From textbook

ON PIPELINES, OIL, AND RISK: AN FAQ

Note that this was written in April 2013, with an emphasis on the activities around the Northern Gateway pipeline. In late December 2013, the joint review panel recommended that the Federal government approve the pipeline, “with conditions.” See this link for more information. THE GLOBAL Q: What is a pipeline? A pipeline is a means of transporting products from one point to another via a piping system. Oil pipelines run crude oil and petroleum products from the oil source to the communities that require the gas, or to an alternate point from which the oil can be shipped or transported…

JUST ANOTHER DAY AT THE LAKE

Think of the last time you went swimming. It is summertime at the lake; the little fishes are nibbling your toes and your brother is leisurely floating next to you. The cool, fresh water, having descended from the untouched purity of the frozen Canadian mountain peaks, is your oasis from the summer heat. You are playfully splashing in the shallows, and maybe your brother challenges you to a game every kid knows, and every fretful parent fears: the who-can-hold-their-breath-the-longest. Ready? You both count down together; three, two, one, you take a deeeeep breath, and under you go. You decide to…

Oil Tanker Spills: An FAQ

GLOBAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ISSUE What are oil tankers? Oil tankers are ocean vessels that transport petroleum oil (10). Petroleum is a liquid mixture composed of hydrocarbons and is mainly used to produce gasoline (10). Tankers can transport crude oil from oil extraction sites, such as tar sands, to refineries (11). Alternatively, they can transport refined oil from refineries to consumers (11). How do oil tanker spills happen? Oil spills from tankers in the ocean occur mainly from loading and discharging oil, equipment and hull failures, collisions, fires, or explosions (12). Since the 1970’s, there have been significant improvements in…

PIECE OF MINE: A CONFLICT MINERALS FAQ

What are conflict minerals? Conflict minerals are natural resources whose illegal exploitation and trade in a context of war make millions in revenue for armed groups who in turn use these funds to purchase weapons that fuel violence and perpetuate human rights abuses. The UN General Assembly first officially discussed the concept in relation to “blood diamonds,” the first conflict mineral to gain notoriety [ii]. Between 1992 and 1998, the main rebel group in diamond-rich Angola, UNITA, is said to have profited up to $4 billion USD from diamonds [iii]. – – – What are the most common conflict minerals…

ASK NOT WHAT YOUR URBAN FOREST CAN DO FOR YOU…

It’s time that we upped the ante on the level of public discussion on the urban forest. What is the urban forest you ask? Well it’s those pleasant remnant stands of forest that speckle the urban landscape, like Vancouver’s Stanley Park – but it’s also every other tree in the city, from that old oak tree on the front lawn to those pitiable and short-lived trees sprouting from the concrete downtown. Trees have been the recipient of a growing urban celebrity over the past years. I subscribe to Google News alerts, so whenever the words “urban forest” appear in a…

WHEN WHEAT MUFFINS TURN TO THE DARK SIDE: ON GLUTEN AND YOUR DIET

(Published March 2013) Think about what you ate for breakfast this morning. You might have had some fruit or protein, but you most likely ingested wheat. This is a probable assumption because wheat is the most widely consumed food group in the North American diet [1]. Common wheat-based breakfast foods such as pastries, bagels, granola bars, pancakes, cereal, muffins, and oats all contain flours or starches prepared with wheat, rye and barley grains [1]. When flours are mixed with water, the wheat proteins create a 3D network giving dough elastic and viscous properties that food-processing companies have chemically manipulated to…

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF ORCHID LOVE

Do you ever think about plant sex? I still remember walking into the first class of my first ever plant biology course during my undergraduate degree and my professor introducing himself as just another botanist who is obsessed with plant sex. At the time I thought my professor was a quirky guy trying to get the students’ attention by talking about sex, but now that I am doing a Masters in Botany, it all makes sense – I have yet to meet a botanist who is not absolutely fascinated by the whys and hows and whos and wheres of plant…