This week we are bringing sustainability-related pieces from the archives. First, we hear from Dr. Kelly Swing about how Ecuador has enshrined the rights of nature in its constitution. Then we hear an interview with Winona LaDuke, an indigenous economist about the effects of colonization on Indigenous economies and food systems. Finally, we bring you an interview with Julian Agyeman, chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University about how sustainability should be considered holistically.
When we think of a constitution we think of basic “human” rights. We, as humans, have the right to vote, the right to practice religion, the right to own property. But what about nature? Ecuador was the first country in the world to establish the rights of nature at a national level, including it in the 2008 constitution. Terra Informa’s Nicole Wiart talks to Doctor Kelly Swing of the Tiputini biodiversity station in Ecuador about how this constitutional change is great in theory, but in practice, there are a lot of hurdles to still overcome.
Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabe Activist
Winona LaDuke is an Anishinaabe environmental activist, economist, and writer. She spent her entire career as an unflagging advocate for food and energy sustainability. She’s the kind of person who can tell you centuries of history about the corn her community grows and then rally it together to build a wind turbine. She ran as the U.S vice-presidential nominee for the United States Green Party in 1996 and 2000, and she remains a leader in North America on issues of locally based sustainable development. Terra Informa correspondent Matt Hirji spoke with Winona LaDuke from her home on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.
Julian Agyeman is chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University in Boston-Medford, Massachusetts. His research focuses on the intersections between social justice and sustainability, an idea which he terms “just sustainability.”. He describes “just sustainability” as “the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems.” Kathryn Lennon spoke with him about the need for the sustainability movement to broaden its work beyond ecological and conservation issues, to include issues of inequality and social justice.
Solar Trade Show: February 25th, Edmonton, Alberta
The Solar Trade Show is an event for everyone: homeowners, business owners, community organizations, job seekers, and Indigenous communities. Presentations and workshops will discuss careers in solar energy and how to finance solar energy projects. The event is organized by the Solar Energy Society of Alberta.
This week on Terra Informa, we look to the archives to discuss the future of humanity and the place oil has in that future. First off we have Chris Chang-Yen Phillips with Brandon Schatz talking about science-fiction and its reflection of our current and future states. After that we talk to Jennifer Jacquet about the effectiveness of shaming in modern protest. And lastly we talk with Todd Hirsch about the future of oil in Alberta and the his view on the future economic framework of this province.
Not everyone likes reading books about the future. Unless you already read science fiction, speculative fiction, or science-fiction as they’re collectively called, you might feel like the whole genre is just about slapstick robots and Orion slave girls. To be fair, some of it is about slapstick robots and Orion slave girls. But Sci-Fi can also teach us a lot about the way we live today. And help us imagine something different. For more on why your summer reading list should venture into the world of ansibles, hyperspace, and pigoons, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips spoke to Brandon Schatz, manager of Wizard Comics in Edmonton.
Shaming Our Way Past Petrol
For activists trying to get all of society to shift to a renewable energy future, does it work to shame those keeping us in the past? Shame is divisive and combative. But Jennifer Jacquet thinks shame is a great tool in the activist toolkit. This academic in New York University’s department of Environmental Studies published the book Is Shame Necessary? New Uses for an Old Tool.
Alberta’s Post-Oil Future
As demand for Alberta’s oil drops lower and lower in the decades to come, how will the province’s economy change? How will we move forward and learn to prosper in new ways? For some perspective on these questions, we turned to Todd Hirsch, chief economist at ATB Financial.
We all know bugs are important in the function of ecosystems but did you know about their importance in the world of forensics, or in the study of physics? This week on Terra Informa, we go to Chris Chang-Yen Phillips to discuss a murder investigation with a forensic entomologist. And after we hear about the physics of fire ants from our partners over at Science Faction.
Piecing together a crime can be a messy business. Police can run up against unreliable witnesses, or destroyed evidence. But what if the animals around a body could tell you a story about what happened? Chris Chang-Yen Phillips has this story from forensic entomologist and Simon Fraser University professor Gail Anderson in Vancouver.
This week we take a look into the past and the great void, to shine some light on our current situation. First Shelley and Dylan talk to some Terra Informa Alumni about their experiences with Fun drive this year. Following that we listen to Ronald Wright as he discusses the past, and allows us to use this information when looking into the future. Lastly, we hear from Dr. Abram Hindle about his creative process when making music inspired by outer space.
Alumni of Terra Informa talk with Shelley Jodoin and Dylan Hall about their experiences as Terra Informant’s at this years Fun drive.
The Trap of Progress
Last November, The Parkland Institute kicked off its sixteenth fall conference in Edmonton, Alberta. The theme was Petro, Power and Politics, and the opening keynote was delivered by writer Ronald Wright. Wright is best known for having delivered a CBC Massey Lecture which he called A Short History of Progress. For his lecture at the Parkland Institute, Wright drew on this earlier work to discuss our modern environmental crisis, including climate change and loss of biodiversity. To chart our possible future, Wright looks back to examine the collapse of civilizations all across the world. It’s depressing business, and more than one audience member asked the obvious question: is there any hope at all?
The Sound of Science: What the Universe Sounds Like
Alyssa Hindle and Matt Hirji interviewed Dr. Abram Hindle, a local computing science professor and Noise musician. Alyssa’s brother Abram uses his programming background with inspirations from nature and physics to create unique, and very technically based, sounds. Alyssa Hindle and Matt Hirji spoke with Abram Hindle about his Noise performances and music production.
This week we jump into some interviews about animals in uncommon places here in Canada. Followed by an interview with a biologist who is also a hunter, discussing his thoughts on our relationship with wild animals.
