Management of Biosphysical Environment 2017

About this class

This course will examine the concepts and methods used by the state to manage the natural environment. Through an investigation into contemporary environmental issues in Canada (with occasional reference to other areas of the world) we will develop an understanding of the particular rationales for and evolution of state management. Important trends and issues are treated with particular attention to Indigenous rights. As part of the course, we use our developing understanding of course material to write critical blog posts on contemporary  environmental issues.

 

University of Guelph
by madibaileey on October 6, 2017
A town in Alberta is hoping to create new energy sources from abandoned oil and gas wells that surround the area. Hinton, is located west of Edmonton on the edge of the Rocky Mountains, their plan is to be Canada's first to install a geothermal heating system in its downtown.

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University of Guelph
by gidget on October 6, 2017
In recent news, Canada’s energy stores have been up for debate with the announced proposal of a new pipeline project that would link the East coastline to the prairies of Canada. In late September 2017, the National Observer reported that Environment and Climate Change Canada has offered to pay for the environmental assessment of the upstream greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of this pipeline.

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University of Guelph
by emilyf on October 6, 2017
A Province on Fire: An Examination of the Impacts of Wildfires in British Columbia    

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University of Guelph
by saspin01 on October 6, 2017
It appears that the Magaguadavic River in New Brunswick is now running completely empty of wild Atlantic Salmon. This once popular destination for an estimated 900 salmon to enter from the sea to spawn, has seen a rapid decline in the population since 1983 when the Fisheries Department began monitoring the river. The Atlantic Salmon Federation recently released a report outlining the absence in population and deemed this particular part of the river extinct of the species.

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University of Guelph
by jamieb97 on October 6, 2017
                The news article I chose (Yarr, 2017) had two purposes to it; the first was to inform the public about the questionable actions of the salmon producing company AquaBounty where they hadn't followed proper procedure with environmental assessments to make process of approval for their new facility easier. The second purpose was to inform the public on how the government dealt with the conflict and repercussions placed on the company. The main parties involved were the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I.

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University of Guelph
by aluff on October 5, 2017
In recent years media coverage has been speckled with talk of proposed and approved oil pipelines such as Keystone XL, Trans Mountain and the Northern Gateway. The most current of these to kick up controversy is the proposed Energy East pipeline, which as reported by Peter Evans of CBC News, was recently scrapped. The proposed pipeline was designed to run from Alberta to refineries located in Quebec and New Brunswick, carrying up to one million barrels of oil a day.

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University of Guelph
by obynR on October 5, 2017
We are no strangers to the word deforestation, in fact it’s a word that we have heard many times over, especially in most recent decades. Despite deforestation being a hot button issue, many governments and states are criticized for not taking sufficient action or implementing management strategies. A reason why the state is so heavily criticized is because of the statistic surrounding deforestation, for example it is estimated that should deforestation continue at current rates that half of the world’s rainforests will be wiped out within the next 100 years.

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University of Guelph
by Maggie on October 5, 2017
     Gambling with caribou is risky business. Weighing the odds in natural resources management, the federal government is dealing with the risk of caribou extinction and criticism from the forestry industry.  Protecting the natural habitat of caribou ranges and mitigating the impacts of human activities has prompted the implementation of the caribou action plan.  To foster resilience, restrictions to industrial activity in all 51 caribou ranges are endorsed.  This is creating conflict stemming from different values, interests and cognitive understandings of the recovery strategy. 

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University of Guelph
by chuynh on October 5, 2017
Over the past few years Canada has become extremely reliant almost to a debatable point of being overly-reliant on natural resource extraction and falling into a staples economy trap where we have to think "what would happen to the economy if we run out of natural resources or natural resource prices drop?" . This is evident in the proposal’s of many resource transportation pipelines such as the East pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline purposed by transCanada .

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University of Guelph
by estelter on October 5, 2017
The conflict between the water company Nestlé and Elora residents has been a major topic of interest in local and provincial news over the past five years. The management and use of groundwater, specifically from a shared aquifer, has been the central focus of the debate and controversy.  

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University of Guelph
by mszatkow on October 5, 2017
Canada is globally recognized as a country that prides itself on the conservation and preservation of our land. CBC News’ article: Canada trails G7 in protecting land, parks advocates say is painting a very different picture.

