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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

November 18, 2016

Air Date: November 18, 2016



U.N. Climate Progress in Marrakech

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The Paris Climate Agreement came into force just before COP22 in Marrakech, this year’s high level UN Climate talks that ended November 18th. Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists tells host Steve Curwood member countries at the meeting in Morocco are determined to push ahead with implementing the Paris deal and work on climate protection even though the incoming US president vowed during his campaign he would ‘rip up’ the Paris accord. (09:45)

Dakota Pipeline High Stakes / Sandy Tolan

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The movement led by the Standing Rock Sioux to stop the final link of the Dakota Access Pipeline, construction of a tunnel under the Missouri River, is standing firm, but DAPL supporters are equally determined. Sandy Tolan has followed the evolving and increasingly contentious protests since April, and reports on what’s at stake. (15:40)

Organic Cranberries: Perhaps More Delicious?

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Humans have been eating and enjoying cranberries for thousands of years, and nowadays the tart red berry comes into its full glory at Thanksgiving. Among the many big companies growing cranberries are a very few small organic family farms, including the popular 140 year old Ruesch Century Farm near Vesper, Wisconsin. Host Steve Curwood speaks with owner Brian Ruesch. (05:00)

BirdNote: Audubon's Wild Turkey / Michael Stein

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The Turkey is the traditional entrée on Thanksgiving in the U.S, but before the US bred the huge-breasted birds we eat today, wild turkeys wandered the land. The wild turkey is the first image in John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” and in today’s week’s BirdNote, Michael Stein recalls Audubon’s writings on these iconic creatures. (02:00)

Time Travel: A History

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Physicists, mathematicians and philosophers have long sought adequate explanations of the nature of time. But one of the most important innovations in humanity’s exploration of time came from the writers of fiction: the concept of time travel. Author James Gleick, in his book Time Travel: A History, discusses with host Steve Curwood how the concept of time travel continues to influence the way we think about time and everything it touches. (15:10)

Show Credits and Funders

Show Transcript

HOST: Steve Curwood

GUESTS: Alden Meyer, Brian Ruesch, James Gleick

REPORTERS: Sandy Tolan, Michael Stein


CURWOOD: From Public Radio International, this is Living on Earth.


CURWOOD: I'm Steve Curwood. The first UN Meeting since the Paris Climate Agreement was ratified wraps up in Marrakesh, and following the US election, China steps forward to take the lead.

MEYER: China has made it very clear here that they intend to move forward with Paris -- they see it as in their own national interest to deal with air pollution, to deal with health effects from their current energy system and I've been told actually that they can overachieve the target they put forward in Paris.

CURWOOD: Also, the Dakota Access oil pipeline is nearly complete, but the Standing Rock Sioux and their many allies vow to continue to fight it, saying right is on their side.

BALD EAGLE: We’re gonna stay here and stop the pipeline.

BLACK HORSE: The only weapon that we’ve got is prayer. That’s why there’s a lot of praying people from other nations. White, red, yellow, black. We’re all here. We as a Lakota people know is that this is our land, and we can and will win.

CURWOOD: Those stories and more this week, on Living on Earth. Stick around.

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[NEWSBREAK MUSIC: Boards Of Canada “Zoetrope” from “In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country” (Warp Records 2000)]

U.N. Climate Progress in Marrakech

Flags from many nations greet the diverse attendees of COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco. (Photo: Amira Kabbara)

CURWOOD: From the Jennifer and Ted Stanley Studios at the University of Massachusetts Boston and PRI, this is Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood. The first official meeting of the Paris Climate Agreement parties wrapped up November 18 in Marrakech, Morocco. It was part of the annual UN Climate sessions, and just about all signals were go, with one major exception. That exception, of course, is the US election. President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to shred the Paris Climate deal. As the agreement is now international law, it would take four years for the US to withdraw, but according to a new report, even under President Obama, the US has already fallen behind on its commitments, along with Canada, Australia, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists joins me from Marrakech to discuss the meeting and the impact of the US election. Alden, welcome back to Living on Earth.

MEYER: Thanks. Good to be with you again, Steve.

CURWOOD: So, tell me what was the reaction among the folks gathered there at Marrakech to Donald Trump's unexpected election as the 45th US President, specially of course, given his campaign assertion that he would cancel the Paris climate agreement.

COP 22 was actually one of three climate meetings that took place simultaneously in Marrakech, Morocco from November 7th through the 18th, 2016. CMP 12 (which manages the Kyoto Protocol) and CMA 1, the first session guiding the enactment of the Paris Agreement, coincided with COP 22. (Photo: IRENA, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

MEYER: Well, I mean I think there was a initial shock because all the polls and the pundits back home were predicting not a comfortable Hillary Clinton win, but certainly a win in the electoral college, but of course Donald Trump does not represent all of America. There are states and cities and businesses that are going to keep moving ahead no matter what he does. We don't know whether he would fulfill what he was talking about in the campaign and pull out of the Paris agreement, so people should just hold their horses a little bit and wait and see what develops. Let Mr. Trump get his transition team place, get his key nominees in place, and then see how it plays out.

What it has done, however, over the last week is generate an unprecedented sense of solidarity among all the countries here. Country after country has said that they intend to move forward to implement and strengthen Paris. You've seen that from sub-national governments from California to Ontario to German states and others, you've seen that from cities around the world and just yesterday over 360 US companies came out and implored Mr. Trump to not pull the US out of Paris, and said that they are committed to decarbonizing their business models. So it has really united the rest of the world. There has not been one single country that has said if the US pulls out they will follow.

CURWOOD: By the way, what would Mr. Trump have to do to back out of Paris?

