Thursday, February 25, 2010

Edward Burtynsky on manufactured landscapes

Description from Accepting his 2005 TED Prize, photographer Edward Burtynsky makes a wish: that his images -- stunning landscapes that document humanity's impact on the world -- help persuade millions to join a global conversation on sustainability

One word for this video is wow. Everyone knows China is crowded and has a large demand for resources, but the pictures really do the job of sending the message. There was a lot going on in the video so I'll do my best to highlight what I believe were the major points.

To start off pictures involving waste were shown. A massive rock quarry and mountains of tires (about 45 million) were really mind boggling. So much waste piled up and such a large amount of resources removed from the Earth. The oil tanker remains piled up on the shorelines were shocking to say the least. The issue Edward tries to get across throughout the video is how waste from developed nations ends up in third world countries. One example was that 50% of computers end up in China to be recycled. To remove the precious metals from the motherboards they burn the boards, and the smell can be sensed from kilometers away. Its called E-waste and it piles up in some villages and even blocks roadways.

Many buildings had an obvious flaw, no central AC, each apartment has a separate AC unit. This obviously leads to massive power use. Power consumption is a major factor in China as they have a massive demand for resources. One steel mill had over 18 square kilometers of coal to run on.

The factories were literally another world. In one the film showed a woman assembling a circuit breaker with unbelievable speed. These factories can be huge, up to a half kilometer long. Buildings pop up literally overnight and some are built up around homes of people who are holding out for more money before they move away to let construction in.

In summary the Burtynsky stated that he want his images to provoke thoughts about conservation from not just this generation, but the next. Teach the youth about conservation and how it can help clean up the world. Many people (me included) are visual learners and Burtynsky's pictures really got the message across to me about conservation. Sometimes all people is the right shot to get them thinking, and then acting on that thought.

Chapter 16: Reinventing the Energy System

The chapter starts out with a reference to the 1970's oil crisis from 73-74 due to the Arab oil embargo and how it jump started more heavy research into alternative energy sources. It then goes on to give some background on the author Christopher Flavin and Seth Dunn. Flavin is "president of the Worldwatch Institute and is actively engaged in international climate change and energy policy discussions" and Dunn a "staff researcher, research associate, and energy/climate team co-leader with the Worldwatch Institute from 1996 to 2002 and remains a senior Worldwatch fellow." The title of this chapter refers to a section taken from a book (State of the World 1999) in which the authors argue that "the combined effects of changing societal needs, the development of new technologies, and serious global environmental problems are likely to speed the transition to a new world energy system in the early part of the twenty-first century." Boy, did they turn out to be right.

The key concept of this chapter is forging an energy system to meet the world's needs in the twenty-first century."

The 1893 Chicago World's fair is the first topic covered. The country's "best minds" gathered and were asked by the American Press Association to peer a century into the future. They made predictions such as electric power becoming universal with steam and other kinds of power falling to disuse. Non were able to predict or fathom the coming of oil and its effect on the world, nor how inexpensive energy would lead to things such as TV and continent-bridging jet aircraft.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chapter 15: More Profit With Less Carbon

In 1977 a physicist Amory B. Lovins published a book titled Soft Energy Paths: Toward a Duable Peace in which he expressed his view that the U.S. should move away from the "hard path" - being fossil fuels and nuclear energy - to the "soft path" - solar power, wind power, biomass, etc... - as it would be better for the environment. Since then he has become and energy guru of the environmental movement.

The key concept of this chapter is: the advantages to business and the environment of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

The author of the chapter begins by describing a misunderstanding about the climate debate. No it will not cost more for transportation, hot showers, etc should we use less fossil fuels to slow global warming and no, the costs will not be prohibitive. The author then states that if done right, climate protection would actually reduce costs. Energy efficiency offers an "economic bonanza" as it is cheaper to save fossil fuel than buy it. Some examples of companies reducing energy costs include DuPont (a chemical manufacturer) has increased production by 30%, cut energy use by 7% and greenhouse emissions by 72% over the last decade saving them $2 billion. BP, an oil giant cut its energy bill by $650 million over ten years by reducing their CO2 emissions 10% below their 1990 level.

