south korea

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.

Indigenous Environmental Movement, Green Economics, and Korean River Restoration

This week:

We’ve got a report on the controversial “Four Major Rivers Restoration Project” in South Korea. We take a look at ecosystem markets and how they can be used to protect the environment. And we bring you coverage of “People and the Planet: Building Solidarity in Environmental Struggles,” a talk on grassroots indigenous environmental initiatives and environmental racism.

Four River EcoFriends

Courtesy South Korean Government

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Review of the week’s top news stories

Newfoundland mill may burn tires for fuel

Ontario pulls plug on gas fired plant

Teck discharges mercury into Columbia River

Regulator gives thumbs up to oil exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Bathurst caribou conservation plan signed

Feature stories

Ecobabble: Ecosystem markets

Economists are sometimes criticized for failing to account for the effects of human activity on the environment. Often the services provided by an ecosystem, and the damage we do it, are simply labelled “externalities” and ignored. In today’s Eco Babble, David Kaczan tells us about Ecosystem Markets, and how they allow economists to bring environmental costs into the picture.

People and the planet: Building solidarity in environmental struggles

Marcus Peterson reports back from a panel discussion titled “People and the planet: Building solidarity in environmental struggles.”  The discussion focused on examples of grassroots indigenous initiatives addressing environmental issues and highlighted the links between environmental struggles and issues of activism, labour, indigenous rights, globalization, and capitalism in general.  Featured guests include: Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Freedom From Oil Campaigner with the Rainforest Action Network; Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Climate and Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace; and Chelsea Flook, Associate Director of the Sierra Club’s Prairie Chapter.

Four major rivers Korean restoration project

The Korean Prime Minister has argued that the project promotes development in economy, environment, and culture. This project is to invest 14 trillion won ($12,461,000,000) to four rivers to do bank revetment, restore the ecological function of streams, to make bike roads near stream, and so on.  However, the project has drawn criticism from environmental and religious organizations in Korea for the potential environmental damage that could result. Correspondent Seon-ah Gu reports.