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Blog Post Novemeber 3-8, 2012

Just one remark about the election. After billions of dollars wasted on frivolous campaign rhetoric, finally someone mentioned Climate Change. It was not a presidential candidate, though. It was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as he looked out on the wasteland that is his coastline. He said-and this is an approximation, “Last year it was Irene. This year it’s Sandy. We are having 100 year storms every year.   Wow something must be going on!” or words to that effect. Then he goes way out on a limb by saying, “Now whether or not this was a part of climate change or just a random series of events, only time will tell.” Which is, of course, hogwash. The worlds’ scientists (and this is their job, by the way, establishing what’s real) settled on climate change as a fact of life decades ago.

But the real surprise came next, when the Mayor of New York put the Climate Change case in its simplest form.

He said,“If you talk to farmers who lost all their crops, because there’ve been droughts, or places where you’ve had tornadoes or hurricanes, or the families of those who were lost here, they would say hey, there is something going on. What is clear is the ice cap has melted, and that’s very bad because then the heat of the sun gets absorbed in the water, which raises the water temperature, which hurts the reefs and the ecosystem of the reefs. It’s not the sort of thing you can ever say for sure, but the consequences of making a mistake in one direction are pretty severe, and I think what we have to do is learn from this.”

So there it is, in all its glory, the only discussion of climate change in the not so great Presidential race of 2012. One word describes the situation…..

DISGRACEFUL!

On Radio Green Earth this week, we talk to Kurt Davies, head of USA Research for Greenpeace, about whether the Mayor has started changing the conversation about Climate Change.

Meanwhile our South Florida environment remains under attack. The Indian River Lagoon is losing its grass. Huge swaths of the Northern Lagoon grasses have died off in just the last year or so, confounding the scientists. This is a very serious situation because of the diverse nature of the lagoon.

The Indian River Lagoon is a 156 mile long estuary located on Florida’s East Coast, and its shoreline includes six Florida counties. In the lagoon there are 685 different species of fish, and more than 2000 animal species. Millions of human animals flock to Florida to play along its shores, and thousands have paid millions just to live on its banks.

Thank goodness for the Watchdogs. There are several organizations along the lagoon that serve as our saviors. They spend their time, literally watching and listening to the life of the lagoon. One of them is the Indian River Keeper, a single advocate, modeled after the iconic Hudson River Keeper who for 44 years has helped save the Hudson River in New York from polluters.

We have a new Indian River Keeper, and it’s a thrill just to talk to the guy. He is Marty Baum. His family has been living on the Lagoon for six generations, at least the last 146 years, so he has a right, as they say.

His first address to the public is on his website, just follow the link below

http://www.indianriverkeeper.org/News_Archives.html

I met Marty for the first time last week in the offices of ORCA, the Ocean Research Conservation Association, another one of those watchdogs. ORCA lives at the old Coast Guard Station on Ft. Pierce Inlet, along with the Indian River State College Marine Science Center. Marty and I strolled out along the banks of the Ft. Pierce Inlet and got to know each other.

Marty is outgoing, jovial, a scraggly silver moustache hides an ever ready grin, and he loves to peer out over his glasses to make a point. Marty said it was his sense of responsibility that lead him to go after the Indian River Keeper’s job and he considers it a lifelong achievement to be the latest to carry on this tradition.

Talking about his family and the Lagoon, Marty says,  “ We’ve used it as our highway…back and forth for commerce. We’ve been born here, we’ve died here. We’ve fished it. It’s provided for us. And now I have an opportunity to give something back to the lagoon.”

And Marty has hit the ground running. Not only has Mr. Baum lived on the Lagoon his whole life, he has become an authority on the history of early pioneer life in SE Florida. He understands the context within which we sit today, so if you ask him what restoration of the lagoon means, he immediately asks what era of the lagoon’s history do you want to restore? Pre-history, pre white man? Pre US Army Corp of Engineers? Pre-agriculture?

These are complex issues and Marty believes his first job is communicating the issues to the public, so if you want to hear and learn from Marty Baum, tune into RADIO Green Earth this week for a glimpse into the personality of  our newest watchdog.

Also this week we get an update from Warren Falls about ORCA activities in the Indian River Lagoon as well as new projects farther South, and a chance for you to meet and chat with the great Carl Hiassen. That’s all this week on Radio Green Earth.

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Blog for Oct. 28-Nov. 3rd

One of the weekly goals of Radio Green Earth is to showcase a place that is special in South Florida…special because of its location and its unique nature or special because it is part of a major story. As a result we have brought you programs from the Everglades, Key West, Sanibel Island, Big Cypress and the Panther refuge, the Suwannee River,  just to name a few. The result for me personally is that this program has taken me to so many wonderful places, but I can’t hold a candle to the travels of  Ron Wiggins.

Ron is Florida native, a semi-retired columnist, humorist and author. For decades he entertained us on the pages of the former Palm Beach Post, Orlando Sentinel  and the St. Pete Times. I say former because they are all shells of their former selves, but that’s an issue for another day.

Ron’s newest book is called “Florida Authentica”, and the cover looks a lot like the paper placemat in that roadside diner with a stuffed gator out front you visited with Mom and Dad about fifty years ago. In the book Ron chronicles his personal travels to 52  “unique eccentric and natural marvels of the Sunshine State” (the subtitle). This book will not give you the best restaurants for sushi at Epcot. There is no Epcot, no Mouse, no MGM, no Holyland in this book. Instead there is Silver Springs, Fort Clinch, the John Gorrie Ice Museum and the Ding Darling Refuge (one of my favorites).

More than a travel guide to kooky places, “Florida Authentica”  is also a memoir. Ron grew up in Gainesville. Many of these places are literally his old stomping grounds, and his reminiscences tend toward the Huck Finn kind of adventuring. Plus there are the wonderful stories of rebirth and restoration. Rainbow Springs was once a fun but tacky roadside attraction near the third largest spring in Florida, filled with animal cages and sideshows. The advent of Interstate 75 destroyed the drive by business and the park, but it was bought by the state and is today a natural paradise you can see on 2 bucks a day.

I met Ron for a chat at one of my favorite spots that he includes in the “Florida Authentica” book, Grassy Waters Park. It sits on Northlake Blvd west of Palm Beach Gardens. It is a catchment area for the water supply for West Palm Beach.

Grassy Waters was originally acquired by Henry Flagler to assure that he and his friends on Palm Beach had all the water they needed. Regardless his motives, had he not bought Grassy Waters it might be a development today like nearby IBIS or Bay Hill Estates. Instead it is an incredible natural preserve of classic Cypress stands and swamp. It is home to several endangered species including the Snail Kite, and to paddle through there you get this amazing sense of prehistory, just a few blocks from your house. Listen in to Radio Green Earth this week for that conversation with Ron Wiggins and an education specialist at Grassy Waters who tells us all about what’s available for the family out there.

Also on the agenda this week on RGE, some music the producer says is more noise than music. His name is Jack Heartz, from coastal California-Laguna Beach to be precise. He makes music that is for sale on the web-no middle-people-no CD’s, no carbon burning distribution sucking up the profit and raising the cost. Actually, the cost is what you donate so you decide the price of the music. And best yet, the proceeds go to saving the whales. Jack’s music is extremely whale-like by the way. We will play you a taste this week on Radio Green Earth, which you can access in many ways including three radio stations, and right here on our website where you can listen live or download the podcast. Join us!

Jim Jackson

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Election Blog

I wasn’t going to write this. It’s too personal, and not totally germane to our mission here at Radio Green Earth, but my disgust has overwhelmed my good judgment. Two summers ago, a month or two after the Roberts Court’s  Citizens United Decision, I got so upset discussing the impact of this decision with my sisters and wife that they thought I needed to see a shrink…that I was developing a persecution complex, that I was paranoid, that I had anger management issues.  The truth about the anger management issues aside, my feeling was that they did not understand that this one single Supreme Court decision ended democracy. It equalized in writing people and corporations, and it made it impossible to either control or identify outside sources that want to have an undue influence on our elections. Somehow in their twisted little pea sized brains these so-called justices were able to equate a single person standing on a soapbox with a huge mutli-million dollar pac that showers the land with lies and deceit on our airwaves. According to these boobs on the high court, the poor guy shouting on the soapbox and the huge secret money supply buying air time in every market all day and all night are both equally expressing their God given right to free speech-the secret money supply actually being described as a person, you see. It’s like some Orwellian novel, except its now the law of the land.

I’m not saying I told you so….not yet, because you haven’t seen the worst of this turn of events. This impossibly ugly, pandering, deceitful, and incredibly expensive lying blast of propaganda we experienced this year is just the beginning. When the billion dollar elections are over, the Sheiks or Mullahs or Al Qaida or mobsters or teamsters or Catholics or Mormons or Republicans or Democrats or Brits or French or Russians or Israelis, or Fascists or oil barons or born again Christians who gave all that secret money will come  calling, cashing in their chits. Notice I didn’t mention scientists or nurses or physicians or social workers or community organizers, or any other actual public servants. Their opinions don’t matter because no one hears them. And opinions don’t matter anyway anymore, because it’s all about owning the winner, not what the winner says.

