Latest posts in Science Matters
Earth has existed for 4.5 billion years, humans for somewhere around 150,000. But in my brief lifetime — less than 80 years — human populations have exploded exponentially, from two billion to more than seven billion. In that short time, we've created consumer societies and decimated the planet's natural systems, used up resources, filled oceans with plastic and pollution, altered water cycles, and upset the Earth's carbon cycle, disrupting global climate systems.Continue reading »
In 1962, biologist and writer Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, a book about the widespread use of agricultural pesticides, and how toxic chemicals like DDT were threatening insects, birds and other elements of our natural world. It garnered widespread critical and popular acclaim and is heralded as the catalyst for the modern environmental movement.Continue reading »
Reading the news, it's hard not to feel a growing sense of unease. The threat of terrorism, growing instability and conflict overseas, a shooting on Parliament Hill last October and uncertainty about the economy diminish our collective feelings of safety and security. To this we add the looming environmental threats of climate change, pollution, declining ocean health, oil spills and extreme weather.Continue reading »
June 8 is World Oceans Day. In Canada, it's a time to celebrate the rich marine life in three great oceans off the longest coastline of any nation — trillions of plankton, billions of fish, millions of seabirds, thousands of whales and myriad other creatures great and small. Yet, we have little to celebrate when it comes to looking after this natural legacy. Although the federal government has committed to protect 10 per cent of our oceans by 2020, it has so far protected just one per cent.Continue reading »
We're surrounded by life, but Earth's most plentiful living things are invisible to the naked eye. Microbes are not only around us, they live on and in us. Although some cause maladies ranging from food poisoning to smallpox, there are many we couldn't live without.
Beneficial microbes break down food and produce vitamins in our guts. They coat our skin, protecting us from attacks by harmful microbes. Outside our bodies, they decompose organic waste, fix nitrogen and produce half the world's oxygen.Continue reading »