Saving the Planet One Story at a Time
menu +


8 q

The Nature of Things on CBC-TV – Sunday April 3 @ 7:00 PM ET

Save My Lake examines the situation in Lake Winnipeg where plant and fish life is being choked out by algae blooms. The algae problem has been a concern for years, but its causes are varied and complex, and resources haven’t been mobilized adequately to solve it.

There are many different types of algae. Some algae are actually poisonous, but most algae blooms are harmful because they absorb oxygen from the water, starving other marine life of a vital element. Most algae blooms are caused by nitrogen-rich animal and human waste flowing into the water system. Lake Winnipeg receives agricultural runoff from the entire Red River after it flows through North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Manitoba. Meanwhile, raw untreated sewage from the city of Winnipeg contaminates the Red River during spring flood season.

Marsh beds are normally allowed to aerate periodically as part of nature’s cycles. Manitoba Hydro has contributed to the problem in Lake Winnpeg by maintaining water levels at stable levels to maximize electricity generation. Dutch pioneers who originally drained marshes in the North American Midwest could never have anticipated the long-term consequences of removing these natural “filters” from the ecosystem to create new farmland.

Water management is one of the potential looming environmental crises of the new millennium. Groups like Ducks Unlimited are helping to curtail the algae problem by reclaiming wetlands for fowl hunting, but a more concerted effort is required. The multi-government dynamic of water management creates political inertia, but governments won’t solve our water crisis without public impetus. Citizens must also be willing to re-evaluate the 20th century “flush-and-forget” approach to biological waste.

Save My Lake is a 1-hour documentary special produced by Toronto-based Stornoway Productions.

Small, simple changes can make a big difference if we all chip in. Just like another one of our GreenHereos Stuart Hickox, David Suzuki has some great suggestions about how many little acts can change the world.

How to:

Go Green in your Workplace

Getting to and from work for many of us means taking the car everyday, just think of the inefficiency! One person per car is hardly a ride worth taking. Tune up your bike now that the weather is getting warmer, take the bus or even start a carpool with your office mates who live near by. Why not use Facebook or your internal listserve to get people living close together riding together.

The next time you have a lunch or dinner meeting or any kind of catered event, try the “locavore” approach and choose foods that are grown locally and sustainably. There are all sorts of great resources out there for eating what’s local; blogs like this one or this Vancouver based one are an easy way to find out what’s new near you. It’s just a click away – what’s local to you?

Save resources by:
-Plugging any equipment into a power bar and turning it off until needed.
-Set ‘double sided’ as the default setting on your printer.
-Go electronic instead of using hard copies: phone and email, use overheads and power point presentations, get e-subscriptions, and use web resources.
-Use extra water to water plants, don’t simply toss it down the drain.

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint

Another one of our GreenHeroes, Ian Clifford has created the Zenn Motor Company, for those who wish to invest in a hybrid car. David Suzuki urges those who wish to travel, to try and reduce airplane flights as much as possible. In the case of a vacation, you can try re-visiting your own city or traveling by bus or train instead. Flying economy allows more passenger space, and flying directly means less take-off/landing fuel. As for day-to-day transportation, now that Spring’s in the air, get your bikes off the rack or try walking to work or school.

Energy saving appliances can be acquired both for the office and home. LEDs promise a longer lasting bulb. They are still more expensive than regular bulbs, but a new generation of high efficiency incandescent bulbs is in the making. The best way to save energy to date (by over 75%) are Compact fluorescent bulbs.

Energy Saving Light Bulb

Composting might seem like an arduous task, but just like recycling, the moment you start, it easily becomes a routine. When it comes to food, buy local, buy organic.

Making a change that impacts our planet might seem like an overwhelming task, but by following these simple steps, we can help now to get a bit closer to a greener Earth. For a full listing of things you can do to help, by David Suzuki, click here.

GreenHeroes is launching an on-line radio station tomorrow! For full details see www.mediazoic.com and our previous post. Check out our Joan Prowse chatting with Mediazoic’s Greg Nisbet about the connection between music and eco-activism.

GreenHeroes has gathered together several of our contributing artists and has created our very own GreenHeroes on-line radio station.
Tune in as of April 1st and listened to musicians tell us about what inspires them to make the music they do, why they are passionate about the planet and how they are connected with GreenHeroes. There will be tons of great tunes playing alongside the musician’s commentary. Come along to the launch party tonight and get a preview of some of the performers with whom we’ve partnered.

