Infographic: Canada’s protected areas

Canadian Geographic has just released an infographic updating Canada’s protected areas

Canadians can be proud of our protected areas – national parks and many (but not all) provincial parks – but we still have a long ways to go! To date, our 7500 protected areas add up to 11.7% of our area BUT this is still far short of the UNEP target of 17% by 2020. We’re doing better at protecting land area, with 11.5% protected, but Great Lakes and marine areas have only 1.5% protected. Furthermore, some areas of the country, such as the Prairies and the lower Great Lakes region, are still very poorly represented. In a recent press release, though, the Government of Canada has “committed that at least 17 per cent of land and inland water will be conserved by 2020”. 

Night Light Maps Open Up New Applications

Much has been written lately in the popular press regarding the new set of satellite images released by NASA showing Earth at Night. Few sources provide a clearer view of human settlement patterns contrasting heavily populated and industrialized areas with those less populated and/or less “plugged in”; while Europe and eastern North America gleam, much of Africa is dark despite its high population, although the Nile Valley and Delta sure stand out.

I particularly like the Earth at Night images for illustrating settlement patterns across Canada: high concentrations show up as the urban archipelago across the nation; there are regular, evenly-dispersed populations across the plainsfarmland of southwestern Ontario and, of course, the Prairies; mountain valleys in the west clearly show linear patterns as do the coastal margins of the Martimes and St. Lawrence and along with rail and road corridors across northern Ontario, while much of the rest of the Canadian Shield is dark except for randomly dispersed mining and logging settlements and First Nations’ communities.

I highly recommend spending a few minutes reading this article by the Earth Observatory, as it provides an insightful glimpse of the tech behind these wonderful images – ideal for anyone pursuing remote sensing.

Climate change causes glacial river in Yukon to change direction

from CBC News…

Glacier retreated so much that its meltwater switched course, in an event not documented in modern times.

Climate change has caused the massive Kaskawulsh Glacier in the Yukon to retreat so much that its meltwater abruptly switched direction, in the first documented case of “river piracy” in modern times.

Instead of flowing into the Slims River and then north to the Bering Sea, the water has changed course and now flows south toward the Kaskawulsh River, the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean, scientists have found.  Read more…

Improving Your Hallowe’en Haul

Trick or Treat DensityHere’s a take on statistics that will rot your teeth! has created a series of maps that use census data to predict where the best neighbourhoods are for trick or treating tonight. Just visit the Trick-or-Treat Density map, type your city or town into the Search field and away you go! There is also a slightly different version called Trick-or-Treat Onslaught.

It is nothing short of a brilliant implementation and thoughtful use of statistics and GIS (not to mention colour!) using the mapping API from Leaflet. Kids can use geography to predict candy haul based on the density of trick-or-treating-aged kids living in a neighbourhood. To quote

This map shows the number of children of prime trick-or-treating age as defined by Stats Canada per km². In plain terms, we map the percentage of children aged 5 to 14 per area.

CensusMapper Drill DownBe sure to click on a census area for a pop-up with more statistics. And if you are really keen, click on the “more…” button on the pop-up to graphically drill down into the data for that segment – very cool!

Even better, though, at least from an academic perspective, are the myriad other maps has created:

and others that deal a range of topics from religion to young adults living at home. Each map is searchable by place name throughout Canada making comparisons between urban areas and rural and urban areas just a jew clicks away. While many of the topics are beyond Grade 9 Geography, they would be welcome for developing higher-order thinking and conceptualization in senior geography courses.

But in the meantime, hand this over to your kids so they can plan their route for tonight’s Hallowe’en outing. And, while they’re out, have them collect non-perishable food items on behalf of your local food bank and the national We Scare Hunger campaign.

Happy Hallowe’en!

Endangered Perspectives: Last of their kind

 Great Auks from Heinrich Harder's Tiere der Urwelt illustration \ Public domain.

Great Auks from Heinrich Harder’s Tiere der Urwelt illustration \ Public domain.

A highly under-rated and under-read journal is the Alternatives Journal – “Canada’s Environmental Voice”. I’ve found its articles very helpful over the years.

A recent article that caught my attention is Endangered Perspectives: Last of their kind. Endangered Perspectives, is helpful to teachers and students because it is short and to the point. It doesn’t candy-coat extinction but boldly tells of our collective abuse, focussing on three species close to our shores: the sea mink, the great auk and the passenger pigeon.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read about these species and their demise, but there is something in Zack Metcalfe’s telling that struck a chord with me. Perhaps it will with you, too.

BC Megathrust Earthquake

earthquake-plate-tectonicsIt’s only been recently that the concept of “megathrust earthquake” has developed – and now we find they are “in our backyard” so to speak. I think the term “megathrust” speaks for itself, rather like “supervolcano”. In this age of superlative-overuse, this one might just  be appropriate, and, according to this CBC article,  Canada’s West Coast is a potential location.

It’s not often Earth experiences earthquakes of a magnitude greater than 9. Both the Japanese earthquake of 2011 and the Sumatra earthquake of 2004 were 9s. The next most recent 9+ was the Alaska ‘quake of 1964 which was a 9.2 (see more at this USGS page). So while they are uncommon, they are extremely dangerous, especially when it comes to tsunamis.

This recent article gives Canada’s West coast a heads-up as it just might be the next place to expect a megathrust earthquake.

For more about earthquakes, megathrust earthquakes and Canada’s earthquakes, visit > Lithosphere > Earthquakes.

Susan Ormiston: Dying for cheap clothes, lessons of the Bangladesh disaster

An excellent article as a follow-up from the Bangladesh manufacturing plant collapse. Some call it business, others call it the price of progress. But, we in the west continue to enjoy cheap prices for clothing, toys, other plastic goods and, yes, electronics, all on the backs of poor people in developing countries who will do just about anything to earn wages – even when they are starvation wages.

Read it here: There is also a video on the CBC page..

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