List of Talk Shows - Episode 400 Onwards

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Dr Sandy Greer is an activist in Blyth, Ontario, near the potential site of a repository for low-level nuclear waste from power plants. Erika Simpson is a professor of political science at Western University; both women, and Adam Wynne are concerned about the potential for radioactive dangers if the large existing amount of nuclear waste is buried in deep repositories. They consider it to be somewhat safer to keep the waste above ground in hardened containers until, perhaps, in a hundred years or so it will be possible to use a new scientifically established procedure for disposing of the waste. 

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Professors David Beerling and Noah Planavsky are both experts in the innovative practice of “enhanced rock weathering,” which crushes rocks such as basalt and applies the powder to soil as a way of improving the quality of the soil and also capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequestering it. Planavsky is not only a computer modeler but also the founder of a company that farmers hire to apply this technology. We consider the financial implications of using this innovation widely. 

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Adam Hochschild’s new book, American Midnight, records the dramatic and deplorable phase of hysteria in the United States during and shortly after World War I. The details about the violation of civil liberties can only shock, for numerous instances were even worse, in Hochschild’s opinion, than during the Trump presidency. The book presents numerous profiles and biographical sketches of prominent figures during the period; we discuss Woodrow Wilson, Eugene V. Debs and Emma Goldman.

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Nathan Funk is a professor of peace and conflict studies, Conrad Grebel College, University of Waterloo. He studied Middle Eastern religion and international relations a American University and in Syria, and his wife is a professor of Persian background. We discuss the relations among the various faith communities and how to conceptualize the relationship between “”spirituality”” and religiosity. Funk also emphasizes the emphasis of the local cultural, historical, and material circumstances and the Mennonite tradition of working at the community level on conflict. 

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Douglas Hooton, professor emeritus of civil engineering at University of Toronto, Chris Cheeseman of Imperial College in London, and Michael Barnard are experts on concrete. Because concrete is the source of 8 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, we must urgently develop concrete that is carbon neutral or even carbon negative. Hooton describes the challenges and the current government plans for Canada to reach carbon zero by 2050 – but is it possible to reach that much earlier and even capture and lock away massive parts of the carbon already in the atmosphere? One determining factor is the cost. 

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Carl Gershman was the head of the National Endowment for Democracy for 37 years. In 2004 NED awarded Seymour Martin Lipset a medal for his work on fostering democracy globally. That is when he and Metta Spencer met, so they talk a little first about Lipset. Then they discuss the bright spots that Gershman sees in the contemporary polarized world, though the anti-democratic forces are nevertheless powerful. Can a system of sovereign democracies suffice to bring about the changes required to prevent a global catastrophe? Gershman thinks positively about that. 

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Thomas Homer-Dixon is the founder and director of Cascade Institute, a Canadian think tank that is studying several problems that are converging upon us all simultaneously, mostly complex systems connected with climate change. They are working on the methane being emitted by thawing permafrost, and believe that some help may come from growing mosses in the region. He is also concern about the fact that some potential interventions against climate change are not being investigated, though it is clear that we cannot survive if we just try to reduce our carbon footprint and live simply while letting nature take care of our problems. It is too late for that; we must be ready to act to stop the disasters, and we must do scientific research beforehand. 

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Brad Bass is a geographer and Ole Hendrickson is an ecologist. Both are section editors for Project Save the World; they monitor the contents of the comments column, among other good deeds. They both are professionally concerned with the quality of water in our waterways, so we discuss first the current state of the wetlands on the southwest coast of Hudson Bay, which is said to be emitting methane. This bothers them less than some of the other sources of methane that result from human activities. One of Brad’s concerns is the cause of cyanobacteria, some of which are toxic. Metta got a bit snippy about Ole’s general criticism of geo-engineering, for reasons that may become apparent in future episodes.  

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Alexey Prokhorenko and Andre Kamenshekov have both left Russia and are opposed to that country’s aggression. They discuss the routes that refugees can take when fleeing Russia. The group of participants in this town hall favor organizing via Zoom those male Russians who fled to avoid being mobilized into the military. They could be effective in influencing public opinion back a home. 

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Nivedita Das Kundu is an international relations expert who was born in India and educated in Russia and Ukraine. She is able to describe vividly the attitudes that most Indians share about their friend, Russia, which has helped them in many ways. But they also are friendly toward Ukraine, where many Indian students study medicine and engineering in the universities; they are stranded there now, but the Indian government has just advised all foreigners to evacuate Ukraine, though many of the students want to remain. 

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Franz Oeste is one of the scientists who discovered the important role of iron dust in moderating the climate, fertilizing phytoplankton, and creating whiter clouds with greater albedo. Oswald Peterson is working on a project to put this discovery to beneficial use in the current crisis, and Peter Fiekowsky is a Silicon Valley activist and entrepreneur whose book, Climate Restoration, discusses this and other useful technological solutions to the climate crisis. Yes, it is possible to restore the climate to preindustrial levels. Whether we are ready to pay enough to do it — that’s another question. 

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Alexey Prokhorenko was an interpreter in Moscow until Putin mobilized troops in September to fight in Ukraine. Like almost a million other men, he left the country and is staying temporarily in Istanbul. Because he arrived without a long-lasting visa, he has to leave the country every few months to re-enter from elsewhere. There are more such Russian “”draft evaders”” in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Georgia than Istanbul and the local people ask about their opinion of the war, sometimes feeling like excluding those who are not opposed to the war but simply wanting to save their own skins while approving of the aggression. 

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Sandy Smith, Heather Schibli, and Michael Rosen are foresters and arborists who often work with trees in urban areas, including farmland. They agree that we an expect only negligible early effects on global carbon sequestration from planting forests in cities, and that the urban environment makes such forestry difficult. Nevertheless the many services provided by trees make such a project highly desirable, even as a climate control measure, for among other factors, the temperature of cities with forest canopy is about ten degrees less during hot periods than without trees. 

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Brian von Herzen is director of the Climate Foundation, working on developing seaweed permaculture. David Demarey is a farmer and soil chemist. Thomas Vanacore owns a quarry and is an expert on farming with rock dust. They discuss the potential use of rock dust, biochar, and seaweed extract in a mixture to improve the fertility of soil while retaining the nutrients in it and preventing run-off to pollute waterways and oceans. Fortunately, such a mixture can attract and sequester large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, becoming a major mechanism for climate restoration, while even improving the immune systems of animals and people who consume the food from such soil. 

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Peter Fiekowsky just visited the Blue Planet plant yesterday and shows photos of its operations to Chris Cheeseman and Michael Cook, British engineers who are working to develop a new component in cement. Blue Planet is producing limestone aggregate for concrete that is so carbon-negative that it offsets the CO2 emissions that inevitably result from the production of Portland Cement. These two innovations might very well combine to increase the negative emission level of concrete enough to capture and sequester 40 or 60 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere every year — enough to restore our atmosphere’s temperature to a comfortable, sustainable level. 

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Sandy Smith, Heather Schibli, and Michael Rosen are foresters and arborists who often work with trees in urban areas, including farmland. They agree that we an expect only negligible early effects on global carbon sequestration from planting forests in cities, and that the urban environment makes such forestry difficult. Nevertheless the many services provided by trees make such a project highly desirable, even as a climate control measure, for among other factors, the temperature of cities with forest canopy is about ten degrees less during hot periods than without trees. 

