Tag Archives: sustainability

Podcast

Tana French, THE TRESPASSER & Shaun Chamberlin, SURVIVING THE FUTURE

Mystery novelist Tana French talks about her latest book in the Dublin Murder Squad series, The Trespasser.

Then, how can we best confront the terrible uncertainties of a darkening future? We talk with Shaun Chamberlin about the late David Fleming’s book, Surviving The Future, which Chamberlin edited and brought out after Fleming’s death. Continue reading

Podcast

Carl Safina, BEYOND WORDS: What Animals Think And Feel

Conservation biologist Carl Safina talks about his acclaimed new book, Beyond Words: What Animals Think And Feel. It’s an eloquent plea based on science and ethics for a major re-set on how humans regard our fellow animals. It’s a game changer. Continue reading

Podcast

Overpopulation: Ecological Elephant In The Room?

Tom Butler of the Foundation for Deep Ecology talks about a gorgeous — and disturbing — new coffee table book of photojournalism, Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot.

And women mystery writers have gone from being ignored to being stars of the genre. We talk with mystery writer Sara Paretsky about women’s changing position in the genre and about her own socially conscious mystery writing. Then we congratulate Elizabeth Kolbert on her Pulitzer Prize for The Sixth Extinction. Continue reading

Podcast

Katherine Bagley, BLOOMBERG’S HIDDEN LEGACY, plus Ten Best Shows of 2013

Katherine Bagley
Katherine Bagley
Ruth Ozeki
Ruth Ozeki

We talk with Inside Climate News reporter Katherine Bagley about Mayor Bloomberg’s record on climate resilience for New York City. She co-wrote BLOOMBERG’S HIDDEN LEGACY with Maria Galucci. Also we hear excerpts from WV’S “Best of 2013” episodes, featuring clips from interviews with Rilla Eskew, Carla Kaplan, Marisa Silver, Ruth Ozeki and Richard Heinberg. Continue reading

Podcast

Earth Day 2010

Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben

Host Francesca Rheannon talks with author and climate activist Bill McKibben about his new book, EAARTH. It’s about adapting to a planet already transformed by global warming. Then James Hoggan exposes the lies of the climate denial industry — and who’s behind them. And we air a clip from an archived interview with George Monbiot, author of HEAT.

James Hoggan

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Blog

What’s An Economy For, Anyway?

Book Review

Last night I visited a local pub with an old friend I hadn’t seen in decades. He’s in town to talk to college students about his new film, What’s An Economy For, Anyway? It’s a good question. And John de Graaf, the filmmaker, comes up with a good answer. He says an economy is for “the greatest good for the greatest number over the long haul.”

[amazon-product align=”left”]1576753573[/amazon-product]

De Graaf is best known for his film (and book) [amazon-product text=”Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic” type=”text”]1576753573[/amazon-product], one of the first popular works to point out that our obsessive quest to amass more stuff (and the money to buy it) is destroying our communities, our health, and our planet. It came out before the U.S. was confronted with a sudden, drastic cure to its “affluenza” in the shape of an economic meltdown that is seriously crimping the buying habits of the American consumer.

An upside to the downside of the recession?

Over a glass of Merlot, de Graaf told me there’s an upside to the downside of the recession (or “jobless recovery”, as it’s being termed now): health improves during recessions. As people spend less, they have more time for proven health boosters such as sleeping more, volunteering in their community, and getting together with friends and family. They drive less, smoke less, drink less, eat less artery-clogging rich foods – and of course, have less work-related stress. And that’s despite the fact that unemployment has often been associated with higher rates of suicide, domestic violence and chronic illness, not to speak of the potential consequences of losing one’s health insurance.

In other words, maybe “less is more”, at least after we are assured a basic package of goods and services to support our well being: decent health care, housing, education, a living wage job and a healthy environment. That’s what another new book of that title, edited by John de Graaf’s good buddies Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska, says.

[amazon-product align=”right”]0865716501[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product text=”LESS IS MORE: Embracing Simplicity for a Healthy Planet, A Caring Economy, and Lasting Happiness” type=”text”]0865716501[/amazon-product] brings together a host of writers who have contributed much to the discourse about “what’s an economy for”. Aside from de Graaf, who contributes a chapter with that title, they include Bill McKibben (DEEP ECONOMY), Ernst Callenbach (ECOTOPIA), David Korten (AGENDA FOR A NEW ECONOMY) and Juliet Schor (THE OVERSPENT AMERICAN).

Schor is cofounder of The Center for the New American Dream, a non-profit dedicated to helping Americans “consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and promote social justice.” Her chapter in Less Is More is called “Down-shifting To A Carbon-Friendly Economy.”

[sniplet amazon search]

She starts out with an idea she calls the “third rail in American politics”: that per capita consumption has to go down in the US “to achieve sustainable levels of greenhouse gas emissions”. To those who claim that sustainability can be achieved simply by increasing efficiency, she points to the paradox that as efficiency rises, so does consumption (e.g. more efficient cars = more miles driven). She also says those who put their faith in such greening methods as “Factor Four” and zero waste are overly optimistic.

