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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Eric de Place with Sightline institute provides updates on the latest developments with oil trains
 

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Episode Archive

Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 02/10/2014 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
Winners and losers of climate change: how people and industries are cashing in on a warming world.
Download:

If we continue to allow climate change to continue unchecked we are actually making the choice to adapt to a warming world that most of us do not want to fathom. Except for a particular class of entrepreneurs who see the catastrophes of climate change as an exciting market opportunity.

The Smell of Disaster: West Virginia's Latest Toxic Spill

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 02/03/2014 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
The Chemical Spill that left 300,000 West Virginians without drinking water last month

In early January, 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol, a chemical used to process coal, spilled into the Elk River near Charleston, West Virginia. It turned out that little was known about the health hazards of the substance that contaminated the water supply for at least 300,000 people. In the wake of this disaster we still do not know the full story about what the longterm impacts will be on the health of the people affected by the spill.  

Tale of Two Pipelines

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 01/27/2014 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
The controversy over proposed pipelines carrying bitumen from the Alberta tar sands across BC.
Every day the tar sands operations in Northeastern Alberta produce 2 million barrels of oil, and within a few years they are projected to double their production.

THE FUTURE IS NOT ALL DOOMED - A Conversation with Carl Safina

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 01/20/2014 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
Seeking hope on a planet in peril, with Carl Safina
ORIGINALLY BROADCAST ON APRIL 2, 2012

Trees In Paradise, Part Two

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 01/13/2014 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
Connections between the transplanted people and trees that shape California landscapes and cultures
A few species of trees have come to define what was once the nearly treeless landscape of California. Only two of these iconic species are native to California - Coastal Redwoods and Giant Sequoias. The other three - Eucalyptus, Orange and Palms - have, like most of California's residents, come from somewhere else. On this episode of Locus Focus we talk again with Jared Farmer, whose book Trees In Paradise explores the connections between the transplanted people and trees that have shaped the landscapes and cultures of California. Jared's appearance on Locus Focus was truncated by the demands of the pledge drive.

THE PIPELINE THAT NO ONE IS NOTICING

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 01/06/2014 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
How fracking for natural gas in the United States and Alberta tar sands development is connected

While the fate of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is caught in a fury of politics and headlines, last month the U.S. quietly approved another major border-crossing pipeline proposal. Kinder Morgan's Cochin Pipeline has been operating since 1979 between Ft. Saskatchewan, Alberta and Windsor, Ontario, carrying various forms of natural gas.

SNAKE OIL: How Fracking's False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future with Richard Heinberg

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 12/30/2013 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
A conversation with Richard Heinberg about the perils of fracking
REBROADCAST OF PROGRAM ORIGINALLY AIRED ON SEPTEMBER 30, 2013

The rapid spread of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has temporarily boosted US natural gas and oil production and driven down energy costs. But it's also sparked a massive environmental backlash in communities across the country where the impacts of fracking are being felt.

TAR SANDS OIL COMING TO THE NORTHWEST

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 12/23/2013 - 10:00am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
The impacts of proposed pipelines to ship tar sands oil the Pacific Coast

Every day the the tar sands operations in Northeastern Alberta produce 2 million barrels of oil, and within a few years they are projected to double their production.But for tar sands oil production to remain profitable all this heavy crude oil must make its way to markets that are far removed from these remote landlocked mining operations. The only means to move the oil is by pipelines—most which have not yet been builtand oil trains.

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk about two proposed pipeline projects which would carry tar sands-derived heavy crude oil to the Pacific coast.

MEGALOADS MOVING THROUGH OREGON

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 12/16/2013 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
The latest developments on the megaloads moving through the Northwest to the Alberta Tar Sands

For the past few years big oil companies have been developing strategies that would turn pristine river corridors in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies into an industrialized "high and wide corridor" for hauling enormous pieces of equipment to Tar Sands operations in northern Alberta. Their first two efforts were blocked by legal as well as direct action. Last August Nez Perce tribal leaders were arrested for trying to blockade the megaload on Highway 12 in northern Idaho as it entered the Nez Perce Reservation. A court injunction is currently preventing any more megaloads from using this route.

Nature Murals in City of Natural Wonders

Program: 
Locus Focus
Air date: 
Mon, 12/09/2013 - 10:15am - 11:00am
Short Description: 
How nature murals connect Portlanders with the wealth of nature areas around them
Portland is noted for its abundant urban natural areas and the wildlife that abounds in many spots not far from downtown. But the city is also becoming a center for nature murals that help residents become more aware of the wealth of nature areas around them.

