This week on Terra Informa we’ll revisit two notable stories. First we’ll take a look at how you can pick the most environmentally friendly Christmas tree for the upcoming season (the answers may surprise you), After that, we discuss the surprising challenges bats face today.
We’re starting to get to that time of year when many of us are on the lookout for a new Christmas tree for our living rooms. We’re usually faced with one of two options: springing for the real deal, or going artificial. But who wins in the ecological showdown between the two types of trees? Each 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 some of the facts, which Hamdi Issawi will take us through.
Have you ever wondered how bats fit into our urban environment? This week we talk with Erin Lowe from the Alberta Community Bat program about the challenges facing bats and how to live with them happily.
This week on Terra Informa, we’re talking to the people behind the headlines and book covers. We hear from the scientist at NASA who discovered ice melting across almost all of Greenland’s surface this July. We also take you behind the scenes of a new book on repairing the earth in sites of environmental destruction. And we’ll look into biomonitoring, and how it can be used to assess the health of an ecosystem.
This week we speak with Son Nghiem, a NASA remote sensing scientist who noticed this dramatic melting of Greenland’s ice sheet that happened over just four days this July.
Massive Greenland Ice Sheet Melt
Greenland’s Arctic ice sheet is massive – covering almost the entire island, and kilometres thick in most places. NASA estimates that if it all melted, global sea level would rise by about twenty feet. So when NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Son Nghiem noticed that 97 percent of its surface melted in just four days this summer, his first instinct was to double-check the data. The melting coincided with an unusually strong dome of warm air over Greenland. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips reached Son Nghiem in California.
Leila Darwish is an activist, educator and former Terra Informer, who is currently writing a book on earth repair. What is earth repair and what role does and could it play in places and communities where environmental destruction has had devastating impacts? Annie Banks interviewed Leila in the North Saskatchewan River Valley.
Oil pipeline spill near Thorsby, Alberta
Another oil spill has been discovered southwest of Edmonton around Thorsby. The pipeline lost approximately 40 barrels according to Ravenwood Energy, the owners of the pipeline. This is the fourth reported spill in Alberta in two months.
That wasn’t the only pipeline spill over the past week. One of Enbridge’s pipelines in Wisconsin ruptured on Friday spilling about 1200 barrels, or nearly 200 000 liters of oil. It’s being described as the company’s worst spill since their 2010 leak into the Kalamazoo River.
Scientist funds own Arctic clam research project
An America scientist is funding her own project in the arctic. Carol Reinisch says there is a need to establish data on clams now because pollution in the Northwest Passage will likely increase with loss of arctic ice. In her interview with CBC news, she said there is an established link between pollution and leukemia in clams. Because clams are stationary, they can help to measure changes in the environment, and specifically pollution. She has worked with Environment Canada in the past but decided to fund the project herself due to recent budget cuts and the need for prompt data gathering.
Indigenous group wins landmark human rights case against Ecuadorian government
An Ecuadorean indigenous group, the Sarayaku, have won a landmark case against the Ecuadorean government. The group alleged human rights abuses took place when they posed opposition to oil exploration in their territories. The government has been found guilty on a number of charges, including violating the indigenous right to prior consultation and the physical integrity of the community members.o
Government agencies often rely on monitoring and assessment of ecosystems to provide the information they need in order carry out habitat or wildlife management. One of the most popular approaches is biomonitoring. It’s the approach advocated by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada. But what is biomonitoring? Rebecca Rooney brings us the details in this week’s Eco Babble.
Solar Energy Class in Edmonton
Starting in September, in Edmonton, Alberta, on Plains Cree and Blackfoot territories, there is a six-week solar energy class and tour. The class will take place on Tuesday evenings from September 4 until October 9, 2012. Rob Harlan from the Solar Energy Society of Alberta will be instructing people on the direct uses of solar energy, including using solar energy in your home, greenhouse and at your job. The class will be an overview of the latest technologies and will end with a tour of commercial solar installations. Check out the Solar Energy Society of Alberta’s site for more information about classes.
