The Signal in the Noise

June 2022

Leila Conners speaks with Beatrice Fihn about the pathway to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  As Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Beatrice lead the way to the creation of The U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which passed January 22, 2021.  ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.  Nuclear escalation was already underway prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and with the war in Europe, the issue of denuclearization is now more urgent than ever.  Beatrice believes that a world free of nuclear weapons is possible if we stigmatize nuclear weapons and  make it difficult to possess them.  Her pragmatic optimism just might make it so.

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Professor Joseph S. Nye, Jr.  is University Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus and former Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In a recent survey of international relations scholars, he was ranked as the most influential scholar on American foreign policy.  In a wide-ranging conversation, Leila Conners speaks with Professor Nye on the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its impact on the world order. The discussion covers the Ukrainian use of soft-power in opposing the hard power advance of the Russians as well as the ability of the United States to continue to project power in light of an emerging China. In all of these movements, the Ukrainians continue to suffer the worst as the tragedy continues to unfold as the West does what it can without igniting a nuclear exchange.

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Vijay Vaitheeswaran, The Global Energy & Climate Innovation Editor of The Economist, speaks with Leila Conners about the impact the war in Ukraine is having on  the energy system, international alliances and on the ability of the world to achieve its climate goals. Given that oil and gas are fungible assets, the sanctions are tricky.  In addition, given that countries, even green countries like Germany, have not yet installed enough renewable energy to fill in the energy gap from a stoppage of Russian oil and gas; there is a new fall-back to fossil fuels, now endangering global goals to mitigate climate disruption. 
 

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Professor Alexander Likhotal is half Russian and half Ukrainian. Likhotal served as a European Security analyst for the leadership of the Soviet Union. In 1991, he was appointed Deputy Spokesman and Advisor to USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev. In two conversations, he speaks with Leila Conners about the tragedy of the Russian invasion and its profound impact on the world order, which is changing rapidly in response to the invasion. Going beyond the NATO conversation, Likhotal walks us through detailed information about what Russia is undergoing under a plausibly ailing Putin. He discusses Putin's mistakes and the reasons for Putin's miscalculations; as well the existential path all Russians find themselves on as the horrific loss of human life continues in Ukraine.

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Kate Raworth, a renegade economist, has developed a new economic framework for the 21st century and beyond. Dismayed by the limited perception of traditional economic theory, Kate synthesized several new ways of understand human behavior to create a new way to think about what is optimal for human society to thrive. The Doughnut describes a social floor and an environmental ceiling for human activity...a world in which we don't overshoot or undershoot so as to provide for all without compromising the earths biosphere. This film describes how she arrived at her new framework, a description of Doughnut Economics itself and how she sees it applied in the real world.

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The Arrow of Time, a feature film with Mikhail Gorbachev, former head of the Soviet Union; George Shultz, former US Secretary of State; Horst Teltschik, former advisor to Federal German Chancellor Helmut Kohl; Hubert Vedrine, Secretary General to French President Mitterrand; Graham Allison, former US Assistant Secretary of Defense;  Alexander Likhothal, Advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev; Joseph Nye, US Assistant Secretary of Defense; and Setsuko Thurlow, Hiroshima Survivor.

The Arrow of Time tracks the events leading up to and proceeding the fall of the Berlin Wall through the eyes of the cold warriors who played central roles spanning from World War II, to the Cold War and the post-Cold War arrangements between the United States, the former Soviet Union and Western Europe.  Through it all we are reminded by nuclear holocaust survivor Setsuko Thurlow of the terrors of nuclear weapons and why we need to find international political arrangements that assure long-term peace and stability.

 

In light of current events, this feature film will be free to view for a few weeks.  An N2K Early Adopter paid subscription allows for streaming of all our current and future feature films so if you envision viewing other films, perhaps consider a paid subscription.

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Dr. Gussai Hamror is the newest interview in our series on the GERD which started operations last week.  Tree Media and The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy have teamed up to follow events in the Middle East as told by stakeholders and leaders from the region.  Our first subject concerns water, access to water and the prevention of a potential water conflict over the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam ( GERD ). The series includes: Egypt with Mirette Mabrouk, Senior Fellow and Director of the Egypt Program, Middle East Institute; Sudan with Adil Abdel Aati, Leader, Liberal Party of Sudan; and Ethiopia with Filagot Tesfaye, President of the Ethiopian Women in Energy Association and Managing Director of On Energy Consult; John Mukum Mbaku, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Timothy Kaldas, Policy Fellow, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP); Steven Cook, Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR); and Dr. Mohmed Rami Mahmoud, of the National Water Research Center, Egypt.

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Nature Speaks

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Derek Gow has brought beavers back to Britain in an effort to help nature regain it's natural balance and processes there. The beaver is one of nature's most powerful collaborators, a being who can create vast wetlands, support ecosystem diversity and even help change the weather.  Gow brings us through the urgent need to unleash beavers into the wild to bring Britain back from the desolation created by 100s of years of human domination of the landscape.

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Wolfgang Weirauch has been collaborating with Verena Stael von Holstein of Northern Germany who has worked as a computer programmer and in hydrographic surveying and who  has been able to perceive the etheric and astral realms in human beings and the natural world. With Verena's help, Wolfgang has interviewed hundreds of nature spirits and these conversations have been printed in a book series in Germany. Mathew Schmid brings these conversations to life through film which now brings a new kind of relationship to this material.  The Introduction to Speaking with Tree Spirits is a good backgrounder prior to doing the deep dive with The Rubber Tree.

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Jeremy Narby, anthropologist and author of the Cosmic Serpent, is back with a new book, Plant Teachers: Ayahuasca, Tobacco, and the Pursuit of Knowledge.  Leila Conners catches up with Jeremy in a discussion that compares scientific western concepts with Amazonian indigenous concepts of the natural world.  These both systems of thought are closer to each other than one would expect if one approaches these plants and their Amazonian interlocutors with an open mind.

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Northern Ireland is targeted by a Canadian mining firm that is planning the largest gold mine in Europe.  The mine is located in the green Sperrin Mountains, a place where Irish was last spoken. The threat of a mine and the poisoning of the waters that such a mine can bring, has galvanized this community beyond just a protest movement, as James Orr describes, it is helping people look to their roles as protectors and stewards of the land as well as participants in our wider human community.  From a discussion with Leila Conners, the first in a series on this mine and the people it is impacting.

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Melissa Aguayo, of Break Free from Plastic and Reusable LA, brings us through the most recent developments in the movement to move away from plastic.  She reveals that plastic is toxic from creation to end-of-life and why producers and not just consumers should be responsible for cleaning up and eliminating the use of this substance. 

The Great Turning, the moment we are all confronting, in which everything is collapsing while we also find our way through to a better world. Joanna Macy brings us through her concept of the Great Turning from a discussion that is part of the Into Eden project, a feature film by Tree Media and supported by Kalieopia Foundation. Macy is an author & teacher, is a scholar of Buddhism, systems thinking and deep ecology. A respected voice in movements for peace, justice, and ecology, she interweaves her scholarship with learnings from six decades of activism.

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Leila Conners catches up with long-time environmentalist David Suzuki, of the David Suzuki Foundation.  David shares how he thinks first nations and local engagement can help us through this challenging bottleneck in which we are witness to the collapse of ecosystems all around us.  David also shares how he is personally coping with the unraveling. 

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