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Brian von Herzen is director of the Climate Foundation, working on developing seaweed permaculture. David Demarey is a farmer and soil chemist. Thomas Vanacore owns a quarry and is an expert on farming with rock dust. They discuss the potential use of rock dust, biochar, and seaweed extract in a mixture to improve the fertility of soil while retaining the nutrients in it and preventing run-off to pollute waterways and oceans. Fortunately, such a mixture can attract and sequester large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, becoming a major mechanism for climate restoration, while even improving the immune systems of animals and people who consume the food from such soil. 

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Peter Fiekowsky just visited the Blue Planet plant yesterday and shows photos of its operations to Chris Cheeseman and Michael Cook, British engineers who are working to develop a new component in cement. Blue Planet is producing limestone aggregate for concrete that is so carbon-negative that it offsets the CO2 emissions that inevitably result from the production of Portland Cement. These two innovations might very well combine to increase the negative emission level of concrete enough to capture and sequester 40 or 60 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere every year — enough to restore our atmosphere’s temperature to a comfortable, sustainable level. 

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Paul Rogers, a professor at Bradford University in England, discusses his book Losing Control, which has been rewritten for the new edition. We mainly discuss the conditions leading to the current war in Ukraine and the troubling likelihood that neither side can win and so a negotiated compromise must be the outcome. Because the Russians are probably willing to use nuclear weapons rather than concede defeat, the outcome will have to give them some portion of their demands, however unjust it is or how contrary to international law. Will this reality lead other countries to demand nuclear disarmament and to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons? 

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Monia Mazigh is a writer and activist from Tunisia who immigrated to Canada where she had to organize support on behalf of her husband, who had been imprisoned in Syria. Her engagement with this cause brought public attention and she has worked on human rights issues since then, as well as running for political office, teaching at the university, and writing novels. We discuss the political developments in the Middle East and the reasons for the failure of the Arab Spring, including the recent referendum in Tunisia, when the president was able to suppress all political opposition after several years of real democracy. 

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Stephen Salter has been designing a nozzle to spray extremely tiny drops of sea water into the clouds, which they will whiten thereby and decrease the amount of sunshine landing on the earth surface below. Peter Wadhams is an expert on Arctic sea ice and he and climatologist Paul Beckwith are enthusiastic about using this way of retaining some ice on Hudson Bay during the summer months. Adele Buckley questions them about this, and all four Arctic experts agree that it is a project worth more extensive exploration and, if Canadian indigenous people like it, the support of the Canadian government as a demonstration project for potentially more extensive application in refreezing the Arctic Ocean.

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David Waltner-Toews is a epidemiologist and veterinarian with an expansive vision: He addresses “zoonoses” — diseases that are shared by animals and people. This inter-disciplinary project also looks at ecological systems and interactions among the creatures that live together in them. Some organizations practicing “one health” focus as much on the environment as on the health of animals and people. There are grounds for expecting further spread of zoonotic diseases because habitats are being disrupted by development and people can easily travel great distances before they know they are sick. 

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Leonid Yurganov is a scientist who measures the methane emissions all around the world with spectrometry from satellites. He has twenty years’ data on the subject by now. Peter Wadhams specializes in the study of sea ice and the methane being released in the Arctic. Yurganov shows some maps of the north pole area taken from his instruments at different times. Much more methane is being emitted lately than previously, and much more in the winter than the summer. We are worrying a lot now about the potential for bursts of methane from the sea. However, there is more methane being emitted gradually from permafrost on land. 

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Project Save the World hosts a town hall on the last Sunday of every month. Here we talk about beavers, wind, cooperation with Russian scientists, mental illness and suicide among youths, spirituality and consciousness, and the predicament of Russians who oppose the war but may be conscripted. 

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Prabhat Jha, M.D. is an epidemiology professor at Dalla Lana School of Public Health, U of Toronto. He has been studying the causes of death in India and Africa and notes that the Covid pandemic is far weaker in Africa than the Delta version was in India. WE discuss the changing trends in smoking, breast cancer survival, and suicide. The study in India reveals surprising numbers of death from snakebite, and there are solutions available for that — maintaining local supplies of antivenin. He finds that lactovegetarians are more susceptible to death from cardiac disease in India. 

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Robert Schaeffer is a sociologist who specializes in macro-level global trends – notably globalization. He sees the period of globalization as ending now, and attributes much of the world-wide swing toward right-wing politics to the popular reaction against its economic effects. (He also attributes some of the effect to the consequences of partitioning states, which typically creates more belligerent societies.) The notion that different ethnic or national communities should each have their own state is a pernicious notion behind the desire for separatism. 

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Nicole Redvers was invited to discuss her book about indigenous medicine, The Science of the Sacred, which is described by Amazon: “Modern medical science has finally caught up to what traditional healing systems have known for centuries. Many traditional healing techniques and medicines are often assumed to be archaic, outdated, or unscientific compared to modern Western medicine. Nicole Redvers, a naturopathic physician and member of the Deninu K’ue First Nation, analyzes modern Western medical practices using evidence-informed Indigenous healing practices and traditions from around the world–from sweat lodges and fermented foods to Ayurvedic doshas and meditation. Organized around various sciences, such as physics, genetics, and microbiology, the book explains the connection between traditional medicine and current research around epigenetics and quantum physics, for example, and includes over 600 citations. Redvers, who has traveled and worked with Indigenous groups around the world, shares the knowledge and teachings of health and wellness that have been passed down through the generations, tying this knowledge with current scientific advances. Knowing that the science backs up the traditional practice allows us to have earlier and more specific interventions that integrate age-old techniques with the advances in modern medicine and technology

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Stephen Zunes is professor at the University of San Francisco, where he teaches about strategic nonviolent action. He recounts the invasion of Western Sahara by Morocco after the withdrawal of the Spanish colonial government. Morocco has organized the migration of an overwhelming number of Moroccans into the occupied territory, and this has been supported by the U.S, and France, though the World Court and E.U. courts do not validate the Moroccan position. Zunes points out the success of nonviolent resistance depends on the smartness of the strategizing. He is optimistic because there is so much awareness growing about this approach.

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Rebecca Fannin is a business journalist with several financial magazines. She has published several books about the transformation of India and (especially) China into corporate and technological entrepreneurs. One of her early books was Silicon Dragon, about China. Now, because of Covid’s travel restrictions, she has confined her reporting trips to the heartland of the US, where she sees real changes in the “”rust belt.”” New companies, such as Intel, are building new plants there to make computer chips and even automotive parts with three-D printing technologies. Is the rural culture there changing as as well?  

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Mustafa Bahran teaches physics at Carleton University and was formerly Yemen’s minister of energy. He notes that the war has been at least paused for six months. The question is whether the Houthis are just collecting weapons for another round of fighting or whether the extended truces will turn into a ceasefire. He discuss the ideology of the Houthis, who are “Zaini,” a sect of Shiites who believe that some of them, the Hashemites, are descendants of the Prophet Mohammed and entitled to rule. However, most of them (as most of the other religious people in the world) are moderates. Bahran’s group of Yemeni academics are planning to create a university which they will teach on Zoom from wherever they are now living. 

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Jefferson Tester is a professor of engineering at Cornell University, where he is establishing a district heating system on campus. Last year he showed the general design, but now he has completed digging a hole three miles deep there. The rocks at the bottom have a temperature of 90 degrees, so cold water poured down there can be pumped back up at a temperature that can heat every building on campus. We talk about the expense (high!) and the potential for using this technology across the country. 

