Hey kids, let’s go out to the garage and make some new life forms! Get ready, because it’s already happening. We’ll talk with Pat Mooney, founder of the ETCgroup about crazy new technology on the loose. Then well-known journalist Steven Kotler takes us on a tour of ecopsychology in ten easy steps. Is it a diversion for comfortable coffee shops or “the answer”. Radio Ecoshock 160316

I’m Alex Smith. Welcome to Radio Ecoshock.

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You may be wearing clothes created with synthetic biology, and eating food laced with nanotubes. A weird future has arrived, without any warning labels. Our guest Pat Mooney will be your guide. Pat founded a group in 1977 looking into food, agriculture and commodities. In 2001 it was renamed the ETC Group, with offices in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and the Philippines. If it’s controversial, the ETC Group probably has a report on it.

Pat Mooney

If you really want to know what this interview is about, and get the details on scary tech you’ve never heard of, be sure and check out this ETC Group newsletter “ETC’s Irreverent Review of 2015… …and (possibly) Irrelevant Preview of 2016“.


From the ETC Group newsletter:

SynBio: During 2015, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity set to work monitoring and analysing biology and the panoply of new biotechniques. A multi-stakeholder working group met in Montreal at the end of the year and will report to the CBD’s scientific subcommittee this April. ETC’s Jim Thomas is a member of the committee. But, even as the UN inevitably concludes that CRISPR, synthetic biology, gene drives and everything else cry out for oversight, the EU Commission is expected to start 2016 giving a controversial legal opinion that at least some of the same techniques can enjoy a free pass – exempting so called ‘new breeding techniques’ from GMO legislation. (Incidentally, ETC together with Canada’s Bioeconomies media project and Germany’s Heinrich Böll Foundation published this year a video in several languages explaining SynBio).[xxxvii]

[xxxvii] ETC Group and Heinrich Böll Foundation, Video Animation on Synthetic Biology in 5 languages – French German, Spanish, Portuguese and Haitian Creole.

Here’s another good ETC Group source on synthetic biology.


ETC Group and Heinrich Böll Foundation, “Extreme Biotech meets Extreme Energy”, November 2015.


I got an article from natural news saying “engineered nanomaterials or (ENMs)” are on the rise in food, including in allegedly “organic” food. Let me give you a paragraph from that article:

A group called the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) established an inventory of consumer products [that]contain ENMs in 2005. After this list was presented by Mother Jones with over 1,000 entries, PEN ran too low on funds to continue by 2009.

That list depended on food manufacturers’ reporting ENM content. Nowb the food industry folks no longer report their ENMs at all because labeling ENMs is not required. Thus ENM food content remains shrouded in mystery even more than GMOs.

That’s a quote from an article at naturalnews.com.

Here is more from the ETC Group newsletter:

Nano NO More: Whatever happened to nanotechnology? ETC was the first CSO to take up the issue 15 years ago but, since then, dozens of other strong partners around the world have taken up the cudgels and are making progress (albeit belatedly) especially in the EU. But, nanotech is by no means gone away. The global market for nanomaterials is about 11 million tonnes projected to contribute to end products valued at €2 trillion in 2015.[xxxii] Six million factory workers will be handling nanoparticles by 2020. As we prepared for the Paris climate change negotiations, we learned that, for the first time, children in the city were found to have carbon nanotubes in their lungs.[xxxiii]

[xxxiii] Sam Wong, “Carbon nanotubes found in children’s lungs for the first time”, New Scientist, electronic edition, October 21, 2015.”

Are there nano particles placed in our food, would Americans be told if there were, and will they migrate throughout our body? Is anyone testing them for safety, or do we just run the experiment on all humans and nature?


ETC Group staff will vehemently deny that Pat Mooney, when he retires at the end of 2017, will be replaced by a blockchain


The ETC Group is working with the UN to set up a group to oversee and possibly control technology. But when have we ever met a technology we didn’t try, and eventually release into the real world? We can’t stop North Korea from developing nuclear technology, what makes anyone think they can stop humans somewhere in the world from making anything, especially at things like 3D printing and computers make even the most complex ideas easy in somebody’s basement or jungle? Pat Mooney gives us an update on efforts by the international community.


