This was yet another great program from the Ralph Nader Radio Hour! Where to go from the first segment on becoming involved in community issues in a meaningful way? First, as part of my curriculum in an independent study program at a community college in NY, I encluded Bowling Alone so the class could consider the long-term meaning of being part of a group(s) and what it meant to class members. Not to sound my own horn, but belonging, sometimes against the odds, has always appealed to me although my generation of baby boomers shied away from membership in groups, organizing, and working toward the common good. That reaction to joining came from the reaction of many boomers to the Vietnam War era. In terms of town meetings, I stopped going because of hostile reactions to points of view I took. I recently wrote about the latter in “Welcome to the Bluest of Blue States.”

The second segment on energy conservation, and in particular white roofs, was also excellent. It seems that in the case of wind farms, a solution to some of the effects of global climate destruction, there is pushback and its obvious that it’s fossil-fuel driven. Solar panels are yet another solution, but a recent inquiry came with about a $20,000 investment.

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I have two comments.

The first is with regard to Steve Sklar’s interview. Green energy is wonderful, but battery storage is a huge ethical issue, especially since Siddharth Kara’s book Cobalt Red has revealed the truth about the bloodshed tied to cobalt mining in the Congo. How can we continue to use rechargeable batteries when we know the real-life consequences of doing so?

My second question is with regard to the writer and actors' strike. I have refused to continue to pay Netflix, AppleTV, and Disney+ since this began. Netflix continually reaches out to me to renew my monthly subscription, but I told them that I am waiting for a fair deal for the writers and actors. Since I am saving money, I would like to make a monthly donation to the strike fund of these determined workers. Is there a movement to encourage people to give their subscription money to striking workers rather than overpaid CEOs? How can I contribute?

Thank you! Your show is the best. I never miss an episode.

Gerry Chidiac

Prince George, BC, Canada

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Aug 29·edited Aug 29

Thanks to Ralph for the shout out to Harry Kelber. Those interested in Harry's work can find his booklets here. Ideal for rank and file union members. http://www.laboreducator.org/mainmenu.htm

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Thanks for your response, Klassic. I don't have the economic grounding to affirm or rebut your statements, except to say that perhaps the term "fiat currency" is symptomatic of the disconnect between mainstream economic thinking and the real world costs of actual resources and energy--money can be created by fiat, while energy and raw materials can't. But this is exactly the kind of conversations we should be having--getting into the nitty gritty of what can and can't be done to de-carbonize, in an atmosphere where too many people see the transition to renewables (again-a misnomer) in very vague, aspirational terms where we slay the fossil fuel dragon and then march boldly into a glorious green future.

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There is a deeper issue to consider. In basic sociological terms, we are living in the culture of late capitalism, with all of the individualistic pressures that were mentioned in the show. This means the question of how to make change is debated. But any view informed by Marx will include the basic fact that ideas follow experiences, not the other way around. So trying to get ahead of that large structural force that is manifesting as late stage capitalist culture is difficult if not impossible. It is good to try but these efforts need sound theory. If they cannot understand how change happens, they get the wrong answer -- this is Marx's basic critique of Hegel. Real change requires a structural change in how we organize production, and that seems to require revolution.

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Re the interview with Scott Sklar--White roofs is maybe a good idea, or maybe not--see some of the other comments. However the whole discussion was simply another manifestation of the widespread and growing consensus (including growing corporate endorsement of what they see as the next big growth sector) that a transition to solar and wind is THE way forward. A consensus that rests on a whole set of unexamined assumptions, and blindness to the energy and resource limitations that will make this transition unlikely to succeed, and in an environmental sense, disasterous. Many experts are questioning whether so-called renewables (they're not--being made entirely of non-renewable resources) will ever be capable of generating enough energy to run current levels of economic activity, let alone the increased levels predicted for the near future. The devastating environmental impact of building this new "green" infrastructure will be monumental, further compromising a biosphere already crippled by 200 years of industrial development. Further depletion of already depleted resources will make the necessary constant replacement of this infrastructure as it ages more and more expensive. Furthermore, can our debt ridden economy even pay for a project on this massive scale, unlike anything ever attempted before?

For these and many other reasons, we need to question this consensus--we need to know what makes sense for us to hope for and work for as humanity and the planet undergoes a transition that is an event in the history of life itself. Our fall back narratives of corporate malfeasance and greed are not remotely adequate to understanding this watershed in the evolution of life.

I'm writing this to encourage Ralph and his co-hosts to use their forum to begin exploring these vital questions--now is the time to stop talking so much about why we must de-carbonise, and start thinking seriously about how we de-carbonise, from both a practical and a philosophic point of view. Here are a couple sources of data informed critical thinking on these issues--The Post Carbon Institute, and then the podcaster, writer and teacher with expertise in many relevant fields, Nate Hagens. Hagens especially would make a great guest for the program.

Finally, just let me say that none of this is either an overt or implicit, stealth argument for continued fossil fuel use. We must de-carbonise. The question is to what end--to perpetuate our ecocidal way of life sans carbon, or to create a space in which a thousand different answers to the fundamental questions of humanity's relationship with the biosphere can bloom.

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Ralph, I feel compelled to let you know that there is a different story than the one your guest proposed regarding wind turbines and their impact of whale death, one that says . Your guest is vested in renewable energy and hardly an impartial voice although I don't don't his claim that ships account for much of the deaths. Some of those ships are from wind industry boat traffic and now there is a documentary by environmental activists and NOAA scientists showing the decibels emitted by wind vessels are driving whales off course into danger. The following two links revert to reporting done by Michael Shellenberger, a man I whole heartedly respect who you and your readers might know from his (along with several other journalists) ongoing campaign of awareness again government censorship. Incidentally, would make a great guest on your show.



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Love your show. I must however alert you to the bogus claims for reflective roofing.

Ask yourself: where does the heat go once it bounces off a white roof? A bit on physics might tell you it just doesn’t disappear. Remember conservation of energy?

That heat and all that light that bounces off a white roof must go somewhere. As a neighbor living next to and slightly above a row of white roofs I can tell you. It goes right into my living room.

The professor just didn’t do his homework. Everything else about solar panels and energy savings is smart and scientific.

But they don’t justify the white roofs boondoggle. To cool your house you needn’t pollute your neighbors.

I have pictures if interested.

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