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Albertan Youth Taking on Climate Change

pembina climate summit

Hannah Cunningham and Carter Gorzitza at the Pembina Institute’s Youth Climate Summit 2018

More and more often we’re seeing young people in environmental headlines, speaking out about climate change action, and willing to call out politicians and corporations to do what is right and necessary to prevent catastrophic global warming. Greta Thunberg is a great example of a tenacious youth getting the message across to older generations that big change is needed if young people are to inherit a livable future. This week we’re speaking with youth involved in creating change!

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Pembina Institute Youth Climate Summit 2018

In September 2018, Terra Informers Hannah Cunningham and Carter Gorzitza took a trip down to Calgary to attend the Pembina Institute’s Alberta Climate Summit. One of the presentations featured local young people who talked about a variety of innovative projects they had come up with to assist in the transition to a sustainable energy future.
The Projects included hands-on renewable energy labs on school rooftops, sustainable municipal wastewater treatment infrastructure, and the creation of an indigenous student energy summit. Hannah and Carter caught up with the group after their presentation to get the low-down on what they’ve been working on.

The Green Medium

In October, 2017 Sofia Osborne spoke with Elizabeth Geirl, an engineering student and one of the founders of The Green Medium, an award-winning, youth environmental awareness blog. Elizabeth was at the Youth Climate Summit in 2018 as well. 

Headlines & What’s Happening

Germany Lignite phase out plan: Setting an Example

International Week at the University of Alberta

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Myrtle and Charlie Ed, Revisited

 

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Photo Credit: torange

This week on Terra Informa, we return to “The Ballad of Myrtle and Charlie Ed”, a documentary from our archives, presented by Anthony Goertz. This is a story about discovering a story – one filled with charm, heart, and a great elephant escape!

Headlines cover Canada’s reception at COP24, Chinese internment of Uyghurs and Muslims in East Turkistan, and new research on cooperative bat behaviour. 

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Canada at COP24

Last month, in Katowice, Canada was being called out at COP 24called out at COP 24 in Poland to step up and fill a leadership void in climate talks at the conference.  Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, assures that the Paris targets will be met, but has not yet announced a plan that would come close to doubling emissions cuts, as required to keep warming to one and a half degrees Celsius, as outlined necessary by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report.

Chinese interment of Uyghurs over mineral resources

In East Asia, China continues its crackdown on Uyghurs  and Muslims in East Turkistan, forcing over a million people into internment camps and prisons. Detention of East Turkish citizens secures this mineral-rich region for the Chinese state. Competition for mineral resources is increasing, with resource extraction used to justify the degradation of the environment and genocide of people in poorer nations by those with wealth.

At Terra Informa, environmental issues are social justice issues.  Raw wealth feeds wealthy countries and fuels their greenhouse gas emissions. Poor countries end up the least able to adapt to climate impacts like floods and droughts, both because they don’t have the money, and because their degraded ecosystems are less resistant to change.

News on bats!

In news on bats: a new study shows how, in the face of food unpredictability, a number of species of bats will forage cooperatively in social groups. When food sources are predictable bats forage and eat alone as other bats may pose a threat to the individual bat’s access to food. But in cases of social foraging, bats actively help each other find food sources.

Edward Hurme, a UMD biological sciences graduate student in Maryland Biology Professor Gerald Wilkinson’s laboratory says that the next steps for this research are to look into what strategies are utilized by the bats, whether bats prefer to follow other bats of their own species, and if they can differentiate between individuals or not.

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Sponge Reefs of the Pacific Canadian Deep

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Photo credit: Canadian Geographic

This week, Terra Informer Jeremie Mahaux speaks with Nathan Grant, a graduate student at the University of Alberta. In their interview, we’ll hear about the Hecate Strait Marine Protected Area off the coast of northern British Columbia, as well as Nathan’s research on a fascinating and uniquely Canadian animal: glass sponges. Wanna hear about what a marine field scientist gets up to on the daily? What kind of food do they get to eat on coast guard ships? We’ll find out! 

