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.
Heads of delegations at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), which led to the signing of the Paris Agreement.
First up, news headlines on COP22 in Morocco from Climate Radio, a temporary FM radio station covering the Marrakech Climate Change Conference. Then, an ecobabble from our archives looking back at the 2015 Paris climate talks, followed by Climate radio’s inspirational interview with Dessima Williams, UN special advisor, urging young people to get involved with climate action.
What you need to know about the Paris climate talks
The United Nations Climate Change Conference is held once a year, bringing together members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The 2015 conference was held in Paris, France from November 30 to December 11. This EcoBabble was made leading up to the conference last year, to explain why it would be an especially important conference.
Dessima Williams, United Nations Special Advisor
Exclusive for Climate Radio, Dessima Willams, UN Special Advisor, calls on young people to demand and take sustainable development goals and climate action.
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 features two stories about itty bitty organisms packing a big environmental punch. Learn about mosses with Tasmia Nishat and from the archives, get the scoop on urban beekeeping in Edmonton with Chris Chang-Yen Phillips.
There are plenty of frontiers in urban agriculture: community gardens, backyard chickens—beekeeping might be the one that makes neighbours and politicians the most nervous. But after years of debate and a pilot project eased us into the idea, Edmonton has finally opened the doors to backyard beekeeping.
Edmonton’s City Council changed its bylaws in April 2015 to allow residents to get their own licensed beehive. So what does it look like (and sound like) to get a delivery of thousands of bees?
Chris Chang-Yen Phillips joined Kyla Tichkowsky, Steph Ripley and Lisa Lumley to find out.
If you don’t already know what’s up with mountain gorillas, you’ll be in the know after this week’s episode! Join Shelley Jodoin on an informational adventure learning what there is to know about mountain gorillas, and then find out from Ashley Kocsis and Raemonde Bezenar why you might come across a mob of mountain gorillas in Edmonton on September 10.
In this ecobabble, Terra Informer Shelley Jodoin tries to figure out what all the fuss is about mountain gorillas. She learns the differences between mountain and lowland gorillas, about the volcanic Virunga mountain range that they inhabit and other fun facts.
Edmonton Gorilla Run
If you happen to be in Edmonton, Alberta this weekend and see a gang of mountain gorillas running through Corbett Field on Saturday morning, have no fear! We are not being invaded, Planet of the Apes is not going down here and now. What you are seeing is the 7th Annual Edmonton Gorilla Run! Last week, Terra Informer Ashley Kocsis reached out to the Executive Director of the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Society of Canada, Raemonde Bezenar. A fellow Edmontonian, Raemonde is the initiator of the Edmonton Gorilla Run which will be taking place this weekend! On Saturday September 10th, Edmontonians will be meeting at the University of Alberta at Corbett Hall near 114th street and 82 avenue. People will walk or run 5km to fund-raise for the conservation of African Mountain Gorillas and most will do so in gorilla suits.