ICEBERGS: THE TRUTH ABOUT THE MELT

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This week on Terra Informa, we discuss the 5800 square kilometre iceberg that broke off this summer in the Antarctica.

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Larsen C

The ice shelf named Larsen C was the largest segment to break off compared to its predecessors; Larsen A and Larsen B. It’s deterioration was being monitored for decades and its break in July attracted international attention. Anxiety around this event includes ice shelf vulnerability, rising ocean levels, and a change in ocean currents, among many. In talking with Dr. Juliana Marson we discover which fears are valid and which are merely scientific communication gone wrong.

 

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Photo by: University of Alberta

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Cooking Up Better Food Policy in Canada

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This week on Terra Informa, we discuss the ongoing consultations about Canada’s food policy with master food strategists Juanita Gnanapragasam and Kathryn Lennon.

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Canada’s Food Policy

The federal government explains on their website that “A Food Policy for Canada will set a long-term vision for the health, environmental, social, and economic goals related to food, while identifying actions we can take in the short-term. A food policy is a way to address issues related to the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of food.”

Consultations about the policy are being carried out by the federal government across Canada. Although they didn’t organize one in Alberta, luckily our AB food organizations have our backs and organized their own consultation event called “What’s Your Recipe for a Better Food System? Towards a National Food Policy…” This event will be happening on Wednesday September 13, 2017 from 6-9 pm at the Edmonton Food Bank (Annex) 11434-120 Street. If you’re not in Edmonton or you’ve missed the 13th – no need to worry! You can contact your local MP or email the federal government at foodpolicy-politiquealimentaire@canada.ca. The hashtag being used for this discussion is #Foodpolicy4Canada.

Terra Informer Amanda Rooney spoke with representatives from two organizations present at the upcoming event on Wednesday; the University of Alberta’s Sustainable Food Working Group and the City of Edmonton. 

Juanita Gnanapragasam talks about her work on making food culturally inclusive and what she believes a food policy could bring to Canada. Ms. Gnanapragasam is a student at large member of the University of Alberta’s Sustainable Food Working Group.

Terra Informa alumni Kathryn Lennon also weighs in on what a national food policy might entail and the role of federal government in our food systems. Kathryn now works for the City of Edmonton as a Principal Planner in Policy Development working on the city’s food strategy alongside the Edmonton Food Council.  

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Photo by Lou Stejskal on Flickr

Paths for People… and Bikes?

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This week on Terra Informa, we discuss multi-use trails with Paths for People, a citizen’s advocacy group here in Edmonton. In June 2017, Paths for People released some new multi-use trail policy recommendations.

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Paths for People

Have you wondered about how walking and biking fits into the urban Edmonton transportation conversation? This week, we sat down with Conrad Nobert, the Executive Director of Paths for People. Conrad co-founded Paths for People in 2015 after Isaak Kornelson, a University of Alberta student and athlete, was struck by a car and killed in 2012 on Whyte Avenue. Isaak’s tragic passing encouraged Conrad to bring his community together and talk about safe cycling in Edmonton. In June, Paths for People released a new set of policy recommendations for the City of Edmonton, reimagining the what safe transportation in Edmonton can look like. We asked him about Paths for People’s mission, some of their recommendations, and ongoing work by the City of Edmonton to change how its citizens move around.

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Photo by More Bike Lanes Please (https://www.flickr.com/photos/7603714@N08/)

People’s Social Forum and Greenland Ice Sheet Melt

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This week on Terra Informa, we have two gems from our archives for you. First, we look back on the 2014 Peoples’ Social Forum and how that event brought diverse groups of people together to collaborate on building strategies to create social change. Next up, we have a story on the massive Greenland ice sheet melt of summer 2012, when 97% of the ice sheet melted in just four days.