MEYER: Well, there's different theories here. If he wanted to pull out of the Paris Agreement, under the Paris procedures he would have to wait three years and then give one years notice, but apparently they're looking at shortcutting that with some kind of executive action to try to undo what President Obama did to join the Paris Agreement. I'm not a lawyer, and I don't know all the intricacies, but apparently they are looking at different options. They're also apparently considering the option of pulling the United States off the Rio framework treaty from 1992 where the waiting period is just one year, not four, but of course that would take the U.S. out of every aspect of the international climate regime. I call it the nuclear option.

CURWOOD: Now, Secretary of State John Kerry came to Marrakesh. What did he say and how did folks respond to him?

MEYER: Well, he was intending to come all along, even before the election results. I think he's been to something like 14 or 15 of the 22 COPS. He gave a very powerful speech yesterday detailing why it is in the world's interest to move ahead. He was talking about the impacts on the United States. He also talked about the clean energy revolution, the rapidly falling prices for efficiency and renewable energy technologies and how this can be a driver of economic prosperity for countries that move in this direction, including the United States. He talked about the large number of clean energy jobs that have already been created across the United States, and he said that he thought it would be strongly not in the United States' interest to pull out. It would hurt our standing in the world on other issues like security and trade that a Trump administration will care about, and he urged them to proceed cautiously and not act hastily.

CURWOOD: What about the role of China now, the biggest emitter?

The Marrakech Climate Change Conference convened November 7th through 18th, 2016 (Photo: Amira Kabbara)

MEYER: China has made it very clear here that they intend to move forward with Paris. They see it in their own national interest to deal with air pollution, to deal with the health effects that they are seeing from their current energy system. They see also advantages to maintaining leadership in the clean energy technologies of the future, from advanced vehicles to renewable energy to battery storage. They have no intention of pulling back and I've been told actually privately by people in China that they anticipate they can overachieve the target they put forward in Paris. They have also said they would hope that the United States would stay in, they've had a very productive dialogue with the U.S. over last several years and they would welcome that to continue, but they made it very clear that if the U.S. decided to withdraw under Mr. Trump that they would continue to try to provide leadership on this issue. China has been ramping up its contributions to support vulnerable countries through so-called South-South financing of investments and clean technology and adaptation strategies, so I think from a geopolitical perspective, actually, it would create an opening for China to enhance its influence and standing of the world if the United States vacated the field.

CURWOOD: At the Marrakech session, how concerned are the less affluent countries about adaptation funding?

MEYER: Well, that's been a big focus here. They would like to see adaptation funding ramped up. Right now it represents roughly 20 percent of the total funding from developed countries, the other 80 percent being for mitigation technologies. Many of the vulnerable countries believe that ought to be more like a 50-50 ratio because as they say, it's very difficult to mobilize private finance for investments and adaptation. There's not as much opportunity to make profit in that space as there is in clean energy technology. They make it very clear that as a result of the delay in reducing emissions over the last couple decades, the adaptation financing needs have been mounting, and I think this will continue to be a major political demand of vulnerable countries in years to come.

Many youth activists at the Marrakech climate talks expressed shock and dismay at the election of Donald Trump as US President on November 9, 2016. They held up a “People’s To-Do List,” edited to reflect their loss of faith in the 45th U.S. President’s ability to effect the change they seek. (Photo: Takver, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

CURWOOD: At the same time, the US has released a deep decarbonization strategy to rapidly reduce US global warming emissions by the year 2050. So, Alden, what does that plan involve, and how relevant is that plan with the incoming Trump administration.

MEYER: Well, the US did release that plan yesterday, Steve. It looks out to 2050, it looks at a range of scenarios, most of them aimed at what it would take to meet the existing 80 percent reduction goal by 2050 – but one scenario also is looking at going farther. Germany also released their plan early this week looking for as much as a 95 percent reduction goal by 2050, and yesterday Canada and Mexico joined the U.S. in releasing their plans because they've been working together in a coordinated way in the North American economy. The plan is very extensive. It provides a lot of good analysis and information, not just on the energy and transportation sectors, but a pretty deep dive into land-use, forestry and agriculture and how you might ramp up the ability of the land sector to absorb carbon dioxide over the next 35 years.

It looks at the potential difficulties with carbon lock-in of infrastructure. It looks at electrification of the vehicle sector and integration with the electricity sector and issues like storage and renewables integration, so it's a very serious piece of work. It's an open question what relevance it has to the federal government over the next four years because there's no indication that Mr. Trump and his team will have any interest in building on it and looking for ways to phase out fossil fuel emissions, so it's not going to be perhaps as immediately relevant as it would have been if the election had gone the other way, but it's still a very solid piece of work and I think it's something to build on.

“WE’RE STILL IN,” reads a banner borne by US delegates at COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco, in defiance of President-elect Donald Trump’s claim that he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. (Photo: Takver, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

CURWOOD: Tell me about the IPCC report, that is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – that report I believe is due in 2018. How did that shape the discussion in Marrakech?

MEYER: Well, the IPCC special report on the implications of the 1.5 degree Celsius target in the Paris Agreement is one input into what's called a facilitated dialogue that's supposed to take place at the meeting two years from now where countries are supposed to evaluate how well they are doing in meeting the emissions profile that would be needed to stay well below two degrees or come anywhere close to 1.5 degrees. And just to remind your listeners, that's important because if we don't raise the level of ambition before 2030, we're on a pathway to 2.9 to 3.4 degrees Celsius, and we're starting to foreclose the possibility of remaining below 2 or much less getting anywhere near 1.5, so that 2018 moment is not just a technical moment. It's a political moment, where countries will be challenged to sharpen their pencil and see what more they can bring to the table based on continuing reductions and efficiency in renewable technologies and changes in the economy, and it's certainly a moment that international civil society will try to make as high profile as possible.

CURWOOD: Alden, you've been going to these meetings for a long time. How well did this one go?

