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.
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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 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:
- Interview with Jed Goldberg, president of Earth Day Canada
- Presentation by Alex Wood of Sustainable Prosperity from the City of Ottawa Greenhouse Gas Roundtable
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.
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’.
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
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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.
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.
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
Click the audio player above to stream the show or right click here to download.
Part 1 – Budget 2013
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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
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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
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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.
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:
- Matt Roney, a research associate at the Earth Policy Institute
- Heather Hossie of Just Food Ottawa
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.
This week on Earthgauge, I present a feature interview with the Ottawa Riverkeeper, Meredith 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.
Earthgauge Radio January 24: Richard Heinberg on energy, climate change and the fragile world economy
This week on Earthgauge Radio, we launch a new series in which we will feature leading, influential thinkers who can provide some big picture context to the issues that we discuss on this program such as climate change, energy, economics, ethics, sustainability and development. We will kick off this ‘Big Picture, Big Thinkers’ series with a speech today by the influential author Richard Heinberg from the Bioneers Conference back in November 2012. Heinberg is a senior Fellow-in-Residence at Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building more resilient, sustainable, and equitable communities. He is perhaps best known as a leading educator on Peak Oil—the point at which we reach maximum global oil production—and the resulting impact it will have on our economic, food, and transportation systems.
Heinberg has spent his career thinking about critical issues including the current economic crisis, food and agriculture, community resilience, and global climate change. Now he’s contributed to a new book on the topic called Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth. He is also the influential author of The End of Growth, Peak Everything and The Party’s Over, among other books. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s most effective communicators on our global energy future and the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels.
This speech was recorded by Kelly Pearce of the Chicago Independent Media Center for Radio EcoShock. The talk is called Life after Growth: why the economy is shrinking and what to do about it.
Also on the program we have our usual update on local environmental events and campaigns from Ecology Ottawa.
Right click here to download today’s show. For more information on building resilient communities around the world (as discussed in Heinberg’s speech), check out resilience.org
Earthgauge Radio returns this week with Keith Stewart of Greenpeace who will tell us about the December 2011 letter he obtained through an Access to Information request from oil companies to the Harper government requesting changes to some of Canada’s environmental laws. And with the omnibus Budget Bills of the last year, Stewart says that Canada’s Conservative government was more than happy to oblige.
We also talk to Alex Hebert of SwitchHop to learn how you can reduce energy consumption in your home (and your energy bill!) with an amazing new online tool that tracks your energy use in real-time.
Alex Hebert (right click here to download):
We also hear a 2012 extreme weather report from Alex Smith of Radio EcoShock and we have our usual update on local environmental events and campaigns from Ecology Ottawa.
Right click here to download today’s show.
Earthgauge Radio November 15, 2012: U.S. Green Party leader Jill Stein and the Ottawa Centre EcoDistrict
On Earthgauge Radio this week, we’re talking about presidential politics and livable cities. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Dr. Jill Stein this week. She’s the leader of the U.S. Green Party and was their presidential candidate in the recently concluded U.S. election. She joins me for an Earthgauge Radio exclusive interview to discuss how the campaign went, her party’s proposal for a Green New Deal for America, her three (!) arrests while on the campaign trail, her thoughts on the election’s outcome and how she sees the next four years unfolding. Right click here to download my interview with Dr. Stein.
Also on the program today, we hear from James McNeil who leads the Ottawa Green Real Estate Practice group and is the self-described “catalyst” of the Ottawa Centre Eco-District. He tells me all about this exciting, new initiative in Ottawa Centre: how it started, what they hope to achieve and why “eco-districts” seem to be springing up all over North America and beyond. Click the links below for more information on the Ottawa Centre EcoDistrict.
Ottawa EcoDistrict OVERVIEW
OCED existing assets
And given that this past Monday was Remembrance Day, it seems like an appropriate time to remember the environmental devastation that war continues to cause all around the world. We hear a short clip from Friends of the Earth called ‘War and the Environment’. Click here to view the clip directly in YouTube or scroll down to the video player.
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 us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EarthgaugeRadio.