Trent Gilliss, online editor

Producers and reporters from American Public Media (SOF/Marketplace/American RadioWorks) are gathering to discuss collective climate change reporting. I will be tweeting ideas and following the comments section here.

What’s the story we want to tell, and how do we want to tell it? I’m glad to bring your suggestions into the large and small group discussions. Please help as we’re planning shows for the coming year — leading up to and following on the heels of Copenhagen conference in December.

Share Your Reflection

18Reflections

Reflections

For SOF in particular: A critical aspect of climate change is the impact on Indigenous Peoples. Please include an exploration of the implications of climate change according to an Indigenous cosmovision. The natural world has deep spiritual dimensions and climate disruption by humans presents not only a great threat to the patrimony of Indigenous Peoples, but also an opportunity for the world to look to IPs to lead the way using traditional knowledge.

Thank you, Ariel. Do you have any people in mind for this topic who could speak eloquently, tell stories about Indigenous cosmovisions and their personal impact?

HI
Suggestion: You may want to include a segment on " younger people's perspectives'/recommendations on climate change" as well . i received this today re the Children's Climate Forum in Dec in
Denmark and i am " spreading the word' to parents/younger people who may want to apply.

Thanks for all you do.

Judy
Boston Ma

Children's Climate Forum
The UNICEF Children's Climate Forum (CCF) is a youth event held in Copenhagen,
Denmark, scheduled for December, 2009. The aim of the CCF is to create a cadre
of young global citizens to advance young people's understanding of global
issues and to provide a platform for them to discuss and advocate on these
issues. Three to five students, ages 14 to 17, will be chosen through an
application process from across the country to represent the United States in
Denmark. To request an application, please email volunteer@.... The
deadline to apply is July 31st.

Tak. Much like our digital future, I think young people will approach the subject of climate change and sustainability from creative perspectives today's adults may not even be aware of.

Just the mention of climate change is so terrifying to some. This is an opportunity to develop positive narratives like the following link
http://www.energyxchange.org/e...
I'm sure there must be others taking positive actions like the EnergyXchange, which has turned an old landfill into methane-powered art studios and greenhouses, but rarely are these stories told by national media. Fearfulness lessens when these pragmatic and creative narratives are developed, which empowers other individuals to create solutions in their own community.

We passionately discussed how to avoid complete doom-and-gloom type of reporting and so are looking for compelling narratives that inform our audiences. Thank you, Jennifer.

I think it will be important to cover the fuller range of stories related to global climate change than is covered in the mainstream media, which focuses mainly on disaster scenarios. Understanding what might happen is important, mainly for the pressure it places on all of us to find ways to change and adapt (which is unpleasant for us short-lived humans), but the natural world has always made it its business to adapt to constant change. The plant kingdom, for instance, has faced several periods of global warming and its opposite-- ice ages. There are lesons to be learned, there. We understand the response as natural selection, but focusing on that endpoint rather than the means misses something really amazing about the plant world-- the genetic and biochemical machinery it has to successfully respond to change. For instance, as the ozone layer thins, more UV radiation strikes the earth's surface, where it can cause destructive changes to DNA in both humans and plants. Many plants, however, respond with a class of organic chemicals called polyphenols, which absorb UV and disarms its effects. Plants use those polyphenols, and we've identified thousands of different forms, for many purposes besides UV "sunscreen," such as defense (plant makes itself taste bad), attracting bees (polyphenols are the basis of scent and color), wounding etc. In fact, one of the most amazing facts I've read is how a plant can tell the difference between a scissor wound (scientist snips a leaf sample), where there is no polyphenol response, and a bite wound from a caterpillar, where the bug's saliva causes a big polyphenol response to dissuade the bug from eating the plant. Other wound responses include creating polyphenols that attract the predators of the attacker. It's like calling in a big brother or a fixer to take care of a bully. An insect walking across one leaf can cause all the adjacent leaves of a plant to manufacture foul-tasting polyphenols. It's the plant's version of a gunslinger's quick draw. Likewise, as temperatures and moisture conditions change, even in very modest ways at this point, we already are seeing reports of amazing adaptations by plants. They aren't waiting for some crisis point in global warming-- they are busy now even as I write. The thing about polyphenols is that many of them are very good, even vital, for humans. They are the carotenoids and vitamin antioxidants in our diet, like vitamins A, C and E, as well as the antioxidants we seek in wine and green tea. Interestingly, we know now that a diet rich in plant polyphenols can work in humans as an internal sunscreen, giving the skin a natural SPF of 15, just like they work in plants. Wherever UV exposure is increasing because of the disappearing ozone layer, plants will be making more polyphenols. It's a whole new rationale for eating bioregional foods and being a "locavore." It's also a wake-up call for all of us to make every effort to protect every remaining shred of plant biodiversity that we have so carelessly destroyed-- we need those plants to have every capability at their disposal to respond to climate change in order to help maintain human life. Through the threat of climate change we've finally discovered the real value (to us) of genetic biodiversity. Granted, the oft cited claim of "potential new drugs" is a good one, but now we are in the real-time process of witnessing its real power-- the plant world's ability to respond to environmental change using its arsenal of thousands of biochemicals.

