Global Health

Resetting the Table

This week on Terra Informa, we’re talking strategy. Listen in to hear why guests like Ecoholic Body author Adria Vasil are asking us to reset the way we think about the cosmetics we buy, where our food comes from, and how forests rebuild after a fire. Then we’ve got you covered with this week’s environmental events.

Download this week’s episode.

Jill Johnstone (far right) joins in an intrepretive dance demonstration of boreal forest succession after forest fires.

Susan Roberts on People’s Food Policy

“When Canadians sit down to their evening meal tonight, two key ingredients will be missing: a coherent national food policy in the public interest, and active participation in the food system.” That’s a quote from “Resetting the Table: A People’ Food Policy for Canada”

The People’s Food Policy is the first Canadian policy to be advanced based on food sovereignty principles — an approach where food is viewed as a foundation for healthy lives, communities, economies and ecosystems.
Correspondent Kathryn Lennon spoke with Susan Roberts in November 2011 about food sovereignty, food systems change, and the need for a national food policy. Susan is a coordinator for Growing Food Security in Alberta, and a steering committee member of Food Secure Canada.

Effects of climate change on forest fires

Like us, you’ve probably been watching the recent forest fires in Australia with a mixture of awe and caution. Have you ever wondered how fires change the forests they burn, though? Or how that might change now that climate change is driving fires to come more often, and get more intense? Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips reached University of Saskatchewan ecologist Jill Johnstone in Yukon last summer to ask her about her research studying fire in forests there. She explained how climate change is making fire a disruptor of boreal forests, rather than a regenerator.

More on this story: Slideshow – A Sensitive Slope: Forest recovery after fire in a changing climateyourYukon article on Jill Johnstone’s researchSlideshow – Once burned, Twice shyJill Johnstone’s Northern Plant Ecology Lab cookbook

Adria Vasil on Ecoholic series

Adria Vasil, an environmental journalist and author of the best-selling Eco-holic series, has been a vocal advocate for a healthier environment for more than two decades. After witnessing the Exxon Valdez oil spill as a child, Vasil has dedicated much of her life to investigating the enormous environmental costs of corporate malpractice. But in 2004 her career took a distinctly different path when she began writing a column in ‘Now! Magazine’, one of Toronto’s Alternative Weekly’s. The column, offering tips on how people can become mobilized to help the environment through the products that they purchase and the daily decisions that they make, has spawned into three books in the now best selling Eco-holic series that covers everything from the most environmentally friendly cosmetics on the market to how to detoxify your house.  To find out more, Terra Informa’s Matt Hirji spoke with Vasil about  her career in environmental advocacy and how  her latest book, ‘Eco-holic Body’, plays into her fight for a more sustainable Earth. In this interview she explains that being conscious of the products that we consume fits within a larger paradigm of advocating for a cleaner, healthier environment.

More on this story: Ecoholic book series, Adria Vasil’s column in NOW Magazine

What’s Happening

Building Resilient Communities through Forestry Management
From January 16 to 18, the who’s who of environmentalists, first nations, and government representatives will be speaking at a conference on building resilient communities through community based forest management. This conference is happening at Algoma’s Water Tower Inn in Sault St. Marie, Ontario If you are interested in developing a research plan to counter forest management issues, sharing your own experiences, and networking with other Canadians, then make sure to register for this event. Tickets are $120 and include meals and banquet.

More information: How to register.

The Economics of Happiness
On January 19, documentary film The Economics of Happiness will be screened at beach business hub in Toronto. This documentary explores the two opposing forces of localization and globalization, as well as provides practical solutions for creating a sustainable economy. Author and director of the film, Helena Norberg-Hodge has received recognition for her groundbreaking contributions to the new economy movement, making this a must see.

More information: Reservations for the screening.

Creating (and Using) Your Fundraising Plan
This all-day workshop is happening on January 25th, at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto. The workshop is designed for grass-roots and non-profit organizations to understand how to raise and manage money. Like anything else in life, fundraising works better if you have a plan — and even better if you follow it. The registration cost is $100 per person and includes a full day of instruction, lunch, refreshments and handouts.

More information: How to register.