Alden Meyer is director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists and the director of its Washington, D.C. office. (Photo: Union of Concerned Scientists)

MEYER: I think it went well. I think in terms of the decisions and the technical work, it checked all the boxes: that they agreed within 2 years to try to complete negotiation of the detailed package implementation rules under Paris on things like accounting for land use and reporting of emissions by countries and setting up carbon markets under the Paris agreement, but this was never meant to be a great leap forward kind of COP the way that Rio, Kyoto, and Paris were, but because people were together when the results of the American election became known, I think it provided an opportunity for them to send a very strong and clear message back to Mr. Trump and his team about the solidarity of the rest of the world on this issue.

CURWOOD: Alden Meyer is Director of Strategy and Policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists. Thanks for taking the time with us today.

MEYER: Thanks, Steve. It was great to talk to you.

Related links:
- U.S. Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization
- Analysis on how to cut US power sector emissions from Marrakesh
- Financial Times: “Trump election casts shadow over COP 22 climate change talks”
- Marrakesh Climate Change Conference
- About Alden Meyer
- LOE 9/9/2016: Alden Meyer and Steve Curwood discuss the U.S. and China’s ratification of the Paris Agreement

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[MUSIC: The Piano Guys, “Celloopa” from Uncharted, Stephen Sharp Nelson/Al van der Beek, Sony Music Entertainment]

CURWOOD: Coming up...as Thanksgiving approaches, a cranberry grower celebrates his decision to go organic. Stay tuned to Living on Earth.

ANNOUNCER: Support for Living on Earth comes from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and from a friend of Sailors for the Sea, working with boaters to restore ocean health.

[CUTAWAY MUSIC: Peter Kater & R. Carlos Nakai with Paul McCandless and Jaques Morelenbaum “Envisioning” from Ritual, Mysterium Music ]

Dakota Pipeline High Stakes

Two Standing Rock demonstrators take to horseback, a homage to the ride to Cannonball River in April that sparked the movement. (Photo: Robert Wilson)

CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Steve Curwood. The Army Corps of Engineers has delayed a decision to allow the builders of the Dakota Access pipeline to tunnel under the Missouri River, pending more discussions with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. But the companies behind DAPL immediately went back to court claiming the delay was based on politics. They may be looking to the incoming Trump Administration for a more sympathetic regulatory environment. Thousands of Native Americans and supporters have squared off for months against the builders, led by Energy Transfer Partners, over the $4 billion oil pipeline. Work is nearly complete, but the Native Americans say the risk to their sacred sites, and to the water supply for the Sioux and 17 million other Americans, is too great to allow the pipeline to cross the river. Reporter Sandy Tolan has been following this standoff in North Dakota and has our story.


TOLAN: It started on horseback, early last April on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Four hundred Native American riders headed north through the snow toward the banks of the Cannonball River. There, a few people set up teepees, foraged for wood, built campfires and prayed for allies in their fight against the “black snake,” the massive, half-million barrel-a-day oil pipeline.


TOLAN: Within weeks, Native people began arriving from across the United States and Canada. Supporters came, too: environmentalists, racial justice activists, pro bono lawyers, medics, volunteers.


TOLAN: By August, some 6,000 people had planted tents and teepees along the Cannonball. Today, the flags of 300 tribal nations flap in the wind along the long dirt track called Crazy Horse Avenue. Some called it the largest gathering of tribes in North American history. It’s the first time the Great Sioux Nation has banded together against a common foe since the defeat of General George Custer in the 1876 Battle of Little Big Horn.

PHYLLIS BALD EAGLE: This was prophesied by our people, that we were going to wake up.

TOLAN: Phyllis Bald Eagle came from the nearby Cheyenne River reservation.

BALD EAGLE: Seventh generation prophecy, it's my children. And when my son made that commitment, I knew then that the prophecy has come true. The seventh generation is going to wake up the sleeping giant.

TOLAN: The sleeping giant is Native solidarity. At Little Big Horn, members of the Crow nation were scouts for General Custer. Today, Phyllis Bald Eagle says, they’ve come to join the fight.

BALD EAGLE: When that happened, when the Crow nation came down, it’s almost like, the tension that had always been there between our nation and their nation had disappeared when they came. I was here when they came. Everybody was crying, [LAUGHS] yes, because it’s never happened before.

TOLAN: Emboldened by their common cause to defend the land and water, Bald Eagle and fellow pipeline opponents set up their teepees on lands granted the Great Sioux Nation in an 1851 treaty. With the coming of the railroads and new waves of white settlers, the treaty was later abrogated. Now the Fortune 500 company, Energy Transfer, holds the title to this land, which lies directly in the path of its pipeline.


TOLAN: As we spoke in late October, a few people unloaded teepee poles from the back of a Penske truck. Bald Eagle’s husband, Black Horse, raised his teepee exactly where the company planned to lay its pipe. They call it their treaty camp.


BALD EAGLE: We’re using those rights. We’re exercising those treaty rights. We’re gonna stay here and stop the pipeline.

BLACK HORSE: The only weapon that we’ve got is prayer. That’s why there’s a lot of praying people from other nations. You know, white, red, yellow, black. They are all here. And what we as a Lakota people know is that this is our land and we can and will win.

A collection of tribal flags line the perimeter of the campground. (Photo: Jacqueline Keeler)

TOLAN: But supporters of the Dakota Access pipeline are just as determined.

DALRYMPLE: And this particular project, no matter what, needs to go forward.

TOLAN: That’s North Dakota’s Republican governor Jack Dalrymple. His campaign war chest has been largely filled by oil industry contributions. A few years ago, North Dakota was all in on fracking, before oil prices plummeted and the industry went bust. But now Dalrymple says nothing is going to stop the Dakota Access pipeline.

DALRYMPLE: As far as this particular pipe is concerned, this has already gone through the process. It’s done. It’s finished. It has, according to federal judges, all of the proper documentation.