My point is, since we are a major cause of global warming, we tend to think ony humans have any solutions. If you look at how humans evolved and migrated to new areas following receding glaciers or even massive wild fires, it's clear that can't be so. The plant and animal kingdoms had to first make the necessary adaptations before humans could enter new areas and find something to dine on. Plants are, and always have been, natural sources and sinks for nitrogen and carbon, the two main players in global warming. When the global nitrogen and carbon cyles change, plants change, individually and as communities, in order to survice. We need to start treating them with more respect for what they do for us, learn from their adaptations, and revalue the landscapes they create, which, through their roles in maintaining global carbon and nitrogen cycles, serve purposes higher than humans at present can comprehend. Peat bogs are just one example.

No doubt there will be plant heroes unrelated to those we value for food and fiber that climate change will finally make us notice, communities of which will create new sinks for carbon dioxide and nitrogen, the basic building blocks of life for plants and soil microbes. As we face climate change, a little fear is not such a bad thing, so long as it drives us to appropriate change and opens our eyes to our necessary relationship with the natural world. We need to respect and protect it, and, most of all, step back and let it do its thing.

I remember watching a PBS documentary on ecology of forests in northern Minnesota and how they handle themselves naturally. Brush fires and saplings are necessary for certain types of pines and other conifers (if I remember right) because the bark of mature trees withstands the heat and then gains nutrients from the burn. But, sometimes we humans step in trying to protect the trees -- and lake properties and developments -- and prevent this regular cycle from occurring, which leads to more catastrophic results sometimes.

I heed what you're saying and wonder how we can talk about this in the context of a SOF interview. It's controversial but well worth discussing the restorative nature of plants, animals, and humans.

Dear Trent,

This is a follow-up to my previous email with a specific story idea to kick off a discussion of what each of us can do to address global climate change with plants and the resources available to urban dwellers. We don't have to wait for politicians to come to their senses and craft a socially just international treaty, although that is necessary, too. Collectively, through private actions related to what we eat and how it is produced, we all can begin immediate to mitigate global climate change.

Every urban dweller, whether living in a dorm, home or apartment, can plant a special garden out of found materials: a keyhole garden. Keyhole gardens are intensively cultivated microgardens that are designed to feed families healthy, local foods; withstand temperature extremes; be built on a lawn, carport or parking lot; conserve water; don't require land ownership; and create compost for soil management and restoration. The design makes gardening accessible to children, the elderly and the disabled. With a keyhole garden, every person can take responsibility for their share of carbon banking and the global nitrogen cycle.

The ideas of keyhole gardening and permaculture fit together, and could be promoted much like Victory Gardens were promoted during WWII. Only this time, the war is against human-driven climate change.

Keyhole gardens: A great little video made in Lesotho, showing how a group of schoolchildren made a keyhole garden. The charity Send a Cow showed them how to ...www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjcjCCx3BWY

Permaculture: http://www.permacultureinterna...