 

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Messy, Loud, and Joyous (2014 People’s Social Forum)

We see all kinds of groups fighting for their own unique and equally worthy causes every day. In one corner you’ve got people defending refugee rights. In another you’ve got a group bringing down the cost of healthy food in Nunavut. Over by the door you’ve got an activist fighting against mining in her community. Often this is how civil society works in Canada. You’ve got a room full of people in NGOs, unions, Facebook groups, all fighting for their own cause, without seeing how they could support each other.

2014’s Peoples’ Social Forum in Ottawa brought together thousands of people from across Canada who want to shift the direction the country is going. And it basically said, to have the future any of us want, we’ve got to build a future together. Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips was in Ottawa at the 2014 Peoples’ Social Forum a few years ago. Here’s his take on the messy, loud, and joyous business of bringing all these groups together.

Greenland ice sheet melt

In July 2012, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Son Nghiem noticed that 97 percent of Greenland’s ice sheet surface melted in just four days. Since Greenland’s Arctic ice sheet is massive – covering almost the entire island, and kilometres thick in most places. NASA estimates that if it all melted, global sea level would rise by about twenty feet. Son Nghiem’s first instinct was to double-check the data.  Chris Chang-Yen Phillips reached Son Nghiem in California for this story that summer, and with ice on our minds after the 2,240 square miles, trillion-ton piece of the Larson-C ice shelf broke off last month in Antartica, we thought we would re-air his piece.

 

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Photo by NASA

Right Whales: The “Canary in the Coal Mine”

 

If you live in Edmonton and have been to West Edmonton Mall you are probably familiar with ‘the whale’. You know, the one that was prolific in the 90’s and caused mass dismay when it was put into storage? There was cause for celebration in 2015 when the mall reintroduced the big bronze whale into its natural habitat among bustling shoppers. This metal mall whale is a small replica of the right whale that can be found, not at a mall in Edmonton, but in the Atlantic ocean. If you’re fond of that kind-of-dirty but iconic mall whale you might be sad to hear that this has been a tough year on the oceans’ Right Whale population. Recently the bodies of more than 9 right whales have floated to the surface along the Atlantic coast.

Terra Informer Amanda Rooney spoke with Sean Brilliant, the Canadian Wildlife Federation‘s senior conservation biologist, about right whales and what can be done to help conserve this iconic Canadian species. Amanda also touched base with Sean on the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s campaign to reduce single use plastics.

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Photo by New England Aquarium

 

Beers and Icebergs

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Iceberg by Julien O

Icy beers and icebergs, this week on Terra Informa we’re sharing two archive pieces. First, Terra Informer Nicole Wiart, a self-proclaimed beer-lover, talks to Neil Herbst, the co-owner of local Edmonton microbrewery Alley Kat about the challenges to their business’s sustainability efforts and with some University of Alberta experts on barriers to sustainability for small businesses. Then, we speak with James Balog, an acclaimed National Geographic photographer, videographer, and public speaker about his work documenting and the effects of climate change on melting glaciers.

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Headlines

Canada’s ‘walking dead’ are on thin ice. Can they be saved?

It’s no secret that caribou are a disappearing species on the Canadian landscape, but can they be saved? On Thursday, July 27th Environment and Climate Change Canada released a proposal to try and save these beloved creatures, but it comes at the hand of heavy criticism. Many critics believe the government isn’t doing enough to protect Caribou habitat, putting needs of industry first. One industry representative argues that populations continue to dwindle even in areas that industry doesn’t operate. New legislation rolling out in 2017 and 2018 should put more protective barriers on the species and will have to be implemented quickly as populations continue to dwindle. Read more here. 

Paw power: China plans 100 panda-shaped solar plants on new Silk Road

The Panda Green Energy Group is creating solar farms, organized in the shape of a panda face when viewed aerially. The province of Shanxi (Shahn Chi), China is the first to get one such farm, but the company plans to build 100 more across the nation. The friendly faces are expected to cost 3 billion dollars total – in turn building 5 gigawatts of generating capacity – enough to power 500 000 homes annually per panda plant.  There are also currently talks of expansion into Canada, Australia, Germany and Italy.  Read more here.

