On this episode of Solutions News, Rinaldo reports on new carbon capture processing plants that cost-effectively remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it, then he discusses technologies that pull clean water from the air using a variety of techniques including solar energy or nanofiber cloth nets. He has an engaging interview with relationship expert Arielle Ford, who tells our listeners how to find their "soul mate" or how to turn their current mates into something closer to a "soul mate". The final story looks at the benefits of mindfulness meditation - which is even better than a vacation for relieving stress, though vacation is awesome and Rianldo is planning to take one. We also do some "didyaknows".
Carbon Capture and Storage
The lead story today is about a technique to pull Carbon Dioxide from the air, called carbon capture and storage. A Swiss company called Climeworks is about to bring its third unique plant online to help fight climate change, with an end goal of removing 1% of global emissions by 2025. The first plant uses captured carbon to fuel a greenhouse and increase the crop yield between 20 and 30 percent. In Iceland, the company is building a plant alongside a geothermal energy plant. Excess energy from the geothermal plant is used to push carbon underground, where it binds with minerals. Moreover, a Canadian company, Carbon Engineering, uses a process they say can abate a ton of carbon for around $100, which is a huge step towards solving the calamity of climate change.
Capturing Ambient Water
Worldwide, there are 800 million people that face some type of problems related to water scarcity. There are multiple processes to help solve this problem, the most innovative of which actually pulls water out of the air. In a hospital in Jamaica, a company has installed 20 solar panels, which can soak up to 800 gallons of water every year (more than the hospital needs). The same company has installed similar panels in 20 different countries, including in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria destroyed the local water infrastructure. Other effective technologies already on the market such include nanofiber cloth nets that create clean, bacteria free water and carbon nanotube straws that use membranes to filter water. All three of these processes are cheap methods to solve a global problem.
The short term benefits of vacation are definite; they can range from reduced stress to better immune health. However, it turns out that mindfulness and meditation can actually have more long term benefit. Meditation provides long term stress relief, boosts the immune system, and can also help reduce chances of dementia.
Carbon Engineering is finding cost effective methods to pull carbon from the air!
On this episode of Solutions News, we talk about bioplastics being developed as renewable, biodegradable and non-toxic solutions to petroleum-based plastic. We then turn to the concept of personal resilience and take a close look at several college programs that are being deployed to help young people learn resiliency skills in the face of trauma, crisis, or just frustration. Our Guest is Sunrise Activist Rose Strauss, and we finish the hour with “didyaknows” and a story about productive anger – and how it can be the source of both personal power and positive social change.
The first story this week focused on biodegradable solutions to the plastic epidemic around the world. Creating sustainable alternatives to plastic helps to fight overly wasteful consumer habits and lessens pollution, especially in the oceans. This sector, which was once a niche solution is becoming more mainstream as more people understand the long reaching consequences of plastic pollution. For example, Trader Joes is working to reduce plastic use in stores in the United States, and Iceland, a supermarket chain in the UK, is phasing out plastic in stores in favor of solutions like compostable bags for produce. Bioplastics are types of biodegradable plastic derived from biological substances rather than from petroleum. Bioplastics can come from almost any organic material (e.g., straw, wood chips and food waste) and lessen waste by allowing less to go to landfills and creating plastic-like material that biodegrades much more rapidly than oil-based plastic. A company in Mexico, Biofase, is using avocado pits to make biodegradable cutlery and straws and selling them across the US, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. Continuing with the idea of recycling food waste, another process, Shellworks, creates a creates a thin film-like alternative to plastic made from seafood waste (lobster shells). Just another reason to like guacamole and lobster.
Resilience and Trauma Training in Colleges
Colleges across the United States are making an effort to confront the idea of childhood trauma as part of an increased focus on student mental health and coping with stress. In 2013, ten Ivy League schools formed The Resilience Project, to research mental health issues among students and develop more effective mechanisms to help student resilience. Many modern techniques to help students include online programs and courses for college students. At Florida State University, all 6,000 students in the freshman class will take an online course called, “The School Resilience Program”, to learn about coping with childhood trauma and techniques to cope with the stresses of college. Here in California, UCLA was one of the first college to implement an online program and promotes student participation in a 6-8 week study that teaches skills to combat anxiety and depression. Even locally at UCSB, the environmental studies program has a course on how to deal with “EcoGrief”, about optimism and courage in the face of the climate crisis we face globally. All of these courses are centered around the idea of destigmatizing mental health, and by providing tools that can be useful dealing with the stress trauma and struggle that are just a part of life.
