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.

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3 années 8 mois 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 années 8 mois 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 années 8 mois 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 années 8 mois 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 années 8 mois 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 années 8 mois 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 années 8 mois 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 années 8 mois 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 années 8 mois 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 années 8 mois 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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Associate Professor of Geography, University of Guelph.

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