This week on Earth Beat, host Marnie Chesterton heads to the AAAS in San Diego - the world's biggest science conference - to hear all about the state of climate science. Also, urban farming from Kenya to Detroit, getting less for more, GM eggplant controversy in India, and growing your own electricity.
THE CLIMATE SCIENCE BATTLE
Despite all the science to back it up, there are still a lot of climate change sceptics. Dr Kenneth Coale, the Director of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California says the problem is that the science is pretty complicated and that people just don’t get it.
Fuel for the Denialists
Perhaps the problem is that there’s too much information out there – so much so that you can find anything to back up whatever point of view you have. So it’s important that climate change science is unquestionable. Which is why the recent scandals – errors in the IPCC’s report and leaked emails from the University of East Anglia which hinted at data-fixing – have caused such harm to the reputation of climate science. Environmental sociologist Riley Dunlap says these small slip-ups have provided a lot of fuel for denialists.
There's still hope
And then there are the people like Rush Limbaugh, a vehement climate-change denier with a big audience. It’s easy to imagine how he’s more persuasive than dry science. But, despite the fact that a recent Pew poll put the number of climate believers at a mere 44 percent of the US population, some scientists like Canadian David Keith, still have hope.
But what can scientists do to improve the way they get their research out to the public? Nancy Cole, from the lobby group The Union of Concerned Scientists answered the question.
URBAN FARMING INITIATIVES
In Kibera, Kenya, one of the world’s most notorious slums, something exciting is happening: a local organization of former prisoners has turned a former garbage dump into an organic farm. Residents, who are often short on cash, can purchase cheap, chemical-free vegetables around the corner from where they live. Our Kenya correspondent, Michael Kaloki, went to check out the Green Dreams farm.
Urban Farming in Detroit
While parts Nairobi are teeming with people, the opposite is the case in Detroit. Since the collapse of the automobile industry, the population has halved and there are over 100,000 abandoned lots. But Hanz Farms hopes to change that, using the abandoned land to grow food. Marnie spoke to president Mike Score about the start-up.
LESS FOR MORE
Here’s a riddle for you: when do you pay more for less?
The answer? When you want less additives, less pesticides, fewer food miles, and less packaging. But does responsible living always mean spending more? Writer Dave McGuire considers the balance between paying to get what you want - and paying not to get what you don't want.
Indian farmers are also demanding less – in this case less genetically modified seed. Over the last year, India has been debating whether to allow production of its first genetically modified crop. BT-brinjal, a hybrid eggplant, has caused a great deal of controversy, and Earth Beat's Mumbai correspondent Chhavi Sachdev explains why it's about more than just one particular seed.
HOME GROWN ELECTRICITY
Two scientists from Wageningen University in The Netherlands have found a way to generate electrical power… from living plants. In their vision, plants produce electricity while consuming CO2 - it just doesn't get more sustainable than that. Reporter Thijs Westerbeek went to visit the prototype of the so-called Plant E.
NEXT WEEK ON EARTH BEAT
Coming up on Earth Beat, we look at a curious by-product which is gracing the catwalk…
Yeah, the first thing they say is does it smell like fish? But it cannot smell like fish, it’s leather. It smells like leather.
Fishy fashion - on Earth Beat from Radio Netherlands Worldwide.