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 akramar on November 25, 2016
$31 billion dollars seems like a large sum of money, doesn’t it? This is the cost of the amount of all of the produced food that goes straight into the garbage every year in Canada. Food production has intense environmental impacts such as land degradation from farming practices, and air and water pollution from fertilizers, yet we still see billions of dollars of uneaten food thrown in the garbage. CBC’s “Market Place” sent investigative reporters to check out what super markets are throwing away.

595 | 1 | 0
University of Guelph
by edmondso on November 25, 2016
In case you missed the big news last month, the giant panda is no longer an endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Populations have improved enough for the endangered species label to be downgraded to “vulnerable”.

636 | 1 | 0
University of Guelph
by jessicasiefer on November 25, 2016
Climate change is the ultimate wicked problem and we often overlook the impacts unless they are happening to us directly. Here in Southern Ontario we are not directly affected by these changes, so we turn a blind eye to fellow Canadians in the Arctic. Inuit communities are faced with negative social and environmental impacts caused by climate change. I came across an article by CBC News writer Sima Sahar Zerehi reviewing a book written by various Inuit authors from the Canadian Arctic.

595 | 2 | 0
University of Guelph
by will.2626 on November 25, 2016
Extinction Prevention: Wildlife Corridors             

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University of Guelph
by libbygeorge123 on November 25, 2016
John Vidal writes in the “The Guardian” about how microplastics should be banned to save the world’s oceans. A group of MP’s on the United Kingdom’s Environmental Audit Committee address the microplastics problem and the need for microbeads to be banned. Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic found in the ocean due to the breaking down of larger plastic debris, small synthetic fibres from clothing, or microbeads used in cosmetics.

702 | 2 | 0
University of Guelph
by MarcusJoseph on November 25, 2016
With a new government being implemented in the United States of America, I am personally very interested to see how future societal and environmental issues will be resolved. Because there is a large focus on State natural resource management as well as Aboriginal rights and land claims in lectures, This Salon article captured my attention.

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University of Guelph
by Heids on November 25, 2016
Article: BC Hydro Missed Rare and Vulnerable Species During Site C Environmental Assessment, New Research Shows By Sarah Cox, Oct. 25th 2016

281 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by pbalbian on November 25, 2016
The concept of the hypercar has always focused on the track experience it can deliver. The 0-100 km/h time has to be blistering quick, top speed has to be well over 300km/h and the weight of the car has to be kept to a minimal. For the past two decades performance has been the only thing that drives the development of these cars, you wouldn’t particularly think that fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions is considered during the development of these speed demons. Well, you’d be wrong! The new breed to hypercars are hybrids!

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University of Guelph
by mphilpott29 on November 25, 2016
            As a university student, it has been difficult to think about anything other than president-elect Donald Trump’s unlikely rise to supreme leader. It has been highly publicized that Donald Trump has some less than ideal opinions on race relations, and immigration. However, one of the more alarming opinions that Donald Trump holds is the fact that he denies the link between humans and climate change.  The article by Bruce Cheadle on CTVnews, discusses the possible negative affects a Trump presidency could have on Canadian environmental policies.

294 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by TyeRusnak on November 25, 2016
As we approach the date for the final decision of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, we continue to see more conflict between many involved parties. An article by Gordon Hoekstra in the Vancouver Sun tells us that this project proposition has brought rise to conflict between government, oil industry companies, First Nations, environmental groups, and the general public regarding many different issues surrounding the pipeline expansion. The Trudeau government must make the difficult resource management decision by December 19, 2016.

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University of Guelph
by kcooke01 on November 25, 2016
            Species loss has always been a part of the natural cycle on Earth, but in recent years, human activity has sped up the process. In an article written by Drew Monkman, it is emphasized that action needs to take place to control the issue of declining biodiversity. In Ontario specifically, there has been a significant decline in populations of snakes, turtles, and freshwater mussels, as well as any animals which rely on these species as a food source. Approximately 30% of Ontario species groups are either sensitive or at risk.

218 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by SaltySpectator on November 25, 2016
The article that I have chosen to write about for my second blog post is titled “Ottawa announces plan to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030”. The Global News article details an announcement made by Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, that the federal government will require provinces to phase-out all coal-fired energy plants in Canada by 2030. Also included in the article is the strong opposition to the announcement by Saskatchewan’s Premier Brad Wall.

