Management of the Biophysical Environment - 2016

About this class

This course examines the role of the state in environmental issues. We examine the rationales, challenges and pitfalls inherent in state-led resource management. Students will be blogging on media coverage of important environmental issues throughout the course of the semester.

University of Guelph
by Acotter on November 25, 2016
2016 and a Liberal swinging government have provided the political equivalent of a subtweet aimed at the archaic ways in which our government includes the public in policy making decisions regarding climate action. The purpose of this article is to question the Liberal governments creation of an online forum for engaging a large section of the Canadian population including industry members, NGO’s, environmental groups, the private sector and the public at large.

297 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by LK1013 on November 25, 2016
An article called, the “Impact of Muskrat Falls a Nova Scotia Problem, Protesters Say” by Rachel Ward of CBC news, touched on the ongoing dispute between Nova Scotia's Energy Department and environmentalists, indigenous groups, and citizen’s scientists who are worried about methylmercury leaking into the nearby watershed of the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area. Protestors are insisting that proper precaution procedures should be implemented to ensure that the reservoirs remain uncontaminated.

278 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by chauvin.m on November 25, 2016
An article in CBC News by Paul Withers discusses a new tidal turbine that has been installed in the Bay of Fundy that is now delivering electricity to 500 homes. Initially, this seems to be great news, because Canada needs to increase its use of renewable energy in order to uphold our part of the Paris Agreement and investing in tidal energy is a good option as three oceans border Canada, providing easy access to a renewable resource. However, this may be more complex than simply installing turbines and letting them generate electricity.

328 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by argea on November 25, 2016
“More Bad News for Bees: The New “F” Word” by David Suzuki highlights the mistake of approving flupyradifurone as a new pesticide to replace neonicotinoids. Flupyradifurone is a pesticide in the same class as neonicotinoids, which are known to have detrimental impacts on bees and other pollinators. Ontario has recently acknowledged this problem, passing legislature to reduce the use of neonicotinoid use by 80% in Ontario by 2017 (OMAFRA, 2016). So why ruin the work they already started by approving the use of this new pesticide?

275 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by dylan.grieve on November 25, 2016
Every day we make decisions in our lives that can either leave an impact on the environment or not. Businesses and media tell us how we can lower these environmental impacts every day. We can swap out light bulbs, take shorter showers, buy eco labeled foods, turn off AC and heating when we are not home, and support local businesses. What if all these environmentally friendly initiatives and consumer goods are doing enough? What if by simply cutting down on our meat consumption to follow the recommended health food guidelines could cut emissions by nearly a third by 2050.

689 | 2 | 0
University of Guelph
by macrae on November 25, 2016
Overall, the dirtiest type of fossil fuel energy comes from burning coal. Sadly, coal-powered energy is not only the dirtiest but also the cheapest energy source, making it even harder to stop using it. However, Canada as a whole is making a stand and choosing to fight against coal-powered energy. Surprisingly, it was Alberta, one of the provinces who rely most heavily upon fossil fuels for their income, that took the initiative and announced on Thursday their provincial plan of action.

254 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by carlythrasher on November 25, 2016
“Duunn duunn…duuuuuun duunn… dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun “We have all experienced the sinking feeling hearing the two notes that have made us scared of swimming pools, oceans and lakes. The 1975 blockbuster Jaws spiked the worldwide irrational fear and hatred towards sharks. Since then, multiple films and TV shows have amplified such fear, making sharks vulnerable and targeted for commercial fishing.  The radio clip by CBC’s Matt Galloway describes this spike in commercial fishing, specifically drawing in on the shark fin trade and its inhumane tactics.

573 | 1 | 0
University of Guelph
by cmajor_1 on November 25, 2016
According to an article about the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting in Portugal, Canada has made “the right decision” over fishing quotas. The ICCAT is charged with the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas.

475 | 1 | 0
University of Guelph
by McTeeg on November 25, 2016
It comes as no surprise that many Canadian provinces have and continue to rely on coal-fire power generation. It’s also not news that Ontario has recently managed to go coal free as part of their initiative to reduce emissions and move towards renewable power sources. However, as great as this is from an environmental perspective it has come at a cost, specifically in the form of expensive hydro bills.

261 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by andrewsd on November 25, 2016
  Make Muskcat Right  

403 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by Thor06 on November 25, 2016
The article “Standing Rock pipeline protesters repelled by force at bridge crossing” written by The Associated Press aims to inform the public on the increasing tensions associated with the construction of the $3.8 billion “Dakota Access” pipeline in Standing Rock Indian reserve adjacent to their primary source of water. The Dakota Access pipeline is expected to carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois which will eventually reach its destination to Gulf of Mexico.

