thursday May 19th 6:30 PM Doubletree Hotel Lloyd CenterClick here for our Fact Sheet
, including how to send in your comments by mail or email
Gerald Pollet, J.D., Executive Director & Attorney is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Heart of America Northwest. Gerry chairs the Hanford Advisory Board’s committee overseeing USDOE’s Hanford budgets, management and contracts. He has testified by invitation to U.S. Senate and U.S. House Committees, is frequently quoted in national and regional media. He also serves as general counsel for Legal Advocates for Washington, which provides legal advice on non-profit, electoral and hazardous waste law. Gerry also has been serving on the board of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, and the Washington Coalition for Open Government. His work on Hanford and prior work on economics of electric utility forecasting has led to frequent requests that he lecture about the lessons of Hanford and the role of nuclear power in fighting global warming. In 2002, Gerry was honored as the “National Grassroots Activist of the Year” by the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability for his leadership in the seven year effort to shutdown and dismantle the FFTF Nuclear Reactor. Gerry was also honored with the Paul Beeson Peace Award by Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility in 2005.
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. What we eat, how we heat and power our homes, how we get around, what we buy and what we throw away, make up more than half of all local carbon emissions. On this episode of Locus Focus we're joined by Portland mayor Sam Adams, and Michael Armstrong—with the city's bureau of Planning and Sustainability—to talk about how the Portland Climate Action Now! campaign will help Portland residents make a real difference, by showing them how to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in four areas: Healthy Home, Getting Around, Your Stuff, and Food Choices.
Sam Adams is the Mayor of Portland, Oregon.
Michael Armstrong used to be the deputy director of the Portland Office of Sustainable Development, before it merged with the Planning Bureau. Now he heads the sustainability division of the Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.
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. Shortly afterwards, the coolant in several of the Fukushima spent fuel rod pools evaporated resulting in fires and radioactive releases.
On this episode of Locus Focus, Arjun Makhijani returns to give us an update on what we know and what we still don't know about the nuclear crisis in Japan, and its implications for the future of nuclear power here and in the rest of world.
Arjun Makhijani is President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Takoma Park, Maryland. He earned his Ph.D. in engineering at the University of California, Berkeley in 1972, specializing in nuclear fusion.A recognized authority on energy issues and nuclear issues in particular, Dr. Makhijani is the author and co-author of numerous reports and books on topics such as nuclear defense systems, radioactive waste storage and disposal, nuclear testing, disposition of fissile materials, energy efficiency, and ozone depletion. He is the principal editor of Nuclear Wastelands: a Global Guide to Nuclear Weapons Production and Its Health and Environmental Effects, published by MIT Press in July 1995, and subsequently nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Since the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis in Japan Dr. Makhijani has been a consistent voice in calling out the nuclear industry as well as government and international nuclear regulators to address the root causes and longterm implications of this crisis. He has written numerous papers on the crisis, that are widely available on the web.
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 to warm, we're beginning to see tropical diseases and the pests that spread disease moving into temperate regions around the globe. On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with science writer Dan Ferber, co-author of a new book, Changing Planet, Changing Health. Dan's book takes us to places like Mozambique, Honduras, and the United States for an on-the-ground investigation of how climate change is altering patterns of disease. We'll talk about the surprising links between global warming and cholera, malaria, lyme disease, asthma, and other health threats. We'll also discuss solutions for shaping a healthy global economic order in the twenty-first century.
Award-winning journalist Dan Ferber specializes in putting a human face on groundbreaking stories on science, technology, health and the environment. As a contributing correspondent for Science and a contributor to national magazines such as Reader’s Digest, Popular Science and Audubon, he’s covered topics from malaria to cancer, from air-pollution to coral reefs, from fire modeling to wetland conservation. His work on Changing Planet, Changing Health helped him tie such threads together and grasp the fundamental interconnections human health, healthy ecosystems, and a livable climate. Ferber holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Duke, a Ph.D. in biology from Johns Hopkins University and a masters in journalism from the University of Illinois.
Changing Planet, Changing Health was co-written by Dr. Paul Epstein, whose life's work investigating the links between climate change and human health is detailed in the book.
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. This episode of Locus Focus features one of the speakers at a panel on sustainable and local food. He was also a plenary speaker at February's Food Justice Conference in Eugene. He's farmer and sustainable food advocate Fred Kirschenmann and on this show he picks up the conversation started a month before, how food and farming is all about creating and strengthening communities on the road to rebuilding networks of family farms and the infrastructure to support them.