Audio

A CATASTROPHIC CONVERGENCE: The Oil Spill in the Yellowstone River & the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline

Categories:
program: 
Locus Focus
program date: 
Mon, 07/18/2011

On July 1 an ExxonMobil oil pipeline running under the Yellowstone River near Billings, MT ruptured, dumping massive amounts of oil into the river. Critics of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline—that would carry oil from the Tar Sands pits of Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast—point to this accident as one more reason why the Keystone XL Pipeline should be stopped. On this episode of Locus Focus we talk about the catastrophic convergence (to borrow a phrase from last week's guest Christian Parenti) bearing down on the Rocky Mountain states as the oil industry gears up its agenda to industrialize the pristine mountains and rivers of the region, with guests Zack Porter—campaign director for All Against the Haul in Missoula and Dena Hoff—a farmer who lives near the proposed XL Pipeline route in Montana.

Zack Porter is the campaign coordinator for All Against the Haul, a homegrown, four-state effort working to stop the construction of a permanent industrial corridor for massively oversized loads to the Alberta Tar Sands through Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

Dena Hoff and her husband Alvin have farmed for 31 years on the Yellowstone River six miles west of Glendive, Mt. She is the past chair of the Northern Plains Resource Council, current Vice-President of the National Family Farm Coalition, and co-coordinator of the North American Region of La Via Campesina.

TROPIC OF CHAOS: An Interview with Christian Parenti

Categories:
program: 
Locus Focus
program date: 
Mon, 07/11/2011

What does climate change have to do with armed conflicts erupting throughout the developing world? In his new book TROPIC OF CHAOS: CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE NEW GEOGRAPHY VIOLENCE, Christian Parenti argues that a new era of climate war is upon us.

Extreme weather brought on by global warming is unleashing cascades of unrest and violence from Africa to Asia to the Americas—across a belt of economically and politically battered postcolonial states straddling the planet’s mid-latitudes, the “tropic of chaos.”  On this episode of Locus Focus, Christian Parenti talks with host Barbara Bernstein about the catastrophic convergence of colliding political, economic and environmental disasters unfolding in the wake of the accelerating climate crisis.

Christian Parenti is a contributing editor at The Nation, a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute, and a visiting scholar at the City University of New York. He has a Ph.D. in sociology from the London School of Economics. The author of Lockdown America, The Soft Cage, and The Freedom. Parenti has written for Fortune, The New York Times, Los AngelesTimes, Washington Post, Playboy, Mother Jones, and The London Review of Books. He has held fellowships from the Open Society Institute, Rockefeller Brother Fund and the Ford Foundation; and has won numerous awards, including the 2009 Lange-Tailor Prize and “Best Magazine Writing 2008” from the Society for Professional Journalists. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Christian Parenti will be appearing at Powell's City of Books at 1005 NW Burnside, this evening, July 11 at 7:30 pm.

THE FATE OF COLUMBIA RIVER SALMON Continuing Our Conversation with Environmental Writer Steven Hawley

Categories:
program: 
Locus Focus
program date: 
Mon, 07/04/2011

Any day now U.S. District Judge James Redden will come down with a decision that will determine the fate of salmon on the Columbia River. He is considering the merits of a plan submitted last year by the Obama administration to address the significant harm done to salmon by the gauntlet of federal dams along the river system, that juvenile salmon must navigate on their way out to the ocean and surmount again three to five years later when they return as adults to spawn. This plan is almost indistinguishable from previous plans that were rejected by the courts. The plan currently under scrutiny also rolls back important protections now in place and will cost almost $1 billion per year over the next 10 years.

On this episode of Locus Focus, environmental writer Steven Hawley returns to examine the possible scenarios for the future of Columbia River salmon, and what options are being considered while all parties await Judge Redden's impending decision.

Steven Hawley is the author of Recovering a Lost River, which describes the difficult passage salmon have navigating the federal agencies charged with their protection, a journey as challenging as surviving the dams along the Columbia River.

COSMIC INFLUENCES ON AGRICULTURAL PROCESSES: A Conversation with Organic Farming Pioneer Harry MacCormack

Categories:
program: 
Locus Focus
program date: 
Mon, 06/27/2011

Harry MacCormack is legendary in the annals of the Oregon organic farming movement. A co-founder of Oregon Tilth, he has gone on to help organize numerous other sustainable food projects including the Ten Rivers Food Web and the Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project. On this episode of Locus Focus, Harry joins host Barbara Bernstein to talk about his new book, COSMIC INFLUENCES ON AGRICULTURAL PROCESSES, which concerns itself with the impact of celestial forces on agriculture in the Willamette Valley. We'll also discuss how climate change and other potential cataclysms need to be factored into future agricultural scenarios for the region.

Harry MacCormack has been living and farming on Sunbow Farm outside of Corvallis, Oregon since 1972.

