Environmental Performance Index 2016- A quick checkpoint

By Pooja Mishra

Environmental Performance Index via phys.org

Environmental Performance Index via phys.org

Canada fell down a rank in 2016 Environmental Performance Index. Canada ranked 25th with a score of 85.06. Canada’s overall scored increased by 11.92% in comparison to the score in 2014, 73.14 which was good enough for a 24th rank.
For the past 15 years Yale and Columbia University have been ranking 180 countries on the bases of their environmental performance. This index ranks the performance of each nation in two areas: Protection of human health and protection of ecosystem. It is based on nine assessment areas including air quality, water & sanitation, health impacts, climate & energy, water resources, agriculture, forest, fisheries and biodiversity & habitant.

Canada’s score card:
13th rank with 99.65 score in water and sanitation
18th rank with 94.64 score in health impact
28th rank with 89.75 score in water resources
36th rank with 91.16 score in air quality
59th rank with 95.68 score in agriculture
64th rank with 74.59 score in climate and energy
82th rank with 39.1 score in forest
99th rank with 35.51 score in fisheries
111th rank with 74.5 score in biodiversity and habitat

Compared to last results, our performance has improved to13th rank in water and sanitation, 59th in agriculture, 82nd in forest but this progress has been very slow. In some other areas our performance has degraded since the last study. In 2014 we scored 100 out of 100 in health impacts. We need to focus more on our environmental issues.
Finland was ranked 1st with 90.68 score followed by Iceland (90.51), Sweden (90.43), Denmark (89.21), Slovenia (88.98).

For more and complete analysis click on epi.yale.edu

Dialogue Through Art at COP21

by Hannah Gartner

The first two weeks of December saw that most important climate talks in years. From these talks, called COP21, have come the most concrete plan on how to mitigate global warming and its effects to date. Each country involved is now creating an individual plan of what this will look like. Starting in 2018 these plans will be revised every five years. The international goal is to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, with a more ambitious side goal of staying below 1.5 degrees of warming. To achieve this already developed nations are pledging to contribute funds to developing nations so that they may grow their alternative energy economies.

The steps taken during COP21 may be a turning point for the environmental movement. No longer are global warming and climate change being portrayed as fringe issues. They now exist within the public consciousness in large way, something that was vividly apparent throughout the talks in Paris. Along with the politicians, activists and everyday citizens flocked to the city to make their voices heard. Among them where a number of artists who used a diverse array of methods to increase the dialogue around these issues.

One of the most remarkable art Livegreenblog.cominstallations at COP21 was by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. He shipped twelve massive pieces of Greenland ice and arranged them in a shape of a clock in front of the Pantheon. The installation, titled Ice Watch, was then left to melt. The symbolism here is very clear: our planet is running out of time and action must be taken now.

Source HighsnobietyPublic art also served as an alternative to protests, which following the terrorist attacks on November 13th had been outlawed throughout the entire conference.  French artist JR and American filmmaker Darren Aronofsky collaborated on a projection piece they call The Standing March. Showing the image of over 500 people, the purpose of this piece is to show that the world stands in solidarity on the need to care for our environment.

 

About 200,000 activists had planned to march on November 29th to further cement this idea. With strict rules on mass assemblies in place though, the protesters opted for a second best. That morning 20,000 pairs of shoes were placed in the Place de la Republique. Since the people could not walk, they let their shoes stand in their place.

Paris Climate Summit: A platform for a bigger change?

By Pooja Mishra

While leaders of 196 nations were discussing key policies in Paris to save earth from global warming, death toll continued to rise at various places because of natural cataclysm.

Rising temperatures are affecting our life on a daily basis. It affects our food, our surroundings, and all the work we do. Most cities in the world are experiencing a much warmer winter this year. Toronto celebrated the warmest Christmas Eve recorded in the last 175 years. Today climate change is like a ticking time bomb; the greatest threat people all over the world face.

In recognition of the growing problems of climate change, over 40,000 people gathered in Paris from November 30th to December 11th to take some corrective actions. The main objective of this conference was to achieve a binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

After two weeks of negotiations, the Paris climate change agreement was signed. To make this agreement successful all nations volunteered to make cuts in their carbon emission to relatively safe level of 2C degree with an aspiration of 1.5C and also to participate in a program of regular assessment and adjustment every five years starting 2020. Leaders made bold promises to save the earth from climate change.

