Blockchain. What is it? Is it important? Is it sustainable? How does it relate to crypto-currency like Bitcoin, and is that just for money-laundering or for wild speculation? I’m hearing more and more about blockchain, so I thought it was time for the Sustainable Futures Report to talk to an expert.
Friday 13th. Bad news for some, but generally the world goes on much the same.
Many of the stories that I cover in the Sustainable Futures Report come from the Guardian newspaper. Wherever possible I aim to find the original source behind their articles and bring you the original detail as well as a link to the paper or press release or organisation concerned. This week the Guardian published a special report by its own journalists, “Revealed: the ‘carbon bombs’ set to trigger catastrophic climate breakdown”. I shall quote from it unashamedly and you’ll find a link below so you can read the whole article yourself. I recommend you do.
Also this week, more greenwash; elections, floods and climate controversy in Australia; retrofitting - how they do it in Italy, mining for gold (and other minerals) in e-waste dumps, and the effect of the moon on the climate.
...and catching up on good news and bad from the past few days.
Roll up! Roll up! Get your bad news here! I'm concerned that there is bad news. There's always bad news. The climate crisis has certainly not gone away. We need to do something about it and we need to encourage people to do something about it but I'm increasingly concerned about warning them of the risks and privations that are likely to occur some years in the future. It's not going to work where people are increasingly concerned about the cost of living, the cost of mortgages, the cost of petrol, and whether there will be food on the table tonight.
In the spirit of working out how to communicate the climate crisis message I’m talking today to Manda Scott.
Manda is a long-time patron of the Sustainable Futures Report and has joined me previously, though that was a few years ago. Manda started off as a veterinary surgeon - becoming a midwife to racehorses - before switching to writing novels at the turn of the millennium. Her first novel was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, her most recent, the fourteenth, for the Saltire Award.
If things go wrong and we fail to overcome the climate crisis there will be profound consequences for society and humanity. The Deep Adaptation Forum exists to help people prepare for this worst case scenario, and you may find some of this interview disturbing or depressing. My guest is Fernando Garcia Ferreiro and he has offered to talk personally to anyone who is upset or concerned by the ideas we discuss. His contact details are at the end of this text, together with links and references.
This conversation was recorded in the week before Easter.
The Sustainable Futures Reportaims to bring you news and insights into the ongoing climate crisis, but other such podcasts are available. On this occasion I bring you an interview with the founder and presenter of the Sweaty Penguin, Ethan Brown.
The British Energy Security Strategy was published at the end of last week and although it runs to only 15 pages it has caused a lot of controversy. This is Easter Week so there will be no Wednesday Interview this week and no edition on Friday 15th or Friday 22nd. The next Wednesday Interview will be on the 27th of April and I'll tell you about that at the end of this episode.
This is edition No. 400. Thank you for listening and supporting the Sustainable Futures Report since I started podcasting back in 2007.
The big news this week, overshadowed by Ukraine like everything else, is the publication of the latest part of AR6, the climate report from the IPCC. It’s been all over the news, so what can I tell you that you don’t already know?
I need to start with thanks to listener Sofia Sosa Del Valle for promptly letting me know that there was a problem with last Wednesday's interview. I've been able to correct it, so now you can hear the full interview with Wake Smith, author of Pandora's Toolbox:The Hopes and Hazards of Climate Intervention. Thanks for that, and my apologies for getting it wrong. It wasn't intended to be an early April fool.
This week the UK government’s promised energy security strategy has been deferred yet again so I can't talk about that. Maybe next week, when the sixth assessment report (AR6) from the IPCC is also scheduled to be published.
Today we’re looking at the step beyond Net Zero: climate intervention or geo-engineering. Prior to his academic career, today’s interview guest had several executive roles in the aeronautical industry, including the presidency of a division of Boeing. He is a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, and as a lecturer at Yale University teaches a world-leading undergraduate course on climate intervention. In his new book, he says,
“Geo-engineering in any form sounds like a terrible concept, until you peer carefully into the future and realise that not geo-engineering would likely prove worse.”
At a London Conference this week António Guterres said that the world must do more to Keep 1.5 alive. He was quite rude about Australia as well. Nevertheless, the UK has decided to make it cheaper to run a car on fossil fuels, some in the government want to restrict renewables while others would restart fracking. Water is an increasingly scarce resource across the world. Now we see it being used as a weapon of war. Next week we can look forward to the government’s energy security strategy and the final part of the AR6 report from the IPCC. And finally, what really is Net Zero?
The climate crisis has created immense challenges, challenges which only governments and mega-corporations can solve. On the other hand there are things which all of us can do to make a difference, and consumer power when it's spread across millions of consumers, should never be underestimated. We're not going to solve the climate crisis on our own but we are able to contribute to keeping our earth a clean and safe place to live by making responsible choices when we shop.
For example, the laundry products we buy, the cleaning materials, the preparations for skin and health care, even baby wipes and toilet paper involve chemicals in production and ingredients that may come from halfway across the world. Not all brands are the same, of course, but how do we make the right choice and select the product with the smallest environmental impact?
Lizzie Horvitz, today’s guest, can help with that.
Energy is always in the news. It’s inextricably linked with emissions and the level or absence of emissions determines the outcome of the climate crisis. Nevertheless, it’s time to talk about something else as well. OK, I did promise to tell you about space energy, so we’ll look at that.
There’s a new book out at the end of this month called Thriving, but before we start let’s welcome our latest patron, Tommy Wiedmann. Tommy tells me he worked at the University of York here in the UK for some years, but he’s now living near the Blue Mountains in Australia. Lots of rain, but fortunately he’s escaped the floods. Tommy, welcome.
My guest on today’s Wednesday Interview is Dr Wayne Visser.
This week there’s sustainability news about food, fuel, forests and floods in China. I look again at the IEA report that Sarah Cullen mentioned in Wednesday’s interview. There’s a dark side to solar farms, a pressure group intent on depressurisation and more dangers for bees. Can we summon a wartime spirit to save our economy and save the planet, and is mega finance group Blackrock walking the green walk or just talking the green talk?
Back in May last year we had a debate on the Sustainable Futures Report called The Nuclear Option. One of the panellists was Sarah Cullen and she has joined me again today, this time to talk about clean energy. We covered a number of controversial issues. For example, will Germany slow down the pace of decommissioning its nuclear plants in the face of a possible shortage of gas from Russia? We talked about citizens’ assemblies, and how they might empower politicians to adopt policies that they wouldn’t dare consider on their own. We spoke about the need to consider all energy options and to recognise that all have risks.
This week’s episode is about the latest IPCC report. You're probably already aware that it's pretty pessimistic. Will the warning be heeded this time? I'll talk also about the effect of the conflict in Ukraine on global energy prices and I’ve followed up the question from Sophie Jarvis about infrared heating.
Today I’m talking to Nick Spencer in Cambodia who is helping local people to survive and thrive while protecting wildlife and avoiding deforestation. Before I start, let me welcome Sophie Jarvis, our newest Silver Supporter who has just signed up on Patreon. Sophie tells me that she's heard that infrared heaters are a better solution than a heat pump. I'll have a look at that and comment on it on Friday. Friday’s big news will of course be the latest report from the IPCC. This document will report on the impacts of the climate crisis. It’s not expected to be reassuring reading.