TOLAN: And the pipeline company is under serious pressure to get the oil flowing soon, or risk losing its lucrative contracts with oil companies. Under glaring flood lights, work crews labor late into the night, laying pipe until they arrive near the edge of State Highway 1806, and the Treaty camp where Bald Eagle and Blackhorse have set up their teepees.

[TV newscaster: “This, as hundreds have joined in the protests in solidarity with the Sioux tribe, camping out along the highways and disrupting construction..."]

TOLAN: Energy Transfer called for an end to the “lawless behavior,” saying the protestors should be evicted and prosecuted. That same day, an armed force of state and county police and the National Guard began forming behind a ridge just north of the Treaty camp, shutting down the highway. The next morning, just before dawn, a lone pipeline opponent sat in the cab of his pickup truck.

CAMP-HORINEK: So I’m posted up here, north of the blockade...

TOLAN: Mekasi Camp-Horinek wore a backwards baseball cap and a ‘no pipeline’ tee shirt. His eyes were fixed on the glow of the police barricade, two miles north.

CAMP-HORINEK: From where I'm sitting here I can see the floodlights where the military camp is set up at...

TOLAN: He’s parked in the middle of the darkened highway, looking toward Fort Rice. From there, 140 years ago, the Cavalry dispatched troops to join General Custer at Little Big Horn. Mekasi’s a member of the Ponca nation, from Oklahoma. His uncle was a founder of the American Indian Movement and took part in the siege at Wounded Knee. His mother is a respected Native rights activist. And Mekasi, like the others who’ve come here, calls himself a water protector.

CAMP-HORINEK: We lived along the Missouri River for thousands of years. This river sustained our life and sustained the life of my people and I owe it to this water to protect it. I do environmental work fighting the fracking industry, fighting pollution, environmental racism. My reservation has the highest cancer rate in the state of Oklahoma. You know we’re the pipeline crossroad of the world as well as the earthquake capital of the world. Where I live it’s an everyday fact that our people are dying from the environment around us.

TOLAN: Dawn breaks, and we can see a few police vehicles pull up in the middle of the shut-down highway.


TOLAN: Sheriff Paul Laney leads a group of uniformed officers toward Mekasi, who gets out of his truck.


TOLAN: Tensions rise quickly.

Native American tribes from across the country and the world have made the trek to Sacred Stone Camp in North Dakota. (Photo: Joe Brusky, Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0)

DEMONSTRTORS: I’m not done...
If that happens...
I’m not done...
OK, I let you speak than you let me speak...

TOLAN: The police engage Mekasi and a couple of other protestors...

DEMONSTRATORS: I’m here to uphold traditional law. I’m here to uphold treaty law which is the supreme law of this land.

SHERIFF: You really believe that? So you should just take anybody's house you want because you know it's yours.

CAMP-HORINEK: No. No, I should be able to take back land, that the United States government broke the treaty. We didn't break the treaties. Our people didn't break the treaties, the government broke the treaties.

SHERIFF: We have to enforce private property laws.

CAMP-HORINEK: OK, well you’re gonna have to because we’re not moving.

SHERIFF: You’ll be arrested if you’re on private land. We’re here telling you. It is a private property and you have to leave. Mekasi, we don’t want a confrontation.

CAMP-HORINEK: I understand that, but listen –

SHERIFF: Please, stand your people down, and go back to the main camp and let’s talk.

CAMP-HORINEK: Highway 1806 is now a no surrender line and that camp is no retreat!

SHERIFF: That’s your final word?

CAMP-HORINEK: That’s the final word.

SHERIFF: Take care gentleman.

TOLAN: The officers walk back to their vehicles, and sense of tense anticipation settles over the treaty camp. The next morning, October 27, the police return – with hundreds of reinforcements.


POLICE: If you’re on that property you will be arrested…

TOLAN: I’m looking at a line of about... at least 100 officers dressed in black and National Guardsmen dressed in camouflage and then county officers dressed in khaki, forming three flanks on either side of military-style vehicles including a mine-resistant vehicle that has been designed for use against IEDs in Iraq and is being deployed here against very raucous – but so far unarmed – peaceful resisters.


TOLAN: The military line advances slowly, firing pepper spray. On the protesters' side, someone douses a barricade of loose tires with kerosene and sets it ablaze.

PROTESTER: America’s built on stolen land!

TOLAN: A thick column of black smoke rises over the highway. The militarized force of hundreds advances. Rubber bullets knock one young man off his horse. The horse is hit, too, and has to be euthanized. Police fire beanbag rounds, and tasers.

In the midst of the chaos is a slight, elderly Lakota woman in a red tee shirt, sitting on a stump, watching. Her name is Helen Redfeather, a grandmother from Wounded Knee.

REDFEATHER: History repeats itself. But you know what, right now is right now. We can’t let this pipeline through. I’m here to kill the snake. Come on people, wake up. Wake up people. But you know what, right now is right now.

TOLAN: Moments later, Helen Redfeather rises and walks to the front line to confront the police who arrest her and then 140 other people, including Mekasi and a group of elders praying beside their teepee. They’re all cuffed and taken to jail. Many are charged with felonies.


TOLAN: The next day, Mekasi told me what happened.

CAMP-HORINEK: We were given numbers with permanent magic marker, we were marked with a number on our arm. And then put on buses and taken to an underground parking lot. And when we got off the bus, we saw dog kennels there, and they put us in chainlink fence dog kennels on bare concrete floors, no bedding. The floors were really dirty and cold. The men and women were put into these kennels at about 20 people per kennel.

TOLAN: As he spoke, the authorities were dismantling tents, teepees, and a sweat lodge in the Treaty camp, forcing Bald Eagle and others back into the main camp and clearing the land for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Drone footage taken a few days later by pipeline opponents showed crews laying pipe all the way to the Missouri River.


TOLAN: But the pipeline opponents are not deterred. Soon, new clashes take place as water protectors wade across a cold shallow tributary of the Cannonball River.

