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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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Enviro Close-Up #691 Artificial Turf Part 1

Becoming widespread in the United States has been artificial turfor plastic grass. The U.S government says 12,000 artificial turf fields now exist in the country and 1,200are being installed annually. The guests on the program are Kyla Bennett, PhD and JD, director of science policy at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER); Kathleen Michels, PhD, a neuroscientist formerly with the National Institutes of Health and a board member of Safe Healthy Playing Fields; and Anna Grossman of Sustainable Montclair, a grassroots coalition in that New Jersey community. “The things that are wrong with it are plentiful,” says Dr. Bennett. She notes that artificial turf contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS, considered “forever chemicals" with many linked to cancer. She relates how it emits carbon dioxide and methane, cannot be recycled, and causes “worse injuries for the athletes on them than natural grass.”She says the U.S. government “has not been doing what it should be doing” about artificial turf but that states and communities are taking action. Dr. Michels details the issues of heat, injury, toxicity, disposal and“shedding of microcoplastics” by artificial turf. She speaks of artificial turf fields becoming extremely hot—“hotter than asphalt.” And, she details how the claimis false that the cost of artificial turf fields is less than that of real grass fields. Anna Grossman tells of the challenges to artificial turf fields in “progressive, environmentally conscious Montclair” and how the claims of them being less costly than natural grass fields is “not the case.” The installation of artificial turf, she says, is “the opposite of what you should be doing in 2024.”

Full Episodes

The New Nuclear Push with Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear Part 2

The program starts off with Kamps detailing how the nuclear industry, following its unsuccessful drive in Nevada to build what was called the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository, is seeking to turn the southwest of the United States into a “nuclear sacrifice zone” with huge nuclear waste dumps in New Mexico and Texas. This, he notes, is despite the opposition of the state governments in both and the existence below, and stretching many hundreds of miles to the north, of the Ogallala Aquifer, the “biggest aquifer in North America.” Kamps says “the risks…are incredible.” The organization for which he is radioactive waste specialist, Beyond Nuclear, is with other groups challenging the nuclear waste dump drive in court. Kamps says indigenous Native American and low-income Black communities are being targeted for the waste dumps, that it’s “radioactive racism.” And he talks about the push as a power source of nuclear fusion, the process otherwise utilized in hydrogen bombs. Kamps addresses claims about thorium as a nuclear power plant fuel and says that thorium reactors would be even “more proliferation-risky than the uranium and plutonium pathway to The Bomb.” He speaks about nuclear power plants being targets in war—and this being demonstrated by recent events in Ukraine. He emphasizes how safe, green, renewable energy led by solar and wind could meet our energy needs. As to why so many in the government support nuclear power, a key reason, says Kamps, is their embrace of nuclear weaponry. And he speaks of what people can do to oppose “this juggernaut” of nuclear promoters.

Enviro Close-Up #689 The New Nuclear Push with Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear Part 1

“We are up against the biggest push for nuclear power that I’ve ever experienced in 32 years of anti-nuclear power activities,” says Kevin Kamps of the organization Beyond Nuclear. Kamps refutes the claim of the nuclear industry that nuclear power is carbon-free. “It’s not true. It’s not carbon-free by any means,” he says, and “not even low carbon when you compare it to genuinely low carbon sources of electricity, renewables like wind and solar.” But the nuclear industry is involved in a “propaganda campaign” attempting to validate itself by citing climate change. He speaks of many in government having “fallen for this ploy.” He discusses the move now to restart the long-troubled Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan, “closed for good reason” by its owner Entergy in 2022. It’s current owner, Holtec, wants to restart this “Zombie reactor” and keep it operating until 2051. And Holtec is receiving billions of dollars in federal and state “bailouts” for this. Kamps tells of the hundreds of billions of U.S. government dollars now or soon going to nuclear power and identifies specific pieces of enabling legislation. And he talks about the extension of the Price-Anderson Act to 2065. The l957 act limits liability from losses from injury, death and property damage caused by a nuclear plant accident, originally for 10 years—until, as “introductory language of the 1957 bill” said, the industry got on its “own two feet.” Now under Price-Anderson, liability would be limited to no more than $16 billion although “estimates of damages” from the Fukushima catastrophe “have reached out to the $600 billion range.” Price-Anderson would continue until 2065—or rather than 10 years, notes Kamps, for 108 years. He tells of how the nuclear and fossil fuel industries “have done their best to sabotage renewable energy because they don’t want the competition.” Yet still, “solar and wind are growing by leaps and bounds."

