Monday, December 7, 2009

UN Climate Change Conference: The Most Important Conversation of Our Time.

Actually, it's not a conversation. It's a very serious chat that will influence the future of mankind. That sounds exaggerated, but truly, it's not. Think about it.

Now consider this:

December 7, 2009.

This day marks the beginning of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Attending this most important conference are world leaders, officials, and delegates from 192 states and countries. I feel that this conference is one of the most important events that must bring the world forward in terms of creating REAL, FUNCTIONAL policies and infrastructure. There are many countries that have fallen behind and even gone backwards in their progress towards establishing climate sustainability solutions.

*cough* CANADA *cough*.

Yes, I am putting Canada under the spotlight. Canada's leaders deserve it.

"Canada enters the climate talks as a global laggard. With the oil sands and Ottawa's response to Kyoto under heavy scrutiny, the country's reputation is on the line."- as quoted from the front page of the Globe and Mail for December 7, 2009.

So what can we do to take part in the climate change 'negotiations'? If you are not traveling to Denmark this December, the most effective action is to make impacts on the local level, and gradually attempt to go larger-scale. It isn't hard to get in contact with your city's mayor or an elected municipal official regarding your city's infrastructure and how green and efficient it is. And having support from your peers and community is always better than presenting yourself alone. Just a thought that could go a long way.

By the way, the logo for COP15 as seen above looks impressive. Hopefully what is accomplished there is also impressive.


Monday, November 23, 2009

The Age of Stupid

Think about yourself and your actions. You must have done something stupid in your life! But really, look around you. Think around. We are truly living in THE AGE OF STUPID.

The Age of Stupid: Trailers: Global Premiere from Age of Stupid on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Agriculture: The Idea of Vertical Farming

I haven't written a post in more than a month! Anyways, I came across a very interesting article explaining the concept of 'vertical farming', or the cultivation of crops inside multi-story buildings as opposed to greenhouses or even the conventional fields. Please read! What are your thoughts about this?

Growing crops in buildings proposed as solution to
world's food woes

Last Updated: Friday, November 20, 2009 | 9:58 AM ET
By Grant Buckler, CBC News

Vertical farms would grow crops hydroponically,
in a water-and-nutrient solution, or perhaps aeroponically,
using a mist of nutrient-laden water.
(Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)

Vertical farms would grow crops hydroponically, in a water-and-nutrient solution, or perhaps aeroponically, using a mist of nutrient-laden water. Vertical farms would grow crops hydroponically, in a water-and-nutrient solution, or perhaps aeroponically, using a mist of nutrient-laden water. (Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)Is it an elegant solution to pressing problems related to the food supply, or another example of putting too much faith in technology?

That's a tough question to answer. But what is clear right now is that vertical farming is in its infancy.

The idea is to grow food inside buildings — not conventional greenhouses, but multi-storey buildings, quite likely in cities — in closed ecosystems using hydroponics rather than soil, and without the use of pesticides.

So far it has only been tried on a very small scale. Paignton Zoo in South Devon, U.K., for example, is growing produce to feed some of its animals.

But advocates of vertical farming — notably Dickson Despommier, a Columbia University professor of public health — envision towering gardens in the heart of a city. Despommier, who is working on a book on the idea, sees vertical farming as part of the answer to global warming, water shortages and inner-city health problems.

The key arguments for vertical farming are these:

* Conventional farms waste water. Despommier says irrigation accounts for 70 per cent of worldwide water use, and much of that is wasted as runoff, but because it's contaminated with silt, pesticides and fertilizers, it can't be captured and reused. Vertical farms would grow crops hydroponically, in a water-and-nutrient solution, or perhaps aeroponically, using a mist of nutrient-laden water. The approach could grow the same crops with as little as 10 per cent of the water used in traditional agriculture, Despommier argues.
* Vertical farms would make it easy to grow food without chemicals. There is growing concern about the environmental effects of pesticides and fertilizers used in traditional agriculture. Some see organic farming as the answer, others argue organic farming can't deliver the yields necessary to feed the world. But vertical farming would virtually eliminate the need for pesticides because air coming in could be filtered to keep pests out, and whatever fertilizers were used could be kept within the system and out of lakes and rivers.
* Growing fresh produce in cities would make it more accessible to poor city-dwellers. As a public-health professor, this one particularly interests Despommier. "It's very difficult to find fresh produce in inner cities," he said, so people who live there tend to eat less nutritious foods. "The data is overwhelming," he added: If healthier food is available, people will eat it.
* Growing food close to where it's eaten would reduce transportation needs, which would cut greenhouse-gas emissions. Reduced use of fossil-fuelled farm machinery would also help cut emissions.
* Vertical farms would improve air quality in cities by consuming carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

All this sounds too good to be true — and some people argue that it is.

The arguments against vertical farming aren't as numerous as those for it, but one of them in particular stands out: Urban land is just too expensive for vertical farming to be commercially viable in cities.

"I think it's going to be really hard to make the numbers work out," said Ryan Avent, a U.S. blogger with an interest in urban land use and a contributing editor to The Economist magazine.

On his blog, Avent points out that steel-and-concrete buildings, without fancy finishing, cost $300 per square foot or more in large cities. That works out to about $13 million per acre, compared with $3,000 per acre for farmland in Indiana.

Thanks to year-round production and other efficiencies, vertical farming can deliver up to 20 times the yield of traditional agriculture, says Chris Bradford, managing director at Valcent Products EU, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based Valcent Products Inc. The company provided the equipment for Paignton Zoo's vertical-farm experiment at no cost to the zoo, in order to demonstrate the technology. But even that impressive yield is nowhere near enough to cancel out the difference in land cost between basic farmland and a vertical farm building.

'I think it's going to be really hard to make the numbers work out.'—Ryan Avent, blogger

That's part of the reason Valcent doesn't see city-centre agriculture as a significant market for its vertical-farming technology, Bradford says. Rather, he envisions it taking root in low-rent industrial buildings on urban fringes, where land is significantly less expensive than downtown but transportation to urban markets is cheaper and faster than from rural farms.

Despommier concedes that suburban industrial areas might be the most promising sites for vertical farms. However, he also argues that there is disused land in most major cities that municipalities might make available below market cost.

"I can take you to a place in New York City that's five square miles of unused property," Despommier says, referring to Floyd Bennett Air Force Base, in the borough of Queens, which opened in 1930 as the city's first municipal airport, was later used as an air force base and is now a historic district managed by the U.S. National Parks Service.

Despommier says Vertical Farm Technology LLC, a startup he has founded to work on vertical farm projects, has spoken with officials in cities that have parcels of land like this in mind for vertical farming experiments. Universities could also run vertical farm experiments on their urban campuses, he says.

Still, while the idea of businesses growing food for profit in city centres seems dubious, Bradford does see a possible niche for downtown vertical farming — growing high-value produce for customers who will pay a premium for freshness. A vertical farm in a Manhattan high-rise, for instance, might produce herbs and salad greens for a handful of fancy restaurants close by.

He also suggests Valcent's systems might be used in climates — such as the Middle East — that are simply too hot and dry for conventional agriculture to work well.

"We have never suggested that it will replace conventional agricultural systems," Bradford says.

And whatever potential vertical farming has, it won't be realized overnight. Even Despommier, probably its most enthusiastic proponent, says the idea could take 50 years to take hold — but he does expect some significant experiments in the next couple of years.

Grant Buckler is a Canadian freelance writer.

Date acquired: November 22, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Search for a 350 Action near you!

Look for Nelson High School's 350 event, being held in Burlington, Ontario!

For more details on Nelson's 350 event visit:

View Actions at

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blog Action Day '09...Climate Change Style!

Watch this video and learn one of the many reasons why I've created this blog- to make a difference no matter how small it may be.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Suffocating Over Population

Today, I did a 60 minute presentation and discussion in french to my french class about the major issue of overpopulation. Overpopulation has been coined as the major reason feeding the increase in CO2, and depletion of natural resources.

It is true to say that the number of births is greatly outnumbering the number of deaths every day (around 400,000 to 150,000) therefore the world is seeing an increase of about 250,000 new citizens of the earth every day. This is why we should be worrying, and being conscientious about decisions we make- good family management and conservation of all resources.

As you can see below, it is hard to believe that by 2050 the world population will have already reached NINE BILLION people. Where will people live? How will people live without conflict in such a crowded and resource-strapped world. It is sad that the world is quickly spiraling into a whirlpool of problems, none of them in which we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I found a website that shows the astounding increase of human population in real-time. It also shows various other world statistics in real-time. Here is the link:

Finally, here is a video that you must watch if you have time! It is about overpopulation and its negative impacts It also provides a shocking comparison between humans and...I won't spoil it! But please watch this video I found on youtube! I thank the creator of the video for his efforts for the awareness of human overpopulation.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Do everything you can to get rid of Invasive Species!

During the summer of 2009, I participated in various invasive plant species removals, learning that there are so many species inhabiting Canada's green space that are detrimental to native species. An invasive species usually takes over a native species habitat and does not let it grow, such as by growing so fast that it covers the native species' leaves, causing death by photosynthesis.

