Wasting Sea-Stars and Maude Barlow’s Blue Future

Curling swirl of a wave seen from underwater; aqua and red tints.

It’s a wet and wild episode on this week’s Terra Informa. West Coast correspondent Melati Kaye brings us a ghoulish story about a precious ocean creature that is—literally—disappearing before our very eyes. From such dark waters we’ll drift into the murky depths of resource wars, privatization and other contentious issues of water security. Fortunately, our guide is crystal clear: prolific author and Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow.

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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.

Special Investigative Report on Pollution in Peace River, Alberta

This week we have a special feature lined up for you.  Terra informa correspondents Andy Read and David Kaczan head into the field to investigate the on-going conflict between farmers and the petrochemical industry in a community near Peace River, Alberta.  Along with Myles Curry, they explore this issue as an example of the challenge inherent in balancing the economic benefits of industrial development against its social and environmental costs.

Shells Peace River Gas Complex

Environmental News Headlines

Syncrude Found Guilty

Syncrude guilty in Alberta duck deaths (CBC)

Dead ducks in a tailings pond — how it happened (Edmonton Journal)

It’s official: Syncrude is a tar sands criminal

Alberta Govt Pays for Tar Sands Ad

Alberta pays to deliver oilsands message, Province buys half-page ad after premier’s letter rejected (Edmonton Journal)

U.S. Politicians Oppose 2,000-Mile Oil Sands Pipeline

Gulf Oil Disaster Update

More testing needed for giant Gulf oil skimmer

Helix Producer could be collecting spilled oil by July 7

Relief well is last best hope to contain gusher


Investigating Pollution in Peace River

A small community of farmers just north of the town of Peace River, in a locale called three creeks, have been complaining about chemical smells that drift over their properties. Preliminary analysis of the ambient air quality has detected cancer causing compounds such as Benzene, Tolulene and Xylene amongst the odours. Quantities are small and reportedly below the Alberta Ambient Air Quality Objectives, but the locals are anxious, and in some cases, getting angry.

But what we found in Peace River was a prime example of a challenge that so many communities face all across this country, and particularly so in the resource rich western provinces. Industrial development brings jobs, government revenues and shareholder profits. But sometimes there are downsides, and ordinary Canadians find themselves burdened with painful social and environmental costs.

This week on Terra Informa, we explore a darker side of resource development. We took our microphones to oil wells, farmers fields and folk’s living rooms. We heard from people on both sides of the argument. We didn’t discover the mysterious source of the chemical odours, but that wasn`t our goal. What we wanted was to document the constant challenge in balancing industrial development, and the economic benefits it brings, with the need to protect our health and our environments.

If you have thoughts on this weeks show leave a comment or send us an email (terra@cjsr.com)