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Meagan Mak
Nov 29, 2022
In #UnleashValues
Throughout the past three months, I have embarked on a journey of learning about different topics of sustainability, and ways to share and express my values regarding the different topics. Climate and eco-anxiety have always been a problem that I, as an aspiring environmental scientist, am constantly combatting. Through discussions with peers in class and the Cosphere platform, I have been more confident in expressing and unleashing my environmental values, knowing that there is someone out there who shares similar values with me. Finding and generating ideas with this group of people have given me a sense of hope and optimism in combating the climate crisis. Sure a lot of systemic changes still needed to the done before the world is truly sustainable, but this class has given me the skills and sense of belonging to help make these big changes. This class has taught me to be courageous in sharing my core values and has given me the opportunity to use what I've learned throughout my degree to make big changes. I envision a world where people have the confidence in unleashing their genuine environmental values, and like-minded people can work together to make big systemic changes towards sustainability. Learning about the importance of speaking up and advocating for changes, I will continue this mentality as I pursue my career, proactively campaigning for systemic changes.
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Meagan Mak
Nov 19, 2022
In #UnleashValues
Humans, both the living and the dead, have been leaving a big footprint on the Earth’s landscapes and biodiversity. As an environmental conscience person, I want to leave the Earth with as minimal impacts as possible when I pass. A year ago, I came across this video from Caitlin Doughty about an organic reduction (a fancy name for human composting) facility in Seattle. The video mentioned that some families will choose to donate the composted remains of their loved ones to restoration projects, to restore the degraded soil from salmon habitats. This video intrigued me so I immediately subscribed to the channel and did some research on human composting. For me, this sounds like the perfect way to leave, the perfect way to reciprocate what the Earth has given me. I envision a world where people can choose how they want to leave the Earth. Not everyone wants to the embalmed and preserved forever, despite what the funeral industrial complex and the catholic church told us. Some people like me would rather have my body contributing back to the Earth and continue to live on as part of other living things. Being a part of humanity that has impacted different systems, and rewilding being a way to restore these systems, I think I will be leaving a bigger legacy to the Earth by letting myself go back to the Earth’s system. One of the biggest obstacles to turning myself into compost is the availability and legality of doing so. During my prep for this class last week, Caitlin dropped this gem of a video about the legalization of greener death technology, and her personal struggles/ success story of legalizing alkaline hydrolysis and human composting in California. After doing some googling, I was horrified to find out that burial and cremation are the only two legal methods of body disposal in BC, which has a reputation for being “a green province”. WE NEED TO FIX THIS. We need to raise awareness about these greener death care technology is also important in encouraging people to adopt them and campaign for them. Green death technologies like alkaline hydrolysis and human composting should be legalized in BC. The legalization of green death technology is not to replace the old ways of body disposal, but to give people more options for death care. We should have a choice on how much or little impact we want to leave on the Earth after we pass.
Giving back to the Earth: organic reduction and environmental restoration content media
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Meagan Mak
Nov 04, 2022
In #UnleashValues
Plastic is a big part of the environmental discourse. Remember when the horrifying video of a plastic straw stuck into a turtle’s nose went viral and everyone started talking about banning plastic straws? Everyone seems to have the consensus that they don’t want plastics floating around the ocean and getting tangled with animals. But what has been done since then other than plastic straws being replaced by straws that will literally melt into your drinks? I believe we should have the right to a plastic-free environment. No life on Earth should be forced to swim in, tread through, and consume plastic. I envision a world where corporations are responsible for the waste they have produced, and everything we consume can be circulated back to the production chain. The burden of properly recycling plastics should not be put on consumers, but on corporations. They are the ones who produce these kinds of products, and they are the ones who are not consumers of a choice to go plastic-free. Therefore, they should be responsible for the waste their products produce. Purely relying on technological innovation and advancement cannot solve the plastic problem. Sure that cool machine that sucks up ocean plastics looks cool and plays a big part in cleaning up the mess. However, heavy regulation on plastic production and distribution is essential to mitigating the plastic problem. Heavy regulation and an eventual ban should be placed on single-used and disposable packaging. There should also be Extended Producer responsibility on corporations to properly dispose of or recycle these single-use items. Speaking of which, I have a bone to pick with the City of Vancouver. I fully support charging disposable cups and boxes at shops and restaurants. However, the amount of times I was told by shops that they don't have the capabilities to put my drink into the reusable cup I brought is absurd (I’m looking at you Tim Hortons and McDonald’s). This completely defeats the purpose of the by-law. The government has to crack down on shops that force consumers to "buy" disposal plastic items. [Note to self I really need to write a letter to the city about this]
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Meagan Mak
Oct 28, 2022
In #UnleashValues
Most of you have probably heard that we used to have a giant hole in the ozone layer, and most of you have probably heard that the hole has stopped growing after the ban on chlorofluorocarbons. I see the halting and reversal of ozone depletion as a success story of international multilateral cooperation, where governments and corporations across the globe have cooperated to solve the problem. I believe that with cooperation from corporations, heavy regulations competency from the government, and a change of mindset and pressure from consumers, we can have more success stories on socio-ecological protection. I envision a world where our lives and decisions are not driven by actions from corporations. CFCs were super-useful chemicals that were in everyday products ranging from air-conditioners to aerosol sprays. Like climate change and fossil fuels, when researchers first found out about the role of CFCs in damaging the ozone, they also faced strong resistance. However, with heavy regulations and multilateral treaties between governments that signed the Montreal Protocol in 1987, the production and use of CFCs have been phased out. After these changes, the CFCs concentration in the atmosphere dropped and the ozone layer was regenerated. This story has given me some hope for the potential changes for a better environment even under a capitalist society. I think Hank Green put it very well here. As seen in the CFC story, heavy environmental regulation is HUGELY important in making sure corporations are on track with sustainability practices. Especially in a globalized world with transnational corporations contributing the majority of global emissions and environmental destructions, I believe proposing and enforcing international agreements and environmental regulations will help to block some loopholes that TNCs can take to bypass these regulations. Just like the ozone crisis, if the government and corporations work together, the situation can improve.
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Meagan Mak
Oct 21, 2022
In #UnleashValues
As a Vancouverite, I’m proud of the nice weather and enjoyable nature my city has. However, I can really see the impacts of climate change on the city. The heat dome event, the intense wildfire season, followed by the floods caused by the atmospheric river, this year’s drought and delayed wildfire season, etc. From observing common management practises, I found people tend to have a mindset of controlling nature, including the natural processes that have been essential to regulating the Earth’s systems. I believe natural cycles are there because they have been working for billions of years, and humans could not work against them. I envision a world where we see nature as a living, loving friend, but not a commodity to extract or a force to conquer. Climate change, biodiversity loss, and other environmental devastation happened because humans (in particular western colonists) think that they can engineer their way out of everything. We restricted river systems from moving, we paved over wetlands so they can no longer absorb storm surges, we logged old-growth forests and turned them into cash crops, and we suppressed the fires that are important in forest regeneration. On the other hand, indigenous communities have been working with nature in protecting and maintaining landscapes and biodiversity. In fact, the Garry Oak ecosystem is a result of prescribed burning that has nurtured a plethora of biodiversity. For this to happen, nature-based interventions should be prioritized in landscape management. First, we have to restore the infrastructures that have prevented the Earth from continuing its natural cycles. (See this example about river restoration and flood prevention) In terms of wildfire management, we should stop fire suppression. Normalizing prescribed burns as a strategy of forest management. Moreover, forest management and plantations should be done according to the ecosystem: planting multiple species of trees that can facilitate each other, to help the tree grow and prevent the number of dead trees.
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Meagan Mak
Oct 14, 2022
In #UnleashValues
Everybody needs food to survive. While the agricultural revolution has tremendously helped the world to solve hunger issues and sustain the current world population, it has also changed our concepts towards food. I’ve always heard a joke about how “kids nowadays don’t know that watermelons are green not red”, as an insult to how children are spoiled. However, industrial agriculture has distanced the relationship between the food we eat and where they are coming from. Most people, will not give it a thought when seeing a piece of meat at the supermarket that it actually comes from an animal. And even fewer people understand the environmental impacts that the agricultural system has contributed. I believe in the importance of understanding and acknowledging the environmental impacts of our foods, so as to be conscious about our choices in consideration of the environment, as well as to mend the divide between us and the food that keeps us healthy. With some understanding of the detrimental impacts on the environment the industrial agricultural system has brought upon, I (and I believe many of us) felt guilty but yet stuck about the issue, since this system is so ingrained into our daily lives. Unless one has the ability and resources to live off-grid, engaging with the industrial agricultural system is inevitable. Therefore, I envision a world where regenerative agriculture is the main source of our diets, and everybody has the right to enjoy fresh and healthy food without destroying the environment. For this to happen, we first have to expose and break free of our current industrial agricultural system. I understand that this is a big task, but I am hopeful that with awareness, education, and enough support from people, this will happen. The first thing I will suggest is to raise awareness about the negative impacts brought upon by industrial agriculture. Consumers should have the right to know the environmental impacts on the products they buy. I will support the restructuring of the agricultural system: cutting back funding for annual monoculture, and chemical pesticides, while emphasizing and promoting polyculture and sustainable farms. The government should also subsidize the capital, education and resources needed to establish regenerative agriculture. The barrier to establishing urban food gardens should also be lowered (changing land use regulations to lift the ban on agriculture in residential areas, which also provides resources for starting community food gardens). This way, there are more options for choosing more sustainable foods and addressing food insecurity while being less reliant on industrial agriculture.
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Meagan Mak
Oct 07, 2022
In #UnleashValues
I still remember learning about the water cycle in elementary school, when we were told that water is recycled in nature and therefore life can be sustained for generations to come. Therefore to me, learning about the water crisis to me is both shocking and expected. It was shocking to fathom how humans can deplete a seemingly infinite resource. At the same time, when you think about the attitude of how western societies see nature as a resource-generating machine to be exploited, it makes sense that people will manage to squeeze every single drop of water out of the Earth. However, with our current system, some people can use as much water as they desire while others cannot fulfil their basic needs. I believe that water should a resource that everyone should have equal access to, and everyone should have the responsibility to protect the quantity and quality of it. Water has been an essential part of the origin of life billions of years ago, and humans as part of the life tree should sustain this legacy for other organisms to thrive. I envision a world where everyone has access to clean drinking water, and everyone cherishes it like the most valuable thing on Earth because it is. Living in Canada, I am fortunate enough to be living in the most water-rich country. However, there are indigenous communities in this country that still don’t have access to clean drinking water. On the other hand, having experience working at the water conservation department at the City of Vancouver, I have witnessed a lot of Vancouverites’ attitudes towards using water. From complaining about not being able to wash their cars in the summer to lawyering up to sue the City and dispute their blatantly obvious water restriction violations (they were running water down the sidewalk in attempts to water the piece of grass on the boulevard across the sidewalk, at the wrong time of day). I hope people realize how precious yet important water is to our survival. Having seen places like Cape Town, where citizens have worked together to push back their Day Zero, I have faith that Vancouverites can learn to conserve water with more public awareness and education. To ensure everyone has access to drinking water, there are a couple of things I think must be done. First, public awareness and education are important. Since most households can get clean drinking water by just turning on the tap in water-rich countries like Canada, most people are not aware of the water crisis. Just like Cape Town, I believe having awareness and a sense of urgency to the issue will make people change their behaviour. In addition, at a City level, water should be metered and charged by usage. When I first started working in the City of Vancouver, I was shocked to learn that most people are paying a flat rate for water in the city. Metering homes and businesses can not only incentivize the reduction of water usage but also make it easier to spot any leaks and water usage. It is sad to say but in reality, people are more likely to understand the value of something when it is equated to money/ capital. To ensure equity to water access within the city, the meter rate should be determined by factors like income level, and past usage, to avoid putting the water pricing burden on low-income groups.
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Meagan Mak
Sep 23, 2022
In #UnleashValues
As someone from an immigrant family, I am grateful for the opportunity that this land has given me to pursue my education and career in Environmental Science, and to steer the world into a sustainable future. I also have the indigenous peoples, those who have taken care of the land since time immemorial, and are continuing the take care of the land, to thank for the opportunity I have. I will not have the opportunity to find my interest in ecology and marine biology with the indigenous people’s care. However, the indigenous people are often those that are excluded from any decision about their land and their culture. I believe everyone should have the say on what is happening on the land, especially those who live and take care of the land. I envision a world where reciprocity becomes an integral part of decision-making, especially in the conservation and environmental management realm. Not only giving back what nature had given us but also to the caretakers of the land. Without the indigenous people cultivating and taking care of the land, we won’t be able to enjoy and develop it. People (often colonizers) running conservation projects often see themselves as the “saviour” of the land, making decisions with accounting for those who have been living and tending the ecosystem for thousands of years. It is saddening to see that indigenous people are often sabotaged, or even exiled from their land in the name of conservation, breaking not only their livelihoods but also their relationship with their land. Therefore, I also envision a system of being aware and accepting of the different values and relationships of the indigenous/ local communities and incorporating the traditional knowledge and culture into each decision. For this to happen, we have to actively change our beliefs from a western hierarchical one to one that considers every living thing on an equal plainfield. Everybody has the responsibility to give back what the planet has given us to thrive. Also, we have to support the indigenous movement in getting back control of their land, hence getting their traditional knowledge and cultural practice. This is not a “courtesy” or “nice gesture” to them, but something we ought to do to make up for the Western system’s greed and selfishness toward the injustice of these communities.
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Meagan Mak
Sep 16, 2022
In #UnleashValues
Stuff, stuff stuff. I feel like the ability to consume has become the definition of success in the Global North. I feel burdened by the expectation of getting new stuff to the point I am suffocated by the amount of stuff I have. This is not the future I would like to live in. I envision a future where our identity is not tied to the stuff we owned, but rather what we contribute to society and the Earth. Learning about the huge impact of everything I ever consume, I would like to keep using what I have until I absolutely have to replace it. Both because I'm an environmental conscience, and because I'm a "broke university student". For this to happen, THE STUFF HAS TO NOT BREAK CONSTANTLY. Having stuff that doesn't break is not only better for the planet but also better for the wallet. The problem with consumption cannot solely be blamed on the individuals. It is a system problem!!! We need to 1) Make stuff actually last. and 2) Untie the relationship between consumption and our values Ultimately, stuff is just stuff. It should not determine your worth and the planet's future.
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Meagan Mak
Sep 13, 2022
In Member Introductions
Hello! I am Meagan. As an aspiring environmental scientist, I am very excited about this opportunity to make real-world, systematic changes toward sustainability. Climate/ eco-anxiety is a problem a lot of youth folks are struggling with, and I am thrilled to have this platform and community to help conquer it. Follow #UnleashValues to join me and my ENVR 430 classmates in discussing different #sustainability issues and coming up with potential solutions for a more sustainable future.
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