But, Schor says, we can “downshift” to an economy that “meets people’s needs”, allows for a “healthy, well-functioning” private enterprise economy, and achieves carbon neutrality. She says that by workers trading money for time, consumer demand falls, thereby lowering the stress on the environment. Employment can actually rise, by decreasing per worker hours and spreading work among more people. Of course, per hour compensation would have to rise, or be compensated for by greater social provision of needs like health care, housing subsidies, and education. Countries such as the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark are all models of prosperous capitalist economies with fewer work hours and lower per capita consumption.

[sniplet amazon bookstore widget]

Downshifting our economy to reach carbon neutrality is a must if we are to adapt our communities to the double whammy of climate chaos and resource depletion. So says a short but pithy book by David Holmgren, one of the originators of permaculture as an idea. [amazon-product text=”Future Scenarios: How Communities Can Adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change” type=”text”]1603580891[/amazon-product] lays out four options human societies face.

The “Brown-Tech” scenario happens with extreme climate change coupled with a slow decline in fossil fuel use. It involves “corporate fascism” imposing top down solutions to the crises, wringing every last drop out of fossil fuel resources, with authoritarian governments enforcing stability as living standards for the majority drastically decline.

The Green Tech scenario results if climate change turns out to be more benign. A “distributed powerdown” slowly reduces fossil fuel use while increasing conservation of resources and technological innovation. (For a fascinating – and optimistic — exploration of what this could look like, check out Harvey Wasserman’s book, [amazon-product text=”SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030″ type=”text”]0975340247[/amazon-product].)

The Earth Steward scenario involves a rapid decline in fossil fuel use due more to economic collapse and the resulting political “stresses” (wars) than to climate change, which is mild also in this scenario. But the resulting collapse of society engenders a bottom-up renewal, with re-localized economies and a simplified technology base.

The final Lifeboat scenario is the most pessimistic. In it, climate catastrophe and fossil fuel depletion lead to widespread death through famine, wars and climate disasters, with a halving of global population. Human civilization is in triage mode, with oases of sustainable social organization, knowledge and technology preserving the possibility for some future recovery in the long term.

Faced with this dire prediction, perhaps the shocked reader will want to turn to Ralph Nader’s new book, [amazon-product text=”“ONLY THE SUPPERRICH CAN SAVE US!”” type=”text”]1583229035[/amazon-product]. (He’s an upcoming guest on Writers Voice) Maybe the planet’s lifeboat will turn out to be – a yacht.

Podcast

LIFE, INC. and Washington Sex Scandals, too

Douglas Rushkoff
Douglas Rushkoff
jeff-sharlet
Jeff Sharlet

Media critic Doug Rushkoff talks about LIFE, INC. and Jeff Sharlet, author of THE FAMILY, returns for another interview, updating us on how the sex scandals in Washington are splitting the Christian Right.
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Podcast

Human Spaces and Liveable Cities

Rutherford Platt
Rutherford Platt
Colin Ellard
Colin Ellard

We talk with scientist Colin Ellard about [amazon-product text=”YOU ARE HERE: Why We Can Find Our Way To The Moon But Get Lost At The Mall” type=”text”]038552806X[/amazon-product].

And urban geographer Rutherford Platt tells us about [amazon-product text=”The Humane Metropolis: People And Nature in the Twenty-first Century City” type=”text”]1558495541[/amazon-product].

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Podcast

Sustainable Gardening

Carleen Madigan
Carleen Madigan
Toby Hemenway
Toby Hemenway

We talk with Toby Hemenway about his updated [amazon-product text=”GAIAS GARDEN: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture” type=”text”]1603580298[/amazon-product], Carleen Madigan tells us how to turn a lawn into a BACKYARD HOMESTEAD, and Patricia Klindienst (THE EARTH KNOWS MY NAME) talks about three gardens of immigrant Americans in this excerpt from our archived interview with her. Continue reading

Podcast

Climate Change, Past, Present and Future

The current climate crisis isn’t the first time human beings have faced global climate change. Extreme weather, ice sheets melting into the Arctic ocean, and mega-droughts lasting a century or more: it all happened before, between the tenth and the fifteenth centuries. The global warming of the Middle Ages changed civilization, bringing both great disorder and great opportunity.

The audio for this episode is available upon request for a donation of $4.99 to Writers Voice. Contact writersvoice [at] wmua.org.

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Podcast

Philip Fradkin and Rutherford Platt

We talk with biographer Philip Fradkin about the life of Wallace Stegner, writer and environmentalist extraordinaire. His book is WALLACE STEGNER AND THE AMERICAN WEST.
You can read a New York Times review of Fradkin’s book (which says a lot more about Stegner than about the biography) here. And for the first chapter, go here.

Also, urban geographer Rutherford Platt tells us about how to make cities that are sustainable and a pleasure to live in. Editor of the THE HUMANE METROPOLIS, he’s the founder of the Ecological Cities
Project at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Podcast

Patricia Klindienst, THE EARTH KNOWS MY NAME

[amazon-product align=”right”]0807085715[/amazon-product]

Patricia Klindienst
Patricia Klindienst

Patricia Klindienst talks about [amazon-product text=”THE EARTH KNOWS MY NAME: Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans” type=”text”]0807085715[/amazon-product].

Also, check out the Writer’s Voice interview with Klindienst we did in 2009 about her latest book.