Researchers create eco-friendly plastic films from potato byproducts – University of Alberta

Using potato peels and culls considered waste by Alberta’s potato-processing industry, University of Alberta researchers have created a starch-based bioactive film that is both eco-friendly and rich in antioxidants. With applications for both the food packaging and cosmetic industries, the new bioactive film is a green alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics and possesses added advantages, said Marleny Aranda Saldaña, a process engineer and associate professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science who led the research team. “Development of antioxidant and antimicrobial bioactive films can improve product shelf life and safety,” she said. “Potato peels have high phenolic content, a natural compound for plant protection, which you also find in apple peels and grape peels, among others.” Saldaña and her team, which includes microbiologist and Canada Research Chair Michael Gänzle and cereal scientist Thava Vasanthan, used subcritical fluid technology to extract phenolic compounds from the potato biomass. Traditional methods use methanol, a toxic solvent. Subcritical fluid technology uses water above its boiling point and below its critical temperature, under pressure. In subcritical water medium, starch can be modified to influence the film’s properties, such as its tensile strength, elongation, and antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. Saldaña’s team has already obtained an international Patent Cooperation Treaty application for the processing method and TEC Edmonton is in the process of commercializing the process. Currently, the team is testing antimicrobial activity. The next step is to test the films on packaging of ready-to-eat meat. With international interest on whether the subcritical method would also work on cassava (the starchy root of a tropical tree), her team is also studying that possibility.

Source: Researchers create eco-friendly plastic films from potato byproducts – University of Alberta

Climate Change Is Happening. Here’s How We Adapt | Alice Bows-Larkin | TED Talks – YouTube

Imagine the hottest day you’ve ever experienced. Now imagine it’s six, 10 or 12 degrees hotter. According to climate researcher Alice Bows-Larkin, that’s the type of future in store for us if we don’t significantly cut our greenhouse gas emissions now. She suggests that it’s time we do things differently—a whole system change, in fact—and seriously consider trading economic growth for climate stability.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more. Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at http://www.ted.com/translate

PLOS Biology: Live Fast, Die Young: Experimental Evidence of Population Extinction Risk due to Climate Change

Over the last decades, consequences of global warming on biodiversity have become obvious [1–3], with many species likely to be committed to extinction by 2050 [4]. Climate warming has already led to changes in species phenology [1], physiology (increased metabolic rates [5]), morphology (shrinking body size [6]), life cycle demography [7], and distribution [1], and, as a consequence, in community structure [8]. Because their body temperature, and hence their basic physiological functions, directly depend on environmental conditions, ectotherms are particularly at risk with climate change [5], while the number of studies assessing their response to changing climate is far lower than for endotherms [9]. The evaluation of their vulnerability is therefore urgent. For instance, a recent study predicted local extinctions of populations from various lizard families worldwide to reach 39% by 2080 due to climate change [10]. Theoretical studies predict that climate change will principally threaten tropical ectotherms [11–14], while temperate ectotherms should resist or even benefit from the warmer temperatures [13,15–17]. However, most evidence on the impacts of climate change on species comes from long-term field survey data [1,8], or on the contrary, on short term laboratory experiments lacking ecological realism and complexity [18–20]. Despite the growing evidence on the strong impact of ecological context on species adaptation to temperature [21], there is little large scale realistic experimental evidence on animals, especially on vertebrates [20,22–25]. More importantly, to our knowledge, the impact of climate change on a species’ entire life cycle and population persistence has never been experimentally tested on a vertebrate [26]. This information gap hinders the prediction of future impacts, because unraveling the impact of predicted climate on different demographic parameters is essential for the precise estimation of extinction probability [27,28]. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts a global temperature increase between +0.3 and +4.8°C over the next century, depending on the CO2 emission scenarios [29]. Experimental studies should thus implement realistic IPCC climate change projections relying on several greenhouse gas emission scenarios and describe population responses to said scenarios in large field experiments [24,25].