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University of Guelph
by chelseagiddings on November 25, 2016
Microbeads are plastic particles that are used in exfoliating personal care products, toothpastes, in biomedical and health science research, and it has recently been declared toxic.  Microplastics do not dissolve and they make their way into oceans, rivers and lakes where they are consumed by a variety of organisms.  It has been causing water pollution and posing environmental hazards for aquatic animals. 

355 | 2 | 0
University of Guelph
by Kserviss on November 24, 2016
Stormwater management is an indispensible service throughout urban areas due to the high proportion of impervious land cover. Land cover is impervious when water cannot infiltrate into the ground; examples of this are asphalt, cement, and roofs, all common in urban areas. Stormwater management systems direct concentrated runoff during rainfall from impervious land to streams and rivers to avoid flooding. Additional strategies to avoid flooding, such as rooftop gardens and pervious cement, are used at present.

567 | 1 | 0
University of Guelph
by omeezy on November 24, 2016
Throughout the article from Vocativ, a lot of controversy and speculation is drawn towards the implications of forest management throughout many parts of the globe dealing with deforestation. Primarily, the main concern focuses on how local deforestation applications can impact other regions associated with global warming. The whole premise and concept revolves around a case study where a shift in the Pacific’s tropical waters can suddenly make it rain less in Seattle and more in Los Angeles. Evidence suggests that deforestation can have the same effects on distant ecosystems.

253 | 0 | 0
University of Guelph
by J.B Moffatt on November 24, 2016
An article by Keith Leslie published in the Globe and Mail describes a major issue directly affecting the Guelph area; water use. This article digs deeply to prove that Ontario’s efforts to manage water use for both industry and agriculture is insufficient. It is described as municipalities, industry, and farmers have a so called “free ride” when it comes to water use.

460 | 1 | 0
University of Guelph
by cegerdee on November 24, 2016
Climate change is real. Many would argue that planetary warming is a natural occurrence due to cycling between warm and cold periods yet, others might also argue that the earth has been much warmer due to higher carbon dioxide levels in the past. While we are experiencing a warming period in the earth’s cycle, the rate of warming and increase of carbon dioxide levels are larger than anything previously experienced. This is mostly due to the burning of fossil fuels by humans which contributes to greenhouse gas concentrations.

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University of Guelph
by JosieM on November 24, 2016
Introduction An article published by The Guardian, titled Koala’s under siege from policy changes set to destroy habitat, report finds, describes a current environmental resource management issue in New South Whales, Australia (NSW). The article states that the protection of Koalas is failing due to the governments’ commitment to further land clearing and logging, which is ultimately contributing to Koala habitat destruction.  This exemplifies a classic case of industry versus the environment, and the different policy mechanisms used by actors of opposing sides.

617 | 1 | 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.

2,287 | 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.

2,505 | 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.

1,998 | 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.

7,078 | 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.

7,284 | 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?

2,437 | 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.

1,616 | 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.

3,083 | 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.

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3 years 4 months ago

Great post! As someone who has lived in several National Parks, I really enjoyed reading this and hearing about the visitors who rate preservation and development and equally important. I think that development is a controversial topic to people who live in or near a park and are in the environment of the park often. It is disturbing to see some of the natural elements of a park taken away. I think it’s also important to keep in mind that a lot of visitors are coming to see a pristine, undisturbed natural environment, and with the continuous development of parks, this sought-after aspect could be tainted. I also loved that you supplied alternate ideas for attracting visitors in your article- this supported your opinion of the issue. I would be intrigued to hear more research surrounding park attendance and development- has increased development had any correlation with increasing number of visitors?

3 years 4 months ago

The way you began your piece was really interesting- stating the unbiased opinions of both sides- it really strengthened how you continued to form your stance on the issue. There was a bit of choppiness between paragraphs and connecting ideas which could be improved on. Overall, this was a great article. You smoothly related everything to course content and backed your opinions. I am so happy to be reading this after the official rejection of the Northern Gateway Pipeline!!

3 years 4 months ago

Hey AJ!

This was a very neat post to read, as it is from a perspective that I am not accustomed to seeing. Here in Canada (specifically Southern Ontario), we too have required vaccinations starting at a young age, but there is far less argument against it in comparison to the United States. That's not to say we don't have people here who do not vaccinate, but it is just not as common, considering everyone I know is in support of vaccination (as such, this is just an assumption, and every province is different).

