Akorede Shakir: 3 Ways Young People Can Come Together To Fight Climate Change

With the climaxing threats, climate change is putting the future of the world in evident disasters. Should the owners of the future sit back?

According to the United Nations, “Climate change is one of the major challenges of our time and adds considerable stress to our societies and to the environment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.”

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Featured Contributor Jennifer McAuley: Zika And Zoonotics

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Zika has gotten a lot of hype lately with the recent Olympics being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Zika is a virus transmitted to humans mainly from the bite of a very specific species of mosquito – the Aedes aegypti mosquito. This species is found in tropical or subtropical zones, and Zika originated in Uganda in a rhesus monkey. It’s assumed the A. aegypti bit the monkey, and then has been spreading it ever since. Continue reading

Featured Contributor Theresa Ramirez: Hiking the GTA- 8 Tips To Get You Started!

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At the start of the year I set myself one new years resolution: to go on 5 hikes. Super ambitious, I know. But despite all the odds, it’s now May and I have been out and about hiking the GTA almost every weekend since New Years day! Take that haterz. So if you, like pre-2016 me, have the hiking itch, but just don’t seem to be able to find the opportunities to get out and explore nearby trails, here are a few tips I have picked up that might help you get outdoors.

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Featured Contributor Morgan Roblin: Land Trusts- Creating A Legacy Of Nature

With the passing of Earth Day last week, and the hype over the signing of the COP21 Paris Agreement, there has been a lot of discussion about the targets countries have set in order to decrease our impact on the Earth and limit global warming. Targets include, for many countries, decreasing carbon emissions. Many of these solutions include developing technology that reduce emissions, but the issue is, how do we take CO2 out of the air once we’ve put it in? We need carbon sinks. The simplest solution is nature. E.O. Wilson put it quite simply, maybe a little too simply, in his new book, proposing that we set aside half of the Earth for nature. Perhaps a bit optimistic, but why do we struggle so, to live in harmony with the planet? Change in land use management, protecting existing habitat, and restoring areas that have been degraded, have received little attention from the media, but “the land use sector is the only sector that can switch from being a net source of carbon to a net sink within as little as a decade.” (Justin Adams). This is where land trusts come in! Continue reading

Featured Contributor Jessica Weir: I’m An Environmentalist, And All About The Vegan Lifestyle

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Imagine meeting a sentient being, understanding their complex natures, learning of their soul and heart, and then – eating them. This may seem absurd, but this happens to millions of animals and livestock daily. The problem is that we no longer see these animals for who they are or what they are capable of, but as consumer goods, in the name of profit and taste.

I am an environmentalist, I am a vegetarian (making the transition to veganism), and I strongly believe that environmentalists and non-environmentalists alike, who have access to a vegan diet and lifestyle, should be vegan. As an environmentalist, we are constantly at battle with reducing climate change; so, finding out that livestock is responsible for 18% of all GHG emissions (a bigger share than transportation), made it difficult to say my “right” to eat animals was more important than the impact it is creating. Continue reading

Featured Contributor Dylan Munoz: I’m an Environmentalist, and I Will Never Be Vegan

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Environmentalists are not mandated to be vegan, and as such should not be vilified if they choose not to do so. In today’s society, there are many organizations and communities that pressure the global population, to shift to a more conscientious approach on non-human animal rights, and food production. While I do not discredit or disapprove of this tactic, there is much to be considered before inciting criticism on those whom are environmentalists, and are not vegan. After reading countless articles from environmental and non-environmental organizations, I find the one thing that clashes with their core belief system, is well, their beliefs – their culture. Continue reading

Featured Contributor Thanushi Eagalle: What Is DNA Barcoding And Why Should We Care?

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A term that most of you in the sciences may have heard quite consistently in recent years is the term “DNA barcoding.” It sounds like science (DNA = science, am I right?) and a grocery store (all the bags of chips I buy have barcodes to scan) got together and just outputted that term after a fun night of partying. However, there’s a lot more to it and it has been dramatically changing how scientists perform scientific research.

