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Earthgauge Radio January 17: Keith Stewart of Greenpeace and Alex Hebert of SwitchHop.com

January 18, 2013 1 comment

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.

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 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.

Amchitka: The 1970 concert that launched Greenpeace

July 6, 2011 Leave a comment

OK I swear I am not being paid by Greenpeace to peddle their wares but I really feel the CD they launched last year to commemorate the organization’s 40th anniversary is a fine piece of work and worth a mention.

I recently spoke with John Timmins of Greenpeace who is the producer of the new CD ‘Amchitka: the1970 concert that launched Greenpeace.’ This is a double CD production with live performances by James Taylor, Phil Ochs and a young Joni Mitchell who was previewing songs from her soon to be released classic album, Blue. The sound quality is surprisingly good given the source tape material and highlights include Mitchell singing ‘Woodstock’ barely a year after the actual event, the Mitchell/Taylor duet on Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr Tambourine Man’, Taylor performing his brand new tune ‘Sweet Baby James’, and Phil Ochs’ stirring plea for peace in ‘I ain’t fighting anymore.’

The CD was released late last year and comes with a 48-page booklet with rare photos and information on the concert, the Amchitka protests and the history of Greenpeace. The concert came about as an audacious idea to help fund the fledgling organization’s first ever expedition: to send a ship to Amchitka, Alaska to protest U.S. government nuclear testing there.

Greenpeace co-founder Irving Stowe decided that the only way that his Vancouver-based Don’t Make a Wave Committee could raise enough money to send a ship to Amchitka was to hold a rock concert. Stowe was a lawyer, a music lover, a visionary and a father…but he had never organized a rock concert.

The rest is history. Greenpeace was born and the test series was canceled as a direct result of Greenpeace bearing witness and alerting the world.

The double CD package can be purchased online for $21 here and you can sample tracks here. You can also purchase single song MP3s for $.99. The music on the CD has been donated with all proceeds from sales going to Greenpeace in support of their work.

If you love music and want to support Greenpeace, this is a great way to do it. Would make a fine gift too.

Click the audio player above to hear my interview with John Timmins. We discuss how the event came about, details of the concert itself and what its significance was to the nascent environmental movement of the time. You can download the interview by right clicking here and selecting ‘Save as’ or ‘Save target as’.

Could the digital music revolution be good for the environment?

March 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Interview with Casey Harrell of Greenpeace International

I download almost all my music these days (legally!) and rarely visit a music retailer anymore. It would seem I’m not alone. For the fourth straight year, CD sales in North America dropped significantly in 2010 and total album sales are down 52% since 2000.

Digital downloads on the other hand increased 13% last year, continuing an upward trend. That means less aluminum is needed for CD production, less plastic for jewel cases and no more paper liner notes. What’s more, digital music has the potential to reduce the energy requirements of producing and delivering music to consumers. The transition to digital music must surely be good for the environment, right?

Well, it’s not quite so simple. The explosion of portable MP3 players over the last few years has created a host of new problems. To begin with, these players can contain various heavy metals and toxic chemicals such as lead, cadmium, mercury and brominated flame retardents (BFRs) that are much more harmful to the environment than CDs. These materials can leach into ground water and have been linked to health ailments such as kidney damage and neurological impairment.

Adding to the problem is the short life span of most MP3 players. Having sold nearly 300 million iPods since introducing them in 2002, Apple has been singled out by environmental groups for encouraging the “planned obsolescence” of their products. Rather than replacing old batteries or repairing defective iPods, neither of which is convenient or cheap, consumers simply buy the latest model and discard old ones.

To discuss this issue further, I recently spoke with Casey Harrell who is a toxics campaigner for Greenpeace International. We discussed his organization’s Greener Electronics Campaign, which provides a wealth of information on e-waste, what happens after it is thrown away, which companies are top and bottom of the toxic product class and the solutions to the problem. Greenpeace also produces a very informative Guide to Greener Electronics, which ranks the 18 top manufacturers of personal computers, mobile phones, TVs and games consoles according to their policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change.

The transition to digital music may well prove to be environmentally beneficial, but we’re not there yet as Casey explains. Regulations on the use and disposal of toxic materials, extended producer responsibility laws, eco-certifications, improved product durability and better communications of recycling options are all needed to make the industry truly green.

To download the interview, right click here and select ‘Save as’ or ‘Save target as’.

If you’re interested in learning more about e-waste and what you can do about it, here are some additional resources.

If you live in one of the following Canadian provinces you can participate in free electronics recycling by clicking the links below:

Natural Resources Canada Information on Recycling End of Life Electronics Equipment

Electronic Product Stewardship CanadaElectronics Product Stewardship Canada (EPS Canada) is developing a national electronics end-of-life program in Canada.

Make IT Green – Greenpeace cloud computing campaign

Un-friend Coal – Greenpeace campaign to make Facebook run on clean energy. Facebook announced in February 2010 that it is building a massive data centre in Oregon, U.S., packed full of the latest energy efficient computers to serve the hundreds of millions of friends connecting on their social networking website. But the company plans to run the place on electricity made by burning coal.

Apple’s environmental and recycling policies – Info on Apple’s carbon footprint, energy use, recycling and take-back programs and more

Take my Mac – The organization running this web site will buy all your Apple products. Whether it’s a brand new iPhone or an old iBook laptop, they will  take it with no hassle without the time and frustration of selling it yourself. Plus, we even take products that have no value or that are damaged.

U.S. National Center for Electronics Recycling – The National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the development and enhancement of a national infrastructure for the recycling of used electronics in the U.S.

The National Geographic Green Guide –  an online environmental information resource that provides every day living tips on waste, transportation, home and garden, travel, food and so on.
The Consumer Electronics Association (U.S.) Digital Tips – A green guide to consumer electronics

Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool – EPEAT is a method for consumers to evaluate the effect of a product on the environment. It ranks products as gold, silver or bronze based on a set of environmental performance criteria.

www.sonnettech.com – provides after-market battery kits for Apple products

Small Dog Electronics – repairs or resells Apple products

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