I also stumbled on this article today on, which talks about a 'new' invasive species in Canada that has just been discovered, and must be controlled/destroyed.

Invasive plant species takes root in Canada

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | 2:19 PM ET

A patch of kudzu grows in Leamington, Ont., the first patch of the invasive species
ever to be found in Canada.
(Sam Brinker/Ministry of Natural Resources)

An invasive plant that has destroyed large swaths of land in the southern United States has been discovered for the first time in Canada.

The patch of kudzu vine was found on a bluff overlooking Lake Erie in Leamington, Ont., a farming community about 30 kilometres southeast of Windsor.

It measures 120 metres by 50 metres and is "pretty well established" but contained, according to Rachel Gagnon, a co-ordinator with the Ontario Invasive Plant Council (OIPC).

"There's a possibility to control that spot before it starts spreading into new areas," Gagnon said.

If not destroyed immediately, the plant could wind up costing "millions of dollars to eradicate," said Rowan Sage, a biology professor at the University of Toronto, who began studying kudzu 20 years ago.

"It becomes a nuisance on land people want to be productive," Sage said. "Once it gets established in a region, it gets to be a problem."

The patch could easily be pulled out or even fed to a herd of goats, Sage said.

Aggressive growing behaviour

Kudzu is "an aggressive invader," the OIPC says in a pamphlet describing the vine, which looks like two-metre-tall bean stalk.

A close up of a kudzu leaf. The vines can grow as much as 30 centimetres a day and reach heights of 2.1 metres.
A close up of a kudzu leaf. The vines
can grow as much as 30 centimetres
a day and reach heights of 2.1 metres.
(Rachel Gagnon/Ontario Invasive Plant Council)

It grows up to 30 centimetres a day, blanketing everything in its path, including hydro poles, fences, houses and highway signs. It destroys tree species and other vegetation, the pamphlet says, "either by girdling them as it climbs, breaking them from the weight of the vines, or eventually by blanketing them and causing death by preventing photosynthesis."

Kudzu is also an alternate host for soybean rust, a pathogen that reduces crop yields.

Southern Ontario accounts for more than 66 per cent of the province's total soybean production, according to the Ontario Soybean Growers' 2008 annual report.

But the spread of kudzu is not "a major issue," according to Horst Bohner, a soybean specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, because the crop disease cannot survive the region's cold winter.

"When you have a frost like we obviously do, the rust cannot overwinter," Bohner said.

'The vine that ate the South'

Originally imported to the United States from Asia in 1876 for the World's Fair, kudzu was later planted widely along highways to prevent erosion.

In time, however, the aggressive vine invaded at least a dozen southern states, including Florida, Tennesee and parts of Texas, giving it the nickname "the vine that ate the South."

It began to migrate north and has been reported in Ohio and southern Michigan, meaning it can "clearly survive at this latitude," Sage said.

He is especially curious to know whether the kudzu growing in Leamington floated over Lake Erie from Michigan or if it was imported on purpose.

"Knowing how it got there is probably more important than it being there," he said. "It's the 'how' that will help us prevent this in the future."

Polar ice sheets melting into sea: study

This is a news article published today on that I happened to stumble upon.

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | 1:58 PM ET

These maps show the pattern of surface height change over the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets for the 2003-2008 period. Red areas indicate where the surface height is lowering. (H. Pritchard, British Antarctic Survey)

The massive ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica are thinning rapidly, say British researchers who have analyzed 50 million laser measurements from a NASA satellite.

Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey and the University of Bristol said the most dramatic loss of ice was the result of glaciers flowing into the sea at a faster rate.

"We think that warm ocean currents reaching the coast and melting the glacier front is the most likely cause of faster glacier flow," Hamish Pritchard of the British Antarctic Survey said in a statement.

The scientists said data from the ICEsat instrument on NASA's Earth Observing System satellite showed that "dynamic thinning" can be seen on the coastlines of Greenland and Antarctica and is spreading into the interiors of the ice sheets.

"We were surprised to see such a strong pattern of thinning glaciers across such large areas of coastline," said Pritchard. "It's widespread and in some cases thinning extends hundreds of kilometres inland."

In Antarctica, the ice sheet is thinning fastest in West Antarctica. The Pine Island Glacier and the Smith and Thwaites Glacier are thinning at a rate of nine metres per year.