Launch Details:
At 9 p.m., Revival opens its doors to the public to celebrate Mediazoic’s launch and host our own awards show – The Zoics – all live-streamed to the Internet!
Click here for details or:

Hope to see you there!
Yours in music,
The Mediazoic and GreenHeroes Team

8 q

Green Heroes had the chance to briefly interview Danny Michel at the Drake Hotel, on David Suzuki’s Birthday Party (March 20th).

Hundreds of artists submitted work for David Suzuki’s Playlist for the Planet, and Danny’s song: “Feather, Fur and Fin” was a winner. His performance was filled with extremely rhythmic melodies and the seamless interaction of a broad range of instruments. ‘Feather, Fur and Fin’ was written by Danny as a response to the way industrialization has destroyed so much land, which he observed while living just outside the city.

To watch the stop motion official video of the song, follow this link: ‘Feather, Fur and Fin’.


Emmanuel Jal is a former boy soldier from Sudan who has chosen music as a path to make his footprint in the world. After his Toronto performance at Super Market (268 Augusta Ave.) during Canada Music Week, GreenHeroes got a chance to meet with him briefly to hear more about his current journey.

Emmanuel Jal's performance at Super Market, March 12th, 2011. Photo Credit: Elisa L. Iannacone

“The war tore my people, so I can never change my history, but I can use my experience to try to educate young people so that they can change the past mistakes and act now to change the future. (…) I’m an entertainer, but an entertainer with responsibility.” His work, though strongly geared towards peace, is also a call for humanity to take a stance for Earth. Emmanuel Jal has witnessed the destruction of people, and urges us to realize that ‘environment’ is also ‘people’. “The worst people on Earth are not the people who commit the crime, are not the people who pollute the environment, but are the people who sit down and watch it happen.”

Emmanuel Jal on stage. Photo credit: Elisa L. Iannacone

Below is a transcription of a few of the things that Emmanuel mentioned during our interview. Click on the audio link to listen to him speak as you read along.

“A lot of things are happening. There’s issues about wars, there is starvation, there is education, there’s environment crisis now, the world is speaking to us. The world is talking. The Earth is shaking. There’s flooding, there’s famine, you know? Seasons are confused. 90 million tons of CO2 are pumped into the air, every day, and people don’t know the side effects that it creates for the environment.

Like, we are 7 billion people now, and around 2 billion people live comfortably. So the other 4.something billion are probably living on less than dollar-a-day. We’re running out of resources. So if you live according to the standard of England, then only 3 billion people can enjoy the resources. You know, if we live to the standards of India then we can have 15 billion people. We have one part of the world like America. So, the whole world is crumbling because they want to live to the standard of the West. If we try to live to the standard of the West, the resources are not enough, because the Earth cannot sustain that number of people. You see all the wars and all of these things have a side effect.

Environment is not just pollution. It’s also the people, the living things. People are getting killed in Darfour and everywhere; we’re all part of the environment. The worst people on Earth are not the people who commit the crime, are not the people who pollute the environment, but are the people who sit down and watch it happen; because every human being has the power to change. You don’t have to go far, begin with yourself, begin within yourself, what are you doing? You can’t wait for the government to fix it. You need to start fixing it.

You know, if you’re really concerned about the environment, then try to save money and buy a car that is a hybrid. If you care about fair trade, then look for fair trade products and buy them. You see like, if we look at it in terms of genocide, we are intertwined into it. Sometimes you can wear a T-shirt; you don’t know where the ink came from. Or where the cotton came from. You can wear gold or diamond; you don’t know where that diamond came from. Sometimes you don’t know where that fuel comes from, in Sudan we’ve got genocide, Libya-crisis. So all we have to do is take a measure. Slowly by slowly we can make the world a better place. We’re in better times now compared to 60 years ago because we’ve got the Internet—the people’s power. Probably, it was set up for control, but now, the people can use that to make change.”


Visit Emmanuel Jal’s Website for videos, news, releases and social media contact:


For information on GUA Africa, founded by Emmanuel Jal, go to:


Sarah Harmer, the GreenHero from our ‘In My Backyard’ campaign and one of our favourite Canadian Green musicians has been busy.

