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EG Radio May 16: Our last show of the season! The human costs of climate change with Andrew Guzman

[audio https://earthgauge.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/earthgauge-podcast-may16-2013.mp3]9780199933877

This week is our last show before the summer break! I’m taking a few months off to recharge the batteries so we’re ready to come back strong in September for an all new season. On today’s program, we’re going to hear an interview from our friends at Generation Anthropocene who talked recently with international law expert Andrew Guzman. He has taken a step back from analyzing climate change in terms of precise temperature changes, melting glaciers and meters of sea level rise and breaks down all the ways climate change will affect humanity, from environmental refugees to changing disease patterns to social conflict. His new book, Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change, illustrates how nearly all of our human systems interact with climate and will feel the effects of even a 2 degrees C rise in average global temperatures.

We’ll also have our usual update from Kathy of Ecology Ottawa on local environmental events and campaigns. This week’s listing includes the Great Glebe Green Garage Sale happening on May 25. It’s a huge annual event in Ottawa that you won’t want to miss.

Right click here to download the whole program.

Interesting times indeed on the environmental front these days and the summer ahead should be an eventful one. Earlier this week the world passed an ominous milestone when atmospheric concentrations of CO2 passed the 400 parts per million (ppm) threshold for the first time in human history. That’s right folks, when the industrial revolution began, the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere was roughly 280 ppm but after a couple hundred years of burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil, we have emitted enough carbon into the air to push CO2 levels to 400 ppm. The last time the world saw this level of CO2 in the air was several million years ago, when the Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 metres higher than today. Many scientists believe these conditions are expected to return in time, with devastating consequences for civilization, unless emissions of CO2 from the burning of coal, gas and oil are rapidly curtailed. But despite increasingly severe warnings from scientists and a major economic recession, global emissions have continued to soar unchecked.

The world’s governments have agreed to keep the rise in global average temperature to 2 degrees C, the level beyond which some scientists feel catastrophic warming could become unstoppable. We’ve already seen about 1 degree of warming but the International Energy Agency warned in 2012 that on current emissions trends the world will see 6C of warming, a level scientists warn would lead to chaos. With no slowing of emissions seen to date, there is already mounting pressure on the UN summit in Paris in 2015, which is the deadline to settle a binding international treaty to curb emissions.

Writing in the Guardian newspaper, the excellent columnist George Monbiot called the 400 ppm milestone a moment of symbolic significance on the road to idiocy. It represents “a profound failure of politics, in which democracy has quietly been supplanted by plutocracy. Without a widespread reform of campaign finance, lobbying and influence-peddling and the systematic corruption they promote, our chances of preventing climate breakdown are close to zero.”

Meanwhile back here in Canada, this comes at a time when the voters in B.C. have returned the Liberal government of Christy Clark to power, much to everyone’s surprise. The NDP, who just about everyone expected to win the election, had opposed both the proposed Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan tar sands pipelines from Alberta to the BC coast. The Liberal government has not ruled these projects out. Instead Clark has set some stringent conditions that must be met before her government will give its support, at least to the Gateway proposal. Let’s remember that the production of tar sands crude is estimated to emit 14 to 20 percent more planet-warming gases than the conventional oil that is typically found in U.S. refineries.

Will the pipeline projects now go ahead? And what about Keystone XL? A decision by President Obama on this project is expected in the coming months. Against this backdrop, we hear an interview today with international law expert Andrew Guzman, courtesy of the excellent podcast Generation Anthropocene, in which Guzman discusses his new book ‘Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change‘.