Invasive Species Art Competition
Artists are invited to create two-dimensional artworks of any archival media in the themes of biodiversity and/or invasive species for the Invasive Species Centre’s juried art competition.
There are cash prizes and the final date for submissions is February 8th. To register, and for more information, complete the registration form online and email the form and digital image of your artwork to

Independent Media and the Implications of Climate Change to Global Health

Terra Informa brings you an exciting lineup beginning with an interview with renowned journalist Amy Goodman on the role of independent media in environmental reporting. Next up we talk to Dr. Graham McAll in the United Kingdom on why climate change is the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century. Tune in to find out more!

Download this week’s show.

Amy Goodman, award winning journalist and host of Democracy Now!, addresses the 2010 Chicago Green Festival. ChrisEaves via

Amy Goodman: Amy Goodman is an American broadcast journalist, syndicated columnist and investigative reporter. She also co-hosts the independent global news program on community media called Democracy Now! with Juan Gonzalez which is based in New York and played on over 900 radio and television stations internationally. She has also written four books. A common theme in Goodman’s writing is the importance of what she calls the ‘independent media’. By way of demonstration, her program refuses all government funding and commercial advertising. Terra Informa correspondent Myles Curry caught up with Goodman to find out just what such media independence means for environmental reporting.

Climate Change and Global Health: In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published work on likely threats to health from climate change, and in 2009 one of the United Kingdom’s leading medical journals, The Lancet, published a detailed report which described climate change as the greatest threat to human health of the 21st century. Dr. Graham McAll, a retired inner city General Practitioner and Surgeon in the United Kingdom and Malaysia, speaks to the often overlooked significant consequences of climate change to global health. Dr. McAll took a one year sabbatical to spend some time with A Rocha, the organization of Christians in Conservation, in both Malaysia and Singapore. His aim was to help develop awareness of climate and health issues amongst medics as well as getting signatories for the Climate and Health petition prior to the Copenhagen summit in 2009.

If you are in the health field, Dr. McAll also recently published a book called “At a Given Moment” (2011) which demonstrates the importance of understanding a patient’s worldview and spiritual background.


Polar bears under SARA: Canada is home to 15,000 polar bears, about two thirds of the world’s population, and now this vulnerable species will be protected under the Canadian Species at Risk Act. On November 9th, the iconic bear was officially listed as a species of special concern, a rank two levels below endangered. This listing comes hot on the heels of reports that shrinking sea ice is the main threat to polar bear survival.

More on this story: Gazette, Newswire, CBC (1), CBC (2)

Nature Conservancy of Canada gains land for conservation: The Nature Conservancy of Canada has acquired some important new properties along a land bridge connecting Nova Scotia to New Brunswick. This corridor represents the only route for terrestrial wildlife moving in or out of Nova Scotia and protecting it is critical to preserving the natural dispersal of plants and wildlife.

More on this story: Newswire, Environment Canada, Nature Conservancy

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency reviews Prosperity Mine: Last week, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency agreed to carry out a second review of the proposed Prosperity Mine, a massive gold and copper mine southwest of William’s Lake in British Columbia. The region is home to one of the largest undeveloped gold and copper deposits in Canada. This represents the first time that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has agreed to review a proposal that was previously rejected by a federal review panel, even with modification prior to resubmission.

More on this story: CTV, UBC, The Globe and Mail, BC Local News

Keystone XL pipeline delayed: The White House has announced the US State Department will delay giving a permit to TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline until at least 2013. The pipeline is proposed to carry oil south from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries in Texas. President Barack Obama said further review is needed to consider the environmental impacts of the pipeline’s planned corridor.

More on this story: CBC, The Guardian, PBS News Hour

CFIA says BC salmon are safe: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says new tests on BC sockeye salmon showed no signs of a deadly virus detected by researchers in October. Scientists with BC’s Simon Fraser University had announced they’d found infectious salmon enemia – or ISA – in tests on wild Pacific salmon samples. But Dr. Cornelius Kiley, a veterinaian with the CFIA, said government researchers’ analysis of those samples showed no signs of the virus.

More on this story: Seattle Times, The Vancouver Sun