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David Demarey is a soil chemist and farmer; Tom Vanacore owns a quarry and makes rock dust; John Sewuster is an expert on seaweed farming; Ted Wysocki is a farmer, and Ryan Brophy is an agronomist. What they have in common is a conviction that mixing rock dust, biochar, and seaweed produces a soil amendment that can not only improve the quality of soil and the food that it produces, but also capture significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the air and sequester it, while reducing the emission of nitrous oxide and other pollutants to the environment. This would save far more money than the cost of switching to this form of agriculture.

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This is one of our regular town halls. Oded Grajew in Sao Paulo tells us about the upcoming election in Brazil. Lula is the better environmentalist. Erika Simpson, Joni Arends and Robin Lloyd speculate about the dynamics behind the failure of the NPT Review Conference to reach a consensus document; Russia was the reason, but was it about the Zaporhizhzhia power plant? Alexey Prokhorenko says there is concern in Moscow about the possibility that Russians will not be able to travel to Europe. He favors charging a fee, with the money going to aid Ukrainian refugees.

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Bruce Conn is a professor of One Health at Berry College and and invertebrate biologist with special interests in insects and bivalve mollusks, so we talk about various mosquito-borne diseases and the services provided by oysters and clams to clean sea water. Antibiotics have been used to fatten cattle (apparently it takes a lot of energy for an organism to fight off pathogens, and when the antibiotics help out, its saves cattle energy and they put on weight!) the manure has components that probably harm all kinds of bacteria, friendly and not. Bacteria can be friend or foe, and so can earthworms. 

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Craig Stephen is a public health professor and One Health expert who began as a veterinarian. Nowadays he teaches by telling stories that show the connections between the narrow medical problem and the environment or social circumstances that are involved. Often, he says, by reducing the risks of the undesirable behavior (eg. drug use), we empower people to see options that are available that allow them to abandon the bad behavior, whereas we would fail completely if we just told addicts at the outset to stop using drugs. We discuss whether it is better to approach problems locally or globally. 

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Brian von Herzen is an expert on seaweed. He is creating platforms in the ocean that are farms for kelp. Wave-powered pumps bring nutrients up from the depths to enable the seaweed to thrive, and around them are vast numbers of fish, that come “”for the good stuff”” the seaweed provides. About a quarter of the plants fall off and sink to the bottom of the ocean, taking with them carbon from the atmosphere that will be sequestered for hundreds of years. The rest of the seaweed is sold for food, fertlilizer, and other compounds, including a bio-stimulant to be sprayed on crops to make them healthier. 

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David Matas is a Canadian international lawyer who published an article in the Globe and Mail suggesting a mechanism by which Canada could charge Putin with the crime of aggression and make it dangerous for him to leave Russia for he might be arrested in other countries. First Canada would have to sign the treaty making war aggression an international crime. David Harries tends to agree with Matas that the progress should be incremental toward getting international agreement enabling the enforcement of international law. Metta likes Matas’s proposal but wants stronger measures soon thereafter. 

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John Liu was a television producer and cameraman in China when he was asked to make a documentary film about the Chinese government’s project to revive the degraded loess plateau – a region that had been the center of a cradle of civilization. A thousand years ago it had become a desert because of the poor animal husbandry, the cutting of the forests, and the practice of farming on slopes without terraces. But in the new China, the local people were paid to hold off their harmful practices and paid to revive the land. Liu’s beautiful film won many awards and fascinated him with learning more about ecology, so he has made that work his second career and deepest passion. 

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Kehkashan Basu recently attended the Non-Proliferation Conference. James Simeon discussed the new effort to merge a “”nexus”” of three issues: humanitarianism aid, development, and peace. Unfortunately there can be contradictions in the approaches. Peace issues are about political conflict, and conflicting political or military enemies do not like for organizations to provide humanitarian aid to their enemies. Do some peace activists want peace so much that they minimize the seriousness of the particular issue in dispute? Joan Kerr and Richard Denton discuss this. 

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John Moore was responsible for China’s geoengineeing work at a Beijing University. He explains to climatologists Peter Wadhams and Paul Beckwith his proposal to set up underwater panels of unwoven fabric in channels around Antarctica where warm water is flowing under the Thwaite Ice sheet. As a result, the glacier will melt and calve off as iceberg into the ocean. Placed properly in the channel, such panels can keep the warmer water out and hold the glacier in place. This technological project would take about thirty years to build. Moore would like the 29 nations that have pledged to protect Antarctica to contribute funds to create such an arrangement to prevent global sea rise. 

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Amy LeBoeuf’s young son contracted Bartonellosis from a cat scratch, and her search for medical care led her to found an NGO in Louisiana that educates people about zoonoses – diseases that are transmitted between animals and people. Her search created a friendship with Amanda Elam, the founder and CEO of Galaxy Diagnostics, a company that specializes in diagnosing zoonoses. This is the main topic covered by One Health, the new medical/veterinary/environmental discipline that studies the interaction among these sources of disease.

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Marilou McPhedran is a Canadian senator who recently attended the first meeting of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. We discuss the 77th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Dina Zisserman Brodsky is a Russian Israeli professor who recounts the opinions of Russians toward that atomic bomb. Sam Lanfranco is working on managing the integrity of the Internet. We discuss the declining awareness of civics on the part of young people and the culture that celebrates violence as a way to resolve problems. 

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Michael McFaul, the US Ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, is now a professor at Stanford who heads an institute that supports democracy movements around the world. They bring activists for training programs where the trainees offer useful advice to the US about the great problems now facing democracy. He doubts that there is any group within Putin’s entourage who are likely to try to stop him if he does even worse things than at present — such as using nuclear weapons or allowing the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to melt down. Great changes have to be made after this war to bring a rule of law closer to reality. 

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Maria Puerta Riera is a Venezuelan political scientist living in Florida. Lester Kurtz is a sociologist at George Mason University who has taught several years in Korea. William Geimer is a retired law professor who left the US for Canada because of his disapproval of US wars. They discuss the current dynamics in Asia and the expansion of China into Africa and, to a lesser extent, Latin America, fllling the gap left by other global powers.There’s also talk about whether museums about a particular war should focus on opposing war in general or holding the perpetrators accountable for their atrocities.

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Peter Wadhams specializes in ice and glaciers. We discuss ways of stopping the runoff of water from Greenland and Antarctica, and of insulating icebergs while towing them to places that need freshwater. We worry about whether Russia will continue to prevent the export of grain from Ukraine, despite having agreed to allow it. Alexey Prokhorenko answers questions about the effect of sanctions in Russia, where he lives. 

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Peter Phillips studies the handful of people who control the global investment money. Harry Glasbeek, a retired law professor, also worries about the control that the corporations have over national governments. James Simeon is focusing primarily on the tragic displacement of people by war, and the use of forced migration as a weapon of war. Simeon is more optimistic than Phillips and Glasbeek that incremental solutions are possible and even occurring now. 

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Dmitri Makarov is the youngest member of the Moscow Helsinki Group’s three-person chairmanship, replacing an extraordinary woman, the late Lyudmilla Alexeeva. That group was founded in 1976 by Yuri Orlov and other Russian dissidents, pretending to offer “assistance” to the Soviet government in fulfilling the commitments it had made in the Helsinki Final Act to protect the human rights of all citizens. Of course, the regime cracked down, punished them, and broke up all Helsinki Groups in Russia, though others sprang up in other countries. When Glasnost began, it and other human rights groups came back to life and the Moscow Helsinki Group is still functioning, despite its opposition to the “special military operation” against Ukraine. 

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Drs. David Heymann and Ronald St. John are epidemiologists who have worked on various forms of the SARS virus, including Covid 19. Here we discuss GPHIN, the system Dr. St. John developed for monitoring the outbreaks of diseases around the world faster than the WHO could do at the time. Similar techniques are being used now in Sitata, the company that he heads today. Dr. Heymann says that Covid 19 is the fifth in a series of similar diseases that have emerged since the “Russian Flu” killed a million people in the late 19th century. The world does not pay equal attention to all new diseases, but tends to invest most in solving the ones that affect rich countries. 

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Whitney Lackenbauer is a professor at Trent University who studies the Canadian North. He is especially enthusiastic about the Rangers who work in their home regions of Canada’s Arctic, mainly to provide human security for their local neighbors, but they also support the maintenance of cultural practices, such as the ability to build snow houses: “igloos”. Regrettably, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought a pause to some of the research work being done by all the countries of the region. 

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Both Bruce Flattery and Arthur Edelstein are interested in nonviolence, including especially Gandhi’s and Gene Sharp’s thinking. Is there any way of applying nonviolence to stop the war in Ukraine? We consider the possibility of Ukrainians’ using civilian based defence against an invasion by Russia, along the lines of the resistance by Danes against Nazis in World War II. Such a plan would require advance planning, and it is probably too late for that now. It is more likely (though still very unlikely) that Russians would bring down their own leadership. 

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Alex Neve was Secretary General of Amnesty International of Canada until a couple of years ago. We discuss the effectiveness of letter-writing campaigns; the question of cultural relativism as a way of evading the duty to defend human rights; and the “enforcement gap” — the lack of mechanisms for enforcing international laws in general and human rights laws in particular. Do we need a United Nations police force to apprehend war criminals when they are they are doing the atrocities instead of waiting to put them on trial afterward? 

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Rajagopal and his wife, Jill Carr-Harris, are Gandhian leaders of a civil society organization in India, Ekta Parishad. They have several ashrams where they train uneducated youths to take the initiative in their villages to challenge corrupt practices and hold officials accountable for providing services to the poor. They have led a march across india for up to 100,000 poor people, who were going to Delhi, but the government came to meet them and passed legislation allocating land to the poor, though more can be done along those lines, and providing direct payments of cash to poor people. 

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Mary Olson is the founder of the Gender and Radiation Impact Project. She has been analyzing data from the Hiroshima bombing on the health effects (especially cancer) on survivors who were exposed to ionizing radiation. She has found that for every exposed male who contracts cancer, two exposed woman did so. There are also far greater impacts on infants and small children than on grown-ups. She and Saskatchewan physician Dale Dewar, author of From Hiroshima to Fukushima to You, believe that this information has been deliberately suppressed. Angela Bischoff, Director of Ontario Clean Air Alliance, points out the the PIckering power plant, as a Candu reactor, emits vast amounts of tritium in water vapor to the atmosphere near Toronto, and Tritium is a carcinogen. 


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Zviad Adzinbaia is a displaced person from Abkhazia, a region that was part of Georgia until the Russians attacked in two different incidents several years ago. He has studied political science at Tufts University, where he developed a program to monitor and take action against the disinformation campaigns run by Russia. His t-short reads “#suspendKremlin” because his group was social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to removed all accounts that are controlled by the Kremlin, in view of their history in disseminating lies.  

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Sam Lanfranco is an economist now serving on the governance board of the Internet. Reiner Braun is the Secretary General of the International Peace Bureau. We talk about the vulnerabilities in using and becoming dependent on the Internet, but also on the opportunities still available to us too use it for staying in touch with Russians and carrying on citizen diplomacy. We agree that it may be desirable to make the Internet into a utility controlled by the public. We also agree to try to set up conversations with Russians using Zoom.

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Evelin Lindner and Linda Hartling both wrote Ph.D.. dissertations on the subject of humiliation. They see it as a form of domination that, like shame, deeply wounds a person and may be the motivation for a war. Yet shame itself can contribute usefully to society, and it must be invoked as a way of inducing people to behave well. In this conversation, we consider the difficulty of holding people accountable for their actions while preserving the dignity of the human person. 

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Stellan Vinthagen is a sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, specializing in nonviolent direct action for social change. He notes that civil resistance has not less successful for the past 15 years or so in ousting dictators. This is because organizers of movements have not devoted enough attention to political preparation before calling people to public demonstrations. Also, dictators have learned some new ways of controlling protesters. The use of social media platforms has actually been used against the protesters because they can be traced by their phones. We also discuss the challenge of assisting dissidents in other countries, and of authorizing the removal of rulers who violate grave international laws. 

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Jonathan Granoff and Ward Wilson are experts on nuclear weapons; Joan Kerr specializes in community gardening and IEEE, but they all discuss nukes during this schmooze session. Jonathan and Ward assert that they are the realists, whereas the hard-nosed nuclear weapons strategists are living according to several myths that are manifestly untrue. Ward shows that the Japanese did not surrender because of the bombing of Hiroshima but because the Japanese entered the war and were advancing rapidly at the same time as the atomic bombings began.

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Lori Stahlbrand is a professor at George Brown College. Debbie Field is coordinator for the Coalition for Healthy School Food. Both are deeply concerned about the sustainability of food security. They believe that food should mostly be produced locally, and with reference to the indigenous knowledge of people who have lived in the region for centuries and know the conditions of the soil and ecosystem. But the solution to sustainable food involves many different levels of action, from the personal and individual to the geopolitical.  

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John Manza was Assistant Secretary General for Operations in NATO; Frederic Pearson and Alvina Pearson are retired professors at Wayne State University, and Erika Simpson is a political science professor at Western University. All are knowledgeable about NATO’s nuclear strategy. They discuss the new plans arising from this week’s NATO summit and how likely Putin is to use a tactical nuke in the Ukraine war. This is unlikely unless Russia is losing. But this winter, the gas shortage in Europe is likely to weaken the European commitment to sanctions. 

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Alyn Ware, a Right Livelihood laureate, reports that the laureates as a whole are taking climate change and nuclear weapons to the International Court of Justice and the Human Rights Council. Paul Werbos is troubled by the difficulty of getting advanced technical information about energy production to the people who actually can introduce the real changes. Alyn suggests that he send the information to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Charles Tauber reports on his free training online of lay people in Nepal, Sudan, Ukraine, Turkey, and elsewhere as ‘barefoot psychotherapists” for people suffering from the trauma of war and migration. Sandy Greer reports on her campaign against the burying of nuclear wastes in Ontario. Glen Anderson describes similar problems near Hanford, Washington. Rose Dyson reports that the Trans-Mountain Pipeline has been declared economically unfeasible. Alexey Prokhorenko in Moscow worries that there may be a ceasefire that will only freeze the conflict, so that it begins again within a couple of years. 

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Nancy Ruth and Lois Wilson have both retired after serving in Canada’s senate. Marilou McPhedran is currently serving there. Nancy worked largely on gender-based issues while Lois focused on human rights and now, in retirement, on a United Church network to promote a guaranteed basic income. Marilou had been an educator about human rights issues and joined us from Vienna where she was attending the first meeting of states parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. 

