renewable energy

Terra Informa Attends the Alberta Energy Efficiency Open House

solar_panels Aug 23 Photo

Last month, Terra Informers Amanda Rooney and Tasmia Nishat attended the Energy Efficiency and Community Energy in Alberta Open House.  There, they spoke with an MLA  on Leduc’s ambitious solar initiative, Solar4all Alberta, and community members interested in making the public feedback process more inclusive.


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MLA Shaye Anderson on Leduc’s Solar Electricity Initiatives

The city of Leduc recently installed Canada’s largest rooftop solar system at the Leduc Recreation Center. Terra Informa spoke with MLA Shaye Anderson about the installation, and about sustainability in general.

Solar4All Alberta

With a name like Solar4All Alberta, you can guess what Solar4All’s mandate is. But what are they asking for, specifically, from the government? Terra Informa finds out.

Queers and Pals Attend Energy Efficiency Forum

With public forums like these, how do we make sure that they are inclusive? We spoke with community members Parker Leflar and Rebecca Jade about how to make sure marginalized groups aren’t left out of the conversation.

The Fermi Paradox i.e. Counting the little green men & big blue planets

Paul Gilster enjoys one of the most unlikely of day jobs: writing full-time on the science of space travel as the lead journalist for the Tau Zero Foundation. You can find his nearly daily updates on the website Centauri Dreams. Trevor Chow-Fraser got in touch with Paul to help us understand one of the central mysteries of outer space, the question we’ve all had at some point when looking up at the stars—are we alone in the big vast universe? Or, is there life up there in the stars? And if so, well why the heck haven’t they come calling? That’s the question scientists call the Fermi Paradox.

Terra Informa August 23 Episode Log.

Photo credit to Unsplash.

Saving native plants, Alberta geothermal, regenerative buildings

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When it comes to tackling climate change, some focus on mitigation and others on adaptation. This week, we learn about promising technologies for energy, architecture and urban planning that could help stop the climate crisis in its tracks. But first, one for the skeptics: we’ll meet someone going all out to help rare plants survive the coming, planetary heat wave.

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Maintaining the Biodiversity of Alberta’s plants

D: We all know that even now species are going extinct at an alarming rate. Tasmia Nishat met with Jennine Pederson, a Master’s student in Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta, to talk about her research on preventing the loss of biodiversity. Jennine studies rare plants, and looks at how we can save them from the most devastating effects of climate change.

Geothermal Energy in Alberta

Last fall, Trevor Chow-Fraser spoke with Alison Thompson, director of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association. Part of that conversation (which we’ve held back until now) touched on a surprising fact about Alberta: it turns out the province best known for oil and gas has significant geothermal potential. Learn about Alberta’s alternative energy future with Trevor, Alison and policy advisor Justin Crewson.

Regenerative Buildings

We’ve all heard of net-zero buildings—structures designed so they give back to the grid as much electricity as they take. But what if a building could actually regenerate its habitat? What if it could send electricity back to the grid, recharge the aquifer below it, and more?

Back in 2012, we first heard about the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability—or CIRS—at the University of British Columbia. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips spoke with one of the CIRS’ architects to learn how this incredible building was giving back to the environment. Since then, the CIRS has been certified LEED Platinum, making it one of the greenest buildings in Canada.

In this story, learn all about CIRS from architect Martin Nielsen, principal at Perkins + Will Canada.

Energy Alternatives for British Columbia

Silver factory against a grey sky, with black soil all around.

Listen up Canada, today’s whole show is focused on alternative energy in British Columbia. It may be all the way across the country, but there’s a lot we can all learn from their experience. We’re talking the pros and cons of cleaner, cheaper, more economically productive energy schemes—from big hydro to little and to the ground beneath your feet.

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Breakthroughs and Setbacks

This week on Terra Informa, a breakthrough in saving wildlife, and a setback for boosting green energy. Matt Hirji explains how 80’s rock has helped one researcher trying to bring back disappearing seabirds called petrels. Then, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips and Alyssa Hindle explain how Ontario’s Green Energy Act helped an engineer in Windsor start manufacturing solar panels after he lost his job with Ford, and why the province is being forced to scrap that part of the law.

Two men install solar panels on a sunny roof.

Windsors Unconquered Sun is one the solar panel manufacturing companies that have benefited from the Green Energy Act. (Photo: Unconquered Sun)

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Who has the power in Ontario’s green energy industry?

If you were to ask most Canadians if they wanted more renewable power being built in their province, they’d say yes. And if you asked them whether they’d like to get some local jobs out of the deal, they’d probably say why not. Sometimes, though, people in Canada aren’t the only ones who get a say in what happens here. The World Trade Organization recently forced Ontario to change legislation that required some domestic production for new renewable power projects. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips and Alyssa Hindle have this story about one of the ways we’ve given up our decision-making power, and what we’re getting out of the bargain.

