ecobabble

It’s Time to Talk About Bugs

White-lined sphinx moth from Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that insects take up the most space on the taxonomic web of life? Did you know that about 75% of flowering plants are pollinated by insects? You might have also heard that insect biodiversity is on the decline. Sadly, what you may have hear is right. In a paper published in the Journal ‘Biological Conservation’lead authors Francisco Sánchez-Bayo and Kris A.G.Wyckhuys state “almost half of insect species are rapidly declining and a third are being threatened with extinction”.

Can you imagine a world without insects? To some it may sound like a dream come true but insects are integral to the functioning of our world! From the food we eat to the waste we excrete, we have insects to thanks (we would literally be swimming in detritus if not for decomposers!). Tune into this episode where we show these important little creatures some well-deserved attention!

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Checking out bugs with Peter Heule: Q&A with the Royal Alberta Museum’s live animal supervisor

Terra Informer Olivia deBourcier interviewed Peter Heule, a live animals supervisor at the Royal Alberta Museum, about bugs. Originally aired on The Gateway Presents, we’ll hear about butterfly migration, what animal science is all about, how kids understand bugs better than grown ups think, and what a wild world there is left to discover!

The Good News: The Big Bee!

In light of the bad news about insect populations, there is hope! Recently, the world’s BIGGEST BEE, thought extinct for 38 years, has been found alive on the Indonesian islands of the North Moluccas. As long as an adult thumb, with jaws like a stag beetle and four times larger than a honeybee this dinosaur of a bee continues to be threatened, particularly by deforestation for agriculture, but the very fact that it persists suggests that extinction is not inevitable! Hannah Cunningham explains in this ecobabble the ways that we can all help pollinators keep on keeping on!

From planning what you plant, building bee hotels (a simple DIY bee hotel) to reducing your use of pesticides, there are many ways you can make your world more pollinator friendly

Related Links

National Geographic

The Guardian

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Animals Where You’d Least Expect to Find Them

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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.

 

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The Little Squirrel That Could

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.

Urban Coyotes

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.

More information at their website → http://www.edmontonurbancoyotes.ca/aboutus.php

Hunter/Biologist

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.

Download program log here.
Photo by, Mike McHolm

Stories that Sizzle

Nearly-naked cyclists zoom by in Albany, NY

The World Naked Bike Ride is celebrated in many different cities, as Halifax organizer Ben Caplan tells us on this week’s show

The dog days of summer are upon us, and in keeping with the climate, this week’s show is sizzling. From naked cyclists to incendiary writers, and fiery film to free range eggs.

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Years of Living Dangerously, Biochar, and Water Conservation

Misting sprinklers watering a lawn sidewalk

This week on Terra Informa we hear from Katie MacKissick, a Californian who tells us why she’s proud of her dry, dead lawn. We also share a discussion on Years of Living Dangerously, Showtime’s new documentary series on the effects of climate change, plus a Ecobabble that gives you the dirt on biochar.

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Spring is in the Air

Why did the coyote cross the road?

Coyote Crossing (Credit: Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife – http://www.flickr.com/photos/odfw/7489976680/in/photostream/)

Spring is in the air! And to celebrate, we’re bringing you a jam-packed show that’s bursting with life. How does giving birth change your perspective on the environment? What happens when the natural world unexpectedly encroaches on the human? Why do the Great Lakes suddenly need our protection? Who was responsible for the origin of the environmental movement? When will the show start? Just as soon as you hit that “play” button.

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You’d better Believe It’s Still Summer

Up here in Edmonton, it’s sometimes hard to remember that summer officially lasts until the end of September. So, to keep the heady heat of summer fresh in our minds, this week we’re having a small celebration of the outdoors. We’ll sip beers on Edmonton’s street-side patios, and listen to birds in the hot, dry BC interior. All that and a little more on this it’s-still-summer-edition of Terra Informa.

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Large crowd socializing on treelined street, green canopy overhead.

Photo credit: reallyboring on Flickr.

Sustainable Microbreweries

Nicole Wiart has had her fair share of drinking on the patios this summer. It got her thinking about who makes her beer and where it comes from. She started digging around Edmonton to find out what it means to be a local, Canadian microbrewery. What challenges do small sustainable businesses face? You’ll hear from a local brewmaster and two associate professors at the University of Alberta talking local beer.

Ecobabble: Biochar

Environmental biologist Tracy Flach explains how an ancient technology being used in a new way could help stabilize our climate and our soil.

BioBlitz in the Flathead Valley

Birding can be a relaxing past-time, a way to connect with the world around you. This summer though,

This summer, amateur birders, ornithologists, and aquatic scientists turned a pleasant hobby—birding—into a tool of resistance to coal and gas development in BC’s Flathead River Valley. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips reached Greg Ross, a birder from Cranbrook, who took part in the “BioBlitz.”

A Park Threatened, A Movement Born

On Terra Informa this week: when the bulldozers came to demolish a park, a movement was born. We ask one of the protesters from Turkey’s Taksim Square what’s at stake in the park there. Then, Marcus Petersen explains Biophilia on this week’s Ecobabble, and writer Ronald Wright warns about the progress trap we’re in.

