Climate scientist Paul Beckwith says we are already off the cliff, falling into dangerous climate change. We get new science and the big picture. Then hear best-selling author Caleb Warnock on the new drive to grow your own… food. He’s got a garden out there in the Utah winter, with no heat.
Hey there, here is another mind-rocking show for you. This week, I got hammered by some awful news from some great climate science, so I took my troubles to University of Ottawa climate scientist Paul Beckwith. We get a cutting edge education.
Then we’ll try and heal with real food you can grow yourself. Our guest Caleb Warnock is a best-selling author. He’ll tell us how humans fed themselves without fossil fuels for centuries. We hear how to grow food year-round including cold winters and summers made hotter by global warming.
Take the green way out, with Radio Ecoshock.
TRACKING THE BIG PICTURE WITH SCIENTIST PAUL BECKWITH
We read relentless headlines about our planet heading out of control. Most of them seem to cruise by without hurting us. Yeah, yeah, half the mammals will be extinct soon. The oceans are dying. Scientists declare Earth a toxic planet. Wait – did somebody say it’s going to be too hot to hold outdoor music festivals? That’s terrible! I love those!
My theory is we all have triggers and breaking points, especially when it comes to climate change news. A couple of mine arrived this week. Now I’m freaked out, again. That means it’s time to call our Radio Ecoshock regular correspondent, University of Ottawa scientist Paul Beckwith. Paul teaches climate science at the University. He also teaches it to the world via his many You tube videos.
No doubt we’re all going to need a climate help line pretty soon. When we get worried, we call up and get a climate counselor. How about you, do you get freaked out by the climate news sometimes? There have been recent studies showing more and more people are feeling climate stress. We don’t need science to watch this all happening, literally in our backyards. For example, in this year of 2017, the city of Chicago had no snow in January and February. That’s got to be pretty crazy for people who know the Great Lakes winters.
OK, here is my first personal trigger. I’m minding my own business, cruising through gardening videos, and a listener sends me a story by journalist Nafeez Ahmed. He says new science suggests we could experience a burst of warming within the next 5 years. I had problems getting my usual garden plants to survive the strange hot May and June we had last year. The US National Weather Service says this coming spring will be even hotter. It’s going to be a struggle to garden. I ask Paul: could we see an even worse jolt in heating, something we haven’t seen before, within the next five years?
The paper stimulating Ahmed’s article at vice.com was published back in 2015 with the title “Quantifying the likelihood of a continued hiatus in global warming“.
Considering we’ve just experienced hotter and hotter – what would a jump in warming look like for the rest of us? Food? Deaths? How hot? Paul Beckwith, what are we gambling with here?
I began by moaning about personal triggers, where the news gets too real. Judging by one of Paul’s recent videos, I’m thinking he hit one too. I’m talking about stories that billionaires expect to get away from climate collapse by building bunkers in the Southern Hemisphere, in places like New Zealand. Maybe we’ll all head to New Zealand. What’s wrong with that logic? It turns out the whole world is connected, and there is no safe place to hide from a climate calamity. My apologies to listeners in Australia, who already know this.
Find Paul’s video “Southern Hemisphere Is No Haven From Abrupt Climate Change” here.
NO GLOBAL THERMOSTAT – WARMING “CAN BREACH LIMITS FOR LIFE”
My next freak-out came with brand new science, just published March 3, 2017. You may not have read it yet, but the title of this paper published in Science Advances is: “Evidence disproving tropical ‘thermostat’ theory: global warming can breach limits for life“. I hope to interview one of the authors soon.
There’s two parts to that. I’ve had scientists on this show say the tropics won’t really warm that much. The theory was that Earth had a general thermostat, and the tropics are about as warm as they can get. Dr. Matthew Huber and his Climate Dynamics Prediction Laboratory at Purdue University say there is no global thermostat. They looked at the last great warming event, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum or (PETM) around 56 million years ago. Quoting from the abstract, “Global ocean temperatures rapidly warmed by ~5°C”.” That sounds pretty drastic. I assume that can’t happen here any time soon…
Part of the point of that paper on the PETM was that the tropics became extremely warm, hotter than 35 degrees C. annual mean temperature, and I guess hotter than humans and other mammals could survive. Does that sound possible?
