Archive

Archive for the ‘Greening our cities’ Category

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 18 2013: Earth Day special | Ottawa takes on climate change

April 18, 2013 Leave a comment

This week we celebrate Earth Day and look at why cities are so important in the fight against climate change. I have two features on the program today:

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 – Earth Day

This Monday is Earth Day so we kick off today’s program by speaking with the president of Earth Day Canada, Jed Goldberg. He tells us what is being planned for this year’s event and we discuss the role of Earth Day activities at a time when many environmental problems around the world seem to be getting worse.

Every year on April 22, more than one billion people take part in Earth Day. Across the globe, individuals, communities, organizations, and governments take action to raise awareness about the importance of environmental protection. This will be the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day. From Beijing to Cairo, Melbourne to London, Rio to Johannesburg, New Delhi to New York, people are demanding that our so-called “leaders” act boldly.

But does any of this make a difference? After all, many environmental problems have gotten worse since Earth Day began back in 1970. The first Earth Day led to many tangible steps forward in environmental protection but, as Nicholas Lemann wrote in The New Yorker just a few days ago, “the original Earth Day remains a model of effective political organizing” but “(t)oday’s big environmental groups recruit through direct mail and the media, filling their rosters with millions of people who are happy to click “Like” on clean air. What the groups lack, however, is the Earth Day organizers’ ability to generate thousands of events that people actually attend—the kind of activity that creates pressure on legislators.”

We’ll find out what Jed Goldberg thinks about all this. Is Earth Day still relevant and effective in raising awareness and changing behaviour?

Part 2 – The City of Ottawa takes on climate change (again)

Did you know that cities in Canada are either directly or indirectly responsible for roughly 45% of this country’s greenhouse gas emissions? Cities have a huge role to play and any solution to climate change will have to involve action at the municipal level. In fact, with an absolute absence of federal measures to reduce GHGs or to set virtually any climate change policy whatsoever, it is the cities that are increasingly filling the policy void in Canada.

The City of Ottawa wants to be a leader in the fight against climate change and on March 23, Ottawa hosted its first ever Greenhouse Gas (GHG)  Roundtable Roundtable.  Last year, City Council committed to host the Roundtable to kick-start the review and update of the 2004 Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan. The 2004 Plan set GHG reduction targets for 2008 and 2012 and work is scheduled to commence mid-year to determine whether the City and the community-at-large targets were met.  Following that, the City’s work will focus on setting new targets and updating the plan with support from the City of Ottawa’s new Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee.

The keynote speaker at the Roundtable was Alex Wood of Sustainable Prosperity, a national green economy think tank. SP focuses on market-based approaches to build a greener, more competitive economy. It brings together business, policy and academic leaders to help innovative ideas inform policy development. Alex Wood is the senior director of policy and markets at SP and he explains why climate change is such an important issues for cities.

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 14: food glorious food!

March 15, 2013 Leave a comment
[audio https://earthgauge.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/earthgauge-podcast-march14-2013.mp3]

On Earthgauge this week, we discuss food security from the global to the local level, and what we can do to help build a more equitable and sustainable food system. From the geopolitics of global food (in)security to the benefits of eating locally, this special program considers how the food choices we make on a daily basis have a real impact both on our environment and on the people who produce what we eat. Click the audio player above to stream the show or right click here to download.

I have two interviews on today’s show:

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

Part 1 – Global food (in)security with Matt Roney of the Earth Policy Institute

[audio https://earthgauge.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/mattroney-earthpolicy-edited.mp3]

(Right click here to download)

Did you know the world has an additional 219,000 new mouths to feed each and every day? That’s the reality given current rates of global population growth and this is happening at a time when grain stocks around the world are dropping, water shortages are becoming more common and climate change is causing unprecedented droughts, flooding and heat waves, all of which are taking a toll on global food supplies. In his latest book, Full Planet, Empty Plates: the Geopolitics of Global Food Security, the pioneering environmentalist Lester Brown makes the case that food, not energy security, may well be our civilization’s weak link. Brown is the president of the Earth Policy Institute, a research organization based in Washington DC and I recently had the chance to speak about his new book with Matt Roney, a research associate at Earth Policy and in our interview he explained why world food supplies are tightening, the environmental, political and social implications of growing global food insecurity and what we need to do about it.