Fairewinds Energy Education with Arnie and Maggie Gundersen Part 1

Fairewinds Energy Education declares: “Our mission is to educate the public about nuclear power and other energy issues.” Arnie Gundersen is its chief engineer and Maggie Gundersen its founder and president. Both spent many years in the nuclear industry—Arnie as a nuclear engineer and reactor operator and a senior vice president and Maggie as a public relations person—before leaving it. In this Enviro Close-Up they relate how—as Arnie says—the nuclear industry is “now hiding behind climate change” when, in fact, the nuclear fuel cycle is carbon intensive and nuclear power plants themselves emit Carbon 14, a radioactive form of carbon. Moreover, nuclear power “doesn’t make any economic sense,” says Arnie. Maggie details how the nuclear industry uses “nukespeak” to hide its dangers. “I was trained on how to use nukespeak,” she says. Arnie refutes the claim of the nuclear industry that “nuclear plants can’t explode” and discusses how, indeed, at Fukushima nuclear plants did explode—and Fairewinds exposed how. The linkage between commercial nuclear power and atomic weaponry is discussed. “I didn’t understand the linkage when I started in the industry,” says Arnie. He tells of how the “small modular reactors” now being promoted by the nuclear industry produce “even more…radioactive rubble” than larger ones. And they speak about how nuclear power isn’t needed, that safe, clean, green energy can provide all the power the world needs. Nuclear power, says Maggie, “shouldn’t be on the planet.”

Beyond Pesticides with Jay Feldman

The goal of the organization Beyond Pesticides is “to eliminate the use of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers” explains its executive director, Jay Feldman. Its stated mission: “Beyond Pesticides believes that people must have a voice in decisions that affect them directly. We believe decisions should not be made for us by chemical companies or by decision-makers who either do not have all of the facts or refuse to consider them.” Begun in 1981, the Washington, D.C.-based group believed from its inception that there has to be “an alternative…another way to grow food.” And through the decades it has carefully documented how toxic chemicals aren’t necessary and championed organic agriculture. Feldman tells of how “we engage in science, policy and action.” And he emphasizes: “There are alternatives available to us now.” He declares: “We do have a holistic solution if we choose to use it.” Feldman invites people to join in the efforts of Beyond Pesticides and become “an advocate, a change agent in your community.” He speaks of the “poor regulatory system” in the U.S. with the “chemical industry extremely powerful” and details how Beyond Pesticides takes this on. Feldman further emphasizes how the organic process “intersects” with tackling the climate crisis, decline of biodiversity and health effects from toxic chemicals. Says Feldman: “There’s a huge bright spot out there.”

Scott Chaskey—Farmer, Poet and Educator

Scott Chaskey, farmer, poet and educator, is the author of “Soil and Spirit: Cultivation and Kinship in the Web of Life” and “Seedtime: On the History, Husbandry, Politics and Promise of Seeds” and also “This Common Ground: Seasons on an Organic Farm.” Scott is a pioneer of the Community Supported Agriculture movement who for 30 years cultivated more than sixty crops—organically—at Quail Hill Farm on Long Island, New York, one of the first CSA’s in the United States. He has traveled the world with his involvement with the CSA movement. He is a past president of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York. Scott’s poetry has been widely published over five decades. In this Enviro Close-Up, Scott discusses his books, his poetry and his commitment to organic farming—and the need for a new “paradigm” in the growing of food. And he speaks of how he tells “stories that hopefully will heal because all the work that I’ve been involved with all these years has been in healing the soil and to help in healing the earth and the people involved in this great enterprise.

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.”

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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