The U.S. currently uses 47 cents less energy per dollar then 30 years ago which has decreased costs by about $1 billion per day. The author claims that despite these facts, energy efficiency has not caught on because "many people have confused efficiency (doing more with less) with curtailment, discomfort or privation (doing less, worse or without)." Along with poor habits and ingrained rules the government and people do not realise how much they can gain by energy efficiency or how to go about being efficient.

The section titled: The Efficiency Revolution describes many cheap technologies such s window coating, cheap compact fluorescent lamps and electronic speed controls. The author then describes scenarios in which companies and people made simple changs or implemented ideas tht helped dramatically increase energy efficinecy. In the 1990's Pacific Gas & Electric built a suburban tract in California that could stay cool in the summer without an air conditioning system. If widely adopted it would cost $1,800 less to build and $1,600 less to maintain than over its lifetime. In the non-profit group he co-founded - Rocky Mountain Institute (RIM) - a team has developed new construction designs that offer energy savings of 89% for a data center, 75% for a chemical plant, 70-90% for a supermarket and 50% for a luxury yacht. The designs all have lower capital costs than conventional designs. They also has proposed refits for current oil refineries, mines and microchip factories that would lead to a 40-60% energy reduction and repay the costs in just a few years.

Transportation in the U.S. consumes 70% of it oil, generating a third of its emissions. Cars are very inefficient as only about 13% of fuel energy reaches the wheels. The remaining 87% comes as heat, engine noise and lost to idling and accessories (such as AC). A RMI report made in 2004 claims that lighter cars will be more fuel efficient (physics does back this up). "Carbon fibre can absorb 6 to 12 times as much crash energy per kilogram as steel does". Their analysis also includes a prejection which states that full adoption of efficient vehicles and buildings by could cut the current 28 million barrel a day 2025 projection in half. Alternative sources of fuel would reduce U.S. carbon emmission by 26%, cut pollution, remove the risk in supplying soldier with fuel in war and reap other obvious and less obvious benefits.

The chapter also includes graphs titled Electricity Alternatives and An Oil-Free America but I was unable to find a copy to put on this blog.

The Changing Climate of the Arctic

We had a guest speaker come in and present a slide show describing "climate drivers" or natural and man made forces that drive the worlds climate and weather.

On concept was Forcing Mechanisms, which disrupt the Earth's energy balance and are caused by a little something called anthropogenic forcing mechanisms. An example presented to the class about the Earth being out of balance was the fact that there has been a 21% increase in CO2 over the past decade. Current computer models predict that the Earth will have an overall temperature increase of 1-4 degrees by 2100 and an ice free Arctic by 2020.

One natural climate driver presented was the Beaufort Gyre. As per wikipedia's description: "The Beaufort Gyre is a wind driven ocean current located in the Arctic Ocean. The gyre contains both ice and water. It accumulates fresh water by the process of melting the ice floating on the surface of the water." As current wind pattern around the globe change it may be possible that fresh water from the Gyre may "spill" out into the North Atlantic and have impacts on the climate and the circulation of the ocean.

The Circumpolar Flaw Lead (CFL) study through the University of Manitoba examines the physical changes and their effects on biological processes with flaw leads. Flaw Leads is a term describing how waterways open up between pack ice and fast ice. This is an annual event in the Arctic and involves pack ice drifting away from coastal ice. Polynyas (bodies of water surrounded by ice) can form and are a indicator of sorts of global warming. These natural ice holes have grown to vast sizes in recent years as annual ice buildup in the Arctic is less and less every year.

Our Presenter stated that we need to do more research into the Arctic and how it functions in order to better understand climate change and its effects. To do this she said that permanent geological and meteorological research stations need to be implemented in and around the Arctic and funding increased.

There was a lot of information presented such as a satellite video of the Arctic's annual ice formation. It was a deep insight into what is happening in terms of climate change and what where scientists get their facts from. All in all the presentation emphasised the already major issue of climate change and the fact that we have to do something about it soon.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chapter 4: A Sand County Almanac

Aldo Leopold was an officer of the U.S. Forest Service in the 1920's. In an attempt to protect natural environments from the effects of commercial activity he helped to establish 70 "primitive areas" in which development was prohibited. 16 years after his death the Federal Wilderness Act was passed in 1964. Leopold wrote a number of lyrical and philosophical works about nature in a book A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There from which excerpt was taken in order to start off the chapter. Leopold once had a fair bit of enthusiasm for killing wolves and admits this was due to common ignorance of the "ecological interdependence that sustains mountain ecosystems."