743 | 1 | 0
University of Guelph
by oneillp on November 25, 2016
Article of Discussion: World leaders wage into water to fight climate change Author: Bob McDonald   Until The Last Drink of Water!

304 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by efortush on November 25, 2016
     Oceanic contamination throughout the world is one of the largest issues pertaining to water degradation, and is now a large threat to the Canadian Pacific Coast.  Specifically, introduction of algal blooms to coastal areas can be attributed to being a large portion of the threat to the environment, various species and human life. The article titled “Climate change could foster toxic algae along Pacific coast, says report” encompasses the growing risks related to the Canadian BC pacific coastline as well as its relationship towards the nearby harmful Alaska blooms.

312 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by tatertot on November 25, 2016
     As reported by Cameron (2016), at about one kilometre away from the Lake Huron shoreline, stands the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station that is owned by the Ontario Power Generation (OPG). Over time, as a result of generating nuclear power, they have developed waste products that have been classified as low-level and intermediate radioactive waste.

404 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by pwishart on November 25, 2016
Worldwide the boreal forest covers 1.9 billion hectares (14% of earths land) (Natural Resources Canada 2016), 400 million hectares of which are in Canada. (Hanna 2015) In Canada forest management is a conflicting issue, with concerns coming from all fields; social, economic and environmental. One article that covers these issues is ‘Canada boreal forest protection expanded in 2013 but concerns remain’ written by the CBC, based on a report by Jeff Wells a biologist with the Canadian Boreal Initiative.

235 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by aseth on November 25, 2016
The recent discovery of another source of oil in Texas has sparked the conversation about the increased need for pipelines in Canada. The new Texas formation, known as the Wolfcamp formation, contains an estimated 20 billion barrels of oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. While this is not expected to have a huge effect on oil prices, it is still noteworthy for the Albertan and Canadian government.

468 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by ManreetSahota on November 25, 2016
Imagine a city where you could step out and be surrounded by acres and acres of green space and not cement buildings everywhere. When people choose to move downtown green space is never their main concern but it does sound nice to everyone.  Corktown Commons is a community green space created Downtown Toronto to add ecological, economic and social value to the city and community.

256 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by Rileym on November 25, 2016
This article was published to inform society of the overfishing that has been taking place and goes unreported not noticed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Studies were conducted by two students at the University of British Columbia and their four hundred global collaborators with the Sea Around Us project to analyze the accuracy of the FAO’s statistics on fisheries. These studies concluded that approximately fifty percent more fish are being caught than what is recorded by the FAO (Chung, 2016).

288 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by kohearn on November 25, 2016
This May, Canadians and people around the world were shocked by the wildfire that tore through Fort McMurray, Alberta, leaving almost 80,000 people homeless and resulting in immense economic and social consequences. Most people saw the fire as an event that could never have been predicted, and it highlighted the importance of disaster readiness for communities at risk from wildfires.

516 | 2 | 0
by josh_cifelli5817 on October 16, 2016
SUNY Genesee Community Colllege
Does the wage gap exist? Yes but not at the 79 cents per every man’s dollar like people keep quoting, its actually 93 cents per every man’s dollar.

2,448 | 9 | 2
by ebentley on October 14, 2016
SUNY Genesee Community Colllege
PTSD is mental disorder which many Americans may never come in contact with. For someone in the military though, it’s very possible that if they go into war they may come out with PTSD. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder wasn’t put into the APA until 1980, so what would happen to a military veteran before 1980 who would be experiencing PTSD? Well they would be sent home to cope with their disorder alone. Do I think this was a good idea? Of course not, because often times the veteran would end up taking his own life due to the mental disorder.

2,750 | 10 | 1
by ebentley on October 14, 2016
SUNY Genesee Community Colllege
Sex and gender are often thought as two categories that are dependent of each other. In all reality though, sex and gender can have two sperately different answers that don't relate. In the article " BEARDS AND BODIES Doing Sex in a Gendered World" by Raine Dozier, he quotes from Lorber saying "Talking about gender for most people is equivelent of fish talking about water" meaning that gender is not a topic most people talk about. Today's society has brought about new relationships, allowing people to speak and feel free about their gender identity.

