News

Below are news items from the UBC IRES community.

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.

Commentary: Road to recovery post-coronavirus paved with green bricks

In the aftermath of COVID-19, UBC IRES and IOF prof Kai Chan resists a return to our pre-pandemic practices that contribute to crises in climate and ecology by detailing transformative pathways towards a thriving, sustainable future.

After COVID-19, nations can tackle environmental crises by shifting priorities to sustainable development

Nations are focused on "restoring pre-COVID-19 economies rather than building resilient social and ecological systems for thriving sustainability." Kai Chan, prof at UBC IRES and UBC IOF, addresses the way forward by discussing several inconvenient truths.

A scientist wanted us to stop flying. Just not like this.

Navin Ramankutty, a UBC professor at the school of public policy and global affairs and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, spoke about being selective about flying and pointed out the focus on flying might put too much attention on individual behavior, deflecting it from the structural problems related to climate change.

Draft National Fisheries Policy seeks big growth but ignores fishers

Sahir Advani, a postdoctoral research fellow at UBC's Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, discussed the six dimensions of fisheries sustainability and said there needs to be greater consideration of long-term sustainability and across social, ecological, ethical and institutional dimensions for fisheries to become truly sustainable in India.

Hummingbirds are able to see millions more colours than human

Research co-authored by Harold Eyster, a UBC PhD student at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, shows hummingbirds see an array of combination colours involving UV that humans are blind to.

Graham McDowell Awarded Sumaila-Volvo Graduate Prize in Environmental Sustainability

The Sumaila-Volvo Graduate Prize in Environmental Sustainability is a $3,850 prize has been made available through an endowment established by Dr. Rashid Sumaila upon being named the 2017 Volvo Environment Prize laureate for a Master’s or Ph.D. student whose peer-reviewed publications to date are expected to have the most significant impact on the field of environmental sustainability.     […]

Recovery of sea otter populations yields more benefits than costs

A study led by UBC professor Edward Gregr, an adjunct professor at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, examined the economic costs and benefits of reintroducing sea otters into the North Pacific region.

AERL ROCR (Return to On-Campus Research) Protocols: Phase 1

Dear IRES Community,   Apologies for the delay in getting this update out but we’ve been working very hard on getting the protocols for Phase 1 of the AERL ROCR (Return to On-Campus Research) finalized. Note that “In Phase 1, all Science faculty, staff and research personnel who can work off campus must continue to do […]

The Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability is proud to stand in solidarity with UBC’s Black Student Union and all people protesting police violence against Black people in Canada and the United States.

IRES Statement of Solidarity The IRES community categorically denounces the recent events of anti-Black racism and police brutality in North America. We denounce the excessive use of police and military force by the United States government against those protesting police brutality towards Black Americans and people of colour.  Black lives matter. The lives of George […]

How Quickly Will Your Business Recover? Lessons Learned From Natural Disasters

Forbes highlighted a study co-written by Stephanie Chang, a professor at UBC's Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability and School of Community and Regional Planning, that analyzed patterns of economic recovery following a dramatic natural disaster.

Congratulations 2019 BC Studies Prize Award Recipient: Johnnie Manson

Congratulations to UBC IRES PhD student, Johnnie Manson, for being the 2019 BC Studies Prize award recipient.

COMMENTARY: The pandemic has taught us the importance of preparation. Let’s apply that lesson

The COVID-19 crisis shows that over-preparing is the right thing to do. UBC professor Kai Chan says we should learn from that experience and act to prevent climate change.

Congratulations to the 2019/2020 Freda Pagani Award Winners!

Congratulations to the 2019/2020 recipients of the Freda Pagani Award for Outstanding Master’s Thesis and the Freda Pagani Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation!   Freda Pagani Award for Outstanding Master’s Thesis Emily Mistick Supervised by: Mark Johnson Forest harvest and water treatability : analysis of dissolved organic carbon in headwater streams of contrasting forest harvest […]

Sandeep Pai on Ensuring a ‘Just Transition’ for Fossil Fuel Workers

Sandeep Pai, a PhD candidate at UBC's Institute of Resources, Environment and Sustainability, says the government needs to do more to help transition fossil fuel employees into the green economy, especially during COVID-19.

What If We Responded to Climate Change Like We Have to Coronavirus?

Jiaying Zhao, a professor in UBC's psychology department and in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, shared why it’s hard for us to respond to climate change with the same urgency of COVID-19.

B.C. farmers retool their offerings to sell more locally

Hannah Wittman, a professor and academic director of the UBC Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, says we need to build a resilient, regional food system and the government needs to provide economic support to farmers and to make sure they have access to their labour in times of crisis.

Vancouver experiences reduced air pollution amid COVID-19 pandemic

Kai Chan, a professor at UBC's Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, commented on the substantial improvement in air quality and predicted that it’ll go back to the way it was upon recovery of economic activity.

The importance of relations between politicians and scientists

UBC academics Adam Ford, Cole Burton, Jiaying Zhao, Mary A De Vera and Stephanie Waterman wrote about building links between the scientific and political spheres in Canada.