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University of Guelph
by JulieWG on October 5, 2017
Palm oil production have raised concerns about biodiversity and damaging ecosystems by fragmenting forests full of animal life. The Guardian published an article, 29th of September 2017, about palm oil production clearing Sumatra’s rainforest. The purpose of the article is creating awareness of illegal palm oil production and providing an insight in the conflict around this issue. The main problem is that the plantation owner PT Agra Bumi Niaga (ABN) is doing illegal deforestation threatening the Leuser ecosystem in Indonesia.

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University of Guelph
by Jake M on October 5, 2017
The state of Canadian wildlife is called into question after an extensive study of species population was released, revealing unfortunate trends in our current biophysical environment. In the news article, “Half of Canada’s monitored wildlife is in decline, major study finds” (link below), released on September 15, 2017, author Ashifu Kassam discusses recent data findings of a 44 year study on 903 Canadian wildlife species.

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University of Guelph
by jlomb on October 5, 2017
The Canadian based news company ‘Toronto Star’ released an article on the challenges the Canadian economy faces due to pollution. In 2015, the IISD predicted that the cumulative cost of pollution, in many indirect and direct manners, could be well over fifty billion dollars. In the report they defined pollution as “anything released into the environment by human activity including car exhaust, sewage, crude oil spill off, greenhouse gas emissions, fertilizers, waste heat, noise, light and chemicals like pesticides, plastic additives, and flame retardants” (Ballingall, 2017).

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University of Guelph
by MeeMee22 on October 5, 2017
     Conflict and uncertainty within the Southern New Brunswick forest industry has a long and extensive past. Issues regarding job security, wood allocations, and sustainability have once again presented themselves to the New Brunswick Provincial Government. In 2014 the Progressive Conservative Party passed a controversial plan that allocated large companies a harvest increase of 660,000 more cubic metres of publicly owned Crown land.

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University of Guelph
by skeeler on October 5, 2017
            Since approval in 2013, the residents of Bala, Muskoka have been fighting the installation of a hydroelectric generating system by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and Swift River Energy Ltd..  The proposed system would replace the Bala Falls, despite 85% of the residents unsupportive of the project, and calling on Kathleen Wynne for answers. Wynne’s government is pushing for green energy initiative all across Ontario, despite having a surplus of extra energy that sometimes is even sold to United States.

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University of Guelph
by cscott18 on October 5, 2017
Aboriginal relations are one of the largest failures in Canadian history, although recent years have seen cooperation in negotiations due to the adoption of UNDRIP in 2016 by the government. Threats of assimilation have gone, but many disputes still arise over land/resource rights and development. This article by Paul Withers (2017) discusses the current tensions between local fishermen and the Mi’kmaq tribe in Nova Scotia. The issue starts with the poverty in reserves due to the lack of government funding for things like clean water.

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University of Guelph
by Lucas Salameh on October 4, 2017
Often, there are many processes that go into things like oil extraction and refining in order to keep it as sustainable as possible and to minimize its impact on other components around it. However, equally as often those efforts fall short as managers don’t take into account big picture interactions and effects. In the case of Syncrude, a massive producer of Canada’s oil from the Alberta oil sands, it has been found that 31 blue herons have died as a result of unmonitored runoff “tailing” ponds.

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University of Guelph
by shasenac on October 4, 2017
On May 11, 2017, an article in the Toronto Star by Nick Perry outlined New Zealand’s ambitious goal to eradicate the country’s invasive rodents in a massive conservation effort to protect unique bird species. Perry writes that a passionate speech by leading scientist Sir Paul Callaghan rallied national pride in New Zealand’s bird diversity and created momentum for his dream of exterminating all invasive rats, opossums, and stoats that endanger many of New Zealand’s native bird species.

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University of Guelph
by kserafin on October 4, 2017
One major critique of modernized energy generation techniques is their increased upfront cost and often costly production and maintenance necessities. FortisBC, a corporate energy infrastructure provider and producer is aiming to ease some of these costs on the consumer by producing a large scale solar energy farm in the Okanagan. The basic idea behind this development is the construction of more than 700 panels to produce a large amount of electricity for customers who are interested in renewable energy but cannot set up their own infrastructure due to cost factors or other obstacles.

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About the author

Associate Professor of Geography, University of Guelph.

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