2,189 | 7 | 0
by spmmps on October 14, 2016
SUNY Genesee Community Colllege
It is too often that people say things like, “Oh, that’s a man’s job” or “That is a woman’s job”. How did these made up “rules” allow people to become discriminated by gender? Why should anyone limit themselves, their talents or their passions because of societal “gender rules” that have been functioning for years. I know personally what it is like to be harassed by people because of my job and my gender. I work for my father in our family business, which is auto and heavy machinery repairs, which in turn makes me a mechanic.

7,599 | 16 | 0
by BeckyGay1 on October 14, 2016
SUNY Genesee Community Colllege
          This year has seen its fair share of controversy and hate. Gender equality is a topic that keeps coming up and seems to center on women most of the time. More specifically, society tends to see women as generally weaker and more fragile than men. Women are even discriminated in the work place. A woman, who works at the same place and does the same job as a man, will be payed less than the man despite the fact that both of them have the same job. Women are also seen as easy targets for sexual harassment in the work place.

8,277 | 18 | 1
by Navy Girl on October 14, 2016
SUNY Genesee Community Colllege
     Why is it that girls are most often considered and encouraged to be like flower petals—beautiful and artsy—instead of stems where complexity and science is a beauty of its own? Why is there a low ratio of girls to guys in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields?

2,563 | 14 | 0
by JacobT on October 14, 2016
SUNY Genesee Community Colllege
Recently there seems to be an increase in women fearing that their gender will have a negative direct effect on the possibilities of getting a career, or that career ever advancing, and a fear that their wages will be lower simply because they are women. There is also a fear that because they are women, they have slim pickings for jobs they can actually pick. This is obviously a huge problem.

1,873 | 9 | 0
by Emule on October 13, 2016
SUNY Genesee Community Colllege
While the wage gap is a widely controversial topic, it does indeed exist. However, what most people do not realize is that this wage gap might be in place for a good reason. The United States percentage as a whole says that on average women get around 80% of the pay that men receive annually. That means if a man is making $100,000 annually, that on average depending on the state, a woman would make around $80,000 doing the exact same job with the exact same qualifications.

3,352 | 10 | 0
by sconti on October 12, 2016
SUNY Genesee Community Colllege
As a child, boys and girls would always pick on the opposite sex about who was better. Little did we know that it was all based on the numbers of men and women that were in the world. Since 1960, men have outnumbered women in the world. Which means that for every 100 women there are 101.8 men. However, a recent map from the Pew Research Center shows there is an equal amount of men to women. Based on the map, Latvia, Lithuania, Armenia, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and Estonia are several countries that have the largest female population.

1,627 | 7 | 0
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3 years 8 months ago

Hi Samantha!

It was very nice of you to write your article on the issue of the free parks in 2017 - I think this is a really remarkable policy and it is good to see an article which applies a critical lens to it. As I see it, you have two basic argument: that this decision is exacerbating the conflict of the duel mandates of park management (which are to protect parks ecologically as well as to promote their use for tourism), and that they have made this decision to increase park revenues. I agree with both of these ideas. However, I am a bit skeptical of your conclusions, that proper park management and low development can reduce the impact of the overcrowding on wildlife, and that there will be environmental gains from education about wildlife.

To an extent, I agree that visiting parks may increase awareness of environmental activities, as was stated in the documentary "nature's invitation". However, I am not sure that making Canada's national parks free will result in the increase in meaningful experiences in nature that lead to the positive environmental experiences that society as a whole aims for. As far as I know, there is an expectation that this will result in a huge boom for the rocky mountain parks visitations, but not necessarily for other less well known or more remote parks. If too many people come to those parks in particular, they may experience the lack of "wilderness" that you highlighted in your article, and if they are mainly tourists they will pollute while in transit, and may not stay long enough for that genuine nature experiences that are needed to create environmental activists.

Likewise, I am sure that improper park practices can increase over crowding, but I think that the large numbers of people ultimately will have an impact on the environment that they visit, even with good management practices, as is currently occurring in Acadia National Park. In that case they have employed numerous novel methods for dealing with local visitor impacts, including creating a free bus to disincentivize car use and strategic removal of signs so that people do not visit vulnerable habitats. If it is really impossible to have it all, or meet both of the mandates of the parks, then we have to ask which one is more important. The law has addressed this already, stating that the first objective of Parks Canada is to protect and restore the habitat in parks. Therefore, I ultimately view this decision as not the best one that Parks Canada could have made in order to meet the objectives you outline. What do you think?

