Latest posts in Science Matters
I recently travelled across Canada with David Suzuki Foundation staff, from St. John's to Victoria and up to Yellowknife, joined by friends and allies along the way. Besides our Blue Dot Tour evening events featuring some of Canada's best-known musicians, writers, artists and thinkers, we also took part in many community events and discussed environmental stewardship and treaty rights with Indigenous people.
We visited places that lack access to clean water in a country that boasts having an abundance of the cleanest water in the world. We met people trying to protect their communities, wildlife and habitat from fossil fuel development and pipeline projects. We joined more than 1,000 people in Toronto for a celebration of local food, music and nature during the Homegrown Park Crawl. We took part in nature-themed scavenger hunts with schoolchildren.
There's no free ride when it comes to generating energy. Even the cleanest sources have environmental consequences. Materials for all power-generating facilities have to be obtained and transported, and infrastructure must be built, maintained and eventually decommissioned. Wind turbines take up space and can harm wildlife. Hydro floods agricultural land and alters water cycles.
That's why conservation is the best way to reduce energy-consumption impacts. Reductions in energy use and investment in energy-efficiency technologies are so significant that the International Energy Agency refers to conservation as the "first fuel".
Canada's newest "national park" is a vibrant patchwork of green space meandering through dynamic downtown neighbourhoods in one of Canada's densest metropolises, along the former path of a creek buried more than 100 years. It's a welcoming space for birds and bees that's nurturing a new generation of city-builders. And it may spread to your city. Let me explain.
Authors Douglas Tallamy and Richard Louv originally proposed the Homegrown National Park idea. They advocated stitching together a diverse tapestry of green spaces to create a living corridor for butterflies, birds and bees. Ultimately, this connected pollinator pathway would become a natural space to rival traditional national parks.
Canada is among the world's wealthiest nations, but our wealth is not equitably distributed. Many communities, particularly northern and Aboriginal, suffer from poor access to healthy and affordable food, clean water, proper housing and other necessary infrastructure. An ironic example of this disparity is at Shoal Lake, about two hours east of Winnipeg. There, two First Nations, Shoal Lake 39 and 40, are next to the City of Winnipeg's main drinking-water supply, but Shoal Lake 40 has been on a boil-water advisory for decades.Continue reading »
Our ancestors may not have called themselves "citizen scientists" or organized to collect data for scientific inquiry, but they were keen observers of the natural world. Their survival often depended on being able to tease apart nature's complexity — where to find game and when to sow seeds, collect berries and prepare for winter or bad weather.
But our modern, technology-obsessed lives increasingly divorce us from nature, with consequences for our health and well-being. Numerous studies now remind us of what we know intuitively: Spending time in nature makes us feel better — helping with depression, attention deficit disorder, recall and memory, problem-solving and creativity. People who spend more time outside are also physically healthier.Continue reading »