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.
For the past several years Portland's Environmental Services has been involved in the largest and most expensive public works project in the city's history: the Big Pipe. Since 2006 Rosie, the enormous tunnel boring machine, has been drilling a tunnel deep underground along the east bank of the Willamette River. When this project is finished in 2011, the volume of combined sewage and stormwater that now overflows to the river when it rains will be reduced by more than 94%.
In November Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein was invited along with the rest of the Portland area press to take a trip down the tunnel and see where all that stormwater will start flowing once the project is completed. On this episode of Locus Focus she talks with Dean Marriott, director of Portland Environmental Services and Paul Gribbon, the Willamette River CSO Tunnel Program Chief Engineer, about why this big pipe was necessary to construct. We'll also learn why Portland needs to change the way it deals with stormwater so that the big pipe doesn't become prematurely obsolete.
The rallying cry: "Save the rainforests" means to most people tropical rainforests in the Amazon or Borneo. But there is another class of rainforests that is just as unique and important to protect: temperate and boreal rainforests. These rainforests, like their tropical counterparts, are rich in plants and wildlife, while they also contain some of the most massive trees on Earth. And some of these forests are virtually in our own backyards.
On this episode of Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein talks with Dominick DellaSala, president and chief scientist at the Geos Institute in Ashland. He is the editor and principal writer of Temperate and Boreal Rainforests of the World a book recently published by Island Press, that brings together more than 30 forest scientists from around the world to describe the ecology, conservation and threats to these lesser known rainforests. We'll learn about the significance of rainforests in the interior of British Columbia, Japan, New Zealand, Norway and South America, as well as closer to home along the Pacific Coast of North America.
Dominick A. DellaSala is Chief Scientist and President of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, and President of the North American section of the Society for Conservation Biology. He is a frequent guest on Locus Focus and was featured in Barbara's 2007 documentary Sculpted By Fire.
It's conventional wisdom that the new more heavily GOP configuration in Congress spells bad news for climate policy. There's some truth in that, but this week on Locus Focus we look at a more positive side to the story. In what has appeared to be an overall hostile political climate this fall, progressive approaches to climate policy still held their own in most elections across the Pacific Northwest and California. Our guest this week is Eric de Place with the Sightline Institute in Seattle and he'll share with us some reasons to be hopeful, while remaining watchful at the same time.
We'll talk about the defeat of Proposition 23 in California, which would have suspended the state's climate laws, the re-election of California Senator Barbara Boxer and the elections (or re-elections) of California Governor Jerry Brown and Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. But we'll also look at the difficult course ahead for seriously dealing with climate change, made even more challenging by weakened Democratic control of the region's state legislatures.
Eric de Place, senior researcher, contributes research and writing 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 , 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 ., especially on sprawl, economic security, wildlife, and other topics. He also writes for the
In January a new congress takes over, with a reduced Democratic majority in the Senate and a lopsided Republican majority in the House. For the first time there will be an official House Caucus of Climate Change Deniers. In this new political environment, what prospects remain for continuing to maintain — let alone enhance — protection for the natural environment? And how can the United States provide any credible leadership in international negotiations to cutback greenhouse gas emissions when so many members of congress don't even believe that climate change is a real problem?
On this episode of Locus Focus, we talk with New York Times science writer Andrew Revkin about the challenges facing the environment and its advocates during the next session of Congress. But we'll also look at how this November's election has motivated scientists, including hundreds of members of the American Geophysical Union to speak out and challenge disinformation and misinformation deployed in the policy wars over global warming.
About Andrew Revkin
He's an author and reporter focused on the global environment and the human condition, as well as a songwriter, guitarist, family guy and senior fellow for environmental understanding at Pace University.
About Dot Earth
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. In Dot Earth, which recently moved from the news side of The Times to the Opinion section, Andrew C. Revkin examines efforts to balance human affairs with the planet’s limits. Conceived in part with support from a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Dot Earth tracks relevant developments from suburbia to Siberia. The blog is an interactive exploration of trends and ideas with readers and experts.
