This week, don’t fear the tears. Terra Informa takes a hard look at a threatening future and has to ask the question, what are we thinking? We’ll get an analysis of the troubled plans for a parcel of Canada’s North that stretches far beyond the horizon. And a person who spends all their time thinking about the far future tries to get the rest of us to look beyond the next quarter. We’re examining the at times ineffective processes that we have in place to protect the land and plan for the future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week, Terra Informa presented our show live at the Cold & Warmth Winter Salon, hosted by the Latitude 53 art gallery. We’ve got crowds buzzing around like hot molecules, an interview about Edmonton’s Winter City Strategy, and a rap about the most magical temperature of all.
Winter Salon Photo Gallery
The Most Magical Temperature of All
A year ago, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips was driving down an icy freeway with his mom when a dashboard light flashed on. That little light led him down a rabbit hole towards discovering the most important temperature for life on Earth: 4 Degrees Celsius. That’s because we rely on water to do something almost no other chemical can do at 4 degrees. Instead of getting gradually denser as it cools like most other molecules, it gets densest at that temperature, then starts expanding again. Girl Gone Wild wildlife documentary creator Jamie Pratt joins Chris on stage to explain why it does this, and why you’d better not mess with the benthic zone.
Understanding temperature means understanding the movement of molecules. Terra Informer Jessica Kozlowski enlisted Kathryn, Chris, and the crowd to demonstrate what it might sound like when hot fast moving molecules and the cold slow moving molecules in air collide. This formation of average temperature is some seriously above average fun!
Winter City Strategy
The subject of hot and cold is very polarizing. Especially in Edmonton. We call our selves a winter city, and like to boast about how cold it gets here. But are we a winter city, or a whimp-er city? Now that it’s warming up, these pothole streets are a good reminder that we can’t seem to adapt our physical infrastructure to cold. And remember that giant snow storm a few week ago? Could traffic snarls, and damage to people, roads, cars been avoided if people didn’t still feel they have to go out? Maybe our economy is not well adapted to cold either. So what can history teach us about how to adapt to our surroundings? City of Edmonton archivist Elizabeth Walker joined Kathryn Lennon on stage to give us a historical perspective on how people lived with winter in Edmonton.
Cold Frames Workshop in Toronto
In Toronto, learn how to keep your plants warmer longer using the paradoxically named Cold Frames. Evergreen Brick Works presents the first edition of its Urban Agriculture Workshop series. Learn to design and build cold frames and raised beds for your garden. Keep food growing longer into the fall and even through the winter! This takes place Tuesday, April 2nd at Evergreen Brick Works. And they are asking for a 20$ donation.
Summit Series Lecture in Edmonton
In Edmonton, the Canadian Mountain Studies Initiative presents the latest installment of its Summit Series. The lecture will bring together three speakers—each from a different disciplinary home—to share their research on mountain environments and cultures. You’ll hear about invasive plants and their surprising effect on bumble bees in the Colorado Rockies. Learn about your body’s adaptations to high altitude. And explore the poetry and natural history of a Rocky Mountains park. It all happens Friday, April 5th at the University of Alberta.
Over-Wintering Birds Day in Johnson’s Crossing, Yukon
In the Yukon, we’ve got an event about a flock of amazing over-wintering birds. Join Adam Skrutkowski on the banks of the Teslin River where you’ll see the hardy swans that overwinter at Johson’s Crossing. Adam will share his photos taken over the past months, and you’ll learn how these birds survive the cold weather. Bring a picnic lunch—but not for sharing with the birds. That’s happening the morning of Sunday, April 7th in Johnson’s Crossing.
This week, we’ve been wondering: how do people decide when an animal is food and when it’s a friend? We will be talking to a wildlife biologist who’s also a hunter, and to two Edmonton-area farmers who raise pigs for very different reasons. And one more tasty morsel for you: George Stroumboulopoulos, host of CBC’s The Hour, talks about tiny ways Canadians can live a little greener.
When is an animal a friend and when is it food? 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.
Pets vs. Food
Remember Wilbur the pig from Charlotte’s Web? He was the runt of the litter, turned pet, threatened to be food, only to be saved by a spider. Terra Informa’s Nicole Wiart talked to Alberta Micro Pigs’ Angela Hardy and Irvings Farm Fresh’s Nicola Irving. The two of them both raise and breed pigs in the Edmonton area, one for food… the other for pets. Throughout the interviews, Nicole noticed strange similarities between both women and the way they viewed the pigs, despite raising, breeding, and feeding them for incredibly different purposes.
