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Earthgauge Radio September 27, 2012: Disappearing Arctic sea ice and Ottawa’s Environment Committee Chair Maria McRae

September 27, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

On this week’s edition of Earthgauge Radio, we’re talking about the astonishing summer melt of Arctic sea ice and we check in with the Chair of the City of Ottawa Environment Committee. I have 3 interviews on today’s show:

Click the audio player above or right click here to download today’s podcast.

Sea ice in the Arctic has melted to below four-million square kilometres, the lowest it has been for a million years, according to Professor John Yackel from the University of Calgary, who is  a noted sea ice geophysicist and climatologist. “This is the smallest minimum ice extent we’ve ever had, and not just in the satellite record, but probably in the last million years.” Last week marked the end of the summer ice melt and satellite monitoring shows that it has dramatically diminished since 1979, when records began.

So to kick off today’s edition of Earthgauge Radio we talk to Peter Wadhams who is a professor of Ocean Physics at the University of Cambridge in the UK and Clive Tesar, who is Head of Communications for the Global Arctic Programme at the World Wildlife Fund about what all this melting sea ice means for shipping through the Arctic, oil/gas exploration, and what the ramifications of an oil spill or a shipping accident might be in this sensitive and remote part of the world if one were ever to take place.

Later in the program we also check in with Ottawa City Councilor Maria McRae who is Chair of the Environment Committee. She brings us up to speed on the Ottawa River Action Plan, the Emerald Ash Borer beetle infestation, local transportation issues, climate change initiatives and her thoughts on Ottawa as leader in urban sustainability.

Today we also bring back our regular segments with Deutsche Welle Living Planet Radio who will be giving us their International EcoNews weekly update and we check in with Ecology Ottawa who let us know about environmental events and campaigns going on around town.

Earthgauge Radio airs Thursday mornings from 7-8 AM on CKCU 93.1 in Ottawa. News and interviews on environmental stories from across Canada and around the world. Podcasts on iTunes and www.earthgauge.ca. Stream live on www.ckcufm.com.

  1. October 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Mark, thank you for your interview with Councillor Maria McRae, Chair of the City of Ottawa’s Environment Committee. The City is working on a number of issues and is in some cases making considerable progress.

    However, I respectfully beg to differ with Councillor McRae’s assessment that “we’re doing very very well” on climate change.

    City Council in 2005 set a greenhouse gas reduction target of 20% by 2012, applicable to all residents and businesses in the city. A separate target of 30% reduction was set in 2009 specifically for City of Ottawa operations which themselves make up about 5% of our overall total emissions. Both these targets were to be based on 1990 emission levels. The GHG report Councillor McRae refers to shows no reductions at all compared to the overall 20% target set for this year. In fact the GHG report shows a 0.9% increase between 2004 and 2008.

    To most Ottawans completely failing to meet a target cannot be called “doing very very well.”

    You asked Councillor McRae whether the city has a climate change plan but didn’t get an answer.

    In 2005 City Council adopted an Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan whose planning horizon extended to 2012. There has been no indication from the current Council that climate change planning will be revisited.

    The reason for this is perhaps revealed in the answer she gave to your question on the municipal role in climate change.

    She said she thought people were confused and “the most effective place to change high level policy, what their mandate is, is the federal government, and we look to them to put those policies in place.”

    Perhaps it’s the City of Ottawa’s Official Plan that is confusing people when it says
    “Climate change is one of the critical environmental challenges facing the world and measures to both reduce GHG emissions (mitigation) and prepare for the impacts of climate change (adaptation) need to be incorporated into all levels of City decision‐making”

    and that
    “The City has made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in both corporate operations and at the community level.”

    To most Ottawans avoiding the issue cannot be called “doing very very well.”

    • October 3, 2012 at 12:01 am

      Thanks very much Charles for your comments. Very insightful and well considered. I actually interviewed her some time ago and wish I had been more informed of the city’s climate change record at the time. I suspected there may be those who took issue with what Councilor McRae said. I’m glad you weighed in on this as someone who is following this issue closely. We’re grateful for your efforts in keeping the councilors’ feet to the fire.

  2. City of Otawa is CORRUPT
    October 10, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Maria McRae is not letting anything get to council at the City of Ottawa regarding the environment. She has muzzled a whole department, for her own personal vendetta against them. She could actually care less about the environment, and would rather see huge tracts of land bulldozed to build megastores.

    The fact that she chairs the Environment Committee is an absolute farce. Her goal is to not have any bad news aired so that she can get re-elected, or use her position as a stepping stone to move to provincial or federal politics.

    She is actually stopping work from going ahead for the environment.

    She fires or finds a way to remove whoever doesn’t agree with her.

    Maria McRae is not there for the people. Scientists are the material experts, not some over-eating, doughnut-chomping liar.

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