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David Harries was educated and worked as a nuclear engineer. Leon Kosals is a sociologist professing criminology at University of Toronto, and James Simeon is head of McLaughlin College, York University. David answers Leon’s question about whether nuclear winter is a real possibility (yes, but mainly if there is escalation). They both agree with James that war is an existential threat now and must be controlled, which wil involve significant changes in the UN. Though the SDGs are essential, top priority may best be assigned to potential existential threats, which now means that we need means of enforcing international law, especially against leaders who perpetrate aggression against other states.

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Konstanty Gebert is a Polish journalist with a special interest in covering genocide. We discuss the Rwandan and Nazi genocides – the precursors and the circumstances that enabled especially the Germans to become repentant and therefore a moral leader in Europe by accepting over a million refugees. Now Poland is welcoming huge numbers of refugees from Ukraine, and the psychological dissonance is difficult because the EU was punishing Poland for the undemocratic status of its democracy. 

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Richard Denton, Barbara Birkett, and Neil Arya are all Canadian physicians who are deeply engaged in International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War Canada and concerned to end the war in Ukraine. The people they know are overwhelmingly in favor of Ukraine, but now worrying that Russia is likely to win the war and keep Ukrainian territory. We discuss ways of overcoming the Security Council veto so as to impose a globally-satisfactory solution. What would happen if the Security Council did pass a motion requiring Russia to withdraw? Would Putin comply? When then? 

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Bruce Kidd was an Olympic athlete who became an academic scholar specializing in kinesiology and sport. He has been president of Scarborough College at the University of Toronto and advises government and sports associations. We talk about the connection between political and sports rivalries and the ethical standards to maintain when disciplining countries and athletes for cheating. Should countries that have launched aggressive wars be allowed to participate in world sporting events? Should certain sports be banned for being too dangerous to the players? If so, which sports? And what criteria should be relevant in making such a decision? 

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Liz Carmichael is an Oxford professor who spent the last four days in ceremonies observing Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne. She was moved by it and shared her feelings – though Rachel Small did not see the monarchy the same way, but described them as exploitive of Indigenous people, among other bad traits. We talk about the meaning of monarchs as standing outside of politics. Matt Legge thinks the attitudinal gap is generational, for he has no particular feeling for royalty, though his parents do. He holds conflict resolution workshops.

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Budd Hall is a professor of adult education in Victoria BC and co-chair of a UNESCO project on community-based research. Beginning in Tanzania in the 1970s, he helps local citizens discover questions to which they need answers and which are “researchable.” Often people in the community collaborate with academic scholars to produce reports that are useful to the public. This trend has implications for making universities more relevant to their communities. 

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Stephen Devereux studies famine. He has developed a scale for assessing the severity of food insecurity and has compared 70 recent historical cases of famine. Many of them are complex situations involving conflict, some actually caused by the political actions of states’ policies, as in Afghanistan now sanctions are maintained against the Taliban to pressure them to protect the rights of girls to education, though the effect is to violate another human right– the right to food. 

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Olivia Ward is a journalist who covered numerous wars, including the Soviet war against Chechnya. Michael Beer works with Nonviolence International, which has developed a list of potentially helpful suggestions for speeding up the end of the war in Ukraine. Much depends upon the communication among Russians and their knowledge of the situation, as well as of ways to organize opposition campaigns with a minimum of personal risk in a country that has become nearly totalitarian. 

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Before Landon Pearson became a Canadian senator, she had raised five children and lived with her husband Geoffrey Pearson in several countries where he worked in embassies. In Moscow he was Canada’s ambassador and, since her children were grown by then, Landon visited schools playgrounds, observing the childrearing practices, then wrote a book, Children of Glasnost: Growing up Soviet. What are the effects of this collectivity-oriented system on the political values of today’s Russian adults? She now directs an institute at Carleton University on the Rights of the Child.

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Dale Dewar and Georgina Bartos discuss Canada’ plans to store radioactive wastes near the Ottawa River. Alexey Prokhorenko reports on the state of mind prevailing in Moscow, and Charles Tauber offers to help Russians who need counselling about the war. Leda Raptis tells us about her cancer research and the plight of black male scientists in Canada. Bill Leikam is burning off some karma by looking after grey foxes and George Wilobo is planning a peace conference in Uganda. 

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Martin Palous was spokesman for the Charter 77 movement in Czechoslovakia, which succeeded in ousting the Communist regime. Active in Civic Forum, he became the Czech Ambassador to the United States and then the Permanent Representative to the United Nations. We talk about what might have been if the Soviet Union had not collapsed and, possibly, if the security of Europe had been turned over to the OSCE instead of NATO. We disagree a bit but agree on the importance of promoting human rights as the best way forward now. 

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Gisela Ruckert is active in Fair Vote Canada and an advocate of citizens assemblies as a deliberative process in democracies. Three other participants in this discussion, Joyce McMillan, Bernard Dreano, and the host Metta Spencer all had participated in the Helsinki Citizens Assembly during and immediately after the Cold War. The HCA was a self-selected group, unlike those of currently popular citizens assemblies, which as recruited through sortition, as are juries. HCA brought together Western peace activists and pro-democracy dissidents in the Eastern bloc. 

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Alan Haber, Ellen Thomas, and Odile Hugonot Haber are all American peace activists working with World Beyond War and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Alan was a founder of Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960s. Judy Rebick is a Toronto-based activist and professor at Toronto Metropolitan University and was founder of Rabble. All of us are discouraged about the lack of progress in abolishing nuclear weapons or even stopping the war in Ukraine. 

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Brad Bass, a status professor of environment at the University of Toronto, has two projects. He studies the impact of fertilizer run-off to Lake Erie and other freshwater lakes. This problems creates toxins that may enter our drinking water. Fortunately, Brad can remove phosphorus from water, mainly with plants. Planting more trees in cities will reduce or eliminate floods. Brad is also interested in designing “vertical wetlands,” that clean the air and water by combining particular species of plants and animals or fish. He is mentoring high school and university students who like to do environmental research. 

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Gisela Ruckert is active in Fair Vote Canada and an advocate of citizens assemblies as a deliberative process in democracies. Three other participants in this discussion, Joyce McMillan, Bernard Dreano, and the host Metta Spencer all had participated in the Helsinki Citizens Assembly during and immediately after the Cold War. The HCA was a self-selected group, unlike those of currently popular citizens assemblies, which as recruited through sortition, as are juries. HCA brought together Western peace activists and pro-democracy dissidents in the Eastern bloc. 

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Brydon Gombay lived in Uganda for several years until the rise of Idi Amin made it necessary to leave. Martin Klein is a retired professor of African History, University of Toronto. Much of his research as a political scientist was in Senegal. We discuss the languages, music, philosophy, religion, and political dynamics of Africa, and the impact some of the leading cultural figures are having elsewhere in the world. 

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James Turk is director of the Centre for Free Expression at the Toronto Metropolitan University. He discusses the difficulty of finding consistent criteria for evaluating the content of social media and regulating its decency and fairness. Indeed, freedom of speech is not absolute, but censorship is generally the worst way to manage it. Instead, it is more promising to look at such services as Twitter and Facebook as businesses and to develop business models that do not encourage the worst excesses. One way would be to encourage competition by allowing a person’s material from one platform to be transferred to another. 

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Ralph Lysyshyn has served as Canada’s ambassador to NATO, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Armenia (some of those concurrently). He was warned by a previous ambassador to Russia that some people in the military and security services will never accept Ukraine’s independence and would try to overcome it someday. Now they have. We talk about Russia’s nationalism, especially that of Putin, who is less under the influence of oligarchs now and closer to those nationalists. 