The excerpt titled Thinking Like a Mountain begins with a description of the effect the howl and presence of a wolf affects a passerby and even a cattle raiser. A hunter will have the "challenge of fang against bullet" come to mind while a cattle raiser may be filled with thoughts of "red ink at the bank (a river where the cattle drink" as it were.

Leopold then describe how he and a friend were eating lunch on a hill when they saw a wolf mom and her pups swim across a river. He claims that in those days people had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. So they began to "pump lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy:". He claims he thought that less wolves meant more deer which would mean a hunters paradise. But he looked into the wolf moms eyes and "after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view."

He then goes on to say how we watched numerous states extirpate wolves and how with them gone the deer ate all the edible plant life off the mountains and then starved to death when there was no food left. Leopold then states that he believes mountains live in fear of deer, just as deer live in fear of wolves.

The except embodies the main idea behind of this chapter, people cannot do as they please with nature, we do not own it, and if we disrupt the delicate balance of ecosystems which we also rely upon, then we are in trouble. The Ethical Sequence is one of the main ideas in this chapter. It is an extension of ethics and is a process of ecological evolution. Ethics began with the relationship between individuals and spawned the Golden Rule. However, there is no ethic dealing with the relationship between man and land and the animals and plants which live upon it. We still see land a property. "The land-relation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but not obligations."

The Community Concept has a brief part in this chapter. It states that a individuals instincts prompt him to to compete for a better place within hi community, but his ethics also prompt him to co-operate. The author then states that the land ethic is merely an extension of this to include land, water, plants and animals within or near the community.

In summary the author describes his feelings and thought on how to bring about land ethics. "It is inconceivable to me that an ethical relation to the land can exist without love, respect, and admiration for the land, and a high regard for its value....I mean value in a philosophical sense." One claim is that is that people have the wrong view of nature and not enough respect. Place a person in the open, someplace that is not a golf resort or scenic area and boredom will set in. Farmers still see the land as an adversary. We need to change our way of thinking and our relation with the land if we are to prevent continued environmental degredation.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chpter 3 Principles of Conservation

Conservation started in the late 1890's and early 1900's. Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946) was a one of the founders. In 1902 he was called upon by president Roosevelt to help protect forest and water resources that were being ravaged by lumbering and mining and agriculture. In 1905 Roosevelt the Bureau of Forestry in the Department of Agriculture helping to enhance Pinchot's abilities to defend public lands against destructive private interest plans. Pinchot established Yale's School of Forestry and was the leader of the Progressive Party and Governor of Pennsylvania from 1923-27 to 1931-35. His goals was to maximize the value of resources for humans exploitation rather than to preserve wilderness.

The chapter is composed of a forestry worker discussing the three main values of conservation. He starts off by mentioning that no other movement has achieved so much on so little time as conservation. He is proud to know that conservation began with forestry, his profession. In 1907 few people knew what conservation was, but now it is a household word.

The first fact about conservation mentioned is that it stands for development. This sounds really odd at first but then the author explains that conservation involves recognising that the current generation has the right to the "fullest necessary use of all the resources with which this country is so abundantly blessed". While he is talking about Canada in this sentence he also refers to the world sharing that right to the Earth's resources. The author then talks about how we have a limited supply of coal, but if through development we can prolong the life of all coal mines to ensure the current generations needs are met and in turn the needs of future generations as well.

The second idea behind conservation is the prevention of waste. Here the author describes how mankind used to events such as forest fires were acts of God and beyond control. Today we see differently, and today we combat forest fires and control them to preserve forests for both natural and economic needs.

The third principle is "The natural resources must be developed and preserved for the benefit of the many, and not merely the profit of the few." Essentially, this principle states the main idea behind conservation, which is "the greatest good to the greatest number for the longest time." The main point the author tries to drive how here is that conservation is about foresight, prudence and thrift as well as intelligence when dealing with public and private matters. It demands using "common-sense to the common problems for the common good."