Anger as a “Prelude to Courage”
The last story this week focuses on anger. There’s a general unspoken agreement that getting angry -- and expressing it -- is something to be avoided, especially for women. But anger is an entirely natural, very human emotion, whether it’s triggered by trivial annoyances or by serious issues of injustice. And let’s face it: We have plenty to be angry about in our lives today. Research suggests that channeling anger can improve health, enhance intimacy, further social justice, and spur creativity. Many modern and historical social movements have begun with anger over the status quo. This idea is especially important to mention on International Women’s Day as turning personal OR sociopolitical anger into positive action restores our sense of power—and contributes to the well-being of the planet.
Morelia, Michoacán-based Biofase is manufacturing biodegradable cutlery and straws made out avocado
On today’s show, we talk about the growth of microgrids and how reimagining our local energy infrastructure can lead to more resilient communities. We then turn to community actions that serve a dual purpose - bringing people together and also cleaning up local beaches.
Our guest is Craig Lewis the Executive Director of the Clean Coalition - an organization that’s working hard to accelerate the transition to renewable energy. We finish up the show with a discussion on some amazing happenings in our natural backyard, the benefits of nature, and some great “didyaknows”.
Creating a Greener Grid
This week Cal Fire, the Ventura Fire Department, and the US Forest Service all published reports that identified SoCal Gas powerlines as the cause for the 2017 Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara. In northern California, PG & E has already been held liable for the Paradise and Camp Fires. Both of these instances demonstrate the need for a greener electric grid that is resilient to the inevitable natural disasters associated with climate change. This can be achieved most effectively by focusing on renewable sources like wind and solar energy; since these sources can only be captured intermittently, it will be necessary to create clever storage systems ensure constant power
A microgrid is a decentralized grid that creates and stores energy. Borrego Springs, a town of 3,400 people 90 miles east of San Diego that was experiencing blackouts all the time because it was at the edge of transmission lines from San Diego. The biggest disaster was a 2007 fire led to a multiple day blackout. In 2013, the microgrid was tested during a large storm when flooding and lightning knocked out the connecting power line from San Diego. The city was able to unplug the microgrid from the central electric grid and provide enough energy for the community to calmly weather the storm. We also touch on an apartment complex in Brooklyn that developed a microgrid to help Con Edison keep delivering power to its customers.
Hashtag Trashtag this trend gets a mention at the end of this segment, as an example of how social media can be a force for good.
Blooms and Butterflies
The last story this week focuses on reports that California is almost completely drought free. Only one per cent of the state is still considered to be in drought conditions. Yet, even in the deserts across the state, it is hard to find evidence of the drought. The Anza-Borrego Desert, a state park east of San Diego, is experiencing a “super bloom” of flowers, which is painting the normally drab desert with swathes of colors that can be seen from the mountains thousands of feet above it. Super blooms have occurred twice in the past two years, though they usually occur once every decade. This is largely due to the El Niño occurring this year. Beyond the super bloom, a large lake has appeared (and has not disappeared yet) in Death Valley of all places, and people all across Southern California are marveling at the annual migration of hundreds of millions of butterflies from all over California and Mexico.
Microgrids will help make our electric grid greener, more reliable and more resilient.
On this episode of Solutions News, recorded on March 22 - World Water Day, we talk about LA’s new solution to address its water needs in the future and then we ask how agriculture - that uses about 80% of the water in California - is dealing with a water scare world. Our guest is Das Williams, 1st district supervisor for Santa Barbara County. We finish up the show with a discussion on an interesting tactic being deployed in Toledo for protecting its water source, and some great “didyaknows”.
Geographically, the city of Los Angeles is in the middle of a desert and has always imported water from other sources like the Colorado River or from Northern California via the California Aqueduct. In February, mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, pledged that the city would recycle 100% of wastewater by the year 2035. If successful, this plan would allow 70% of the water in the city to be sourced locally. Under mayor Garcetti’s proposal, wastewater that is currently treated and dumped into the ocean at the Hyperion treatment plant in El Segundo would be treated further and transported to inland storage facilities or reinjected into aquifers in Los Angeles. By moving to recycle 100% of its wastewater, L.A.’s water managers are acting prudently to build resilience into the city’s water supplies.
One of the largest investments of water in the state of California is invested in agriculture. While the California drought it officially over, the state will continue to experience water shortages unless we shift to a more sustainable system. One important way to make this shift is by increasing organic farming. Organic farming helps to create systems that use water effectively because organic soil retains more water than conventional soils. It also creates produce that is glyphosate free (since there is no pesticide) and boosts the natural immune system of plants, especially when monoculture crops are not grown. Rinaldo shares some personal experiences with organic farming and the benefits it can bring.