The authors of the study, which appears this week in Nature, said the results of the satellite measurements are important to accurately predict rises in sea level as the ice melts into the ocean.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fuel Premieres Today

Today is the premiere for 'Fuel', an inspirational documentary about solutions to global climate change. Check out the trailer to preview the film!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Burlington's First Environmental Conference - IMPRINTS Make Your Mark, Leave No Trace!

Please click image to see high quality version (so you can actually read it).

Burlington's 1st Youth Environmental Conference FOR youth BY youth
FREE EVENT - ALL DAY 8:30-3:00 PM for high school students Gr. 9-12
October 22, 2009 @ Robert Bateman High School, Burlington, Ontario
Please visit: for more information
Please contact for password to enter website!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Help tell our leaders the world is ready for bold climate action

TckTckTck is an unprecedented global alliance of civil society organizations, trade unions, faith groups and people like you—all calling for a fair, ambitious, and binding climate change agreement Copenhagen 2009. If enough of us stand up, world leaders will listen.

This is a message from

"Right now, we are counting down to the most important meeting of our lives. This December, world leaders will come together in Copenhagen to hammer out a global climate treaty. There are less than a hundred days left, which is enough time to show them that we want a bold, ambitious, and fair agreement. It is time for us to come together to build a cleaner and more secure world, but the clock is ticking.

Please join me in adding my voice to the largest mandate for action that the world has seen.

Check out and sign the pledge. You can also share your own climate story, find campaign tools, and more."

Friday, September 4, 2009

Volunteering for a Greener Ribfest

This evening I was volunteering at the Canada's largest annual Ribfest, held at the waterfront in Burlington, Ontario. My task was to sort waste into the proper recycling/composting bins. I did this with several other 'green' volunteers. I was situated at a waste station located in the middle of an eating area. I think the recycling program at this year's Ribfest turned out to be very successful, and much of the waste can actually be recycled and biodegraded. This is because all of the people eating bring their leftover compostable trays, ribs, pop cans, water bottles, and other waste to us when they finish eating. They simply put their waste on the table in front of us, and we take it to properly sort into the respective bins. For example, if someone gave me a biodegradable tray with a platter of rib bones, and an empty pop can, I could put the ribs and tray into the green biodegradable bin and the empty pop can into the recyle bin. These bins are conveniently located behind me, in the waste sorting station so the process can be done in an efficient manner. After all, there are hundreds of people enjoying their ribs and bring their garbage to us once they are done.

After a gruelling four hours sorting garbage (Yes, I know. Other volunteers do it for the entire four day span of the festival) I really realized just how much waste we produce every single minute, since I was getting food scraps piling up on the table in front of me every minute. I also realized the importance of sorting garbage, and the consequences of not doing so. They say that if more than 2% of the sorted waste in a bin is contaminated with the wrong type of waste, it can not be recycled/sent off for further processing. Therefore, it was crucial that I sort everything properly!

I really learned a lot from this short but meaningful volunteering event. As always, I enjoyed making a contribution to my community, and because I got to help the environment as well, I was especially happy. Some people would shy away from sorting garbage non-stop because they think it's dirty and a hassle. But I would definitely do it again in the future if I get the chance, because I feel that it is a very important task that needs to be done, and its importance should be understood and appreciated by everyone. After all, if no one sorts garbage, who will?

350 Video Presentation

350 is the number for the safe level of particles per million of CO2 in our atmosphere. Gravely, we are surpassing this level as we progress day by day into the future. Please check out the campaign, and become a part of the movement that happens on October 24th, 2009.

Check out their website for more information. Photographers

Check out these breathtaking photos that have been captured by 350 professional photographers!

Impact!: Youth Conference for Sustainable Leadership

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shad Valley: Synthetic 2 Organic Campaign

This past July I participated in a student enrichment program called Shad Valley. It involved being with 45 other top high school students for one month, staying at a university campus (I spent my month at Memorial University of Newfoundland) We were split into six teams, and one of the main projects during the month was to design a product and company that followed under the provided theme of "Looking to Nature and Natural Fibres." At the end of the month each team competed and one winner was decided. That team, named Siseel Corporation created a product which is artificial eelgrass made of sisal, a natural fibre. They chose to create this product to address the issue of cod fish populations declining due to natural eelgrass being unrooted by strong ocean currents. Eelgrass is a very good habitat for cod fish to live and spawn in, and when it is non-existent the cod populations suffer. That is why the artificial eelgrass could be a viable alternative.

By the end of the month, after the competition between the six teams, all teams were disbanded except for the winning team, which moved on to compete against nine other winning teams from their respective nine Canadian university campuses (Shad Valley happens at ten separate campuses across Canada). Siseel Corporation has been given one month (this August) to further enhance and improve on the existing product and company and add features such as a company website. I was allowed to join the winning team.