Reporter Sandy Tolan witnessed authorities dismantling tipis and tents to clear land for pipeline construction. (Photo: Jacqueline Keeler)


They said they want to pray on sacred lands near the pipeline, but more clouds of pepper spray drove they back. Despite losing the Treaty camp, again and again the protestors pushed back against the pipeline company and the state militia protecting it.


TOLAN: Mekasi Camp-Horinek.

CAMP-HORINEK: It's never over and we’re never defeat and we’re never conquered. We’re going to always move forward. We’re going to always keep our faith and we’re going to continue to fight against this pipeline. When our backs are against the river, we’ll be standing there to protect that water and to protect that river.

TOLAN: The story of the fight at Standing Rock is being kept alive mostly by social media, aided in part by appearances from Jesse Jackson, actors Shailene Woodley and Mark Ruffalo, and the musician Neil Young. For a while, the camp dwindled to about 1,200, but now, as word of the protests and the militarized response spreads, the numbers are up again – by several reports closer to 5,000 – as winter approaches.

ASERON: Next thing you guys, everybody on a pole, we have to ensure...

TOLAN: Here in the northern plains it can reach 30 below zero. Yet several hundred of the water protectors are planning to stay here, on the land.

ASERON: One going to the left side of that pole, one going to the right. After you get that...

TOLAN: Lakota organizer Johnny Aseron leans over a large military tent, leading a crew that is trying to help everyone get prepared.

ASERON:And when that snow and sleet comes they going to need a place to get into, you know. A lot of people not prepared living in summer stuff. So we just want to make sure they get a place to go.

TOLAN: Opponents meanwhile are pushing the Obama administration to deny the pipeline company the right to drill under the Missouri River. They received good news on November 14th when the Army Corps of Engineers called for more study and tribal input on the river crossing. Energy Transfer pushed back, suing in federal court to complete the project. Its billionaire CEO, Kelcy Warren, blasted what he called a “sham process,” and said his company has done “nothing but play by the rules.”

Pipeline foes say they’ll remain vigilant. Despite the fact that President-elect Donald Trump is a backer of big oil and an investor in the Dakota Access project, opponents say they’ll stop the “black snake” one way or another. This is Linda Black Elk.

BLACK ELK: The oil companies will not stop until they have literally squeezed every last drop of blood that they can out of our mother. And we’ve stood and sat idle for way to long. It’s already gone too far.

TOLAN: Black Elk is an ethnobotanist who teaches at Sitting Bull College on the Standing Rock reservation.

BLACK ELK: I get Goosebumps just thinking about it because it’s really incredible to be able to say that you were there at a time when everybody came together to stand up and say ‘we’re not going to let this keep happening. People from all over the world have kind of been looking out of the corner of their eye and then looking away in shame. They’re not looking away anymore. They’re looking at head-on and they’re coming to stand with us.


County police and the National Guard shut down part of the highway leading to the campground. (Joe Brusky, Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0)

TOLAN: For Living on Earth, I’m Sandy Tolan along the banks of the Cannon Ball River, North Dakota.


Related links:
- Bismark Tribune: Anti-DAPL Protests Across U.S.
- Army Corps of Engineers announcement to halt construction
- Pipeline company response to Army Corps decision
- Sandy Tolan’s previous DAPL report
- Sandy Tolan’s Website

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Organic Cranberries: Perhaps More Delicious?

Only a fraction of today’s cranberries are grown without the use of pesticides. (Photo: Wplynn, Flickr CC BY 2.0)

CURWOOD: As the story goes, Native Americans from the Algonquin peoples introduced the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts to the cranberry, and the tart bright red fruit holds an honored place at the traditional American Thanksgiving feast. Over the years, the cranberry has been juiced, jellied and jazzed up with sugar, and nowadays it is extolled as an antioxidant and urinary tract infection fighter, though research has only shown modest benefits for younger women.

Some say organic cranberries are healthier and have more flavor than conventionally grown varieties, but few cranberry growers have come to the modern organic movement. Not so the Ruesch Family Farm near Vesper, Wisconsin, which has been family run for over 100 years, and regularly sells out its berry modest production. Owner Brian Ruesch is on the line. Welcome to Living on Earth.

RUESCH: Well, thank you. Great to be here.

CURWOOD: So I understand there is a good amount of history in the Ruesch Century Farm. What can you tell me about the farm's origins?

RUESCH: Well, back in 1879, my great-grandfather moved from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to the present farm. So, I'm now fourth generation owner of the farm. It's been continuous ownership in the Ruesch family name for that nearly 140 years now. It was a dairy farm of course for many years and then in 1990, my father who had basically paid for the farm working on cranberry marshes in the fall while he was a young man in this 20s, planted about a quarter acre of cranberries and as it turns out it was the first what they call upland cranberry bog in the state of Wisconsin.

For over twenty years, Wisconsin has held the title of largest Cranberry producer in the US. (Photo: Wplynn, Flickr CC BY 2.0)

Now, in addition to that, he never really believed in using pesticides, so he decided he was going to grow his cranberries without any herbicides or pesticides or chemicals or chemical fertilizers etcetera, which the big cranberry growers in the area laughed at him and said, “listen now, you can't do that, you have to use all these different chemicals in order to keep the pests away and effectively grow cranberries.” So, we became the first certified organic cranberry grower in Wisconsin and I guess kind of the rest is history.

CURWOOD: [LAUGHS] Now, if I were to bite into one of your berries, Brian, how different might it taste from something that’s conventionally farmed with pesticides and all that?

RUESCH: Many people tell me they can definitely taste more flavor. It's maybe a little higher sugar content, but since I don't eat other people's cranberries [LAUGHS], I just eat my own, I really can't answer that for myself, but listening to other people they believe that they can tell and taste the difference.

