Aquaculture in Madagascar

Aquaculture in Madagascar

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With a warm smile that filled the room, guest Nathaniel Maekawa entered the WCBN studios this past Friday to tell regular host Ben Sonnega about his experience as an aquaculture intern in Madagascar. Nathaniel is from Austin, TX. and is a senior at the University of Michigan studying Global Health and Environment, Medical Anthropology, and Sustainability. He enjoys writing, mountains, the ocean, and talking about dreams. Hopes to one day contribute to interdisciplinary projects that address equity, environmental conservation, and human health.

Nathaniel pictured center

His work in Madagascar was through the NGO Reefdoctor. In the words of the organization, the mission is to “marry conservation with social development by facilitating sustainable livelihoods and education as a countermeasure to over-exploitation. Our goal is to protect both marine and terrestrial habitats, and provide a self-sustaining pathway to poverty alleviation in the impoverished rural communities of Southwest Madagascar. We have worked in the Bay of Ranobe for 15 years, establishing long-standing harmony and effective partnerships with local communities”. This mission was reflected in the kindness and carefulness with which Nathaniel described his work with the Southwest Madagascar communities.

Nathaniel at a midnight sea cucumber sale.

Some of his work specifically included facilitating aquaculture development of sea cucumbers and creating his own version of an underwater scarecrow to ward off sea turtles looking for a snack (appropriately deemed the “scareturtle” on air).

Nathaniel’s shark mimic “scareturtle”

Find more stories and tunes from Nathaniel’s time in Southwest Madagascar on this episode of It’s Hot In Here!


Line 5 Retirement Party!

Line 5 Retirement Party!

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Scrolling through his email thread, regular host Ben Sonnega was startled to see the headline Line 5 Retirement Party! Is the pipeline finally being shut down for good? Time to investigate.

The Enbridge Line 5 is a controversial oil pipeline that runs directly beneath the Straits of Mackinac, and is an aging one now nearly 10 years passed its due date for replacement. A number of protests have taken place over the years, but Michigan attorney general Bill Schuette has not been critical of the pipeline. Michigan Senior Rachel Beglin is a student of the Graham Sustainability Scholars program at Michigan, and made it her business to lead on the creation of a documentary on Line 5. The documentary includes interviews and opinions from professionals in the field of science, politics, and community members near the pipeline in Northern Michigan.

Sadly, this is premature retirement party as the pipeline has not been shut down yet, but it is Rachel’s informed opinion that retirement for Line 5 is on the way very soon. Check out this episode for more info on the documentary, as well as delightful discussion of responsible pipeline advocacy around the country and how to get involved in the fight for clean water in your community!

COP 23: A Conversation on Bonn Climate Negotiations 2017

COP 23: A Conversation on Bonn Climate Negotiations 2017

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As tensions grow surrounding the U.S. pullout from the 2015 UN Paris Climate Agreement, keeping up to date on the latest negotiations is of the utmost importance. This week on It’s Hot In Here radio Climate Blue delegates to the COP 23 UN Climate Conference Tyler Fitch and Chris Karounos joined regular host Ben Sonnega to report back on the sights and sounds in Bonn, Germany. The negotiations have taken place every year for the last 23 years with the goal of creating a unified vision for acting on global climate change.

Tyler is a second-year Masters’ student in SEAS (School for Environment and Sustainability), studying social processes and outcomes of transitioning to clean energy. This year, he led a campaign to get the University of Michigan to sign on to the We Are Still In pledge.

Tyler pictured 2nd from the left

Chris is cofounder of Abaca Games and was a student co-creator of the open online course called Act on Climate. He studies Environmental Informatics and is a mycorrhizal fungus Nerd. Follow this link to sign up for early access to his climate change based video game coming in January!

Chris pictured 2nd from left

These two busy gentlemen were kind enough to sit down and share some of their personal stories from the weeks spent in Bonn, as well as opinions on the state of climate negotiations at the international stage. The show also includes an interview with Secretary Kijiner of the Marshall Islands conducted by Chris while he there. The interview reflects general sentiments shared by both Tyler and Chris stressing that as we work towards international agreements, it is important to keep in mind these are real lives at risk; in particular for the currently sinking island nations. This is the sad truth of climate change. Those contributing the least to global emissions are commonly suffering the most immediate and severe consequences. Despite this heart-wrenching feeling, Chris shares how uplifting it was to speak with the secretary as he thanks subnational actors in the United States for standing in solidarity with the We Are Still In pledge mentioned earlier in Tyler’s bio.

Chris Interviewing Secretary Kijner
Chris and Dr. Aminu Zakari from Zimbabwe

Keep up to date with this pertinent and thought-provoking episode of It’s Hot In Here, rounded out with tunes from artists Car Seat Headrest, Kate Tempest, and Fiji selected by Tyler himself!