Environmental Science - exam

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Intergovernmental Organizations

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Intergovernmental Organizations

  • often involve representatives from multiple countries and governments

  • usually focus on addressing broad-scale issues at a global level

  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is a leader in setting the global agenda on environmental issues and serves as a major advocate for environmental protections

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International Treaties ran by UNEP

  • migratory species of wild animals

  • vienna convention for protection of ozone layer

  • the montreal protocol

  • minamata convention on mercury

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UNEP monitors these environmental assessments

  • ozone assessments

  • global biodiversity assessments

  • global marine assessment

  • global international waters assessment

  • the millennium ecosystem assessment

  • intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC)

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Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs)

  • advocate for and educate the public about pressing environmental issues

  • range of causes support range widely

  • could be small groups addressing local problems or multi-million dollar institutions with global reach

  • World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace are famous examples of ENGOs

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United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity

  • intention of laying out a global framework for the protection of the planet’s biological resources

  • acknowledges a component of sustainable use for both biological diversity and the fair and equitable use of genetic resources

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Three main goals of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity

  1. the conservation of biological diversity

  2. the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity

  3. the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources

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3 major causes of biodiversity loss

  1. habitat loss and destruction

  2. over-exploitation

  3. invasive species

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Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan

  • greenbelt is the cornerstone

  • overarching strategy that provides clarity and certainty about urban structure, where and how future growth should be accommodated and what must be protected for current and future generations

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The Greenbelt

a broad band of permanently protected land which:

  • protects against the loss and fragmentation of the agricultural land base and supports agriculture as the predominant land use

  • gives permanent protection to the natural heritage and water resource systems that sustain ecological and human health and that form the environmental framework around which major urbanization is organized

  • provides a diverse range of economic and social activities associated with rural communities, agriculture, tourism, recreation and resource uses

  • builds resilience to and mitigates climate change

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Land conservancies

operate under the philosophy that owning and retaining land as private property is the most effective way to protect habitat and its biodiversity

land trusts operate by directly purchasing land and then managing it in perpetuity

once land is owned by the land trust, it will pay the property taxes and manage the property

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Land trusts

operate by directly purchasing land and then managing it in perpetuity

funding for land trusts can come from a wide variety of sources including donations, membership fees, estates, and government funding

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  • goal of stopping the testing and proliferation of nuclear weapons

  • most effective strategy is to bring awareness of issues to the public and apply pressure to companies and corporations that are causing environmental damage

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Habitat restoration - ducks unlimited

group founded by hunters

played a role in conserving and restoring wetlands around Ontario

initial motivations were to increase the numbers of waterfowl in the area by restoring their habitats, but now scope for habitat protection is much larger

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Educational and awareness campaigns - World Wildlife Fund

undertake educational campaigns aimed at garnering public support for their causes

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Direct action

the intervention and disruption of activities that are deemed harmful to the environment though things like blockades

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Direct action - Sea Sheppard

goal is to intentionally disrupt that whaling cruise using their boats to block off whaling ships and in some cases, attack them

tactics have been widely criticized as verging on piracy

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Invasion pathways

quite varied, but are almost always driven by anthropogenic activities including:

  • exotic pet trade

  • imported fruit

  • bilge water in cargo ships

  • use for bait

  • gardening, biological pest control

  • leisure craft and angling

once invasive species are established in an area it is very difficult and also very expensive to remove them

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Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program

  • unique partnership between the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and the Ontario government to provide educational resources about invasive species

  • record sightings of invasive species across Ontario to track their progression and put in measures to prevent it including

    • pulling up invasive plants

    • ensuring anglers moving between different water-bodies clean their boats and boots

    • providing community-based education

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Species characteristics - for effectiveness for culling?

  • catchability

    • how easy is it to capture the invasive species?

  • rates of immigration to the area

    • how quickly will individuals from other populations move into the area after the cull?

  • population declines

    • how quickly can the invasive population be reduced?