New diesel and petrol vehicles to be banned from 2040 in UK 

The United Kingdom government has announced that from 2040 onwards, new diesel and petrol vehicles will be banned. The government is also encouraging local jurisdictions to develop nitrogen dioxide emission reduction plans in the next eight months, a timeline which has been shortened from its original 18 months. Nitrogen dioxide, a gas harmful to lungs, is especially found near highways and in cities. While some welcome the policy announcement, critics claim that the target will not encourage changes in the short term beyond what is already underway. Some expect electric vehicles to mostly replace fossil-fuel based vehicles by 2030 in the United Kingdom purely based on cost and other factors. Read more here.

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Finding Meaning in Nature

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This week on Terra Informa, we bring from the archives a piece on positive psychology. Last year, Terra Informer Dylan Hall spoke with PhD student Holli-Anne Passmore about how connecting with nature enhances our well-being and helps us find meaning in life. Holli-Anne’s work has reached international audiences as well as psychology lectures at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna and MacEwan University in Edmonton.

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For more information on Holli-Anne Passmore: https://people.ok.ubc.ca/hapassmo

Download the program log here.

Photo by: Mitchell Joyce (https://www.flickr.com/photos/hckyso/)

Indigenous Rights, Climate Action and Storytelling

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Protesters gathered outside the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Investors Conference, June 16, 2008. Photo by ItzaFineDay via Flickr

This week on Terra Informa, we dive into the archives to bring you two pieces with an indigenous focus. First Dwayne Donald, a Professor in the Department of Education at the University of Alberta emphasizes the importance of storytelling in education through his unique position in the academic and Aboriginal communities. Today, we bring you the story of The Buffalo Child, as told by Dwayne Donald. We also revisit an interview with Eriel Deranger, an indigenous rights advocate and a member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN). She highlights the current climate crisis faced by Indigenous peoples of Alberta and the moral and legal obligation of governments to work with Indigenous peoples in building progressive and aggressive climate change solutions.

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Supreme Court vetos seismic testing plans in Nunavut

The Supreme Court of Canada has overruled the National Energy Board’s approval for a consortium of Norwegian energy companies to perform seismic testing near Clyde River, Nunavut. The Court found that the NEB did neither clearly nor sufficiently consult the community and failed to assess the impact of the proposed seismic testing on the treaty rights of the Inuit. Though Clyde River’s former mayor Jerry Natanine, who first took the case to court, has said that the community is not entirely opposed to development, he applauded the decision for the ‘seemingly impossible case.’

More on this story:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/supreme-court-ruling-indigenous-rights-1.4221698
http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674clyde_river_scores_big_win_for_nunavut_inuit_at_the_supreme_court/

Fort McMurray aspen forests bounce back from 2016 wildfires

In Alberta, scientists with the Canadian Forest Service and the University of Alberta found that the Aspen forests damaged by the 2016 Fort McMurray fires are recovering. They have found around 100 new sprouts for every mature or dead tree counted and that growth is strongest where the fire hit the hardest. The findings will also be used to guide logging and oil sands companies reclamation efforts.

Legal action taken against 100 companies responsible for emitting majority of global greenhouse gases

This month, two California counties and a city decided to take legal action against 37 oil and coal companies for their roles in climate change-related damages including rising sea levels which may threaten San Francisco’s airport, BART subway, and highways. The group is claiming that these companies, like tobacco companies, misled the public and created a ‘public nuisance.’ This lawsuit follows a recent report that since 1988, 100 companies have been emitting more than 70% of global greenhouse gases This report affirmed a similar study published in 2013 which found that just eight companies have been responsible for more than 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions since 1885.

More on this story:
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Marin-San-Mateo-County-sue-big-oil-over-climate-11294549.php
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/just-90-companies-are-blame-most-climate-change-carbon-accountant-says
https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jul/10/100-fossil-fuel-companies-investors-responsible-71-global-emissions-cdp-study-climate-change

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