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Science matters » StraightGoods.ca

Science matters

Aug 142013
 

We can’t ignore the little things that keep us alive.

by David Suzuki

Scientists believe life appeared on Earth almost four-billion years ago, about half a billion years after our relatively young planet formed. It would be fascinating to see how life arose and managed to hang on.

If scientists were to invent time travel to take us back through Earth's history, we'd see little life for most of the four-billion years. Plenty was happening but at a microscopic level as organisms worked out all the intricacies of survival: finding food and energy, evading predators, fighting off disease (even bacteria get virus infections), reproducing and eliminating waste.

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Jul 242013
 

What’s the value of something we can’t live without?

by David Suzuki

More than 13 percent of Canada’s gross domestic product depends on healthy ecosystems, according to Environment Canada briefing notes obtained by Postmedia News. By contrast, the Harper government’s pet economic project, the Alberta oil sands, represents a mere two percent.

But is 13 percent a reasonable estimate of the “value” of nature? With the current perspective that elevates the economy above all else, it’s important to find ways to include nature’s value in our calculations so it doesn’t get ignored in decision-making. At the same time, it seems absurd to try to assign worth to something so vital we can’t survive without it.

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Jul 202013
 

Rail, pipeline and climate disasters are symptoms of fossil fuel addiction.

by David Suzuki

Like smokers who put off quitting until their health starts to suffer, we’re learning what happens when bad habits catch up with us. We’re witnessing the terrible effects of fossil fuel addiction every day: frequent, intense storms and floods, extended droughts, rapidly melting Arctic ice, disappearing glaciers, deadly smog and pollution, contaminated waterways and destroyed habitats. Transport accidents are also increasing as governments and industry scramble to get fuels out of the ground and to market as quickly as possible.

Throughout it all, we’re asking the wrong questions.

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Jul 102013
 

One in eight bird species threatened with extinction.

by David Suzuki

We can’t live without birds. Beyond being fascinating and beautiful, they play a crucial role in keeping the world habitable for all life, including people. They disperse seeds, pollinate plants, control insects, provide food and are indicators of the overall health of ecosystems. They also create recreational and economic opportunities, through the immense popularity of birdwatching.

So we should be concerned about the findings of the report, State of the world’s birds: indicators for our changing world. One in eight — or 1,313 — species of Earth’s birds is in danger of disappearing.

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Jul 032013
 

Working with nature can protect us from floods.

by David Suzuki

News of the devastating floods in Alberta hit Canadians hard. We’ve all been moved by extraordinary stories of first responders and neighbours stepping in to help and give selflessly at a time of great need. As people begin to pick up their lives, and talk turns to what Calgary and other communities can do to rebuild, safeguarding our irreplaceable, most precious flood-protection assets should be given top priority.

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Jun 272013
 
CriticalMassRide.

Cycling is smart but some cyclists need to get smarter.

by David Suzuki

Bicycles are an increasingly popular, affordable and practical transportation option. Many cities are making life easier for cyclists by building separated lanes, implementing bike-share programs and introducing regulations to reduce conflict between bikes and cars. You can now find bicycle sharing in 500 cities in 49 countries, including Beijing, Montreal, Chicago, Paris and Mexico City.

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Jun 202013
 

Climate change deniers jeopardize us all.

by David Suzuki

It’s happening again. Research confirms agreement among most climate scientists that we are altering the Earth’s climate, mainly by burning fossil fuels. And industrial interests, backed by climate change deniers, pull out every trick to sow doubt and confusion. What will it take for us to start seriously tackling the problem?

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Jun 122013
 
Person at microscope.

National Research Council’s new focus ignores how science works.

by David Suzuki

The federal government recently announced a reorganization of the National Research Council to make it more “business-led” and industry-focused. It appears we’re coming full circle to the early 1970s, when Sen. Maurice Lamontagne released  A Science Policy for Canada, a report proposing Canadian science be directed to “mission-oriented” work rather than “curiosity driven” research.

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Jun 062013
 
TrainLeavingAirport

Great public transit makes for a great city.

by David Suzuki

What makes a city great? Among other things, great cities are tolerant communities that welcome and celebrate ethnic diversity. They support and foster local arts, have access to venture capital to spur entrepreneurship and innovation, and benefit from healthy local environments with clean air, clean water and access to nutritious, locally grown food.

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