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Featured Contributor Luana Manzano: Life As We Really Didn’t Expect It

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Nowadays, it seems like we can’t predict what’s up next when it comes to our environment. One day there are fires spontaneously burning through acres and acres of land, and the next day one of the earth’s richest ecosystem is flourishing right beneath an oil rig off the coast of California. Yes, you read that right. Now, you must be thinking, like I certainly did, “How the heck is that even possible? That defies anything and everything I’ve ever learned about the environment! Is my whole life a lie?!?!?” Allow me to explain before any of us start questioning many other great mysteries of life. Continue reading

Features Contributor Julia Molnar: Are We Doomed Or Can We Still Make A Difference?

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A study published last summer stated that the number of species on our planet is disappearing at such a fast rate that we might be entering another mass extinction. Entire species are disappearing at such a fast rate that the scientists compared it to what happened to the dinosaurs. Seeing it written down in these words shocked me because it sounds so gloomy and hopeless! And it got me thinking: is it worth doing something at this point or is our planet too far gone? Am I really helping to reduce my impact on habitat loss by recycling? Or are we cutting down forests at such a fast rate that it isn’t worth it anymore, and I might as well start throwing my papers and plastics in the trash? Since I refuse to accept the fact that we are doomed, I try to look for stories or articles of when it was possible to make a difference for animals and the environment, and maybe draw inspiration from a positive story than be terrified by a negative story of doom. One such amazing story is that of the peregrine falcon. Continue reading

Featured Contributor Jessica Ferguson: Hello, Hog-Nose!

I know I am likely the exception here, but I think snakes are cute. And if I were asked to pick just one super-cute, super-endearing snake species, I would pick the Hog-nosed Snake.

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Aww! Photo courtesy of Ontario Nature. Photographer: Sterling Sztricsko

The Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) is a quirky Ontario native. This species can be easily identified by its upturned rostral scale (the snout) that gives it its “hog-nosed” appearance. They are heavy-bodied, growing to 50-85 cm on average, and are highly variable in colour and pattern. They can display a grey, brown, tan, yellow, or olive background colour with darker blotches down the back, and smaller blotches running down the sides. Some individuals lack blotches, and they can also display unique pigmentations such as melanism (this condition is an over-production of the skin pigment “melanin”, resulting in a black snake! This is also seen in mammals, such as our common Eastern Grey Squirrel).

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Featured Contributor Erin Garbett: Public Comments Under Ontario’s Environmental Bill Of Rights Made Easy

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Hi!  My name is Erin and I’m in my second year of law school. I’m pretty set on a career in environmental law, and I believe that one of the best things the legal community can do to promote environmentalism, is to promote legal mechanisms to the non-legal community. When it comes to environmental issues, the law is like a box of tools.  Some are better for the task at hand than others, and the more you know about them, the more likely you are to pick the best one right off the bat. Continue reading

Featured Contributor Jackie Hamilton: Urban Forests

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The City of Toronto is often referred to as a concrete jungle, but not often thought of as an actual forest ecosystem. As the biggest city in Canada, it may seem a strange place for someone who loves forests to live. The truth is, most of southern Ontario’s landscape can be classified as urban or sub-urban, and yet trees have far from disappeared from the landscape. Even though there are lots of trees in the city, the urban forest needs a lot of help to survive, because life on the streets is tough for anybody. Continue reading

Featured Contributor Jessica Ferguson: Squishy, Slimy, Secretive- Let’s Meet Mudpuppies!

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Why, hello there

Amphibians are cool. They were the first vertebrate to step out of the water, become terrestrial, and sprout some limbs and lungs (thanks, amphibians!). They are widely distributed, and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. They are indicator species, as they are sensitive to pollutants present in the water. Their early life-stage development is a throwback, indicating that they were once fully aquatic. There is incredible diversity in amphibians and their reproductive processes, but to summarize greatly, they lay eggs in the water, which hatch into aquatic larva equipped with gills, and later transform into their mostly-terrestrial adult stage complete with lungs. 