Outside the sci-fi products now arriving, let’s relax a little in the world’s forests. Except that news is hardly relaxing. Apparently satellites have been misreading the amount of the Amazon rainforest lost to agriculture. We also found out from another paper published in 2015, that new growth in the Amazon is storing about half the carbon scientists have assumed in so many climate studies.

Selections from the ETC Group newsletter:

Unfortunately, other satellites have been misreading the Amazon forest cover underestimating the incursion of cattle, cane and soya and exaggerating the trees and their biomass. Instead of a forest loss reduction rate of 25% last year, the loss accelerated by 62%.[ii]

[ii] Do-Hyung Kim, Joseph O. Sexton, John R. Towshend, “Accelerated deforestation in the humid tropics from the 1990s to the 2000s”, 7 May 2015, Geophysical Research Letters.

Worse still, the trees are growing faster but dying faster too – and storing barely half the CO2 scientists have assumed.[iii]

[iii] Gautam Naik, “Study: Amazon’s forests sequester less carbon“, Wall Street Journal, electronic edition, March, 21 2015.

Meanwhile, the boreal forests of North America may soon become net-emitters of carbon dioxide rather than capturing a third of the world’s atmospheric carbon. New estimates suggest that the Yukon Flats forest has been a source of GHG emissions for half a century.[iv] Where the Yukon goes, Alaska and Siberia are likely to follow.

[iv] Ryan Kelly, Melissa L. Chipman, Philip E. Higuera, Ivanka Stefanova, Linda B. Brubaker and Feng Sheng Hu, “Recent burning of boreal forests exceeds fire regime limits of the past 10,000 years”, June 19 2013, Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Climatologists – and the rest of us – also learned as we left Paris that perhaps as much as 40% of global deforestation comes through slave labor and that most of the world’s 35 million legally-defined slaves are either the victims of ecological destruction or are forced to contribute to one third of global annual GHG emissions through illegal mining, fishing, brick making and lumbering.[vii] We must all worry about what we don’t know we don’t know but a drastic reduction in GHG emissions is urgent – and not just for the climate.

[vii] Kevin Bales, Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World, Spiegel and Grau, 2016.

Pat Mooney has been looking into all this for decades. He’s the Executive Director of the international Civil Society Organization ETC Group, based in Montreal, Canada, with branches in other countries, and co-conspirators all over the world. Keep up with latest developments at the web site, etcgroup.org.

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We know the big problems threatening humanity and the natural world. We even have some affordable solutions. So why do we keep driving so hard toward the cliff of extinction? Maybe it’s all in the mind. In this program, we’ll add to my short-list of interviews on ecopsychology.

Steven Kotler is one of those endangered species called a real journalist. He’s been published in The New York Times Magazine, Wired, and much more. His best-selling 2012 book, co-authored with Peter Diamandis, is “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think“.

From his dog rescue ranch in New Mexico, we welcome Steven Kotler to Radio Ecoshock.

Steven Kotler

I think the future is much worse than Steve thinks. But maybe that’s my damaged mind-set. So we talk about the really fine article he published in Orion Magazine, “Ecopsychology in Ten Easy Lessons“.

By all means, stop right here, and read Steve’s article. It’s entertaining, sure, Steven is a great writer. But it’s deep, and well worth the time spent. I’ve been mulling it over ever since. And by the way, there’s no question that climate change is wreaking havoc with people’s mental health.

Steven tells us that’s logical and real. For example, let’s take James Lovelock’s theory that all life is really one co-dependent organism, almost with a global mind. That is one interpretation of “Gaia”. The late great Paul Shepard reasoned that when part of this great network is damaged, all feel it. Perhaps that’s why we groan when another great swathe of the great coral reef die off, or an iconic animal is almost gone. Are we subconsciously attached to all of nature?

Steve puts it better than I can, writing:

In 1982, the late ecologist Paul Shepard extended this theory into psychology, proposing that if there are innate links between the planet and the human species, then those links should extend to the human mind. Shepard feared that by wantonly destroying the former we are simultaneously ravaging the latter — quite literally driving ourselves mad one clearcut forest at a time.

For the record, paleontologist Peter Ward thinks the Gaia theory is dead wrong. The record shows life has barely stumbled along, surviving many of it’s own suicidal tendencies. He calls it the “Medea Hypothesis“. Even so, it’s true we all feel nature’s pain as though it was our own.

