News

Below are news items from the UBC IRES community.

How Nova Scotia coastal communities are planning for climate change

Feb 10, 2021: CBC featured research from David Righter’s IRES Master’s thesis, showing that 75% of coastal communities in Nova Scotia are implementing climate change plans ordered by the province.

Dr. Jiaying Zhao on behavioural sustainability

Feb 10, 2021: In a podcast episode, Dr. Zhao discussed the necessity of putting psychology to use in sustainability; if we know how people come to their decisions, we can design policies that help them make good decisions on their own.

Farm protests highlight complex India trade outlook

Feb 5, 2021: Dr. Shashidharan Enarth commented on the complex relationship between B.C.’s Indian diaspora and its home country amidst the recent #FarmersProtest.

Spooked by COVID-19, B.C. government invests in food processing, supply chain

Feb 3, 2021: Dr. Hannah Wittman said in an interview with National Observer that free trade deals like NAFTA have consistently made it more difficult for smaller, regional food processing facilities to compete with imported foods.

Changes in Indian farm laws will ‘be good for Canada’ as well: experts

Jan 21, 2021: Dr. Shashi Enarth, an adjunct professor at IRES, gave comments to The Canadian Press about how a freer market in India would help corporations and countries that see it as a destination to sell produce.

ADAM STIRLING HOUR 3 Marginalized groups are exposed to higher cumulative air pollution

Dec 23, 2020: Dr. Amanda Giang joined the program to discuss the details of her & co-author Kaitlin Castellani’s recent study published in Environmental Research Letters.

Giving people money turns out to be an incredibly effective tool in ending homelessness

Jan 13, 2021 Fast Company highlighted the New Leaf project, a research initiative by Dr. Jiaying Zhao and Foundations for Social Change that evaluated the impact of giving direct cash transfers to homeless individuals.

Vancouver Gave Homeless People $5,800. It Changed Their Lives.

Jan 8, 2021 For Dr. Jiaying Zhao, a major takeaway of her study with Foundations for Social Change is the potential cost savings of a program like this for the government.

Here’s What We Learned From The Pandemic, According To 10 Experts

Jan 4, 2021 As we move into 2021, what’s needed is “for nations to take aggressive action toward transformative change that addresses the linked needs of people and nature,” said Dr. Kai Chan.

Marginalized groups experience higher cumulative air pollution in urban Canada: UBC study

Dec 21, 2020 Different marginalized groups are exposed to higher cumulative air pollution in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, according to new research from Dr. Amanda Giang and Kaitlin Castellani.

COVID-19 may have halted massive protests, but youth are taking their fight for the future to the courts

Dec 21, 2020 If Canadian youth succeed in convincing the court that the government’s inaction on climate change is a violation of their rights, that would be a huge breakthrough, said IRES’s Dr. David Boyd.

‘2 lost decades’: How some experts view last 20 years of Canadian climate policy

December 19, 2020 Dr. David Boyd commented on Canadian climate policy: “While the Trudeau government has made stronger commitments to climate action, it hasn’t achieved the momentum needed to make Canada a front-runner in reducing emissions.”

What stinks? UBC researchers seek help to map the odours of Vancouver

December 8, 2020 Dr. Amanda Giang spoke to the Vancouver Sun about smell-vancouver.ca: “The smell-scapes of the area aren’t well-recognized and we want to understand this.”

UBC researchers tracking stinky ‘hotspots’ in Metro Vancouver

December 8, 2020 IRES’s Dr. Amanda Giang and Dr. Naomi Zimmerman, a professor of mechanical engineering, are looking for help from the public to help them track all the stinky spots in Metro Vancouver through a new odour tracking app, called SmellVan.

Quebec car-sharing company is having its moment during the pandemic

December 6, 2020 The Globe and Mail mentioned a recent paper on the car-sharing industry by Dr. Hadi Dowlatabadi.

Plant-based meats are on the rise. But are they sustainable?

December 3, 2020 Dr. Navin Ramankutty spoke with National Observer about the sustainability of plant-based diets.

Crop diversification can improve environmental outcomes without sacrificing yields

According to a new study by IRES’s Claire Kremen and team, diversifying agricultural systems beyond a narrow selection of crops leads to a range of ecosystem improvements while also maintaining or improving yields.

What would Jesus do? Give the homeless cash!

Forbes spoke with Dr. Jiaying Zhao on Zhao’s study with Foundations for Social Change, a non-profit organization based in Vancouver. The study gave individuals experiencing homelessness a cash transfer of $7,500.

Despite good intentions, 5G might widen the gap between farmers

ZME Science highlighted a study led by Zia Mehrabi, a research associate at IRES/SPPGA. The study shows a widening gap between small-scale farmers and those who are more technologically advanced.