EG Radio April 25: The Future of Cities | Bike to Work month | Thomas Lovejoy

April 25, 2013 Leave a comment
[audio https://earthgauge.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/earthgauge-podcast-april25-2013.mp3]

This week on Earthgauge, we have a veritable green medley with a jam-packed show covering everything from urban sustainability, climate change, biodiversity, biking to work and even the latest green news. I have 4 features today:

  • Presentation by Alex Steffen called The Shareable Future of Cities
  • Alex Smith’s interview with Dr. Thomas Lovejoy on biodiversity and climate change
  • My interview with Jamie Stuckless of EnviroCentre on Bike to Work month in Ottawa
  • This week’s green news from BradBlog.com

We also have our usual update on local environmental events and campaigns with Kathy of Ecology Ottawa. This week, Kathy also gives us some great cycling tips as we haul out the bikes after a long winter and welcome the arrival bike season.

Click the audio player above to stream the show or right click here to download.

Part 1 – Alex Steffen

First we’re going to pick up where we left off last week. During our last show, we talked about urban sustainability and the City of Ottawa’s Greenhouse Gas Roundtable. This week we start by hearing a presentation by Alex Steffen called The Shareable Future of CitiesAlex is a self-described Planetary Futurist and you’re going to want  to hear what he has to say about the future of cities in an age of climate change.

Do you ever wonder whether we should be optimistic or pessimistic about the future? If you want more reasons to think things may still turn out for the better, Alex Steffen’s your man. He doesn’t downplay the scope and scale of the problems we face. Instead, he shows that we have the tools within our grasp for meeting those massive challenges, if we have the will to use them.

Steffen is a journalist, founder of Worldchanging.com and he edited an internationally best-selling book surveying innovative solutions to the planet’s most pressing problems: Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century. His most recent work is Carbon Zero, a book describing cities that create prosperity not climate change, accelerating their economies while reducing their climate emissions to zero.

Part 2 – Thomas Lovejoy

Next we hear from our friend Alex Smith of Radio EcoShock in Vancouver who recently spoke with the father of biodiversity, Thomas Lovejoy. Back in 1980, Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy introduced the term “biological diversity” to the world. He has advised the United Nations, the World Bank, and 3 past Presidents and he’s a tireless advocate for endangered ecosystems that have no voice of their own. Lovejoy talks to Alex about the impacts of climate change on global biodiversity.

Part 3 – Bike to Work Month

Interview with Jamie Stuckless (right click here to download):

[audio https://earthgauge.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/jamie-stuckless-envirocentre-eginterview-04-25.mp3]

May is Bike to Work month in Ottawa so I speak with  Jamie Stuckless of EnviroCentre. On behalf of the City of Ottawa, the folks at EnviroCentre are organizing this annual event that encourages people to commute by bike and experience all of the health, economic and environmental benefits. Bike to Work month kicks off the spring season by encouraging seasoned riders and beginners to dust off the bikes and leave the car at home. You can even join the prize contest by visiting www.biketoworkottawa.com.

Part 4 – Green News

Next we turn it over to our friends Brad Friedman and Desi Doyen of BradBlog.com for the week’s listing of green news. On this episode, Brad and Desi discuss the 3rd anniversary of BP’s Oil Disaster in the Gulf; the US Environmental Protection Agency slamming the State Department’s Keystone XL report; and the release of environmental activist Tim de Christopher who was freed on Earth Day.

Part 5 – Bike tips and local environmental events and campaigns

Kathy’s bike tips (right click here to download):

[audio https://earthgauge.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/biketips-ecolottawa-kathy.mp3]

In addition to our usual weekly round-up of environmental events from Ecology Ottawa, this week Kathy also gives us some great biking tips to keep in mind as the spring and summer biking season gets underway.

Earthgauge Radio airs every Thursday morning at 7:00 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa and online around the world at www.ckcufm.com. Ottawa’s only radio program dedicated exclusively to environmental news and commentary from Ottawa, across the country and around the world. Podcasts on iTunes and right here on earthgauge.ca.

EG Radio April 11, 2013: Our 50th show! EcoBricks, Ontario Home Comfort and Rachel Carson

April 12, 2013 Leave a comment

This week marks our 50th program since Earthgauge Radio was launched in the fall of 2011! So we’re celebrating a big milestone today and are sending out our thanks to all the guests we’ve had in the past year and a half, the numerous people who have contributed to the show, the whole CKCU radio family and of course to our faithful listeners for tuning in every week either live, online or by podcast.