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Headlines

Alberta NDP shelving oil sands emissions cap

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Talking Indigenous-led Environmental Assessment with The Firelight Group

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This week on Terra Informa, we have an interview with Dr. Ginger Gibson, one of the directors and founders of the Firelight Group, an organization that works to support Indigenous peoples and governments defending their rights and their land. Terra Informer Dylan Hall spoke with Ginger about the Firelight Group and the successes they’ve seen, particularly in Indigenous-led environmental review as a route for Indigenous Nations’ to express their right to self-governance despite a colonial Canadian state. More information about the Firelight group can be found at their website: www.thefirelightgroup.com, and the report on Indigenous-led environmental review spoken of in the interview can be found here.

Headlines

85 people have been arrested after protesters occupied five bridges in London, England on Saturday, November 17th in one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in UK history. The blockade was organized as part of a campaign run by Extinction Rebellion, a new group that aims to force governments to recognize and treat the threats of climate change and extinction as a crisis. Extinction Rebellion has organized various other acts of protest during the month of November, resulting in an additional 60 people being arrested for acts of civil disobedience. This Saturday was the climax of two weeks of protest, with approximately six thousand people taking part in the campaign. The group is calling for governments to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025 and to establish a “citizens assembly” to device an emergency plan of action. Extinction Rebellion now has offices based in central London and has eleven international events planned to take place in Canada, the United States, Germany, Australia, and France.
More information here: https://rebellion.earth/

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Photo by Forest and Kim Starr

Stephen Jenkinson on Death, Grief, and the Withering World Tree

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In this episode, listen to culture worker Stephen Jenkinson speaking about death, age, and grief, particularly in relation to this time of environmental loss and trouble.

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What happens when we live in a culture that rejects aging, death, and any kind of frailty or limit? Why is grief largely absent, at least publicly, as a response to climate change, species extinction, and environmental devastation? Is there a relationship? This week on Terra Informa, Dylan Hall spoke with Stephen Jenkinson, the author of Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul, and more recently Come of Age: A Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble. They explore concepts related to elder-hood, age, grief and death, and what these evoke when viewed through eyes apprehending the relentless destruction of diversity. Stephen has also just embarked on a ‘Nights of Grief and Misery’ tour with the Gregory Hoskins band, across the U.S. and Canada. For ticket information, click here. For a more complete biography on Stephen Jenkinson, his work, and Orphan Wisdom, the school he helped found, click here.

Terra Informa Program Log

Headlines

Teara Fraser is an awesome indigenous woman who started an airline to serve remote communities [click here]

The G7 Environment, Energy, and Ocean Ministers Meetings are coming up in Halifax, and despite big promises, the Canadian government persists with the largest fossil fuel subsidy of all G7 members. [click here]

Whats Happening

Tanya Tagaq with LitFest on her new book, Split Tooth [click here and here for more info]

photo by: Beryl_snw

Sustainability in Classrooms and Constitutions

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That bite in the September autumn air is a tell-tale sign of back to school. This week, we dug into our archives and uncovered a 2016 piece about sustainability in Alberta schools, as well as another archive that helps us consider the pros and cons of including the environment in national constitutions.

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Sustainability in Alberta Classrooms

Right now, sustainability education is becoming more and more prevalent in schools, but we still have a long way to go. In 2016, Nicole Richard and Paula Daza spoke with the teachers of Brightview Elementary School and the students of the Sustainability Club from Cochrane High School about how students can be inspired by sustainability and environment-focused education. Nicole and Paula, students from the University of Alberta, incorporated this type of community engagement into their degrees through their project called We the Future.

Good Living

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. Nicole Wiart talks to Doctor Kelly Swing.

This Week’s Headlines

St. Albert to Destroy Invasive Koi (CBC) – Click here

Meetings between Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Over the Trans Mountain Pipeline (CBC) – Click here

Smart Traffic Lights in Ottawa (National Observer) – Click here

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Building Greener

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This week on Terra Informa we take a visit to the Primed Mosaic Centre, Alberta’s first net-zero and LEED Platinum-certified building. This one-of-a-kind commercial building is located in Edmonton, Alberta and has won awards for building engineering and Innovation. Now formally known as the Primed Mosaic centre due to its recent change in ownership. The Primed company is a local medical products company that put there values to actions when they decided to invest in the LEED building. We hope this story will inspire any and all businesses to look at more sustainable work sites – if not for the solar panels, than for the live plant walls!

