Tag: environment

This animated gif of biodiversity in a bottle by Rafael Varona is simply stunning.

And definitely worth the wait (for it to upload).


By Rafael B. Varona.

Brilliant BRILLIANT Doonesbury on climate change.


By Garry Trudeau, via Washington Post

Scientists say the Joint Review Panel Report that approves the Northern Gateway Project is flawed and ignores science.


It would appear that our (Canadian) Government is poised to once again abhor evidence based decision making. Here, scientists have looked over the Joint Review Panel Report that is being used to push forward the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. In essence, they conclude (and for full disclosure, I am one of the signatories) that it “has so many systemic errors and omissions, we – the 300 signatories – can only consider it a failure.”

What are these flaws you ask? Well, the core problems have been outlined in a press release (see below for full press release), and are as follows:

1. The JRP failed to consider important impacts, such as the increased greenhouse gas emissions that could result from oils sands development and burning Northern Gateway oil products in Asia

2. The JRP reached conclusions contradicting the government’s own scientific evidence, including risks to large whales and other marine species.

3. The JRP unjustifiably dismissed the uncertain risks posed by diluted bitumen spills at sea as unimportant risks.

4. The JRP relied on an oil spill response plan that is not yet developed

5. The JRP relied on information from the proponent, without external evaluation.

6. The JRP failed to adequately articulate the rationale for its findings.

The open letter sent to the Prime Minister and asking him to reject the JRP panels can be viewed in full here. The report for the JRP can be downloaded here.

– – –

I have to say that this continued anti-science behaviour from the Canadian Government is so devastating that I feel like the Harper Government now deserves its own meme: hence the silly meme above that is not only animated, but depicts the seriousness of the situation with an elevated facepalm category- the MEGAFACEPALM. Please share widely. (Note: a high quality animated gif can be found here).

– – –

The full press release (June 3rd):


300 Scientists Denounce the Joint Review Panel Report
Their letter asks Prime Minister to reject JRP findings

Vancouver, BC (Tuesday, June 3, 2014) – Scientists from across Canada are asking Prime Minister Harper to reject the findings of the Joint Review Panel (JRP) in the federal decision to approve or reject the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.

In a letter to the Prime Minister signed by 300 scientists from several nations, including fellows of the Royal Society and Order of Canada holders, they say the JRP’s recommendation to approve the oil sands pipeline was based on a “flawed analysis of the risks and benefits to B.C.’s environment and society.”

“The JRP report has so many systemic errors and omissions, we—the 300 signatories—can only consider it a failure,” says UBC associate professor Kai Chan, who led the initiative with SFU assistant professor Anne Salomon and UBC professor Eric Taylor.

“The report does not provide the guidance the federal government needs to make a sound decision for Canadians about the Northern Gateway Project,” Chan says.

The scientists express concerns the Panel omitted important impacts and considered unbalanced, and in some cases, biased evidence that led to a faulty conclusion in its recommendation that Northern Gateway be approved. The JRP assessment, they say:

· Failed to consider important impacts, such as the increased greenhouse gas emissions that could result from oils sands development and burning Northern Gateway oil products in Asia

· Reached conclusions contradicting the government’s own scientific evidence, including risks to large whales and other marine species.

· Unjustifiably dismissed the uncertain risks posed by diluted bitumen spills at sea as unimportant risks.

· Relied on an oil spill response plan that is not yet developed

· Relied on information from the proponent, without external evaluation.

· Failed to adequately articulate the rationale for its findings.

The scientists also point to the Panel’s failure to provide an explanation of how it had reached its conclusions, especially the central one, that the project’s benefits justify its risks and costs.

Download the full letter here: http://chanslab.ires.ubc.ca/?attachment_id=2632 (English) http://chanslab.ires.ubc.ca/?attachment_id=2633 (French)

For More Information, Please Contact:

Kai Chan, Associate Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, UBC: 778-839-9820, kai.chan@ubc.ca

Anne Salomon, SFU Assistant Professor, Resource & Environmental Management, SFU

Rick Taylor, Professor, Zoology, UBC: 604-822-9152, etaylor@zoology.ubc.ca

This is bloody brilliant. “What will climate deniers say after environmental catastrophe strikes?”

Sad, but brilliant, because I fear it’s spot on.

Tom the Dancing Bug

By Rubin Bolling, via Boing Boing.

Han Solo and Chewbacca Weigh In On Their New Hybrid Millennium Falcon



– – –

HAN SOLO: Well, so far, it seems like it’s a pretty good thing. Me, I’m not too up on the technology, but Chewie is pretty good at that stuff. Right Chewie?

CHEWBACCA: Uuuhhhggg. Rrrrggghhh. Hhhgg-aaa. Rrrrn.

HAN SOLO: Yeah, that’s a good point. Chewie just reminded me that this new system has significantly increased our energy efficiency. This basically means less money spent at the pump, and more money in our pockets.

CHEWBACCA: Rrrrrr! Aaaa-Ghhhuuurr. Uuuuhggg.

HAN SOLO: Right. And lower emissions too. Although I don’t get why that would be such a big deal in deep space. Do greenhouse gases do anything out there anyway?