The Red Squirrel of the Yukon Territory weighs less than half a pound. Known for adorable chattering, collecting pine cones, and playfully scampering up trees, these guys may not seem like a very formidable presence when you consider their imposing surroundings in the great wilderness that is the Yukon. But as we’ll soon find out, the red squirrel has a little trick up its sleeve. Matt Hirji spoke with University of Alberta biologist Stan Boutin to find out more about how these amazing little creatures survive in their harsh northern environment.
With human populations ever-expanding our territory, wildlife coming out of their natural wild habitats and into the concrete jungles we call home is an increasing issue. This includes urban coyotes, a unique issue across North America. In recent years urban populations have sprung up in cities including Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Now city residents must to learn how to coexist alongside these opportunistic carnivores. Started in 2008, the ongoing Edmonton Urban Coyote Project is a multi-faceted study of coyotes based out of the University of Alberta. Their goal is to collect information on the movement, habitat selection and diet of coyotes, as well as the knowledge and perceptions of residents. Maureen Murray, a masters student involved with the project, filled Rebekah Rooney in about their work.
Hunting can sometimes be a sensitive topic that raises some questions for animal lovers. When is an animal a friend and when is it food? Can you be a wildlife lover and also a meat eater? Kieran O’Donovan straddles an interesting an interesting line that gives him a pretty unique perspective on when an animal is a friend, and when it’s dinner. He’s a wildlife biologist and documentary filmmaker, but when he goes home to the Yukon, he’s also a hunter. Terra Informa’s Natalee Rawat sat down with Kieran to talk about how he sees our relationships with other animals.
In this week’s episode some average-joe Terra Informers take a walk with the stars. Find out what is so exciting about the observatory even when you can’t see the stars, learn whats up with light pollution, and hear a down-to-earth interview with a man who has been to space and back.
Many people come out to the University of Alberta observatory despite poor visibility. We wanted to find out: what would they think if they could no longer see the stars? And why would they spend a Thursday evening listening to a guy talk about hydrogen?
A big concern for astronomers—amateurs and pros alike—is light pollution. Gazing at the stars gives us important knowledge about our place in the universe. Without that, we lose perspective.
But some might say, you know, there’s so much up there that we can’t see anyway. What can’t we see? and why we can see what we can? —those are questions Trevor Chow-Fraser had. Luckily there was a world famous particle physicist at the observatory that night. Thank your lucky stars! James Pinfold is a founding member of the ATLAS experiment and the spokesman for the MoEDAL experiment, both taking place at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.
A Canadian Star Comes Back to Earth
Most of us will never know what it’s like being in space. We’ve all seen the pictures of that familiar, glowing blue and green orb out the window of a spaceship. We know what the that golden crescent we see in the sky every night really looks like. We have rich imaginations and an ages long fascination with what could be out there beyond the sky. But what does space smell like? What does it really feel like to know the vastness of it all? Our own Matt Hirji talked with Commander Chris Hadfield to try and understand questions like these.
This week on Terra Informa we hear from Dylan Hall who spoke with University of Alberta grad Victor Benitez about his innovative new design that may change the way we garden in an urban setting. Then we visit the archives where we receive an edifying conversation with economist, activist, and academic Raj Patel on food justice.
Most of us want to feel good about where our food comes from; we’d like to think that our food is healthy, that the farmland is worked responsibly, and that the land workers are treated justly. These feelings often translate into decisions we make at the grocery store, but how much choice do we really have when we’re pushing our shopping cart through those aisles? To find out, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips spoke with economist Raj Patel—a visiting scholar in the Center for African Studies at the University of California at Berkeley and an honorary research fellow at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. We reached him in California.
Victor Benitez: Automated Urban Gardening & New College Work
Want to skip the choice that you need to make at the grocery store? Want to know exactly where your food comes from? Love the thought of gardening but don’t have the time? Victor Benitez, a recent physics graduate from the University of Alberta, is trying to find a solution to these questions. He has recently started a company, New College Work, based on technology he invented: a self-watering garden system. Terra Informer Dylan Hall spoke with Victor to find out the details and motives behind this ambitious project.
This week’s episode is coming from the archives, even though the pieces are a couple of years old the discussion is still very relevant as Canadian farmers continue to get older and are not being replaced increasingly by city folk – known in our episode as “farmsters”. Let us introduce you to the new generation of farmsters who are bringing their arts degrees, intsagram brunch photos, and alternative farming models to the table.
This week’s host Amanda Rooney briefly talks about the Town Hall on climate change that she attended in mid August. These town halls are run under the People’s climate plan .
There are plenty of things you can say about the Millennial generation. We’ve all heard the statistics on young people are moving back in with mom and dad after graduation. We’ve heard that the average cost of a house has increased to the point of prohibiting young professionals from entering that erstwhile next step of adulthood known as “home ownership.” And large scale industrial projects threatening our natural spaces are driving people young and old into the streets of major cities all over the world to protest inaction over climate change. These days young people are likely to finish university with a mountain of debt and spend years underemployed while career track positions remain out of their grasp.
Some folks have chosen a radically different approach to life post-liberal arts degree. I’m talking about farming. Scores of city-dwellers are leaving behind the urban lifestyle in favour of farmshares and ecovillages. Lauren Markham, writing for Orion Magazine, refers to this new phenomenon as the emergence of “farmsters.” Like hipsters, only instead of wearing flannel and weeping over their lack of prospects, farmsters are taking matters into their own hands to bring about change in whatever small way they can.
Danielle Dolgoy knows her fair share of farmsters. She meets them at the farmer’s market and reads their uplifting posts in her news feed. She called up her old university pal, Kate Rustemeyer, to talk about Kate’s decision to start her own CSA on a shared farm in B.C.’s Slocan Valley of the West Kootenays.