Why is this happening? Trust me, it’s nowhere close to being about making America a better place. In your heart you already know that.  Do you think for a nanosecond the millions being spent to re-elect that West guy are there because he represents truth justice and the American Way? Hardly. He’s a gap toothed idiot that was drummed out of the service, and is now fully owned by the out of state and possibly out of country money pouring into his campaign.  Why? It’s not his intellect that’s for sure. This is a guy who said with certainty that there are a couple hundred Democrats in Congress that are card carrying Communists. Now please, do you really think we are that stupid? Guess so considering he will almost certainly be re-elected, and even if he isn’t, the out of state money that came to town and filled his opponent’s -this Murphy guy’s  pockets with campaign cash to fight West will come calling on him as well. So it really doesn’t matter who wins, because the big boys will have control. That’s what the Roberts Court has done, drowned out truly free speech, and rendered our votes worthless.

Want more proof? How many times was the single biggest issue we face as a nation mentioned during this campaign? NOT ONCE.

What was that issue you ask? See what I mean? That issue is rapid climate change being caused by our dependence on fossil fuels. The resulting sea level rise, extreme weather, droughts, displaced populations, civil unrest,  societal deterioration and famine is not a matter of discussion. It is going to happen and is happening as I write. IT is two feet of standing water in every single city along our coasts by the end of the century. Ok they might be wrong in their estimates. Maybe it will only be six inches of standing water by 2100. Does that matter? No, because it eventually is going to happen, even if we stopped all the fossil fuel burning on earth TODAY. Its too late now to stop it. We now can only try to adapt.

You don’t have to believe me. Believe 95 percent of the world’s scientists. See? Half of you reading this just said to yourselves, climate change is a hoax. Polling shows that the number of people who believe that Elvis is still alive, equal the number who believe the planet is in peril from rapidly changing climate. Now this is a valid scientific theory that has been accepted by the scientific community FOR DECADES. Why is there a question? Because, the oil barons have spent millions of their profits from 3.50 a gallon gas to insert doubt into the American consciousness. So they can continue to take your money, while using your money  to convince you that they are not polluting the planet. And oh by the way, this mammoth industry, the oil business, still gets BILLIONS in tax free money because Congress continues to give it to them, no questions asked. Why? THEY say because it creates jobs. How’s that for a myth! A million more jobs are created by the outdoor recreation industry, yet the first thing Governor Rick Scott wanted to do when he got to Tallahassee was gut the Everglades restoration effort from the Water management budget and then he tried to close a bunch of parks.

Okay I am getting off my soapbox, but don’t come crying to me when you wake up one morning and a loaf of bread and a gallon of gas are both six bucks and meat is being rationed, and everybody has locks on their gas caps and guns in their bedrooms, and the airwaves are filled with paid hate and obfuscation. That’s what is going to happen-heck much of it has already occurred (see the stand your ground law).

Mark my words, if you are lucky enough to hear them.

Jim Jackson

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Blog for the week of October 21, 2012

Sarasota, Florida is known for the circus, the Ringling family, Siesta Key Beach-touted the world’s best by more than one rating service- and that old joke:

“Everybody’s parents live in Boca Raton. THEIR parents live in Sarasota.” BADUMPBUMP-TSSSSH

But it is also home to The Mote Marine Laboratories, started by Bill Mote, as everyone still calls him as if he were just upstairs in his office, back in 1955. He talked famed shark expert Dr. Eugenie Clarke into running the lab and to this day it is one of the foremost shark research facilities in the world.

Radio Green Earth was in Sarasota all last week at Mote Labs for a conference on the state of the saltwater fishery, and this week’s radio program originates from Mote labs. We were a guest of The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, which hosted the event. The TRCP has a simple but significant mission- to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish by strengthening laws, policies and practices affecting fish and wildlife conservation by leading partnerships that influence decision makers.

I was joined by representatives of the outdoor industry, writers for such publications as Florida Sportsmen, Outdoor Life, Field and Stream. We heard presentations by Orvis which sponsored the event, as well as Eric Schwabb, head of NOAA fisheries, Dr. Bob Heuter, head of shark research at Mote, and many others, AND they took us fishing.

Yes, you give outdoor journalists some free food AND a fishing trip and you own them. They had me at the line “Who wants to fish?” which Captain Jonnie Walker (yes that’s his real name) blurted out as he charged through the door at the Sarasota Hyatt at 0600. He and a dozen other charter skippers were waiting at the docks for us writers, and they showed us a Hell of a good time. I fished with Walker, which was like old home week. I started writing about the environment while working at WWSB TV in Sarasota, and Jonnie was a frequent guest on my fishing news segment. When I left town Jonnie took over the program and has been entertaining Sarasota with delightful and insightful conservation oriented fishing stories for the twenty years since I left.

