Music

Fresh Perspective

This week, stories about people breathing new life into rivers, cities, and the way we see the universe. We’ve got a story from the streets of Seoul, about the centuries of history that flowed by before one of its dirtiest waterways became a tourist destination. Then, we’ll see how the revitalization of Montreal’s Lachine Canal has changed the lives of the nearby residents. Finally, we’ll hear a model of what planets, stars, and life itself might sound like. Before we go, we’ll brief you on the week’s environmental events.

A view of the icy stream and tree branches below the office buildings on nearby streets.

Cheonggyecheon today is one of Seoul’s most mesmerizing tourist attractions – a far cry from its past as a de facto sewer.

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New Life for Seoul Stream

A lot of us have had this experience of getting to know a place when we’re young, and seeing it get choked with litter or polluted over the years. Every once in awhile, we get to watch things turn around. A big cleanup project, or a revitalization. About a decade ago, the city of Seoul spent hundreds of millions of dollars to give one ancient stream a makeover. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips was in South Korea, curious about why it was singled out. What makes some places so special that cleaning them up can catapult a mayor into the presidency? And how do we decide when it’s time? This is the story of how a stream called Cheonggyecheon was given new life.

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Lachine Canal Carnivale

Chris showed us how one stream became the focal point for upscale urban renewal in Korea, but Canada has its own share of once poor neighbourhoods that are now trendy urban playgrounds. One such place is the neighbourhood of St. Henri in Montreal. It’s a working class part of town, but since the early 2000s, the area has seen an explosion of condo redevelopment. It all began with the clean up and re-opening of the Lachine Canal.

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.

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What’s Happening

Tzeporah Berman talk at University of Victoria
Tzeporah Berman has been fighting Canadian politicians for 20 years to protect millions of acres of endangered Canadian forests. That being only one of the many fights she has taken on as an activist and author. Berman has been featured on CBC’s The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos and in the global warming documentary film, The 11th Hour that was narrated by actor, Leonardo DiCaprio. Tzeporah Berman will be speaking on Thursday, March 14th at 7pm at the David Lam Auditorium located on campus at the University of Victoria. The event is free and for more information you can visit their website.

George Stroumbouloupoulos at MacEwan University
George Stroumboulopoulos, host of 
CBC’s The Hour has been an advocate of sustainable living himself. He will be speaking at the Students Association of McEwan University’s Speaker Series, for their sustainability week called COMMON GROUND on March 15th at 5pm. Tickets are on sale online. For more information on the series visit the Students Association website.

Thunder Bay Environmental Film Festival
Thunder Bay, Ontario’s Environmental Film Festival opens on March 20th at 7pm and runs until March 24th. It is a free festival that is run by the Thunder Bay Environmental Film Network or EFN. EFN is a volunteer organisation and will be screening films based on environmental and social issues along with an Opening Night Gala, post-film screening discussions and guest speakers. Donations are encouraged and volunteers are welcomed. Read more.

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Banff Springs Snail, PowerShift 2012, and Musician Richard Garvey

Banff Springs Snail

The Banff Springs Snail, Physella johnsoni

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.

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News

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.

More on this story: Globe and Mail, The Star, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, York Region

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.

More on this story: Global Edmonton, Calgary Herald, Capital Power

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.

More on this story: Parks Canada , CBC Calgary ,Girl Gone Wild Documentaries

 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.

More on this story: PowerShift Canada, Huffington Post

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.

More on this story: Richard Garvey.ca, CBC Music

What’s Happening

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.

Music, Birding, and Melting Permafrost

Today a musician, a birder, and an Arctic ecologist take us on a whirlwind tour of three very different branches of environmental work.  We start off in Kitchener with Richard Garvey who tells us about the environmental and social justice inspirations for his music, then on to Penticton where Dick Cannings explains how to get involved with this week’s Great Backyard Bird Count, and we finish up in Austin, Texas where Dr. Craig Tweedie fills us in on the complex feedback between climate change and melting permafrost. All that and more, on today’s Terra Informa.

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A young snowy owl. Photo by Floyd Davidson.

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. You can hear more of Richard’s music here.

Great Backyard Bird Count
Whether you live in the heart of the city, out in the country, or on the Arctic coast, birds bring a little sunshine into the winter months. This week bird watchers are teaming up for one of North America’s largest bird counts, but this isn’t an event that’s limited to professionals. From seasoned experts to novices, Canadians are breaking out the binoculars to help scientists better understand where birds are found and how their distributions change with time. Dick Cannings is one of the organizers of the Great Backyard Bird Count and he fills us in on what’s happening.