This was the biggest gathering of world’s leaders, who came together for a single purpose. It was a historic moment for all the countries. Developed nations pledged not only their commitment but promised to provide help to developing and poor nations to cut down their emissions.

We all hope this summit will provide a good platform to come together to make our resources more sustainable. But given the gravity of the situation, it is high time we join in this effort and take a pledge to start bringing changes from our home. Each individual needs to look at their contribution to climate footprint and if needed, modify some of their lifestyle choices. That’s what Paris is all about, changing our lifestyle, before it leads us towards complete disaster. It calls for a an acknowledgement and action at all levels.

Footnote

The key measures in the agreement included:

  • To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century
  • To keep global temperature increase “well below” 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C
  • To review progress every five years
  • $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.

Year in Review

By Gamiing Nature Centre

Hi everyone, hope you are all doing great! Well, another year has come to an end, and with that it is inevitable to not think about all the achievements that we have conquered and all the goals that we plan for the year to come.

2015 was a special year for Gamiing and the blog. We have two new blog contributors, Hannah and Pooja, who are delighting our readers with their articles. We have initiated the development of an educational trail in our landscape and also promoted many events to bring the community. I could go on and on…

United Nations also posted a video showcasing the year in review. Many of the topics in the video were covered by our blog and also proactively tackled by Gamiing Nature Centre such as the refugee crises.

Happy New Year to everyone!!!

Our Water, Our Land

by Hannah Gartner

At the beginning of the month President Obama rejected the proposal for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have run crude oil from the Canadian Tar Sands in Alberta to the gulf coast refineries outside of Houston, TX. Over the past few years this pipeline has become a pet project for environmentalist and conservatives alike. One of the reasons that environmentalists have been so adamantly against the Keystone pipeline was its planned path through the Ogallala Aquifer.

The Ogallala Aquifer is a 174,000-square-mile reservoir which lies beneath the states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota, and Wyoming. It supplies water to millions of people, and irrigates the fields of farmers in this region. Lying beneath the earth, it is easy to forget that it is there, yet it is so important that it was able to play a role in halting the creation of Keystone XL.

There are many ways in which one can know the world around them. With more than half of the world’s population living in cities, most see it as a man-made, concrete jungle. It is more common for someone to know every player in the world series than where their water comes from. The danger than becomes that things like endless tap water are taken for granted, always expected and not preserved.WWF

The United States Great Plains; Source: World Wildlife Fund

The Ogallala Aquifer is just one of hundreds that lie beneath the surface of North America. The map below shows the vast extent of land carrying these underground pools in the United States alone. Aquifers are formed when rock is porous enough to let water flow through. The layer of rock and water that is formed is called the water table. Depending on the type of rock, that water will run faster or slower. This also dictates how quickly the water in an aquifer can replenish itself. Through clay this can take a very long time, while a sandstone water table may refill much quicker. This is incredibly important to think about when using an aquifer as a water source.

aquifers in the US

Aquifers in the United States; Source: USGS

It would be amazing if we were able to say that the Ogallala Aquifer is safe now that Keystone XL has been vetoed, but this is not the truth. Since the 1940’s Midwest farmers have used this water source to grow vast amounts of corn, cotton, wheat, and cattle. The  current estimate is that 30 percent of the water in this aquifer is already depleted, and it is projected that this percentage will only rise over the coming years. As of yet that farmers and citizens who utilize the Ogallala Aquifer are not taking action to stem this problem.

Even if you live very far away from this particular aquifer, there is a lesson to be learned here. The Earth is plentiful, but it is not endless. It is important to understand the land and water systems were you do live though. This may mean looking beyond the surface to what is hidden underground. Take the time to do your research, become an informed citizen, and try to find the ways to interact with your land in the most appropriate ways.

 

Syrian refugee crisis: a call to compassion

By Pooja Mishra

 
Note: This article was written before Paris attacks. It is important to have in mind that the refugees are running away precisely from those attackers. Pray for Paris!

 
What do you do when your house gets assaulted as part of a widespread destruction? You run right, without thinking what are you leaving behind, what you want to take with you except your children, where you will go or what you will do. At that moment all that matters is the safety of you and your family.