To sum it all up, people have to learn to do the best we can when managing our resources we have currently, but also ensure we think of the people who will inherit said resources after our time. Politicians and developers and the public must work togather to ensure we maximize the usefullness of the world we live in without running it into the ground, and help keep the world so for future peoples. In other words, follow the golden rule: Do unto other as you would have other do unto you.

Wild Species: Zoos

We all love Zoos and aquariums. So many exotic animals and all in safe in an enclosed habitat with their own preserved area. This may be fine for some animals but this poses a problem for most.

Before I get into that here are the main reasons for Zoos and Aquariums:
1. Breeding
Species at risk are bred for future release into wild
Reproductive physiologists research the best conditions for breeding animals, by analyzing hormones, for example
2. Research

All kinds of research projects, from examining animal behaviour to their genetic diversity
3. Population Management

Zoo staff keep animal and plant collections healthy
4. Habitat protection and restoration
Projects, such as stream clean ups, protect or repair vital habitats
5. Population management
Managing animals and plants in the wild involves activities such as nesting surveys

Essentially zoos are a hybrid of reaserch meets tourism and a means of educating scietist and biologists as well as the public. Manitoba has n umerous educational programs such as camps, classes and guided tours.

Now we come to the issues. For this part of my post I will use the two example from class.

Black bears once numbered 2 million in N. America (before human interaction). After man came along they declined to 200,000 and have since recovered to 800,000. They can run 55km/h, swim and climb. 2 bears require 10 square kilometers territory to live in. Now look at the size of the enclosure at the Winnipeg Zoo. My teacher to a cellphone camera video of a black bear and it revealed a lot about how life in the zoo may be affecting it.

In the video all the bear did was pace back and forth along the edge of the enclosure and grunt a lot. Nothing else. It seemed bored almost, until the "albino" black bear came in. It growled at the first black bear and chased it off into a corner of the enclosure. Not a pair of happy camper to say the least.

This is a major problem with animals in captivity in that they do not have the area they need to move around and sharing a small enclosure with another animal can lead to negative interactions. Elephants are an example of how captivity is not so hot for some animals. Elephants in captivity live only 16.9 years vs. 56 years in the wild. This is due to obesity and infections and poor parenting is also suspect. The problem is that even though zoos try to replicate an animals environment and wish to protect animals (which is a noble cause that should continue) they cannot truly meet the needs for all the animals they house.

What zoos need to do is house fewer animals per institute to allow for more room for the nimals to spread out in. If need be open a second zoo up to handle other animals and alow them space to live and grow in as well. Zoos and aquariums are an excellent means to educating everone about biodiversity in the world, we just need to ensure that the animals we are studying and enjoying can enjoy themselves to

Wild Spaces & Parks

Wild spaces and Parks are areas protected for the sake of preserving biodiversity and heritage. Canada has numerous parks, reserves, and marine conservation areas, actually 39 parks & reserves (2% land mass). However not all natural regions represented due to protective issues and private ownership of land in the south as well as unsettled land claims. The three main reasons for protected wilderness are; Tourism as parks and recreation create 3x as many jobs as forestry, Research such in the area of pharmaceuticals and arguably the most important reason being Long term economic health.

Sustainable Resource Use is not the first reason that may come to mind for creating protected Parks and Wild spaces. However, due to current fishing, agriculture and forestry practices not being very sustainable we need to study species and thei envrionments to better understand them. Pretected areas are not a perfect solution to preserving genetic diversity as Federal law only protects certain species and only when they are within protected areas. Once and animal leaves a protected area such as during migration they are unprotected.

Wapusk National Park is a prime example. Located in the Hudson Plains ecozone, 45 km south of Churchill in north-east Manitoba, Canada on the shores of Hudson Bay. It has over 3,000 years of human history including the Inuit, Cree and Dene peoples. Access to the park is limited due to its remote location and an effort to preserve the park. The name comes from the Cree word for polar bear (wâpask meaning "white bear"). Cape Churchill is located here and is considered the best location in the world to view and photograph wild polar bears. The only way people can access Cape Churchill however, is by helicopter or Tundra Buggy. The 11,475 km square park protects one of the world's largest known polar bear denning areas. The problem is that the park is so remote that people have a hard time getting there and even getting around the park. Public access is limited and only guides tours are allowed as people could be hurt or killed by bears if they (people) were to wander around the park freely.

