University of Calgary

November 2007


George Melnyk

Calgary Herald

Poppies key to Taliban defeat
Nov. 30, 2007

Taliban forces are weakening, but the way to ultimately eradicate insurgents in Afghanistan is by robbing them of their chief source of income: drug money.

That's the opinion of Maj-Gen. Tim Grant, former leader of Canada's military operations in the wartorn country.

Afghanistan is the world's largest heroin producing country, growing at least 90 per cent of the world's opium poppy supply in 2006.

There is no magic bullet to solving Afghanistan's poppy dependency, which represents between 80 and 90 per cent of their entire economy, said George Melnyk, co-chair of the consortium for peace studies at the University of Calgary.

American and British anti-drug armed forces remain committed to destroying crops and debate the virtues of plowing through poppy fields or spraying chemicals from the air.

"For the last five to six years, the per cent of opium being produced (in Afghanistan) for the world market has been increasing. . . ," said Melnyk. "They've had an eradication program for the last five years. It isn't working."

George Melnyk is an associate professor in the Faculty of Communication and Culture and co-chair of the Consortium for Peace Studies.


Shawn Marshall

Canmore Leader

Disappearing mountain glaciers
Nov. 28, 2007

Standing atop the highest mountain in the Rockies last summer, mountain guide Barry Blanchard couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
Accustomed to the sub-zero temperatures associated with nightfall at 3,954 metres above sea level, Blanchard was shocked to see the thermostat stay above eight degrees all night.

Dr. Shawn Marshall, a glaciologist with the University of Calgary, has been studying glaciers in the Canadian Rockies for the past seven years.

As a physicist who became fascinated by glaciers, he’s worked on icefields throughout the north, from Elsmere Island to Iceland.

He cites recent climate models that predict anything up to a seven degree temperature increase in Banff by 2080 – a temperature that he’s certain will wipe out all of the glaciers in the Rockies.

Marshall said the snow pack, which protects the glaciers from melting off under the summer sun, is being almost completely burned off by August.

“You see the glaciers completely out of equilibrium,” Marshall said. “You need 60 per cent of the glacier to be covered by snow (to maintain its size). This year, three per cent was covered by snow.”

Shawn Marshall is a glaciologist, climatologist and a professor in the Department of Geography

Stephen Herrero

The New York Times

The Bears Among Us

Nov. 25, 2007

It’s commonly thought that once bears associate humans with a tasty, high-energy meal — once they’ve learned that hitting a trash compactor or, for that matter, just two brimming bird feeders can deliver a day’s worth of calories — they’ll never go back to digging up carpenter ants. But as long as wild food is available, bears actually prefer it. When Lynn Rogers, a biologist who has worked with Minnesota black bears for 40 years, radio-tracked bears with easy access to human food, he still found bears working day and night for wild calla leaves a short distance away.

Stephen Herrero, an environmental scientist at the University of Calgary and author of the definitive “Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance,” cites a similar study from Yellowstone showing that when white-bark pine nuts were plentiful, human-bear conflicts in the national park dropped right off. >> more

Stephen Herrero is a world-renowned expert on bears and bear attacks and a professor emeritus in the Faculty of Environmental Design.

Anne Irwin

The Toronto Star

U.S. Army recruiting anthropologists; But scientists fear helping the military get 'local knowledge' may actually do harm
Nov. 25, 2007

In the United States, a controversial new military program called the Human Terrain System (HTS) embeds anthropologists with combat brigades in Iraq and eastern Afghanistan. Their job is to study local customs and help commanders reduce the use of force.

Proponents feel it's a way to lessen bloodshed. Others say it can only undermine the primary responsibility of anthropologists to, above all, do no harm to those whom they're studying…

Anne Irwin, a University of Calgary anthropologist who studies the Canadian military and has spent time in Afghanistan, says proponents "are quite naive" to say they can be in a position to help soldiers avoid civilian casualties because, while they may point out who not to target, "there's a corollary to that." They may be identifying the ones to target.

Anne Irwin, served in the Canadian Forces Reserve from 1972 to 1987, retiring as a Military Police officer with the rank of Major. She received her Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Manchester. Irwin has also conducted anthropological fieldwork with the First Battalion, The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry on training in Canada and while deployed in Afghanistan.


Rob Huebert

Toronto Star

Nov. 18, 2007

Antarctica, the new hot real estate

There's oil and gas in the Antarctic, too, which global warming may open up. But as the U.K. and others stake claims, scientists wonder what it would cost environments there, and ultimately the planet.