On the program this week, we discuss Eco-bricks, saving energy (and money!) on home heating and the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s book ‘Silent Spring’.

We also have our usual update from Kathy of Ecology Ottawa on local environmental events and campaigns.

Click the audio player above to stream the show or right click here to download.

Part 1 – Eco-bricks in Guatemala


(Right click here to download file)

Earthgauge contributor Xerez Bridglall brings us her interview with two Carleton University undergraduate students who participated in the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program this year. ASB is an immersive year-long program that culminates with a week of cultural exchange and community service over reading week in February. Mario Pizzuto and Megan Stacey went on the ASB trip to Guatemala where they were involved in building a structure made out of eco-bricks, an environmentally friendly, additive free pressed kiln dried hardwood sawdust bricks used for home heating fuel in wood burning stoves, wood burning fireplaces and outdoor fire pits.


Part 2 – Saving energy and money at home


Right click here to download file.

James Keena of Ontario Home Comfort tells us about some ways for homeowners to upgrade to more energy efficient furnaces and hot water tanks, which can save you hundreds of dollars every year in energy costs and reduce your environmental footprint. You may also be eligible for additional government and Ontario Power Authority rebates.


Part 3 – 50th anniversary (sort of) of Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’

In honour of the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking book ‘Silent Spring‘ by Rachel Carson, a book that many believe launched the environmental movement in the 1960s, today we feature a Democracy Now! interview with renowned author and environmental health activist Sandra Steingraber who reflects on the significant impact the book has had over the years.

‘Silent Spring’ documented detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds. Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation, and public officials of accepting industry claims uncritically. When the book was published, Rachel Carson was already a well-known writer on natural history, but had not previously been a social critic. The book was widely read and inspired widespread public concerns with pesticides and pollution of the environment. Silent Spring facilitated the ban of the pesticide DDT in 1972 in the United States.

Earthgauge Radio airs every Thursday morning at 7:00 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa and online around the world at www.ckcufm.com. Ottawa’s only radio program dedicated exclusively to environmental news and commentary from Ottawa, across the country and around the world. Podcasts on iTunes and right here on earthgauge.ca.

EG Radio this week: EcoBricks, Ontario Home Comfort and Rachel Carson

April 10, 2013 Leave a comment

On Earthgauge Radio this week, Xerez Bridglall will bring us her interview with two Carleton University undergraduate students who participated in the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program this year. ASB is an immersive year-long program that culminates with a week of cultural exchange and community service over reading week in February. Mario Pizzuto and Megan Stacey went on the ASB trip to Guatemala where they were involved in building a structure made out of eco-bricks, an environmentally friendly, additive free pressed kiln dried hardwood sawdust bricks used for home heating fuel in wood burning stoves, wood burning fireplaces and outdoor fire pits.

Also on the show, I’ll be speaking with James Keena of Ontario Home Comfort. OHC offers ways for homeowners to upgrade to more energy efficient appliances such as furnaces and hot water tanks, which can save you hundreds of dollars every year in energy costs and reduce your environmental footprint. You may even be eligible for additional government and Ontario Power Authority rebates. We’ll find out more about this great program in my interview with James.

Finally, given that 2012 was the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking book ‘Silent Spring‘ by Rachel Carson, a book that many believe launched the environmental movement in the 1960s, we’ll feature a Democracy Now! interview with renowned author and environmental health activist Sandra Steingraber who reflects on the significant impact the book has had over the years.

Earthgauge Radio airs every Thursday morning at 7:00 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa and online around the world at www.ckcufm.com. Ottawa’s only radio program dedicated exclusively to environmental news and commentary from Ottawa, across the country and around the world. Podcasts on iTunes and right here on earthgauge.ca.