 
And, from here another chapter of life starts. We have seen this situation with millions of Syrian refugees who have been dealing with such hard insupportable conditions since March 2011. The conflict that had begun with anti-government protests is now a full-blown bloody war.


The hard winter is on its way and Syrian refugee crisis is getting worse day by day. Millions of Syrian’s are fleeing from deadly civil war. More than 12 million Syrians have fled their homes in four-and- half years of conflict.
They have very limited basic resources to sustain their lives. They don’t have clean water to drink, no sanitation facilities. They need food, warm cloths, blankets, heaters and shelter to survive in this cold winter. Every day thousands refugees try to cross border; most of them are women and children.

 
Children, who are a nation’s hope for a better future, have lost their families, their loved ones, witnessed violence and cruelty. At an age where they should play, get education, dream for their future; they are dealing with disease, malnutrition, sexual abuse, exploitation.
It’s time to come along and help all the souls, who have nothing left except homelessness, limited clothes on their body and void dreams, and provide them with basic needs and accept them with open heart.

 

A Growing Storm

By Hannah Gartner

Source NASAOn October 23rd
Hurricane Patricia made landfall on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Thishurricane, which was the strongest ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, narrowly missed causing severe damage despite reaching wind speeds of 200 mph. A week later no deaths have been reported and the damage is limited to flooding and mudslides within rural Mexico. This is due to a few factors, namely the fact that Patricia avoided a direct hit to more populated areas such as Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, and that once on land it lost power very quickly. An excellent response from the government also made a huge difference in mitigating the damage.

This storm is just the latest to be added to the list of record shattering weather events. Although the research is ongoing, there is indication that global warming will cause an increase in storms to this caliber. Last August The Weather Channel published a list of the top ten most powerful hurricanes to ever occur within the Atlantic. Five of these storms have taken place since 2000, and only two occurred before 1950. It seems that the intensity of storms is on an upward trend. Some climate scientists even predict that we will have a storm on the level of Hurricane Katrina every two years.

Source Boston.comOther natural phenomena are also on the rise due to global warming. California is currently entering its forth year of draught and has been consistently recording its highest on average temperatures. On the other end of the spectrum, the record shattering snow in New England last winter has been attributed the disruption of the Arctic polar vortex which is occurring through global warming. These two examples only scratch the surface of the many instances of changing weather.

After Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013, Yeb Sano, the country’s climate change representative, said the following words in front of the United Nations: “We can take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a future where super typhoons become a way of life.” After seeing his country destroyed by this storm he knew he had experienced climate change first hand. Action must be taken to slow down, stop, and reverse the degradation of the natural world or these storms will become the norm. We cannot count on the luck that Mexico received last week. There is hope, but only if business does not continue as usual.

Listen, Talk and Understand

By Pooja Mishra

Heavy rainfalls and a large amount of debris precipitated a muddy flood in Southern California last week on October 16th. Hundreds of people were trapped and stuck in their homes, cars. While many of them have been rescued, the rescue efforts are still ongoing.
Similar torrential rains had struck South Carolina on October 4, 2015. The flood had caused damage to many shelters. The whole South Carolina was gripped by floodwater. According to the National Weather Service, that day was the wettest day in the history of Southern Carolina.

 
The weather pattern is not a local phenomenon. 11 people died and 65,000 villagers left their home as a typhoon battered northern Philippines on October 18, 2015. It is a scary though that these floods might be just a preview of what is coming in near futureSource Luis Sinco and Los Angeles Times“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”
These words of Albert Einstein say everything about life. It describes the connection of a man with nature. Nature has all the answers to your questions; whether these are related to you, your life, your relations or your work. All we need to do is listen, talk to and understand it.

 
Everybody loves to get out into the nature and feel the real charm of life. Living in Canada, I am fortunate to have so much beauty and splendor of nature all around me. The autumn season is here. The crisp and cool breeze makes us feel the summer is gone and fall is in the air. In Canada, autumn is the third season of the year. It is the time when leaves start to turn in different color red, yellow, orange and brown. It is amazing, an awesome creation of God. The glory of nature mesmerizes one and all. We forget everything in the lap of nature and just enjoy the pleasure of being there.

 
Nature is derived from the Latin word Natura, which means birth. It has its own way of existence and the mountains, beeches, hills, forest, rivers, sunrise, sunset, flowers, clouds in the sky, various season and so on together make an incredible spectacle. It is a privilege being surrounded by these. But as the saying goes, every privilege comes with some responsibilities.