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Hugo Benedetti is an economist and expert on blockchain currencies; Paul Werbos is an expert on all matter cyber, especially Artificial Intelligence; Maria Puerta Riera is a political scientist from Venezuela; Peter Venton is an economist. They are all concerned about the potential of crypto-currencies to destabilize the world’s economic system, for blockchain technologies can enable levels of anonymity that preclude regulation and monetary adjustments to manage such factors as inflation. Blockchain also wastes huge amounts of energy and is harmful to climate. 

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Betty Reardon is a professor emeritus of peace education at the Teachers College, Columbia University. Hers was a graduate program, unlike the peace studies undergraduate program that Metta taught at U of Toronto. She notes gladly that the legitimacy of peace as a discipline has been achieved now, and that her graduates have gone on to do professional work in government, civil society organizations, and businesses. Nowadays she is working to help bring educated, professional Afghan women to the US and other countries. Evidently the younger Taliban want to educate girls, but the government is now run by old men who are blocking that change.

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Angella MacEwen, John Foster, and Francisco Wulff are all economists; Alex Belyakov is a Ukrainian journalist who covered the Chernobyl disaster. There was a debate about whether Canada’s fossil fuels may help Europe transition away from Russian sources or whether nuclear power is a better solution. There was another debate about whether the democratic states should continue trading with regimes that do not try to protect human rights and democracy, or whether “we are all sinners,” and therefore should not discriminate against countries that behave atrociously. 

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Information on this episode will be added in the near future.

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Malcolm Potts is a professor emeritus of public health who, as an obstetrician, was sent to Bangladesh in the 1960s to help thousands of women who had been raped and impregnated by soldiers during the recent war. Males (including male chimpanzees) are aggressive because testosterone increases violence and risky behavior. To create peace, he would like more women to be legislators. He says that when abortion is outlawed there is no change whatever in the numbers of abortions but an increase in the number of deaths from unsafe abortions. 

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Anda Serban is a community organizer and peace activist in Costanza, Romania — near the border of Ukraine. She describes the living conditions and uncertain plans of the refugees fleeing into her country, and the prospect that Putin’s apparently successful use of nuclear weapons as a deterrent will increase the appetite of other countries for such arsenals of their own.

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Andre Kamenshikov was awakened by a bomb falling; that told him that the war was starting in Ukraine. He and Alexey Prokhorenko in Moscow agree that the greatest danger may come when Ukraine is winning so decisively that Putin feels desperate and may use a tactical nuclear weapon. The discussion turned mostly on how to influence Putin to accept defeat; both hope we can prevail on Xi or Modi to use their influence. But Putin’s family might have influence, if we could persuade them – perhaps his daughters – to use it. What could the West trade to Xi: agreement on his suggestions for Internet regulation? 

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Alastair Edgar and Erika Simpsons are Canadian professors of international relations. Borys Wrzesnewskyj has served four terms as a member of Canada’s parliament. They discuss the origins of the current war in Ukraine, including the eastward expansion of NATO and the lack of assertive intervention by the UN Secretary General, for which he is now compensating. Can Xi and Modi influence Putin to refrain from using tactical nuclear weapons? Borys holds that Ukraine’s wheat production and export through Odessa to some of the most vulnerable countries shows that the UN must point out how the whole world will be harmed if Putin’s war succeeds. 

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Katey Walter Anthony is a professor who studies permafrost and methane at the University of Alaska. She scouts the countryside looking for the thousands of new lakes that are forming as the permafrost melts. From some of them, methane bubbles are entering the atmosphere, and she can set fire to them to make sure they are really methane. No one can be sure whether these portend grave risks to our own survival but it is clear that they have serious implications for global warming, though perhaps less than the possible disasters from fossil fuels.

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Tamara Lorincz is studying the military impact on global warming. Paul Maillet is a retired Canadian colonel who works full time now in peace services. Tamara’s analysis of the Ukraine war places most of the blame on NATO – especially the US. Maillet is most concerned with finding ways to protect people now and stop the war. Both agree that the OSCE is a better organization to manage the security needs of Ukrainians, Russians, and other Europeans than NATO. 

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Hilal Elver is a law professor who has served as the U. N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. She points out that Madagascar is the first country to have experienced famine caused entirely by climate change, but now COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine are also causing food insecurity. Many different aspects of hunger (e.g. economic, human rights, agricultural innovation, nutritional, governmental regulation, equal access to markets) should be considered in a unified way if famine is to be prevented. 

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Justina Ray is a scientist who is trying to save all kinds of wildlife. Her specialty is with carnivores, so she has spent time tracking rare wolverines in the Canadian Arctic. There she also was able to see herds of caribou in all directions, as far as the eye can see. Those herds are diminishing now, partly because of climate but also because of development in the region — oil and gas, mostly — so she must regularly inform government decision-makers about the risks. 

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Hugo Benedetti is a professor in Chile who teaches courses about Blockchain and other crypto-currencies. Here he explains how the system works, and answers Metta’s questions about how it can be used to help dissident Russians whose funds are blocked by the sanctions. Evidently this not going to be of much value to oligarchs, for it is easy to trace large amounts of money. 

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Real Lavergne has been head of Fair Vote Canada and Alexandre MacIsaac worked on elections for the government before becoming CEO of the World Federalist Movement of Canada. We discuss whether voters are astute enough to make good judgments — and if at all, under what circumstances. Clearly, deliberation is a big part of effectiveness, and Real favors the use of many such groups, chosen by lottery to be representative of the general voting population. Such groups can generally reach better decisions than experts and politicians — a fact that is called “the wisdom of the crowds.”  

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Peter Wadhams and Paul Beckwith, both climatologists, note that the IPCC has changed its attitude about the urgency of handling global warming, partly because the astonishingly rapid melting of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic. Some experts say they never expected to see warming in their lifetime like we’ve seen in the past week. Paul tells us about the stupendous amount of water in atmospheric rivers, which may turn north and melt the ice, revealing lower levels of volcanic debris from generations past. 

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Richard Denton, a leader in the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, had introduced me to a California lady who had led over 100 tours of Russia to teach Americans that “Russians are not enemies.” We invited Richard to join us in the chat with her and, when she did not turn up, he and Metta chatted as old friends in the Canadian peace movement. Although they did not disagree, Richard expressed the more optimistic views, for example, about the power of cross-border friendships as a means of preventing war. 

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Adele Buckley is a retired physicist and Pugwash activist who manages a listserv of articles on Arctic security issues. David Harries has served as a military officer in the Canadian Arctic. Adam Wynne is Metta Spencer’s assistant. we discuss the vulnerability of the undersea cables and the weakness of Canada’s presence with equipment in the Arctic, though Russia is expanding there and other countries see their own interests there. UK is holding naval exercises now in the Barent Sea, with some 35,000 participants from many different countries. Although the “”World Order”” that is familiar will probably be replaced, it is unclear what we should expect the “”new normal”” to be. 

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John Kirton is a political scientist a U of Toronto who studies the G7 and G20. For many years he has headed a project to monitor the effectiveness of these two organizations. At their meetings, the member states each make over 500 commitments, many of which are quite specific, with real numbers promised. His research group checks to see how well they have each kept their promises, and apparently people in Ottawa and the other countries take their “ratings” seriously.  