Richard Alpert was an eminent Harvard psychologist on the fast track to success when he fell in with fellow Harvard professor Timothy Leary who turned him on to LSD. Harvard University did not appreciate their ardent research on the psychological and spiritual potentials unleashed by LSD and other psychedelic drugs, and in 1963 Alpert and Leary were tossed out of academia. Leary continued to bask in his iconic status in the psychedelic counter-culture, but for Alpert, mind expansion via chemical substances became a catalyst for spiritual seeking. In 1967 he traveled to India, where he met his guru Neem Karoli Baba (affectionately known as Maharaj-ji), who gave him the name Ram Dass, which means "servant of God." Upon his return from India, Ram Dass became a pivotal cultural influence, forging a Western articulation of Eastern thought and spiritual practice that has resonated with millions of people in the West over the past forty years.
This week on Locus Focus we depart from our recent fare of environmental nightmares, to journey towards the spiritual core of what can inspire us to connect with and protect the earth, as well as our deepest selves. On the fortieth anniversary of the publication of Be Here Now, Ram Dass's monumental work about his own spiritual journey, we talk with Ram Dass's student and long-time friend Rameshwar Das, about the journey from Be Here Now to their current collaboration Be Love Now.
Upcoming events in Oregon with Rameshwar Das and Ram Dass:
Living Earth is hosting a
Bhakti Benefit Retreat & Celebration with Ram Dass and Friends
, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Ram Dass's classic book,
Be Here Now
. Thurs - Sun., December 2 - 5, at Breitenbush Hot Springs
Ram Dass will beam in for live tele-satsangs, joining Rameshwar Das, Shantala, Betsy Toll, and others who will be at Breitenbush. Ramesh is co-author of Ram Dass's new book, Be Love Now, and will present a short film that's part of the new e-book version of Be Here Now. He and others will share guru stories and Be Here Now reflections, plus daily kirtan, dharma talks, a raga performance, yoga, and meditation. All retreat proceeds will benefit Love Serve Remember Foundation, to support Ram Dass's work today.
Space is limited. Full info and registration are at
. Or call Living Earth at 503.771.1940.
December 6, 7:00 pm
Rameshar Das (live) and Ram Dass (live via satellite) will discuss BE LOVE NOW at New Renaissance Bookshop, 1338 NW 23rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97210
Most Americans - and a growing number of people around the world - now eat meat that was grown on factory farms. The brutal, inhumane conditions in which factory farm animals are raised calls into question not just the ethics of eating meat but the very foundations of the democracy we like to believe we live in. CAFOs - Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations - crowd tens of thousands of animals together in their own filth, pumping them full of antibiotics and feed that their bodies are not designed to digest. Meanwhile small family farms, still practicing the traditions of sustainable animal husbandry, are being squeezed out of existence by a handful multi-national producers, leading us into this not-so-brave new world where farms are factories, animals are production units and multi-generational farmers are replaced by unskilled migrant laborers.
On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Daniel Imhoff, editor of The CAFO Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories, which provides a compelling vision of "putting the CAFO out to pasture," and creating a new world where food systems become healthy, humane and sustainable again.
Daniel Imhoff is the editor of The CAFO Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories and the photo-format companion volume, CAFO (Concentrated Animimal Feeding Operations): The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories. He is a writer and independent publisher whose many books include Food Fight, Farming with the Wild, Paper or Plastic, Building with Vision, and Farming and the Fate of Wild Nature. He lives in Northern California.
To learn more about supporting sustainable family farms in Oregon: http://www.friendsoffamilyfarmers.org/
Last spring's BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico alerted us to the unforeseen hazards of deep water oil drilling. Since most of the remaining conventional sources of oil are located in politically unstable regions of the world, many political leaders are looking toward the reserves of oil locked in the abundant bitumen under the boreal forests of northern Alberta as our best source of oil. The Alberta government and the Canadian oil industry claim that these tar sands mining operations are being managed in an environmentally responsible manner. But a team of scientists from the University of Alberta at Edmonton and other colleges in Canada released a report that contradicts the government and industry claims. David Schindler, Peter Hodson and others analyzed 13 elements in river water and snow pack along the Athabasca River and its delta in a study that links tarsands development to deteriorating water quality in northeastern Alberta.
On this segment of Locus Focus we talk with scientist Peter Hodson about the findings of this study and how it calls into question claims that tar sands extraction is not harming the fragile environment of northern Alberta.
Dr. Peter Hodson is a professor at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario and director of its School of Environmental Studies. He is a past president of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), and twice served on its Board of Directors, as well as the Board of the SETAC World Council, Chair of the World Council Science Committee, and an editor of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Hodson has authored more than 180 technical publications related to fish toxicology and environmental contamination. He is currently studying the mechanisms of hydrocarbon toxicity to early life stages of fish, the environmental impacts of crude oil, among other topics.
