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