Make a Pledge for Earth Day

By Hannah Gartner

With Earth Day tomorrow, now is a great time to make a pledge to improve the natural world. Small or large, there are many day to day changes that can be made which help reduce ones carbon footprint and increases the sustainability.

Pale Blue Dot copySource: National Geographic – This photo, titled “The Blue Marble”, was the first photo of Earth taken in its entirety. It was taken in 1972, two years after the first Earth Day.

Here are a few more simple pledges that can be made:

  • Stop eating cattle, pork, and sheep; take it a step further by cutting meat consumption to two or three times a week.
  • Start a compost pile, its easy and doesn’t take up that much space. Directions can be found here.
  • Commit to purging your life of disposable plastic.
  • Instead of buying new clothes go to the thrift shop or exchange clothes with your friends.
  • Volunteer for trash pickups, trail maintenance, or at your local garden.

Earth Day Vollunteers copySource: Politico

The more one gets to know nature the more they care for it, so the most fun pledge one can make is to spend more time exploring and learning about the Earth. Here are some ideas:

  • Go for a hike every month this year.
  • Plan the first annual family camping trip.
  • Go on science walks were you identify and catalogue the flora and fauna.
  • Take a trip to wide open spaces and spend the night identifying the stars.

Understanding is often the first step to change. Anything that fosters connection and caring for the natural world also helps it and can be a pledge.

800px-Crepuscular_rays_in_the_woods_of_Kasterlee,_BelgiumWhile we make these small changes in our lives, it is important to remember that systemic change is also needed. All over the world there are individuals, groups, and organizations working on the creating the changes that solve the large problems. Pay attention and support these activities whenever possible. One example is The Leap Manifesto, written by a wide array of activist groups, which tackles a huge portion of Canada’s environmental and social problems at once. Read it here and join the 39,000 who have signed it.

Gamiing Logo copy

This Saturday, April 23rd, The Gamiing Nature Center will be holding an event where everyone will be making there own pledge. These pledges will all be displayed on the wall as a symbol of our promise to help create a healthier Earth. More information on the event can be found here. Start thinking about your own pledge and we hope to see you on Saturday.

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.

 

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.

Don’t be Sorry! Make a Change!

By Mieke Schipper and Marcelo Kawanami

Activist and spoken word artist Prince Ea has released his newest video, “Dear Future Generations: Sorry,” to urge young people to take immediate action to stop climate change. His previous videos have become viral sensations and his latest is no different. It was released on April 20 to coincide with Earth Day and garnered 28 million views on Facebook in the first two days. If you haven’t seen the video yet, please check it below.

Like the video says, let’s not accept this future because an error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it. This is a powerful quote, so don’t be sorry.

Earth Day Every day!

By Marcelo Kawanami

Yesterday, Gamiing hosted its annual Earth Day event where participants from all ages had the chance to learn about the importance of nature through interactive and fun games!
Earth Day official day is actually April 22. And do you know the origin of this date? On April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets for ’60s-style demonstrations and marches, calling attention to the perilous pollution of America’s land, air and water. Ten thousand flocked to the Washington Monument for a folk music concert featuring Pete Seeger and U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie.

From this date, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 and it became a global event with over 1 billion participants from 192 countries. Earth Day events will be held throughout the week. You can check all events at the Earth Day Network site: http://www.earthday.org/greencities/events/

The United Nations World Water Development Report 2015

By Marcelo Kawanami

On March 20 2015, United Nation released its 2015 edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR 2015), titled Water for a Sustainable World. The report brings a throughout analysis on the importance of the water as a vital resource for life. It also describes the challenges for accessible and clean water from three dimensions: poverty and social equity, economic development, and ecosystems.
I selected some key findings from the report that I believe were quite interesting (and concerning):

Picture1– Around the world, 748 million people lack access to an improved drinking water source, while billions more lack drinking water that is really safe. In 2012, 2.5 billion people did not have access to an improved sanitation facility.

– Groundwater supplies are diminishing, with an estimate 20% of the world’s aquifers being over-exploited (Gleeson et al., 2012), leading to serious consequences such as land subsidence and saltwater intrusion in coastal areas (USGS, 2013).

– Achieving more efficient water use is crucial considering that production and consumption of agricultural products alone account for over 70% of water withdrawals in many developing countries.

If you like to download the full report, please United Nation World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) homepage: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/water/wwap/wwdr/2015-water-for-a-sustainable-world/

Great interview with Linda Skilton from Fleming College!

By Marcelo Kawanami

Hi everyone! This is our first post of 2015, and it could not be better! I had the privilege of interviewing Ms. Linda Skilton, PhD, Dean and Principal of Frost Campus at Fleming College. Gamiing Nature Centre and Fleming College’s School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences (SENRS) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to further develop and strengthen our relationship. Due to this reason, I wanted to know from Linda her opinion on the benefits of this partnership and also her point of view regarding environmental trends.

Gamiing: The School of Environmental & Natural Linda SkiltonResource Sciences (SENRS) atFleming College has a focus on active, outdoor, and hands-on learning. What are the main benefits that you believe that the partnership with Gamiing Nature Centre will bring to your students?

Linda: The students at the Frost Campus have been involved with many activities at Gamiing including course work in the Ecosystem Management program through the Credit for Product course, field placement in various programs and so on. The formalized partnership MOU that was signed in December 2014 will ensure our involvement with Gamiing in the future and lead to more activities for our staff and students.