More information on this story:

Aleutian Seabirds

This next story is little ditty about a seabird in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The petrel is a bird that spends its entire life at sea, only landing on remote islands to copulate. But, things have gone from bad to worse for this seabird in recent years and many biologists are hatching up ideas to help the petrel population survive in an era of marked by climate change and overfishing. Some of these ideas even have 80s rockers tapping their toes and thinking about our responsibility to protect the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems. Matt Hirji talked to Rachel Buxton about her research into the area.

More information on this story:

Earth Liberation Front & Renewable Energy for Remote Communities

Many remote communities in Canada depend on diesel generators for their power. It’s a system that’s not only environmental problematic, it’s often not the most reliable. Today we speak with a BC organization that’s helping communities migrate to renewable energy so that they’re no longer dependent on fuel shipments from the south. We also bring you a review of the new film If a tree falls, which chronicles the experiences of members of the Earth Liberation Front. Plus, we take a look at dioxins: what they are, where they come from, and their effect on human health.

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A fire set by members of the Earth Liberation Front rips through the offices of Superior Lumber in Oregon. Photo by Roy Milburn.

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Green Screen Movie Review: If a Tree Falls
Every once in a while the Terra Informa crew heads out to the movies to review an eco-themed film. This week Terra Informa corespondent Myles Curry brings you a Green Screen Review of the documentary If a tree falls: a story of the Earth Liberation Front. The film focuses on the contentious issue of radical environmental groups and their treatment as terrorists by authorities. Democracy Now! Clip (1) (2)

Renewable Energy for Remote Communities
If you live in the city, try to think back to the last time you flipped a light switch and nothing turned on. Now picture depending on a plane full of diesel to come into town before you get power again. If you live in a remote community in Canada today, this is likely the energy system you rely on, so moving towards a more local renewable energy system is about more than just climate issues. Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips speaks to Alia Lamaadar about Cleantech Community Gateway, her non-profit that’s working to help the communities of Haida Gwaii build a new energy system.

News Headlines

Asthma Study
Remember all that dirt you ate when you were a kid? Scientists at Harvard Medical School have found evidence it may have kept you healthier. In a study just published in the journal Science, researchers gave groups of mice different levels of exposure to microbes and examined how their immune systems reacted. Mice that were shielded from microbes in infancy seem to have had more cases of inflammatory bowel disease and asthma.

More on this story: Nature, NPR, Daily Express

Jumbo Glacier Ski Resort
In BC, the province has given a controversial new ski resort the green light. The Jumbo Glacier Resort will offer year-round skiing in a remote mountain area near Invermere, in the southeast of BC. Many people welcome the jobs that the 6000 room resort would create, as well as the recreational opportunities. But there are also fears over the environmental impact of such an enormous development, and the affects it will have on the area’s grizzly bear population.

More on this story: CBC News, Winnipeg Free Press, Globe and Mail, Cranbrook Daily Townsman

High Temperature Records Crumble
Over 7,000 high temperature records were broken in an “unprecedented” March heat wave in much of the United States signaling a warming climate, health and weather experts said in a press conference last Friday. While natural climate variability plays a major role, it is the addition of human-spurred climate change that makes this particular hot spell extraordinary, the scientists said in a briefing.

More on this story: NASA, Mother Jones, Huffington Post

Great Backyard Bird Count
The year’s Great Backyard Bird Count has released some interesting results.  Based on the observations of people from across the country, four times more snowy owls migrated south from the Arctic than did last year. This is said to be due to lemmings, which snowy owls hunt, becoming more scarce, forcing the birds to fly south in search of food.

More on this story: Great Backyard Bird Count, Science

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Energy and the Environment

This week on Terra Informa, Dave Kazcan investigates how the ongoing development of Canada’s energy economy can fit together with Canada’s climate change goals and whether those goals are good for the economy anyhow. Steve Anderson reports on the City of Yellowknife’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions for the entire community. Rebecca Rooney brings us another Science Short on Lisa Buckley’s Ph.D. reaseach into an important paleontological dilemma. 

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Yellowknife at Night, by Claude St. Pierre

Environmental News

The Toronto Star has acquired records that indicate that Ontario Hydro had used Agent Orange to clear power line corridors across the province through the 50s, 60s and 70s. These corridors passed through city backyards, parks and farmers’ fields. Further to this, the Toronto Star interviewed former Ontario Hydro employees who were assured these chemicals were harmless but who have been suffering from illnesses over the past decades.