I think your post was very well written, and makes excellent use of the articles supporting this stance on vaccination. Vaccination is a complicated issue, and there is definitely a lot of controversy around it. The issue at hand is that the sciences, unlike political decision making processes, are not so black and white. One of the main reasons why there is so much misunderstanding from the general public towards science is because science evolves and changes, and it is difficult to say something is 100% true through scientific literature. It is only possible to discuss your findings, and give a reasonable conclusion. If your findings are convincing, and multiple studies have the same results, then it is more likely for something to become accepted as scientific fact. This is also where the confusion of the word "theory" stems from. In the public, people say scientists are not sure because it is only just a "theory", but that does not mean it is a guess. Even a concept like gravity is a theory.

Now the reason why it is important to discuss these issues is because one of the major struggles in the scientific community is trying to express your research to the general public in a way that can be absorbed. So when it comes to vaccination, it is understandable why so many people are skeptical of the idea. A major thing to remember however, is that correlation does not equal causation. I recall from my statistics lectures that 60% of cancer cases are random. That means almost two thirds of all cancer cases cannot be linked to any cause at all. Even more ridiculously, something odd like "potato chip sales" was strongly correlated with "highway accidents" (you can look up odd correlations on google, and many many results will show up!). This can also be compared to Autism, where scientists are still puzzled as to what the cause is. It is up to the public then to decide what is more important: vaccinate and have a very high immunity to a preventable disease, or not vaccinate because of a slim chance (if at all) that there are side affects? There is also an underlying moral issue at play here, where people have to decide whether a preventable disease is worse than autism or not.

I really enjoy posts like yours because they are about important current issues that have so much uncertainty around them, and revolve heavily on education, science, and public opinion. Sparking discussion is one of the most valuable things that academia has to offer! Thank you, and keep up the great work!

3 years 4 months ago

Hi 22paris. I really enjoyed reading this article, the title immediately caught my attention. I think that CoverGirl having a male model is an awesome and huge step for our society to start recognizing trans gender equality. The facts you have provided about Target and Zara incorporating a gender neutral line is also interesting, and I am glad you have included that because I would not have known otherwise.

Personally, I have always been a bit confused about what being trans gender means, because I have found that each trans gender person has a different story and different way they like to identify themselves. After reading your article I googled James Charles, and read this article about him : http://www.allure.com/story/covergirl-james-charles-controversy . At the bottom of the article is a 8 minute video about different trans gender people sharing their stories of how they began identifying themselves and how they interpret the meaning of trans gender. This a great video and I recommend watching it. Again, thanks for a great post, it was thought provoking and informative.

Reply to: Heroin Epidemic
3 years 4 months ago

Your post was very informative. I always underestimate impacts of narcotic use on individuals, perhaps because I have never experienced anyone who is using them. You highlight the severity of this problem with the fact about there being more opiate influenced driving accidents than alcohol in Fort Thomas, this is very disturbing. Here in Guelph I know that we also have some issues with opiates because in the summer I worked for the City of Guelph and would hear about bathrooms having to be closed because so many needles were found there, and we also received sharps training on how to properly dispose of needles if we found any. If I had not worked for the city I would not have been aware of this problem in Guelph. I have also never heard of Narcan before, it sounds useful but who would be administering it? For example in the Indiana case the mother was overdosing with her child in the back seat. I understand that it is useful and important, but in situations where someone is getting high by themselves or multiple people are overdosing at the same time the presence of the Narcan would not make a difference.
Thanks for an informative post.

3 years 4 months ago

Vquach94

I think this is a very interesting and complex issue, and there are many factors that are not covered in the article that your blog post is based on. Like any news article, there is always some bias, if not a lot of it. For this particular article, one thing that is not covered is the comparative emissions that natural gas is responsible for relative to other energy sources. As discussed in the article, the main markets for this project are in Asia, which relies heavily on coal and petroleum. As we all know, natural gas is without a doubt far less degrading than coal and petroleum. While this does not mean that these countries will have lower emissions for this reason, there is however an opportunity for these countries to lower their dependence on less environmentally efficient energy sources.