Source: PLOS Biology: Live Fast, Die Young: Experimental Evidence of Population Extinction Risk due to Climate Change

Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction, by Christopher Wright & Daniel Nyberg

Processes of Creative Self-Destruction

Source: Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction

An extremely well-researched and readable text which includes five case studies, demonstrating the role of business and the ‘green economy’ narrative in re-capturing activists, academics and civil society in the processes of ‘creative self-destruction’. An indispensable text for anyone seeking to understand why change is so slow to happen – and why it must.

National post-2020 greenhouse gas targets and diversity-aware leadership : Nature Climate Change : Nature Publishing Group

Breaking away from the utopian assumption that the international community will agree on a single emissions allocation scheme, this study assesses approaches to setting country-level mitigation targets in line with the 2[thinsp][deg]C goal.

Source: National post-2020 greenhouse gas targets and diversity-aware leadership : Nature Climate Change : Nature Publishing Group

Panel Discussion on Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations

Sydney Environment Institute is a very dynamic body. I always look forward to their updates.

Climate, People & Organizations

Bill McKibben has argued that “it’s possible that there’s no greater example of corporate irresponsibility than climate change – I mean, these companies melted the Arctic, and then rushed to drill in the open water. ”

With the recent revelations that oil giant Exxon has known about the likely catastrophic impacts of continued fossil fuel use as far back as 1981, it seems McKibben is spot on in his assessment. After all what could be more immoral and irresponsible than knowingly destroying the habitable climate of the only home we have – planet Earth!

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Killing the Koala and Poisoning the Prairie . Corie J. A. Bradshaw and Paul R. Ehrlich. | ConservationBytes.com

The gloves come off We are two scientists who are sufficient furious at the state of our global environment and society to forget about political correctness. We are willing, even eager, to attempt to recruit you into the growing mass of people who are determined to divert society from its “business as usual” path toward disaster manifested already by morbid coral reefs, climate disruption, extinctions, tree die-offs, industrial toxification, loss of pollinators, and declining fish stocks. We are disgusted with the way politicians and the press ignore the realities that civilisation is sliding toward irreversible environmental damage, and that universities are not providing any leadership to change our course because of chronic underfunding, a reticence to embrace true inter-disciplinarity to solve society’s complex problems, and a lack of environmental training across all disciplines. We are tired of the erosion of public education in both nations, especially in science, technology and sustainable agriculture, overlooked or encouraged by politicians who would never be elected by a public that had a basic understanding of environmental science.

Source: Killing the Koala and Poisoning the Prairie | ConservationBytes.com

World will pass crucial 2C global warming limit, experts warn | Environment | The Guardian

Carbon pledges from 147 nations to Paris climate summit ‘are not enough to stop temperature rise’, experts conclude

Source: World will pass crucial 2C global warming limit, experts warn | Environment | The Guardian

Mainstreaming new economic models – sign up for our New York event | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian

Mainstreaming new economic models – sign up for our New York eventJoin us on Thursday 12 November 2015 to explore the successes and failures of neoliberal capitalism, the emergence of alternative economic models and the potential for grassroots activity to create meaningful change Demonstrators protest in Frankfurt, Germany against government austerity and capitalism earlier this year. Photograph: Michael Probst/APWednesday 7 October 2015 12.08 BST Last modified on Wednesday 7 October 2015 12.42 BSTShare on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+Shares100 Save for laterA growing number of individuals and organisations are questioning an economy based on limitless growth. There are two broad reasons, they argue, why such an economy is doomed to fail: firstly it exploits the people and depletes the resources it relies on to survive; secondly it is accompanied by unacceptable – even unworkable – levels of inequality, financial instability and social unrest.