The environment is on the ballot in hundreds of electoral contests in all 50 states, in the guise of anti-environmental, anti-science and anti-climate candidates and ballot measures. More than 750 congressional and state legislative candidates have signed on to support the anti-climate agenda of Americans for Prosperity—a corporate front group funded by the oil billionaire Koch brothers. In California the Koch brothers have spearheaded Proposition 23, a ballot measure to suspend the Global Warming Act of 2006. This law requires that greenhouse gas emissions in the state be cut to 1990 levels by 2020. If this measure passes California would forfeit the vanguard position it has forged for establishing regulations that vigorously confront climate change and slip back into the clutches of the oil and coal industry.
This week on Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein talks with Steve Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International, about the money trail that has brought Proposition 23 before California voters and threatens to undermine the state's landmark climate change legislation. We'll learn what we can do to work for the separation of Oil and State.
Steve Kretzman founded Oil Change International in 2006 to educate about the true impacts of fossil fuels and to conduct research, education and organizing to hasten our transition to clean energy.
Now that most of the easy oil on our planet is gone, oil companies are turning to exotic places to extract oil: deep under the ocean as well as from shale and sand formations. In the far north of Alberta, Canada, millions of acres of pristine boreal forest are being stripped-mined for a substance called bitumen, that holds oil in solid form. Since 2001 this operation has accelerated at a rate that industry and government can't even keep up with, and it has turned a once pristine wilderness into hell on earth.
On this episode of Locus Focus, Sam Mace—Inland Northwest Project Director for Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition—and host Barbara Bernstein discuss why we in the lower forty-eight should care about tar sands extraction in Canada. These operations that are having such a dire impact on the enviroment in northern Alberta, also affect the Columbia-Snake River Basin. Huge mining equipment from Korea - two-thirds the length of a football field, three stories high and weighing at least 344,000 lbs. - has already made its way up the Columbia and Snake Rivers and now sits in the port of Lewiston, ID, waiting for permits to continue its trip along narrow mountain roads through Idaho and Montana on its way to the Alberta tar sands pits.
"The tar sands constitute one of our planet's greatest threats. They are a double-barreled threat. First, producing oil from tar sands emits two or three times the global warming pollution of conventional oil. But [it] also diminishes one of the best carbon reduction tools on the planet: Canada's Boreal Forest."
—James Hansen, NASA climate scientist
Originally from Coos Bay, Oregon, Sam Mace has worked on behalf of forests, fish and rivers for 15 years. She first moved to Eastern Washington in 1994 and joined efforts to restore the Snake River in 1998 as the Salmon and Steelhead Project Coordinator for Washington and Idaho Wildlife Federations based in Spokane. In 2000 Sam moved back to Oregon where she worked for Trout Unlimited. Homesick for snow, desert, the Palouse and the Snake River, Sam returned to Eastern Washington in 2004 as Save Our Wild Salmon's Inland Northwest Project Director. Sam spends her free time hiking, fishing and floating western rivers and looks forward to doing a trip on a free-flowing lower Snake River some day in the future.
Photos below show the landscape through which these behemoths would traverse on their way to Alberta: the Columbia River Gorge and the wild and scenic river corridors of the Clearwater and Lochsa Rivers in Idaho.
For more information and photos of the Alberta Tar Sands Mines check out these links:
Missoula Floods were one of the greatest sets of geological events in North America. Occurring as many as 40 times during the last ice age, the floods were caused by waters released from ancient Lake Missoula that scoured the Columbia River basin, carved out the Columbia River Gorge, and swept across at least 16,000 square miles of the Pacific Northwest. On this episode of Locus Focus, Portland State University geology professor Scott Burns returns to discuss the effect of the floods on the landscape of the Willamette Valley. He'll also share the incredible story of how geologist J. Harlen Bretz discovered evidence of the floods nearly 100 years ago. Bretz's claim that these prehistoric floods caused cataclysmic geological changes challenged mainstream geologic thought at the time, and it wasn't until the 1950s that his ideas became accepted as scientific fact.
Scott Burns, PhD. is a professor of geology at Portland State University with research interests that include engineering geology, environmental geology, soils, landslides, geomorphology, and quaternary geology. When not teaching, he serves on numerous geological committees and has written numerous articles, chapter contributions, and books, including Cataclysms on the Columbia, co-authored with John Eliot Allen and Marjorie Burns.