More information on this story:
Strombo and One Million Acts of Green
George Stroumboulopoulos, the host of the Hour on CBC, was at Grant MacEwan University here in Edmonton to speak about activism. Kyle Muzyka was at the speech, and in addition to speaking about activism, Stroumboulopoulos also spoke about a program generated to help Canadians become a little more green. As one of the many forces driving the “One Million Acts of Green” program, Strombo talks about how it started as a plan doomed to fail, and became something truly special.
Geological Wonders of British Columbia Lecture in Kamloops, BC
Over in BC, the Kamloops Exploration Group is hosting a talk on Geological Wonders of British Columbia this month. Bruce Madu will be speaking at the TRU Mountain Room as part of the group’s 2013 Lecture Series. Bruce is a geologist and the Director of the British Columbia Mineral Development Office in Vancouver. They provide resources on coal and mineral mining for government and industry, so it should be a fascinating opportunity to get to hear from someone who lives in the mining world, and ask some questions. That’s March 28 in the TRU Mountain Room in Kamloops, at 7 PM, and the talk is free. The lecture series continues April 4, when Ann Cheeptham will be talking about cave microbialites.
Women in Science Lunch in Sydney, Nova Scotia
Over on the east coast, this April 6, Cape Breton University is hosting its Third Annual Women in Science Event. Meet fellow female scientists, learning about careers in science, and pick up some cool swag. They say last year’s Women in Science “Lunch and Learn” brought over 100 young women out from all over Cape Breton Island. This year, they’re hosting another Lunch event and a daylong Women in Science Retreat, filled with activities, giveaways, food, and learning. The event is aimed at young women in junior high, high-school, and just starting out in university. That’s at the Vershuren Centre on Cape Breton University Campus on April 6. It starts at 11 am, with lunch at 12, followed by a full afternoon of events. The cost is $10 per person.
Wolf Skinning Workshop in Whitehorse, Yukon
Since we’ve been talking so much about hunting this week, we figured we’d shoot for a wild event coming up. On April 13th, the Yukon Trappers Association is hosting a Wolf Skinning Workshop at the Beaver Creek Community Club in Whitehorse. They’re a volunteer-run group, and this time they’ve rounded up Robert Stitt to run the workshop. It starts at 9:30 in the morning, and goes until, well, until you’re done. Call 667-7091 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
This week, we’ll help keep your face from turning red over your greenery. It’s a seasonal story we know you’ve all been pining for—articifial vs. live Christmas Tree showdown! But before the sparks can fly, we’ll head out to the West Coast to visit a breakwater that is as much a natural sanctuary as it is a tool of human commerce. And to top it off, we’ll regift a story from the archives, as EcoBabble explain why you should stick to poinsetias and take the algea blooms off the table. It’s a special Winter Solstice edition of Terra Informa!
Ogden Point through the lens of Flickr user wolfnowl.
If You Build It, They Will Come
Now, when you hear about side effects, you probably think of headaches, nausea, or something else terrible you’d need to consult your doctor about. Sometimes, though, the things we build have more hopeful side effects. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips has a story about the Ogden Point breakwater in Victoria, BC, on Coast Salish territories. It’s a place that became something more than its builders bargained for. He spoke to Val and Anny Schaefer, the authors of Ogden Point Odyssey. He reached them in Victoria.
Christmas Tree Showdown
It’s the time of year when many of us are on the lookout for a new Christmas tree to plant in our living rooms, and the choice always comes down to one of two options: springing for the real deal or going artificial. But what effect will your decision have on the environment? Each branch has its pros and cons, but when it when it comes to deciding which is naughty and which is nice, the answer isn’t so cut-and-dried. Before sprucing up your den this holiday season, you might want to hear the facts. Hamdi Issawi has this story.
On this week’s show we start off small. On Girl Gone Wild this week, Jamie Pratt shares a slimy story on the Banff Hot Springs snail. Then we move to PowerShift, a big undertaking that will mobilize youth around climate justice. We end off with the music of the talented Richard Garvey.
Ontario’s Liberals Losing Touch
On September 19, Ontario Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller released the first volume of his 2011/2012 annual report to the Legislature. The report, entitled “Losing Touch,” criticizes members of the Liberal government for failing to respect the public’s right to be involved in environmental planning and policy. According to Ontario’s 1993 Environmental Rights Bill, the government is required to make environmental proposals and decisions available for public comment.
Halkirk Wind Farm Nearly Done
Hold on to your hats, Albertans! The village of Halkirk will soon be home to the province’s largest wind farm. Owned and operated by Capital Power, the Halkirk Wind Project is nearing the end of construction and is scheduled to begin commercial operation by the end of this year. The facility will use 83 turbines to generate 150 megawatts of clean power. That’s enough to power 50,000 homes—weather permitting.
