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Enviro Close Up

Enviro Close-Up is a weekly half-hour interview show on cable TV featuring in-depth discussions between Karl Grossman and leading figures in the environmental and social justice arenas. Program topics include environmental racism, nuclear proliferation, the spread of environmental pollution, food irradiation, the dangers of nuclear power, new developments in safe and renewable energy, jobs and the environment, recycling, and organic farming and gardening.

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Commander Robert Green and Security without Nuclear Deterrence

“I do feel that we’re in more dangerous times than in the Cold War at the moment and people don’t realize it,” says Commander Robert Green, retired from the British Navy. He was deeply involved in its readiness to use nuclear weapons. As a bombardier-navigator, he flew in a Buccaneer nuclear strike jet—with a planned target the Soviet Union—and then helicopters armed with nuclear depth charges to be used against Soviet submarines. Then he worked in the Ministry of Defense and was staff officer for intelligence to the Commander-in-Chief Fleet during the 1982 Falklands War. That war was a turning point for Green. “The Falklands War raised major concerns relating to nuclear weapons,” he says. During the war there was “a“very secret contingency plan” to “move a Polaris submarine…within range of Buenos Aires” and the possibility of it conducting a “nuclear strike” on Argentina. “Fortunately there was no need for that plan to be implemented because we won,” says Green. He retired from the Navy in 1982 and became an opponent of nuclear warfare. He chaired the U.K.’s affiliate in the World Court Project, a campaign that led the International Court of Justice in 1996 to rule the threat and use of nuclear weapons were illegal. He authored the book “Security without Nuclear Deterrence.” He is co-director of the Disarmament and Security Centre in New Zealand. He says there has been a “systematic effort to play down the appalling side effects and ‘overkill’…with even the smallest modern nuclear weapons,” how they are “not weapons at all. They are utterly indiscriminate devices that combine the poisoning horrors of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, plus effects…of radioactivity, with almost unimaginable explosive violence.” Green is devoted to working for a “nuclear-free world.”

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Author Historian Professor Naomi Oreskes

Environmental Close Up explores issues such as global warming; safe, clean renewable energy; sustainability; nuclear proliferation; environmental justice; green technology; biodiversity; over-consumption; environmental pollution and its effect on human health.

Food & Water Watch

Environmental Close Up explores issues such as global warming; safe, clean renewable energy; sustainability; nuclear proliferation; environmental justice; green technology; biodiversity; over-consumption; environmental pollution and its effect on human health.

“Putting Out the Planetary Fire” with Mark Dunlea

Mark Dunlea has written a veritable handbook for challenging climate change. And a download of the book is free by going to GELFNY.org That’s the Green Education and Legal Fund of which Dunlea is chairperson. Teaching a course in Climate Change and Advocacy at Bennington College, Dunlea sought a “basic 101 climate book” and was told by Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, that there was none. So, Dunlea, a long-time environmental activist wrote—as the book is subtitled—“An Introduction to Climate Change and Advocacy.” The central message of the book, as Dunlea explains in this Enviro Close-Up, is: “Fossil fuels are destroying the world.” Damages the burning of fossil fuels are causing include “extreme weather…becoming more common, more expensive and more destructive.” Says Dunlea: “We have to stop burning fossil fuels.” He spotlights the work of Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson, his most recent book “No Miracles Needed,” and how “100% of our energy needs” can be provided “with today’s technology” and “without fossil fuels.” Jacobson heads the Atmosphere/Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. Dunlea emphasizes the urgency of the transition to green, carbon-free energy. “It’s now or never,” he says. He also discusses “false climate solutions” including nuclear power. Dunlea co-founded the Ralph Nader-inspired New York Public Interest Research Group and was first chairperson of national PIRG.

