Last April, the world learned about the ghastly death of 500 ducks in the oily toxic settling ponds of Syncrude along the banks of the Athabasca River in northern Alberta. There were excuses, apologies, pledges to “do more,” but nine months later, the government agency responsible for the law that protects the ducks has done nothing. This week, we learn in the Globe and Mail that Jeh Custer, a member of Sierra Club Canada, has commenced legal action against Syncrude Canada Ltd. Ecojustice will be presenting this case in court on behalf of Mr. Custer, Sierra Club Canada and Forest Ethics. Mr. Custer is quoted as saying “the regrettable failure of the Alberta and federal governments to enforce their own… read more →
From New Scientist magazine, research that suggests more polar bears are fasting, perhaps in response to declining hunting opportunities as Arctic sea ice disappears: Seth Cherry of the University of Alberta, Canada, and colleagues monitored the health of polar bears in the ice-covered Beaufort Sea region of the Arctic during April and May in 1985, 1986, 2005 and 2006. They immobilised the bears using tranquilliser darts and measured the ratio of urea to creatinine in their blood. A low ratio means that nitrogenous waste material is being recycled within the body and indicates the animal is fasting – a state which usually only occurs temporarily in males during the spring breeding season. In 1985 and 1986 the proportion of bears… read more →
What environmental groups have largely failed to achieve, the cratering economy is doing — putting a brake on tar sands operations. From the New York Times: The oil sands companies…have been scaling back as falling oil prices and the general market turmoil create a significant economic challenge for the projects. With oil prices around $49 a barrel, profitability is fast eroding at oil sands projects and may already be vanishing at some operations. Producers have widely differing cost structures and varying definitions of profitability. But Andrew J. Leach, a professor of environmental economics at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, estimates that long-established plants can operate with prices as low as $30 a barrel. But he said newer operations need… read more →
In my stocking this Christmas I received a pocket-sized book called 1,001 Ways to Save the Earth — a guidebook, really, for incorporating a conservation ethic into your life. There’s a Choose Your Own Adventure vibe to this little compendium. There isn’t any particular order to the 1,001 actions author Joanna Yarrow has pulled together; just open up to any page and start anywhere. Some suggestions are straightforward, easy and on everyone’s list: 129 No energy to spare. Don’t waste energy heating or cooling rooms you rarely use. Minimize air flow to registers in spare rooms and keep doors to unused rooms closed. But there are plenty of ideas you may not have thought of. Here are a couple that… read more →
I enjoy winter for many reasons — you have to if you’re going to live in Ottawa! — and one of the things I look forward to most is the tranquility and peace that comes after a snowfall. I take my dog Jasper into the woods behind my house and we make our own path through the newly fallen snow, and the only sounds I hear are our laboured breathing. I’ll look up every now and then, scan the area, and usually not a thing is moving. Everything is frozen in place. This month’s photo of the month evokes that same feeling of calm, of stasis after a snowfall. It’s taken by Donna Cork, from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and a… read more →
Just in time for the holidays, Nature Canada is giving a gift to the planet! We’re ending direct mailings to recruit new donors for one year in an effort to reduce our paper consumption. We’re placing a one year moratorium on the charity’s direct mailings to recruit new donors, in an effort to reduce paper consumption. Why? Paper consumption diminishes natural resources and increases greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere, which are accelerating our climate crisis. We feel it is important for Nature Canada, as a conservation organization, to do what we can to reduce the amount of paper we consume in our own operations. Rising levels of wood and paper consumption, primarily in industrialized countries, is one of the primary… read more →
My colleague Lori received an excited phone call from her husband Peter on Friday, saying that there was a Snowy Owl in a tree outside the suburban business park building where he works. The Snowy Owl was being pestered by many crows but it was resolutely standing its ground in a pine tree in the parking lot. We excitedly asked Peter to get some photos and send them to us. One of Peter’s colleagues dashed out and snapped these great photos. So, what’s this owl doing in a parking lot in Ottawa? Snowy Owls breed on the northern tundra, and in some years many of them remain on their breeding grounds year round, hunting diurnally for rodents. Each winter, some… read more →
We have a winner! We received many creative, wonderful videos showcasing your favourite places in nature, for Nature Canada’s Favourite Places Video Contest. Now, for your viewing pleasure, I’d like to present Laura Parsley’s video, “Mapleton Park.” (Laura is now the owner of an Apple iPod touch.) We also have an honorable mention who came very close to being selected as the favourite among the gang here at Nature Canada. From Joan Ouellette, Conversation with a Wolf: Congratulations Laura, and thank you to everyone who shared their favourite place in nature with us! Visit our contest web site to view all nature videos submitted to us. Enjoy!
Check out this cute and funny video with a serious message… The video is part of the BBC’s ‘Breathing Places’ project, which includes a practical and easy-to-navigate website designed to help people help some of the UK’s most beautiful environments and their inhabitants.
In a sad sign of society’s continuing estrangement from nature, the Oxford Junior Dictionary is banishing more than 90 nature words from its newest edition. (see full list of removed words) Children will no longer see the following words in their dictionary: Beaver, boar, cheetah, colt, cygnet, doe, drake, ferret, heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, plaice, porcupine, porpoise, raven, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren. Acorn, almond, apricot, ash, beech, beetroot, blackberry, bluebell, bramble, brook, buttercup, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, chestnut, clover, conker, cowslip, crocus, dandelion, fern, fungus, gooseberry, hazel, hazelnut, heather, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, lavender, leek, melon, mint, mistletoe, nectar, nectarine, oats, pansy, parsnip, poppy, primrose, prune,… read more →