From Matt: Eight million tons of plastic dumped in ocean every year (Laura Parker, National Geographic): A new landmark study has estimated how much plastic we are dumping in the ocean each year, and it’s a lot. Most of it is coming from east and southeast Asia, but what’s interesting is that it’s not all coming from where you’d necessarily expect. For example, relatively tiny Sri Lanka is the world’s 5th largest source of ocean plastic. India is 12th; the United States 20th. So what happens to all this plastic? Well, eventually it breaks down into tiny ‘microplastic’ particles, but these microplastics degrade extremely slowly. Recent studies have been finding microplastic in all kinds of different waterways and sentiments, but we don’t really have a clue what they do. It would seem reasonable to suspect they might be harmful, which would be really bad given the quantity we’re dumping; but we don’t yet know if, how, or how much they harm us and the ecosystems. Getting to the bottom of this is one of the most important open areas in marine environmental science.
On big resource projects, when does ‘no’ mean ‘no’? (John Gehman & Michael Lounsbury, The Globe and Mail): Gehman and Lounsbury point out that knowing when to cut your losses and being able to pivot quickly is one of the most important attributes of successful business management. They draw an analogy to Keystone XL and other big energy infrastructure projects in Canada, wondering aloud whether it’s time for backers of these projects (including the federal government) to cut their losses and pivot. I think the authors’ analogy to governing can probably be taken much further.
From Ian: Online campaign nets $20 000 for Quebec woman told to remove hijab in court (Morgan Lowrie, The Globe and Mail): On Feb. 24, a Quebec judge told a woman in her Montreal courtroom that she would not hear her case until she removed her hijab. Rania El-Alloul was in court to apply to get her car back after it was seized when police stopped El-Alloul’s son for driving with a suspended licence. As soon as her story was picked up by the media, Ms. El-Alloul received an outpouring of support from Canadians of all backgrounds, including from all three major party leaders: Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau. Two residents from Toronto and Vancouver, strangers to Ms. El-Alloul, set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to buy her an new car and support her legal costs, which reached its $20,000 goal in under 24h and has now received over $37,000 from donors from across the country. This story demonstrates that, while Canada is not immune to intercultural tensions, there is a broad belief amongst the majority of Canadians that tolerance is a fundamental Canadian value and multiculturalism is one of our biggest points of pride.
From Niya: Feminism’s online renaissance (Antonia Zerbisias, Elle Canada): As one of the co-creators of the #BeenRapedNeverReported hashtag, Zerbisias provides her insights into the impact that social media has had on feminists and organizers in the recent past. She addresses the shift in organizing principles of groups of feminists around the same issue from a leader/follower approach to a more collaborative model, one that includes diverse voices due to the more level space instead of a personality driven approach where a group supported a single strong voice. Other notes of interest include her perspective on”networked feminism” that includes men’s voices and the mention of the generational and digital divides within the current feminist sphere. She hints at the impact these have. It would be great to see follow up pieces from both sides of the divide.