Police in Istanbul fire at protesters rallying around Taksim Square (Photo: Alan Hilditch)

Police in Istanbul fire at protesters rallying around Taksim Square (Photo: Alan Hilditch)

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A Park Threatened, A Movement Born

It began with a familiar story. A city decides to demolish a park to make way for a new mall. Protesters show up to stop it.  Police arrive to break up the crowd. But things escalated quickly when police marched into Istanbul’s Taksim Square on May 28. They started firing water cannons and tear gas at demonstrators. The brutal treatment of the protesters outraged many people in Turkey. Before long, thousands of people began demonstrating against the national government all around the country. Deniz Erkmen teaches political science at Istanbul’s Özyeğin  University. She’s been visiting Taksim Square since she was a teenager, and now she’s joined in the protests there. Events have been changing rapidly by the day there, and on June 5th, she told Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips that the issues at stake go far beyond the park.
Protesters in Istanbul stood up because of their connection to the place they live. But what do we call it when we feel attached to all the parts of our planet’s biosphere – ferns, geese, even landscapes?
On this week’s Ecobabble, Marcus Petersen explains what it means to feel biophilia.
The Traps 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?

As Wright sees it, a little progress is good, but too much progress can be deadly. Over the past few centuries, the whole world has seen so much progress that it boggles the mind. Have we seen too much? Too fast? Progress of the right or the wrong kind? To understand Wright’s answer, we asked Terra Informer Trevor Chow-Fraser to walk through the beginnings of the progress trap humanity—and the planet—are struggling to escape right now.

More on the story :

What’s Happening

Bikeology Festival – Edmonton
Edmontonians, did you know that June is bike month?!  Riding your bike around Edmonton, especially in the beautiful summer weather, is an excellent way to live a healthy lifestyle.  It also decreases the detrimental effects transportation in vehicles can have on the environment.  The Bikeology Festival is going on all month in Edmonton, however, the best chance to interact with fellow bike-enthusiasts will be on June 15 in Sir Winston Churchill Park from noon to 4pm.  There will be entertainment, prizes, and many opportunities to speak with Edmonton bike experts about how to get started or maintain your environmentally friendly bike riding.  

Learn-to-Camp – Victoria
Residents of Victoria, BC, the Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites, in collaboration with Mountain Equipment Co-op, is inviting young families and newcomers to Canada to a first-time camping experience. Learn-to Camp will teach camping basics such as how to set up a tent, how to cook outdoors, what to pack, and other real Parks Canada and Mountain Equipment Co-op staff tips to make your camping adventure a success. Participant fee: $88.00/family of up to four (plus $22 for each additional person up to a maximum group size of 6 people). Dinner, breakfast and snacks are included.

Big Picture Science: Exploring Our Roles on This Planet

This week Terra Informers explore the roles humans can play on this planet.  Big picture Science, the role of researchers in understanding our affect on the planet, is explored during this year’s CONFORWest conference.  Also, the impact one person can have through a new and unique recycling movement or even the support of free range foods in highlighted.

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Big Picture Science: Exploring our roles on this planet

View from the shores of Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta. Abandoned row boats sit just off the water’s edge of this crystal clear lake showing how the human touch on the planet creeps into every corner of nature in ways we often forget. Photo Credit: Jessica Kozlowski

CONFORWest 2013

It seems like the farther you go in school, the more specialized you have to be.  You can start off wondering what dirt is made of, and end up spending five years studying how one species of soil mite affects carbon emissions to the atmosphere.  But some scientists want to see the bigger picture: Where does their work fit in? What does it mean?  That’s why a few dozen of them headed to the Rockies this April for a conference that got them outside, and got them talking to each other.

Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips has more.

More Information:

http://conforwest.com/

Greys Recycling

Rajan Ahluwalia was raised as an environmentally conscious child. He started recycling as a young schoolboy in Mumbai, India and decades later he is spearheading a recycling project, in Edmonton that will change the way the world thinks of recycling paper. Natalee Rawat spoke to Rajan about his recycling initiatives taking place within the next year in Edmonton.

More Information:

greys.ca

Ecobabble:  What does it mean to be a free range egg?

Scrambled, poached, sunny side up. Whether they came before the chicken, or the chicken before them, eggs are a breakfast staple. Terra Informa’s Nicole Wiart brings us an EcoBabble – where she enlists some local farmers to try to break down the term “free range.” It’s just one of the many terms that you can find on a carton of eggs – but as you’ll soon find out, defining free range is not as simple as it sounds.

More Information:

 

http://www.fourwhistlefarm.ca/
http://www.sunworksfarm.com/

What’s Happening in Canada!

There is a composting and vermaculture workshop May 1st in Toronto at the Toronto Tool Library. Composting is a great way to improve your soil and ensure that anything that you grow can be bountiful and organic. Learn to improve your gardens, lawns, and trees while minimizing your home’s waste. The cost is 20 dollars if you bring your own composting bin, and 30 if you wish for them to provide you with one that you may take home after.

Do you enjoy using the Mill Creek Ravine? Would you like to help out with the spring clean up and meet some of your ravine neighbors? The Keepers of Mill Creek and other surrounding communities will be at the creek in Edmonton on May 6th from 10am to 1pm. Come help keep Mill Creek Ravine beautiful!

There is a permaculture design program being held in Nelson BC from May 6th to the 31st. Learn the basic permaculture design principles and techniques, as well as develop the practical skills necessary to implement sustainable designs for your farm. The cost is $1700 for a 6-hour-per-day course.

See up to 40 different species of birds up close and personal at the McIntyre Marsh Bird Banding Station in Whitehorse from April 27th through to May 26th 7 a.m to noon on weekends and holidays.