All posts by hanay-2014

Fishing and Aquaculture

How sustainable is Aquaculture?

Aquaculture is farming fish and in BC, farmed salmon is the biggest area in fisheries, with around 100 000 tonnes of harvest in 2015. Aquaculture has arguments for its harm to the environment. Fish farms have a lot of fish contained in a small area. This means that viruses can spread easily and very quickly from fish to fish. A professor in UBC proposes to fish more of the Fraser sockeyes so that we can prevent the fish from growing too much in population and being crowded. He states that fish are healthier when they aren’t overcrowded. Also, if any of the disease were to escape the farm, it introduces a strong, concentrated disease to the native fish. On the coast of BC, it has been proven that fish that migrate across areas where fish farms are placed have been dying from the pathogens in the water that weakens their immune systems. In addition to the diseases, fish farming usually brings a new species to the area, such as the Norwegian salmon, and doesn’t promote any biodiversity in the area. On the other hand, aquaculture has its advantages as an alternative to overfishing but still be able to have an abundance of fish. The problems with affecting the native fish in the surrounding waters could also be countered if the fish farms are built on land or not in the middle of native fish migration routes. To conclude, aquaculture has a potential to be sustainable because it provides enough food and profit while avoiding overfishing. To be sustainable, it would require more strict policies and careful research and planning for the placement of the fish farms to make sure it doesn’t harm the environment around it.

BC Forest Industry

Some advantages for clearcutting are that it is the easier, efficient, and most of the time, cheaper method. It may also be easier to control insect and disease problems and be safer for the workers. There is less planning involved with clearcutting and easier to prepare the land for uniform crops. However, there are many other disadvantages to this, including exposing and weakening the soil to erosion, destroying ecosystems and wildlife habitats. Clearcutting also makes it harder to plant and regrow more plants that may not be suited to grow without being protected by the trees and the shade of the trees.

On the opposite end of forestry, silviculture is the growing of trees, replanting and maintaining forests after a clear cut. There are various steps involved in silviculture: site preparation, planting, brushing, surveying, spacing, pruning, and fertilizing. Normally, it would be difficult and take a long time for a forest to naturally regenerate after a sudden clear cut.

Selective logging is an alternate to clearcutting, developed to minimize the damage done on the forest. Only the selected patched, usually with the most valuable wood, are cut down. There is also no need to create roads to get into the forest, unlike clearcutting. However, this requires advanced technology and is much slower and expensive, making selective logging not as attractive to companies.

BC’s forestry industry is not sustainable if we continue our current logging practices. Clear cutting is still the preferred method of logging. Most of BC’s old growth forests with the best quality wood are cleared and around ¾ of old growth forests in BC are still left unprotected. Along with the forests, many important ecosystems, habitats, and species are at risk. However, we may be able to keep the forestry industry sustainable in the long-term if we focus on the regeneration of the forests. Over the years, this industry shows a positive in making more profit, but also need to work on sustaining the number of jobs.

Sustainability or Regeneration

End Civ features many challenges when trying to achieve sustainability. These challenges can be explained in categories: social, political, and economic. A social challenge that stuck out was how when living in cities, it is hard to truly see the effects of our actions on the environment. It makes the problem seem far away and most are only focused on materialistic satisfaction and the industrial development. This also brings forth an economic problem- so far, economic growth has only had positive effects such as longer life expectancy, convenience, etc. Globalization and technologic advancements are only developing more and more. However, it is simply not possible to continuously grow. Despite this, we take the industrial development as top priority and expect it to grow infinitely. Even when the environmental movement started, companies tried to take advantage of this movement by promoting their products as ‘green’. Even if they were started with good intentions, the head of the companies are becoming more concerned about their profits rather than the rights of the environment. This issue is even supported politically, where the laws protect the businesses with the absence of any regulations relating to the environment and do not listen when the people, especially aboriginal groups, try to protest. Nature seems to only come in our minds as an annoying additional issue that tags along after the money. All these factors are intertwined as challenges of achieving global sustainability.

Wind Erosion

  1. How can wind eroded landscapes benefit the economy?

Wind erosion can attract more tourists, travelling to see interesting land forms.

Minerals are exposed and moved, adding nutrients to the soil where it is deposited and promotes plant life.

2. If arid regions are generally dry, why is water considered the chief agent in erosion of these areas? (see pg 269)

Arid landscapes have dry, loose soil that are easily carried away with flash floods and rain. The water is not able to seep into the ground

3. What concerns with wind erosion would you have in settling deserts or arid environments?

In settling deserts or arid environments, there is no moisture in the ground that keeps the soil compact. It is more susceptible to dust storms, which have dangers to populations and agriculture, and cause abrasion to the buildings.

4. Explain how humans contribute to increased wind erosion?

Humans increases the rate of wind erosion through desertification from exposing the ground to wind erosion (through excessive timber cutting, striping the land for farming, and animal grazing)

5. What can be done to mitigate wind erosion?

Increasing vegetations on the land can prevent wind erosion. The roots and moisture from the plants keep the ground compact and less likely to be swept up.

6. How dangerous is wind erosion to human populations? Explain with evidence from your readings.

Wind erosion significantly decreases the air quality, with dust storms being called ‘black blizzards.’ Wind erosion can also physically knock down trees and damage buildings. However, most of all, wind erosion has long term effects. Farm lands are also damaged- wind erosion removes the top layer of soil, where most of the nutrients from clays and silts are. These factors significantly decrease the amount of crops from the land.

Fracking in BC

An open letter to Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources

Four conditions are laid out from the provincial government for liquefied natural gas to be considered beneficial to British Columbia. Some of these conditions are: “must include express guarantees of jobs and training opportunities for British Columbians,” and “must protect our air, land, and water, including living up to our climate commitments.” Throughout the procedures of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, many different safety and health concerns come up that do not fit these conditions and be a danger to the people of BC.

Most importantly, there are multiple ways that our drinking water could get contaminated. The pipes towards the shale layer may leak and flow into groundwater. The surface water could easily be contaminated as well- fracking fluid, full of unknown toxic chemicals, are left in a pit to sit and simply evaporate after being pumped in and out of the shale layer. Besides water contamination, the whole earth’s atmosphere gets affected when methane gas escapes from the system into the atmosphere, and physical danger of wells exploding, and has been suspicion that fracking has been the reason for significant earthquakes occurring in what should be an earthquake-safe zone.

In theory, fracking seems to create more jobs and help the economy. However, the safety risks for the people and environment should be a greater factor and BC should be discouraging the development of liquified natural gases.

Thank you.