Is it a boy? is it a girl? – No it’s a wildfire

California first responders are battling an inferno cause caused by a pyrotechnics device used for a gender reveal party. Over 13,500 acres of land is up in a blaze due to the rising popularity of these gender reveal parties. While knowing the baby is a human is not enough, this has landed the couple in hot seat after it sparked a heated debate over a custom that is dangerous, and may have criminal charges associated with it. With dry and critical conditions for wildfires, it ultimately forced over tens of thousands of El Dorado residents to evacuate their homes and flee for safer conditions. Over 1244 firefighters were deployed to battle and contain the fire. Despite this not being the first incident of fires started through gender reveal parties, a previous gender reveal party in Arizona had a similar fate of putting over 47,000 acres in flames and ordered the couple to pay $8.2 million in damage. The creator of the gender reveal parties urges people to stop with over the top celebrations as the results are getting out of hand.

A sunset over a fire</p>
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Source: Pixabay

Thailand will Shut National Parks Regularly to Protect Nature

Thailand – a destination where tourists from all over the world flock to enjoy sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and a beautiful culture. While it was the travel destination hotspot for many years, the tourists have left far from just footsteps on the beach. The tourism took its toll on the vitality of the natural environment in Thailand, and through COVID-19 the closure of parks has allowed nature to recover by seeing the return of whales and turtles. This is a lesson that speaks volumes as the Natural Resources & Environment authorities now want to close the national parks yearly for two to four months to ensure the ecosystem and wildlife health remains stable and not overexerted. Thailand has more than a 100 national parks and attracts between 10 – 20 million visitors, with this year expecting to drop below 7 million visitors. While tourism is one of the main economic pillars for Thailand’s economy, amounting to one-fifth to their gross domestic product, it could not keep up with the unsustainable degradation the heavy tourism brought. In order to sustain future tourism and a healthy ecosystem, Thailand conservation authorities saw it first hand through the pandemic how with time nature can begin to restore itself.

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Source: Istockphoto


Pringles are trying to shake the title of "a recycling nightmare"

New Pringles tubes

Source: BBC News

If you’re a snacker, you’ve enjoyed a can of pringles in your life, which means you also know that they’re a nightmare to recycle. The current container has received heavy criticism because of its construction with a metal base, plastic cap, metal tear-off lid and foil-lined cardboard sleeve. If you’re familiar with recycling practices, you know this just won’t do. The Recycling Association dubbed it to be the number one recycling villain because of a lot of materials for one package. Now Pringles’ maker Kellogg’s is designing a simpler can – although experts still say it’s not a full solution, at least it’s a start. The existing version is extremely troublesome because it contains so many different materials. Around 90% of the new can is paper and 10% is polyal (plastic) used as a barrier to seal the interior and protect food against oxygen and moisture. 

Now that sounds good for the container but about the lid? Two options are on trial in some stores in the UK (Tesco) – a recyclable plastic lid and a recyclable paper lid. Kellogg’s states that these lids will still produce the distinctive ‘pop’ associated with the product so as not to alter brand identity. Simon Ellin from the Recycling Association told BC News that although the new design is an improvement, the plastic lid has got to go. “It’ll just add problems to plastic pollution” he says. The new designs have been 12 months in the making. Pringles have a shelf life of 15 months - and three million cans are made across Europe every day. Environmentalists say that trivial changes like these won't solve the world's ecological crises - but on a large scale they'll contribute. 

Coal is old news - South Korea to close half its coal-fired plants

International Day of Clean Air for blue skies | United Nations

Source: United Nations

President Moon Jae-in made the announcement Sept. 8 in a speech he delivered virtually for the United Nations’ International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies event. The president said his administration will close 10 of those operating coal-fired plants by the end of 2022. The President aims to triple the number of solar and wind power resources online by 2025, compared to 2019 numbers, in order to meet emissions reductions targets. The President’s speech came on the anniversary of his presentation to the UN last year, in which he proposed the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies event. Last year in his proposal he stated that at least one day each year should be designated as an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of clean air. Additionally, Jae-in’s administration has ended construction of any new coal-fired power plants—the country in 2017 (the year he took office), presented a Green New Deal initiative, which Jae-in said could create 660,000 jobs. The program calls for a 73 trillion won ($61.43 billion) investment through 2025. South Korea is taking climate change seriously, the rest of the world should follow suit. Read more about this here.

Give the People What they Want!

Smoke, Smoking, Chimney, Fireplace

Source: Pixabay

Canadians want a green recovery. 

As our government is grappling with how to rebuild our post-Covid-19 world, one consideration to take in account is the state of the natural environment. We have been given a clean slate, or close as we may get for a while, in choosing how to spend our dollars. As a result, many environmental activists have been calling for a rehaul in how we fund the environment, suggesting more funding be directed towards fighting climate change and protecting our natural environment for future generations. It appears that most Canadians also agree this would be the best course of action. 

When asked in a recent poll conducted by the Business Council of Alberta, 75% of Canadians agreed that our government’s post-Covid-19 recovery plan should protect natural resource industries while protecting our environment. The majority (52%) of Canadians also agreed we should support the environment and economy equally. However, Canadians also tend to show low confidence in the state of the current economy and are worried about the financial consequences the pandemic is having on our communities. In fact, over half of respondents said we should be currently prioritizing business (54%) over a green recovery (27%). Why can’t we do both at the same time?

In terms of emission reduction, 69% of Canadians agree that Canada can grow the economy while still fighting climate change and protecting the environment. Economic growth and environmental sustainability can be the means to the same end. Climate change and the environmental degradation was not caused by economic growth, but instead by the poor policy which accompanied it.

Looking Into our Frozen Past

Source: McMaster University

This week, researchers from McMaster University discovered a new way to extract and analyze ancient DNA. From less than a gram of sediment, researchers can analyze the genomes of thousands of plants and animals- many of them long extinct. 

Examining four different sites in the Yukon (each representing a different phase of the Pleistocene-Holocene transition), researchers were able to profile various species from up to 11,000 years ago. They found genetic information from woolly mammoths, bison, reindeer, horses, and thousands of different plants from just 0.2 grams of sediment! Interestingly, researchers also found that the woolly mammoth likely lived much longer than we have previously believed. In fact, they may have still been roaming the earth as little as 9,700 years ago. 

Researcher and lead of the McMaster Ancient DNA Centre, Hendrik Poinar said, "This research allows us to maximize DNA retention and fine-tune our understanding of change through time, which includes climate events and human migration patterns, without preserved remains." Since this new method does not require the presence of biological tissue in a sample, the door is now open for a more comprehensive view of which species occupied the earth long before humans. This is just the beginning.