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Andre Kamenshikov is a Russian-American living in Kiev. Alexey Prokhorenko lives in Moscow. The Russian attack on Ukraine began over a month ago, and both report on military situation. So far, the bombings in Kiev have spared the southern suburb where Andre lives. Alexey recognizes that his hardships are minor compare to those of people in Ukraine, but he says there are shortages as people stock up on buckwheat and other staples. The most important stresses are the broken friendships, though one never knows whether one will be the one in 10,000 who gets arrested and jailed for 15 years, e.g. for holding up a sign saying “Two Words.” Saying “No War” is forbidden, but even “two words.” We give him our warm wishes and expect to stay in touch.

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Mary Ellen Francoeur is a Sister of Service who works against war. Neil Arya is a physician who has chaired the peace organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War Canada. He also maintains a clinic for refugees in Canada. They are both appalled at the war in Ukraine – not least at the fact that it is drawing our own resources and attention away from equally urgent issues. But the conversation reveals another disappointing truth: that during a war, peace activists find their usual long-term recommendations ineffective in stopping the bloodshed and protecting the victims. The desire of the Ukrainians for weapons is understandable, yet tragic, for in the long run, militarism does not create peace.

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Paul Werbos is a “founding father” of artificial intelligence. His friend Jerome Glenn is head of the Millennium Project, an organization devoted to studying future global crises. Glenn describes the plans of UN Secretary General Guterres to revise the UN and make it oriented toward futurology. Guterres would like to transform the Trusteeship Council into a body representing multilateral stakeholders, which might include nations, business corporations, and unions, among other global entities. Werbos is more concerned about the possibility of a collapsed internet, for crucial information is not getting to the decision-makers who need it. 

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Paul Dorfman has worked for UK, Ireland, and France as an adviser on nuclear energy, and he assures us that it is no solution to our climate change problems. It is too expensive, too slow to build, and too dangerous for too long a time. It will be vastly quicker and cheaper to develop wind and solar. Yes, the intermittency is a problem and we may have to adjust our behavior to live within its constraints for a time, but there is no real alternative. And that transition is occurring, and quicker than most people realize. He notes that the International Energy Agency report that by 2026 the world will have built enough wind and solar power to almost equal the amount now being produced by fossil fuels and nuclear combined. 

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Paul Maillet is a retired colonel from the Canadian military and a full-time peace activist. Sam Lanfranco is a retired professor of economics and a member of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). We discuss the lessons and dilemmas for policymakers from the unexpected invasion of Ukraine. He fully expects the Ukrainians to prevail eventually because it would take a million soldiers to occupy a country of 44 million if they fail to cooperate. But in the meantime the destruction may be ghastly. We discuss nonviolent resistance strategies and the new way of fighting with economic measures. Sam Lanfranco joins us late but can report on discussions within the Internet governing bodies as to how. best to use the Internet during and after this conflict. 

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Ted Kesik is an engineer who teaches in the architecture faculty at U of Toronto, where he specializes in building materials and constructions that contribute to social resilience. With 300,000 immigrants coming to Canada each year, new dwellings must be built and the deteriorating infrastructure repaired and expanded. Urban drainage systems are inadequate, so we must either rebuild or use less water per person. As high-rise condos age, there will be more incentive to clad them with insulation and replace windows. Concrete and steel are going to be produced with zero net emissions, partly because of the competition with mass timber construction. 

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Ernest Thiessen’s Ph.D. thesis was a search for an algorithm with which to solve conflicts by seeking to maximize the preferences of all parties to the dispute. He found one independently, not knowing that John Nash had already solved the problem (and Nash won a Nobel prize for it). Now he has a company that provides a software that can be used to find the optimum solution to a dispute that is locked in a stalemate. He can always improve on the status quo, though in real life hardly ever achieve 100 percent satisfaction. 

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Ellen Thomas held a vigil outside the White House for many years. She favors a bill that is brought to Congress every year but never voted on: to shift money from nuclear weapons to a useful economy. Canadian activists Robin Collins and Earl Turcotte disagree about the best policy for Ukraine. Turcotte thinks it is realistic for Ukraine’s allies to defend it militarily, while Collins considers Biden right in holding back, since Putin might respond with nuclear weapons. Both agree that there is a confluence of two contradictory impulses because of Putin’s threat: a desire to abolish nuclear weapons because their risks are made so apparent, but also a demonstration that they can be valuable deterrents. NATO will not go to war against Russia because he has nukes, and if Ukraine had kept theirs, he would not have attacked them. This is a terrible message but convincing.

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Ben Rawlence is a British writer whose recent book, The Treeline, recounts his tour of the world around the Arctic circle, as he visited indigenous people living in all the northernmost countries. Their lives are being affected adversely by global warming, which is allowing trees to grow farther in the north than before. Different countries are forested with different predominant species, but the effects are generally negative, for the trees exacerbate the warming. Even caribou cannot survive in some of their former habitat. Rawlence has created a college in England that offers programs on topics relating to the environment and climate. 

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Harriet Friedmann is a sociologist, expert on the world food system. She worries that there are economic factors limiting the opportunity for farmers to adopt the newest and best methods of farming. Tom Newmark, who lives on his regenerative farm in Costa Rica, was formerly the head of a multinational food corporation, and he believes that all the major corporations are fully aware that the standard current agricultural methods are failing and must be replaced. He believes that these companies are taking the lead in promoting the changes that are inevitable because essential; there is no alternative. 

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Erin Hunt explains why the meeting is unable to proceed for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons: the Russians cannot arrive because the airspace is closed to Russian planes. Talk shifts to the causes of the Ukraine War and how to end it. David Burman sees it as caused largely by Western obliviousness to Russia’s security concerns. This view is generally qualified by the notion that Putin would have attacked anyhow, and just uses NATO as an excuse. The talk gets more animated when there is a discussion about having Ukraine surrender but continue the conflict with nonviolent Civilian Based Defence.

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The February Town Hall found activists dispirited over Russia’s attack on Ukraine, with only Abraham Weizfeld offering justifications for it. Some were concerned about the risk of radiation from Chernobyl and Ukraine’s other nuclear power plants, which Russians now control, but possibly not properly. Finally we discuss the changes that need to be made to renovate the “world order” that had been fairly successful since World War II but which has not prevented this calamity. 

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Ole Hendrickson is a retired ecologist who also spends a lot of his attention on the risks of radioactivity. Here we talk about the renewed danger of Chernobyl and other Ukrainian reactors, which have been taken over by the Russian invaders. Then there is a conversation about Canada’s forests — especially the wonderful potential for urban forests and urban national parks. Hendrickson also explains the controversy over reprocessing waste fissile material.

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Olivia Ward has been the Toronto Star’s reporter from previous Russian wars – especially Chechnya. Erika Simpson is a political science professor specializing in NATO. Alex MacIsaac is the new director of world federalism in Canada. Real Lavergne was the head of Fair Vote Canada and Martin Klein is a professor emeritus of history, U of Toronto. We discuss the four-day-old war in Ukraine and its causes, including early enticement of Ukraine to believe they might be admitted to NATO, and even whether Putin is mentally unhinged. We consider various possibilities for a solution, including the Minsk Agreements, and the possibility of becoming a neutral state. 

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With Russia’s war against Ukraine underway, four guests discuss the notion of creating a zone of peace, not only in Ukraine but also in the south Caucasus. Christopher Mitchell, who has studied peace zones as an academic, meets with two of his former students: Irakli Kakabadze, who now runs a Gandhian institute in Tbilisi, Georgia, and Guguli Maghradze, formerly a member of Georgia’s parlliament and now director of a peace program at Tbilisi University. A Canadian peace activist, Lyn Adamson, joins in the discussion, much of which involves an assessment of the potential for creating a zone of neutral countries. 

