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Marketplace Scratch Pad

The race is on

Scott Jagow Oct 30, 2009
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This week, Marketplace is taking a special look at the issues surrounding climate change. Whatever your beliefs about that issue, I think you’ll find the project thought-provoking and informative.

Our executive producer JJ Yore puts it this way:

Science is telling us what’s necessary. Politics is figuring out what’s possible.

In other words, the climate race is on — and whether we, as a nation, as a global civilization, win or lose is still very much in play.

At The Climate Race homepage, you’ll find interactive maps, slideshows, stories, interviews and resources about the challenges the planet faces.

Tonight on Marketplace, a look at what governments and businesses are doing to adapt to changes in the environment. Yesterday, lead reporters Sam Eaton and Sarah Gardner told the story of the battle over coal and wind power in West Virginia. I’m sure a few people probably drove off the road when they heard the CEO of the coal company, Massey Energy, say this:

DON BLANKENSHIP: There is no global warming. We went through the population fear. We went through the killer bee fear. It’s just the next phase — it will go away.

SAM: And if it doesn’t, and if legislation passes and coal emissions are taxed and regulated, what then?

BLANKENSHIP: Teach your children to speak Chinese, because if we’re going to play around with windmills and solar panels, we’ll fall behind.

One commenter responded to Blankenship’s remarks this way:

He is so near sighted, does not know China has developed a mess of Solar/wind power stations, and use cars burning nature gas. In some areas, China is much more developed than US. China’s high speed train system is the most advanced in the world.

One advocate for wind power in West Virginia is Judy Bonds. She’s a coal miner’s daughter who’s now pushing for wind:

BONDS: Listen, they’re saying coal is West Virginia’s economy, it’s our prosperity. Well, excuse me, where is the prosperity? We’ve been mining coal for over 110 years and we’re the poorest state in the nation.

But geophysicist Klaus Lackner points out the major obstacle to the alternative energy movement:

KLAUS LACKNER: The giant pool of fossil carbon we still have is 90 percent or more of what we started with. We have just scratched the surface of that. And this will not end in our lifetimes or our children’s lifetimes. So as a result, it sits there and it says, We’re cheap, we’re easy, and just use it up.

Check out the project. Share your thoughts here if you’d like.

How We Survive
How We Survive
Climate change is here. Experts say we need to adapt. This series explores the role of technology in helping humanity weather the changes ahead.