In this age of climate change, species extinction and exponentially expanding human population, it's hard not to feel like we're doomed. So it's important that we find voices to listen to that offer some glimmers of hope. On this episode of Locus Focus we are joined again by writer and marine conservationist Carl Safina, who has witnessed as well as anyone, how much damage results from too many humans obsessed with using up every ounce of our planet's natural resources without concern for future generations. Yet Safina remains a voice of hope as he searches for examples of what is working. His writing offers models for how we can re-orient our values, visions and practices of living on the earth like we are part of its natural systems.
The American Dream of owning your own home has been battered by the economic crisis that started in 2008. While it has become much harder harder to achieve this dream, there is a surge of interest in finding resourceful, affordable and environmentally friendly ways of creating housing to meet this challenge. On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Jessica Kellner, editor of Natural Home and Garden Magazine, about some alternative approaches that non-conventional home builders are taking to build homes that reduce landfill waste, rely on recycled or sustainably sourced material, cost relatively little money and help create stronger communities.
In late February the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) issued the first set of permits necessary to facilitate Nestlé’s proposal to take and bottle water in the Columbia River Gorge. This decision came despite overwhelming public opposition to the plan. Now opponents are taking the next steps to prevent Nestle's Cascade Locks bottled water facility from becoming a reality. Why are so many people opposed to this bottled water plant? What impact will diverting water from Oxbow Spring, a pristine stream in the Columbia Gorge, have on fish and wildlife habitat?
This past winter the Forest Service released its long anticipated final planning rule for the nation's 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands. The plan validates what many scientists have been saying for years: mature and old-growth forests play a critical role in reducing climate change and providing clean drinking water to millions of Americans. On this episode of Locus Focus, we talk with Dominick A. DellaSala, Chief Scientist and President of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, about why we need to remain vigilant about protecting our precious forest resources, especially in this current political climate in which amped up logging is being promoted as job creation.
What is America's largest export, most prodigious product and greatest legacy? It's our trash. Each of us in on track to toss 102 tons of garbage in the course of our lifetime. Our disposable plastic alone outweighs the entire U.S;. Navy. But we don't like to think about our trash. We send it on trains, trucks or barges to landfills hundreds of miles from where the garbage was created. We don't have to see it, but in so many ways the disposable, non-biodegradable items that fill our trash are coming back to haunt us, in forms like the Great Pacific Garbage patch of plastic that threatens marine life and ultimately our own.
Why should you care about the Farm Bill if you're not a farmer or live in a farm state? The short answer is: because you eat and the Farm Bill is really about how our food is grown, what kinds of food gets grown and who gets to eat it.
For the past year Oregon news has been filled with stories of timber-dependent counties on the brink of bankruptcy. Beginning in 1937 these 18 western Oregon counties benefited from federal timber receipts, as they overcut old growth forests on western BLM lands—the so-called "O&C" lands granted to the Oregon and California Railroad in 1866 and taken back by the government in 1916 for violating terms of the land grant. The unsustainable clearcutting of old-growth forests, and the receipts they generated, plummeted in the early 1990s when the threat to salmon, wildlife, clean water and watersheds could no longer be ignored. Congress cushioned the fall by instituting direct federal payments to help transition the counties away from dependence on federal subsidies.
Chris Martenson used to be part of the 1%. Five years ago he traded his McMansion and position as Vice President of a Fortune 500 company for a much simpler life in rural western Massachusetts. Now his goal is to shed light on the limits of our present economic model of infinite growth as we increasingly face the realities of a planet with finite resources. His video lecture series "The Crash Course" takes on the future challenges of our economy, energy systems and the environment. According to Martenson, "it's where these fields intersect that the greatest story of any generation will be told."
Several years ago Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein watched a crow delicately extract from a narrow paper bag a Subway sandwich that was lying in the gutter. Once the sandwich was free of its wrapper, the crow remained curbside, happily feasting on its prize. This observation gave Barbara a newfound fascination and respect for crows. As it turns out, the wily intelligence she witnessed that morning is a common attribute of crows and their corvid relatives: ravens, magpies and jays. Crows are not only extremely smart, they also have highly developed social skills, and it turns out, share many qualities with humans, which occasionally inspires interspecies communication between corvids and people.