Source: Mainstreaming new economic models – sign up for our New York event | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian

6 landmark rulings on native rights – Canada – CBC News

Tuesday’s Federal Court decision recognizing Métis and non-status Indians as Indians under Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act is just one of several landmark court decisions over the years that have helped define and shape aboriginal rights in Canada.Below is a selection of some key court rulings.Calder et al. v. B.C. attorney general (1973) — The split Supreme Court of Canada decision in this case opened the door to negotiations between the government and First Nations to establish rights to land and resources and launched the land claims process that continues to this day. B.C. cabinet minister and Nisga’a chief Frank Arthur Calder, the first status Indian to be elected to a Canadian legislature, and the Nisga’a tribal council took the B.C. government to court, arguing that the aboriginal title to about 2,600 square kilometres of Nisga’a land in and around the Nass River Valley in northwestern B.C. had never been extinguished.Although the court ultimately ruled against the Nisga’a, the decision was the first time the courts acknowledged that aboriginal title to land existed prior to colonization and the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The judges could not agree, however, on whether that title extended to the modern day, with three of them saying it did and three arguing the title was extinguished when the laws of the B.C. colonial government took effect. A seventh judge ruled against the Nisga’a on a technicality, but the case laid the groundwork for the adoption of the groundbreaking Nisga’a Treaty in 2000, the first contemporary land claims agreement in B.C., and other land agreements.R. v. Sparrow (1990) — This case is considered the first Supreme Court test of the scope of Section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, which recognizes and affirms the “existing aboriginal and treaty rights” of the aboriginal people of Canada and has been at the centre of many court battles over land and resource rights. In its decision, the court for the first time set out criteria for determining whether a right can be considered to be an “existing” right and whether the government is justified in curtailing such a right.The case stems from the 1984 arrest of Ronald Edward Sparrow, a member of the Musqueam band in B.C., who was charged with violating fisheries regulations when he used a net that was longer than his fishing licence allowed. Sparrow argued that his right to fish with the net was an existing aboriginal right protected by Sec. 35 (1) of the Constitution Act. The court agreed but stipulated that the right is not absolute and can be, in certain circumstances, infringed upon.Delgamuukw v. British Columbia (1997) — Although the Supreme Court of Canada never ruled on the question at the heart of this case, the statements it made about aboriginal land title were precedent setting for future land rights cases and the land claims process. The court confirmed that aboriginal title entails rights to the land itself, not just the right to extract resources from it. The court also ruled that the government has a duty to consult with First Nations on issues concerning Crown land and in some instances may have to compensate them for infringing on their rights to that land. The case was launched by Chief Earl Muldoe, known as Delgamuukw, and other hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en First Nations in B.C., who took the provincial government to court in an effort to establish ownership and jurisdiction over 58,000 square kilometres of territory in the Skeena watershed in northwestern B.C. The Supreme Court did not rule on the question of ownership, saying the issue had to be decided at a new trial, but gave a detailed interpretation of what constitutes aboriginal title, laying out guidelines for how the issue should be approached in future disputes.R. v. Marshall (1999) —  This court battle over fishing rights in Nova Scotia inflamed tensions between aboriginal and non-native fishermen in the Maritimes and Quebec. Donald Marshall Jr., a Mi’kmaq man from Nova Scotia who decades earlier had been wrongfully convicted — and ultimately acquitted — in a high-profile murder case, had been charged with fishing eels out of season, fishing without a licence and fishing with an illegal net but argued that aboriginal rights stemming from 18th-century treaties with the British Crown exempted him from fisheries regulations.After the Supreme Court ruled in his favour, upholding the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet people’s rights to earn a “moderate livelihood” from commercial fishing and hunting, native lobster fishermen interpreted the ruling as granting them rights to catch lobster out of season and clashed with their non-native counterparts, who feared lobster stocks would be jeopardized. After a particularly heated showdown in Burnt Church, N.B., the court was forced to issue a clarification of its ruling, which underlined that the ruling applied to fisheries only and not to all natural resources and that the government could rest

Source: 6 landmark rulings on native rights – Canada – CBC News