Dr. Huber tells me in email that the whole “global thermostat” theory is out the window. The last part of that paper says “global warming can breach limits for life”. That sounds like an oh-oh moment for sure, don’t you think?
A COUPLE OF NEW WAYS TO LOOK AT WHAT WARMING WILL BRING US
Looking back at a half dozen science interviews I’ve done recently on Radio Ecoshock, I’ve come to two conclusions about the development of climate change. The first is: it’s going to be “patchy”. It looks like climate impacts will look different in different parts of the world. One scientist told us more toxic materials including mercury will flow into the ocean – but mostly in Scandinavia and the US Northeast. Another says watch out for super-fires – but mostly in the Mediterranean, western North America, and southeast Australia. This climate shift is going to look different depending on where you live. Would you agree?
Beyond being “patchy”, I think the climate shift will appear to us as “jagged” weather. Just look at what happened where you live in Eastern North America. The temperatures can be crazy almost summer weather in February, and then drop more than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, overnight! It’s getting harder to tell what season we are living in, don’t you think?
Getting back to my touchstone of raising my own food: plants depend on an orderly procession of the seasons. If the weather shifts back and forth with such extremes, agriculture is going to be in trouble. And by agriculture, I mean the food supply for whole populations, including you and me. I’m wondering if survivalists will have to grow food inside shelters with a controllable climate. Am I being too paranoid too soon?
ALL SEASON ALL NATURAL GARDENING WITH CALEB WARNOCK
Would you like to rip fresh greens from your own backyard, even in winter? It sounds impossible, until you get a tour of Caleb Warnock’s winter garden. I just got his book about it. I’m not talking about greens in Florida, or even Vancouver. Caleb Warnock lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with lots of altitude and lots of snow. He’s the author of many popular books on self-sufficiency, healthy foods, and tips from the pioneers.
One of his early and popular books is titled “The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers“. For what it’s worth, I do a fair amount of canning, and at least half of what I know came from watching You tube videos posted by Mormon women.
I also appreciate having at least a year’s worth of survival food in the basement. Why? Because this civilization is very fragile. Whether it’s a solar storm knocking out electricity, or a burst of climate-change driven heat killing off crops, just like the early Mormons I think we should prepare for adversity that can survive the failure of at least one harvest.
But what really drew me to Caleb’s work was his book on Winter Gardening. I want fresh greens in the winter, and our local village store doesn’t carry a wide variety. Once I saw Caleb taking us on a tour of his winter greens, in cheap cold frames with no heat, I was sold!
Note: Skip ahead to 7 min. 48 sec.:
Here is a blog with photos of one of Caleb’s early winter greenhouses. Now Caleb has 4 greenhouses, either heated by the sun, by geothermal or both. On his web site, you can order his online course on geothermal greenhouses for a reasonable $29 – BUT it’s only available to people in the United States. That’s a shame, because I wanted to watch it before building my own this spring – especially after Caleb bluntly told me in this interview that my plan wouldn’t work. Actually, I didn’t take time to outline my whole plan, so maybe it will!
In Canada many places have a “Seedy Saturday” seed exchange, where you can get varieties that do well locally. Also in Canada there’s “Seeds of Diversity“. Britain, Australia and most countries have something similar. Look around.
To be honest, Caleb doesn’t seem to answer his email quickly. His home phone answering machine says he checks for messages every couple of months or so. Maybe that’s because Caleb is pretty busy actually doing things! He’s published more than a dozen how-to-books, runs a rare seed sale business, runs several greenhouses and multiple gardens, looks after some cattle and chickens, and helps raise his 6 step-daughters. Oh, and he makes speeches as well. So that’s at least as much as one man can do.
I wrap up this show with something different. This song “Blindsided” by Taylor Barton sounds Christian, but it also has a climate side, as she sings “someone torched the Kingdom”. By the way, there are some famous musicians on this track, including rock guitarist G.E. Smith.
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Thank you for listening. Let’s meet again next week.