It was good to be on the water again with him, and good for fishing too. Jonnie squired Jeff  Weakly of Florida Sportsman Magazine,  Charley Levine of BDoutdoors.com and myself on a short trip to nearshore reefs off of Lido and Siesta Keys. As the sun rose we could see a cloud of gulls diving just off Big Pass, and we went to investigate. It seems there has been a plethora of pelagic predators in the area, and they were all there feeding on giant balls of bait that were so thick, they  stirred up clouds of sand in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

First we netted some of the huge mass of bait, chubby small white bait-a kind of Herring Jonnie told me. Then we drifted through the bait clouds and free lined amidst huge balls of swirling baitfish. You knew when you were going to get a strike, because the Spanish mackerel were slashing the surface as they chased the bait. Then as you pulled a mackerel to the boat, it would be hit by a Black Tip Shark, or a King Mackerel and then you had a real tussle on your hands.

The fishing was fast and furious, and in just three hours we caught and released at least a couple dozen Spanish, a few Kings and a dozen Shark in the 20-30 pound range. It was fast and furious fishing. I asked Jonnie about this large presence of big predators and he surmises that the outbreak of Red Tide to the South has forced the pelagic predators North and Sarasota fisher people have been the beneficiaries.

That may be the short version, but the longer story is that Sarasota Bay has leapt back to life after restoration efforts have cleaned up the place and the sea grasses have returned. That combined with the Florida net ban amendment recreational anglers helped pass fifteen years ago has restored the once dwindling fish populations in the area.

That’s just one of many lessons we learned last week. For more on the Saltwater Summit, tune into Radio Green earth this week. You will hear about a fascinating trip to Cuba by shark scientists and how the removal of old oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico will actually hurt fishing in the Gulf….all this week on Radio Green Earth, which you can access in many ways including three radio stations, and right here on our website where you can listen live or download the podcast.

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Blog for the Week of October15, 2012

Astronomically High Tides

Every spring and fall, when the sun is aligned with our equator, we experience the highest astronomical tides of the year. This year this week is the big week, and whenever Spring Tides occur (The name has nothing to do with the season. They are so named because they just spring up.) areas of South Florida flood. The moon is new this week, and is in perigee, the closest to Earth in its orbit on Wednesday, creating some of the highest tides of the year.

During weeks like this Seawater backs up the storm drains and fills the streets in low lying areas. This didn’t happen fifty years ago, but this is a harbinger of things to come as the climate changes and sea levels continue to rise. We see this temporary inundation in parts of the Keys, Miami Beach, and in Ft. Lauderdale near the New River. We are not alone, of course. The tides is rising in the tidal pool by the Jefferson memorial in the nation’s capital, and the low areas around Boston.  St. Petersburg Russia has already started building a huge sea wall completely around that city, and Venice, Italy has water in its few dry streets on a regular basis, forcing locals to walk on homemade bridges consisting of cinder and  1×6” wood planks.

I spent some time this week with Dr. Len Berry director of the Florida Center t of Environmental studies, and co-director of the Climate Change initiative at Florida Atlantic University. His interview is in this week’s edition of Radio Green Earth. He tells us this semi-annual flooding is just the beginning. The latest projections show a possible 3 foot rise in the seas by the end of the century.

Just imagine how much of Florida will be underwater by then. Just imagine how much it will cost to either rebuild for or move the population inland away from the rising waters. Dr. Berry pointed to the cost of just one adjustment that has to be made. We have canals that carry runoff to the sea, using gravity to transport the water.Where the canal meets the ocean there is a spillway. In the not so distant future, if those spillway are opened, the tide will literally reverse, allowing ocean water in, instead of carrying fresh water out, rendering the system not only useless as a flood control tool, but literally becoming a hole in the dike. To fix that situation alone may cost up to 70 million dollars for EACH SPILLWAY. And that’s in current dollars, so the sooner we start fixing them, the less it will cost…and not a penny has been put toward this effort yet, not one red cent. So join us this week for an enlightening, and frightening discussion about the very near future for south Florida and the Keys.

Also on the agenda this week on RGE, High Fashion with a big F. You normally don’t hear the words sustainable, and high fashion in the same sentence. To environmentalists, High Fashion conjures up images of exploited workers in third world countries, harsh chemical dyes and garments that travel halfway around the world to get to your closet. But at Eileen Fischer, multi-national high fashion clothier, the mission is just the opposite. For them green is not just a color, it’s a mission, and we talk to Eileen Fischer’s sustainability officer to find out how they reduce their carbon footprint and create a more sustainable industry while putting out really cute outfits.

Both stories are on the card this week on RGE, along with a visit with Nozzle Nolen green pest expert Paul Sugrue, and the first in a series of environmental minutes produced by the Florida Climate Institute. All this week on Radio Green Earth, which you can access in many ways including three radio stations, and right here on our website where you can listen live or download the podcast.

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