Environmental Rights in Toledo
At the end of February, the citizens of Toledo, Ohio passed an important resolution granting full environmental rights to Lake Eerie. Now, any citizen can sue on behalf of the lake, rather than having to prove personal damage because of the environmental degradation. Lake Eerie is the main source of water for the city of Toledo, but also for the other cities that border the lake, Cleveland and Buffalo. However, historically, the lake has constantly faced pollution problems. In 2014, the entire town of Toledo, a town with a population of 276,000 people, could not use any water for an entire week because of algae blooms in the lake. Both in Toledo and around the country, the protecting the future of our environmental resources are essential for our prosperity and must be protected.
Hyperion Waste Water Treatment Plant, El Segundo, CA.
On this episode of Solutions News, we are turning a spotlight on activists and their important work. For these truly dedicated people, neither age nor physical condition is an impediment to successfully being the change that they want to be. While these activists are certainly inspiring, their stories demonstrate the ways that anyone can help change the world with simple actions.
Later on in the show we talk with our guest, Hillary Hauser, who is an amazing activist herself. As a lifetime conservationist, Hillary has used her work as a photojournalist to bring attention to the damage caused by polluting the oceans. She founded an organization, Heal the Oceans, to tackle that exact problem.
Regardless of political ideology, the world seems more chaotic and filled with problems than ever. However, that doesn’t mean that we are incapable of creating solutions that will lead us into the future. Being an activist is a choice anyone can make to focus on making the world better by affecting change on a problem, political or social.
Spotlight on Activists
For our first story, we turned the spotlight on a few individuals who are having an outsize impact on our world. The first is Santa Barbara resident and according to Politico, "the most powerful activist in America", Ady Barkan. Barkan has worked tirelessly over the past few years to lobby Congress and create change despite the fact that he has ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Though his physical condition is deteriorating, Ady is fighting with everything he has to make the world a better place for people like his two year old son. His resolve and determination are an inspiration to us all.
Our second spotlight for the day we turned on two sister from Bali, Melati and Isabel Wijsen. When they were 10 and 12 (in 2013) the girls learned in school about how Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana and Mahatma Gandhi created change in the world. They were inspired to start an organization called "Bye Bye Plastic Bags" to get rid of the plastic that litters the beaches all over their home of Bali, Indonesia. Though it has taken some time, their tireless efforts are paying off. On December 24, 2018, the Governor of Bali pledged to officially end all use of single-use plastic by 2019. This initiative will give businesses in Bali six months to make the transition away from plastic and optimistically, can reduce pollution by up to 70%. The work of the Wijsen sisters is even more amazing considering that their activism has made ripples all around the world. Since they started their work, over 40 countries have instituted some sort of ban on plastic bags. Most recently, here in the United States, New York governor Andrew Cuomo introduced a similar ban just this week.
What Makes a Successful Activist?
Activism is something that anyone can do with a little bit of effort. Changing society is not always about a tangible result like getting a bill passed or raising money to build a new school. An important question to ask for such a broad solution like activism is, “What makes a successful activist?”
Ady Barkan, the Wisjen sisters and Hillary Hauser have all succeeded because they created a conversation around a subject or subjects that matter deeply to them. By using personal situations as starting points for activism, these activists have brought issues to the forefront of the public attention. More importantly, they have made it impossible for people to live their lives without encountering the ideas and topics they are trying to lobby for.
As a result, a general rule for successful activism is to work on a personal level. Being able to identify a problem to fix is only the first step of the process. It is important to start conversations locally, both to engage people on a given topic, but also to listen to what they have to say about the issue. A collective group, rather than an “individual who knows best” will likely work better for the community. Moreover, it is essential to have multiple targets for implementing a solution. For example, a legislative solution is a great way to get a plastic bag ban into place, but it is only half of the solution. It is equally important to change the way the people think and behave, so they phase single-use-plastic out of their lives because they see the damage that it does to the environment. While the main intention is focusing on a single issue, changing how people think about an issue is what creates lasting change. A plastic bag ban makes people into environmentalists who begin to consider the consequences of every day actions.
Other activists have been successful for using their ideas and fame in similar ways. Malala Yousafzai used her fight for education against the Taliban to create a global movement empowering women and promoting women getting the education they deserve. We have also talked on the show about Greta Thunberg, who has used her platform to lambast the world over a lack of action on climate change, which is the seminal issue of our time. In both cases, being nominated for a Nobel peace prize is a recognition of ideas and courage rather than a measure of success.
Arielle Ford is a love and relationship expert and a leading personality in the personal growth and contemporary spirituality movement. For the past 25 years she has been living, teaching, and promoting consciousness through all forms of media. She is a, speaker, blogger for the Huffington Post and the producer and host of Evolving Wisdom’s Art of Love series.
Arielle is a gifted writer and the author of 11 books including the international bestseller, THE SOULMATE SECRET: Manifest The Love of Your Life With The Law of Attraction. She also wrote Wabi Sabi Love and Turn Your Mate Into Your Soulmate (Harper One). She has been called “The Cupid of Consciousness” and “The Fairy Godmother of Love.”