To save threatened plants and animals, restore habitat on farms, ranches and other working lands

Claire Kremen, UBC IRES/Zoology prof, co-wrote about a study that found restoring native habitats to at least 20 per cent of the world’s land currently being used by humans for farming, ranching and forestry is necessary to protect biodiversity and slow species loss.

Ottawa’s climate-change policies fail to protect First Nations against food scarcity: study

“No matter what we do by 2030,” said IRES’s Kai Chain, “it’s going to get a lot worse for those northern communities, just by virtue of the inertia already in the system.” He called on the federal government to immediately redouble its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Woodfibre LNG and climate played a role in swinging this B.C. riding Green

Local issues can tip the balance when it comes to votes, whereas global concerns sometimes don’t, said Kai Chan, IRES prof.

Bank loans scrutinized for harm to wildlife as well as climate

Kai Chan, IRES prof and lead author of the IPBES report, was quoted about sustainable economies and the role of banks in financing economic activities that impact biodiversity.

Why all human rights depend on a healthy environment

David Boyd, IRES/SPPGA prof, wrote about the importance of placing human rights and nature at the heart of sustainable development to attain a just and sustainable future.

Science leads the way in initiative providing direct cash transfers to individuals experiencing homelessness

There are major benefits to giving money directly to individuals experiencing homelessness, shows a study by the charity Foundations for Social Change and Jiaying Zhao, professor at IRES and UBC Psychology. Their findings counter many of the assumptions people have about homelessness and are being shared by prominent media outlets, politicians, and public figures, hopefully leading to […]

UBC researcher wins 2020 Volvo Environment Prize

Claire Kremen, UBC IRES/Zoology professor & Biodiversity Research Centre faculty, was awarded the 2020 Volvo Environment Prize for her work on transformative food systems that protect biodiversity. A prestigious and well deserved recognition – congratulations Claire!

In Remembrance of Adrian Semmelink

The IRES community is mourning the sudden passing of Adrian Semmelink, who did his Master’s with Kai Chan and Terre Satterfield from 2015-2018. Adrian was a warm, enthusiastic, empathetic person who seemed to set everyone at ease with his manner and his wonderful sense of humour. He brightened every room he walked in, and touched […]

Professor Navin Ramankutty Awarded the Wihuri International Prize

UBC Professor Navin Ramankutty — of the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability and the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs — has been awarded the prestigious Wihuri International Prize in recognition of his long-standing work on sustainable global food systems.   As Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change and Food Security, Ramankutty is […]

Camera traps show effects of outdoor recreation on B.C. wildlife

In southwestern B.C., all wildlife tend to avoid places that were recently visited by humans even if the recreational activity doesn’t involve motorized vehicles. This finding comes from a new study by IRES’s Robin Naidoo and Cole Burton in UBC Forestry, which was featured in UBC Science News, News 1130, CTV, CTV Vancouver and Radio […]

Expert Opinion: The Right To Breathe Clean Air

In the recovery from this pandemic, leaders gathering at the United Nations have the opportunity and duty to “simultaneously tackle the deadly pollution and work to achieve everyone’s right to breathe clean air,” urges IRES prof David Boyd. Boyd is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, and presented a report […]

City Bar Association Urges UN to Formally Recognize Human Right to a Healthy Environment

The New York City Bar Association, a group of over 24,000 lawyers and law students, joins IRES prof David Boyd in pushing the United Nations to recognize the human right to a healthy environment by the end of this year. Among specifically listed goals, the bar association calls on the U.S. permanent representative to the […]

People don’t really grasp how their actions impact climate, study shows

A study led by IRES prof Jiaying Zhao and Simon Donner & Seth Wynes of UBC Geography looked at how well people understand the climate impact of individual actions. Unfortunately, balancing a carbon budget is not intuitive for most people. Consumers struggle to make tradeoffs between sets of different actions that impact climate.

Reintroducing sea otters is good for the environment and the economy, and both matter

A UBC study led by Edward Gregr, an adjunct professor at IRES, notes the economic costs and long-term benefits of sea otter recovery. While sea otters are detrimental to fisheries income, economic gains in other sectors outweigh these losses.

Think You’re Making Good Climate Choices? Take This Mini-Quiz

An intuitive questionnaire tests the user’s ability to make trade-offs that impact individual carbon emissions. The New York Times quiz is based on a study by researchers in IRES and UBC’s Department of Geography.

‘Non-union’ bees make blueberries thrive — but only if they have a home

Native bumblebees — as opposed to the semi-domesticated honeybees that farmers are increasingly reliant on — are better for many B.C. farming systems, observed Claire Kremen, prof at UBC in zoology and IRES.