CBC News, Toronto Star, First Perspective

In B.C. RCMP have discovered 34 cesspools related to marijuaina production in the interior. The pools contain a number of toxic materials including pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and diesel fuel.

CBC News

 Alberta’s new budget reduces funding for the Alberta Environment Department by 3.3% and a slow down in funding for Alberta’s heavily promoted carbon capture and storage initiative.

Calgary Herald

 

Energy and the Environment in Canada

Energy seems to be Canada’s biggest line of business these days. The Prime Minister, in particular, is enthusiastic about what further development of our energy resources will do for our economy. How will this fit in with our carbon reduction goals? And is it really that good for the economy anyhow. Correspondent Dave Kazcan takes an in-depth look at Canada’s energy future.

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Yellowknife Geothermal Plan

City councilors in Yellowknife have a plan to cut the greenhouse gas emissions of the entire community. They want to convert an old unused mine near town into a brand new source of geothermal power. Steve Anderson investigates this unique plan in northern Canada.

City of Yellowknife Information

UBC Geothermal Concept Study

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Science Short: Bird Species Identification

Rebecca Rooney also talks to Lisa Buckley, curator and collections manager at the Peace Region Paleontology Research Centre in Tumbler Ridge, B.C. about her Ph.D. research into an important paleontological dilemma. She has attempted to classify current bird species based on only their bone records to try and standardize bone identification for extinct species.

Lisa Buckley from the Peace Region Palaentogy Research Centre, looks over the ulna (part of an arm bone) from the duck-billed crested dinosaur skeleton. Picture Courtesy of Tumbler Ridge News

Green Jobs, Backyard Composting, and Permiculture

This week on Terra Informa we hear from an Ontario coalition that’s working to create green jobs by placing solar panels on publicly owned buildings in Toronto. Garry the Garbage Guy visits his friend Tannis to provide some advice on backyard composting. And Ron Berezan tells us how to get started with permiculture.

The Toronto Skyline. Soon To Be The Home Of More Solar Panels.

Local Campaigns: Green Jobs for All at Toronto Hydro

All across Canada there are countless groups and individuals fighting for environmental justice. In an attempt to highlight these unreported actions we here at Terra Informa have a recurring segment called local campaigns where we focus attention upon a group doing great environmental work in their community. This week Myles Curry interviews Nigle Barriffe of the ‘Green jobs for all at Toronto Hydro‘ campaign which is building on the development of a social justice coalition, Good Jobs For All, to demand that Toronto hydro begin installing solar panels on public buildings. Here is Myles with the interview.

Good Green Jobs For All Framework for Action

Communities tell Toronto Hydro: green jobs for all now

Good news for Green Jobs at City Hall

Garry The Garbage Guy: Backyard Composting

We haven’t heard from Garry the Garbage Guy in a while, and we miss him. Garry Spotowski works for the City of Edmonton’s Waste Management Division and used to do a regular series on the show, dropping in to tell us about waste disposal and recycling. Well, for everyone who misses hearing his reports, here’s some vintage Garry the Garbage Guy. In this episode Garry stops by his friend Tanis’ house to give some advice on backyard composting.

Best of Terra Informa: Ron Berezan, The Urban Farmer

Giving you a sample of some of the jems in the Terra Informa archives this week we pull out a interview between Terra Informa corespondent  Zoe Luski and Ron Berezan on permaculture. Ron Berezan lives in Edmonton where he’s affectionately known as the Urban Farmer and in this segment Ron explaining his take on permaculture. This piece originally aired last June.

Alternative Energy Possibilities and Perspectives

Terra Informa February 15, 2010 -Geothermal, Sustainability Projects, and Oil Sands Part 2 (Download/Listen Online)

This week’s episode brings lots of bonus features and is focused on a loose theme of alternative energy, with segments looking at biofuel transportation, geothermal power generation and a critical look at the Alberta oil sands. First off Steve Anderson did the hosting and Eric Bowling compiled the news summary.

The Alberta government is investing $2 million dollars into what is it describing as a “one stop action center” which will provide advice to municipalities on how to reduce energy costs in their facilities as well as host energy efficiency workshops around the province. The center located at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association was built with recycled materials and a solar panel, has its own wind turbine and co-generation unit, and several other high efficiency upgrades.(Edmonton Sun Article)

The Alberta government is reducing air and water quality monitoring as part of a 5.4%, or $17.5 million cut in its environmental portfolio, the government says it will focus its environmental monitoring on developing areas, such as the oil sands and Edmonton’s industrial parks. The cuts in the environmental budget also include a slowing of Carbon Capture and Storage development as well as investments in public transportation. Alberta’s Sustainable Resource Development ministry is receiving cutbacks of $42 million, or a 12 per cent cut and has put on hiatus the popular Junior Forest ranger and Aboriginal Forest ranger programs,  made cuts to numerous fish and wildlife programs and eliminating dozens of jobs in its department.