3 years 8 months ago

I have recently become really interested in the issue of corporations extracting fresh water and selling it to consumers. Water should be a public resource, not sold off for private profit. With this being said, the tittle of your blog captured my attention and it also gave myself an interesting question to reflect on. The fact that Nestle wants to renew a permit which allows them to withdrawal one million liters of water for $3.71, is outrageous. What is even more outrageous than Nestles plan to renew a permit is the fact that the company got the permit in the first place, as it obviously is not in the best interest for citizens. I also wanted to mention that you did a great job summarizing the article, which is great so that more people can hopefully get involved in this issue! I also liked the fact that you related the article to the different types of conflict. I agree that this issue is an example of interest conflict, mainly because there is no firm agreement regarding who should pay for the costs over the water scarcity issue. Another type of conflict which can be related to this issue is behavioral conflict, due to the fact that there is a historical relationship of the state not looking out for its people, and putting corporations first.

One question I have for you is: Where do you think this issue falls on the issue awareness cycle?

3 years 8 months ago

cstew92,

I was drawn to your post because this is a topic i'm not very familiar with. I never really considered that greenhouse gas emissions could come from wastewater. You delivered the information with extreme clarity and really demonstrated that you are very knowledgeable on this topic. I liked how you highlighted the fact that this is a good example of uncertainty in resource management. Managing the human impacts on natural resources is extremely difficult, but like you said, decisions need to be made anyway.

It is concerning that the IPCC, a panel tasked with documenting causes of climate change, would omit such a large factor of greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater. Whether it was intentional or unintentional, it raises concerns about who is in charge of this huge responsibility. This definitely emphasizes that more regulation is needed when it comes to precious resources such as water. If we wish to truly combat climate change, it's crucial that we have a thorough understanding of the impacts of our actions.

3 years 8 months ago

Hey Milana,

I think the topic of nuclear power is an interesting subject, and your article got me thinking. There are two ways to look at this situation. On one side, you must be able to appreciate the magnificent ingenuity of mankind and our ability to harness the power of natural elements derived from our planet. The ability for scientists to apply theoretical concepts to physically and chemically alter specific elements to provide energy for humans is simply astonishing to me. On the other hand, you can also see evidence of the devastation that this type of energy produces. Major implications for the environment pose serious threats to many aspects of human life as the toxic remains of this process are either not disposed of properly or manage to leak into the environment through a variety of human or climatic factors. I personally think the biggest problem with the production of nuclear energy is one that we have yet to fully experience or notice just yet. The decay process for active nucleic atoms can take thousands of years, and with disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima being relatively recent on that timescale, availability for long-term scientific studies on the effects of radiation cannot adequately provide the necessary information needed. I agree with you that going forward, nuclear power may not be a viable option much longer. Although, we must also consider that this type of energy is currently relied upon as a vital source of power to areas all over the globe and so transitioning away from this source will have its complications. That is not to say however that it should not be done.

Cheers,

Cam

3 years 8 months ago

Hello,
Thank you for your feedback. For some reason I am unable to access the website you've provided. With regards to your question about the assumption made by the IPCC, if you re-read the first paragraph it might make it a bit more clear as to why the IPCC chose to omit emissions caused by wastewater. As you may know, The IPCC is in charge of providing various kinds of scientific data to decision makers and so when they produce estimates of global greenhouse gas emissions - things like fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, and other industrial and agricultural activities are included. However, the study in which this article relates to determined that the IPCC completely ignored the thought of CO2 emissions from wastewater treatment facilities because they assumed that any carbon released was due to biological processes (like human waste) which is carbon neutral. The problem with this is that household items like detergents, soaps, etc., contain specific chemicals that when processed during treatment are not always contained 100%. Therefore, this study suggests the IPCC neglected to account for nearly 23% of total greenhouse gas emissions in their estimates. As you can see this poses huge implications for decisions going forward, and also raises doubt as to whether or not those who are in charge of data collection are capable of this position.

Here is a copy to another article I found that discusses the same study and might provide more information for you.
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/sewage-plants-overlooked-co2-source-2...

Cheers!

3 years 8 months ago

Hello jessieparlee great post. The rising concerns regarding the Sioux Nation and the North Dakota pipeline has become one of the most prominent environmental issues regarding today’s conflict scenarios. The entire conflict displays the many issues regarding past aboriginal relationships, land rights, and state resource management. The unbelievable way that the state treats the protest has been absolutely disturbing besides the lack of recognition of aboriginal rights and fresh water concerns. The implementation of the Dakota Access pipeline poses a large amount of risk towards essential resources used and consumed by the Sioux First Nationals people as well as many other citizens.
The protest and support for this concern is absolutely essential in achieving recognition from the state on the importance of our natural resources and environmental health. The state should idealistically be looking towards more viable resources than crude oil in the first place, rather than introducing a massive environmental risk such as this pipeline. Support locally and around the world will aid in achieving a more beneficial result from this massive issue/event and hopefully lead to greater aboriginal rights and recognition. Economic gain should not be put ahead of citizen health and environmental concern. Overall great post and ultimately hope to hear more beneficial results regarding the Dakota Access pipeline in the future.