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Intergovernmental organizations

the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) produces a species Red list that classifies species according to their risk of extinction

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Provincial government

Federation of Ontario Naturalists (NGO) helped push for the creation of the Endangered Species Act which was designed to identify species-at-risk and help them recover

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Proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act

  • pay-to-proceed

    • collect funds for conservation and allow developers to ‘pay out’ of species at risk

    • conservation fund is then used for things like research

  • minister override

    • Ontario environment minister can now override decisions made by the committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) for up to 3 years

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Ontario Nature lobbied the government strongly to prevent changes to the endangered species act including:

  • publishing a joint submission to the government highlighting issues with the proposed changes to the endangered species act

  • mounting legal challenges against it

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How does the ‘pay-to-proceed’ provision to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act affect species protections?

for certain species, developers may choose to pay in to a conservation fund lieu of conducting species conservation measures (e.g., planting more trees)

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How do land conservancies operate?

land conservancies purchase or receive donations of private lands which they then act as stewards for in perpetuity managing them for conservation purposes

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What are the reasons used by Minin et al. (2016) to argue against an outright ban on trophy hunting?

  • it would cause a loss of financial resources for conservation efforts

  • ecotourism that replaces trophy hunting can have a larger ecological footprint

  • ecotourism does not promote sustainable population management because it focuses on only a few individuals of each species

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What pollutants does Ontario monitor

ground level ozone (O3)particulate matternitrous oxidesulphur dioxidecarbon monoxide

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National Pollutant Release Inventory

identifying and monitoring sources of pollution in Canada, and in developing indicators for the quality of our air, land and water

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What is causing the high amounts of sulphur oxide in Sudbury?

Copper Cliff Smelter, Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations Smelter, Copper Cliff Nickel Refinery

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What is acid rain?

any form of precipitation with high levels of nitric and sulfuric acidscan occur in form of snow, fog, and dry materialsfrom burning of fossil fuels, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides that react with water, O2 and other substances to form the acids

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What does acid do?

reduces amount of nutrients available in the soilin freshwater systems it lowers oxygen absorption by causing mucus to build up on gills of fish

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Cap and Trade Program

Canada and US signed Air Quality Agreementwe put a cap on emissionswe decide what we want at a national level, set the cap ateach company gets a certain number of credits that will amongst all of the companies add to that capcredits can be sold between companies = tradeif company emits less and has leftover pollution credits can be sold to another company who went over the cap and trade limitif you can’t buy excess credits, there are penalties for going over the capreduced acess to permit marketfines and penaltiesincreased allowance paymentsled to several different technological innovations

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Environmental Damages Fund

set up as a pooled fund to collect money from fines and violations of environmental laws

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Where does the money from environmental damages fund go to grants within:

restoration, environmental quality improvement, research and development, education and awareness

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Following applicants are eligible to apply for the funding of the environmental damages fund are:

non-governmental organizations, universities and academic institutions, indigenous organizations, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments

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Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority

to engage Nottawasaga valley watershed residents to implement over 20 water quality improvement and on-the-ground habitat restoration projects

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Particulate matter

can be composed of aerosols, smoke, fumes, dust, ash, pollen often characterized by the size of the particles ranging from 1 micro to 10 microns

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PM 2.5

some of the strongest effects on human healthin Ontario is largely made up of sulphate and nitrate particles, elemental and organic carbon and soil

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Which sector contributes strongly to the amount of particulate matter in the atmosphere (in Ontario)

the residential sector

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Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan

a series of actions to reduce the production of particulate matter including: desulphurization, denitrogenation and dedusting in thermal powerremove small coal-fired boilerspromote cooking fumes control

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Ground-level ozone

secondary pollutantnot emitted directly into the airis created by chemical reactions between NOx and VOCs in the presence of heat & sunlight

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Major sources of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC)

emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilitiesmotor vehicle exhaustgasoline vaporschemical solvents

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Atmospheric mercury

a lot of mercury enters through the atmosphere and is deposited into the soil transported by atmospheric currents, once it is deposited it can be transformed into methyl-mercury by bacteria small-scale and artisanal gold mines are the largest contributor of mercury to the atmosphere globally wetlands may collect mercury from atmospheric deposition mercury can bioaccumulate within aquatic food webs

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How do ground-level ozone emissions disrupt the mitigation of climate change?

ozone emissions reduce photosynthesis in land plants

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What is one way we could adapt to changes in ground-level ozone and the damage it does?

we can selective breed important crop plants that have a higher resistance to higher ozone levels

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How does mercury from small-scale mines enter freshwater habitats?

it evaporates from small-scale mines and is transported globally through the atmosphere before deposition in wetlands and other waterbodies

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What was suggested as one of the solutions for reducing emissions from residential energy in China?

replacing coal with natural gas

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2 major problems with high rate of discarding plastics

landfill capacitydiverting waste away from landfill is major focus of ENGOSocean plastic pollutionentanglement of marine life and the ingestion of plastic particles is a widespread threat to many species