Thus I come to the current Blog Reflection:
1) Can parks meet its dual mandate of access and protection?
2) How can this be achieved in Wapusk?

To answer the first question yes I believe overtime the park can meet the dual mandate. How? I am not sure. The only thing that comes to mind in fenced in trails through the park. But such trails would fragment the park and have to be patrolled constantly for people breaking out, and bears breaking in. More funding i probalbly the main thing that could help Wapusk. More funding for better access to the park and a larger number of buggy turs to increase the number of visitors and handle them.

Wild Species & Natural Species

In this class we covered a lot to do with animals in their natural environment and the environment itself. COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) was one of the topics. COSEWIC has listed 380 species at risk for extinction including mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, mollusks all across the country. We covered Biodiversity and examples such as how plants draw sunlight for energy to grow then animals consume the plants then other animals and humans consume those animals for food.

Biodiversity also aids in employment (Forestry, agriculture, tourism), has a place in Traditional lifestyle (Country foods, Culture, spirit, etc...). Biodiversity can also change in Genetic diversity through events such as climate change as well as new foods, drugs and industrial processes adding chemicals to an environment. Usually this harms animals and nature by inducing new illnesses and genetic mutations in some cases.

Habitat change such as clearing land for crops, hunting away native species or introducing exotic ones can alter biodiversity. Forestry has three major biodiversity altering factors. One is Logging – change opportunities, another is replanting – change composition, and even fire suppression – affects composition, can alter the biodiversity of an ecosystem. Hydro dams, urbanization and transportation infrastructure intrude upon ecosystems damaging or eliminating them as well as the diversity that once thrived there.

Other factors such as chemicals through hydrocarbon spills and heavy metals, Climate Change with alterations in temperature that bring about the shift and destruction of habitats as well as extinction, are major factors in damaging biodiversity. Invasive species such as purple loosestrife and zebra mussels are examples of non native organisms that were brought in by man and quickly supplanted the native species as the environment offered no predators or deterrents to cope with them. Some 23% of wild flora; 1% of fish are exotics in North America and they pose a threat of eliminating native and endangered species and disrupting habitats.

A more in depth example would be Banff National Park and the interactions of humans and grizzlies. Many bears are killed or removed for public safety (females and cubs most likely) since they have begun to wander into nearby developed areas as numerous venues have opened up, such as: Towns, ski resorts, shopping malls, campgrounds, airstrips, hiking trails, highway, railway lines have sprung up. Genetic isolation due to fragmentation has also occur ed because parts of the park and surrounding area are cut off from on another by the venues mentioned in the sentence before.

One major point was Intrinsic Value, which has four major points:
1. Value based on inherent quality that species, independent of its value to humans
2. Respect for all life around us
3. Regardless of economic or utilitarian value
4. Intangible values (relationship, spiritual, connection, aesthetics...)

My personal conclusion is that people need to start being far more careful about how we interact with ecosystems and how we are harming and may in future harm biodiversity. We are not alone on the Earth and therefore must take precautions and curtsey's toward life around us because were are dependent upon it - such as in the cycle of how energy from sunlight eventually ends up on our dinner plate - and therefoire responsible for its the well-being.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Blog Reflection: Art Work of Andy Goldsworthy

This man has a very unique talent. Most people think of trees and an open field as nature art, but Goldsworth redefines how we look at nature in my opinion. He takes things as simple as leaves and creates very abstract murals ranging from flowers made of fall leaves to bizarre and undecidable craft work.
In this video Goldsworth talks about the connection he feels with his work. He says he feels like he doesn't know himself if he goes for a few weeks without working on some project and he when he talks about his work its like he's referring to someone else.
My favorite pieces are what I call "pine cones". At about 1:35 in this video , you see stacks of rock and ice that create odd egg-like structures. I don't know why but these fascinate me. The pine cone shape makes it seem like a weird tree species dropped it there and I can almost see s squirrel trying to store one for the winter.
At the beginning of the second video mentioned is a depression in a the ground that is filled with so many colours you think a rainbow was spilt there.
There are other works to such as the arranging of colourful bird feathers and a scene in a video where he lays on the ground, and when he gets up the top soil is taken up by his body leaving a perfect filled in outline of him on the ground.
One truly amazing creation was a man made beaver like den of wood that he set sail down a river. It was like a natural house boat that a animal could use on a cross country drift.
What Goldsmith does as a hobby, nay, way of life completely turns our perception of nature on its head. Sure his art work could never appear in such amazing formations on its own, but its still natural. No man made products or alterations, just simple by products and pieces of the environment rearranged. Below I have pasted in some images from an online catalogue of Goldsworth images from this site This is but a small taste below of the volumes of artwork he has created.

