Sustainability is a field of study that involves looking into how natural systems function, and finding a balance between societal, environmental and economic factors in order to preserve the environment for future generations.
On November 11th, students from Cegeps in the Montreal area came together to talk about sustainability, its importance, and the challenges involved in achieving and maintaining it. Held in Concordia University’s John Molson building, attendees took part in a full day of activities, guest speakers, and conversations with peers. The day started at 10:00 am, when attendees signed in, received a name tag, and enjoyed a breakfast, generously provided by the “Let’s Talk Science” Team. After a brief introduction by the event coordinator, Ethan Yang, the first guest speaker was invited to present his talk.
The speaker was Erin Crockett, who is currently working under Dr. Elena Bennett in the School of Environmental Science at McGill University. He is working towards his Ph.D. Erin spoke about his researching journeys throughout his university years; the one that sparked his interest in ecology being when he went to the Amazon to research the social behavior of spiders. He placed importance on laws and regulations that preserve terrestrial and marine territories to help with the maintenance of biodiversity, which is a large variety of plants and animal species in a certain area. Crockett had a hopeful outlook on the future despite all of the misery happening in regards to animal and plant extinction, citing the positive impacts of our rules and regulations on species populations such as the rise in the amount of coral reviving in the ocean.
After lunch which was also kindly provided by the “Let’s Talk Science” team, there was an activity about landfills (in the picture). Participants were placed into teams of four, each with a role of an engineer, a budgeter, a designer or a team leader. The goal of the activity was to construct a landfill that could safely store waste without emitting smell or seeping into the surrounding soil. The majority of teams did not succeed in doing this, and we learned afterward how landfills are actually constructed, which highlighted the difficulty of doing so.
This activity was followed by another one, which involved splitting into different and bigger teams and analyzing the NBSAP (National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans) of a certain country. These documents outline the biodiversity contained within the country in question as well as strategies already in place in that country, problems of biodiversity, and goals that they have to improve. Each group analyzed the strategy of a different country, those countries being: Canada, China, Kenya, South Africa and Brazil. Each group came to different conclusions about whether or not the countries NBSAP strategies are successful, and the general consensus was that more work needs to be done in regards to the environment.
The final guest speaker of the symposium was Daniel Horen Greenford who works in the Matthews Climate Lab at Concordia University, and who is currently getting his Ph.D. Horen talked about his time in school and how he found his field of research. He is currently researching CO2 emissions and the effects that carbon dioxide is having on our planet and global warming. He stressed that there is still time to change and to very gradually reverse the effects of carbon dioxide on the planet, but we need the governments to create more laws regulating CO2 emissions and they need to and we all need to be more proactive about it because the earth is warming, and soon there will be no turning back.
This symposium was very informative, and it was a great experience to interact with others who are interested in sustainability. If this event sounds interesting to you, the “Let’s Talk Science” organization has a website:
http:// www.letstalkscience. ca/
So if you would like to find out more information about this event or future ones, don’t hesitate to check it out. They also have a mailing service, feel free to sign up to receive emails of the latest events that interest you. Lastly, Vanier also has a sustainability major for those interested, just Mio Myriam Mansour or go to room B-205 for more info.
Written By: India Upshaw-Ruffner