CHEWBACCA: Uuuuhhh-rrrr. Ghhhgggg. Uuugggg. Ggg. Rrrrr-uuuuaa. RRRR! NNHHHUUUR!

HAN SOLO: Alright, alright. Calm down. I’m not saying it’s not a problem. I know there’s science behind all this stuff. It’s not like you haven’t told me to be environmentally conscious like a hundred times already. Look, I’m sorry buddy. I didn’t mean to sound negative like those Empire bastards.


HAN SOLO: Yeah, I know. That would be pretty funny to watch you pull the arms off a one of those guys. Doing that would be carbon neutral too right?

CHEWBACCA: Gghhnn. Nnnnh.

HAN SOLO: Yeah, sure. But listen Chewie, seriously: How would lower emissions in deep space help? I just don’t get it, you know?

CHEWBACCA: Grrrrgh. Uuurhh. RRRggllhh. Hhuu-hhhuu. Auhhh-ghu-gh. RRRRR!. Ggg-rrr, uurrghh. HHGGU! Uuuuhh. Rrr, ggghhu. Huuhhhg. GGGrrr. Uhh?

HAN SOLO: Oh, O.K.. That makes sense. You say you still want fewer emissions because there’s still a lot of flying involved when the Falcon leaves or returns to a planet, or just when she does her cool maneuvers close to the surface. These things still directly contribute to increasing greenhouse gas amounts within the confines of the planet’s atmosphere. Hence, not helping with the global warming problem.

CHEWBACCA: Ggggrrr. Rrrrh. Uuuhhggr. RRRR! Uhhfuckinggghug.

HAN SOLO: Definitely. And you’re right, Tatooine is already too damn hot.

CHEWBACCA: Rrrrrhhg. RRRGGH! Hhhuurrg. Ggrrgh. Huurg. Grrhhg. Guuuaaauu. AAAURRGG! RRRRGGG!

HAN SOLO: Yeah, O.K. I mean I’m basically pretty happy with the modifications. Really, as long as we can still make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, I really don’t care. Plus, I still get to say stuff like “Punch it Chewie,” right? Chewie, you love that stuff.

CHEWBACCA: Ggrrrrgghhaarr.

I suspect the I.P.C.C. report might be more effective if it went with acronyms that were more narrative in nature.


The IPCC report1
The YIACCAYII report4
The SCTINFSC report13

– – –

1. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

2. Specifically, this would be the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fifth Assessment Report Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis

3. Or we could go with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change For Realz

4. Yes, it’s about climate change, and yes, it’s important.

5. O.K. So it’s like this report is where several hundred academics get together and try to summarize all available evidence on the science of climate change.

6. Basically the evidence says: climate change is real, it’s not a good thing; and also, it’s partly our fault.

7. O.K. Technically, it’s a 95% likelihood that it’s our fault, but that’s because 100% is the kind of assessment that isn’t possible in the scientific realm.

8. In other words: scientists are as certain as scientists can be about this.

9. Maybe you can say things with 100% certainty in the political realm, but we all know how those kinds of statements tend to turn out.

10. Seriously, it’s all there in the report. Because, you know… Science, it WORKS.

11. For fuck’s sake, just read the goddam report! Or at least try to read a credible news piece on it.

12. And by credible, I don’t mean outlets, lobbyists, political commentary or advocacy groups where funding directly or even indirectly comes from folks invested in fossil fuels and the like.

13. Scientific conspiracy? There is no fucking scientific conspiracy.

14. Also, ask yourself: who would most likely be guilty of that kind of spin? Messaging that is influenced by oil lobbyists with lots of marketing money? Or thousands of academics conspiring in secret faculty meetings and organizing grand exchanges of covert information?

15. Anyway, screw this. The question is, are you on board with what the IPCC is saying?

16. Because if yes, then wonderful! The future just got a little bit better…

17. If no? Well then, that’s a real shame. Isn’t it funny how scientific laws can help us make climatology predictions, but they’re less useful in predicting human behavior? Still, we’re going to go with a 95% certainty that your children and your children’s children are going to be more than a little disappointed with you.

(Originally published at the Science Creative Quarterly)

Biodiversity. The Greatest show on earth: the poster series.





For the Tree Club – Souza Cruz Institut (which interestingly is a tobacco firm), by SLM Ogilvy.

This is for people who don’t think Nature Deficit Disorder is a thing & don’t think folks are disconnected from biodiversity.





And, yes, even this.


Via Buzzfeed.

Distorted forestry photographs take on a surreal feel

These are the sorts of images that would be perfect to segue into discussions around the environment and media spin.





By Laura Plageman, via Sweet Station.

Brilliantly designed penguin conservation advocacy posters.

Wow. Nice…



By Bittersuite, South Africa (full team details here). Via Fresh Photons.

Vancouver folk take note: The Beaty Biodiversity Museum @phylomon deck is available for purchase (and they look AWESOME!)

