CBCradio

July 10, 2009

Pt 1: Old Japantown - Tour - The Vancouver Japanese Language School has been buzzing with anticipation all week as students and teachers prepare their songs and decorations for the arrival of Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. The school is located in the heart of Vancouver's downtown east-side, the poorest postal code in the country and a neighbourhood rife with drug dealers and addicts.

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Pt 2: Peak Phosphourus - It's gardening season again ... Which means there are at least a few of you out there agonizing over the appropriate level of phosphorous for your tomatoes. And it turns out that simple act is a microcosm of a crucial dilemma for the world's food supply. Modern agriculture relies heavily on phosphorous fertilizer. It's mined from rock phosphate, a finite resource whose reserves are shrinking and controlled by just three countries -- Morocco, China and Russia.

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Today's summer guest host was Mellissa Fung.

It's Friday July 10th.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is still being criticized for apparently pocketing a communion wafer instead of eating it, at a funeral in New Brunswick last week.

Currently, Harper has now explained that he was saving the wafer for Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

This is the Current.

Old Japantown - Tour

The Vancouver Japanese Language School has been buzzing with anticipation all week as students and teachers prepare their songs and decorations for the arrival of Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. The school is located in the heart of Vancouver's downtown east-side, the poorest postal code in the country and a neighbourhood rife with drug dealers and addicts.

The school is also the last remaining link to a very different chapter in the neighbourhood's history. Before the Second World War, what is now the downtown east-side was known as Japantown ... the thriving centre of Japanese culture in Vancouver. But that all changed when more than 20,000 Japanese-Canadians were interned during the war and their property was expropriated.

Much of the neighbourhood's history disappeared after that. And today, the Japanese Language School is one of Japantown's only surviving landmarks. Laura Saimoto sits on the school's board of directors. The Current's Jen Moss went out to meet with Laura and her parents, Cyand Ritsu Saimoto.

Old Japantown - Panel

For their thoughts on what the Emperor's visit to the Downtown Eastside means for the wider Japanese-Canadian community, we were joined by two people. Joy Kogawa is a writer and the author of several books, including the widely-recognized Obasan, which explores the injustices Japanese-Canadians experienced during and after the Second World War. She was in Toronto. And Grace Eiko Thompson is the past president of the National Association of Japanese Canadians. She's now working to help revitalize Vancouver's old Japantown and she was in Vancouver.

Peak Phosphourus

It's gardening season again ... Which means there are at least a few of you out there agonizing over the appropriate level of phosphorous for your tomatoes. And it turns out that simple act is a microcosm of a crucial dilemma for the world's food supply. Modern agriculture relies heavily on phosphorous fertilizer. It's mined from rock phosphate, a finite resource whose reserves are shrinking and controlled by just three countries -- Morocco, China and Russia.

And with the world's population expected to grow by two-and-a-half Billion people over the next 40 years, there are those who worry that we simply won't be able to feed ourselves unless we can find alternate sources of phosphorous. In fact, the phrase "peak phosphorous" is now being used in much the same way that some people talk about "peak oil."

And for those of you who aren't gardeners, we've asked Jim Hole to explain exactly why phosphorous is so important when it comes to making things grow. He's a gardening guru on CBC Radio. And he's also the co-owner of Hole's Greenhouses and Gardens in St. Albert, Alberta.

And Stuart White thinks it's going to take some pretty drastic action in order to make sure the world doesn't run out of phosphorous. He is the Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney. He's also the co-founder of the Global Phosphorous Research Initiative and he was in Sydney, Australia.

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