Today we take you on a tour of a different kind of community supported agriculture. David Adler coordinates one of only two community supported fisheries in the country, and he describes how it works and why it’s important. From Nova Scotia’s coast we move to one of China’s largest rivers. Dr. Larry Wang tells us about his work to restore the Yangtze after years of ecological damage.
Floating through the Wu Gorge on the Yangtze River. Photo Credit: Perfect Zero
Community Supported Agriculture
With the summer in full swing, a lot of people are turning to local farmers for their produce. One approach to finding local groceries that’s gaining a lot of popularity is Community Supported Agriculture. CSAs are a model of farming where community members buy shares in a farm’s crop at the beginning of the season. Then throughout the summer, usually once a week, they receive a basket of produce, and what comes in that basket depends on what happens to be in season. Members of the CSA get food that’s incredibly fresh and which has a smaller carbon footprint since it’s grown close to where they live. Plus they’re supporting their local economy. Today we talk to a group which has taken the CSA model and put a bit of a different spin on it. David Adler works with Off the Hook, a community supported fishery in Halifax, and he tells us why community support is so important.
China’s Yangtze River is one of the biggest and longest rivers in the world. With its base in the glaciers of Tibet, it flows through China all the way to Shanghi. Despite its immense importance to the Chinese, both culturally and economically, the many competing uses of this river have left it in a deteriorating state. Dr. Larry Wang, a professor at the University of Alberta and recent recipient of an honorary degree, set out to restore this precious ecosystem and to transform the lives of farmers in China’s Yunnan province. With his childhood friend, Sam Chao, he co-founded ECO, the University of Alberta Ecological Conservancy Outreach fund. Our correspondent, Kathryn Lennon, caught up with Dr. Wang, and they spoke about his work with the Yangtze River.
World leaders left Brazil with not much to show from the UN’s Rio+20 summit. Development organization Oxfam said governments were too paralyzed by vested interests to seriously commit to environmental sustainability and reducing poverty. 20 years have passed since the first UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, and this year, states came out with an even less ambitious agreement to meet those goals. Indigenous and civil society groups, unions, and farmers channelled their frustration at the process through a parallel People’s Summit also being held in Rio.
The federal government’s omnibus budget bill passed through the House of Commons. The bill changes and removes dozens of other laws, including removing most of the Species at Risk and Fisheries Act protections and removing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Opposition parties staged an around-the-clock debate to propose over 800 amendments to the bill, but the government voted down every single one. The Senate is expected to pass the bill this week, before Parliament takes a summer recess.
In Nunavut, hundreds of protesters marked National Aboriginal Day by demonstrating against the very high cost of food there. Locals held up signs with slogans like ‘True North Strong and Expensive’ outside stores in communities across the territory, where a loaf of bread can cost you seven dollars. Leesee Papatsie protested with her son in Iqaluit. She rallied thousands to join a Facebook group called Feeding My Family. This week, government departments and local Inuit organizations are meeting to discuss long-term solutions, like getting the federal government to build more ports to lower shipping costs, and improving the federal Nutrition North retailer subsidies.
Leak of the Week: Enbridge pipeline near Elk Point
Alberta’s oil and gas regulator announced that an Enbridge pipeline near Elk Point spilled about 1500 barrels of oil. The pipeline ships heavy crude from the oil sands to Hardisty, Alberta. The Energy Resources Conservation Board said the pipeline was shut down to contain the spill and no waterways were affected, unlike the Plains Midstream spill the week before which entered the Red Deer River. Enbridge blamed the spill on a failed flange gasket. Energy Minister Ken Hughes told the Toronto Star that with the number of pipelines in the province, the hundreds of oil spills a year simply cannot be avoided.
The Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario declared a state of emergency last month over a chronic lack of basic needs such as clean water, housing and electricity. We take a closer look at the causes of this emergency and what is currently being done to help. And in China, the deteriorating state of the powerful Yangtze River has encouraged one University of Alberta professor, and others, to take steps toward environmental restoration and agricultural transformation. Tune in to find out more!
The Qutang Gorge along the Yangtze river. Chen Hualin via Wikipedia.
In northern Ontario, the Attawapiskat First Nation declared a state of emergency last month over a chronic lack of basic needs such as clean water, housing and electricity. This relatively isolated Cree community of about 2,000 has fly-in access only for most of the year. The federal government offered $2.5 million in housing assistance and the Canadian Red Cross has also offered immediate aid. Attawapiskat’s Housing Manager, Monique Sutherland, speaks to Terra Informa correspondent Chris Chang-Yen Phillips about this dire emergency.
In China, the Yangtze River boasts being one of the longest rivers, and one of the biggest in terms of discharge volume, in the world. Beginning from its base in the glaciers of Tibet, it flows through China to Shanghi. Despite its immense importance to the Chinese both culturally and economically, the many competing uses of this river has left it in a deteriorating state. Dr. Larry Wang, a professor at the University of Alberta and recent recipient of an honorary degree, and others set out to restore this precious ecosystem and to transform the lives of farmers in China’s Yunnan province. With his childhood friend, Sam Chao, he co-founded ECO, the University of Alberta Ecological Conservancy Outreach fund. Our correspondent, Kathryn Lennon, caught up with Dr. Wang about his work with the Yangtze River.
Seeds of Change: The ECO Story (2008), an award-winning documentary directed by Ava Karvonen, tells the story of the childhood friends, and the ECO project.
Shale gas extraction: In Fredericton, hundreds of people gathered outside the legislature on Wednesday to protest shale gas extraction in the province. Inside, the Progressive Conservatives announced plans for new regulations on shale gas extraction, saying that they would protect human health and drinking water while retaining the economic benefits of oil and gas extraction.
Winnipeg waste water treatment: The city’s main waste water treatment plant is one of the worst polluters in the country. The province had already ordered upgrading of the facility, but plans have stalled due to a disagreement between the two levels of government.
Alberta study on crude oil: Prompted by the controversy surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline controversy, the Albertan study addressed warnings by environmental groups alleging that crude from the northern Alberta oil sands was more damaging to pipeline walls compared to conventional oil, which could increase the risk of spills. The study found that crude from the province’s oil sands is no more corrosive to pipelines than conventional oil, but it points out that there is no definitive peer-reviewed research on the issue.
Potential GHG solution found in super slime!: The hunt for super slime has officially begun in Nova Scotia. Scientists are eying this slime as a possible solution for GHG’s. Ironically, this ‘super-algae’ plucked from creeks and ponds can only be harvested from Canada’s industrial epicenters like Alberta’s oil patch and southern Ontario’s industrial corridor. The algae stemming from these places seems to suck up carbon dioxide faster than their cleaner counterparts.