Let's find ways to Flourish!
When discussing the various ways in which we can mitigate climate change and help heal the planet, reforestation is a popular suggestion.
Reforestation is the natural regrowth or intentional planting of trees in existing forests and woodlands which have been depleted. Reforestation is often used as a way to remediate the negative effects of deforestation or clear-cut logging.
For example, tropical forests in Latin America face extreme deforestation due to logging, agriculture, and livestock grazing. Replanting native tree species within these areas helps to conserve habitat for wildlife species and also helps stabilize the climate by increasing the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere by trees.
Trees have the potential to significantly impact the health of our planet (read all about why we need to celebrate trees here), so we shouldn’t shy away from climate solutions which utilize these magnificent plants! Yes – reforestation is one answer, but did you know that there are...
Now, more than ever, we must make a worldwide effort to reduce and even eliminate our use of carbon. Climate change is no longer a problem of the future…it’s happening now, and it has devastating impacts that are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.
Look at Canada, for example. Canada experienced record-breaking heat levels in the summer of 2021. Within two days, the Canadian temperature record increased from 45°C (113°F) (recorded in 1937) to 47.9 °C (118°F). Not only was this the hottest temperature that Canada had experienced, but it was also the highest temperature ever recorded on the planet north of 50N latitude. Crazy right?
Rising temperatures have serious human health and environmental consequences. Just last year, air temperatures reached 38°C (100°F) in Siberia, causing the acceleration of permafrost thawing in the region. Permafrost contains a large amount of greenhouse gases which are released into the atmosphere as it thaws....
Reducing the prevalence of cars in cities is an important part of creating more sustainable cities. We know that automobiles emit harmful pollutants such as carbon dioxide and reduce walkability, so we need to ask ourselves, “what can we do to minimize their usage?”
While there are many methods of reducing automobile usage, such as the promotion of active transportation through the creation of urban walking trails, bike lanes, and the utilization of Transit Oriented Design, the reality is that vehicles will continue to be used for quite some time.
For one, they are practical when travelling long distances and can accommodate large groups of people (ie. busses). In addition, electric vehicles are gaining popularity which means that the overall environmental impact of automobiles will be reduced!
Prioritizing road safety
Photo sourced from: Streets for the People
This is why it is necessary to make our roadways as safe as possible. As long as vehicles are around, they...
Image sourced from: The Guardian
Solar power is a type of renewable energy that has the ability to help us reduce our carbon emissions and mitigate climate change, as it is a viable alternative to electricity generated from fossil fuels. You are probably quite familiar with solar power since it is one of the most common forms of alternative electricity generation and has many different applications!
For example, solar power has proven to be a life-changing addition to remote communities where electricity is not widely available or affordable.
How solar energy becomes electricity
Solar energy can be harnessed and converted into useable energy (such as electricity) through the use of photovoltaic panels, more commonly referred to as solar panels. When a solar panel is placed outside in a sunny location, incoming...
It is not uncommon for people to think of the natural environment as separate from the built environment. To be fair, it is hard to think of oneself as being part of the natural world when located in urban areas which are surrounded by buildings and concrete as far as the eye can see.
That being said, the truth is that there is no way to escape nature, as we are a part of it! Whether it seems like it or not, our human environments are constantly influenced and affected by nature and natural processes. One of the best ways to illustrate this concept is by discussing natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods.
The climate change sized elephant in the room
These events are impossible to prevent. There is not much we can do in order to stop natural disasters from happening. The truth is that they do occur and will continue to occur due to climate change which exacerbates natural disasters both in terms of frequency and severity.
As you may know, either from firsthand...
Humans are influenced by nature in many different ways. One of those ways is through design. In many cases, we take inspiration from our natural surroundings when it comes to architecture, interior design, and many of our human-made inventions.
While taking inspiration from nature may be something as simple as utilizing natural colour schemes, nature-based design can also be much more complex. Take biomimicry for example.
Making design better!
Biomimicry is the reproduction of natural forms and their functions, to make human-designed objects and machines more efficient. According to the Biomimicry Institute, biomimicry is “an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.”
Some quick examples of biomimicry include:
Do you remember your time as a student where affordable housing meant multiple roommates, and sketchy landlords? Do you perhaps also know a senior who has extra space but lacks good social connections and may be isolated?
An unlikely match: seniors and students
Although these two demographic groups might seem like polar opposites, they actually have housing needs which are quite complimentary.
Let’s look at students first. Students require affordable housing, as they are at a point in their lives where they are trying to finance their education while balancing schoolwork, part-time jobs, and other expenses that occur at this age.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a shortage of affordable housing in many cities around the world. More specifically, affordable housing located on or near university campuses can be quite hard to come by. First of all, a large number of students attending a single university may cause a significant increase in demand for nearby student housing. This...
Should non-human beings and other elements of the natural world have rights? Could granting legal personhood be an important step when it comes to revolutionizing the way we protect nature around the world?
This is a very interesting concept, that although may seem a bit far fetched, is becoming a reality and may have the ability to make a significant difference when it comes to environmental protection!
And actually, when you think about the different environmental ethics that exist, it actually makes a lot of sense for elements of nature to be granted personhood.
Environmental ethics and the rights of nature
Your environmental ethic determines the way you view yourself (or humans in general) in relation to the natural world. Environmental ethics guide our moral relationship with the environment, as it helps us determine what behaviours, actions, and thoughts are ethically right when it comes to human interactions with the natural world.
Environmental ethics can be split into two...
When it comes to incorporating sustainability into the built environment, it is important to acknowledge one key fact: we are living in a highly interconnected and globalized world. This is reflected in the way our cities are designed, as well as the movement of people within and between cities around the world.
This widespread travel within and between cities is able to occur due to the advent of modern transportation methods such as trains, busses, subways, automobiles, and planes. Unfortunately, one particular method of transportation has significantly influenced the design of our cities…and not in a good way!
Yep, you guessed it: the automobile. Automobiles are notorious for their contribution to urban sprawl, the uncontrolled expansion of urban areas.
Thanks to urban sprawl, it has become so much harder to get places on foot or take public transportation as your main method of getting around. For example, many North American cities have been designed specifically for...
For thousands of years, humans have expressed themselves, their emotions, and their experiences through art, whether it be through cave paintings, intricate sculptures, or hastily drawn sketches in the back of a notebook.
More than just a fun pastime, the creation of art can also be thought of as the creation of culture, as these two cannot exist without one another. Art not only contributes to and shapes culture, but reflects culture as well.
Seeing that culture is often thought of as the defining characteristic that separates humans from other living species, it is only natural that humans are drawn to art, whether that be creating or viewing it.
Since art is such a significant part of the human experience, it can, and often is, used as a tool for conveying important messages. I love to see when art is cleverly used as a tool for environmental activism!
Images vs. words
Sometimes numbers and statistics just aren’t enough to make us truly understand the detrimental impacts...