The idea that damage to nature is also damaging our mental health is gaining more and more ground. The U.S. National Wildlife Federation brought out an expert report on it in 2012. Maybe we are not as unfeeling about nature as we like to think, or at least, as corporate science has led us to believe? If human intelligence was developed over a very long time as hunters-gatherers, is it any wonder we have become so crazy living in concrete boxes where nature is more or less banned?

We also talk about Laura Sewell and her essay “The Skill of Ecological Perception.” We have to revive our senses, Laura tells us, in order to really conceive of nature at all.

Of course some readers in Orion Magazine questioned whether we really have to go to the ends of the Earth, as Kotler did in Patagonia, to find our ecological selves. Do you think it’s become impossible for humans to recognize their true inner selves in a city?

Here’s another paragraph from Steve’s powerful writing that moved me (from his article “Ecopsychology in Ten Easy Lessons”):

It all clicks into place — as I am watching the death throes of this iceberg. This is the real impact of industrial repression, the impact of our environmental arrogance. Once this meltdown is complete, it will not reverse. The freshly melted water will never become ice again, at least not in any time frame that is fathomable in human terms. What does it feel like to witness these end times? Awful. Like murder. Like I’m the one who is melting.

What about ecopsychology? There’s no time to train a hundred million eco-counsellors. Is this marriage of psychology and ecology destined to remain a plaything of the inner circle? Will it be taught in schools? Will it ever reach the Republican Party. Where can it go?

Despite the title, there is nothing “easy” about ecopsychology.

Steven Kotler is also co-founder and Director of Research for the Flow Genome Project, which trains athletes and others to reach their personal best. But as he talks (including explaining where the expression “Three dog night” comes from) – we realize his heart is in his New Mexico dog rescue project. It’s called “A Small Furry Prayer” and Steve has a book out all about that.

Keep up with all things Kotler at his web site www.stevenkotler.com. You may also be interested in his book “Tomorrowland: Our Journey from Science Fiction to Science Fact”.

Download or listen to this 28 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Steven Kotler in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

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Last week’s program on strange, record-breaking developments in the Arctic is still waving out into the Twittosphere, still heavily downloaded. You can listen for free at soundcloud.com/radioeochshock, or download any of our past programs from ecoshock.org.

This week’s climate horror story was pretty predictable. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have reached new levels above 404 parts per million. Just ten years ago, in 2006, it was big news when CO2 hit a record high of 381 parts per million. Greenhouse gases are still climbing, and they are increasing faster than ever before. Scientists used to talk about 2 parts per million added every year. Now it’s over 3 parts per million, for the second year in a row. From February 2015 to February 2016 CO2 levels jumped 3.76 parts per million.

The rate of carbon emissions increases is not constant. There is an increase on the increase every year. Unless we go into a crash program to save ourselves, catastrophe is right around the corner.

Despite the Paris peace agreement, government bragging, corporate propaganda and our own pride when we walking or turn off a light switch, humanity and all the species are hurtling ever-faster toward rising seas, an ocean more acid, crop-crushing droughts and extreme weather. Some plants and animals will not be able to adapt fast enough. Some humans won’t either.

But climate change is just one face of a revolution in human interference in natural systems. Let’s look into synthetic life, a plague of new nano-materials and the joys of gene-drives. We must not forget the dark side of technology, in our race to try everything.


Radio Ecoshock reaches out to you every week from over 90 non-profit radio stations in 4 countries, and countless Net stations. It ripples out to more to listeners in more than 100 countries weekly, via Soundcloud, archive.org and many other sites. Still, not enough humans know how dangerous these problems are, or how short our time to deal with them.

If you agree this program content is important, you can help. Please go ahead and forward the show widely, Tweet about it, get it on Facebook. Thank you for helping me get the word out, by extending the voice of our expert guests.

And thank you for caring about your world.


Our fake ad for Nature, as the new pharmaceutical wonder-drug, was created by the folks at nature-rx.org. Find the video version on You tube here.


We go out with a tune by Natalie Merchant called “It’s a Comin'”. I first saw this posted on Guy McPherson’s blog, Nature Bats Last. Find all her latest works at nataliemerchant.com.

And talk about timing! Natalie is back in the news!

Here are Natalie’s opening words:

Wild fires, dying lakes,

landslides, hurricanes,

apocalypse in store

like nothing ever seen before.

It’s a-coming.

Third-generation refugees,

street mob burning effigies,

revolution, civil war

like nothing ever seen before.