Frederick Kirschenmann is the President of his family's 3,500-acre certified organic farm in south central North Dakota. He helped to found Farm Verified Organic, Inc., a private certification agency, and the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society and has served on the USDA's National Organic Standards Board, the North Central Region's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) administrative council and the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture board of directors. He is the Board President of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Dr. Kirschenmann won the National Resource Defense Council’s Growing Green Thought Leader award in 2010.
While we worry about melting nuclear reactor cores and fuel rods in Japan, another environmental crisis is brewing closer to home. On this episode of Locus Focus we find out why the Alberta Tar Sands endanger the world and how its industrialized tentacles are trying to creep across the United States.
For the past couple months a convoy of trucks carrying megaloads three stories high and weighing 650,000 pounds each, have been wending their way through the scenic corridors of the Clearwater and Lochsa Rivers in Idaho, over Lolo Pass, and up the remote and pristine byways of Montana. These trucks are part of proposed 300-load "Heavy Haul" on its way to the Tar Sands pits of NE Alberta. The behemoth machines are manufactured in South Korea, shipped across the Pacific Ocean and then up the Columbia and Snake Rivers where they wait at the Port of Lewiston, Idaho, for permits to continue on narrow, twisty mountain roads to their destination: one of the largest and most polluting industrial operations in the world.
Many people living along this route are not only unhappy with the prospect of transforming the landscape of their pristine mountain homes into a permanent industrial corridor. They have organized and are fighting back. This route is one of the many proposed tentacles connecting the Tar Sands operations in Alberta with a petroleum-thirsty customer base in the lower 48 states. On this episode of Locus Focus we delve more deeply into the longterm consequences of industrializing the wildlands of the Pacific Northwest and Rockie Mountains. We'll be talking with Zack Porter (campaign coordinator for All Against the Haul in Missoula) and Linwood Laughy (with Fighting Goliath), as we look at how the Heavy Haul is just one more in a myriad of reasons why the massive operation to extract petroleum from the Alberta Oil Sands is unsustainable and will cause permanent destruction to ecological and human systems, as it exacerbates the climate crisis.
What you can do:
Read THE HEART OF THE MONSTER, by David James Duncan and Rick Bass, and follow their fight to save salmon, forests, & communities throughout Idaho, Montana, and, ultimately, the world.
Find out what's happening locally at www.fightinggoliath.org
NUCLEAR CRISIS IN JAPAN
On this episode of Locus Focus we initially planned to focus on the USDA’s recent decision to deregulate round-up ready alfalfa. But first we need to reflect upon last Friday’s earthquake and tsunamis that have devastated Japan. As horrific as the earthquake and tsunamis destruction is, the potential catastrophe that would result if the cores of any of Japan’s stricken nuclear reactors melt down stretches the limits of imagination. The official response to the nuclear reactor crisis in Japan is frustrating to say the least, so we'll be talking with nuclear expert Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy & Environmental Research, to help us understand what is really at stake with Japan’s crippled nuclear reactors.
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).
SELF-DEFENSE AGAINST GMO FOOD
When the USDA deregulated the growing of Roundup Ready (GMO) alfalfa last month, Ronnie Cummins with the Organic Consumers Association wrote a dispatch revealing collusion between three big time organic food companies and the forces (i.e. Monsanto) that shaped the USDA's decision. Whole Foods, Stonyfield Farms and Organic Valley argue that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack only allowed for two options: allowing organic and GMO farmers to co-exist by regulating how GMO crops are grown or allowing total deregulation of GMO crops. They say that organic farmers need legal protection from cross-contamination of GE crops as well as compensation if their crops are contaminated. Cummins believes that by supporting "co-existence," Whole Foods, Stonyfield and Organic Valley are selling out the rest of the organic food movement, still bent on stopping the profileration of GMO food. On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Ronnie Cummins about why he believes that Whole Foods' claims that it is still part of the fight to hold back the expansion of GMO crops is greenwashing.
Ronnie Cummins is the national director of Organic Consumers Association and co-author of Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers.
Ronnie Cummins is the national director of Organic Consumers Association and co-author of Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers.
Read Whole Food's response to Organic Consumers Association claims:
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.