This week on Terra Informa
1) Reel Waste Film Festival
Steve Andersen spoke with Garry Spotowski, better known to Terra Informa Listeners as Garry the Garbage Guy, about an upcoming film festival that focuses and camera lens on films about waste from around the world. From the serious to the absurd, they’ve got it all. For more info on the Festival and to see trailers for the films, click here. If you’ll be in Edmonton between May 8th and May 11th, you can get tix to the festival here. For more information about the associated conference “Waste – the Social Context” check here.
2) Transition Town Initiative
In the age of peak oil and global climate change one thing has become abundantly clear. We will invariably undergo some form of agrarian reform. Whether this change is self directed or imposed upon us by the limits of the natural world, local food production is going to play an increasingly important role. One strategy in preparing for the coming changes is the Transition Town Initiatives springing up across the country. Terra Informa correspondent Jason Evans caught up with local teacher and transition town participant Kelsey Armstrong to learn about the Transition Town Initiative in the Edmonton Community of Grovenor. Find a Transition Town Initiative near you!
3) Stop the Quarry!
The Highland Companies have proposed to build a limestone quarry in Dufferin County, Ontario. But this isn’t just any mine, it would be the largest quarry in Canada, and local farmers are crying foul. They say they were misled and that the company claimed it was establishing a potato farm when it began buying up land. Area residents have responded by forming the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce to oppose the project, which they say will not only destroy huge swaths of prime agricultural farm land, but also threaten much of southern Ontario’s water supply.
Rapid fire news attack
1) In light of recent events at Fukushima in Japan, The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission asked Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to review its nuclear reactors. Even though Ontarian’s don’t expect a magnitude-nine earthquake followed by a 15 m tsunami, there are still safety lessons to be learned. OPG issued a report which said that no significant issues have been found so far. However, Greenpeace Canada is accusing OPG of withholding information on the potential health and environmental impacts of a radiation release to the scale of Fukushima. Greenpeace says it is unacceptable to claim that these reactors are safe, and then not provide access to key information regarding the potential impacts of a radiation release. OPG has agreed to provide another update on its safety review by May 28.
2) The mountain pine beetle, which devastated forests in British Columbia, is moving eastward. Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan are joining forces in an effort to combat the spread after a recent study confirmed that the beetle has jumped species from lodgepole pine to jack pine trees – the most common type of pine in the Boreal Forest. Evidence confirms that the mountain pine beetle could arrive in Ontario in 20-30 years, and much sooner in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Currently, funding is going toward the development of a national forestry pest strategy. Alberta alone has spent up to $300-million fighting this pest. In B.C., the insect is expected to kill 1/3 of the trees and lead to the loss of as many as 20,000 jobs. This is the scenario that other provinces are desperate to avoid. It had until recently been hoped that the spread of the beetle would be stopped by northern Alberta’s cold winters. However, researchers now say that the spread is continuing.
3) In B.C. it’s Drinking Water Week: put on by the B.C. Water & Waste Association and the Province of British Columbia, this week aims to create awareness of water resources including where it comes from, where it goes, and how to protect and preserve it. British Columbians use, on average, 490 litres of water each day. The national average is 329 litres per day, which is approximately double the European average. Daisy Foster, CEO of the 4,400-member BC Water & Waste Association notes that, “increases in our population, the growth of industry and agriculture, and the effects of climate change all place enormous pressure on our water supply.” The Vancouver Sun newspaper, meanwhile, reported that there is a considerable lack of community awareness on water issues. For instance, 25% of Canadians are alleged to have no idea where the water that flows out of their taps comes from. They report that 44% of Canadians admit to knowingly engaging in water wasting activities such as leaving the tap running while washing dishes, and 19% admit to hosing down their driveways. And whilst only 10 percent of Canadians don’t know what they pay on their electricity bill, almost 30 percent don’t know what they pay on their water bill.
4) Environmental groups in Alberta are raising concerns over a recent oil spill in the northwest of the province. The leak was too small to be immediately detected by pressure changes by the pipeline’s operator, Kinder Morgan, a Texas based company. The leak was instead found by landowners in the area. An unknown amount of oil was leaked to the surface and into a nearby creek. Environmentalists claim that this latest spill demonstrates inherent dangers in large-scale oil projects such as the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. However, the damage from this spill is expected to be minimal.
5) Finally to New Brunswick now, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) is calling for more support from the provincial government to increase investment in wind power. Robert Hornung, CanWEA president, last week publicly petitioned the New Brunswick Energy Commission to consider greatly expanding the role of wind in providing for future energy needs. The commission’s mandate, as of last fall, is to create a long term energy plan for the province. Whilst the government’s electricity utility, NB Power, has a goal of 400 megawatts of wind power capacity by 2010, the Canadian Wind Energy Association claims that this number can at least be doubled. Furthermore, they claim that there is considerable export potential to the north eastern United States.
However, commission co-chairman Jeannot Volpé argued that wind power is just one option that the commission is looking at. He argued that a dramatic rise in wind power production doesn’t make economic sense given its that it is more expensive than current sources of electricity.