In case, you’re new to Phylo, it’s basically a crowdsourced art, science, education and gaming project that revolves around the unfortunate reality of children knowing WAY more about Pokemon than they do about the flora and fauna around them. This, of course, is problematic since one might suggest that it’s not a bad thing for children to want to know a little more about the real environment around them (a more detailed description of the project can be found here). Up to now, the Phylo project has been largely about collecting and playing with a continually pool of very cool and free print-your-own cards.

But now, I’m happy to announce, we finally have our first high quality deck, available for purchase!


So let me introduce the (DUM DUM DUM!) Beaty Biodiversity Deck, currently available at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum gift shop*. It’s on sale for limited time (10% off from $12.99, until September 1st), so if you live in the neighbourhood and want to pick up one of the first available sets, head on over to the museum!

This is the first purchasable deck, but stay tuned as we have a few more slated to be released in the near future. For now, here are some close ups of the Beaty cards!

Art Lindsay Chetek, Kyu HwangBrandy Masch, Kyle McQueen, Victoria Heryet , Derek Tan, and Alexandria Neonakis.

*The museum is also working on making the deck available for online purchasing, so check out this link for more information!

Talk about context in language. #phasesofmatter

The Indonesian word for water is air.

Via Futility Closet.

Wow. This here is what you would call a gigantic rotating supercell!

supercell is a thunderstorm that is characterized by the presence of a mesocyclone: a deep, persistently rotating updraft.[1] For this reason, these storms are sometimes referred to asrotating thunderstorms.[2] Of the four classifications of thunderstorms (supercell, squall line,multi-cell, and single-cell), supercells are the overall least common and have the potential to be the most severe. Supercells are often isolated from other thunderstorms, and can dominate the local climate up to 32 kilometres (20 mi) away. (From Wikipedia)

A supercell near Booker, Texas from Mike Olbinski on Vimeo.

By Mike Olbinski, via Colossal

Science things that are awesome…

(Also, all of these goofy pics are now being archived at a tumblr I just set up – scienceisawesomethatisall.tumblr.com)


O.K. Yesterday was our provincial elections (in British Columbia), and in the end, the Liberal party came out winning. There’s quite a few environmental issues that are in the forefront in my neck of the woods, not the least of which concerns the Northern Gateway pipeline.

The Liberals didn’t actually have the greatest platform on this (at least from an environmental or science policy standpoint), but here’s hoping the public continues to pressure them to do the “best” (re: what scientific expert peer review suggests) thing for the province, and indeed the planet at large.


Last Saturday, my lab opened up the entire ground floor of the Michael Smith Building to the public. This was in conjunction with Science Rendezvous, a cross Canada science festival, and in the case of UBC, organized by the Faculty of Science. In the house (so to speak) were folks from the Beaty Museum, Civil Engineering, Pathology, Physics and Astronomy, as well as the Engineering Physics Robotics lab (who also brought in their 3D printers). We also used the building as ground zero for a number of tours throughout campus.

All in all, a great day (and busy too!). In my space, I actually brought out about a dozen or dissecting scopes and collected a nice jar of pond scum. Kids (and their parents), with some basic instructions, were let loose to find whatever they could find in the pond water. Lots of cooties were found, protozoa and algae abound, but my favourite was this Hydra that I managed to get a decent picture of on my iPhone.


The scientific method – it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty much the best way out there on collecting your thoughts and information to make sound decisions. All the more so, if the decision is high stakes IMHO.

How about a house where the walls are made of vegetation?




“The “Green box” project rises as the renovation of a small disused garage, accessory to a weekend house situated on the slopes of the Raethian Alps. A structure realized with lightweight metal galvanized profiles and steel wires wraps the existent volume and transforms it into a tridimensional support for the climbing vegetation. It is composed mainly by deciduos vegetation: Lonicera periclymenum and Polygonum baldshuanicum for the main texture on which climb up the secondary texture of Humulus lupulus and Clematis tangutica. On the basement there are groups of herbaceous perennials (Centranthus ruber, Gaura Lindheimeri, Geranium sanguineum, Rudbekia triloba) alternate with annual ones (Cosmos bipinnatus,Tagetes tenuifolia, Tropaeolum majus, Zinnia tenuifolia) and bulbous to ensure a light but continuos flowering.”

Project and text by act_romegialli, via Colossal

Contents of one tree and a coral reef neatly laid out #whoa

Click on the image to enlarge…



By Murilo Melo, via Colossal

Happy Arbor Day! Here are some Phylo tree cards!

From Wikipedia:

“Arbor Day (from the Latin arbor, meaning tree) is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. It originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska, United States by J. Sterling Morton. The first Arbor Day was held on April 10, 1872 and an estimated one million trees were planted that day. Many countries now observe a similar holiday. Though usually observed in the spring, the date varies, depending on climate and suitable planting season.”


Download the cards here (scroll to bottom of post).

How We’re Endangering Animals: The Infographic


From Certification Map, via National Geographic

Even the domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) can be Lord of the Savannah!

(Note that even though these images are digitally manipulated, they’re still awesome)




By George Logan, via My Modern Met

Crochet seafood (as in fish and chips and a shrimp salad)



By Kate Jenkins, via Visual News

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