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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

  • The 1,000-Year Flood: Did Global Warming Worsen Colorado’s Unprecedented Rainfall?

    Colorado

    The skies have finally cleared over Colorado after more than a week of rain that led to what experts are calling a "1,000-year flood." At least 21 inches of rain fell on parts of Boulder in the last week, nearly double the area’s average annual rainfall. At least eight people have died in the flooding. More than 1,600 homes were destroyed in the region and another 20,000 damaged, along with dozens of bridges, roads and major sections of highway. Many residents found themselves stranded by the high water. The overall flood zone encompassed 17 Colorado counties in an area nearly the size of Delaware. After a week of devastating floods, Colorado residents now face the threat of contaminated waters. The northeastern part of the state is home to thousands of gas and oil wells that were inundated with rushing water. We’re joined by two guests: Jim Pullen, a reporter and producer with the Colorado public radio station KGNU, and Bill McKibben, co-founder and director of 350.org.

  • Bill McKibben: Obama Can Salvage His Climate Legacy by Rejecting Keystone XL Oil Pipeline

    Mckibben

    Bill McKibben, co-founder and director of 350.org, joins us to discuss "Draw the Line," a national day of action this Saturday to protest the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Already this week on Monday, 13 people were arrested during a protest in Houston in front of the offices of TransCanada, the company behind the controversial project. McKibben has just come out with the new book, "Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist." McKibben argues that Obama’s pending decision on whether to approve or reject the Keystone XL’s construction is a historic opportunity. "If [Obama] says no to the Keystone pipeline, he will be the first world leader ever to say, 'Here is something we are not going to build because of its effect on the climate,'" McKibben says. "It might have the effect of unfreezing the climate negotiations that have been wrecked ever since Copenhagen ... Sometimes Obama, correctly, can blame his absurd Congress. But in the case of the Keystone pipeline, he gets to make the call himself. So he darn well better make that call."

  • How the U.S. Narrowly Avoided a Nuclear Holocaust 33 Years Ago, and Still Risks Catastrophe Today

    Nuclear_weapons

    Thirty-three years ago to the day, the United States narrowly missed a nuclear holocaust on its soil. The so-called "Damascus Accident" involved a Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile mishap at a launch complex outside Damascus, Arkansas. During a routine maintenance procedure, a young worker accidentally dropped a nine-pound tool in the silo, piercing the missile’s skin and causing a major leak of flammable rocket fuel. Sitting on top of that Titan II was the most powerful thermonuclear warhead ever deployed on an American missile. The weapon was about 600 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. For the next nine hours, a group of airmen put themselves at grave risk to save the missile and prevent a massive explosion that would have caused incalculable damage. The story is detailed in Eric Schlosser’s new book, "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety," which explores how often the United States has come within a hair’s breadth of a domestic nuclear detonation or an accidental war. Drawing on thousands of pages of recently declassified government documents and interviews with scores of military personnel and nuclear scientists, Schlosser shows that America’s nuclear weapons pose a grave risk to humankind.