Chapter 12: Ecosystems and Human Well-being

This chapter was longer than most so it will take some time to review. It discusses the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and Millennium Development Goals called for by 2000's UN Security General Hofi Annan. In this reflection I will list various goals, scenarios and findings the presented in the chapter.

The key concept in this chapter is: The need for substantial, basic changes in government, economics, technology, social behavior, and knowledge to achieve a sustainable future.

Some statistics include:
- an estimated 60% (15 out of 24) of ecosystem services examined by the MA (fresh water,capture fisheries etc...) are being degraded or are unstable.
- Since 1750 carbon dioxide levels in the air have increased by 32% (280 parts per million to 376 parts per million in 2003) with 60% of that increase having taken place since 1959 due to fossil fuel use.
- 70% of world-wide water use us for agriculture.
- Some 10-30% of mammal, bird and amphibian species are currently threatened with extinction.

Four Findings by the MA are:
1) Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel. This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth.
2) The changes that have been made to ecosystems have contributed to substantial net gains in human well-being and economic development, but these gains have been achieved at growing costs in the form of degradation of many ecosystem services, increased risks of nonlinear changes, and the exacerbation of poverty for some groups of people. These problems, unless addressed, will substantially diminish the benefits that future generations obtain from ecosystems.
3) The degradation of ecosystem services could grow significantly worse during the first half of this century and is a barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
4)The challenge of reversing the degradation of ecosystems while meeting the increased demands for their services can be partially met under some scenarios that the MA considered, but these involve significant changes in policies, institutions, and practices that are no currently underway. Many options exist to conserve or enhance specific ecosystem services in ways that reduce negative trade-offs or that provide positive synergies with other ecosystem services.

Essentially these four findings are saying that ma mankind has accelerated its rate of consumption of the Earth's resources and the alteration of its environments. We have to radically change how some things are down and how we manage our consumption if we want to have a sustainable future.

The scenarios mentioned above are a means of exploring plausible future for ecosystems and human well-being based on assumptions driving forces of change. The all take place in 2050 roughly. Briefly, they are:
Global Orchestration - This depicts a globally connected society that focuses on economic liberalization as well as a reactive approach and strong steps regarding ecosystem problems and reducing poverty and inequality along with investing in infrastructure and education. There is high economic growth but has lowest population.
Order from Strength - Here we have a fragmented world concerned with security, protection while taking little interest in public goods and a reactive approach to to ecosystem problems. Economic growth is lowest but population is growth is highest.
Adapting Mosaic - There is a lot of local institutional and economic management and strengthening.Societies have a strongly proactive approach to managing ecosystems. Growth rates start low but grow over time and population is almost as high as Order from Strength.
TechnoGarden - A globally connected world relying strongly on environmentally sound technology while using often engineered ecosystems to deliver ecosystem services. Economic growth is high and accelerates while population is mid-range.

These scenarios aren't predictions and were developed to explore unpredictable features of change in drivers and ecosystem services. Each case begin form the world as it currently stands and incorporate significant policy changes and which are aimed at addressing sustainable development challenges.

The chapter also explores examples that are suggested to be promising and effective responses for specific sectors. In other words, well thought out goals mankind should strive to reach in order to achieve a more sustainable future.

For Agriculture some goals include; 1) the removal of production subsidies that have adverse economic and social and environmental effects 2) Investing in and diffusion of agricultural science and technology to help sustain our current food demands without harming the ecosystem 3) Recognize the role of women and implementing policies to help empower women and ensuring access to control of resources necessary for food security.

