This week, Deutsche Welle Living Planet broadcast the first of my audio diaries from the Students on Ice 2013 Arctic Expedition. This first audio postcard captures the reflections of Canadian high school student Gerrit Wesselink as he travels up the western coast of Greenland and across the Davis Strait to Baffin Island and the eastern Canadian Arctic. Gerrit talks about his experiences on the trip, which include polar bear sightings, zodiac cruises in a field of giant icebergs and witnessing first-hand the impacts of climate change in the Arctic.
Click here to listen to the audio diary.
DW Living Planet is an award-winning international program that explores environmental issues facing the world today and analyzes environmental policies, new technologies, innovative projects and the state of the planet’s environment.
I was fortunate to participate on the Students on Ice 2013 Arctic Expedition this year, which was a tremendous experience. We traveled up the west coast of Greenland by ship and across the Davis Strait to the Eastern Canadian Arctic. I produced a short audio documentary based on the experiences of two of the students on the journey and it aired on CBC Ottawa Morning on Monday, July 29.
Click the audio player above to check it out or right click here to download!
Earthgauge Radio is currently on a summer break but I am thrilled to report that we were recently awarded a 2013 National Community Radio Association (NCRA) award as the best Current Affairs / Magazine show for our coverage of the Forward on Climate rally in Washington D.C. in February of this year.
This show featured speeches and interviews from the huge demonstration in which roughly 40-50,000 people gathered on Washington’s national mall to urge President Obama to follow through on the commitments he made during his inaugural address in January to respond to the climate change crisis. This included speeches by Van Jones of Rebuild the Dream, Bill McKibben of 350.org, Michael Brune, executive director of the U.S. Sierra Club, and Jacquie Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation in B.C., and interviews from the rally with Michael Brune and Canadian author/ activist Naomi Klein.
Click here to check out Earthgauge’s award-winning coverage of ‘Forward on Climate!’
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‘.
This week on Earthgauge, we take a look back at what happened in Michigan in 2010 when an Enbridge pipeline ruptured spilling roughly 1 million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River. What is the legacy of the spill and is there anything for the rest of us to learn as we debate the construction of more pipelines from the tar sands of Alberta to B.C. and the Gulf of Mexico?
I have 3 interviews on the program today:
- Susan Connelly, a local resident of Marshall, MI where the spill occurred
- Jeff Insko, founder of the Line 6B citizen’s blog, a web site for residents who have pipelines running directly beneath their property
- Josh Mogerman, spokesperson for the Natural Resources Defence Council
We’ll 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.
Thanks to a fellowship from the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources, I had the opportunity to travel to Kalamazoo and the surrounding area last week to learn about the Kalamazoo River and, in particular, the Enbridge oil spill of 2010.
Remember that one? It happened on July 25 just a couple weeks after BP finally sealed their leak in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of the Deep Water horizon oil rig that killed 11 workers.
Six inches of rain fell in the days after the Enbridge pipeline spill, raising Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River into “a roiling brown torrent that overflowed its banks by several feet,” according to the seven-month, Pulitzer prize-winning investigation conducted by InsideClimate News. Talmadge Creek, which is usually five to six feet wide and a foot deep, stretched 100-feet wide after the downpour.
The spill occurred in Marshall, a community of 7,400 in southwestern Michigan. It drove 150 families permanently from their homes, yet the media spotlight never settled on their story — perhaps in part because this spill occurred 10 days after BP Plc’s Macondo well was finally capped after three months of spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Enbridge Energy Partners, a U.S. affiliate of Enbridge Inc., operated the pipeline. The company has spent more than $765 million cleaning up the spill.
Oiled sections of the Kalamazoo River reopened to the public in June 2012 — 23 months after the spill.
On today’s special show, we hear a couple different perspectives from residents who have been affected by the spill and its aftermath. First up is Susan Connelly, a local resident who was living near the oil spill when it occurred. Her kids daycare was just a half mile away so she tells us about some of the health effects her family and her community suffered immediately following the spill and in the intervening 3 years.
Susan Connelly (right click here to download):
Next we hear from another local resident Jeff Insko who started the Line 6B citizen’s blog. After the rupture of the pipeline known as line 6B, Enbridge decided to replace a huge section of pipe through Michigan, some of which runs through the property of local residents. Jeff will tell us why he has been less than satisfied in his dealings with Enbridge as they exercised their legal authority to do dig up his property and cut down all his trees in order to install new pipe. Will his experience be echoed by many other property owners as new pipelines are constructed in the coming years across North America?
Jeff Insko (right click here to download):
Finally, we hear from Josh Mogerman of the Natural Resources Defense Council on why he feels tar sands oil is much more difficult and problematic to transport through pipelines than conventional crude and how this may have played a role in the Kalamazoo spill.
Josh Mogerman (right click here to download):
First though, to get some context on what actually happened in the summer of 2010, we hear a piece from The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, which was broadcast in July 2012 following the release of the US National Transportation Safety Board’s scathing report about Enbridge’s handling of the spill and their mistakes leading up to it.
Why does a pipeline rupture in Michigan matter? Well, because many plans are afoot for new pipelines from the tar sands of Alberta, including proposals through the US in the form of the Keystone XL pipeline and to the west coast of B.C. with the Northern Gateway pipeline. So today we’re going to find out about the experiences of local residents looking back 3 years later at the Kalamazoo River spill in 2010. Let’s hope we’ve learned our lessons and don’t repeat the mistakes of Kalamazoo as we debate the merits of constructing new pipelines across North America to extract even more tar sands oil at ever increasing rates.
This week on Earthgauge, we’ll take a look back at what happened in Michigan in 2010 when an Enbridge pipeline ruptured spilling roughly 1 million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River. What is the legacy of the spill and is there anything for the rest of us to learn as we contemplate the construction of more pipelines from the tar sands of Alberta to B.C. and the Gulf of Mexico?
I was in Kalamazoo and the surrounding area last week and I had the opportunity to speak with residents who have been affected by the spill and its aftermath. First we hear from Susan Connelly, a local resident who was living near the site of the spill when it occurred. Her kids’ daycare was just a half mile away so she’ll tell us about some of the health effects her family and her community suffered following the spill and in the intervening 3 years.
Next we’ll hear from another local resident, Jeff Insko, who started the Line 6B citizen’s blog. After the rupture of the pipeline known as line 6B, Enbridge decided to replace a huge section of pipe through Michigan, some of which runs beneath the property of local residents. Jeff will tell us why he has been less than satisfied in his dealings with Enbridge as they exercised their legal authority to dig up his land and cut down his trees in order to install their new pipe.
We’re also going to get an overview of the incident from Rachel Maddow of MSNBC who did a feature last summer when the US National Transportation Safety Board issued a scathing report about Enbridge’s handling of the spill and their mistakes leading up to it.
Of course we’ll also have our usual update from Kathy of Ecology Ottawa on local environmental events and campaigns. That’s at around 7:50.
Tune in tomorrow!
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 Cities. Alex 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):
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):
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.