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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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“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.”

Full Episodes

Severn Cullis-Suzuki

Severn Cullis-Suzuki burst onto the world stage in 1992 when at 12 years old she addressed the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with a presentation that has been described as “minutes that silenced the world.” A segment of that presentation begins this Enviro Close-Up with Severn who is now executive director of the David Suzuki Foundation. She has also gone on to receive a bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University and is a doctoral candidate at the University of British Columbia. The Canadian-based David Suzuki Foundation is named for Severn’s father, the renowned Canadian science broadcaster, author and environmental activist Dr. David Suzuki. He co-founded the organization in 1990 with Severn’s mother, Tara Cullis, an organizer, writer and former member of the faculty at Harvard University. Severn explains the roots of her own environmental activism learning from her parents. And, as Severn says: “Nature is the bottom line, science and expertise are crucial to our survival, that we are all connected and our actions matter.And this organization will play a critical role in advancing our transformation to an economy characterized by clean energy, justice and strong ecosystems. Shifting humanity toward survival will require all of us stepping up. I’m here to do all I can.” She discusses the many activities of the David Suzuki Foundation including research and action on: climate change, clean energy, biodiversity loss, pesticide risks, learning from indigenous people, terrestrial conservation, fracking, sustainable transit. Severn is as extraordinarily eloquent now as she was at 12.

Enviro Close-Up #675 David Fenton and “The Activist’s Media Handbook”

David Fenton discusses his brilliant, just-published and much-needed book in this Enviro Close-Up. As environmentalist and actor Mark Ruffalo says of the book: “Activists need to be communicators and story tellers. David Fenton knows that at his core and has helped the environmental and climate movement reach the public for decades.” From the fights against fracking and Alar and global warming to the “No Nukes” concerts, there has been David. In the book, subtitled “Lessons From Fifty Years As A Progressive Agitator,” Fenton presents “Communications Rules For Activists,” which he discusses in the Enviro Close-Up. These include “Craft Simple Messages Everyone Can Understand” and in them “avoid jargon…and above all avoid rhetoric.” As David says: “We have the knowledge and tools to create a lasting, better world….To win, we must use effective messages that touch people’s hearts and reach them.” The book also has a section titled “Organize To Win” in which David recommends “Avoid Sectarianism” and “Beware Endless Meetings And Processes.” Professor George Lakoff of the University of California at Berkeley, who wrote the foreword to “The Activist’s Media Handbook,” writes that: “If progressives lose the future, it will not be due to a lack of good policy ideas. If we lose the future, ceding democracy to authoritarians or bad corporate actors, it will be due mostly to a stunning failure to communicate with people in simple language that connects with them on the level of their moral values.” Lakoff explains that David “understands the importance of presenting issues in a way that taps into the most deeply held values of an audience.” In his book and this Enviro Close-Up, Fenton passes that knowledge on.

Gordon Edwards, president, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

Dr. Edwards, an expert on nuclear technology, refutes the claims of the nuclear industry as it pushes purportedly “new and improved” nuclear power plants, so-called “advanced” nuclear power plants, and particularly small modular reactors. He explains that these smaller nuclear power plants are not new and not improved, but were “things that were tried 50 and 60 years ago” and didn’t succeed then. Now, he says, with governments prepared to spend “bundles of money…trillions of dollars” to combat climate change, the nuclear industry is wheeling out these old designs to “try to rescue itself from a very rapid decline.” These smaller nuclear power plants are not safer than large nuclear power plants. They “are just as prone to failure as large reactors.” Any nuclear power plant is “a warehouse of radioactive poisons,” says Dr. Edwards “and anything that blows these poisons out into the environment constitutes a disastrous accident.” That can happen “if you’re small, that can happen when you’re big.” Furthermore, the small plants produce more nuclear poisons, more nuclear waste, than large nuclear reactors. Meanwhile, safe, clean, green renewable energy is here with its costs having plummeted. “Renewables are now about four times cheaper than nuclear” with solar and wind systems far quicker to build, thus having a “rapid payback” to challenge climate change and swiftly. The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility was founded in 1970 because “we were not being told the truth about nuclear energy” and it has been working ever since to get the truth out—now especially about the falsehoods the nuclear industry is pushing about “new and improved” nuclear power plants.

Environmental Working Group, Part 2

Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group, explains in this second Enviro Close-Up program how the organization got started 30 years ago next year” and now “we have a staff of about 70 people.” He speaks of people being “hungry for the information” EWG provides: “practical advice on what they can do to protect themselves.” Further, it has aimed to expose “what the government was doing” and which “companies were doing the right thing and, unfortunately, which companies. too many of them, not doing the right thing.” EWG takes on the government. The organization, says Cook, “has the ability to throw a punch in policy fights” while “also empowering citizens to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.” The EWG website is now getting “125 million page views a year.” Says Cook: “We’ve over the years been able to build a following that trusts us.” Cook talks about the attack by industry against the “dozens of laws” on the environment enacted between the 1970s and 1990s, the “pushback from industry.” With Cook on the program is Grant Smith, EWG’s senior energy policy advisor. Smith discusses, among other energy issues, the drive by the nuclear industry for so-called small modular reactors and describes this as being “all about profit and nothing to do with carbon neutrality.” EWG is “intervening” in this effort to have government allow these nuclear reactors.

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