Girl Gone Wild: Banff Springs Snail
From the time we’re little, most of us are told to be proud of what makes us unique – what sets us apart. But what if the thing that made you different was also the thing that made you vulnerable? On this week’s edition of Girl Gone Wild, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips brings us the story of the endangered Banff Springs Snail from wildlife documentary filmmaker Jamie Pratt.
PowerShift 2012 – Building a Climate Justice Movement
Do you want to see a shift in the way we power our society, and who has power? A shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy? More power to the people? Want to learn skills and meet passionate youth from across the country? From October 26-29, youth from across Canada are invited to come together in Ottawa-Gatineau to mobilize around climate and environmental justice. Kathryn Lennon catches up with PowerShift Coordinator Tasha Peters to learn more.
Musician Richard Garvey
The world of contemporary folk music defies clear definitions or explanations. From the birth of sub-sub-genres to use of non-traditional instruments, it has exploded into a borderless menagerie of noise and ideas. However, some would argue that you can’t improve on timeless inspiration. Richard Garvey is a born-and-raised Ontarian whose modest discography echoes a generation of youth that longs for environmental justice and social change.
2012 Grassroots Communities Mining Mini-grant Program
October 1 marks the deadline for the final round of applications for the 2012 Grassroots Communities Mining Mini-Grant Program. The mini-grants program supports communities across Canada and the United States that have been adversely affected by mining. The grants will go toward protecting the personal, as well as cultural and ecological well-being of impacted communities. To learn more, visit the Indigenous Environmental Network website at ienearth.org where you can find the application form and additional contact information.
IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training!
On November 9 and 10, the IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training program will be coming to Guelph, Ontario. The two day training program, brought to you by The Co-operators and Natural Step Canada, is designed to empower students and help them develop sustainability projects in their own communities. Attendees will have to opportunity hear feedback from peers and mentors by connecting with other sustainability champions. IMPACT! alumni are also welcome. Participation is limited and the application deadline is September 30, so visit thenaturalstep.org to apply online.
Farming in the City Tours
We all know that potatoes have eyes and corn have ears, but did you know that some of Alberta’s most fertile farmland falls within Edmonton city limits? On a Sunday in late August, we boarded a school-bus for the Farming in the City Tour. The tour of local farms was organized by Live Local and the Greater Edmonton Alliance. Terra Informa’s Kathryn Lennon meets producers, samples produce, and finds out what will be lost if this land is not preserved. Sit back as we take you along for the ride!
Man on the Street
Hey hey, common Canadian! How Terra Informed are you? How keen is your green vocabulary? Are you up-to-date on your green buzz words and eco facts? We wanted to find out. So, two of our intrepid Terra Informers hit the streets to see what you know. From the Strathcona Farmers Market in Edmonton, Alberta, here’s Hamdi Iaaswi and Mel Skrypnyk.
Experts Call for Mackenzie River Management Plan
Climate change is threatening the Mackenzie River Basin, an area that’s been dubbed the “Amazon of the North.”The basin, which stretches across BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, as well as the Northwest and Yukon Territories, plays a vital role in maintaining climate stability by storing greenhouse gas in the ice and plant life. On September 5th-7th, the Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy was held in Vancouver to advise the federal, as well as the provincial and territorial governments in the region, to create a transjurisdictional agreement that will manage resources, wildlife, and pollution for the basin as a whole.
Government Releases New Coal Emission Rules
On September 5th the Canadian Federal Government finalized regulations for greenhouse gas emissions from the coal-fired electricity sector. Effective July 1st, 2015, the new regulations will cap CO2 emissions of coal plants at 420 tonnes per gigawatt hour instead of the the 375 tonne limit proposed in August 2011. Also affected is the lifespan of coal plants, which has been bumped up from 45 to 50 years. Units commissioned before 1975 must be shutdown by that time or 2019, which ever comes first. Those commissioned between 1975-1986 are allowed until 2029.
Investigation Concludes Small Earthquakes Caused by Fracking
An energy regulator from the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission has reported that numerous small earthquakes in Northeastern British Columbia have been caused by hydraulic fracking, a process used to extract natural gas from shale rock. The report stated that “The investigation has concluded that the events observed within remote and isolated areas of the Horn River Basin between 2009 and 2011 were caused by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing in proximity to pre-existing faults.”
Tar Sands Blockade Protests Texas Keystone Pipeline
In the Northeast Texas town Saltillo, a group of concerned landowners and climate justice organizers blocked equipment being used to construct TransCanada’s Gulf Coast Extension, formerly the Keystone XL pipelines. The action is part of ongoing actions by members of the Tar Sands Blockade, a group using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to protest the construction of the Keystone XL pipelines.
