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People’s Social Forum and Greenland Ice Sheet Melt

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This week on Terra Informa, we have two gems from our archives for you. First, we look back on the 2014 Peoples’ Social Forum and how that event brought diverse groups of people together to collaborate on building strategies to create social change. Next up, we have a story on the massive Greenland ice sheet melt of summer 2012, when 97% of the ice sheet melted in just four days.

 

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Messy, Loud, and Joyous (2014 People’s Social Forum)

We see all kinds of groups fighting for their own unique and equally worthy causes every day. In one corner you’ve got people defending refugee rights. In another you’ve got a group bringing down the cost of healthy food in Nunavut. Over by the door you’ve got an activist fighting against mining in her community. Often this is how civil society works in Canada. You’ve got a room full of people in NGOs, unions, Facebook groups, all fighting for their own cause, without seeing how they could support each other.

2014’s Peoples’ Social Forum in Ottawa brought together thousands of people from across Canada who want to shift the direction the country is going. And it basically said, to have the future any of us want, we’ve got to build a future together. Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips was in Ottawa at the 2014 Peoples’ Social Forum a few years ago. Here’s his take on the messy, loud, and joyous business of bringing all these groups together.

Greenland ice sheet melt

In July 2012, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Son Nghiem noticed that 97 percent of Greenland’s ice sheet surface melted in just four days. Since 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. Son Nghiem’s first instinct was to double-check the data.  Chris Chang-Yen Phillips reached Son Nghiem in California for this story that summer, and with ice on our minds after the 2,240 square miles, trillion-ton piece of the Larson-C ice shelf broke off last month in Antartica, we thought we would re-air his piece.

 

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Photo by NASA

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Massive Greenland Ice Melt, Earth Repair and Biomonitoring

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.

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Red areas covering almost the entire surface of Greenland's ice sheet show dramatic acceleration of melting this summer.

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.

More on this story: NPR, NASA

Earth Repair

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.

Download longer interview with Leila Darwish about Earth Repair here.

More on Leila Darwish: Parkland Post, Wilderness Committee, United Press International

News Headlines

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.

More on this story: Vancouver Sun, Global TV, Edmonton Journal

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.

More on this story: CBC News, LA Times, The Globe and Mail

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.

More on this story: CBC (1), CBC (2), Alaska Dispatch

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

More on this story: Dignity International, Amazon Watch

EcoBabble: Biomonitoring

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.

What’s Happening

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.

Location: Lac Île-à-la-Crosse (South Bay) Recreation Site
Highway 155, 30 Km North from Beauval Forks, SK
Contact: Candyce Paul (306) 288-2079 or 288-3157
E-mail: committeeforfuturegenerations@gmail.com
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