Dorian

I knew it was coming.. .the sudden darkness and interior silence which marks the loss of power. I filled my bath tub and several containers with drinking water, gathered firewood and prepared a store of canned food days in advance. That hurricane (tropical storm) Dorian would spare my local power lines never occurred to me,...

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When whales wash ashore

There is only one population of North Atlantic Right whales left on Earth, and it can be found off our coastline every summer, building the fat stores necessary for a southern winter. Were fate kinder, their skin would be a smooth, dignified black, but sharing these waters with human beings has covered them with unseemly...

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The Local Climate – Pilikan

The Pilikan House is a living lab on the Middleton campus of the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), designed and equipped to produce as much energy as it in turn consumes, championing what the science folk call net zero housing. I was downright giddy when I arrived for a tour. “The house has the potential...

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Our investment in calamity

I first became aware of climate change in 2004 when, in my teen years, comedian Rick Mercer jumped on my television to promote the One Tonne Challenge, an imperfect attempt by our federal government to place the burden of decarbonization on citizens rather than industry or leadership. The program was a short-lived failure, but was...

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Uncounted costs

Open pen aquaculture has suffered a great many criticisms these past few decades, but the most damning of all was shared with me only recently by a thoughtful New Brunswick marine biologist. As she explained it, the reason open-pen aquaculture remains so profitable, is because it’s not paying all its bills. These pens, stuffed with...

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Repeating history

In 2008, Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources (now the Department of Lands and Forestry) set out to create The Path We Share, a natural resources strategy setting long term goals for our province’s forestry sector and its biodiversity, among other things. This document, released in 2011, attempted to strike a long sought balance between...

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Tree drama

My favourite tree is probably the American beech, not because it’s the tallest or longest lived member of Maritime ecology, but because it’s beautiful, and comes with a compelling history. At one time the majority of Maritime trees were American beech, so astoundingly common that before the 20th century hikers of all stripes were overwhelmed...

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Sports and the end of the world

I’ve worked several newsrooms in my time, always at small rural papers and always as the only man on staff. As a consequence I became the de facto sports reporter, expected to assemble an entire section of the paper with photos, scores, interviews with players and coaches, and my insights on the worlds of hockey,...

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An Ode to Empty Skies

I have a long and complicated relationship with the passenger pigeon, an extinct bird which came to my attention one sleepless night six years ago, and which eventually became the subject of my novel The Sky Was Copper Blue. Writing about it, I hoped, would get it out of my head, but of course that...

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Halifax thrashes Calgary

The spirit of competition is a wonderful thing, a magic ingredient which turns speed skating with sticks into a game of hockey, pushing people to lengths they couldn’t otherwise justify and toward milestones we wouldn’t otherwise notice. Except I don’t play hockey, and the last time I sacrificed my shoulders in contact sports was high...

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