More on super storms, ice melt & James Hansen, from climate expert Dr. David Archer & the late anti-nuclear activist Michael Mariotte. New Antarctic melt science w. Dr. Tony Worby & Dr. David Etheridge – some surprises in role of Antarctic ice in world weather.

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Welcome to a third program where we look into claims Earth will experience rapidly rising seas and super storms in the coming decades.

Dr. David Archer, from the University of Chicago is the author of “The Long Thaw” and other books. He often posts on Real Climate, and is well respected in the climate community. I thought he might be critical of the new James Hansen paper on Ice Melt, Sea Level and Super Storms – but as an official reviewer, Archer finds it to be genius science. Archer explains its importance for all of us during the coming decades.

I have trouble with James Hansen’s promotion of nuclear power as a solution for climate change. In Hansen’s book “Storms of My Grandchildren” he advocates for Generation Four nuclear reactors, new designs that are allegedly safer. But now he’s gone a step further, teaming up in an unlikely alliance with Michael Schellenberger of the Breaththrough Institute, to push for Illinois to keep old and dangerous reactors running – and get a public subsidy for them.

Two of these are the GE Mark I reactors that blew up in Fukushima, due to bad design (the fuel rods come up from the bottom, through seals that let reactor fuel leak out of containment). Hansen is on the board of an industry-friendly group in Illinois, all funded by the Chicago billonaire family, the Pritzkers. Strange company.

I talk with the long-time head of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) Michael Mariotte about “how low will they go”. In the few days since I recorded that interview, I am sad to report that Michael passed away May 23rd from pancreatic cancer. This was his last interview. Michael was true to his cause literally to the end.

Then we get some surprises in new science on Antarctica, from two Australian experts, Tony Worby and David Etheridge. We’ve all be focused on major changes in the Arctic, which is conveniently closer to most of us – but it’s the South Pole which may determine the future of the world – through sea levels, and sea ice several times greater than Australia. That ice melt may determine the coming weather, even in the next decades.

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Will we experience serious sea level rise during our lifetimes? How about storms bigger than anything in recorded history? All this comes from a controversial new paper published in March by an international team of scientists. It was led by the famous former top NASA climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen. The short title of that paper is: “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms.”

To get another opinion, I’ve contacted Dr. David Archer. David is a professor in the Department of The Geophysical Sciences, at the University of Chicago. I learned a lot from his excellent book “The Long Thaw. How Humans are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth’s Climate“. David also appears often on the scientists’ blog called “Real Climate“.


Download or listen to this 22 minute interview with scientist David Archer in CD Quality or David Archer interview Lo-Fi

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David also offers a free online course in climate science! Thousands have taken it. Find that course here.


Why is the world’s most famous climate scientist helping out America’s biggest electricity producer Exelon? And why is James Hansen trying to get the people of Illinios to subsidize Exelon’s dangerous old reactors in Illinios? Even stranger, why did the “death of environmentalism” guy Michael Shellenberger suddenly pop up with a new front group called “Environmental Progress Illinois”? Who is the billionaire funding all that, and why did Hansen join the board? Questions, questions.

For decades, I’ve relied on the non-profit Nuclear Information and Resource Service, the NIRS to get answers on nuclear power. The group was formed in 1978. Michael Mariotte was it’s executive director since 1985. Due to health concerns, Michael stepped aside for the new Director Tim Judson. But thank goodness, that doesn’t mean Michael has shut up. Without him, I would never have known about the nuclear swamp in Illinois, and Hansen’s questionable connections there.



OK, this is crushing news for me. When I contacted Michael, he wasn’t sure he could do the interview. It turns out he was entering a hospice due to his three-year battle with Pancreatic cancer. I’m pretty sure you are listening to his last radio interview, likely his last media interview. We’ve all lost a strong life-long campaigner to stop the madness of nuclear power.

The group of scientists led by James Hansen have explored the extreme possibilities of climate change this century. While I’m not qualified to judge the science, I disagree with one of Hansen’s solutions, nuclear power. I’m talk that over with one of the greatest anti-nuclear activists in America, Michael Mariotte.


I found Michael (again) as he posted this very serious article about James Hansen teaming up with one of the worst abusers of “green” imagery, Michael Shellenberger of the Breakthrough Institute (which doesn’t really have any “breakthroughs” for the climate at all…).

In a post on the Green World blog, Mariotte asks “How low can they go? Hansen, Shellenberger now shilling for Exelon“.


Exelon, if you didn’t know, is the largest owner/operator of nuclear power plants in America. Now that is has merged with another big power company, Pepco, Exelon is also now the largest single supplier of electricity in the United States.

The story of Exelon in the state of Illinois is not pretty. The company started out there, and still operates three reactors. Two of them are the dangerous GE Mark I reactor designs, or “Fukushima clones” as Mariotte calls them. The other is newer, built in the 1980’s.

Exelon claims their Illinois reactors are losing money. Other sources dispute that. In any case, Exelon is trying to get a bill rammed through the Illinois State legislature to either (a) get a big rate hike from electricity consumers in the state, or (b) get a straight-out subsidy from Illinois taxpayers. But Illinois doesn’t need that nuclear power. The reason Exelon claims to be losing money is they are getting killed by much lower cost wind power from the mid-West, and by lower cost natural gas generating plants (mostly powered by fracked gas).

