Planet Zoo by Anthony Doerr

(Read the original article here)

Here’s a metaphor: We’re in a car. The road is foggy and we’re cruising along at a good clip. A few signs on the shoulder warn there’s a cliff ahead, but the radio is on, we have places to be, and it’s not entirely clear who put up those signs anyway.

Some of us might slow down. A few might stop. One or two of us might put the kids in the backseat to work sewing parachutes.

But most of us keep going. Ultimately, we figure either:

  1. The cliff isn’t really there
  2. The cliff won’t be nearly as big as those signs make it look
  3. The cliff is so far away, our kids will be driving by the time we get there
  4. We’ll manage to skid to a stop right at the edge, or
  5. Shit, we’ll sail right off and hope our kids are virtuosos with parachute silk.

Reduce emissions, curb emissions, stop emissions. We—and by we I mean me, my friends, my older brothers, everyone I know under 45—we are the first generation that cannot claim we did not know. Silent Spring was published 10 years before I was born. At elementary school assemblies I was among the little curly-headed ciphers who read cheerful environmental tips into the microphone: “Don’t let the faucet run while brushing your teeth!” Freshman year in college we were handed Bill McKibben’s The End of NatureDuring my sophomore year, 1992, 1,500 scientists, including more than half the living Nobel laureates, admonished in their Warning to Humanity“A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.”

So what have we done? Not much. From 1992 to 2007, global CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels rose 38 percent. Emissions in 2008 rose a full 2 percent despite a global economic slump. Honeybees are dying by the billions1, amphibians by the millions, and shallow Caribbean reefs are mostly dead already.2 Our soil isdisappearing faster than ever beforehalf of all mammals are in decline, and a recent climate change model predicts that the Arctic could have ice-free summers by 2013. Unchecked, carbon emissions from China alone will probably match the current global level by 2030.

“The god thou servest,” Marlowe wrote in Dr. Faustus, almost 400 years before the invention of internet shopping, “is thine own appetite.” Was he wrong? How significantly have you reduced your own emissions since you first heard the phrase “climate change?” By a tenth? A quarter? A half? That’s better than I’m doing. The shirt I’m wearing was shipped here from Thailand. The Twinkie I just ate had 37 ingredients in it. I biked to work through 91-degree heat this morning but back at my house the air conditioner is grinding away, keeping all three bedrooms a pleasant 74 degrees.

My computer is on; my desk lamp is glowing. The vent on the wall is blowing a steady, soothing stream of cool air onto my shoes.

And now, in our lifetimes, we’re learning that perhaps this period is untenable, and like billions of species before us, we are not immune to extinction.

Uber vs The Taxi

UBERThe Walrus talks about the fight between Toronto Uber and the taxi drivers in their latest issue HERE. According to the article,  “The mayor wants to create a “level playing field,” where ride sharing can go bumper to bumper with licensed taxis. But for that to work, “Uber can’t continue operating like it’s the Wild West, where you can have anyone you like driving a car around without any regulation whatsoever. That’s not in the public interest.” Find out more about the people behind Uber HERE.

Uber is just one of the growing number of examples of how the modern generation is looking to help each other out. You can now book a couch (couch surfing) in someone’s living room in any country in the world, at a significant rate cut from a traditional hotel.  Airbnb offers rooms in houses all around the world, stays for overnight or longer.  You can find any article that you want searching in kijiji or craigslist. No store front, middle men or advertising dollars exchanged.

What should the politicians do, if anything, to curb this type of underground economy? Is it fair to the workers of the existing institutions? What do you think?


Is Your Education Relevant?



These are a series of quotes from grade 12 English students working towards their university academic English credit:

The current method of teaching lacks in interest and creativity, which is what a lot of adolescents want in their lives. Every class is the same thing throughout the day: sit down in a desk, listen to a lesson taught by your teacher, and then do questions and assignments that relate to the material just taught.

Classrooms need to incorporate the other methods of teaching (Kinesthetic and visual). Kinesthetic (Physical) almost does not exist, except for in tech classes, and visual seems to disappear after elementary school.

One of the most frustrating things as a student is to watch a teacher talk and not be able to listen (whether through concentration or otherwise). As a student with an adolescent brain there is nothing I dislike more than sitting in class bored and struggling to pay attention to learn something.

Students can only learn so much sitting at a desk for one hundred and ninety-five days a year, five days a week, and six and a half hours a day. 

Classes should not be restricted to a blackboard, pencil, and paper. It is simply just boring.

In order for students to reach their full potential, they must be intrigued with what they are learning. In my opinion, nothing is worse than trying to understand and memorize something that I have absolutely no enthusiasm or care for. Teachers should try and make lessons and assignments exciting and relevant to adolescents by utilizing tools such as YouTube videos, Smart Boards, power points, group work, class discussions, and even just going outside on a nice day. The more relaxed, interested, and happy adolescents are, the more open to learning their minds will be.

Schools should have programs in place to enhance self-esteem, self-awareness and social interaction. There should be a way for students to take risks academically to push them beyond what they have done before in a relatively safe way.

It would be wonderful if students could have input as to which classes that could  be created, and if enough students want to take that class ‒ and a teacher could share the knowledge to eager adolescent brains wanting to learn the material.

What do you think?

Graffiti: Art or Vandalism

Banksy street art

What is your opinion on this aspect of urban life? Should these drawings be whitewashed by city workers? Should they be allowed on public property? What should be the policy for private property? What about abandoned areas? What does it mean when an area is covered with street art or graffiti?

Are Your Beauty Products Killing You?

Coal Tar, Lead, Formaldehyde, Mineral Oil, Oxybenzone, Parabens, Sodium lauryl sulfate, talc, toluene – these are just some of the deadly chemicals found in your beauty products from lipstick to hair spray. They cause cancer, disrupt hormones, interfere with your bodily functions, irritate skin, increase sensitivity to the sun, affect the nervous system, disrupt the immune system and the list goes on!!

Are the companies responsible for using safe products, or is it the consumer’s responsibility to protect itself? How much should the government be involved? Europe has much tighter restrictions and many of these harmful chemicals are banned there. But what about new chemicals, when one is taken off the market, another one pops up to take its place and can be even more toxic.

You can test the products you use here: Skin Deep

David Suzuki publishes his own list here of toxins to avoid: The Dirty Dozen

Put this handy guide onto your phone or mobile device for reference when you are shopping.

State you opinion on this very important issue for young people. What should we be doing about this? Is this a real concern?