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Waiting for a resolution to the triple crisis of climate, energy and the economy? There is almost a longing for the whole system to crash, no matter the impacts on our personal lives. Or will we keep it going?
Welcome back to another season of Radio Ecoshock! I am your tour guide, Alex Smith.
In this week's program we travel the world. From New Zealand, we'll hash out our disturbed weather, with the co-host of The Climate Show, Gareth Renowden.
Of course the top story is the record low Arctic sea ice in 2012. What does it mean? This is a preview to next week's Radio Ecoshock show, where I interview three top scientists about the Arctic melt. Including Dr. Jennifer Francis, one of a group of scientists who say the lack of summer sea ice is changing the Jet Stream, and with it the winter weather in the whole Northern Hemisphere.
Paradoxically, the extra heat given off as the ice refreezes creates a pressure system which drives colder air further south. This partly explains the severe winter weather recently in Great Britain and the whole of Europe - even while North America had summer temperatures in March this year.
CLIMATE CHANGE IN CHINA
Then it's off to Beijing, for a report straight from China. Greenpeace Asia Campaigner Li Yan is our guest.
China is the world's greatest polluter of the atmosphere. The majority of that comes from coal. But Li Yan tells us the meme that China opens a new coal plant every week is no longer true.
Climate change is felt harshly in China. There have been big impacts there, including this summer's extreme precipitation event. The capital Beijing got about 6 months worth of rain in less than 24 hours. The city flooded, unable to cope with such a deluge. This got a lot of Chinese people talking about what caused it.
China leads the world in producing alternative energy. That country has the largest wind power, and makes solar panels for the world. Unfortunately, Li Yan say, most of the solar panels are for export. Only 5% are installed in China, a number Greenpeace hopes will go up.
I ask how the state run media reports on climate change. Li Yan says climate science is accepted in the country, and extreme weather events are presented as part of climate disruption. That's better coverage than in North America, where you can count mentions of climate change on one hand, even during extreme drought, heat records, and fires.
However, Chinese media does not take on the coal industry, so the link to the cause is not covered.
TIP OF THE ICEBERG NEWS
We cap that off with "Tip of the Iceberg News" - my welcome back round up of world-shaking developments, pointers to great audio, blogs and articles, that caught my attention this summer. For example, I have some links to updates on the on-going triple nuclear melt-down at Fukushima Japan in my show blog.
FOUR TRENDS IN ACTIVISM
I've noticed four trends developing in the alternative/activist scene. In a nutshell:
Trend One: there is a chorus of famous writers, bloggers, and scientists who are publicly mourning the passing of the Holocene age, and our descent into the Anthropocene - the age brought about by humankind. Many of our favorite plants and animals will not survive the change.
Trend Two: As I've covered in past Radio Ecoshock shows, with guests like Paul Kingsnorth - there is an even louder chorus calling for a quick downfall of the industrial system. As one of my listeners wrote in email, many believe human extinction is on its way. We need to consider a hospice society, making the way out less painful, perhaps even more joyful.
Trend Thee: Some fairly famous figures and movement leaders are bailing out. It's not just that people are burned out, hitting their heads against the immovable wall of human insanity. They are going quiet, moving to rural areas in some cases, or just hanging out in cities. It's like an "Atlas Shrugged" - abandoned but not by industrialists, an extinct breed supplanted by corporate raiders - but by those seeking an alternative.
Trend Four: Related to all the above, many people are now seeking out spiritual practices as way to cope with the unbearable weight of knowing.
I'm worried, in our distress, some people will turn away from science and activism, toward ancient superstitions that took us centuries to overcome. There's a lot to talk about here, and we will, in the coming season of Radio Ecoshock.