The Exelon reactors could shut down tomorrow (and they should!) and Illinois would not go dark. There is no reason for the people of Illinois to keep these dangerous nuclear dinosaurs going. So Exelon is reaching deep for any reason to get more money. They now says the reactors are need to fight climate change. (Wind will do that job).

So they need friends who can promote nuclear power as a green alternative. Enter Michael Shellenberger, a non-scientists who with pollster Ten Nordstrom declared themselves “Senior Fellows” of an “Institute” that was originally just some offices in a mall in El Cerito, California. A foundation funded them.

Now Schellenberger got some funding from Chicago’s wealthiest family, the Pritzkers. He created another non-profit with the money, “Environmental Progress Illinois” – which tries to look like some sort of citizen’s lobby group. It isn’t. James Hansen is shown as a board member. Does he get paid?

It gets worse. Michael Mariotte tells us that James Hansen, in his zeal for nukes, went to other foundations asking them do cut funding to any environmental group that opposed nuclear power! I haven’t verified this myself, but NIRS has the documents. Mariotte says this Hansen push to defund even included groups like the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) – which isn’t even specifically anti-nuclear, but says reactors are a concern.

I think Hansen is way out of his league on this. He’s not an energy expert. This move to keep old GE Mark I reactors going, well beyond their design date, and despite severel melt-downs, casts doubt about his judgement. I won’t say it demotes his science, which is known to be world class. It does show how far James Hansen will go to follow up his beliefs.

You can read about Hansen’s role here, in the article “Climate scientist James Hansen stumps for nuclear in Illinois as Exelon bill looms“,

Download or listen to this 21 minute interview with activist Michael Mariotte in Michael Mariotte on Ecoshock CD Quality or Michael Mariotte on Ecoshock Lo-Fi

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Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus were originally funded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation – famous for food products like Sara Lee. That became worth over half a billion dollars. After funding greens for years, the Cummins Foundation changed direction.

Now Shellenberger and Nordhous’s BreakThrough Institute has Rachel Pritzker as the chair of its advisory board. The big Pritzker family has 11 billionaires with a combined worth over $30 billion dollars.

You can follow my two part programs on Michael Shellenberger and the Breakthrough Institute here:

PLOTTING THE GREEN DEATH The “Grim Reapers”, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus are at it again, claiming “environmentalism is dead”. New book “Break Through”, interview the authors, plus Peggy Shepard of WE ACT, environmental justice in Harlem. Ecoshock show 071019 (54 min) 13 MB

PLOTTING THE GREEN DEATH – PART 2 “Death of Environmentalism” boys, Shellenberger and Nordhaus, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, which pays for green bashing. Ecoshock 071026 58 min 14 MB. Transcript here.

This is what they say:

and it will require that we leave environmentalism behind, as we construct a post-natural politics” (Shellenberger and Nordhaus in BreakThrough) To my mind, these two became anti-environmentalists.

Bill McKibben in a New York Times book review objected to Breakthrough book’s idea to bioengineer humans to withstand the coming heat. But his main objection is this book gives up on trying to control carbon emissions. We can go on burning fossil fuels, Shellenberger and Nordhouas suggested, while waiting for the next big technical fix, like hydrogen cars, or maybe fusion power.

The Pritzker family is deep into Illinois politics, as one of the most powerful families in Chicago. They include Penny Sue Pritzker, the US Secretary of Commerce.

Again, whether or not we agree with nuclear power as a solution to climate change, does not reflect on the science behind the new paper “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms”. The scientific community is still divided on Hansen’s new work. It will take time to evaluate it.

But just before his death, Michael Mariotte told me “…I have long trusted Hansen on climate issues; now, I am nervous about that. If he can be so wrong in Illinois, and so far removed from his own previous statements on nuclear safety, and seems willing to sell himself to the nation’s largest, and quite possibly greediest, electric utility, well, how can I trust his other work?


David Archer mentioned that sea ice is not descreasing in Antarctica in a warming world, as expected in the models. That may be a good thing for the climate. We can get answers from a recent feature radio show on Antarctic science, done by Vivien Langford, host of Beyond Zero Emissions on 3CR community radio in Melbourne, Australia.

Download or listen to this 14 minute excerpt from Beyond Zero Radio with host Vivien Langford in Beyond Zero Emissions on Radio Ecoshock CD Quality

We hear an explanation by Professor Tony Worby, the CEO of the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre.


Scientist Tony Worby

We just have time for another except from that Beyond Zero Emissions show on Antarctic science. Here Vivien interviews Dr. David Etheridge from the Australian research agency CISRO appearing on Beyond Zero Radio in Australia on May 6, 2016.


Scientist David Etheridge

I haven’t done justice to that excellent full-hour program on Antarctic science, with 3 guests, from Viven Langford on 3CR Community Radio in Melbourne. Find the program at, or a link in my show blog at

We are out of time. I’m Alex Smith. Thank you for listening, and please join me for Radio Ecoshock again next week.


We finish up the show, with a sequel to last week’s program on dying coral in the Great Barrier Reef. British folk artist Ruth Mundy, sings “Love in the Time of Coral Reefs” published on You tube May 5, 2016.

Here is Ruth Mundy’s You tube channel, her Facebook page, and her web site. Thanks Ruth, it so beautiful, just like the coral.