Author Archives: Phil

The ‘urban planning rock star’ changing city environments around the world

Wall to wall vehicles. Thats how Jan Gehl describes Sydney’s CBD. He says Sydney has squandered its beauty and it’s time something was done about it.

Professor Gehl was commissioned by the City of Sydney to re-think its centre. He’s proposed to divert cars and give streets back to the people. Sound radical? His plans have been implemented in other cities like Copenhagen and Melbourne, and surprise, they’ve made life heaps better. And, interestingly, not just for people. Businesses have thrived too.

Check this interview out – Jan’s quite a character. No wonder he’s been called an ‘urban planning rock star’.

His next commission, by the way, is to develop a plan for New York City.

Community supported agriculture: a new way to get your fruit and veg

Ever dreamed of having your own farm? Don’t have the capital, the time or the expertise? Here’s a way for you have a direct connection with a farm and still live in the city.

It’s called ‘community supported agriculture’ and it’s rapidly growing in the U.S. Under the scheme, you pay the CSA farmer up front for a season. Not only do you get a regular box of produce, you can also get involved in the farm, help pick the fruit and vegies, and take your kids out there to show them where their food comes from.

Many of these farms also use organic practices and some biodynamics.

John Peterson has a successful organic CSA farm in the Mid-West of the U.S.. He had quite a ride with his family farm, almost losing the lot before he switched to CSA farming some years ago. John has documented his life and struggles in a great film entitled ‘The Real Dirt on Farmer John’.

I interviewed Farmer John about community supported agriculture when he came out to promote his doco. Listen to the Farmer John interview. You can find out more about the farm and find the film at: http://www.angelicorganics.com/ The film is worth tracking down. Margaret Pomeranz gave it 4 stars.

Dr Karl: clean coal is a furphy

Dr Karl gets down and dirty on ‘clean coal’. Is it a furphy? A key part of clean coal is burying CO2 under ground. Isn’t this the kind of thinking that got us in this mess in the first place? Listen to the Clean Coal Dr Karl interview.

Howard ignored climate change and lost: election day vox pops

The previous conservative government in Australia may well have been the first in the world to have lost office because it ignored climate change (and refused to sign the Kyoto protocol.)

The day of the election at the end of 2007, I went to a polling both to gauge the mood of the people – for change generally and to check the importance of the environment in their decision making. Listen here to what they had to say: election day vox pops.

The booth was at Sydney’s Bondi Beach in the contentious seat of Wentworth. Wentworth was held by Malcolm Turnbull – who was at that stage Environment Minister.

Byron Bay: nature has more in store

Ever been to Byron Bay? I have, just recently. And each year hordes of international visitors and Australians go there. Why wouldn’t you? Nature has carved out one of the most brilliant, beautiful coastal niches in the world.

But most visitors would be oblivious to the fact nature hasn’t quite finished its work there. And with climate change, it may be working overtime to bring some changes which may be a tad unwelcome – particularly for the rich folk who’ve built their designer houses right on the sand dunes. I spoke to Australia’s leading coastal expert Professor Bruce Thom (of the Wentworth Group of Scientists) to explore what nature has in store for Byron. Listen to the Byron Bay – Bruce Thom interview.

An important listen if you’re going to spent some time at Byron in the future.

‘Into the Wild’ film review and interview with author Jon Krakauer

This is a review of the Sean Penn film Into the Wild. You may be interested in this one if you’ve ever had the itch to ditch your hum-drum routine and see the world. The real world. It includes an interview with author Jon Krakauer who wrote the original book.

Listen to the ‘Into the Wild’ film review.

Why are the Japanese so hell-bent on killing whales?

Another year begins and whaling is in the news again, with two activist groups disrupting the activities of Japanese whaling vessels.

Both Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd argue the Japanese whalers are carrying out commercial operations in what has been designated by Australia as a whale sanctuary. But the Japanese don’t recognise Australia’s territorial claim or the sanctuary and continue to argue strongly their culling of whales is for scientific purposes, a line that’s hotly contested by the green groups.

I’ve been following the whaling story for awhile and have been intrigued by the sheer determination of the Japanese fishing fleet to continue whaling despite strong opposition from many quarters, including Australia, a nation that would normally be an ally of Japan.

I spoke to Junichi Sato, Oceans Project Leader for Greenpeace Japan, to get a better understanding of why these Japanese are so hell-bent on whaling.

Whaling interview – with Junichi Sato Greenpeace Japan

Paul Watson: eco-terrorist or eco-hero?

Sea Shepherd tangle with Japanese Whalers in the Antarctic

Paul Watson is a man on a mission. He has played a leading role in alerting the world to what he calls the illegal actvities of Japanese whalers. In 2007 I spoke by satellite phone to Paul in the Antarctic, the day after his ship the Farley Mowatt had chased down and collided with a Japanese whaling vessel. Click on the link above to play this podcast.

Following is a link to an emotive video posted by Watson’s organisation Sea Shepherd on YouTube. It explains where he’s coming from:

Paul Watson

Wikipedia sums up some opposing views on Watson:

“Paul Watson has been denounced as an ecoterrorist. Some former colleagues in Greenpeace have distanced themselves from him. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Jim Bohlen, one of the founders of Greenpeace, said: ‘I’ve known the guy for 15 years, and he’s absolutely insane’.”

“Thus far, all attempts at prosecuting Watson have failed. Watson defends his actions as falling within international law and Sea Shepherd’s right to enforce maritime regulations against illegal whalers.”

What’s the latest? Well, the new Rudd government in Australia appears to be taking Watson’s outcries more seriously, recently sending a large Australian Customs vessel to monitor the Japanese whalers and gather evidence which may be used in international courts against them.

There’s more on the new Australian government’s stance in this ABC story just prior to Christmas. Click here.

Expect to see Paul’s ship tangling again with the Japanese on a TV screen near you. They’re down there now. How he finds them, I don’t know. Next interview.

And now time for an ad break …. (animators get political)

A compacted view of what commerce is doing to the planet.

Actually, I do have a Commerce degree, and I have worked in the corporate world, but this commercial is pretty good and pretty telling.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. If business worked more like nature (in a cyclical instead of linear way), we’d all be better off. Check out the ‘Ecology of Commerce’ by Paul Hawken for more detail on how and why. And there are businesses which are right now learning from nature. Interface Carpets is probably the most well known.

I intend to feature this kind of new entrepreneurship on The Show this year.

Kayaker explains why he paddled from Australia to NZ

James Castrission discusses: why they did it, the highs and lows of the trip, his sea legs, what he and his partner Justin Jones missed most from their old lives, and how they felt about hitting dry land. Why they did it and the highs and lows (Catrission 1)

Castrission speaks by satellite phone in an exclusive interview about the expedition to be the first to cross the Tasman Sea – from Australia to New Zeland with kayaking partner Justin Jones. At the time of the interview, James and Justin were out on the Tasman, 115 kilmetres short of NZ. A few kilometres later, they were to sight Mt Taranaki in New Zealand and paddle non-stop, flat out to reach their goal. This was their last interview in the midst of their journey.