She lives in La Jolla, CA with her husband/soulmate, Brian Hilliard and their feline friends. www.soulmatesecret.com
Arielle Ford, Our Guest on March 1, 2019
Rose Strauss is an UCSB Environmental Studies student and climate change activist working to start a local hub of the Sunrise Movement, an organization building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America.
On July 18, 2018, Rose gained notoriety in an exchange with Republican Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner, who called her “young and naïve” after she asked him about $200,000 in fossil fuel campaign contributions. Videos of the exchange went viral with the hashtag #YoungAndNaive, and Teen Vogue published an editorial by Ms. Strauss in which she vowed that “young and naïve” voters like herself would be promoting the ouster of politicians who they believe aren’t working for their generation. Listen to the show!
Rose Strauss, our guest on March 8, 2019
Craig Lewis is the Founder and Executive Director of Clean Coalition, a non-profit dedicated to accelerating the transition to renewable energy and a modern grid. He has over 30 years of experience in the renewables, wireless, semiconductor, and banking industries. Previously VP of Government Relations at GreenVolts, he was the first to successfully navigate a solar project through California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard solicitation process. Craig was energy policy lead on Steve Westly’s 2006 California gubernatorial campaign. His resume includes senior government relations, corporate development, and marketing positions at leading wireless, semiconductor, and banking companies such as Qualcomm, Ericsson, and Barclays Bank. Craig received an MBA and MSEE from the University of Southern California and a BSEE from the University of California, Berkeley. Listen to the show!
Craig Lewis, our guest on March 15, 2019
Supervisor Das Williams was elected to represent the First District of Santa Barbara County in June 2016. Williams previously represented the area, along with over half of Santa Barbara County and a quarter of Ventura County in the California State Assembly from 2010-2106. Prior to his service in the Assembly, Williams served 7 years on the Santa Barbara City Council from 2003-2010 and also served as a trustee for Peabody Charter School in Santa Barbara.
During his extensive public service, Williams has earned a reputation as a champion for renewable energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In the Assembly, Williams helped successfully advocate for a requirements that 33% of the state's energy come from renewable sources by 2020. With the state on track to hit that goal, Williams has authored legislation to increase the renewable energy goal to 50% by 2030.
A lifelong advocate for our coast, Williams championed required testing of groundwater before, during, and after hydraulic fracturing, which was included in California's regulations on fracking and authored legislation to expand groundwater monitoring to other types of injection wells to protect underground sources of drinking water from oil and gas wastewater disposal.
Williams also took leadership to ensure statewide resources would be spent locally to provide relief from the drought, including securing funds for the Lake Cachuma pump project and supporting funding for water recycling and conservation efforts. He's also been a leader on emergency preparedness, hosting an emergency preparedness fair every year since he took office and working to ensure 911 calls are correct routed to cut down on response time.
Williams grew up in Santa Barbara County and attended local schools. In addition to his service in elected office, he taught at Antioch University in Santa Barbara, worked as a junior high school teacher, as well as a legislative aid to California State Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson. Williams holds a Master's degree in Environmental Science & Management, with a focus on water pollution, planning processes, and land-use law at UC Santa Barbara's Bren School of Environmental Science. Listen to the show!
Supervisor Das Williams, our guest on March 22, 2019
Hillary Hauser is an American photojournalist and environmental activist with a focus on the oceans — underwater diving adventure, politics, and conservation. In 2009, in recognition of her ocean environmental work as it relates to underwater diving, Hauser received the NOGI Award for Distinguished Service from the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences.
As an environmental activist, in 1998, Hauser co-founded Heal the Ocean, a 3,000-member environmental advocacy group in Santa Barbara, California, and serves as its executive director. The organization focuses on wastewater technology as it impacts the ocean, facilitating wastewater treatment plant upgrade and removal of septic tanks from creeks, marshes, bays and beaches. For their 15 years of working to remove septic systems from 7 miles of south Santa Barbara County beaches, including the world-famous Rincon surf break, Hauser and Heal the Ocean organization received a Commendation from the Regional Water Quality Control Board on January 19, 2015, and commendations also came from the California State Senate and the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. Singer-songwriter Jack Johnson included Hauser on his 2017 list of 13 Coastal Heroes for Coastal Living Magazine.
As an author, journalist and news reporter, Hauser has six published books about the sea and underwater exploration, as well as numerous articles in major periodicals including National Geographic, Geo, Islands, Esquire, Redbook, The Surfer’s Journal, Reader’s Digest and the Los Angeles Times. From 1969 through 1977 she was West Coast stringer for Ocean Science News Washington D.C., and from 1981 to 1986 was ocean/marine reporter for the Santa Barbara News-Press.
Hillary Hauser, our guest on March 29, 2019