The Fukushima Disaster, The Hidden Side of the Story

“The Fukushima Disaster, The Hidden Side of the Story” We focus on this powerful, moving, information-full film documentary superbly made and just-released and interview its director, Philippe Carillo. He details how, in addition to the enormous damage the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster—in which three nuclear power plants exploded at the six-plant site—has already caused, the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company, owner of the plants, are planning to dump 1.3 million tons of wastewater contaminated with radioactive tritium from the plants into the Pacific Ocean. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, a principal of Fairewinds Energy Education, says in the documentary: “At Fukushima Daiichi, the world is already seeing deaths from cancer related to the disaster…There’ll be many more over time.” Carillo tells of the involvement of Japanese government agencies in a cover-up of the catastrophe, and the conflict of interest of the International Atomic Energy Agency with its mission to both promote and regulate nuclear power. The film exposes a series of hidden aspects of the Fukushima disaster. And, in it, Dr. Helen Caldicott, former president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, explains how radiation causes cancer. She says: “There is no safe level of radiation. I repeat, there is no safe level of radiation. Each dose of radiation is cumulative and adds to your risk of getting cancer and that’s absolutely documented in the medical literature.” Carillo, from France, now lives in Vanuatu, an island nation which with other countries in the Pacific is challenging the planned Fukushima radioactive wastewater dumping. Carillo is an award-winning director who has worked on major TV documentary projects for the BBC, 20th Century Fox and French National TV as well as doing independent productions. He is interviewed from Vanuatu.

Seth Shelden of ICAN and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. That year, much due to the work of ICAN, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, was passed at the United Nations. Shelden is UN liaison for ICAN, an attorney and professor of law. In this Enviro Close-Up he details the provisions of the treaty termed by the UN as “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” It declares that because of the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons, and recognizing the consequent need to completely eliminate such weapons, which remains the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons are never used again under any circumstances,” nations agree not to “develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons.” Further, notes Shelden, no country may “threaten to use” them. Asked about the lack of coverage by media of the treaty creating a nuclear weapons-free world, and so few people are aware of it, Shelden points to “myopic framing” by media. He cites how long it took “for journalists to accept that there were not two sides to the climate crisis.” The horrendous impacts of nuclear weapons, “like the climate crisis, even more so, is a very black-and-white issue,” he says. The abolition of nuclear weapons, Shelden notes, has been a focus of the UN since its formation, the subject of its first resolution. He discusses the years of work that have led to the treaty.

Enviro Close-Up #678 Enhanced Geothermal Energy Systems

Three decades ago, we did a program on what was then called Hot Dry Rock Geothermal Energy. The process is now called the Enhanced Geothermal Energy Systems. With us then and now: Dr. Jefferson Tester, today a professor of sustainable energy systems at Cornell University and principal scientist for Cornell’s work on an Enhanced Geothermal Energy System, its Earth Source Heat Project. Dr. Tester relates how Cornell has drilled a two-mile hole in the ground at its campus in Ithaca, New York in it work to use heat from below the Earth to provide heat at university buildings. And, he discusses the history of what started at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hot Dry Rock pilot operation at Fenton Hill in New Mexico, featured in our earlier program. Dr. Tester has been a pioneer in geothermal energy, after beginning at the Fenton Hill project, as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He cites in this Enviro Close-Up a study done when he was at MIT stating that “in spite of its enormous potential, the geothermal option for the United States has been largely ignored.” The MIT team concluded that “while further advances are needed, none of the known technical and economic barriers…are considered insurmountable.”

“No Miracles Needed” with Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson

Renowned energy expert Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson’s just-out book is titled “No Miracles Needed” with the subtitle “How Today’s Technology Can Save Our Climate and Clean Our Air.” It is a follow-up to his 2021 book “100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything”—and as absolutely brilliant. He provides the very much needed information for a clean, renewable energy future. Dr. Jacobson, Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, says: “The world needs to switch away from using fossil fuels to using clean, renewable sources of energy as soon as possible. Failure to do so will lead to accelerated and catastrophic climate damage, loss of biodiversity, and economic, social, and political stability.” He explains how we can “solve the climate crisis, and at the same time eliminate air pollution and safely secure energy supplies for all — without using ‘miracle’ technology.” Dr. Jacobson details the use of “existing technologies to harness, store and transmit energy from wind, water, and solar sources to ensure reliable electricity and heat supplies.” And he discusses “which technologies are not needed”—including natural gas, carbon capture and nuclear energy. As Michael Mann, climatologist and geophysicist and the director of the Center for Science, Sustainability & the Media at the University of Pennsylvania says of “Jacobson’s amazing new book,” his work enables people to “be informed and engaged to help tackle the defining challenge of our time.”

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