The Arctic’s “Carbon Bomb”
Evidence of climate change is mounting from across the globe, but nowhere is it more apparent than at the poles.  Permafrost in the Tundra is an important carbon store, but unfortunately, once it melts it may release that carbon into the atmosphere triggering a positive feedback loop.  Dr. Craig Tweedie from the University of Texas at el Paso, calls this the Arctic’s Carbon Bomb.  He studies changes to Tundra vegetation and the interactions between plants and animals in the Arctic and he spoke to Terra Informa about his findings.

News Headlines
Go West. That’s the message Canada’s population is taking, according to the 2011 census. The figures just released by Statistics Canada from last year’s census show that for the first time since Confederation, more people live west of Ontario than east of it. The economic boom in the prairie provinces has of course been fuelled by natural resource industry growth, especially in oil and gas. That’s helped push up fertility rates and migration to the prairies from other parts of the country. Alberta was the fastest-growing province from 2006. Alberta’s population rose 10.8 percent to over 3.6 million residents. That’s almost double the national average. Calgary’s mayor Naheed Nenshi told Postmedia that the overheated economy has left his city dealing with some big challenges tackling labour shortages and managing so much growth. He said those are challenges other cities would probably kill to have, though.

More on this story: Statistics Canada, Vancouver Sun, Alberta Oil MagazineGlobe and Mail

In Nova Scotia, Millbrook First Nation’s new wind farm is going to be a 21st-century expression of their culture’s values, says band Chief Lawrence Paul. The three-turbine project was just approved as part of Nova Scotia’s renewable power subsidy program. The Community Feed-in Tariff – or COMFIT – program offers higher-than-market rate contracts for power from locally-based renewable energy projects. The Millbrook band’s wind farm is the first COMFIT agreement with a Mik’maq First Nation in the province. When it’s running in 2013 or 14, it will generate 6 MW of power, or enough electricity to power hundreds of homes. The Town of New Glasgow and the Halifax Regional Water Commission also got approval for small wind projects this month. Nova Scotia is aiming to generate 25 percent of its electricity through renewable power by 2015, and 40 percent by 2020.

More on this story: Chronicle Herald, Truro Daily NewsNova Scotia Dept of Energy – Feed in Tariffs

Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck spoke at this year’s World Economic Forum in Switzerland about his work to help assess global water issues with the 2030 Water Resources Group. That work is part of the reason the University of Alberta has announced he will receive one of three honourary degrees on March 1st for his efforts in water management. That’s put the university president under a load of criticism, since Nestlé is a major promoter of water privatization, and the world’s largest producer of bottled water. Amy Kaler, a sociology professor at the U of A, is one of the faculty members speaking out against the decision. She pointed out that Nestlé’s reputation is extremely poor in many places in the global South like Laos. NGOs said in 2011 that Nestlé broke World Health Organization rules for marketing breast milk substitutes by advertising its products in Laos to nursing mothers. Many studies have shown that in poorer countries, children fed baby formulas are much more likely to die of malnutrition and infectious diseases because of lack of access to clean water, and poor instructions for preparation. The honourary degree ceremony on March 1st honouring Peter Brabeck will be followed by a panel discussion with the two other recipients being recognized for their work on water issues.

More on this story: Edmonton Journal, University of Alberta News, IRIN News

Researchers from Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute have drilled down to an ancient ice-covered lake in Antarctica. Lake Vostok is believed to have been sealed off from the atmosphere for about 15 million years. Drilling through the ice sheet above Lake Vostok began over 20 years ago. It’s the same ice sheet that gives us the Vostok ice cores, some the most important artifacts of ancient carbon concentrations in the atmosphere. The project was delayed several years in the 2000s by redesigns to make sure the drilling equipment did not contaminate whatever ecosystem might exist in the underground lake. Researchers were not sure they’d reach the water’s surface before they had to fly out of the research station on February 6. With their samples finally in hand, the team hopes to learn whether the cold, high-pressure environment allows any nutrients or life to survive, and what similar oceans on Jupiter’s moon Europa might look like.

More on this story: BBC News, Nature, Sydney Morning Herald, Newsday, Announcement by Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (in Russian)