York professor disputes scientist’s claim that renewable energy hurts planet

A US scientist contends in a new paper in the International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology, that renewable energy is anything but green, wrote CanWest News Service July 26. Jesse Ausubel, of New York’s Rockefeller University, argues that mass construction of "boutique fuels" such as wind and solar farms will harm the environment more than help it.

But others are not as convinced of Ausubel’s science. Mark Winfield, a professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, said renewable energy doesn’t disturb land and, in most instances, makes use of already existing infrastructure. Wind farms incorporate farmer’s access roads, while solar panels are mounted on the roofs of buildings rather than spread over the land, Winfield said.

He criticized what he called Ausubel’s simple joule-per-square-kilometre approach, and said that such a reductionist view doesn’t take into account other trade-offs such as security, weapons proliferation and severe accident risks that come with nuclear power. "Those are all considerations you’d have to build into a meaningful policy decision-making framework."

York study will look at benefits to ATVers

A study at York University in Toronto says off-roaders might burn up calories as they burn up the trails, wrote the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal and The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) July 26. The team led by Norman Gledhill, a professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health, completed a pilot study showing that ATV drivers possibly benefit from increased heart rates. A new study will test the findings using a national sample including ATV riders. It will measure heart rate and oxygen consumption while riding vehicles, as well as the fitness characteristics of the sample group. The group expects to find strength-related physical benefits.

Marsden joined move against British boycott proposal

During the normally quiet months of summer on campus, Canadian university presidents have been near unanimous in their denunciations of a call by Britain’s largest professors’ union to consider a boycott of Israel’s institutions of higher learning, wrote the National Post July 26. Before bowing out as president and vice-chancellor of York University after a long tenure, Lorna R. Marsden de-constructed the logic behind the threatened boycott. Universities are not an extension of their government’s foreign policy, she pointed out, and the views of Israeli academics are far from monolithic, so painting them all with the same broad stroke was ill conceived.

York student focuses on the portrayal of ethnically mixed characters in literature

Adebe DeRango-Adem, a third-year student in York University’s English program, was featured in the Toronto Star’s Deep Thoughts column July 26. She is writing her thesis on a problematic theme in literary tradition: the disappearing mixed-race case. "Race is a really muddled sort of terrain," says DeRango-Adem. But there doesn’t seem to be much room for grey areas in contemporary Western books and poetry, where she finds that characters are often slotted into one racial category or another.

That doesn’t read right to DeRango-Adem, who thinks it’s time to examine the way the experiences of mixed-race characters are portrayed in literature. "In a so-called multicultural society, the experiences of a mixed-race individual need to be looked at critically," DeRango-Adem says.

DeRango-Adem’s own background is mixed. "I don’t have a problem explaining my own experience," she says. However, she’s writing a thesis, not an autobiography, so DeRango-Adem notes that her own life won’t be in the finished project.

Consumers may hold songbirds’ fate in their hands

Shame on you if you buy whiter-than-white toilet paper, paper towels, serviettes or tissues made from trees from Canada’s boreal forest, where about one quarter of all North American birds are born, wrote a reviewer for the St. Catharines Standard July 26. The production of these paper products degrades the environment according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental action group in the United States. I learned about NRDC after reading Silence of the Songbirds by Bridget Stutchbury, a professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, who earned her PhD at Yale studying purple martins. Married to a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Institute’s Natural Zoological Park, she divides her time between a home in north Toronto and a farm in Pennsylvania.

Stutchbury documents with impressive research the perils migratory songbirds face, why many species are sliding in population, and how our actions are contributing. The book is a cerebral, entertaining and touching plea to help our songbirds, in part by changing what we buy.

Life lessons help teens head out on their own

While automatic door openers and ramps help decrease worries associated with travel for persons with disabilities, Anu Missar, 18, discovered, after returning from a visit to her destination school, York University, that even though buses are equipped with passenger lifts, not all drivers know how to operate them, wrote the Oakville Beaver July 25. "Public transit was my number one difficulty," said Missar who has spina bifida and relies on a wheelchair to get around.

Vickers honoured by York

Chalk another impressive accomplishment up to Hazelton artist and motivational speaker Roy Henry Vickers, wrote BC’s Smithers Interior News July 25. Last month, Vickers was invited to receive an honorary degree from York University’s Faculty of Education and he also delivered the Convocation address during the graduation ceremony.

Vickers spoke to the students about his humble upbringing and how he became a highly successful artist and eventually, a human being. After studying the art and culture of First Nations people, Vickers found he was able to make a living as an artist. In the late 1980s, after one of his paintings was given to Queen Elizabeth, he became wildly successful but still was not happy. Sober since 1993, Vickers now tells his tale to people around the country as a sought-after motivational speaker.

University, academic reach settlement after six years

BC’s Simon Fraser University has expressed its "sincere regret" to academic David Noble six years after a controversy over the university’s handling of the appointment of the J.S. Woodsworth Chair in 2001, wrote The Globe and Mail July 26. Noble, a York University professor, had the backing of faculty in SFU’s Department of Humanities. The expression of regret for mistakes that were made and the personal impact of the mistakes on Noble’s life was part of an out-of-court settlement announced yesterday. The university acknowledged it made mistakes. However, the outcome may have been no different, even if the mistakes were not made, the university’s lawyers stated in a news release.

On air

  • York’s participation in the Phoenix Mars Scout Mission was mentioned in an item on CBC Radio (Halifax) July 25.