Climate change is simple

Sometimes it helps to remind ourselves of the basic science of climate change and why scientists are so certain that the planet is warming and humans are to blame. David Roberts is a climate change and environment columnist at Grist. I’m not so sure about the somewhat distracting musical soundtrack in the background but it’s worth a look in any case.

“We are stuck between the impossible and the unthinkable. For the rest of your life, your job is to make the impossible possible.”

EG Radio March 28: Federal Budget 2013, urbanization in Kenya and the tar sands “staples” trap

March 29, 2013 Leave a comment

We love covering local stories on Earthgauge and this week, we get just about as local as we can, focusing on some compelling environmental research taking place at Carleton University in Ottawa. We also take a look at the environmental provisions of last week’s federal Budget 2013. We have 3 interviews on today’s show:

  • Glennys Egan on the environmental and human impacts of urbanization in Kenya
  • Brendan Haley on the tar sands “staples trap”
  • Andrew Van Iterson on the environmental measures in Budget 2013

We also have our usual update from Kathy of Ecology Ottawa on local environmental events and campaigns.

Click the audio player above to stream the show or right click here to download.

Part 1 – Budget 2013

Right click here to download.

To kick off the program this week, I speak with Andrew Van Iterson who is the manager of the Green Budget Coalition. Environmental funding in last week’s 2013 federal budget had very little in the way of environmental provisions. Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a government-funded venture capital firm that invests in environmental technology firms, will get $325 million over eight years and there is some funding for municipal projects, notably the City of Ottawa’s new wastewater holding tanks. But the green measures are pretty slim beyond that. The Green Budget Coalition, founded in 1999, brings together sixteen leading Canadian environmental and conservation organizations, which collectively represent over 600,000 Canadians, through our volunteers, members and supporters. They make an annual set of recommendations to the federal government regarding strategic fiscal and budgetary opportunities.

Part 2 – Glennys Egan

Right click here to download.

Next up Earthgauge contributor Juanita Bawagan speaks with Glennys Egan who is a Masters student in the African Studies program at Carleton whose research is based on issues of urbanization in Kenya. She has recently been in Kenya working with a community organization through Street Kids International based in a Nairobi slum and she tells Juanita about her research and experiences there, and the environmental and human impacts of urbanization in Kenya.

Part 3 – Brendan Haley

Right click here to download.

In the second half hour, I speak with Brendan Haley who is a PhD student at Carleton’s School of Public Policy and Administration and a fellow of the Broadbent Institute. He co-authored a recent study called ‘The Bitumen Cliff’ warning that the poorly regulated bitumen industry is creating a double threat to Canada: a so-called “staples trap,” with an economy over-reliant on bitumen exports, and a “carbon trap,” locking Canada into fossil fuels instead of adapting to climate change. The report was co-authored by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Polaris Institute.

Earthgauge Radio airs every Thursday morning at 7:00 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa and online around the world at www.ckcufm.com. Ottawa’s only radio program dedicated exclusively to environmental news and commentary from Ottawa, across the country and around the world. Podcasts on iTunes and right here on earthgauge.ca.

EG Radio March 7 2013: Reconnecting with the natural world around us

Ever wondered where your water comes from and where your wastewater goes? How much garbage do we produce in Ottawa and where does it go? What did the city look like a couple hundred years ago? Where does the gas come from that fills up our tanks? How much of our food is produced locally?

On this week’s edition of Earthgauge, we’ll discuss all this and more with Janice Ashworth. She helped put together a handy little booklet called ‘The Ecology of Ottawa‘ and she’ll be joining me for a feature 2-part interview.

Also on the show, hear my interview with Ali Howard and Andrew Eddy about their film ‘Awakening the Skeena‘. The summer of 2009 saw Ali Howard become the first person on the planet to ever swim the entire 610km Skeena River. After 26 days of whitewater, boulder gardens, crazy currents and community celebrations, she did it! Why? Well, it turns out that the Skeena is threatened by various forms of industrial development and she wanted to bring awareness to the the threats to one of Canada’s great salmon rivers.

We also have our weekly update from Graham of Ecology Ottawa on local environmental events and campaigns in the Ottawa area.

Click the audio player above to stream the show or right click here to download.

Part 1 – Awakening the Skeena with Ali Howard and Andrew Eddy

Interview with Ali Howard and Andrew Eddy (right click here to download):

Canadian ethnobotanist Wade Davis has called the headwater region of the Skeena River in northwestern B.C. “the Serengeti of Canada” because of its abundance of wildlife. He says it is “a landscape that is as beautiful as anything I’ve ever seen, in my experience as an explorer in residence for the Geographic, going to as many as 30 countries a year.” This valley in a rugged corner of the province is the birthplace of three of Canada’s most important salmon rivers: the Stikine, the Skeena and the Nass. Known as the sacred headwaters to First Nations living in the region, it has tremendous economic, cultural and spiritual importance. The rivers support a $100-million wild salmon economy that sustains communities along the Skeena and includes First Nations fisheries, commercial fishing, and recreational angling.

Three proposals for mining in the region have drawn fierce opposition from local residents, particularly Shell Oil’s plans to mine for coal bed methane near the headwaters. Ali Howard was one of those concerned residents when in 2009 she decided to do something to to raise awareness about the importance of the Skeena and the threats to it. What did she do? Protest and organize? No sir. She decided to swim the entire length of the 610km river in 26 days.

I know we often have our fair share of grim environmental news on Earthgauge but I am pleased to tell you that this story has a happy ending! Thanks to Ali’s efforts and those of many others such as the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, in December 2012 coalbed methane development was permanently banned from the headwaters and Shell withdrew its plans to develop. Further evidence that with hard work and determination positive change can and does take place. A film was made about Ali’s heroic swim called Awakening the Skeena and she came to Ottawa last week for a screening. So I caught up with her and the film’s director Andrew Eddy.

Part 2 – The Ecology of Ottawa

Part 1 of Janice Ashworth interview (right click here to download):

Part 2 of Janice Ashworth interview (right click here to download):

Now as you well know, we have an impact on and we are impacted by our local, natural environment and that’s why on today’s show we’re talking about regaining the connection between ourselves and the places in which we live whether it be in the remote, far-flung reaches of northern BC or right here in the Ottawa valley. It’s easy for us to lose sight of the natural world around us and how we impact it, and we sometimes lose the connection between ourselves and the Earth and water that keep us alive. Many of us don’t know where our wastewater goes once it’s flushed down the drain or where our electricity and heat come from. What about the gas that fills up our tanks? How much garbage do we produce and where does it go? How much of our food is locally produced?

I myself didn’t know the answer to many of these important questions and I thought it was about time I found out. It turns out our friends at Ecology Ottawa have produced a handy little booklet called The Ecology of Ottawa that answers all of these  questions and many more. I caught up with Janice Ashworth, one of the people who helped produce the book, to discuss some issues that all of us living in Ottawa should really know. I am pleased to present a feature 2-part interview with Janice on today’s program.

Our show today is all about regaining the connection between ourselves and the places in which we live. Of course, the best way to connect with the local bioregion that we call home is to get out there and explore it for ourselves. We are truly blessed here in Ottawa to have such spectacular recreational opportunities at our door step year round. As the intro to ‘The Ecology of Ottawa’ booklet says,

it’s easy for us to lose sight of the natural world. We lose the connection between ourselves and the Earth and water that keep us alive. We flick on a light switch without thinking about where the energy comes from or what it does to the earth. We flush the toilet without knowing where the wastewater goes and our garbage is whisked off to some distant place called “away.” But we are deeply connected to the water, land, and air. It affects us and we affect it, every single day through the water, energy and other resources that flow through our homes.

Earthgauge Radio airs every Thursday morning at 7:00 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa and online around the world at www.ckcufm.com. Ottawa’s only radio program dedicated exclusively to environmental news and commentary from Ottawa, across the country and around the world. Podcasts on iTunes and right here on earthgauge.ca.

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