Is the shale game a shell game?

In coming months we will be dealing with the Pennsylvania natural gas rush and the drilling into the Marcellus Shale. This is a major issue facing our state and one that we will deal with on air. No doubt, it's a contentious issue that people hungry for economic development want to make some money from, large energy corporations and boom companies are hoping to make huge profits from, but that many local citizens are worrying about as just another boom and bust and that work-a-day citizens, conservationists, and sustainability folks are thinking might be a big hoodwink.

Just to give a head's up, there are set of videos by Dr. Anthony Ingraffea at Cornell has done that explain some of the problems. Here is part two that tells us at least about the beginnings of these problems. Stay tuned!


What does it mean to be who and what we are on Earth?

Belief and behavior might constitute the greatest challenges we face as we confront the myriad problems of modern life. They certainly make a transition to a sustainable world difficult.

Every day "life" seems to get faster and faster.

We can feel trapped in an ever-tighter iron cage of our own technology while we call for more of it that does whatever it does faster than the one that we called for the year before. People want a beautiful landscape to look at and walk in and yet the electricity that we require for our way of life makes us destroy mountain tops in Appalachia to dig for coal. Most of us believe in the right to clean drinking water but to power our buses or our computers we turn millions of gallons of water into toxic brine to hydrofracture the Marcellus Shale to extract natural gas.

The author David Orr describes the tie between our prosperity and its unsustainability a social trap, a "tragedy of the commons" writ large.

Climate change. Global habitat loss. Species extinction.

All of these things come about because we believe things. What do we believe? What should we believe? What can we believe that might raise our ecological consciousness? What would happen if we lived as if life - perhaps that should be LIFE - really mattered?

Our guests today will talk to us about these issues today. Dana Stuchul (Assistant Professor of Education - Penn State), Christopher Uhl (Professor of Biology - Penn State), and Tsultrim Datso (Buddhist contemplative) all invite current and future teachers and all of us into different ways of thinking about our own educations and others' educations in ways that bring our beliefs about our place in the social, spiritual, and natural world to the fore. The three of them work to bring mindfulness into formal education. What we believe matters. How can we believe, act, and be more sustainable?

Perhaps we can get something of an answer chapter 10, "Empowerment: Transforming Self, Transforming Society," of Uhl's book, Developing Ecological Consciousness: Path to a Sustainable World:
In the early stages of the industrial revolution, people knew they were living in a time of great change. The situation is similar today. We live in a time of transition and tumult - a time when we feel a great hunger for meaning and purpose.

The sustainability revolution has come forth out of this turmoil. This revolution challenges society to redefine its bottom line - which, of course, is what makes "sustainability" such a necessary, as well as radical, concept. The shift away from a culture based on exploitation, profit, militarism, and separation to one based on sustainability - that is, one grounded in stewardship, interdependence, social justice, and peace - will not come easily.

In order for this new paradigm to take root in society, three conditions must be satisfied. First, we must have a compelling vision of the new, life-sustaining world that lies ahead. Second, citizens must believe that the radical changes required to create this life-sustaining society, are possible. Finally, major social transformations, such as those implicit in a sustainability revolution, depend on an actice and educated citizenry, skilled in the creative use of power. The practices that accompany these three foundations explore the role of vision, activism, and insight in personal empowerment and transformation.
Today, we will explore how this might begin and where it might lead. My bet is, given the demeanor of these people, that the journey will be infused with joy and that one of the great goals is to create a convivial society, a society the philosopher Ivan Illich remarked would maximize "individual freedom realized in personal interdependence.”

Join us this afternoon from 4-5 pm on The Lion, 90.7.


Richard Alley named to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Those of you who listened to our show on April 2nd might be interested to know that Richard Alley has been named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences with one other Penn State faculty. Read the whole story here.

The story notes the very reasons we had him on the show:
Alley is one of the world's leading climate researchers and also works with the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Penn State. He is one of several earth scientists from Penn State who contributed to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Prize with Al Gore. His current research focuses on glaciology, ice sheet stability and paleoclimates from ice cores. He has based his work on a meticulous study of ice cores from Greenland and West Antarctica. Alley's work has been lauded for contributing to the understanding of climate science not only through superlative research, but also through his ability to inform nonscientists.
He is also a go-to guy for people like Gore and noted science journalist and blogger Andy Revkin at DotEarth.


Schooling for "environmental literacy"

What does it mean to use place-based settings to develop environmental literacy? What is environmental literacy? Why should anyone care?

There is a growing movement in the United States connecting the natural environment to the traditional "essential" school subjects of math, science, reading, and writing. Students, teachers, administrators, and parents at these schools are developing ways that hope to develop cognitive skills often stressed by standardized tests. Most of us want our kids to learn measurement, observation, analysis, and explanation skills so that they can function in modern society. But a large number of people are starting to look at nature as one of the best ways to teach and learn these skills. And many of them hope that students engaged with the natural environment might also develop a positive, respectful, and lasting relationship with nature. This is the beginning of educating for sustainability.

Numerous organizations have sprouted at the national, regional, and local level. These include the Green Schools Alliance, the United States Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development, the North American Association for Environmental Education, the Center for
Ecoliteracy, the Farm to School, Kansas, Kentucky, and Maryland Green Schools initiatives, the Pennsylvania Center for Environmental Education, and many more (see 3E-COE blog's sidebar for a larger list).

Right now, all of the public elementary schools in the State College Area School District have school gardens. These are places for students to develop academic knowledge, exercise skills, and connect with nature and one another. The district recognizes that the garden can be ideal to meet standards in the biological sciences, ecology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, math, health and physical education, and be used for writing, reading, and more. Can they even develop self-efficacy, self-sufficiency, and friendliness? The district states, "With an emphasis on inquiry-based education and learning, school gardens go beyond teaching biology, math and writing to students; they provide a more integrated method of learning, one which enriches students' mind, body and heart and produces favorable behavioral changes."

