April – A month for the Earth and science

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Happy April – A month for the Earth and science

 

April - A month for the Earth and science

Happy Earth Day

 

I remember back in grade 12 Geography (1990/1991), my class presentation was on global warming.

I was SO nervous to get in front of the class because global warming was a new concept, and quite controversial at the time. I expected some tough questions from other students, so I did a lot of research to prepare myself. But the science was still pretty new.

I did the presentation, and it went well.

In fact, after high school, I started university studying Environmental Science…that is, until I realized that I loved health science even more. Understanding how complex our bodies are. How we can turn chewed up leaves into a human body amazed me. And the liver, in all of its metabolic brilliance lured me to do my Master of Science in Biomedical Toxiciology and Nutritional Science.

Understanding the truth about nature is what drove me into this field.

Not judging it, or changing it. But understanding the truth about our bodies.

But, I digress…

What blows my mind now is that climate change is still made out to be controversial. Twenty-seven years later. Thousands (tens of thousands?) of studies later. How much freaking evidence to we need before we accept something as fact?

Is it ignorance? Does the science seem complicated, so we dismiss it?

Is it denial? Do we not want to admit that have done damage to our one and only home?

Is it fear? If we do admit this damage, then we have to face the consequences. Maybe we’ll have to adjust our lifestyles? Maybe our children will have a worse place to live?

I honestly don’t get it.

Not that education and awareness seems to be a solution, but here’s some credible proof that scientists around the world agree. There is a global consensus that the climate is changing, it’s due to humans, and we don’t know what this means (but it’s NOT good).

 

What the heck am I doing about climate change?

 

Great question!

There are lots of little things I do. Off the top of my head here are some examples:

  • Probably the most important thing is to educate and set an example for my kids. We watch things like the Story of Stuff, (the original) Affluenza and Escape from Affluenza (we own the DVDs), and Suzuki Speaks (own this DVD too). We live a pretty decent middle class life in suburban Canada. And we’re conscientious about how we life. Deliberate about what we allow into our lives.
  • I started a weekly simplicity group when I was on maternity leave. Went through this book(aff). Met some of my best friends there.
  • My favourite book of all time is Your Money or Your Life. It’s about living in alignment with your values. Living simply. Conscientiously and deliberately. It goes over financial intelligence, financial integrity, and financial independence. You can check it out by clicking the image below (aff).
  • We have always lived within walking distance of my kids’ schools, so we never drive.
  • We buy local food. So excited to live near Canada’s largest year-round farmer’s market. But even in Newfoundland we regularly went to the St. John’s farmer’s market.
  • I am very conscious about my household conveniences. I always turn down the heat (love me some blankets in the winter), A/C (live in the basement in the summer), and lights (got to get on that melatonin production when the sun goes down). Someone I live with thinks I take this too far sometimes…
  • I very, very thankfully work from home, so my commute is nil. Plus, for the past 5 years, we’ve lived close to my husband’s work (no more than 7 kms) to avoid his need to commute in traffic.
  • I proudly have clothing and shoes from 5+ years ago. I don’t like shopping, and when I find something I like I keep it and wear it foreva.
  • I avoid skin and hair cosmetics; except lip balm, body butter and sunscreen.
  • We buy used. Cars off lease (we barely drive anyway). Great used furniture when we moved back to Ontario.
  • We recycle (obviously – who doesn’t recycle, anyway?).
  • We support local natural places. Botanical gardens. Conservation areas. Hiking trails. There is lots of proof in the photos below. Hey, do you have a free Parks Canada pass this year?
  • We visit the library. A lot. Borrow books and support the local community.
  • Probably dozens of more things I can’t think of right now.

 

What do YOU do about climate change? 🙂 Would love some more inspiration and ideas in the comments!

 

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My appreciation for the Earth

 

For four years, I lived in a unique place on Earth. It is the Easternmost point in North America, on the island of Newfoundland off the coast of Canada. In the spirit of appreciating the area in and around St. John’s, here are some photos of the natural world there. (And nature includes people too!)

