Seven inspirational British Columbians in 2022

Seven inspirational British Columbians in 2022

From a heroic water rescue to saving bees to protecting people from mosquito-borne diseases, the people of British Columbia have been busy making the world a better place this year.

As British Columbians approach the end of 2022, they have much to be proud of, least of all their neighbors.

From scientific breakthroughs to finding a better way to do things – both for themselves and for the rest of the planet – the residents of this province have given back a lot this year.

Here are seven stories about British Columbia residents who made the world a better place in 2022.

Vancouver lab finds better way to wash clothes

Everyone has to wash their clothes at some point. But where does all that post-Christmas gravy and cranberry-stained water go?

Everywhere turns out.

Microplastics are everywhere – in arctic microorganisms, dead seabirds on remote islands and even on the tops of the world’s highest mountains. On some beaches, the sand has already been replaced by plastic waste.

It is not clear what impact microplastics have on animals and humans. But many scientists say the signs are not good.

“It’s a really big problem,” said Charlie Cox, manager of microplastic solutions at Ocean Wise. “Synthetic textiles are the main source of microplastic pollution in the sea.”

That’s what makes the results from a unique Vancouver lab this year so important. In November, nearly two dozen researchers from Patagonia, Samsung and Ocean Wise came together to study how synthetic clothing sheds microfibers as they go through the wash, rinse and spin cycles.

What they found: Setting your washing machine on the gentle cycle can reduce leakage of microscopic plastic particles by 70 percent.

The researchers called the results “game changing for ocean health” and urged other washing machine manufacturers to create products with built-in gentle, low-agitation wash cycles.

“What we’re encouraging now is that other washing machine manufacturers follow Samsung’s lead and start developing low-shedding settings and meet that standard,” Cox told Glacier Media.

BC-Scientist lends itself as a mosquito bait

Dan Peach has no problem pulling back a sleeve or exposing an earlobe for science. But this year, the mosquito researcher called on all British Columbians to beat and mail him mosquitoes.

This is all part of an ambitious mapping project aimed at uncovering the range of the 51 mosquito species already known to exist in BC

From there, Peach will use the maps in combination with projected temperature and precipitation changes to model how mosquitoes and the diseases they carry might spread due to a changing climate.

“We think those things are headed north already,” Peach said. “If the climate changes and some of these conditions change, where will they be in the future?”

After Glacier Media published the story in June, emails from BC residents asking for help began.

“Everyone should hear this story,” wrote one reader. “God stabbed bloody three times while gardening yesterday and could have saved the carcasses.”

What started with a scientist beating bugs to make the world a better place has grown into an army of British Columbians doing their part. As Peach said recently, there have been so many responses, “we’re having processing delays.”

BC explorer finds better way to recycle – it starts with pictures of cute animals in distress

The banana peel is easy. Organic right? But the dirty napkin? is it garbage Does it go on the compost heap?

Recycling can seem unnecessarily complicated. But do your part, and the benefits can add up.

Enter cute animals. In May, BC researchers teamed up with some Austrian colleagues to test the impact viewing photos of struggling marine life might have on recycling habits.

In a downtown Vancouver office tower, the researchers randomly changed eight floors of recycling stations into a mix of standard garbage signs, one promoting a promise to protect marine life and another with images of turtles trapped in blue plastic , or dolphins that drag sacks behind them with their fins.

They waited six weeks. When they returned, the pattern was clear: Signage featuring animal images had the greatest effect, reducing plastic waste by 17 percent, wrote UBC researcher and lead author Yu Lou in a study published in the journal Environment and Behavior last April.

Interestingly, most employees didn’t even realize they had changed their behavior. When the researchers interviewed them, only five percent said they had seen the posters.

Armstrong-Farmer Finds Styrofoam “Protective” Helps Keep Bees from Ejaculating to Death

Scores of honey bees died during the June 2021 heatwave from what one farmer described as death by ejaculation.

wait what

It turns out that bees can’t sweat. When the record-breaking heat set in, they went in search of water. They eventually fell to their deaths between the children’s pools and the beehives at Emily Huxter’s home in Armstrong, BC.

As she found carcass after carcass, she noticed something odd: In the clutches of heat stress, the diminutive farm animals’ sex organs had exploded from their bodies.

“It was incredible,” Huxter said of the scene. “They got all their man parts out.”

