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Good things are growing in Ontario's greenbelt

Science Matters | May 21, 2015 | Leave a comment
Photo: Good things are growing in Ontario's greenbelt

(Credit: Ontario Nature via Flickr)

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation's Ontario and Northern Canada Director-General Faisal Moola

More than half the planet's people now live in urban areas. The need to supply food, shelter, fresh water and energy to billions of urban residents is resulting in loss of farmland, forests, wetlands and other ecosystems, as well as the critical ecological services they support, like providing food, clean air and drinking water.

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Sea lice: An old problem that won't go away

Healthy Oceans | May 20, 2015 | Leave a comment
Photo: Sea lice: An old problem that won't go away

(Credit: Watershed Watch via Flickr)

By John Werring, senior science and policy adviser

Some things — like sea lice — just won't go away. Sea lice are a naturally occurring parasite of ocean fish and need hosts to survive. A sea louse's preferred host is an adult salmon, and the more fish there are in the water the greater the number of lice. Since wild salmon migrate, sea lice numbers in waters near the shore are typically low when the salmon are at sea and spike when the salmon return in the fall. When juvenile salmon migrate out of their home streams in the spring and enter the salt water, sea lice numbers are usually low (because they have no hosts to feed on during the winter), so encounters between fish and lice are fairly rare. There have been very few documented events where natural sea lice numbers are so high that they actually become a problem for wild fish.

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Signs of change are sweeping the nation

Science Matters | May 14, 2015 | 2 comments
Photo: Signs of change are sweeping the nation

In my home province, after a long struggle by elders and families of the Tahltan Klabona Keepers, the B.C. government bought 61 coal licences from Fortune Minerals and Posco Canada in the Klappan and Sacred Headwaters, putting a halt to controversial development in an ecologically and culturally significant area that is home to the Tahltan people and forms the headwaters of the Skeena, Stikine and Nass rivers. (Credit: Bruce McKay via Flickr)

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.

Recent events in Canada have shown not only that change is possible, but that people won't stand for having corporate interests put before their own.

When plummeting oil prices late last year threw Alberta into financial crisis, people rightly asked, "Where's the money?" They could see that an oil producer like Norway was able to weather the price drop thanks to forward planning, higher costs to industry to exploit resources and an oil fund worth close to $1 trillion! Leading up to the election, the government that ran Alberta for 44 years refused to consider raising industry taxes or reviewing royalty rates, instead offering a budget with new taxes, fees and levies for citizens, along with service cuts.

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Digging science: Citizens amplify knowledge about the natural world

Photo: Digging science: Citizens amplify knowledge about the natural world

(Credit: Mount Rainier National Park via Flickr)

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Research Scientist Scott Wallace.

One of this year's most popular Sundance Film Festival entries, Tangerine, was shot with an iPhone 5S and edited with an $8 app called Filmic Pro. New technology has also made music easier to produce and distribute, inspiring independent musicians. Science, too, is now in the hands of citizens around the world. From the ocean depths to the outer reaches of distant galaxies, and from projects run out of home garages to research platforms with over a million volunteer contributors, science has never been more accessible to the average person. Citizen science can link people to an established project or encourage those working on their own.

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How to make the world a better place

Photo: How to make the world a better place

Authentic leaders know their higher purpose. Meet Marisa, a mover and shaker. (Credit: Rachael Stableford)

Finding authentic leaders to become volunteer Queen of Green Coaches this spring wasn't hard — more than 125 people applied! I accepted 40. (Please subscribe to my monthly digest to hear about fall 2015 applications.)

Authentic leaders:

  • Know their higher purpose — what they believe they're on this Earth to do
  • Are genuine (humble, grounded, empathetic and patient)
  • See good intentions
  • Practice self-compassion
  • Desire and have the ability to care for others
  • Can create optimal environments for others to flourish

Introducing...(most of) my sixth round of coaches:

Abby, Calgary Alta. is an urban homesteader with a passion for healthy, sustainable living through permaculture design and connected communities, spreading the word about these projects throughout her community.

Ali, Chilliwack B.C. (@alilovesbugs) lives in the forest with her partner and two cats, loves bugs, is passionate about people, optimistic about our planet's future and encouraged by others making a difference.

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Using the California Effect to fight climate change

By Science and Policy Manager, Ian Bruce and Communications and Research Specialist, Steve Kux

The "California Effect" describes the leadership role of a region that enacts progressive legislation that is adopted beyond its borders. It got its name from regulations passed in the Golden State requiring better gas mileage and fewer emissions from automobile makers that led to massive fuel efficiency improvements in cars, including hybrid and zero-emission electric vehicles now in use around the world. California continues to live up to its reputation as a leader with recent leaps in promoting renewable energy, energy efficient homes and appliances, and an innovative economy focused on advanced technology. Today, Californians use about half the electricity per capita as the rest of the U.S. while over a quarter of new homes in South California are powered by the sun.

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Milkweed is a monarch's best defence

Science Matters | April 30, 2015 | 2 comments
Photo: Milkweed is a monarch's best defence

(Credit: Ina Warren, Make Way for Monarchs)

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Communications Strategist Jode Roberts.

The monarch butterfly is a wonderful creature with an amazing story. In late summer, monarchs in southern Canada and the U.S. northeast take flight, travelling over 5,000 kilometres to alpine forests in central Mexico. The overwintering butterflies cling to fir trees there in masses so dense that branches bow under their weight.

The monarch's multigenerational journey northward is every bit as remarkable as the epic southern migration. Three or four successive generations fly to breeding grounds, lay eggs and perish. The resulting caterpillars transform into butterflies and then take on the next leg of the trip. Monarchs arriving in Canada in late summer are often fourth or fifth generation descendants of butterflies that flew south the previous year.

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