Found materials that can be used to build keyhole gardens: cement chunks, milk cartons filled with sand, rocks, lumber scraps.

Besides David Holmgren, an interesting and articulate person to interview about the value of urban gardening would be the editor-in-chief of the Earth Island Journal, Jason Mark (jmark@earthisland.org): http://www.earthisland.org/jou...

Best, Kathryn Devereaux

I really believe history will show that the emerging "backstory" of the climate change debate will eclipse all the arguments about what is causing climate change and the uncertainty of its impacts. The fact is, a small, yet enduring shift in weather patterns has already caused loss of snowpack worldwide and reduced water availability for farming. In California, this shift (both reduced water supply and loss of winter chill necessary for certain crops as well as killing pests) now threatens agricultural production in the Great Central Valley, which will have repercussions not only in California but around the world:

California forced to model new waterways: http://www.rodaleinstitute.org...

This has caused a seachange in how people view the food supply system while exposing its weaknesses, much like Michael Moore did for the health care industry in his film, "Sicko."

http://www.rocfund.org/ and http://fooddeclaration.org/

The paradigm shift called for by Roots of Change and Food Declaration.org is necessary for human and ecosystem wellbeing, and will take 20-50 years to bring about. That is the same timeframe for the leading edge of expected impacts from climate change to hit us, and still that debate has not yet fully addressed the fact that individual behavior in food choices and our collective food systems will be a key strategy for mitigating impacts if we begin now to change, or a key stumbling block if we don't. The irony is that it took the threat of climate change due to human activities--the greenhouse gases we've put into the air-- to finally focus attention on how we've abused the natural resources on which life depends-- the primary fertility of soil and the water we've squandered. All the while, it was acceptable that the people who actually harvested our food-- primarily ethnic farmworkers-- lived in poverty, struggled to feed their children, and lacked basic healthcare. In terms of their quality of life and opportunity for advancement, their situation is not so different from the Old South of the Civil War era.

I suspect that human activities are accelerating and making less resilient natural processes that have in the past and continue to this day to produce long-cycle patterns of heating and cooling in global weather. We do need to understand those patterns, and how we are effecting them. But the fact remains that the civilizations that have fallen in the past (Easter Island, the Mayans, Iceland, etc) did so not so much due to those cyclic disturbances in weather patterns, or even long periods of drought, but rather to loss of their resource base-- topsoil and tree and grass cover, and loss of biodiversity. The land could no longer feed them. Climate change vis a vis our food production system is generally the backstory now, and no doubt it will become the central issue for the next generation. When we talk about "sustainable systems" as those we manage for current needs without robbing the next generation, the way we eat today cuts to the very heart of the matter.

Read Hulme's, 'Why we disagree about climate change'. bring in the diverse religious perspectives. how is climate change helping us see ourselves differently? how is it changing the way we understand who we are in the world and our relationship to each other? From Carbon markets to protests, it's fundamentally reconstituting our relationship to everything - not least, to what consittutes good progress. what is the role of the economy? of finance? link climate to everything else - esp to finance and to the notions of h ow we do things right. you could interview daniel goleman, though i personally think his recent book maintains an unfortuante focus on economics and consumerism as the principle lens, which is only one way we can address these issues.

Fabulous suggestions, Sara. Thank you so much!

I love this stuff. There's so much going on that isn't reported very much. my MA thesis is looking at climate change and financial crisis and the renegotiation of the social contract which inherently has to do with morality, though at this stage i'm not talking about the religious perspective. next paper, i suppose. Maryknoll is doing some interesting work thinking about both. the 'no growth' movement is interesting too, definately worth a story or two. how do we have 'faith in science' and 'faith in models' - especially wehn those models are often wrong? Whom do we trust? We can ( i do) compare economic models and scientific models - there's a lot of interesting similarities - and the distrust that we expereince towards both of them - fascinating comparisons to religion, how we think, modernization, and different epistemologies. Contact me if you want more on that angle. There's also a story to be had in how foundations are responding to both these issues (ie, foundations have lost a ton of money recently. what are they funding? not funding? what is the role that foundations play in the forming (or halting) Movements?) and there's a story in what's being left out now that climate change is taking center stage - what - who - are we not paying attention to?
i assume you've got the new ways that religions are interacting with environmental issues covered. and, there's a story in unlikely partnerships/coalitions building around climate change that haven't worked together before, and what are they learning (or not learning) from one another. nice ethical/morality underpining there.

I hope SOF is objective enough to print their own carbon footprint if they really believe in anthropomorphic climate change. That climate has changed dramatically in the past without human intervention is not a statement of faith. Scientists are not in total agreement on what cased the last series of ice ages or the warming periods between them when human activity was not a factor. It seems to me a leap of faith to suggest that human activity is responsible of any current weather phenomena, or that anyone can put faith in a computer model to accurately predict the weather ten years, fifty years or even a hundred years from now when today's highly qualified weather experts cannot use the same computers to accurately predict the daily weather for next week or next season.

Hi Eric. We're not in the advocacy game here. And I, like you, tend to be cautious about leaping to apocalyptic conclusions. But there is a consensus among climate change scientists that something is happening. I think discussing the uncertainty you express in open conversation would be a great way of understanding both camps on climate change. Do you have any voices you might recommend from your reading or listening?

I believe my point is there is no consensus, but only political positions
that promote a contrived faith-based view of some future climate catastrophe
if we don't "act now!" It's not a matter of understanding both camps
because at this point I'm not sure we even know what the camps are. Climate
has changed pretty dramatically in the past without ANY human intervention,
seems like a leap of political faith to say that human activity is
responsible for changes today. As for voices, before we proclaim there is a
consensus out there I believe responsible journalism might prove its
audience well served to determine WHO that consensus is and what their
motives are for that consensus. Who is going to profit from their
consensus? I did a Google search to see if I could find a list names of the
"climate scientists" at the Paris climate meeting last year who proclaimed
that global climate change is human cause, couldn't find anything on WHO
these scientist were. A red flag went up immediately, and I believe some
responsible journalist would want to pick up on that and run with it. But,
what I'm afraid is happening is journalists are bowing to a position before
they search out the who, what and why. And that sure sounds like an
advocacy game to me.

My comment on the carbon footprint of SOF, it would be an interesting
challenge to estimate how much carbon the mere transmission of the SOF
weekly program via the public airwaves adds to the atmosphere. Many of the
member stations are running well over a million watts of power, not
insignificant when you add it all up.

THANK YOU very much, Trent, for taking time to reply to me. I appreciate
it.

Eric

I believe my point is there is no consensus, but only political positions
that promote a contrived faith-based view of some future climate catastrophe
if we don't "act now!" It's not a matter of understanding both camps
because at this point I'm not sure scientists even know what the camps are. Climate
has changed pretty dramatically in the past without ANY human intervention,
seems like a leap of political faith to say that human activity is
responsible for changes today. As for voices, before we proclaim there is a
consensus out there I believe responsible journalism might prove its
audience well served to determine WHO that consensus is and what their
motives are for that consensus. Who is going to profit from their
consensus? I did a Google search to see if I could find a list names of the
"climate scientists" delegates at the Paris climate meeting last year who basicall said
that global climate change is human cause, I couldn't find anything on WHO
these scientist were. A red flag went up immediately, and I believe some
responsible journalist would want to pick up on that and run with it. But,
what I'm afraid is happening is journalists are bowing to a position before
they search out the who, what and the why. And that sure sounds like an
advocacy game to me.

My comment on the carbon footprint of SOF, it would be an interesting
challenge to estimate how much carbon the mere transmission of the SOF
weekly program via the public airwaves adds to the atmosphere. Many of the
member stations are running well over a million watts of power, not
insignificant when you add it all up.

Trent, I recommend for interview Patrick J. Michaels, Ph.D. Climatology, (born February 15, 1950) is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, a retired Research Professor of Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia and a contributing author and reviewer of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).