I (and several other Shads) decided that we would begin an environmental campaign (named Synthetic 2 Organic) to try to curb and eventually ban the use of synthetic fertilizers. We chose to create a campaign focusing on this issue because synthetic fertilizers contaminate land, water, and when it runs off from land to water it causes uncontrollable growth of algae in water. This causes oxygen concentrations to be depleted, thus killing living organisms in the water that require specific O2 concentrations.

Our team has been working on this campaign for the past month of August. We sent a formal letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, explaining the nature and dangers of synthetic fertilizers. I also produced an awareness video about synthetic fertilizers and organic fertilizers. We also have a campaign website. Check it out at:
Our website introduces the reasons behind why we have started the campaign, and has background information to learn about fertilizers. So check it out! :)

This is the awareness video on synthetic fertilizers:

This is the letter we wrote to the Prime Minister: (its ideas can be used by you to send to your municipal government, members of parliament, or members of provincial parliament)
Campaign Letter

And this is an informational brochure educating the public about synthetic fertilizers:
Synthetic Fertilizer Informational Brochure

Please promote reducing the use of synthetic fertilizers and to use organic fertilizers and other organic products/foods. Switch from Synthetic 2 Organic!!

Andrew Wong
Shad Valley MUN 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Polluted World

A Polluted World
8.5'' x 11.0''
Acrylic Paint
August 19, 2009

I painted this last night (August 19th, 2009). It depicts a toxic, polluted world that I envision if the human race fails to act to successfully combat environmental issues such as climate change, water, air, and land pollution.

This painting really isn't supposed to be a painting that one enjoys when they look at it. It is supposed to look ugly and disgusting. This is the point of the painting, for the observer to feel displeased and angry by the sight of A Polluted World.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The End of Toronto's Garbage Strike

Several weeks ago, the Toronto garbage strike finally ended. After more than a month of garbage piling up outside, a deal was reached between City of Toronto and the union responsible for civic workers collecting waste. Prior to this, there were hundreds of stinky mountains of garbage sitting wherever there was public space available, such as basketball courts in public parks.

While the Garbage Strike of '09 created major havoc and inconvenience for the citizens of Toronto, any casual pedestrian walking down Yonge Street could and should have learned something from seeing the ugly heaps of garbage everywhere.

The lessons learned are:
1. Humans produce a huge amount of waste. Quickly.
2. If civic workers don't collect the garbage, it is clearly visible and accumulates quickly.
3. No one likes garbage. Who wants to eat, sleep, work, and play beside a garbage dump?
4. It is a health hazard. There's a reason why it smells bad.

5. When no one collects your garbage for a month, you learn to REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE!

I'll leave you with this question.

Imagine if landfills didn't exist. Where would all our garbage go?

(Photo Credit: Christian Lapid. Source: link)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Antarctic glacier melting at faster rate: scientists

Source: Link
Date of Article: August 14, 2009

Photo (Left) : In this Nov. 9, 2007 file photo, a scene of melting icebergs is shown in Antarctica. Satellite images of Antarctica have shown one of the continent's largest glaciers has been declining at a rapid rate. (Roberto Candia, file/Associated Press)

One of the largest glaciers in Antarctica is thinning at a rate four-times faster than just a decade ago, researchers said Friday.

Researchers at the University of Leeds, writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, said the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica is thinning at a rate of up to 16 metres a year and has lowered as much as 90 metres in the last decade.

At its current rate of thinning, the glacier could disappear in a century. Previous predictions, based on the glacier's rate of decline a decade ago, said the glacier would likely disappear in 600 years.

The Pine Island Glacier is the largest glacier in West Antarctica, and at 175,000 square kilometres is roughly the size of the province of New Brunswick and the island of Newfoundland combined.

Located in one of the more inaccessible regions of Antarctica, it has only recently become the subject of observations from scientists. Prof. Andrew Shepherd, a co-author of the research at the University of Leeds, said the new estimates were based on continuous satellite measurements over the past 15 years.

Shepherd suggested warming waters around the continent are likely responsible for the thinning of the glacier. The resulting ice melt could have implications on estimates of sea level rise around the world, he said.

"Because the Pine Island Glacier contains enough ice to almost double the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's] best estimate of 21st century sea level rise, the manner in which the glacier will respond to the accelerated thinning is a matter of great concern " he said in a statement.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lost Generation

I'd like to begin this blog by posting a video that I found on youtube. It is called "Lost Generation."