"This year represents a wake-up call," says professor Robert Huebert, a political scientist at the University of Calgary.

"For those of us who have been following the Arctic, there is a feeling that we are witnessing changes that have been 20 years in the making. There is a rare combination of political, strategic and cultural changes coming together: the Arctic is changing."

Rob Huebert is a professor in the Department of Political Science and associate director of the U of C’s Centre for Military and Strategic Studies. His research interests include international relations, strategic studies, Canadian foreign and defence policies, circumpolar relations and ocean politics.


Tom Noseworthy

Calgary Herald

Nov. 14, 2007

Albertans' medical tab highest in the nation

Alberta's massive medical tab continued to rise this year, with per capita health spending outpacing every other provincial government in the country, the Canadian Institute for Health Information reported Tuesday.

"The wealthy tend to spend more on health and health care," said Dr. Tom Noseworthy, a University of Calgary health expert. "When you look at countries around the world, health expenditures are proportional to wealth."

Dr. Tom Noseworthy is head of the Department of Community Health Sciences and a professor in the Faculty of Medicine.


Tamara Seiler

Calgary Herald

Nov. 9, 2007

A licence to change: Alberta plates to get a facelift

"It's a material thing that people use to construct their identity," argued Tamara Palmer Seiler, a professor in the faculty of communication and culture at the University of Calgary. "Symbolic markers mean a lot to people."

With people so passionate about their plates, the issue will stir up intense public debate in Alberta, said Palmer Seiler, who's authored a research paper on personalized licence plates.

"Alberta has become so urban. A lot of people might not have a sense of what a wild rose looks like or care less," she said. "It will be a search for some sort of unity in the province."

Tamara Palmer Seiler is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Communication and Culture whose research focusses on Alberta history, society and culture, including the popular culture of the Calgary Stampede.

David Lau

National Post

Children who stay up late at risk of obesity: study; Sleep Patterns
Nov. 5, 2007

Children who stay up past their bedtimes may not just be frustrating their parents -- their health may also be in jeopardy, according to new research.

A new U.S. study of nine-to 12-year-olds suggests that children who do not get enough sleep are also at an increased risk of being overweight. Pediatric researchers at the University of Michigan also found children's sleep patterns in the third grade could help predict their subsequent weight.

The results emphasize the fact that parents are not the only ones whose health is compromised by the fast-paced life, said Dr. David Lau, president of Obesity Canada and a professor of medicine at the University of Calgary.

"We live in a pressure-cooker society.

"This has now some spillover effects on our children," he said.

"This certainly will have implications in terms of the health of our children, and in terms of the obesity epidemic we're seeing more and more in children."

Dr. David Lau is a professor in the Faculty of Medicine's Department of Microbiology and Molecular Biology. His research focuses on obesity and diabetes and he is the president of Obesity Canada

Shelley Alexander

Montreal Gazette

Questions arise in case of
wolves killing man
Nov. 5, 2007

On Nov. 8, 2005, Kenton Carnegie became the first human in recorded history to be killed by wild wolves in North America, according to a coroner's inquest that wrapped up last week.

Or was he? The jury in the inquest was convinced that when the 22-year-old engineering student from Ontario headed out for an afternoon hike in the northern Saskatchewan woods, wolves were responsible for mauling him to death.

But Canada's wolf experts don't all agree - in part because no one witnessed the attack, overnight snow obscured any tracks made at the time and close contact of any kind between humans and wild wolves is extremely rare…

… "The jury's decision was a poor one, which I'd put in the same category as 'O.J. Simpson is innocent,' " said Paul Paquet, a large-carnivore biologist who specializes in bears and wolves.

Paquet, who says he's examined 1,000 animals killed by wolves and more than 100 killed by bears, testified at the inquiry into Kenton's death.

"For instance, the jury didn't see the incidence reports of aggressive black bears in the area in September and November (2005)," he said.

"And a lot was made of the fact (during the inquest) that bears are supposed to be in their dens by then. It isn't true."

Moreover, although Carnegie's stomach, kidneys and intestines had been eaten - organs of choice for black bears - his liver, heart and lungs were left behind.

Shelley Alexander, a professor at the University of Calgary who's studied wolves, agrees with Paquet's analysis. "Wolves will take the high-fat, internal organs of an animal first," she said.

Shelley Alexander is a professor in the Department of Geography. She has been a lead scientist on collaborative projects in Canada, Mexico, and Belize.
 
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