Show 413: Merchants of Doubt: When Scientists Lie

Merchants of Doubt:  When Scientists Lie w/ Naomi Oreskes and Joel Kovel

Science is most likely our best way of knowing and navigating our universe. It is a self-correcting method by which bias is filtered through research, experimentation, and via objective means so that we can get as close to “truth” as any human endeavor might. But science is also a human construct, so it can’t help being influenced by not only our own human brains, but by the cultures our species develop in which science operates. And while science is our best method of separating human bias from fact, there can often seem to be a very thin line between each of these.

Today we want to focus on a relatively new book called Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.  Merchants of Doubt focuses on how some scientists have, and still do, misuse and misrepresent science itself – for either ideological or economical reasons – in such grave areas such as concerning the effects of tobacco smoke on human health, the Star Wars missile defense program President Reagan championed, and the current concerns around global warming.

Also joining us today will be Joel Kovel, an American politician, academic, writer, and eco-socialist.  Kovel feels the rapid economic growth encouraged by globalization has caused our current, acute ecological crises. He argues that capitalism’s expansion “exposes ecosystems” to pollutants, habitat destruction, and resource depletion. He is the author of the environmentally focused book, The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World.

Show 321: The Transition Town Movement!

{{UPDATE 6/23 — Still working on the extended interview, will have up by Friday morning…thanks for listening! -Michael O.}}

The Transition Town Movement!

With a “volcano of oil” plaguing the Gulf Coast and this week’s speech from President Obama stating that “we have known for decades that the days of easily accessible oil are numbered”, how can we imagine a society without cheap fossil fuels?

The Transition Town movement, founded in the UK and growing in America, offers a solution to meet our needs and increase community resilience. Applying lessons from permaculture and sustainable design to towns and cities, “Transition” maps out the positive changes needed from households to urban infrastructure to reduce our consumption and create real value at every opportunity. At the same time, the Transition movement aims to empower communities through innovative collective brainstorming and decision-making systems.

In the face of Peak Oil and Climate Change, do we have an opportunity to refashion society at a more *human* scale, with a higher quality of life, than transnational consumerism could ever provide? Michael ONeil will talk to Tina Clarke, a Transition Town educator, to find out what humanity will have to re-learn to overcome the challenges ahead.

Show 234: Fund Drive Special With Dr. Joel Kovel

Joel Kovel has spent the better part of his adult life profoundly concerned with the effects of human relationships as they impact the species as a whole, and indeed the planet itself. Like many of us on the Left, Joel has come to his work from a place of deep emotional and intellectual conflict… a conflict we experience via between the way we see the human adventure, and the way certain forces have shaped where we are today. All too often, the clash between what “is” and what we think “ought” to be, winds up in the end to favor the status quo. We are given all sorts of reasons for this by our more conservative friends from political and economic “practical” reasons, to the “lowly” nature of human beings (whether of the Christian or Hobbesian kind).

Alas, many of us live with the notion that ‘the more things change (for better or worse), the more they stay the same… which is just another way of our accepting what “is,” and putting our aspirations, hopes, and desires into that hidden away bottom shelf labeled “Utopian Fantasies.”

But as we have addressed for a long time now on Equal Time for Freethought – and indeed all across WBAI – Utopia is not a fantasy, but a destination-one no one expects to reach, but is driven by our very nature to come closer to. Those who argue for another kind of human nature that somehow justifies the status quo, do so from either a place of ignorance, fear, or – for those of us who are financially or politically well off – narcissistic comfort. For Joel Kovel, this just won’t do, and he has done his part to see that Utopia is removed from the bottom shelf, brushed off, and returned back to all of us.
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Show 202a: Earth Day Special: Joel Kovel – The Enemy of Nature

Earth Day Special: Joel Kovel

The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World

As the world’s scientists converge on the all too real crisis of “global warming,” even while Right-wingers and the Bush Administration continue to spin the crises into a Left-wing Conspiracy – probably headed up by Al Gore – too few discussions are taking place concerning the root causes of our ecological dilemma.

Conservatives who are willing to acknowledge what science is telling us, and even those whom exhibit a real sense of urgency, are afraid of what might happen to the economy if we go at environmentalism full force. Mainstream liberals like Al Gore have been working hard to dispel this fear by assuring us that the economy will get even stronger, not weaker, if we take care of our planet.

But what if the economy is at the very heart of the crisis?

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