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plastics that are considered to be less than 5 mm in diameter and their small size makes them particular pervasive in the environment

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the Microbeads in Toiletries Act

banned the use of microbeads in cosmetic products, face washes, and toothpastes

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5Gyres institute

a research non-governmental organization measure the amount of plastics within the ocean and made some shocking discoveries volume of individual beads entering the water was staggering

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Ireland implementation of 0.15 EURO plastic bag levy

generated millions of dollars in revenue lead to a 90% drop in the use of plastic bags

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Toronto shopping bag levy

increased the use of reusable bags by 3.4% no effect on low to middle socio-economic status

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Australian shopping bag ban

single-use plastic bags decreased rapidly replaced with heavier reusable bags net reduction in plastic, but much lower total amount of plastic removed was only equal to one year’s worth of plastic bags

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Plastic straws

#stopsucking only a small part of the plastic pollution problem

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Do small, less impactful ‘green’ activities encourage larger more impactful green activities later on?

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Do those small activities provide a sense of complacency that inhibits the development of greener activities later on? focuses on the idea that you have a limited “budget” for the green activities you are willing to undertake and if you fill that with low impact initiatives, then you will be less likely to continue on to new more impactful behaviours

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Six-pack rings

responsible for ~7% of bird entanglements only small effect on plastic mortality in the oceans

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“gateway” view of plastic pollution, will lead to

lifestyle and policy changes that will reduce other environmental issues

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Plastic is a “convenient” truth

the focus on plastic is causing other, more pressing, environmental issues to be ignored

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Where did 5Gyres institution, find evidence of microbead plastics accumulating?

the great lakes

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What does Avery-Gomm et al. argue about research funding for plastic efforts versus that of climate change and its importance for plastic as a distracting issue?

funding for plastic pollution is far less than that attributed to climate change research so plastic is not distracting our efforts towards climate change

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Lake Erie Algal Bloom

2011 when phosphorus enters a waterway it increases the growth of algae

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Causes of the lake erie algal bloom

agricultural run-offmainly derived from maize and soy fieldsincreased precipitationhelped transfer fertilizers from agricultural fields into waterwayscalm wind conditionsnutrients had time to build up and the bloom had time to grow as well

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Indigenous communities water advisories

access water from natural sources resulted in water advisories each year the government assesses public water systems on reserves

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Grassy Narrows

Reed Paper dumps methyl mercury into river system don’t have access to safe drinking water their water system is sending chemicals into their treated water due to lack of upgrades

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Minamata Disease

neurological disease noticed in Minamata Bay, Japan Chisso, released methyl mercury into waterways mercury accumulated in fish and shellfish, then consumed by residents countries have recognized health threats posed by mercury exposure and many have signed on to the Minamata convention

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Minamata convention

goal is to protect the human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds controls on mercury supply sources and tradephase-out and phase-down of mercury usecontrols on artisanal and small scale gold miningcontrols on air emissions and releases to land and waterstorage, waste, and contaminated sites

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Conservation authorities

not part of the government funded by them through legislation goal = to establish and undertake, in the area in which it has jurisdiction, a program designed to further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources

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collect all the precipitation in a given area and therefore form tractable management units may consist of: lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, ground aquifiers

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The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority

carry out a variety of tasks: water level management and flood protectionmanagement of parks and recreation areaswater report cards

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Safer Choice

administered by the environmental protection agency helps consumers, businesses, and purchasers find products that perform and contain ingredients that are safer for human health and the environment

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Which 2 processes drive sea level change

changes to the cryospherewarming of the earth’s atmosphere due to climate change is causing water stored in the cryosphere to be transferred to the oceans and increasing their total volumethermal sea level riseas temperatures increase thermal energy from the atmosphere is transferred into the ocean causing it to expand

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Loss of the Greenland ice sheet

study came out detailing possible loss of ice from the Greenland ice sheet will increase sea levels dump large amount of cold freshwater into the ocean and affect ocean circulation

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Coral bleaching

when temperatures increase past a certain point corals expel their symbionts and lose their colour underlying skeleton is white often leads to coral death

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The Green Revolution

as human population grew in 1940s, concerns about food supply grew with it rush to increase yield mainly solved by increasing the amount of fertilizer and water that was used to grow crops

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2 popular sources of added nutrients