Part 2: Local food security and sustainability with Heather Hossie of Just Food

[audio https://earthgauge.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/heather-hossie-justfood-03-14-13.mp3]

(Right click here to download)

We have perhaps no closer connection to the land than through our food. Simply by making better and more informed food choices, we can have a real impact on helping to build a sustainable and equitable food system. For the local perspective, I speak with Heather Hossie of Just Food, an organization working for a sustainable and just food system here in Ottawa. She works on Community Economic Development (CED) initiatives at Just Food, a local grassroots, non-profit organization that is working to ensure that Ottawa is a food secure city and that our system of food production and distribution is environmentally, socially and economically just. Heather has been coordinating the Savour Ottawa initiative since its inception and also presents the Reel Food Film Festival each year. In our interview, she tells me what each of us can do to help support and promote a sustainable food system in our local communities.

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.

Earthgauge Radio February 14 2013: Ottawa Riverkeeper Meredith Brown and Climate Science 101

February 15, 2013 Leave a comment

This week on Earthgauge, I present a feature interview with the Ottawa Riverkeeper, Meredithfeature_holder Brown and we talk climate science with Eric Galbraith of McGill University. Click the audio player above or right click here to download the show.

First up….it’s Climate Change 101! Ever want to know about some of the fundamentals of climate science so you can easily refute that climate change denying buddy of yours? Well, we have a Climate Change 101 session with Eric Galbraith of McGill University. He is a Professor of Earth and Planetary Science and he’ll explain just why it is there is virtually no disagreement among climate scientists that the planet is warming and humans are to blame. Additional resources that provide excellent information on the fundamentals of climate science include www.skepticalscience.com, www.livescience.com, and www.thinkprogress.org.

Later on the show, I speak with the Ottawa Riverkeeper Meredith Brown. Founded in 2001, Ottawa Riverkeeper is an independent voice for the Ottawa River, providing leadership and inspiration to protect, promote and improve its ecological health and future. The organization works collaboratively to inspire others to take action, to encourage responsible decision making, to hold polluters accountable and to recommend alternative practices and policies to safeguard our local waterways. Ottawa Riverkeeper is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, an international grassroots organization founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Meredith Brown is a strong science-based voice for the Ottawa River, acting as its full-time “watchdog”. Since 2004, Meredith has significantly raised the profile of the Ottawa River and brought important issues such as sewage dumping and radioactive waste to the attention of the public and decision-makers.

In our interview, we discuss the health of the Ottawa River, changes to federal environmental regulations, the Wild and Scenic Film Festival and the Ottawa River Action Plan.

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

Earthgauge Radio airs Thursday mornings from 7-8 AM on CKCU 93.1 in Ottawa. Podcasts on iTunes and earthgauge.ca. Stream live on www.ckcufm.com. Check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/EarthgaugeRadio where we post environmental news stories from around the world.

EG Radio February 7 2012: Liveable Ottawa | Shell oil rig Alaskan disaster

February 7, 2013 Leave a comment

This week on Earthgauge Radio, we’re talking about the Shell drilling rig that ran aground near Alaska’s Kodiak Island at the end of December and we discuss the City of Ottawa’s “Liveable Ottawa” plan. We also have a special guest editorial from Grist.org columnist David Roberts who will explain why climate science is Nate Silver and U.S. politics is Karl Rove.

It was bad enough that Shell demonstrated total ineptitude when their Kullik oil rig started leaking crude oil into the Alaskan wilderness but as Rachel Maddow of MSNBC tells us, this story just keeps getting weirder and weirder. Now it appears the accident may have been a result of Shell trying to pull a fast one on the state government to avoid paying taxes. The damaged Kulluk drillship is a key part of Royal Dutch Shell’s ambitious plan to drill for oil in two parts of the Arctic Ocean.

Later in the show we talk to Trevor Haché of Ecology Ottawa about the Liveable Ottawa initiative that this city has launched recently. Starting in 2013, the City of Ottawa will begin its review of the strategic documents that guide the development of our city. They include the Official Plan, Transportation Master Plan, Infrastructure Master Plan, Cycling Plan and Pedestrian Plan. When completed, the Building a Liveable Ottawa 2031 project will set the directions, policies and affordability priorities that will influence the future of the city for years to come. To help with this process, the City is looking for input from citizens like you and me. So if you care about pedestrian infrastructure, cycling and public transportation now is the time to pay attention to what is happening at Ottawa City Hall. Email planning@ottawa.ca if you want to get involved or contribute your input to the Liveable Ottawa Master Plan.

Trevor Haché interview (right click here to download):

We also have a special guest editorial from the excellent climate, energy and political columnist David Roberts of Grist.org. Remember Nate Silver? The guy who perfectly predicted the outcome of the recent U.S. election state by state? Republicans dismissed the science of his projections and yet he was exactly right. Well, David Roberts sees a parallel with climate science and those who refuse to believe it.

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

Earthgauge Radio airs Thursday mornings from 7-8 AM on CKCU 93.1 in Ottawa. Podcasts on iTunes and earthgauge.ca. Stream live on www.ckcufm.com. Check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/EarthgaugeRadio where we post environmental news stories from around the world.

Right click here to download today’s show.

Earthgauge Radio November 29, 2012: International climate science, Ottawa climate politics, and the growing movement to protect Canada’s waterways

November 29, 2012 2 comments

This week on Earthgauge Radio, we’re talking about climate change and the protection of Canadian waterways. Right click here to download the show. I have 3 features on the program today:

The Doha Climate Change Conference (COP-18) kicked off this week in Qatar. In a year in which we have witnessed more devastating storms such as Hurricane Sandy and the greatest extent of Arctic sea ice melt ever observed, one could not be blamed for wondering if the world is hurtling towards some kind of catastrophic climate shift. Even the World Bank said last week that a world where temperatures rise by 4 degrees Celsius “must be avoided”, but can it be? Well, a top British climate scientist seems to have good reason to doubt this and he claims scientists haven’t been telling us the whole truth about climate change.

So to begin today’s edition of Earthgauge Radio, we take a listen to excerpts of an astonishing speech by Kevin Anderson who is Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Britain. Thanks to our friend Alex Smith of Radio EcoShock in Vancouver, we hear a breakdown and analysis of Anderson’s speech to the Cabot Institute from Bristol, England on November 6. An advance warning folks: what he has to say may shock and upset you. The subtitle for the talk is “Brutal Numbers and Tenuous Hope” and Dave Roberts of Grist wrote two articles about the implications of this talk, which he called “The Brutal Logic of Climate Change” (this one and this one). But as delegates and officials around the world are meeting in Doha as we speak to try to find a way to keep the planet from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius, it’s time for a reality check from one of Britain’s top climate scientists. Is this 2 degree target realistic? Is it even possible? Anderson lays out the evidence for us and it is not pretty.

Also on the show today, we hear from John Bennett of the Sierra Club who will tell us why so many people and organizations, including the musicians Sarah Harmer, Gord Downie and Feist, are speaking out against the government’s proposed changes to Navigable Waters legislation. Harmer appeared on Parliament Hill this week to join with those raising concerns about the Harper government’s second omnibus budget legislation C-45, which includes changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act that limit federal protection for waterways to only 62 rivers, 97 lakes and three oceans. The government says it has chosen to protect only the busiest waterways in Canada that meet specific criteria for navigation. Critics say the changes will decimate environmental protections for the vast majority of Canadian waterways.

Finally on the show we discuss a startling revelation that has come to my attention thanks to some industrious individuals in Ottawa who have been following the city’s climate change plans and specifically its Greenhouse Gas Roundtable which appears to have stalled for the time being. It has come to light that the husband of the Chair of the City Environment Committee, Maria McRae, has written repeatedly about climate change as a “non-existent threat” and a hoax. Now we all know the growing mountain of evidence and research supporting the reality of human-caused climate change is now virtually incontrovertible  and becoming more so with each passing year (see here, here and here). Still, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how uninformed it might be. There are still people who believe the earth was created 6000 years ago after all.

Councilor McRae may well have her own views on this matter and there is no evidence I’m aware of to suggest she doesn’t accept the science of climate change, but at the same time she has been accused by some of being obstructive when it comes to the city’s environmental initiatives in general and particularly on the climate change file. As she is directly involved with guiding the City’s climate policies, should the fact that her husband has repeatedly denied the reality of climate change on his blog be a concern to citizens of Ottawa who have been frustrated with the city’s apparent slow progress on the climate change file? Well to find out I speak with Joan Kuyek who is a constituent of Councilor McRae in the River Ward. She has been following this issue closely.

We’ll also have our usual update this week from Ecology Ottawa on local environmental events and campaigns.

Earthgauge Radio airs Thursday mornings from 7-8 AM on CKCU 93.1 in Ottawa. Podcasts on iTunes and www.earthgauge.ca. Stream live on www.ckcufm.com. Check us out on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/EarthgaugeRadio.

%d bloggers like this: