What kills more than war? Dirty water.

What makes up the bulk of the Pacific garbage patch (you know, the one floating in the ocean that it three-times the size of Texas?)? Plastic.

What costs, on average, about 200% more than you should be paying? Bottled water.

What uses billions of barrels of oil per year? The bottled water industry.

Who is spearheading our advancement into ecological responsibility and better health worldwide? Hopefully you, with the help of Quebec universities. This fall the Sierra Youth Coalition held their national conference at Guelph University. In a regional break-out session, all of the Quebec universities present unanimously decided to push for a ban on bottled water on their campuses. By next week, March 10, 2011…

If John Lennon were alive today, he may have changed his tune to reflect the reality about what the walruses are facing in the arctic. In this mini-documentary, researchers are describing the walrus as the latest canaries in the climate-change coal mine. In a world of quick sound bites, the climate is a recurring theme that people may be getting tired of hearing. Well, we couldn’t possibly be any more tired than these featured walrus pups, stranded in the middle of the deep arctic ocean far away from land. The polar bear has been the charismatic megafauna poster child of climate change, but that just scratches the surface for the myriad of other wildlife affected by retreating sea ice. Walruses and polar bears face the same problems of decreased capabilities for hunting. The walrus’ mighty tusks helps to hoist their mega-ton bodies up on the ice, but with less and less ice to latch on to to rest, they are left swimming for extended periods of time in the cold water.

Academia has once again nit-picked at something that has helped bring positive change to the urban landscape. In a survey conducted by researchers from McGill University’s School of Urban Planning, the city’s rent-able Bixi bikes have caused an 86 percent decline in other environmentally friendly modes of transportation, such as the use of personal bikes, public transportation and good, old-fashioned walking. There was a two percent decline in car trips, and an eight percent reduction in taxi use. These revelations were presented to the public in the Montreal Gazette earlier this month. While researchers have claimed that Bixis aren’t a bad thing, they believe that its environmental benefits may be an exaggeration.

The environmental movement was essentially initiated by Rachel Carson’s epic book Silent Spring. In it, she exposed how herbicides and pesticides were destroying the environment and our health. She sparked a lot of controversy which eventually lead to the ban of DDT. In 1971, Greenpeace initiated an environmental activism movement that involved the media, using the Quaker philosophy of “bearing witness” in order to make change. The list goes on. It is amazing and inspiring that people have mobilized and dedicated their lives to making the world a better place. The world always needs more of this. If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well and that includes questioning ourselves. While great changes have been made thanks to the ideals and passions of people who consider themselves environmentalists, one aspect has remained largely unchecked.

Montreal is famous for its many landmarks and attractions. The nightlife, the Olympic Stadium, the Old Port, the Saint-Joseph Oratory, and of course, the Botanical Gardens. With over 21,000 species of plants, it is one of the most colorful attractions in the city. In a landscape that has been overtaken by concrete and buildings, green spaces are coveted. While the Botanical Garden may provide some natural respite in the sprawling concrete, some residents have been reclaiming parcels of land so that gardens can be enjoyed by all without paying an entrance fee. The double feature of an urban garden is that it is pleasing to the eye, and provides food locally. The coupling of limited green space and expanding green attitudes has given fruition to creative environmental projects.

Last weekend, organizers from the Committee for the protection of Anse a l’Orme successfully executed an event that got Sainte Anne de Bellevue residents all fired up to save one of their local eco-territories (one of 10 in Montreal). Sandwiched between Kirkland, Senneville, Sainte Anne’s and Pierrefonds, a 95 hectare tract of regenerating forest in the Anse a l’Orme eco territory was put up for sale to developers by the Societe Generale de Financement (SGF – a profit seeking branch of the Quebec Ministry of economics), much to the horror of local conservation groups and Sainte Anne’s council.

If human and wildlife justice systems were the same, your whole community would be annihilated if you were hit by a car. Ridiculous, isn’t it? Well that is exactly what happened to 400 Canadian Geese in Brooklyn last July. The excuse for the mass killings was that a flock of Branta canadensis was sucked into an airliner’s jet engines that crashed in the Hudson River. Everyone on the flight survived. The geese were gassed under the cloak of night after New York o.k’d the removal of geese within an 11 km radius of the airport.

While my partner and I were walking to Macdonald campus this afternoon to work on some assignments, he suddenly started muttering “oh please don’t be dead.” Following his line of sight, I saw a chipmunk lying perfectly still on the cobblestone path leading to the University. After leaving a message on Urban Animal Advocate’s (UAA) voicemail, we hunted around the school for a box, lined it with a shirt, and walked home. There goes my afternoon of focused work!

Have you ever tried to canoe against the wind, in 2 foot waves, for hours on end? It’s hard to see any pleasure in that, unless you’re a stalwart wave enthusiast who can’t wait for the smoother ride in the opposite direction. Kicking off my annual spring camping trip, this is exactly what I did. In an attempt to canoe from Sainte Anne de Bellevue to Ottawa, being face to face with such an immense environmental force brings a few ideas to mind, such as: why isn’t the wind that made a simple canoe adventure into a harrowing, defeating physical effort, being harvested for energy?