Earth Policy Institute: Podcast (plan b updates)

At the start of 2013, the United States was home to 22 modern public bike-sharing programs. By spring 2014, that number will likely double as a flurry of cities joins the more than 500 bike-sharing communities worldwide. (Read more about bike sharing around the globe here.) With the expansions of current programs and new openings in larger markets like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the nationwide fleet of shared bikes is poised to quadruple in the next couple of years, from nearly 9,000 to above 36,000.

Direct download: us_bike_sharing.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 11:50am EST

Today more than 500 cities in 49 countries host advanced bike-sharing programs, with a combined fleet of over 500,000 bicycles. Urban transport advisor Peter Midgley notes that “bike sharing has experienced the fastest growth of any mode of transport in the history of the planet.” Get the full Plan B Update on the EPI website.

Direct download: Bike_Sharing.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 1:38pm EST

The fish near the bottom of the aquatic food chain are often overlooked, but they are vital to healthy oceans and estuaries. Collectively known as forage fish, these species—including sardines, anchovies, herrings, and shrimp-like crustaceans called krill—feed on plankton and become food themselves for larger fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. Historically, people have eaten many of these fish, too, of course. But as demand for animal protein has soared over the last half-century, more and more forage fish have been caught to feed livestock and farmed fish instead of being eaten by people directly. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that current fishing levels are dangerously high—both for the forage fish themselves and for the predators and industries that depend on them.

Direct download: Overfishing_Threatens_Food_Chain.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 11:01am EST

Unfortunately, dust bowls are not just relics of the past. Today two new dust bowls are forming: one in northern China and southern Mongolia and the other in Africa south of the Sahara. Whereas the dust bowls in the United States and the Soviet Union were the result of overplowing, the main culprit in Asia and Africa is overgrazing.

Direct download: Expanding_Dustbowls_in_China_and_Africa.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 10:02am EST

On October 18, 2012, the Associated Press reported that “a massive dust storm swirling reddish-brown clouds over northern Oklahoma triggered a multi-vehicle accident along a major interstate…forcing police to shut down the heavily traveled roadway amid near blackout conditions.” For the full Plan B Update, visit the EPI website.

Direct download: dust_bowl_revisited.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 11:15am EST

In the race to transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy and avoid runaway climate change, wind has opened a wide lead on both solar and geothermal energy. Solar panels, with a capacity totaling 70,000 megawatts, and geothermal power plants, with a capacity of some 11,000 megawatts, are generating electricity around the world. The total capacity for the world’s wind farms, now generating power in about 80 countries, is near 240,000 megawatts. China and the United States are in the lead.

Direct download: Building_a_windcentered_economy.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 9:52am EST

The great energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is under way. As fossil fuel prices rise, as oil insecurity deepens, and as concerns about pollution and climate instability cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new world energy economy is emerging. The old energy economy, fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas, is being replaced with an economy powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy.

Direct download: From_Fossil_Fuels_to_Renewable_Energy.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 3:17pm EST

Over the last two months, the price of corn has been climbing. On July 19th, it exceeded $8 per bushel for the first time, taking the world into a new food price terrain. With heat and drought still smothering the Corn Belt, we may well see more all-time highs in coming weeks as the extent of crop damage becomes clearer. For full report, visit the EPI website.

Direct download: Rising_Temperature_Raising_Food_Prices.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 10:41am EST

The world is in serious trouble on the food front. But there is little evidence that political leaders have yet grasped the magnitude of what is happening. The progress in reducing hunger in recent decades has been reversed. Unless we move quickly to adopt new population, energy, and water policies, the goal of eradicating hunger will remain just that. For full report visit the EPI website.

Direct download: World_in_Serious_Trouble_on_Food_Front.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 11:43am EST

For the first time in over 40 years, Japan has not a single nuclear power plant generating electricity. The March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown shattered public confidence in atomic energy. And the disaster’s legacy has spread far beyond Japan. Some European countries have decided to phase out their nuclear programs entirely. With the world’s fleet of reactors aging, and with new plants suffering construction delays and cost increases, it is possible that world nuclear electricity generation has peaked and begun a long-term decline.

Direct download: Fukushima_Meltdown_Hastens_Decline_of_Nuclear_Power.mp3
Category:Plan B Updates -- posted at: 2:17pm EST