 

Spring in Newfoundland

 

Crocuses growing in spring

 

Feeding the ducks at the Memorial University Botanical Gardens

 

Pine buds growing at Salmonier Nature Park

 

A tree growing out of the side of a rock, on the Rennie’s River Trail in St. John’s

 

Summer in Newfoundland

 

icebergs

Icebergs at Cape Spear, Newfoundland Canada (Easternmost point in North America)

 

Small Icebergs – Hiking just north of St. John’s

 

Icebergs at Middle Cove, Newfoundland

 

Mama humpback and her calf at Middle Cove, Newfoundland

 

Flowers planted in a hole in the sidewalk. I saw these when I walked from our house to the Convention Centre downtown St. John’s for the Wellness Expo

 

Canoeing at Kent’s Pond, St. John’s

 

Walking along Signal Hill (where Marconi received the first wireless transmission across the Atlantic Ocean)

 

Fall in Newfoundland

 

Rennie’s River at Elizabeth Avenue. We walked by this every day on the way to/from the elementary school.

 

Hiking along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean

 

All the smooth rocks at Middle Cove, Newfoundland

 

Mini waterfall up a Northern Bay Sands

 

Fall leaves on a hike

 

Hiking the La Manche Trail

 

Winter in Newfoundland

 

Iced branch after a freezing rain storm

 

Kids playing on the snow hill in our backyard

 

Happy “March for Science” Day

 

Today is Earth day. And scientists around the world are marching for science.

I think it’s great to raise awareness, because I really believe that science has been misunderstood (and mistrusted) a lot lately.

To me, science is simply a way to objectively understand the natural world. How is the sun bright? How did these rocks get here? Why are plants green? How does what we eat affect our body?

It’s really just a method of inquiry. And over the centuries, it’s been refined. A lot!

Before the scientific method there was speculation, philosophy, religion, and hoping. People didn’t know about other parts of the world. They didn’t know how to protect themselves from disease. There was a daily attempt at survival (from the elements, from predators, from starvation, from plagues).

 

The first clinical trial – Scurvy

 

Here’s a super-quick history lesson.

Before the mid 20th century, lots of sailors suffered from and died of scurvy. Sometimes up to half of the mariners would get symptoms; putrid gums, ulcers, enlarged spleens, dark blotches on the skin, joint problems, weakness, and of course, death. It was thought to be caused by “foul vapours,” or an “imbalance in bodily humors.” Back in those days people were unlikely to survive any serious injury, there was no understanding of sterilization, and the only anaesthetic was rum. There was no concept of nutrients or vitamins.

Interestingly enough, there were certain points in time where ships carried lemon juice as a cure for scurvy. Preventive medicine was not recognized (why prevent something that hasn’t even happened yet?). And for some reason, carrying lemon juice on long ship voyages fell out of favour.

In 1747, a 31-year old ship surgeon from Edinburgh, Dr. James Lind, wanted to cure scurvy. All of the common “cures” didn’t work. So he did an experiment aboard the HMS Salisbury. His experiment is now thought to be the very first clinical trial. He took 12 sailors with symptoms of scurvy and randomly assigned them into six pairs.  Each pair was ordered a specific addition to the standard sailors’ diet. Things ranging from a daily quart of cider, to two spoons of vinegar three times per day, to half-pint seawater every day, to two oranges and one lemon per day.

Within one week the ones who ate the oranges and lemons recovered. He said that “…oranges and lemons were the most effectual remedies for this distemper at sea.”

Several years later he published a “treatise.” He explained his remarkable result by saying that scurvy was caused by a blockage of perspiration which led to an imbalance in the body’s alkalinity. All caused by the dampness at sea.

Apparently he thought that the acidity of the fruit was part of the cure. Yet, he proved that neither cider, nor vinegar (both are acidic) helped.

Lind’s experiment was definitely groundbreaking at the time, and a step forward in the scientific method. But we all now know (from science) that scurvy is a severe deficiency of vitamin C. And that citrus is a great source of this critical nutrient.

But this story goes to show you how actually trying to understand how our bodies work, and collaborating, publishing and critiquing studies, we eventually figure stuff out.

Stuff that can help prevent and cure disease. Stuff that helps us live longer and smarter. Stuff that makes our lives easier.

Thanks science! 🙂


Here is the book I got this story from (Amazon affiliate link):


 

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As you can imagine, I can go into a lot more detail about nutrition, health, the scientific method, or science communication. I am a health writer after all! Let me know topics you’d like to discuss in the comments.

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  1. […] I happened to connect with on social media around Earth Day when people marched for science (which I wrote about here). (BTW, that post shared pictures from when I lived in Newfoundland, as well as talks about the […]

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