This year, Sarah’s album Oh Little Fire is nominated for 3 Juno Awards; Adult Alternative Album of the Year, Producer of the Year and Recording Engineer of the Year.

In one of our previous webisodes, we profiled Sarah’s tireless work to raise awareness about the problems facing the Niagara Escarpment.

This UNESCO Heritage Site is home to numerous species and trees that are as old as 1000 years. As we highlighted, Sarah is co-founder of PERL (Protecting Escarpment Rural Land) and lends her energy to this cause which is close to her heart.

The Niagara Escarpment

Her film on the same subject has received great acclaim and she continues to speak for this beautiful natural resource.

This film, entitled “Escarpment Blues” is being played at TIFF Thursday March 24th as part of the 40th Anniversary celebrations of the JUNO Awards in Toronto. For more info regarding this screening click here. Go check it out and get involved!

Listen to her song of the same name below:


From the Airwaves

Below, watch Bruce’s poignant video of “If a Tree Falls” recorded originally in 1988, which he performed live in 2005 at the U.N. Summit on Climate Change.

The juxtaposition of acreage of untouched beautiful forest with images of clear cutting and mechanic destruction of trees really bring to light the tragedy of destroying these natural resources.


Bruce’s song “If I had a Rocket Launcher” was the 1984 hit that really confirmed him as a musical activist in the public’s eye.

He penned this song after a visit to a Guatemalan refugee camps in Mexico following the coup of dictator Montt.

It came back into public consciousness when he was recently in Afghanistan visiting his brother, who was serving with the Canadian Army there For a short period of time, he was actually given a rocket launcher, listen below:

This interview showcases Bruce’s commitment to social change through his music. Read all about what keeps him motivated and how his career has been dedicated to raising public awareness about what is most important to him.

This past week CineFocus and The GreenHeroes Team headed to Canada Music Week that took place in Toronto.

Along with big names like Sammy Hagar and Sarah McLachlan, this celebration of Canadian talent included more than 100 performers from all over the world.

CineFocus captured some great performances by Eco-conscious musicians, attended interviews and asked performers to weigh-in on why the environment is so important to them.

Several celebrated musicians have used their fame to spread the word about greener, healthier living and treating the earth with greater respect. There are some great examples in the music world of how fame can serve as a place to increase awareness.

Melissa Etheridge, who was in attendance at this Canada music week, won an Academy Award for the song she penned for Al Gore’s An Inconvienient Truth.
Appropriately entitled “I Need to Wake Up” this song sends a warning message and provided a great audio backdrop for Gore’s successful film. In 2006, Etheridge once again brought attention to ecologically friendly living when she toured through Canada and the U.S. using exclusively bio-desiels for all her vehicles.

Stay tuned for updates from our team as they share their spoils from Music Week.

Can music affect social change? There is no doubt that music has the ability to effect us emotionally, make us think and see the world differently and that musicians have the power to change the world for the better with the broad platform they possess in their fan-base.

This week, we highlight one of the many artists who are melding the world of politics with music.

Ottawa born Bruce Cockburn is the winner of 13 Juno Awards, an Officer of the Order of Canada and has more than 30 albums under his belt.

However, he is also a long-time, outspoken advocate for the environment and unafraid to publicly tackle difficult political questions.

He is committed to raising ecological and social awareness; Bruce is the honorary chairperson of Friends of the Earth and a supporter of the Unitarian Service Committee, he performed at a UNICEF concert in Kosovo, and was a spokesperson for the movement to ban land mines.

In 2005 he performed his well-known “If A Tree Falls” at the UN Summit for Climate Control in Montreal.

Indeed, Bruce was one of the earlier mainstream voices to speak about the destruction of our natural resources and he did so with the conviction that he was speaking for many others who shared his concern.

When asked about why he chose his music as the forum from which to encourage others to think about the human connection to our environment, he explained:

“I don’t think music can bring about social change by itself. I think it can be a crystallizing agent for waves of feeling that move through all of us.”

His music delivers a powerful message in a medium we all enjoy. His upcoming tour to promote his new album, Small Source of Comfort, takes him all over the U.S. and Canada so go check Bruce out live at a location near you!

Watch Bruce’s webisode.