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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

April 5, 2013 Leave a comment

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

March 7, 2013 Leave a comment

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.

EG Radio February 28 2013: ‘Forward on Climate’ special with Bill McKibben, Van Jones, Naomi Klein, Michael Brune and Jacquie Thomas

February 28, 2013 Leave a comment

102This week on Earthgauge, we hear speeches and interviews from the huge ‘Forward on Climate‘ rally in Washington D.C. on February 17. We have 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. We also have our weekly update from Kathy 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.

Forward on Climate!103

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to cover the huge Forward on Climate rally organized by 350.org, the Sierra Club, the Hip Hop Caucus among others. 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.

The protesters’ demands included urging Obama to reject the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which if constructed would carry tar sands crude from northern Alberta through the U.S. to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Organizers of the event called it the largest climate rally anywhere in history. Among the many displays and banners was a mock pipeline that read “separate oil and state”. The Rev. Lennox Yearwood who MC’d the event compared it to Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 march on Washington for civil rights. Following the speeches at the Mall, the protesters began their march through the streets of Washington to the White House. It was really an incredible sight to behold: thousands of people young and old carrying banners, chanting, singing and making a lot of noise in what was the largest climate change protest in history and the largest environmental protest in Washington in decades.

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Jacqueline Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation in B.C.

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Van Jones

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D.C. at dusk after the protest

Following the rally, I had some time to visit the National Museum of African American History at the Smithsonian Institute where I came upon a quotation by the abolitionist Frederick Douglass. “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” So whatever you may think of the campaign to stop Keystone XL, it would appear that climate change activists around the world are beginning to wake up to the cold reality of Douglass’ words. We may well look back upon last weekend’s protest as only the beginning of a long, bitter and increasingly hostile battle.

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.

Will John Kerry reject Keystone XL?

February 21, 2013 Leave a comment

A very interesting post today by Joe Romm at ThinkProgress.org. Based on the recent comments of the new U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, Romm is speculating that Kerry “shows no sign whatsoever of backing down from the moral urgency that has made him a true climate champion.” Click the video link above to see Kerry’s first big foreign policy speech in which he says the following:

We as a nation must have the foresight and courage to make the investments necessary to safeguard the most sacred trust we keep for our children and grandchildren: an environment not ravaged by rising seas, deadly superstorms, devastating droughts, and the other hallmarks of a dramatically changing climate.

As Romm writes, “Does this sound like a man who is going to launch his term as Secretary of State approving the expansion of one of the dirtiest sources of fossil fuels in the world? His repetition of the word “courage” makes it sound like he is talking directly to the President.”

Remember that the U.S. State Department, under Kerry’s leadership, must give its approval to Keystone XL (because it crosses an international border) before the project can proceed.

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