CURWOOD: Now, doing organic cranberries and occasionally flooding a bog at the very end, you must have a lot of frogs and salamanders and that kind of thing. They love wet places like that and since you don't have any pesticides, they can live there. How right am I?

RUESCH: Well, I would say yes. There's, there's all kinds of wildlife on the farm as there is many things different areas. I've noticed an increase in frogs and an increase in snakes and that type of thing over the years, which is a good thing. Those are the type of things that if you see an increase or decrease it tells you a little bit about the environment they're living in. Being that we don't use any pesticides or herbicides I would guess there’s probably a lot of very small insects and that type of thing that thrive that normally wouldn't. And so there's various things that we can do to help minimize that. You can't completely control it like you can in conventional, but everything including flooding the bogs in late May takes away one of the insects called the Black-headed Fireworm, and it does a pretty effective job of killing that initial flight of that pest which can really do some damage to your crop if they get in too high in numbers.

CURWOOD: Here we are getting close to Thanksgiving. What's it like working in your bogs this time leading up to Thanksgiving?

RUESCH: Well, I'll tell you. If people were able to come out here, they would be... it's a wonderful experience because the, the birds, the Canadian geese and the Sandhill cranes by the thousands are on the farm and near the other farms around us. And the constant honking and their flying overhead, it's really a terrific experience. So, while other people that might be behind their desk, and we're out there picking the berries and enjoying a nice fall afternoon, it's kind hard to beat.

Despite the popular misconception, cranberries don’t need to be wet-harvested. (Photo: Holly Ladd, Flickr CC BY 2.0)

CURWOOD: Well, I want to thank you, Brian Ruesch, owner of Ruesch family farm, home of the organic cranberry there in Wisconsin. Well, thanks for taking the time with me today. Much appreciated.

RUESCH: It's been a pleasure talking with you today. Thank you for inviting me.

CURWOOD: And by the way, Brian Ruesch gave us a favorite family recipe for cranberry nut pie. You can find it on our website, LOE.org.


1.25 cups of fresh or frozen organic cranberries
0.25 cup brown sugar
0.25 cup chopped walnuts
1 egg
0.5 cup granulated sugar
0.33 cup butter or margarine, melted
0.5 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Butter a nine-inch pie plate and layer the cranberries on the bottom. Sprinkle with brown sugar and nuts. In a bowl beat the egg until thick and then gradually add the sugar. Stir in flour and melted butter and blend well. Pour that over the cranberries and bake for 45 minutes. When done serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Related links:
- Ruesch Century Farm website
- Why are organic cranberries so hard to find?
- Additional information about Ruesch Century Farm

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BirdNote: Audubon's Wild Turkey

John James Audubon’s illustration of a wild turkey, the first plate from his famous work The Birds of America (Drawing: John James Audubon)


CURWOOD: Cranberries may be an iconic food on the Thanksgiving table – but it’s the turkey that takes center-stage. And it was the native Wild Turkey that John James Audubon chose nearly 300 years ago as the very first image for his masterpiece, “The Birds of America.”As Michael Stein points out in today’s BirdNote, J.J. Audubon was not only a fine artist, but a humorous observer as well.

Audubon’s Wild Turkey

[Call of the Wild Turkey]

STEIN: In the early 1800s, John James Audubon wrote:
“The great size and beauty of the Wild Turkey, its value as a delicate and highly-prized article of food… render it one of the most interesting of the birds indigenous to the United States of America.”

[Call of the Wild Turkey]

He describes how Wild Turkeys, which walk more than they fly, cross a river.

“When they come upon a river, they betake themselves to the highest eminences, and there often remain a whole day, or sometimes two, as if for the purpose of consultation. During this time, the males are heard gobbling, calling, and making much ado, and are seen strutting about, as if to raise their courage to a pitch befitting the emergency. At length… the whole party mounts to the tops of the highest trees…[and] takes flight for the opposite shore. The old and fat birds easily get over, even should the river be a mile in breadth; but the younger and less robust frequently fall into the water, -- not to be drowned, however, as might be imagined. They bring their wings close to their body. stretch forward their neck, and… proceed rapidly towards the shore…”

[Loud splashing and sounds of a river followed by wild turkey calls]

I’m Michael Stein.
Adapted by Chris Peterson
Call of the provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2009/2016 Tune In to Nature.org Narrator: Michael Stein

Related links:
- Original story on the BirdNote website
- More on wild turkeys from the Cornell Lab of Orthinology

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[MUSIC: Band’o, “Magical You” from Away, Jemina Sillanpaa & Janne Viksten, Akusti-tuotanto]

CURWOOD: Coming up... the fun and fanciful world of time travel is just ahead here on Living on Earth. Stay tuned.

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This is PRI, Public Radio International.

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Time Travel: A History

Time Travel: A History is James Gleick’s ninth book. (Photo: Penguin Books) https://cdn.penguin.com.au/covers/1440/9780735285880.jpg

CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I'm Steve Curwood. Time. Everybody knows what it is but few, if any of us, can elegantly define it. And with the concept of time comes the appeal of time travel in the world of fiction, as if showing that the river of time is navigable, and thus we might be able to control it or at least better understand it. We turn now to author James Gleick, who recently wrote "Time Travel: A History.” Welcome to Living on Earth.

GLEICK: Thank you, delighted to be here.

CURWOOD: Our pleasure. So first, I have to ask you what was your main inspiration for writing about time travel?

GLEICK: Well, I've always loved time travel stories. When I was a kid I read Science Fiction. In those days, it was mostly space travel, but once in a while there would be a time travel story and I recognized pretty quickly those were especially fun and they weren't all that easy to find. Anyway, that was a long time ago, and what really made me think, "Aha, this is a book," is when I discovered that time travel hasn't always existed, that is, it hasn't always existed as an idea in the culture. It is incredibly new, and it really starts with HG Wells in 1895 writing The Time Machine. At first I thought, "That's kind of impossible. It's an obvious idea. Why shouldn't everybody have all through history have imagined it," but really people didn't have those fantasies and so that's the initial motivation for writing a history of time travel, is to figure out why it didn't happen all through history and then what changed in the late 19th century to suddenly make this such an inspiring idea.

Science fiction writer H.G. Wells in 1890, shortly before the publication of The Time Machine (Photo: Frederick Hollyer, Wikimedia Commons public domain)

CURWOOD: Very early on in your book, you address the question of time. What is time, and share with us the answer that you offer in the book. What is time?

GLEICK: Well, now, I wouldn't want people to think that I'm going to give them a final answer to that question. That would be hubris, but I did realize somewhere as I went through this project that I wasn't just writing a book about time travel, I was writing a book about time because you can't really understand time travel unless you start to make up your own mind about what time it is, and it's a real puzzle. Is time something that we are moving forward through at our plodding pace of one day per day or is time a river that's carrying us forward – there's a favorite metaphor. Is time a quantity that we store up so that we can waste time and save time? And another part of the story I'm telling is that on the one hand you got these Science Fiction writers or literary writers who were exploring the nature of time with more and more enthusiasm in the 20th century, and on the other hand you have physicists like Einstein who are completely upending previous notions of time. Then, there are philosphers who are almost left by the wayside, who are the ones who thought that time was their business in the first place, but the physicists take over from them, and we're all in the same boat, that's what I finally conclude, is that there is no... nobody owns this question, even the physicists don't own it, and all of these people are learning from one another, and I do hope that by the end of my book there is a certain amount of clarity, a kind of illumination of how to look at time from different angles.

1960’s film adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (Photo: Reynold Brown, Wikimedia Commons public domain)

CURWOOD: As well as scientists and physicists being affected by these concepts of time, what was going on in the literary world, beyond, of course, Mr. Wells himself?

GLEICK: That's a good question because when I started out, I thought a history of time travel was going to be about science fiction writing, but it turned out very quickly that you could see a huge watershed moment across the whole culture at the beginning of the 20th century when everybody was thinking about time in new ways. And even before the pulp magazines, all sorts of great writers were turning and twisting around ideas of time. I'm thinking about Marcel Proust who was almost a contemporary of H. G. Wells whose masterpiece "In Search of Lost Time" uses tricks of memory and is immediately a new kind of time travel, and James Joyce and Virginia Woolf twisting our ideas of time into knots and thinking about time in the most extraordinary and complex ways. All of these people reshape the way we think of space and time in the world we live in and they’re time travelers, too, as far as I'm concerned.

CURWOOD: I think one of the most interesting things you talk about in your new book is enormous impact that this concept of time travel had on culture at the turn of the century – culture and science – about the same time we really start working with electricity, which is still a more or less instantaneous. Why was time travel such a paradigm changing idea for these folks then?

A time travel experiment by a group known as the Krononauts meant to invite a visit by time travelers of the future (Photo: RichardTE, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

GLEICK: A lot of things were happening all at once at the end of the 19th century. During the 19th century, going back before that even to the industrial revolution, the pace of change was speeding up. You had railroad trains, steam engines, and you had the telegraph sending instantaneous messages from one place to another, and these developments interacted with one another so that the train needed to be on time when it got to the station 100 miles away and not only that, the sun was in a different place. So we had to develop time zones, we had to learn to synchronize our clocks and all of these things fed into a more complicated understanding of what time was. I mean, even now when we think about time zones or daylight savings time or the international dateline, I don't know about you, but it makes my head spin a little bit even now to think that there's a line on Earth where when you cross it the day goes from Tuesday back to Monday, and that's supposed to be logical. So it was natural for Science Fiction writers to have fun with that stuff, but it was also essential for scientists to help us come to grips with what we really we're learning about time. And so all these things were happening hand in hand.

Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time uses tricks of memory and was one of the first works to deal with time travel (Photo: Otto Wegener, Wikimedia Commons public domain)

CURWOOD: Time travel is, on that micro-level, so much fun. I mean, a number of years ago I was in Japan on a day that happened be my birthday flying back to the United States, and just the way that it worked – I mean it's 30 some odd hours flying – I got to have two birthday dinners complete with champagne in one some 30 hour period.

GLEICK: Well, lucky you. I hope it doesn't mean you're a year older though.

CURWOOD: Well I was thinking that, I was wondering just how old am I? So, we agree that when it comes to really trying to figure out what time is, we're really challenged here. You describe that that this new sense of futurism that H.G. Wells and then the other sci-fi authors helped to create. I'm wondering how our concept of future changed as a result of these writings?

GLEICK: That's something I'm still puzzling over and watching closely because I feel as though even now our concept of the future is changing yet again. A hundred and twenty years ago, when H.G. Wells was writing "The Time Machine," there was a fantastic up swell of interest in the future. There was this round number calendar date 1900 that was being called the turn-of-the-century and nobody really bothered, had bothered that much 100 years before that with the turn of the 19th century. Somehow, the turn of the 20th century was much more exciting. There were all these new technologies al these electrical things and dreams of future glories. People competed with each other to make predictions for what the year 2000 was going to be like 100 years down the road. There were science fiction writers like Jules Verne who were fantasizing about submarines and space travel. And people imagined flying cars, and now, of course, we've got all that stuff. And then, the new millennium arrived a few years ago and there was excitement and there was partying but there was also a much darker sense of the future. There was a lot of worry. You may remember about the Y2K crisis that never came, and now much more seriously we have grave concerns about what we're doing to the Earth's climate and when we think about what life is can be like for grandchildren, I have the feeling that instead of all sorts of optimistic predictions about great wonders what will come from the development technology instead were worrying about what kind of planet we're going to be leaving them. So we still have a sort of futurism, but it's a gray, darker kind of futurism than existed 100 years ago.

CURWOOD: Back then they would not so interested in Mad Max and the Thunderdome.

GLEICK: [LAUGHS] There is another example. These dystopian worlds that our great science fiction writers and moviemakers are conjuring up for us, these grim views of what the future will bring are old. You know, in the last century, we had "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley and "1984" by George Orwell, and these are dark visions of the future and some of the best science fiction writers today are painting even darker pictures than that.

Virginia Woolf’s writing also introduced new ideas on time into the popular imagination (Photo: Author unknown, Wikimedia Commons public domain)

CURWOOD: Now, in your book you also talked about how our modern electronic media, the internet, play a large role now in our relationship with time. Expand on that for me, could you please?

GLEICK: That's another thing that I puzzled over quite a bit. What's our relationship with time now that we're spending so much of it engaging with the world through screens, through electronic devices. I think it's complicated and it's in some ways confusing and in other ways and enlightening. One thing is we feel more connected to the past than we did before. The past used to be something that vanished very quickly and it was really out of our reach but now that we have video cameras running everywhere, we can relive pieces of our own lives and you know, there are people who record themselves on every vacation and then enjoying them through a kind of virtual reality replay, and then we have the experience of having a sort of event horizon when we look back into the past, because the part of the past that predates recording is accessible to us in a different way with much lower quality, let’s say. We have to read about it instead of visualizing it. And then, meanwhile, back in the present, the past is mixed up with all kinds of live action that's coming to us from all around the globe on our video screens and through our camera phones. All in all, we're in kind of a fun house of mirrors, and it feels like, I think, as though we're kind of living in an eternal expanded presence where our sense of what's now just goes on and on. It's all quite disorienting.

CURWOOD: Indeed. And by the way, what are the cultural differences about time travel? We've talked obviously about American and English writers, but if we're to go to China and other places in Asia, how do they view and deal with this?

The advent of the locomotive during the Industrial Revolution and the possibility to travel across time zones in a shorter amount of time than ever before influenced our concept of time itself, says James Gleick. (Photo: Author unknown, Wikimedia Commons public domain)

GLEICK: I think as we become a more global society, our sense of time has become more global, too, but there are tremendous cultural differences and linguistic differences, and whatever culture we grow up in, we tend not to be conscious of the ways in which the language we use shapes our view of time. If you and I were asked to point to the future, we would both being Westerners speaking English point in front of us, and we would say the past lies behind us and not only would we say that, we would just assume that everybody thought that, right, but that's partly a phenomenon of language and it turns out that there are cultures around the world who point behind them when asked where the future is, and point ahead of them when asked where the past is, and that seems equally logical to them. They would say, well, of course, the past is in front of me, I can see the past, but I don't know anything about the future, it's behind me where I can't look. And there are other languages where the directions for past and future are up and down rather than front and back, and all these things are valid and shape the psychology of people who speak those languages and create a sense of the past and a sense of the future that's different from our own.

CURWOOD: Before you go, James Gleick, tell me, if you had your very own time machine and you could push the buttons on the control panel to take you any time period, to when would you go?

GLEICK: Oh, I wanted to ask you that question but you got there first.

James Gleick, author of Time Travel: A History (Photo: James Gleick)


GLEICK: When I started working on this book, it seemed the obvious that the answer with the future. I knew I wanted to go to the future and I sort of assumed that most people did. But I discovered that actually, no, a lot of people have no interest in arriving in the future or are scared of the future and are fascinated by the past. And I can see that, too. I've written biographies of people who lived in the past without ever having met them and wouldn't it be great now to go back and see how much I got wrong. So, I'm still going to say if you force me to choose that I'd like to go to the future, but it's a closer question for me now than it used to be.

CURWOOD: OK, the future is quite a wide range. When do you think you would want to go to?

GLEICK: Well that's another part of the problem. Who can possibly say? The world is changing so much faster than used to be that I'm tempted to think – you know – you might have said I'd like to see what the future is going to be like in 1,000 years. I sort of think in 1,000 years I wouldn't even be able to speak the same language as whatever will exist then, and 100 years from now it's almost unimaginable. So I think I'll just dial in 99 years and we'll see what happens.

CURWOOD: Ninety-nine years. And so, if you were writing that novel, what would happen in 99 years?

GLEICK: Oh no. I have no idea, and I hope we can all keep from messing things up so there's still people to talk to when we get there.

CURWOOD: So, what does it mean when I say, "It looks like we're out of time for this interview"?

GLEICK: [LAUGHS] It means that this quantity that we had all saved up has run out through our fingers or through the hourglass.

CURWOOD: James Gleick's new book is called "Time Travel: A History." Thanks for taking the time with me today.

GLEICK: It's been a pleasure, Steve.

Related links:
- James Gleick’s article in Nautilus: A Non-Linear History of Time Travel
- The Wall Street Journal: James Gleick’s Exhilarating ‘Time Travel: A History’

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[MUSIC: Nashville Mandolin Ensemble, “Where No Mandolin Has Gone Before” from Plectrasonics, Alexander Courage/arr.Plectrasonics, Cmh Records ]

CURWOOD: Living on Earth is produced by the World Media Foundation. Our crew includes Naomi Arenberg, Bobby Bascomb, Aidan Connelly, Savannah Christiansen, Jenni Doering, Jaime Kaiser, Don Lyman, Alex Metzger, Helen Palmer, Adelaide Chen, Jennifer Marquis and Jolanda Omari. Special thanks this week to Lakota Voices and Unicorn Riot Media Collective. Tom Tiger engineered our show, with help from Jeff Wade, Jake Rego and Noel Flatt. Alison Lirish Dean composed our themes. You can hear us anytime at LOE.org - and like us, please, on our Facebook page - PRI’s Living on Earth. And we tweet from @LivingOnEarth. I'm Steve Curwood. Thanks for listening.

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