Fisheries and Agriculture; 1) Reduction is marine fishing capacity (obviously, if the Grand Banks are any example) 2) Strict regulations of the establishment and implementation of quotas, steps to address unreported and unregulated harvest (help keep track of who's over stepping the boundaries and could be a potential threat to the ecosystem) 3) Establishing regulatory systems and marine protected areas (reduces the impact of of fishing on the environment and ensures marine life has "safe zones" to thrive in).

Water; 1) Payments for ecosystem services provided by water sheds (in other words if you want to use the water you've got to pay for it) 2) Increased transparency of water related information and improved representation of stakeholders and emphasis on the natural environment rather than measurements for dams and such. 3) Investing in science and technology to increase efficiency of water use in agriculture.

Forestry; 1) Integrate agreed sustainable management practices on areas such as finance, trade etc to help manage interaction with the environment 2) Empower local communities that depend heavily on the local environment that are in support for sustainable practices.

The ideas, scenarios and facts this chapter covers are all a means to a sustainable end. I agree with many of them especially a more global effort where all countries manage the use of the Earth's resources. This would mean a louder voice for those who want to help protect ecosystems and better the flow of information. The Earth is home to all people and should be managed as a whole, not just at the convenience of, or in the hands of a few countries.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Blog Reflection: - What future would you like to see for the Alberta Tar Sands project?

I understand that the world is going to need more oil for a long time before it weens itself of the stuff. We will have to fins and develop more oil wells to keep ourselves going regardless of how quickly we implement sustainable energy practices. However we should be going about handling our oil addiction in the best way possible. We should be above merely taking whatever we can get our hands on. The dirty oil from the sands is looked upon by even oil companies as a poor source of the much needed fuel. There are numerous other wells in the world where we have free flowing oil that is far less harmful (still not good though) to the environment to obtain and process. I think we should cease oil sands production immediately and concentrate on replacing the sands with a "friendlier" source for oil. Since we are going to need oil for a long time yet we should at least try to restrain ourselves by only going after what we can get easily and with the least possible threat to the environment.

Class Review: Tar Sands Protest Video

Today we view a video from MTV where a camera crew followed a young female activist (I am terrible at remembering names) on a trip to Edmonton and the Alberta Oil Sands. One thing I noticed in the interviews with various oil companies and ministers was that they all felt that there was no possibility for environmental threat from the oil sands project and were quick to mention they had not seen any solid proof of chemical and toxins leaching into the Mackenzie river or other water systems. However the young activist had spoken with a few scientists who stated that there was a threat, and local people who told of how they saw rare cancers popping up in co-workers at refining plants and how fish in local streams were growing tumors and had sores on their bodies. The activist asked Albertan minister - who was involved with the provinces technological development ans such - that should a it be found that a tailing pond or facility was leaking, would it be shut down and dealt with? His answer was "Isn't that a silly question?" What on earth was silly about it? Was he meaning to say "No duh, we'll deal with it!" or "Why? Its a waste of money?". Either way many local people and Edmonton ciizens had mixed feelings about the oil sands project.

Chapter 11: Will Hurricane Katrina Impact Shoreline Management?

Erosion is the main issue in this chapter as well as Hurricane Katrina's impact upon shoreline management (as stated in the title of this post). A Professor Orrin H. Pilkey is referred to in the the opening paragraph and states that it may be time to stop federal funding for post-storm rebuilding in vulnerable areas. The idea behind this - which the chapter covers in more depth - is that people living in high risk areas such as right on the shore (Miami for example) should not receive federal or outside funding to rebuild as inevitably another storm or flood etc will come along and they will be homeless once more. One obstacle that is mentioned is the argument that as coastal development is an major economic powerhouse for the U.S. and in turn it is essential that the government help rebuild areas after they are ruined. The author brings up the valid point that if coastal development is so financially successful then they have no need for federal aid. The author goes on to says once again that the U.S. should cease subsidizing those who want to live and work on the immediate coast and that the free market should decide their fate.Local areas should manage their own self-insurance and if it is too costly, then building in the are is impractical. People in North Dakota should not be providing coastal welfare for developers in Florida (quoted directly from the chapter).

One idea proposed in the chapter is to form a commission to determine what areas should have federal funding, should they be planning to retreat from their high risk area, and how to manage the money saved by not subsidizing coastal development.

