Episode 7: The Day After Tomorrow

With the record-breaking winter warmth and upheaval at the EPA, climate change and government environmental policy are at the forefront of a lot of American’s minds this week. So at Carbon Neutral, we thought we’d take a trip back to 2004, when global warming was just heating up in the public conversation, and discuss how the disaster blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow addressed the potential impacts of climate change.


Make no mistake, The Day After Tomorrow is a ridiculous film with many scientific inaccuracies, though it certainly is fun to watch for the special effects alone. However, even if you don’t need to be prepping for a new ice age anytime soon, the movie did bring up a lot of important aspects of climate change.

We try to stress in this episode, and all of our episodes that touch on this issue, that climate change is not just a matter of concern for “tree-huggers” or winter enthusiasts, but a global phenomenon that touches on agriculture and food, disaster preparedness, biodiversity, political instability, national security, migration, and human rights. Senior U.S. military officials has even advocated for immediate action on global warming due to its potential to accelerate political tensions and create conflict around the world.

In this episode, special guest Mari Wadsworth, remote director of Monteverde FM, helps us discuss all these pressing issues and more. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes!

Updates from the Field:

Mari Wadsworth, our special guest this week, tells us about Monteverde FM, a local, public, and bilingual Internet Radio station that streams 24/7 content including music, talk and environmental programming. She also tells us about Monteverde’s big plans to beat out the rest of the country by going carbon negative by 2020.(Costa Rica set a goal in 2009 to become carbon neutral by 2021 but has since walked that back).

Steffi informs us that through tracking Great Hammerhead sharks, researchers from the Bimini Biological Research Station have discovered that the sharks come “home,” returning to the same sites for up to five months after migrating away to find food, pup or mate. This type of predictable behavior makes creating effective management strategies possible. Hopefully these strategies will help this species recover after being listed as endangered in 2007.

Emily brings us an update from the cocoa crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, which could lead to losing up to 43 percent of the government’s anticipated tax revenues from cocoa exports. This is really putting the political future of Côte d’Ivoire into question, since this is such an important crop. The country had Africa’s fastest growing economy last year and has been experiencing 9% growth in GDP from 2012-2015, so hopefully things get back on track soon.

Jordan is pleased that DART Container has opened three new foam polystyrene recycling drop-off facilities in Oklahoma, Idaho and Illinois. Foam polystyrene (often called Styrofoam) is not commonly accepted in curbside programs and if your recycling program doesn’t specifically ask for it, you should look for a drop-off that does. More Recycling manages an interactive map that shows all of the foam drop-offs and curbside programs that accept foam in the US and Canada.

Silvan has an update from her previous news of the USDA’s new organic livestock and poultry standards. Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of Senate Ag Committee, has vowed to overturn the Obama administration’s new rules for raising organic livestock welfare standards which would prevent poultry producers from using tiny concrete “porches” to meet the outdoor access requirement. Let him know you think those rules are important for both animal welfare and consumer protection!

What’s Giving Us Hope:

Steffi is hopeful about news from The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, which has a policy of making all research funded by the organization be made available to the public through open access formats. The problem is that some of their researchers want to publish in more prestigious journals, which often have a paywall; usually only people affiliated with a university or large company can pay to access these journals. To combat this, they have given $100,000 to AAAS, the owner of the journal Science and four other sister magazines, to have all of their research published in these journals be accessible for free. Hopefully they’ve created the framework for a new new method of ensuring that primary source literature be made available to the public for free.

Mari is excited about former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis’s RepublicEN project (in affiliation with George Mason University), which is changing the narrative of environmental talk on the Right to one focused on a free-enterprise solution to climate change. You can hear his interview with Monteverde FM here.

Emily is finding hope in a new UK-based startup called “Takestock,” an online marketplace that aims to be the eBay of unwanted food. Grocery stores, agriculture distributors, and more can post their unwanted food on the site, and buyers bid auction-style for access to the delicious would-be food waste.

Jordan is hopeful about a report by the Ocean Conservancy called “The Next Wave” that highlights how companies can strategically invest in waste management infrastructure to reduce plastic leakage into the ocean. Previously they identified strategies to curb the flow of plastic into the ocean, but now they are encouraging companies to heed their advice and start investing in the real solutions like building up waste collection and recycling infrastructure in the countries from which a lot of ocean plastic waste comes.

Silvan is happy to report that the USDA approved a new “Transitional Organic” label for growers who haven’t completed the three-year certification process but are already growing using organic methods. This will hopefully encourage more organic farming and help farmers see a return on their investment sooner.

Suggested Further Reading:

What’s dangerous about an early Spring? Find out in this in-depth article from the Atlantic.

Find out more about the debate over the impact of climate change on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation here.

If you’ve listened to the episode and just can’t get enough analysis of how the movie portrayed climate change and climatology, read The Day After Tomorrow: A Scientific Critique.

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