3 years 8 months ago

Dear Author,
I'd like begin by saying that this article is very informative and incorporates the definition of renewable resources in a great way for the reader to understand the significance of exceeding the threshold and potentially relegating renewable resources to stock resources. I'd also like to point out that by incorporating a personal touch, "the son of a wastewater treatment operator" you convey the blog with a sense of confidence to the reader that you have enough knowledge to understand the impacts that wastewater emission have. On the other hand you only mention that the IPCC omitted the emission caused by wastewater, is there a specific reason? You suggest they "used assumptions" when omitting these datum from emission reports, as a reader I don't know what "assumptions" they are using to neglect this information.
Below I have provided a link that briefly describes reasons why data are omitted in some cases.
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-leslie-costs-and-benefits-del...
Overall it was a fantastic blog and I really enjoy the personal touch that you added to it!

3 years 8 months ago

I think you connected this news article assignment well with the course material. Using the four types of conflict to analyze the Nestle water issue was a good way to get a better sense of how each party feels about the current situation.

I just wanted to elaborate further in regards to interest conflict, the focus of your blog assignment.This article really highlights the tension between the community and the Nestle corporation. The community is concerned with the potential water shortages that the corporation poses to the city of Guelph, yet they are also highly dependent on this company for jobs. The corporations seems unbothered by the concerns raised by the community, assuring everyone that their usage has no impact on the communities access to Guelph water. Furthermore, another interest conflict is who is responsible to correct any issues that occur because of the fact. If Nestle were to extract too much of Guelph's water and there did end up being a shortage, who is liable? Who should be responsible for compensating for this loss?

I think your overall blog was good, however there are minor spelling and grammar issues throughout that make it slightly difficult to follow. Overall, good job! I hope that the information I posted allows for deeper thought and consideration.

Milana

3 years 8 months ago

Hey AsimSayMo,

First off I would like to commend for a very well written blog post, which addresses such a pressing national and global issue! Like Ontario, heavy coal-reliant provinces need to pull their weight if Canada wants to meet the national emissions target set in the Paris Agreement. Yes, energy is an important aspect of Canada’s economy, but I don’t fully agree with some of the arguments that were mentioned in the article. Eradicating coal powered plants may have a negative effect on the economy, however investing in renewable sources of energy will create many new sectors and opportunities for employment as a result.

In 2015, Alberta implemented their Climate Leadership plan, outlining the ban of coal by 2030, and the creation of a carbon tax; proposed to reach $30/tonnes by 2018 and be completely revenue neutral. Revenue neutral plans mean that the revenue from this tax will go right back into the province by being allocated toward lowering income tax or converted to the form of rebates. This transition will lead to a decrease of jobs in one sector but an increase in many others. Initially it may affect the workers and power bills, but it will be far more beneficial for people’s health, the environment, and ultimately our future economy.

This idea of renewable energy being social and economically regressive, is what will ruin the state of our environment and destroy the livelihood of Canadians in the future. Eliminating coal as a source of energy will allow renewable energy to flourish, and provide a healthy environment for Canadians. Ultimately diversifying the economy and creating progressive taxes, will help families adapt to this shift in change.

Sources

http://www.alberta.ca/climate-coal-electricity.aspx

http://www.alberta.ca/climate-leadership-plan.aspx

3 years 8 months ago

Hi blackpanther,
I really enjoyed your article. I also wrote on the same topic but from a different article, so it was good to see a slightly different approach to the topic. I defintely agree that the park should be there especially since in the surrounding context, the area is quite grey and devoid of natural spaces - mainly filled with parking lots. It will provide recreational opportunities and can be ecologically beneficial. On the other hand, I have read that there is a concern for a lack of parking spaces, especially with the new Rogers Place that was built in the area that did not provide many parking spaces (there hope was to use adjacent parking areas). There was also concern from citizens, found in the facebook comments of my article, that commuters to the downtown area would have less places to park and public transit isn't exactly efficient in Edmonton to allow them to easily get downtown. What would your approach or solution be to address these other concerns against the park?

Thanks for sharing!
-Elle

SUNY Genesee Community Colllege

SUNY Brockport

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About the author

Associate Professor of Geography, University of Guelph.

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