The Louisiana wetlands and barrier islands potential $14-15 billion dollar restoration project comes under fire as they are seen by the people consulted in the writing of this chapter simply as little speed bumps that did little to counteract Katrina. The author states that the people behind this chapter are all for wetland protection, but for this ind of money they want to see all U.S. wetlands on the table.

The chapter ends with the comment that Coastal Scientists should be doing more to get involved directly with public hearings document published for public comment by the Army Corps of Engineers etc so as to help educate the voice of coastal science heard in local affairs of the beach.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chapter 7:The Tragedy of the Commons

The Tragedy of the Commons is a scenario created by William Forster Lloyd (1794-18520 in which all farmers equally share a grazing field and limit the number of cattle they each raise due to poaching, tribal wars and disease. However, after social stability is reached one farmer begins to consider raising more cattle to make more profit. This is reflected by the other farmers until the fields resources are consumed and the farmers now cannot raise any cattle. Another issue brought about by the Tragedy is pollution. The idea is that every person who dumps waste finds it cheaper to forgo purifying the waste beforehand. The concept of Freedom to Breed and how it is intolerable as it leads to over population. The author then states that we should openly deny the validity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights statement where all decisions of family size rests with the family itself, never outside. The chapter then goes on with may examples supporting the idea that people should be free to have all the children and resources they want, but that it should be made very expensive so as to discourage "overuse". There are other political suggestion such as trying to ensure the most able bodied and intelligent in the family inherits the most of their parents estates and resources. Essentially this chapter supports the "dog eat dog world" to an extent coupled with the idea that the world should not section off and divide the land and resources up but have everyone share it so as to show the world how one person can impact many others. A "rise together fall together" world.

Class Review: Alberta Tar Sands

The tar sands of Alberta are a mixture of bituminous sands, sand clay water and are viscous (generally not free flowing). Only recently have they come to be considered part of the world’s oil reserves since production of the sands is fairly recent. Canada and Venezuela each have oil sand reserves approximately equal to the world's total reserves of conventional crude oil. However, oil sands are often referred to as unconventional oil or crude bitumen as it is not free flowing and is mixed with sand a clay. To get to the oil reserves they must be strip mined 40-60m down. Hardly a nature friendly process. Processing is intensive requiring either hot water / caustic soda (NaOH) added, slurry piped, agitated, oil skimmed off top to remove residual water and sand or mixed with lighter petroleum or chemically split for transport by pipeline. A lot of work considering 2 tons oil sands produce only 1 barrel oil (8:1). Taling ponds help boost production but are extremely harmful as they are simply lakes and ponds filled with sludge. There are many issues with the tar sands such as the amount of land harmed (420 km2 disturbed and 65 km2 under reclamation) as well as H2S in water sources. Canada is now the largest exporter of oil to the U.S. surpassing Saudi Arabia.

Class Review: Exxon, Oil & Corporate Social Responsibility

In class we covered Aliphatic Hydrocarbons (Straight line of Carbon with Hydrogen branches. Ex: Ethane, Isobutene. Acetylene), Aromatic Hydrocarbon which are hexagonal rings of Carbon with Hydrogen attached. Ex: Benzene, Benzo-a-pyrene (looks like a honeycomb) and PAH's or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. We watched some video and discussed the Exxon Valdez spill. Many people know about what is known as one of (if not the) worst man made environmental disaster. In Prince William Sound Alaska the tanker ship Exxon Valdez spilt its oil after crashing onto a reef and spilt 10.9 million of its 54.1 million U.S. gallons (about 200 million litres) of oil. It is estimated that 250,000 to as many as 500,000 seabirds, at least 1,000 sea otters, approximately 12 river otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, and 22 orcas, as well as billions of salmon and herring eggs were killed due to the oil. We talked about some o the controversy such as how the left the bridge to get drunk and the people left in charge were fatigued. After 16 years PAH's still remain and there are numerous section of shoreline where clean up crews never bothered deal with.-Triple Bottom Line Reporting (Economic, environmental, social) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) which includes Interests of society (customers, suppliers, shareholders, communities...), environment and beyond legal obligation, are one of the products of disatsers such as Exxon Valdez.