That is true for many amphibians, but not for the Mudpuppy (Necturus macolosus). Continue reading

Featured Contributor Luana Manzano: My Love Affair With Nature

DCIM100GOPROI was always the type of kid who would go around saving land snails and playing with house lizards during my free time. As opposed to other four-year-old girls who obsessed over Barbie dolls and the latest Polly Pocket’s play set, I was too preoccupied over finding the right type of leaves that would help me create my snail sanctuary. Nature in its entirety has always been a passion of mine and it seems as though my love for the environment has been engraved into my DNA, seeing that I can’t seem to retell of a time where I wasn’t thoroughly fascinated with each new fact I learned about nature and its superiority. Continue reading

Featured Contributor Leah Speller: Ethnobotany & Modern Society

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Ethnobotany is the study of the relationships between people and plants. More specifically, ethnobotany examines the ways people use, manage, and classify native plants in the context of cultural practices, customs, and traditions. In a world facing an uncertain future as climate change alters both the known and unknown, ethnobotany can serve as an avenue to give voice to localized concerns, and preserve traditional knowledge, while establishing conservation management approaches that speak to the greater, global problem. Continue reading

Featured Contributor Vincent Luk: The James Bay Shorebird Project

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Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to go up north to the Hudson Bay lowlands for the Western James Bay Shorebird Project. Three weeks in a remote location on Moose Cree First Nation land to work on a multi-agency collaborative monitoring and research project towards the conservation of shorebird species. It was an incredible adventure that brought me into the heart of the Canadian wilderness, and taught me so much about birds and field work. As a photographer and visual storyteller, my assignment was to document what I saw and share the amazing work that’s being done up there. Continue reading

Featured Contributor Liz Clark: Once Upon A Turkey

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Turkeys are my enemy, but humans have gone too far.

That sinister look and discomforting wiggle of red, wrinkly skin hanging from their chins. The terrifying cry of death in the form of gobble-gobble and, of course, if those haven’t gotten your skin crawling enough, there’s the uncanny resemblance to Satan himself. These are the signs that I’m in the presence of a turkey. Maybe you’re more familiar with the colourfully dopey bird you drew as a kid in grade school by tracing the outline of your hand. Better yet, maybe you’re more acquainted with the roasted, basted, and stuffed version. Those are safer anyways. Right? Continue reading

Featured Contributor Danielle de Carle: How many leeches would it take to kill a person?

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I study leeches. In August, when I started working with these blood-sucking worms, the amount of leeches it would take to kill a person, was one of the first questions that came to mind. Unsurprisingly, my supervisor had already worked out the answer, and obligingly walked me through the calculations. I thought, perhaps, that other folks had wondered about death-by-leeches too, so I made this tiny comic to help you out. Continue reading

Featured Contributor Campbell Falconer: How To Tell The Difference Between Professional Wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin And An Actual Texas Rattlesnake

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The South Texas Poison Center reports that there are eight different types of rattlesnake that reside in the Lone Star State. Of these eight, the three that are most commonly found to be behind attacks on humans are the Western Diamondback, the Timber rattlesnake, and the Prairie rattlesnake. However, there is a rare, and incredibly volatile and dangerous, ninth variety of rattlesnake that can be found specifically on the premises of Broken Skull Ranch in Tilden, Texas; and his name is Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Here are a few things you can look for to tell if the snake you are encountering is just a regular rattlesnake or Stone Cold Steve Austin: Continue reading

October Photo Contest Winners and Runners Up

We’ve completed our October photo contest (as you might have noticed considering our banner has changed) and chosen our two winners.  The winning photo for our new banner was submitted by Luana Manzano:  

And the winning photo for our thumbnail across our social media sites was submitted by Kate Powell:

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A big thanks goes out to everyone who submitted photos.  We go tons of incredible photos, and it was difficult to choose the two winners.  With that in mind, here are the runners up photos that almost made it: Continue reading

Featured Contributor Marina Rose: Bright Eyes For the Future

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In today’s day and age, we often times hear people talk about the younger generations and how much times have changed. We hear sayings such as, “kids these days are so lazy”, or how about, “when I was younger I spent all my time outdoors. Now the only things kids care about is video games and television”. It’s true that we have clearly seen an increase in childhood obesity and sickness, due to factors such as lack of exercise and appreciation for the great outdoors, and that yes, there are so many technological advancements, that children seem to get their daily activity by playing Playstation or texting all night. I am proud to say, however, that each year I get the pleasure of meeting young people who go against this so called “norm.” And although it sometimes is scary to see what has been happening to our planet, and the people’s attitudes whom inhabit it, I see a glimmer of hope through the young lives that show me they care. Continue reading