For more information on where to find locally grown seed and grain in the Willamette Valley:

http://willametteseedandgrain.com/

PORTLAND'S FOOD ZONING CODE UPDATE PROJECT

Categories:
program: 
Locus Focus
program date: 
Mon, 06/20/2011

Portland is becoming a mecca for urban farmers but the city's zoning codes have yet to fully catch up with the growing phenomenon of guerrilla vegetable gardens and urban livestock. Recognizing the connections between food and the community’s environmental, economic and physical health, the City of Portland has initiated a project to update its zoning code to promote traditional and emerging ways of producing and distributing food. On this episode of Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein is joined by Steve Cohen, who heads all things related to food for the city's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. We talk about developing new zoning codes that encourage the proliferation of farmers markets, community gardens, community food distribution and urban farm animals, while also ensuring that the urban agricultural movement in Portland is well integrated and beneficial to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Steve Cohen manages food policy and programs for the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. He focuses on all aspects of a sustainable food system including planning, food security, education, economic development, urban agriculture, purchasing, composting, and climate change. Steve also staffs the Portland-Multnomah County Food Policy Council. Over the past 30 years he has played key roles in establishing indoor and outdoor festival markets, performing arts venues and community spaces in Oregon.

DAMNED DAMS, SALMON & THE COLUMBIA RIVER

Categories:
program: 
Locus Focus
program date: 
Mon, 06/13/2011

This spring there has been so much water rushing down the Columbia River, fed by overabundant snow packs from the Rockies to the Cascades, that a surplus of electricity is overwhelming the power grid. So instead of spilling more water over the dams, the Bonneville Power Administration decided to shut off electricity generated by the windfarms that now dot the hills above the Columbia River. They claim this measure is meant to protect salmon.

This week environmental journalist Steven Hawley returns to Locus Focus to dispute the BPA's claim. We'll talk about why spilling water over the dams is good for young salmon making their way to the ocean and how BPA policy is part of an orthodoxy of old ideas that threaten the very survival of this iconic fish.

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. His most recent book, Recovering a Lost River, was published this spring.

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

Categories:
program: 
Locus Focus
program date: 
Mon, 06/06/2011

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.

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with one of the authors of this report, Allison Hannon. We look at what kind of sustainability leader China can actually be, since it plans to downsize its carbon footprint by relying more heavily on massive hydro projects and nuclear power, while still depending upon coal for two-thirds of its energy generation.

Allison Hannon is the co-author of a new and comprehensive report Delivering Low Carbon Growth – A Guide to the 12th Five Year Plan which considers how the Chinese government will deliver real carbon savings that could begin to curb national green house gas emissions, unlock new investment opportunities and ensure that China is seen to be pulling its weight on international climate targets.

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

Categories:
program: 
Locus Focus
program date: 
Mon, 05/23/2011

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.

On this episode of Locus Focus Andrew joins host Barbara Bernstein to discuss the environmental significance of humanity eclipsing 7 billion and the impact it will have on climate change and the already over-stressed resources and carrying capacity of our planet.

Andrew “Andy” Revkin is one of the world’s leading environmental journalists. For 15 years, he covered the environmental beat for The New York Times, and his Dot Earth blog remains a popular mainstay at nytimes.com. He has 25 years' experience in environmental reporting, is a world traveler, is the author of several books on environmental issues and is also the Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at Pace University.

A SEA IN FLAMES: An Interview with author Carl Safina

Categories:
program: 
Locus Focus
program date: 
Mon, 05/16/2011

It's been over a year since an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig in the Gulf of Mexico produced one of the worst environmental, economic and social disasters this country has ever experienced. This event should have become what some call a teachable moment - when this country would take a hard look at our addiction to oil and recognize its untenable consequences. But as we've seen, this hasn't happened.

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 Odyssey 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.

A Sea in Flames is ultimately an indictment of America’s main addiction. Safina writes: “In the end, this is a chronicle of a summer of pain—and hope. Hope that the full potential of this catas­trophe would not materialize, hope that the harm done would heal faster than feared, and hope that even if we didn’t suffer the absolute worst—we’d still learn the big lesson here. We may have gotten two out of three. That’s not good enough. Because: there’ll be a next time.

Carl Safina’s childhood by the shore launched a lifelong passion that led to scientific studies of seabirds and fish, a PhD in Ecology from Rutgers University and then a career as a leading voice for conservation. Dr. Safina saw fish as wildlife and brought ocean conservation issues into the wildlife conservation mainstream. He helped lead campaigns that ultimately banned high-seas driftnets, overhauled U.S. fisheries law, used international agreements toward restoring tunas, sharks, and other fishes, achieved a United Nations fisheries treaty, and reduced albatross and sea turtle drownings on commercial fishing lines.

Dr. Safina founded Blue Ocean Institute in 2003. He and the Institute crew work to highlight and explain how the oceans are changing and what the changes mean for wildlife and for people. Safina is author of over one hundred publications. His books include Song for the Blue Ocean, Eye of the Albatross, Voyage of the Turtle, Nina Delmar: The Great Whale Rescue and The View From Lazy Point; A Natural Year in an Unnatural World. Safina’s newest book is A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout.

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

Categories:
program: 
Locus Focus
program date: 
Mon, 05/09/2011

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.

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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