Conversely, I think another issue is the economic benefits of the salmon market. Salmon not only has intrinsic natural value, but it is also a major part of the British Columbian economy. This proposal, despite having economic benefits for larger corporations and high skilled workers, may come at the cost of average local workers, which is harmful for the economy. Therefore I would not only say this is an interest conflict based on who should pay to preserve salmon habitats, but also in terms of who should benefit from the project.

Very well written!

3 years 4 months ago

Hi there,
This is a really interesting post! I had no idea that Denmark was thinking of this. You did a great job explaining the benefits as well as well as bringing up questions that the article didn't address. I was immediately drawn to your title because I'm a vegetarian for primarily environmental reasons. People always ask me why I don't eat meat and lots of time I feel like I can't really tell them all the reasons because I sound like quite the downer, which isn't always appreciated over a meal, especially when they are eating meat. I feel like this is a great tool to put the relationship between animal agriculture and climate change on people's radar. You pay a environmental disposal fee when you buy a printer etc., why not for meat too!? I think it is true that ignorance is bliss; its often easier to ignore personal contribution to issues but implementing economic instruments is a great way to get the message out to everyone that every choice has an impact. I hope that this would turn attention to more healthy and sustainable plant-based options instead of just making protein and adequate nutrition inaccessible to those in lower socioeconomic situations. If you are interested in this topic further I would suggest the novel 'Eating Animals' by Jonathon Safran Foer. It is his personal account of investigating the environmental, social and ethical implications of eating animals because he has a new son being born and wants to do more to be a responsible consumer. It was definitely a catalyst in my choice to be a vegetarian and made some points that I could not ignore. If the environment pays, why shouldn't we?

3 years 4 months ago

Hi there,
Awesome post! I chose to comment on this one because I have been following the Standing Rock protests closely and was interested to another opinion on it and to see some coverage on it as it relates to class. You did a great job summarizing the issue. I have been thinking a lot lately about water protection due to Nestle buying a well in my community (Elora). It is astonishing to me how hard people have to fight to protect the water because to me it just seems like common sense. How far is this protest really going to go before the government will address the human rights abuses going on as well as what the people want, not big oil? I feel that decisions are constantly being made to accomodate to the economy (which could sustain or thrive with a switch to green energy) instead of to the environment (which can't just be altered to physically tolerate fossil fuels without a change). Here is a link to a recent article I think is really interesting about U.S veterans joining the Sioux fight against the black snake. I think it is interesting because these are people who have take large sacrifices for their country (and/or country's desires) and now they are standing up for the kind of country they want America to be. http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/standing-rock-north-dakota-1.3877269

3 years 4 months ago

This is such an important topic. I am a strong supporter of eco labelling myself and I believe it is the first steps towards informing consumers of their impacts and what happens before the consumption of products. As a former marine biology student I understand the importance of all phylogenetic levels of the aquatic ecosystem (or any ecosystem for that matter) form the krill to the whale and everything in between. Mass removal of one species sends everything out of balance and disrupts the former dynamic stabilized system. This impact is not often thought about when a consumer is looking for a tasty snack. Ecolabling cupped with education is the next steep to sustainbility!

Great post and Intresting article!

3 years 4 months ago

Hello hlvolpe, you have chosen a very interesting topic in the sense that you make some compelling arguments about how and why educators and institutions would be placing these 'caps' on how many students are allocated special education services. You make a good point that it is very unfair that certain 'selections' of students are picked over others and how we should revamp this practice as well as implement necessary means to ensure this does not occur, as this is a troubling but real circumstance. However, a possible but ambitious remedy to this situations is that there does need to be a set amount of special education services for students, but it should be based on how much it is needed. In order to ensure that the students who need it most get those services, there needs to be a certain set of qualifications that need to be satisfied in order for a student to be given them. This could act as a remedy for some of the situations you stated above, as there will be no "selection" of someone over another by their ethnicity, where they are from, or what they look like, but rather those who need it most will be given that opportunity. With that being said, you shed light on the fact that the state needs to use the authority they possess in order to ensure the resources and institutions they have set in place are used effectively and efficiently. Using discursive power that they posses or even by an activist organization to spread awareness and educate the public on the issue, and certainly drive change to hopefully allow for those students being neglected to be given the services they need. In order to ensure a positive future, we need to focus on educating and providing opportunity to all, and that begins by eliminating issues like this.

SUNY Genesee Community Colllege

SUNY Brockport

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About the author

Associate Professor of Geography, University of Guelph.

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