This extreme heat threatens more than bees or the honey they produce. The Armstrong Bee Farm is part of a network of beekeepers who provide $5 billion annually in Canada for crop pollination services.

Each year Huxter drives her colonies through the Okanagan Valley helping pollinate cherry, apple and plum trees near the US border from Osoyoos to Vernon.

As a second-generation beekeeper, Huxter’s Farm also raises queens for other beekeepers across Canada, helping to offset winter losses for colonies on the Prairies or Ontario.

It’s all part of a push to make the industry more self-sufficient and wean Canadian beekeepers off of queens imported from countries like Australia or the United States.

Rising temperatures, Huxter said, threaten that vision. So, after the June losses, the beekeeper thought, “How can we do better?”

Huxter, along with researcher Alison McAfee from the University of British Columbia’s BeeHIVE Research Center, put together an experiment to find out what works best.

In anticipation of another heat wave, Huxter fitted several beehives with thermometers. In some, she set up a steady drip of simple syrup — something her neighbor had tried. In others, she placed a two-inch piece of Styrofoam insulation on top.

While the drip did little to keep hive temperatures down, the styrofoam cover reduced average daily highs by 3.8C, a “significant reduction,” McAfee wrote in the beekeeping industry’s Hivelights newsletter earlier this year.

“It’s a step to better manage the colonies in these extreme conditions, which we should really expect to only increase in the future,” McAfee later told Glacier Media.

Canadian company uses drones to replant BC’s burned forests

When the six rotors of these heavy-duty drones spring to life, they propel over 1,500 seeds into an automated swarm that some hope will mark the beginning of a revolution in tree planting.

With the promise of rejuvenating forests from the air, tree-planting startups are trying to complement shovels and long workdays with swarms of seed-carrying aerial drones. A growing destination: BC’s burned forests.

Last spring, in its first commercial planting season, Flash Forest planted 150,000 trees, almost exclusively in wildfire-affected BC forests. This included land burned in the 2021 White Rock Lake fire east of Kamloops, as well as wildfire scars near Quesnel, 100 Mile House and northern BC

In October, Canada’s Department of Natural Resources announced it would support Flash Forest with a grant of more than $1.3 million. In two years, the government has commissioned the company to plant more than a million trees.

To date, the company has completed 37 projects involving 22 different tree species. But Flash Forest’s ambitions are much bigger — as Canada’s largest company of its kind, it plans to quadruple the number of trees it plants each year, aiming for a billion trees planted across the country by 2028.

If done under the auspices of the federal government, it would represent half of Canada’s goal of planting two billion trees by 2030.

“Reforestation is arguably the best solution we have to pull carbon out of the air,” said Bryce Jones, University of Victoria graduate and co-founder and CEO of Flash Forest.

Humpback whale gets a helping hand

A whale caught in a shrimp fishing gear received a helping human hand in October after the marine mammal rescue team came to the rescue.

Humpback whale populations have made a major comeback in BC waters over the past several decades. But with their growing numbers, they also face a challenge.

“Debris is a real problem for marine life,” Lara Sloane, the DFO’s communications advisor, said in an email after the rescue.

The fishing gear—lines from a buoy—appeared to be attached to the whale’s mouth.

Sloane said the public can help prevent entanglements by cutting packing material, tape, rope and other loop material before disposal and not discarding these materials into the marine environment.

An emergency test for an experienced sea swimmer

In another water rescue, swimmer Emilyn Golden was hailed as a hero after she dove into the sea to save a teenager who was washed ashore off West Vans Dundarave Beach in October.

The choppy water proved to be too much for the teenager, who Golden learned had autism and didn’t swim.

“Eventually I saw a little black dot and I said, ‘Is that him?'” she said.

When she reached him, his lips were purple and he was nervous as she approached.

His mom had popsicles on the beach, Golden said. So she smiled and told him he was a very good swimmer, “and we had a race.”

Slowly the two began to swim towards the shore together. But the teenager couldn’t continue and Golden held him up.

Eventually, a Kitsilano Coast Guard inflatable boat arrived and fished the two out of the water about 150 meters from shore.

When they got to shore, the boy’s mother came to hug Golden while she was sobbing.

Golden attributed their survival to their habit of regularly swimming in the sea throughout the winter.

“It really allowed me to stay calm and stay in control of the situation,” she said.

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