 
Ed Begley Jr once said, “I don’t understand why when we destroy something created by man we call it vandalism, but when we destroy something by nature we call it progress.”
Every time we build a new house, new road, parking space or even a concrete over a garden we astray ourselves to think that we are making the world a better place to live in. The natural resources are not infinite. They are limited and the way we are using it, that day is not far when we will have nothing to pass on to our future generations.
These days’ floods are the most frequent natural disaster worldwide. Recent splurge in population and the changes in land use patterns are the main causes of flood.
We are constantly cutting down trees and plants for our daily needs. One and a half acres of forest is cut down every second and agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation. We get wooden furniture, decorative items for the interior of our house and offices but we do not realize that we are cutting our own feet by making wood from trees and plants. If the current rate of deforestation continues, it will take less than 100 years to destroy all the rainforest on the earth. Cutting of trees can be avoided if we cut down our materialistic needs and shift our focus in different direction.

Source National Bank and Nature Conservancy
According to The World Counts, 13 million hectares of forest have been converted for other uses or destroy by natural causes. We cannot deny the fact that our environment is constantly changing. Global warming is slowly becoming a more daunting threat with each passing day. Our environment is warming up and we are definitely responsible for it. Since the industrial revolution and the large scale of burning fossil fuels has increased the amount of heat in the atmosphere has also increased by 40 per cent.

 
All across the world people are facing different kind of environmental problems every day. Some of them are small and localized. Whenever a natural calamity hits a particular area, we talk about it for a few days, feel miserable and then forget. We never think that somewhere we are also responsible for that. We are making this earth not habitable by neglecting the nature and its requirements. From time to time nature warns us in many ways; we need to listen to it and make some changes before we reach a point where we won’t have anything left except regret.

 
As human, the earth is our home. This is the place where we live, eat, enjoy, raise our children and dream for their healthy, safe and beautiful future. Our entire life is dependent on the well-being of earth, environment and all the species. It is the home of all natural beauty that we praise. But the relationship with nature is not a one sided relationship. We need to form a closer bond with nature, we have to live within it to understand and feel it; not only for the betterment of our life but the lives of our future generations.

Sounds under the Stars!

By Gamiing Nature Centre

Fall has officially arrived in the Northern hemisphere on September 23th at 4:21am ET. And in the Southern hemisphere, spring has just begun.  To celebrate the beginning of the fall season, we will host our last “Sounds under Stars” summer series this Saturday, September 26th.

Sounds under the stars

Misto Restaurant in Lindsay (155 St. David Street) will be offering a special menu that evening for those coming to the Hayloft for “Sounds under the Stars”.

Come and join us for “Sounds under Stars” on September 26 at 7:30pm at the Hayloft, 1884 Pigeon lake Road, between Bobcaygeon and Lindsay.

Technology Fostering Water Sanitation

By Marcelo Kawanami

Technology has already proven its importance in the daily life of millions of people and it is becoming an essential component to leverage social development programs. In June, I had the opportunity to go to Cisco Live event and talk with Keri Kugler, Senior Manager of Monitor and Evaluation at Water for People.

Water for People is a nonprofit international organization with the goal to provide access to clean water and adequate sanitation to all people. Currently, the organization is in nine countries around the world: Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, and India.waterforpeople_cisco

Through its Corporate Social Responsibility, Cisco, one of the largest Americanmultinational technology companies in the world, has partnered with Water for People to support the organization in the development of a mobile application named FLOW. FLOW, which stands for Field Level Operations Watch, is a mobile application that collects, manages, and analyzes data on the condition of water from remote locations. Cisco supported Water for People not only with funding but also by offering expertise in areas such as program monitoring and technology implementation.

The private-NGO relationship between Cisco and Water for People is a benchmark that should be followed by other companies, especially in the technology space. Many NGOs lack specific knowledge such as technology, or even strategy to foster their initiatives. Thus, many of them rely on collaborations from the private sector to achieve their goals – a reality that dramatically changed over the last 10 years, when the relationship between NGOs and the private sector used to be combative rather than collaborative.

For more information on Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility: http://csr.cisco.com/

For more information on Water for People: http://www.waterforpeople.org/