Whole Foods and Bed Bath and Beyond, have included not buying so called “dirty oil” into their own climate change plans and announced that they will not purchase fuel that comes from Alberta’s oil sands. Whole Foods  have asked their suppliers to not provide any diesel or gasoline that has its origins in Alberta. Bed, Bath and Beyond is being a little less strict, stating its policy will be to prefer fuels with less carbon emissions where possible. Both companies are listed in the Fortune 500.

The University of East Anglia in England has ordered a review of its research into climate change. An external body of scientists, selected by the royal society, will re-examine papers produced by the Climate Research Unit that recently came under fire when over a thousand emails were illegally posted to the internet. The University is also funding a separate team of scientists to investigate the CRU’s handling of information, as well as whether it properly followed Britain’s Freedom of Information Laws.

Greenpeace is asking fans and members alike to support two Japanese activists that  were charged in 2008 after taking a box of whale meat from a mail depot and giving it to Japanese state prosecutors.  The box was labelled “cardboard” but contained fifty pounds of salted whale meat. The Japanese prosecution began an investigation into the activists claims, but ended the investigation the same day the activists were arrested and charged with theft and trespass. If convicted, they could face up to ten years in prison. Their trial began on Monday.  Greenpeace has set up a petition in defence of the two activists. Sign the petition and share the link with your friends.

The founders of Driven to sustain, a non-profit project designed to promote global environmental awareness in the media, have been traveling around north America in a van power by waste vegetable oil. This week Cloe and Tyson share some of their experiences with Terra Informa.

Wondering how geothermal works? What opportunities exist in Alberta? or the green jobs potential for geothermal? well good thing you’re listening to Terra Informa because correspondent and blogger Myles Curry interviews the University of Alberta Energy Clubs geothermal expert, Ryan Saunders, about these topics and a whole lot more. So much more that we couldn’t fit it all in. The full interview features a more in depth discussion of all things geothermal along with a conversation about the university of Alberta energy club. The geothermal bonus features don’t end there, On Terra Bloga Myles explores the potential benefits and feasibility of using abandoned wells for geothermal power generation in Alberta as described in an Energy Club report title GeoNow: A novel approach to geothermal energy in Alberta.

Did you know that in order to extract just one barrel of oil, developers of the Oil Sands must use an average of at least 3 barrels of fresh water? Melina Laboucan-Massimo, from Greenpeace and the Lubicon First Nation was one of the panellists of the stakeholder discussion. She mentioned that in some instances the in-situ process has required 18 barrels of fresh water to loosen the sands from the oil, only to produce one barrel of oil. Jade Gregg’s second segment on the University of Alberta Oil Sands Delegation 2010 focuses on the water, air, land and society  in Northern Alberta’s Oil Sands communities. The delegation ran from Jan 30th-31st in Fort McMurray. Last week Jade brought us day one of the delegation which included a presentation and discussion with Suncor on corporate social responsibility. This week we focus in on day two which consisted of a trip to the Oil Sands Discovery Centre and a stakeholder panel discussion at the Redpoll Centre with the United Way. Here are a selection of pictures that Jade took of the delegations trip.

For all of our Edmonton listeners there is an important event sponsored by the Greater Edmonton Alliance on Feb 22 at City Hall in support of local foods. Here is an excerpt of a blog post Myles wrote about the event.

The Greater Edmonton Alliance is calling for citizens to pack Edmonton city hall on February 22 to show support for the final stage of the effort to include a local food system strategy, and increase the sustainability of, Edmonton’s 10 year municipal development plan (MDP). Twice before with great success GEA has called upon the citizens of Edmonton to flood city hall in support of local food initiatives and demonstrate through a tactful form of protest which makes city council accommodate, and acknowledge, to extraordinary ends the passion of Albertans for a healthy local source of food…..We need to pack City Hall once again to send a message to the provincial government that we are not waiting for their leadership to start creating the kinds of communities we need in a future of climate change and peak oil. This is a fight for local foods but it is also a fight for the long term sustainability of Edmonton, this is the perfect opportunity to begin taking action to create the post carbon society we so desperately need. (Closing the Deal for Farmland Protection)

Terra Informa February 15, 2010 -Geothermal, Sustainability Projects, and Oil Sands Part 2 (Download/Listen Online)

A Photo of Oil Sands Extraction Equipment by Jade Gregg while on the UofA Oil Sands Delegation