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Download program log here.

Infrastructure for the People

ibke path

This week on Terra Informa we are talking about cycling! In this archive episode, Terra Informers Shelley Jodoin and Amanda Rooney speak with Vice Chair from Paths for People, Conrad Norbert, an Edmonton non-profit organization advocating for the creation of infrastructure with pedestrians and cyclists in mind.

In June of 2017, Paths for People released multi-use trail policy recommendations. We discuss re-imagining the use of public space, hopes and ideas for the future, and the policy recommendations recommendations.

Download the program log here

Download the episode here

Life in Plastic

Plastic Cup Rubbish July 17

Did you know that July is Plastic-Free Month? This week, we’re bringing back two stories from our archives centred around plastic. One about a BC woman, Taina Uitto, who lived plastic-free for a whole year, and another in which we interview Laura Bamsey and Marnie Olsen from the Elements Society on a school pilot project that focused on reducing single-use plastics. Then, Terra Informers Amanda Rooney and Sofia Osborne will give their hot take on the current debate taking place around plastic straws.

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Plastic in the Classroom

Our first archive features the Elements Society and the Lonely Whale Foundation, who created a classroom pilot project to address the issues surrounding single-use plastics. Back in September 2017, I spoke with Laura Bamsey and Marnie Olsen from the Elements Society about this pilot project, and how  students not only learned about plastic waste, but also how to build communication and project management skills.

A Year Without Plastic

Try to make it sixty seconds without using anything made out of plastic. Think about objects that you use day to day. Every minute even. The clothes on your back even. Short of moving into the woods, it’s virtually impossible to live a 100% plastic free year, let alone a lifetime. Hamdi Issawi spoke to Taina Uitto who is trying just such a challenge. He reached her by phone in Denman Island, BC to talk about her plastic-free life. A documentary chronicling Taina’s challenge was released in 2014; it’s called From The Waste Up.

Download program log here.

Photo by: weegeebored (www.flickr.com/photos/kenningtonfox/2768449017)

Native Plants and Living Bridges

 

Living Bridge on Edmonton's 97st

(photo credit: Nicole Wiart)

This week on Terra Informa, we’re bringing you stories about urban greenery. First join Amanda and Shelley on their bike tour of the native plants in Edmonton’s river valley then revist an archive with us as we say goodbye to downtown Edmonton’s living bridge which was reported on by Terra Informers when the project was first started.

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Edmonton River Valley Bike Tour

Last month Terra Informers Shelley Jodoin and Amanda Rooney embarked on a rather lengthy bike tour along with other cyclists interested in learning more about the native species found in the iconic Edmonton river valley. The Edmonton Native Plant River Valley Bike Tour, was a collaboration between the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society and the Edmonton Native Plants Society and riders were taken to various locations to learn about the plants and ecosystems specific to Edmonton.

Amanda and Shelley had the opportunity to chat with Edmonton Native Plant Society representatives Liz Deleeuw and Cherry Dood at the John Janzen Nature center.  They explain the importance of native plants and gave us the low down on the native plant situation in the prairies surrounding Edmonton and area. The terra informers also had the chance to reflect on their bike ride whilst splashing in the north saskatchewan.

Saying Goodbye to the Downtown Living Bridge

In 2013, Terra Informers Nicole Wiart spoke with Erin and Carmen to get the details on how the transformation of one unused space revitalized a downtown community. They found out what happens when you put three creatives together, give them an abandoned bridge and seven weeks: in the case of Edmonton locals Carmen Douville, Erin Ross, and Chelsea Boos, you emerge with a “Living Bridge.”

Over the past five years, the Living Bridge has become a fixture and gathering place of downtown Edmonton. Sadly, it’s time has come to an end and in June 2013 an event was held to transplant the perennial plants from the garden on the bridge to other locations. The time of the living bridge has come to a close but hopefully reflecting on the roots of this project will inspire others to take on similar projects, making green spaces accessible and more numerous!

Download program log here.