renewable energy

Innovating Environmental Education


Recently, Terra Informer Sydney Karbonik spoke with Aaron Dublenko and James Stuart about their work founding and facilitating the award winning Innovate program at schools here in Edmonton. This program began when Aaron encouraged the Queen Elizabeth High School environmental club to try something different … and the result has been truly … innovative. You might have heard about their school’s project to put solar panels on its roof. Listen on to find out what these students have accomplished.

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Download program log here.

Photo by: Lorie Shaull


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.

Download episode here.

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.