Japanese River Otter Declared Extinct
The Japanese river otter has been declared extinct in a report by the Japanese Environment Ministry, the first mammal to be declared extinct since the ministry started collecting data in 1991. Over-hunting and habitat pollution and destruction are named as causes of the river otter’s extinction.
Terra Nova Sharing Farm Vegetable Harvest
On Saturday, September 15, The Lower Mainland Green Team invites volunteers to help harvest the Terra Nova sharing farm located in Northwest corner of Richmond, BC. Volunteers are asked to bring gardening gloves, as well as waterproof jackets and footwear; tools and instructions will be provided. The vegetables harvested from this event will be donated to the Richmond Food Bank.
McIntyre Creek Clean-Up and the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-Up
The McIntyre Creek Clean-Up is a part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-Up and will take place on Sept 16th, from 10 am to 2 pm, at McIntyre Creek on Kwanlin Dun First Nation’s traditional territories, near Whitehorse in the Yukon Territories. A BBQ lunch will be provided by Yukon Electrical and anyone interested in participating is encouraged to bring their own gloves, garbage bags will be provided.
On this week’s episode, Terra Informa speaks to Toghestiy, hereditary chief of the Likhts’amisyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, about Wet’suwet’en resistance to pipelines in their territories. In the second part of the program we investigate the challenges and downfalls of using peat moss in backyard gardens. Finally, from the archives, Terra Informa speaks with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! about the importance of independent media.
An unusual phenomenon is taking place in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Biologist Bill Montevecchi says that gannets who normally nest at Cape St. Mary’s have left their nests and chicks for food further north. Montevecchi says he has never seen anything similar in his life. Cape St. Mary’s is empty of gannets, but there have been plenty of sightings up in Labrador. Water temperatures are apparently 3 or 4 degrees warmer than usual. It is not clear whether the gannets have permanently abandoned the nests or not, but their absence makes the nests and chicks vulnerable to the elements and starvation.
More on this story: Canadaka.net, The Tyee
Southern Leg of Keystone XL Pipeline Encounters Opposition
TransCanada had hoped to quietly begin construction of the southern Keystone XL pipeline. According to their spokeswoman who talked to the LA times, construction began on August 9th. The Tar Sands Blockade, a self-described coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and organizers unfurled banners at two equipment staging grounds in Texas and Oklahoma. The group plans to use nonviolent direct action to physically stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. TransCanada has agreed to reroute the northern section of the pipeline as the current plan has it would go through sensitive aquifers and requires international permits due to its proximity to the Canadian border. If US officials approve the northern stretch, construction could begin as early as 2013. The pipeline project faces enormous controversy in the United States and Canada.
More on this story: LA Times, Ecowatch, Yale Environment 360
More on this story: Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun, Victoria Times Colonist
More on this story: CTV, CBC, Regina Leader-Post
The Pacific Trails Pipeline is proposed to run through Wet’suwet’en territories. This includes salmon spawning grounds. In this interview, Toghestiy, hereditary chief of the Likhts’amisyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, speaks with Terra Informa correspondent Annie Banks. Toghesti describes Free Prior Informed Consent, the Pacific Trails Pipeline, the recent Unis’tot’en Action Camp and the resistance by the Wet’suwet’en people to the invasion of their lands by industry.
More on this story: Unis’tot’en Action Camp, We Support the Unist’ot’en and the Wet’suwet’en Grassroots Movement – Facebook Group
And is it as sustainable as we think? With the help of Laura Edwards, University of Alberta ecology student, and recent Shoreline Advisor for Nature Alberta’s Living by Water program, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips went out into his garden to investigate.
More on this story: Ecoscience Journal (PDF), Hydrological Processes Journal
From the Archives – Amy Goodman on Independent Media
More on this story: Democracy Now!
Mushrooms on the Moraine: the Late Summer edition, will be happening on Saturday September 08, from 09 : 30 AM – 05 : 00 PM at Koffler Scientific Reserve at Jokers Hill courtesy of the University of Toronto. This workshop will help you identify many of the wild mushroom species growing early in fall. Hosted by mushroom expert Richard Aaron, the focus will be on fungal diversity, with some mention of edible and medicinal properties.
Take Back the Wild Advocacy School:Want to protect British Columbia’s wilderness? Think you have what it takes to be a leader?You may be interested in the Take Back the Wild Advocacy Training Weekend, October 12 to 14.The Advocacy School is being offered by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s BC Chapter for 18 to 30-year olds. You’ll learn about government and media relations, endangered ecosystems, and some of the campaigns already underway in BC. Apply before September 13: http://cpawsbc.org/campaigns/campaign-school