Your Fracking Answers + Warning: May Contain Climate Change

Industrial well and buildings on the horizon of a green field. How do you deal with issues that seem too big to handle? Well, first, you learn about what the issue entails, and then take some action. Here at Terra Informa we bring you the nitty-gritty of what fracking actually is, what’s up with Alberta’s deregulated electricity market, and a smart answer to the behemoth of the problem that is climate change.

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What The Frack Do We Know?

For some it’s the dirty energy with the dirty-sounding name. For others, it’s a revolutionary new way to provide clean energy. We’re talking about fracking. You probably feel you belong in one camp or the other—but have you thought about why? How well do you really know the actual risks and benefits of fracking? Trevor Chow-Fraser and Danielle Dolgoy realized they didn’t even know exactly what fracking is. So they researched and talked with experts who do. This story brings together the expertise of Dr. Avner Vengosh, Dr. Daniel Alessi, C. Alexia Lane and Dr. Rick Chalaturynyk. All together, we answer three big questions that we found you had about fracking. +Bonus! Extended cut with expert policy recommendations starting around the 15 minute mark.


Terra Informa at Night

This week, a re-broadcast of  one of our favourite episodes: Terra Informa at night! Listen in for stories about light pollution and sustainable lighting, life on other planets and night photography, plus the beauty of wandering outside at night. We recorded this on-site last November, outside the Telus World of Science Observatory, and the Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium in Coronation Park, Edmonton, Alberta.

Photograph of Aurora Borealis by Yuichi Takasaka:

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Light Pollution/Sustainable Lighting

Star light, star bright. What is night without darkness? As cities grow bigger, our nights grow brighter.What is light pollution? How are industry and municipality incorporating light efficient design? Kathryn Lennon spoke with Alan Luck, Energy Engineer at Shell’s Scotford Upgrader, in Strathcona County, Alberta, and Sherrilyn Jahrig, Director of Light Efficient Communities and Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve Coordinator for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

More information: International Dark Sky AssociationStrathcona CountyLife in the HeartlandEdmonton Sun

The Fermi Paradox i.e. Counting the little green men & big blue planets

Paul Gilster enjoys one of the most unlikely of day jobs: writing full-time on the science of space travel as the lead journalist for the Tau Zero Foundation. You can find his nearly daily updates on the website Centauri Dreams. Trevor Chow-Fraser got in touch with Paul to help us understand one of the central mysteries of outer space, the question we’ve all had at some point when looking up at the stars—are we alone in the big vast universe? Or, is there life up there in the stars? And if so, well why the heck haven’t they come calling? That’s the question scientists call the Fermi Paradox.

More information: Centauri Dreams – The News Forum of the Tau Zero FoundationFermi paradox – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaDoes a galaxy filled with habitable planets mean humanity is doomed?

Night Photography

To get a sense of the wonder of being outside at night, we called photographer Yuichi Takasaka in Lumby, BC. His pictures of wildlife and the night sky helped build momentum to declare Jasper National Park a designated dark sky reserve. Takasaka is also one of the photographers behind The World at Night, a collaborative international effort to capture the night sky.

More information: Blue Moon Promotions (Yuichi Takasaka’s website)The World at NightJasper Dark Sky Preserve

Another night-related link:

“To bring awareness to night vision problems, the Canadian Association of Optometrists has launched a campaign called “Drive Away the Glare.” You can visit the accompanying website to check the status of how well you see at night”.

Blue Future and Festive Symbols

(c) Rcbutcher on wikipedia. Depicts Christmas tree farmer tending to trees in Waterloo, Nova Scotia.

In this week’s archival show, we talk Maude Barlow’s Blue Future and whether artificial or au-naturale is the way to go for a certain festive symbol.

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Maude Barlow’s Blue Future

When we think about water security and sustainability in Canada, the first name that comes to mind is Maude Barlow. Her newest book, the third and final in her series focused on water sustainability, is called Blue Future. Here is Terra Informa’s Matt Hirji with an interview captured at the beginning of her latest book tour.

Christmas Tree Showdown

We’re starting to get to that time of year when many of us are on the lookout for a new Christmas tree for our living rooms. We’re usually faced with one of two options: springing for the real deal, or going artificial. But who wins in the ecological showdown between the two types of trees? Each has its pros and cons, but when it when it comes to deciding which is naughty and which is nice, the answer isn’t so cut-and-dried. Before sprucing up your den this holiday season, you might want to hear some of the facts, which Hamdi Issawi will take us through.