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Ingeborg Breines worked in UNESCO on issues relating to gender at the end of the Cold War. UNESCO’s mission includes the development of a culture of peace. In retrospect, that period seems remarkably optimistic, for with the onset of the war on terror with the crash of planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, culture of peace dwindles in significance. We can see the effects of that loss now, with the onset of the war against Ukraine. 

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Metta Spencer was invited to speak to the fellows of McLaughlin College, York University about climate change. Her title, “How to Subtract”” reviews five of the possible methods of either shielding the planet from the sun’s heat with whiter clouds or removing carbon from the atmosphere to store it in the soil or concrete. Spencer chose these as the most promising partial solutions, though of course the essential solution will simply be to cease emitting greenhouse gases. Wadhams and Petersen were participants in the zoom meeting and explained their approaches during the Q and A period. 

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On the day following Putin’s decision to recognize the breakaway Donbas republics of Ukraine, both James Simeon and John Foster are preoccupied with the apparent imminence of a major war in Europe. Simeon studies forced migration, which he attributes largely to the prevalence of protracted wars. We don’t need another new war! Foster studies pipelines and explains the risks that will come from canceling the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would supply Germany and other countries with gas at a time when the supplies are already low.

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David Miller, a former mayor of Toronto, now is founding an institute for C40 Cities, an organization of global megacities cooperating to reduce climate change. David Hochschild, the Commissioner of Energy for California, is also fully engaged in the reduction of global warming by his own state. Here they compare notes about their respective efforts, which have been more successful so far than the work of their national governments. 

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Lorraine Rekmans, the president of the Green Party of Canada, complains that the police, as can be expected, have treated the protesting truckers vastly more leniently than they normally treat indigenous protesters, who are normally far more civil in their acts of disobedience. David Webster, who has engaged in protests in Canada and on behalf of the East Timorese independence movement, concurs. Jill Carr-Harris, a Gandhian organizer of protest movements in India, notes that the farmers’ protest has been influenced, as all movements in India still are, by the Gandhian tradition, which is highly disciplined. All the guests are concerned by the loss of democracy, notably in the US, but also in Canada. The failings of Canada cannot properly be attributed to American white supremacy.  

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Ann Frisch worries most about the possibility of nuclear war, including by unintended escalation if the current war between Ukraine and Russia intensifies. Kehkashan Basu, a student at the University of Toronto, notes that she had been told not to go to campus, lest there be problems with the protesting trucker drivers who are attempting to stop Canada’s requirements for vaccination and mask-wearing. This leads us into comparing the strictness of police in protests against these right-wing rowdies with their treatment of minorities who protest more civilly. Subir Guin mentions his chief worry: the Modi government of India, but we lack enough time to discuss that. 

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In this monthly town hall, we spend an hour discussing the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, plus the Swiss Without and Army movement, the search for a place to bury nuclear waste in Canada, the Humanity Rising project, the protection of habitat in urban areas for grey foxes, and a game theory strategy that is helpful for mediators. 

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Alexander Likhotal has been one of Mikhail Gorbachev’s closest advisers and now is a professor in a Geneva school of diplomacy. Here he discusses various of Vladimir Putin’s possible motivations, none of which are very praiseworthy. He says that the current Russian threats of war against Ukraine are not really about Ukraine, but are motivated by Putin’s concern about his country’s status in the world, especially vis a vis the West. Likhotal also believes that Belarus is more important to Russia than is Ukraine. Maintaining significant military bases in Belarus would be strategically important in any attempt to separate the Baltic states from the rest of NATO. 

 

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Pervez Hoodbhoy is a physicist in Islamabad. Pakistan. M.V. Ramana is a physicist from India now living in Vancouver. Both are concerned about the potentially catastrophic effects of nuclear war and even the non-explosive but detrimental effects of radioactivity on health and the environment. They discuss the political relations among the nuclear weapons states and the prospect for nuclear disarmament — which they both consider bleak. They also worry about the effects and economic prospects of the widely-proposed small modular reactors, which are expensive and unlikely to be as numerous as some suggest as a solution to climate change.

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Pavel Palazhchenko has been interpreter and close aide for Mikhail Gorbachev since early in Gorbachev’s tenure as Soviet leader. Before that, he served as interpreter in the foreign ministry, especially to Eduard Shevardnadze. He interpreted all the international negotiations in which Gorbachev played such a historic role in ending the Cold War. He remains in close touch with the 91-year–old Gorbachev. who remains in isolation because of the pandemic. 

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Ellen Judd is an anthropologist specializing in China; Barry Stevens makes films, mainly about war; and Zachary Jacobson is a mathematician concerned about global warming. As a schmooze day, this conversation was unplanned; everyone gets to discuss a favorite topic, and the discussion turned to the difficulty of addressing China’s obvious human rights violations within a fair abd constructive context instead of exacerbating tensions. Is it right to consider the current forcible integration of the Uyghurs as “genocide”? 

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Jenni Harris’s family owns White Oaks Pastures, a farm in Georgia USA that raises and processes animals in ways that sequester more carbon than they emit. Cows, for example, are allowed to graze and are rotated from one paddock to another, day by day, thereby adding their excretions and stirring up the soil just the right amount. The slaughter and packing of meat occurs on the farm, which offers an organic restaurant, general store, guest lodging, and training programs on regenerative agriculture. We discuss the health and climate impacts of this approach to farming. 

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Alan Haber was the first president of Students for a Democratic Society; William Geimer was a lawyer who defended some of the leaders of that 1960s movement against the Vietnam War. They worry about the descent of the US into Fascism. Doug Saunders and Oswald Petersen tend to agree that the support for democracy is on the upswing in Europe and will win every election that is honest; the right is winning only by twisting the voting system. Petersen’s own work is the removal of methane from the atmosphere with the dispersal of nanoparticles of iron salts.

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Vasily Yablokov is a staff member of Greenpeace in St. Petersburg. He notes that there has been a significant change in Russian public opinion about climate change during the past two years — but that nevertheless the majority of the population remains rather oblivious to the issue, though Russia is the country that already is suffering most from it. There are only 30 monitoring stations along the long Siberian coast. Greenpeace may be doing research with Sergey and Nikita Zimov, the Siberians who maintain Pleistocene Park and who are concerned about the emissions of methane from thawing permafrost.

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Sandra Leigh Lester advises architects about ways of making buildings more sustainable, healthful, and beneficial for the wider community. Claire Adamson is a retired architect in Montreal. They both have issues with the fashionable ways of renovating homes. Adamson dislikes the trend toward “open kitchens.” Lester says some of her clients want granite countertops and other things they don’t need; they should pay more attention to such things as valves to keep sewage from backing up into their basements.

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Ashrith Domun is a chemical engineer working on the de-carbonization of vehicles. Craig Smith is a retired engineer who served as president of a construction corporation and more recently cao-authored a book with William Fletcher: “Reaching Net Zero..” Ashrith reports that the larger the vehicle, the more difficult the challenge in making it move sustainably. But trains are fairly easy to decarbonize; they just change over to. green hydrogen, and this can be done within the next five years. 

 

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We produce several one-hour-long Zoom conversations each week about various aspects of six issues we address. You can watch them live and send a question to the speakers or watch the edited version later here or on our Youtube channel.