From the rocky mountains of British Columbia to the sandy shores of Prince Edward Island, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and its partners have conserved 2.8 million Canadian acres (more than 1.1 million hectares) for the benefit of our children and grandchildren. So why not visit some of them this summer?
From world-class cities, filled with museums and galleries, to rural towns, scattered with small vineyards producing award-winning wine; from bustling streets to deserted beaches; from parks so vast you can wander alone for days to music festivals so big you'll meet people from around the world -- this is Quebec.
Our planet is a very different place today than when your grandparents were born. Despite the copious amount of conservation work occurring on a daily basis by citizens, volunteers and environmental groups, biodiversity is continuing to be lost in Canada. We need to restore Earth's "factory settings."
There's nothing like the potential loss of Earth's rich biodiversity and planetary life support systems to make one feel, well, a little overwhelmed. Our individual actions can seem like small roles on a very big stage. But it's important to remember that our current crisis of biodiversity loss didn't result from one catastrophic event.
I have no doubt virtual reality is going to have a huge impact. We're just beginning to recognize its potential. But as with all new technology, there will be unintended repercussions, the greatest of which will be further estrangement from nature. Studies show that because people evolved out of nature, we need that connection with the natural world for mental and physical well-being.
Canada's greatest contribution to sustaining our planet's biodiversity and ecological services may very well be our abundance. From some of the world's largest intact forests and wetlands, to wild northern rivers, to spectacles of bird and mammal migrations, Canada is one of only a handful of countries with true wilderness and wild spaces remaining.
For the most part, our brains didn't evolve in cities. But in a few decades, almost 70 per cent of the world's people will live in urban environments. Despite the prosperity we associate with cities, urbanization presents a major health challenge. Cities, with their accelerated pace of life, can be stressful. The results are seen in the brains and behaviour of those raised in cities or currently living in one.
There has been a lot of attention and coverage in recent days about close relations between Canada and the United States and meetings between our respective political leaders to discuss issues of mutual interest. Among these many common issues, one area where there has been friendship and considerable goodwill for more than 30 years is the shared pursuit of conservation.
Simplifying is vital not only for our kid's health, but also for our own. Simplicity is a rare gift in modern life. It's an obvious message, and when we hear it, we can't help but shout YES. Slowing down feeds our souls and nurtures our families. No matter what parenting style we practice, this topic unites us.
To this day, the grassy landscapes of Ireland remain free of any snake species. And despite the popular tale of Saint Patrick banishing them all, they always have. According to scientists, there has never been any fossil evidence of snakes found on the island; proving no snake has ever slithered on Irish soil. It is believed snakes were unable to reach these lands due to the Ice Age, which kept Irish territory too cold for snakes to survive.
Looking to bring some inspiration and creativity to your next meeting? Perhaps it's time to take a hike. Research points to both the mind-clearing and brain-boosting benefits of spending time outdoors. Encounters with nature are proven to help alleviate mental fatigue by relaxing and restoring the mind.
After years of steady, but slow, steps in nature conservation, our collective stride seems to have lengthened in 2015. We still need to act on commitments to create more terrestrial and marine protected areas. We still have Canadian species that are at risk of disappearing. We still have parks and protected areas that need to be buffered and better connected.
Those who fear and reject change have always been and always will be with us. They've argued ending slavery would destroy the economy; they've claimed putting people on the moon would be impossible; they've rejected ending South Africa's apartheid system; they've said the Berlin wall wouldn't come down. We can and must speak louder than those who would keep us on a destructive path despite the overwhelming evidence that it's past time to shift course.
Humanity is seen to be independent from nature, even above it. This has been the Western vision of the world. In poisoning the earth, we were led on a self-destructive path. But I try to invoke here an alternative vision, expressed by Islamic (Sufi) arts, which finds that the way humanity relates and depends on nature can be renewed once the creative life is reclaimed.
Canada has a rare opportunity, indeed an obligation, to be a world leader in the conservation of natural habitat and by doing so to contribute directly to the fight against climate change. Conservation of our natural ecosystems is integral to any effective Canadian strategy to slow climate change and to mitigate its effects. Significant scientific evidence shows that the destruction and clearing of forests, grasslands and wetlands, in addition to the burning of fossil fuels, has resulted in a substantial increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere.