I am an ecologist because baselines are shifting

I grew up in Calgary, which is in southern Alberta. The city itself sits right at the intersection of the Great Plains and the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountain. The Elbow River flows into town from the south and meets the Bow River where downtown now sits. The Bow itself flows from Banff in the west, through Calgary, and to the south and east until it joins up with the Oldman River, which empties…

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Update: that transit facility

A few weeks ago I posted a letter that I sent to the Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall and Council. My letter was just one small part of a massive community organizing effort regarding the proposed building of a transit facility in an urban green space. Yes our city needs a new transit maintenance facility. No, we should not be building it in green space. Today the Mayor and three councillors put out this report…

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Thoughts on a proposed urban development

Dear Mayor and Council members: I am writing to express my concerns about the proposed transit facility at 18th and Foothills. I have previously written letters about the Ron Brent development (which unfortunately went ahead) and the North College Park proposal. As with those letters, my general theme here is that green spaces and parks – particularly those that are substantially used by the public and/or that provide other important ecosystem services – should not…

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Some thoughts about Friday (and beyond)

I have lived in the USA twice in my life and, like many Canadians, I have many friends and relatives there. Like many Canadians, I appreciate Americans and, despite obvious setbacks and flaws, I have a great respect for the values of freedom and justice that America and its allies have represented in our world. And so I am, along with many American friends and many others in many countries around the world, worried about…

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Edges of the Williston

Four of us, three spare tires two Jerry cans just in case make our way up the Finlay road down the Davis road hanging on to ragged edges above a submerged forest Alien Kokanee surged up past slimy sculpins and mayflies in September — past stones and stoneflies to their deaths in mistaken cemeteries Another truck in the bush bullet holes smashed windows rust south of Tsay Keh: “My dad flipped his truck last night.”…

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The magpies and the boy

The boy had spent the previous late-evening – when he was supposed to be sleep-dreaming – clandestine-reading Field & Stream cloaked in quilt. Instructions for the next-day project: two balsa wood rectangles, one inch by two inches by one-half inch, pen-knife-notched one-quarter inch deep by three-quarter inch wide in the middle of each; wrap a fat rubber band around one; place notches together; tighten band just so; blow. An injured rabbit screams. Now evening again,…

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Sleep

You know that moment just before you sleep? A moment you never remember when it ends in sleep, but that you feel deeply when it doesn’t. A moment on the edge, tipping. Which way? The day just passed compresses all into that one instance that seems like all instances since the world began. Since earth dust was mixed with Mars and Jupiter dust, motes breezing in the centrifugal vacuum. Since the blazing heat of coalescence.…

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Live, work, be passionate

While eating my morning toast (with saskatoon jam!) and tea I ran into what seems to be a perennial conversation on science Twitter. Specifically: how much time should a student put into their research and related studies and how much into the rest of their lives? This is a good question, and there are at least as many answers are there are practitioners, so the best I can do is present my own answer as…

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