Links: Ellipsos, Kansas State University Saint Joseph’s University

What’s Happening

Christmas Bird Count – Regina, Saskatchewan

From December 14 through January 5, 2014, tens of thousands of volunteers across Canada take part in an adventure that has become a family tradition among generations. Families and students, birders and scientists, armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists go out on an annual mission – often before dawn. For more information you can email

New Year’s Eve Party at Bow Habitat Station - Calgary, Alberta

Ring in 2015 with the whole family this New Year’s Eve! Join us for fun, family-friendly activities from 10 am to 4 pm , and for a ‘Countdown to Noon’ dance party from 11:45 am to 12:30 pm. Activities include: a trip to feed the fish, build your own noisemaker, face painting, family photo booth and more. Cost: Adults, $10. Seniors/Students, $8. Youth (5-17), $6. Children 4 & under, free. For more information you can email

Just Eat It


To celebrate the winter holidays, we’re watching Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. In this season of excess, it’s the perfect time to talk about the excessive food waste that goes on year-round. Listen to this week’s Terra Informa Film Club discussion and then send us your reflections throughout the holiday season. Tweet us your comments @terrainforma or email us at

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Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story

We all love food, so how could we be throwing nearly 50% of it in the trash? Vancouver filmmakers Jen Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin take us on a personal journey of discovery about the issue of unnecessary food waste by turning their challenge of living off discarded food into a labour of love.

Watch it for free on Knowledge Network, B.C.’s public broadcaster.

Burnaby Mountain Protests & The Buffalo Child

Black and white photo of man in First Nations headdress standing in front of large stone on a snowy plain.

To learn more about this photo, please visit Cree Literacy.

You probably know that those protesting Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion in Burnaby, B.C. have been released. But did you know that five protesters are still facing a $5 million lawsuit? We speak to one of those named. We’ll also hear traditional story from Dr. Dwayne Donald, about The Buffalo Child and a certain rock well-known to First Nations on the plains.

Download Episode Updated 11 December 2014: sorry for the horrible soundtracking glitch!

Reminder: Upcoming Film Club

To celebrate the winter holidays, we’re holding a film-club. Join us to watch Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. It’s streaming for free on Knowledge Network. Watch it, and tweet us your comments @terrainforma or email us at If you’re in Edmonton and would like to join in on the review, let us know before December 9, 2014.

The Story of the Buffalo Child

Math, geography and… storytelling? Teachers are regularly focused on a particular style of education that focuses on a prescribed curriculum. However the standard curriculum can lack voice, perspective and meaning without including one key aspect. Story. Dwayne Donald has challenged the norms on how we view education and curriculum through his unique position in the academic and Aboriginal communities. Dwayne toes the space between how and what we teach with his powerful message on curriculum.

Yvette Thompson spoke with Dwayne Donald, Professor in the Department of Education at the University of Alberta in September 2014. Today, we’re playing the story of The Buffalo Child, as told by Dwayne Donald.

Link: Dr. Dwayne Donald

Ecobabble: Ecosystem-Based Management

Recently on the show, you heard Tzeporah Berman. After helping stop logging in Clayoquot Sound, she joined forces with groups across B.C. to protect an even larger forest. The Great Bear Rainforest stretches all down the coast, over 30,000 square kilometers. It’s one of the last remaining temperate rainforests in the world, and home to iconic animals like the ghostly white Spirit Bears.

If you can’t keep the loggers out of an amazing forest like that, what’s the best way to let them in? One way is to implement “ecosystem-based management.”

Burnaby Mountain Protesters Hit With Lawsuit

Photo of Stephen Collis from Vancouver Observer. Click for original article.

One of the biggest news stories of November has been the protests taking place on Burnaby Mountain. Texas oil giant Kinder Morgan wants to triple the size of its Trans Mountain pipeline. At close to 1 million barrels per day, that would make it larger than Keystone XL and much larger than Northern Gateway too. So community leaders in Vancouver concerned about climate change aren’t too happy. And when they started to organize demonstrations and speak out, Kinder Morgan slapped them with a great big lawsuit.

Stephen Collis is one of the five people named in the suit. He’s a literature professor at Simon Fraser University and Trevor Chow-Fraser called him up earlier in December.

Links: Poetry Foundation News, Stephen Collis on Twitter, Beating The Bounds

Photos of Burnaby Mountain protests by Mark Klotz, freelance photographer on Flickr.

New Faces in Farming

Man in t-shirt pauses from work to smile for the camera. Standing amid field of green maize.

With many farmers pushing past retirement, a new generation of 20-somethings and 30-somethings is leaving college behind and jumping into farming. They’re bringing liberal arts degrees, live-tweeting, dance music and brunch-cravings with them—alongside a fresh enthusiasm for alternative farming models. We’re learning what the next generation of hipster-farmers is up to on this week’s Terra Informa.

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Exploring The Relationship Between Environmental NGO’s and Corporations

lubicon - alex janvier

Lubicon, by Alex Janvier (1988)

Can corporations contribute positively to environmental action? Do we need modern-day Robin Hood’s funneling sponsorships toward good causes—or will corporate dollars always have a corrosive effect on activism? Artist Alex Janvier and forestry activist Tzeporah Berman weigh in.

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Sharing The Stage: Melina Laboucan-Massimo and Crystal Lameman

IMG_7165 - 2014-11-14 at 22-58-11

In the past month, we’ve been privileged to see some of the biggest names in Canada’s environmental scene, including David Suzuki and Naomi Klein. We’ll share our analysis of these latest tours, today. But we’re even more excited to bring you conversations with two activists who shared the stage with these bigger names. While lesser known, their life journeys and struggles are well worth paying attention to.

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