One of these schools, Park Forest Elementary, has gone above and beyond gardens. They have a
bird blind, a cold box, the greenhouse on the way, a nature walk through a large patch of woodland frequented by at least on Pileated Woodpecker, the outdoor pavilion, the amphitheatre, a wetland (pictured at right), vegetable and pollinator gardens, 13 composting chambers, and a student-run recycling program. Soon, they will be getting beehives (enclosed to protect children from bees and vice versa). As a way to integrate the fifth grade curriculum, students and teachers engage this Schoolyard Project by writing a 'Zine that incorporates writing, science, and technology into a long-term project with numerous positive learning and behavioral outcomes. It doesn't hurt that they also engage students in a working democracy within the school.

Today, we will talk to five special guests from Park Forest to learn more about these programs Principal Donnan Stoicovy and one of the fifth grade teachers Lisa LaDriere-Konan will be joined by three fifth graders. All of them will tell us about what an "environmentally smart" person knows and does and how we can school for it, what
their outcomes are, and what lessons other schools might learn from them.

Join us today, April 16th, from 4-5 pm on the Lion FM.


Organic and sustainable agriculture? What are these things?

In the last few years a few books and movies have come out that have brought the unsustainability of the American food system into sharp focus. These have included Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Peter Singer's and James Mason's The Way We Eat. And even wider audiences have been reached by films like Supersize Me, The Future of Food, and the 2008 hit Food, Inc. All of these got us to look at issues related the American industrial food system and its health effects, its effects differently regarding justice and income, and the ecologically unsustainable path we have been placed on.

But what could be sustainable agriculture? And what is this thing called "organic?" Is it as simple as just "Buy fresh. Buy local."? How can our farms and our eating be sustainable and organic? What do farmers need to do to get through it all to get certified organic on their labels? Our guests will help us sort through the noise.

Bryan Snyder is the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, a state organization to promote economically, communally, and environmentally sustainable farming and agricultural processes. Likely, if you've been to your local farmer's market, you've shopped with and bought from a PASA member.

Kyla Smith is an inspector for Pennsylvania Certified Organic which
"assure[s] the integrity of organic agricultural products through education, inspection, and certification of growers, processors and handlers." She spoke to us as an inspector, not as a representative of PCO as a whole.

Listen to the show to hear about sustainable agriculture, organic, our roles as consumers and producers, education, and how we can get involved. Every Friday 4-5 pm on The Lion 90.7.


Michael Mann on the climate dust-up

Michael Mann is a peer of Richard Alley from last week's show. They both study climate and have come to the conclusion that industrial humans have induced climate change. Mann has been on the receiving end of some pretty horrendous accusations in the past months, accusations we have dealt with on Sustainability Now with students, with Ed Perry of the National Wildlife Federation, and the ethical implications of which we have tackled with Don Brown.

For various reasons, we haven't been able to get Dr. Mann on the show (though we will still pursue it). In our stead, we provide you with an excellent link to his conversation with Chris Mooney at Point of Inquiry. Mooney is the author of the excellent books The Republican War on Science and blogger at The Intersection. Enjoy.


What should the press be doing about climate change?

We have now had three shows on climate change. We've talked legislation and climate change denial with Ed Perry of the National Wildlife Federation, the ethics of climate change with Don Brown of the Rock Ethics Institute and former Clinton ambassador for the environment, and now the science and ramifications of climate change with Richard Alley of the IPCC and Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. We are some small press for the biggest issue facing us today.

This show's co-host, Peter Buckland, has a piece in Voices of Central Pennsylvania on what the press needs to do about climate change. In his article, "Climate change puts us all in danger," Peter argues that the press needs to press people making climate policy on our duties and responsibilities to other people, especially people in Sub-Saharan Africa, Bangledesh, the Maldives, and Arctic indigenous populations. Without question, the United States has adversely affected those people's economies, societies, and ecosystems. We should be responsible for this and our press should be holding them accountable.

Read the article here.


Cruising on the two-mile time machine

What do we know about climate change and how do we know what we know about it? We have incredibly robust evidence that the Earth is warming because of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions through the burning of fossil fuels and the release of other chemicals that humans have use for various purposes including refrigerants. Scientists, indigenous people, farmers, and naturalists the world over are seeing this in the calving of ice sheets, in melting glaciers, in the drunken arboreal forests, in rising sea levels, in the migration of plants, animals, and microbes, and more. To make it plain: there is no scientific controversy remaining about whether humans have induced climate change.

Today's guest, Dr. Richard Alley, is one of the foremost scienists on climate change. He has been studying glaciology, ice sheet stability, and paleoclimates from ice cores, primarily in Greenland, where he has discovered corroborating evidence that the polar regions are warming and that glaciers and ice caps are melting. He has been published in the world's two leading scientific journals, Science and Nature, and has about 170 scientific papers to his credit. He is also the author of The Two-Mile Time Machine (pictured at right), a book that guides its readers to begin understanding the last 110,000 years of climatic history by using ice cores from the Greenland ice sheet. Perhaps most impressive to the non-scientific audience, he was one of the lead author for "Chapter 4: Observations: Changes in Snow, Ice and Frozen Ground" Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's AR4 in 2007, the same year the IPCC co-won the Nobel Prize with Al Gore.

Given all of this evidence, what should we be doing about it? What can we do in our private, our community, and our political lives to make a difference on climate change? Listen in this afternoon, Friday April 2nd on The Lion 90.7 from 4-5 pm and hear what Dr. Richard Alley has to say about. As always, feel free to call in.