Survival Celebration Camp for Sustainable Earth in Saskatchewan
From August 3rd until August 6th, the Committee for Future Generations is hosting a “Survival Celebration Camp for Sustainable Earth” in South Bay, Saskatchewan, 50 miles North from Beauval Forks. Elders from various communities across northern Saskatchewan have been asking for a gathering this summer to address concerns about nuclear waste storage and transportation. The gathering will be focused on sharing ideas to live in ways that protect the earth instead of poisoning it. The hosts state: “our traditional way of life: hunting, fishing and gathering berries and medicine, aleady make us an example to the world of living in a way that protects our environment”.
This is a traditional gathering, and no alcohol or drugs will be permitted.
The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled Thursday that a British Columbia mining development can go ahead, even though the court said the project didn’t go through all the required environmental assessments. The Supreme Court sided with the appellant, MiningWatch Canada & Eco-justice which had argued that the Red Chris mine project did not go through a full federal environmental study. The decision is expected to mean that future large development projects will need to go through full environmental reviews. (Article)
Sea Shepherd Announces Mediterranean Campaign for the Bluefin Tuna. Both Sea Shepherd ships, the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker, will head for the Mediterranean from the Southern Ocean. The objective will be to intercept and oppose the illegal operations of Bluefin tuna poachers. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meets in March to debate banning trade in the Bluefin. Yet in the lead up to the meeting, the European Union has taken the Bluefin off the agenda so as not to offend the fishermen of France, Malta, Italy, and Greece. Sea Shepherd intends to confront the poachers and will not back down to threats and violence from the fishermen. (Article)
Canada has aligned itself with U.S. policy as it gave the United Nations its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the Copenhagen Accord. Environment Minister Jim Prentice on Saturday said that by 2020 Canada would reduce emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels, the same target the U.S. announced to the UN on Thursday. Prentice made the announcement in Calgary, a day before the deadline stipulated in the agreement reached in the Danish capital last month. Prentice said his government now wants to work toward achieving a comprehensive and binding international treaty, building on the framework agreement reached in Copenhagen
Environmentalists with an interest in politics have had reason to feel energized since 2006, when veteran Environmental campaigner Elizabeth May was elected to lead the Canadian Green Party. Under her leadership the party took almost a million votes at the 2008 federal election, their best result ever. Prior to entering politics May was a high profile environmental lawyer and executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada. She has written 7 books and has advised federal governments of all political stripes on environmental policy. Last week Elizabeth May spoke to students at the Sierra Youth Sustainable Campuses Conference. Terra Informa’s David Kaczan caught up with Elizabeth after her address, to discuss climate change and the future of the green party.
In the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern US, a battle is raging. Mining companies are blasting away mountain tops to reach underlying coals seams, locals are worried about their health, and environmentalists have had enough. This past week they shut down one of Massey Energy‘s mines with a tree sit that lasted for nine days. Steve talked to a spokesperson for Climate Ground Zero to find out what was going on.
This Week Alex Hindle host’s and Jade Gregg brings us a weekly news summary.
Earth’s General Store, a long-time Edmonton shopping destination for the environmentally conscious, began it’s move into it’s new location at 9605 Whyte Ave. But store owner, Micheal Kalamanovich doesn’t like doing anything the conventional way, so he sent out a call for winter cyclists to help move the store’s inventory to the new location by bicycle! The bicycle convoy took place on Sunday January 10th. Terra Informa correspondent Rebekah Rooney participated in the event, being called “the day the earth moved… by bicycle.” Today, she shares with us what happened. For more information about Earth’s General Store, and to keep track of when things are open, check out their website (www.earthsgeneralstore.ca)
The ever intriguing Garry the Garbage Guy is back in studio with Steve Andersen to tell us why education programs are such a big part of what Edmonton´s Waste Management Branch does. Garry also highlights the programs and tours that are available to the public on a wide range of recycling topics.
In an interview from 2008 Steve Andersen talks to Dr Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria, a lead author for the United Nations´ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the action needed at a federal level.
This week On Coming soon on Terra Bloga Myles Curry takes a look at the recent Joint Review Panel approvals for the Mackenzie Valley Gas Project and how they trade off arctic ecosystems to appease American distaste for the dirty oil of the Alberta tarsands.