Manure → livestock manure is rich in nutrients and is often sprayed directly out on to fields NPK fertilizer → NPK stands for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium

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when applying fertilizers, not all the fertilizers are taken up some of it is released as nitrous oxide into the atmosphere or leach out into the groundwater when that happens, freshwater systems become inundated with excess nutrients that lead to abnormal increases in algal and bacteria growth

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Consequences of pesticides on agro-ecosystems

loss of non-target species that play important functional roles within the ecosystemdestruction of natural pest predators that biologically control pest populationsdevelopment of pesticide resistance through surviving pests that pass along their resistanceaccumulation of pesticides in species higher in the food chain

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GMO stats

over 140 genetically modified foods approved for sale in Canada70% of crops in Canada are GMO25% of all arable land

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Golden Rice

provitamin A biofortified rice event GR2E owned by non-profit organizations vitamin A deficiency is pervasive trying to add vitamin A to rice IRRI → international rights research institute PhilRice → golden rice project at the Philippines department of agriculture rice research institute farmers scientist partnership for development (MASIPA)

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Greenhouse gas emissions

agriculture is both a source and sink for greenhouse gas emissions sources release GHGs while sinks store them Canadian agriculture accounts for about 10% of GHG emissions across Canada and makes up 25% of methane emissions (25x more powerful than CO2) livestock is responsible for ~18% GHG emissions globally

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husbandry and rearing of marine and freshwater organisms for human consumption accounts for ~50% of the world’s production compared to wild-capture fisheries

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Environmental issues with aquaculture

releases of hatchery-reared fish to the wildencapsulated feeds introduce antibiotics and excess nutrients into the environment → eutrophicationmost carnivorous species rely on wild-capture fisheries for their feedsea lice are crustacean parasites that feed on the exterior of the fish and can lead to secondary infections

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represent a market-driven approach to help consumers identify sustainable products goal = to influence the behaviour of consumers when they are purchasing goods

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Marine Stewardship Council

established in 1996 in response to collapsing fish stocks including the atlantic cod non-profit certification body that certifies the sustainability of a fishery and then allows its ecolabel to be used

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Problem with ecolabels

certification process produced by third-party certification bodies, that sometimes rely on money from food producers to cover their operating costs

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Environmental problems of food waste

resource useenergy and materialswhen food is wasted, we lose the resource investment in the foodmethane productionif we don’t properly dispose of food it can convert to potent greenhouse gases worse than CO2

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What is golden rice and which company/environmental sector is developing it now?

golden rice is a genetically modified crop that produces vitamin A. it is owned and developed by the non-profit industry

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What caused the 2011 algal bloom in Lake Erie?

run-off from soybean and maize fields in combination with calm weather patterns

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What emissions from fertilizers are the Canadian regulations targeting?

nitrous oxide

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Shared responsibilities of Federal and Provincial governments

environmental assessments - the requirement for environmental assessments change under different circumstances

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Canada’s Fisheries Act

1868 to protect and conserve the resource

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Regulations of Canada’s Fisheries Act

restrictions of fishing times restrictions on fishing methods restriction to habitat damage

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The Dust Bowl

long-lasting drought in the 1920s left the prairies dry and led to massive dust storms across the area historic drought combined with poor soil practices → desertification put forward the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act

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The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act

goal was to improve farm management practices and reduce the likelihood of catastrophic soil erosion in the future the government was not regulating the agricultural sector, but providing funding to help establish and develop it

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Plans introduced under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act

experimental farmsused government fundobjective of identifying erosion control mechanismsreliable water supplymore reliable water supply to suppot farmers including altering the flow and direction of surface waters around the regionpermanent wind covertree seedlings were given free to farmers who wanted to plant trees on their landact as a wind break through formation of a shelterbelt, and provided habitatcommunity pasturesgovernment moved farmers to land that was more suited for cropstook previous farmland and converted it back to native grasslands and created community pastureswere opened for use by farmers as grazing land for their animalsprovided conservation land for native species

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Silent Spring

Rachel Carson’s book reflected the possibility of a ‘silent spring’ without the sounds of birds her book detailed the anthropogenic poisoning of the environment with chemicals and pesticides

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The Air of Death

CBC documentary made in the 1967, focusing on air pollution in Ontario Dunnville, Ontario poisoning of its pollution by nearby phosphate plant

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Similarity between Silent Spring and Air of Death

both touched on the human health effects of environmental pollution

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