Gamiing: According to a recent article from McKinsey, there is a chronic under-investment in leadership development within the fast growing social sector (which includes environmental organizations). What are the main attributes that you believe that the future leaders of these organizations need to have and that are being developed on SENRS students?

Fleming CollegeLinda: From the time that our students enter our programs at SENRS, we assist them in developing their leadership skills. These skills are developed through a number of courses and the applied activities that students participate in throughout their program of study. Many assignments include project/team work where the students are expected to demonstrate their leadership skills. Future leaders in the environmental sector need to be knowledgeable, critical thinkers, innovators and possess excellent communication skills. It is not only important to have the technical knowledge but it is critical that graduates can are able to communicate with those who may not have environmental knowledge. There are big environmental problems in need of big solutions and leaders who can contribute to the change necessary to address these problems. Colleges are investing in leadership development and our graduates are demonstrating these skills in a variety of careers in the environmental sector.

Gamiing: Partnerships with community stakeholders including the private sector, universities, and government are key to drive the growth of nonprofit organizations. In your point of view, how can we increase the engagement of community stakeholders and promote partnerships like the one between SENRS and Gamiing?

Linda: SENRS has over 100 partners including Kawartha Conservation, the Ontario Clean Water Agency, the City of Kawartha Lakes and Trent University. Our partners are both public and private sector, local, provincial, national and international. Partners bring opportunities for our faculty, staff and students to engage in applied activities and joint ventures that would not be possible to do on our own. Our partnerships are always growing and expanding with the goal of working collaboratively to achieve goals that contribute to positive change in our world. Increased engagement comes naturally when people rally around and are passionate about the things that matter. What matters to our staff, students and partners are clean air and water, social justice, food safety and security and the protection of our natural resources. Our shared goal is on the overall health and sustainability of our planet.

Using the celebrity status for a good cause!

By Marcelo Kawanami

Hi everyone! It’s been a while that I do not write here, but the end of the year is always busy. But this is not an excuse. I was browsing the new publications and insights developed by top strategic consulting firms today – as this is part of my daily job as a market researcher and consultant – and I crossed a very interesting interview that actor Matt Damon and Gary White gave to Mckinsey & Company.

Making Water Flow

In addition to his successful acting career, Matt Damon is also the co-founder of the nonprofit organization Water.org, that works on projects to find sustainable solution to solve the global water and sanitation crisis.

This interview was published on April 2014, and  it is very interesting to see both interviewees debating about the importance of water in the world, the current impact of lack of access to water and sanitation, and their strategic approach to tackle this global issue, which they make very clear that is not charity.

You can click the video above to watch the interview of the following link: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/winning_in_emerging_markets/making_water_flow_an_interview_with_matt_damon_and_gary_white

NGOs teaming up!

By Marcelo Kawanami

The preservation of land, water, oceans, rivers and lakes are the core for Gamiing Nature Centre. Working closely with the local community, Gamiing has developed a set of programs such as trainings, workshops, recreational programs and events in order to educate the participants on the importance of land preservation and the environment.

We are also constantly benchmarking what similar organizations are developing regarding the topics that are important to us. Apart from the big global ones, we are always observing and collaborating with the local small ones like us!Imagem2

Today, I would like mention some these organizations that do amazing things for the environment. I selected some international ones that might not be well known to you, and also some very nice local ones with which your support will certainly make a difference!

Ramsar (Switzerland): http://www.ramsar.org/
The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

Imagem1PFE (France): http://www.partenariat-francais-eau.fr/
The French Water Partnership (FWP – Partenariat Français pour l’Eau), a non-profit association, is a muti – actor platform which works on conveying key consensual messages on the governance and management of water resources in the international arena.

OCC (Uruguay): http://www.occ.org.uy/
Local organization from Uruguay (South America) that fights for the conservation of the oceans with a focus on the white whales.

BHNS (India): http://bnhs.org/bnhs/
One of the largest local Indian organizations, BHNS is a pan-India wildlife research organization, that has been promoting the cause of nature conservation for the past 131 years.

Living Planet Report 2014

By Marcelo Kawanami

WWF has recently published is famous Living Planet Report 2014, in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London, the Global Footprint Network, and the Water Footprint Network. This 170+ pages report brings an in-depth analysis on the health of our planet and the impact of the human activity.

Covering the entire global ecosystem, the report was very focused on topics that are very relevant to Gamiing such as freshwater, marine biodiversity, and water scarcity. I separated below some key highlights from the report:

• Energy generation uses Living Planet Report 2014approximately 8 per cent of the global water withdrawals, afigure which rises to 45 per cent in industrialized countries

• The main threats to freshwater species are habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution and invasive species (Collen et al., 2014). Direct impacts on water levels or on freshwater system connectivity have a major impact on freshwater habitats

• More than 200 river basins, home to some 2.67 billion people, already experience severe water scarcity for at least one month every year

• Global freshwater demand is projected to exceed current supply by more than 40 per cent by 2030 (WRG, 2009); by 2030, almost half of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress (OECD, 2008)

• Energy generation uses approximately 8 per cent of the global water withdrawals, a figure which rises to 45 per cent in industrialized countries

You can download the full report in the following link: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/

You can also find the booklet summary if you are too busy!