School of Environmental Studies Graduate Projects

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Projects submitted by Environmental Studies graduate students, in the Course-based Master's program, in partial fulfillment of the degree requirements.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 14
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    A Watershed Moment at the Fairy Creek Watershed? B.C. Forestry Policy and Punctuated Equilibrium Theory
    (2023-04) Legree, Davis
    Logging protests at Clayoquot Sound (1993) and at Fairy Creek (2021) targeted the harvest of old-growth trees in BC’s temperate rainforest. This paper examines these protests through the lens of punctuated equilibrium theory (PET) and evaluate their impact on provincial forestry regulations. Combining PET with a timeline analysis approach, this study contrasts the Fairy Creek protests with those that occurred at Clayoquot Sound a generation earlier. In both cases, the protests were linked to policy response in order to determine if a directional shift or ‘punctuation’ in B.C.’s forestry policy could be seen. It was determined that the Fairy Creek blockades have not yet led to major changes in B.C. forestry policy; by contrast, the events at Clayoquot Sound did result in rapid change in forest policy, satisfying the requirements to be labelled a ‘punctuating moment.’ The Fairy Creek protests failed to meet these criteria, possibly due to the relatively localized impact of these events - unlike Clayoquot Sound, Fairy Creek did not draw an international response. Notably, the objectives of the Fairy Creek blockade’s organizers in terms of desired policy changes essentially replicated the issues addressed following Clayoquot Sound, which meant that government response in the former case was incremental rather than punctuated. Unlike Clayoquot Sound, the Fairy Creek blockades should not be considered a watershed moment, but rather an individual manifestation of the deep-rooted conflict within the province’s logging industry. This paper’s findings have significant implications with regards to the evolution of forestry policy in B.C., as well as the potential for acts of civil disobedience to influence change in the sector.
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    Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Prevalent in Septic Tanks and Groundwater Resources
    (2022) Azani, Rayane
    The persistence and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria have increased in various water environments, including groundwater. Hospital settings, agriculture, and anthropogenic activities are very relevant as their contribution of antibiotic secretion from wastewater treatment plants into the aquatic environment has been concerning. Antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) have the ability to spread their resistance genes and duplicate in aquatic environments, possibly altering bacterial communities already present in those environments. As the UN and WHO have stated, the presence of resistant bacteria in aquatic settings can be labelled as a concern that could lead to major global health issues. This review focused on the prevalence of antibiotics, bacteria, and ARB in septic tanks and groundwater. The objective was to analyze whether concentrations of antibiotics secreted into groundwater from septic tanks, had the ability to turn bacteria in groundwater resistant. The method used looked at published antibiotic concentrations in groundwater, compared against experimental and estimated MSC values (MSC & MSCe) gathered from published literature to create risk factor profiles. The risk factor profiles determined the risk of resistance genes being activated at given concentrations, indicating that presented bacteria were at high probabilities of developing resistance. When using the experimental MSC values, results showed that amongst the 17 resistance genes, both the gyrA (S83L) and dhfr gene were observed to be above risk factors of 1 when exposed to ciprofloxacin and trimethoprim, respectively. After creating a risk factor profile using estimated MSCs (MSCe), antibiotics with risk factors nearing 1 were ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, and trimethoprim, with risk factors reaching 0.984, 0.864 and 0.592 respectively.
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    Different Means to an End: Exploring the Methods and Objectives of the Youth Climate Movement
    (2022-02) Ganslandt, Klara Emilia
    In September 2019, streets across the world filled with millions of children and youth demanding climate action, demonstrating the growing concern young people feel about their futures (Taylor, Watts, & Bartlett, 2019). However, protests are only one of the methods youths use to show their dissatisfaction with current climate change policies. Youth are also utilizing education, entrepreneurship, civil disobedience, legal actions, and many more methods to influence and challenge the social and economic system (O’Brien et al., 2018). While youth have gained increasing attention in popular media, their voices are still largely absent from the climate change literature (Petrasek MacDonald et al., 2013). The studies that have been done on the youth climate movement tend to focus on only one form of activism, often student strikes, and do not feature the youth activists themselves. This study is a cross-sectional, qualitative analysis on an organizational scale to examine the methods, objectives, and values of organizations in the youth climate movement in Canada. Nine leaders from eight youth-driven or focused climate change organizations utilizing different forms of activism participated in semi-structured individual interviews. The key goals of the youth climate movement appeared to be centered around solving the climate crisis, uplifting and empowering youth voices, achieving climate justice, changing policies and systems, and building networks and relationships. Furthermore, these goals and values are influenced by science, emotions, and sociocultural factors. The methods or tactics utilized ranged from protest to filmmaking- Overall, it appears that the movement is rather wide both in its scope and its choice of methods for change. These findings add much to the youth climate movement and social movement literature, even with this study’s limited scope. It gives a better understanding of the movement in Canada, offers a broader understanding of the movement by analyzing more than one form of activism, and it gives youth a voice in the literature. It also demonstrates how understanding youth as a form of marginalization is an important part of understanding the youth climate movement and how youth utilize this movement to renegotiate negative stereotypes about their civic engagement.
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    Assessing and addressing bird-window collisions on the Queen's University main campus
    (2021-10) Thaker, Maleeka
    The risk of bird–window collisions, currently one of the greatest anthropological threats to birds, is predicted to increase as urbanization expands. In Kingston, Ontario, a variety of local geographical features and protected areas draw birds near the Queen’s University main campus. To understand the risk of bird–window collisions at Queen’s University, surveys for collision evidence were conducted across 8 buildings on campus. Surveys were conducted 2-3 times per week from May to November in 2019 and 2020. Surveys adhered to standardized methodology from this field of research, with slight variation to accommodate the timing of local scavenging events. During these surveys, 172 instances of collision evidence were observed (2019: n = 82, 2020: n = 90). This value is an underrepresentation of the severity of the issue, however, given scavenging rates, limited survey time, and collisions that went unobserved. Of the buildings surveyed, the Biosciences Complex had the greatest number of recorded collisions (n = 39) and Humphrey Hall and the Craine Building had the greatest number of recorded collisions per minute of survey effort (x = 0.0127 ± 0.0024). The number of collisions observed was significantly greater at sites with large amounts of adjacent vegetation coverage as opposed to moderate amounts, as well as during bird migration seasons. To mitigate collision risk, Feather Friendly® (3M) mitigation film was applied to the Biosciences Complex and to the Craine Building. The film did not significantly reduce bird–window collisions, which may be due to partial application across both buildings and a need for more observation time. Going forward, I recommend including mitigation tactics in campus planning. Ultimately, as the creators of this threat, we have a responsibility to mitigate it for the sake of the birds that pass the Queen’s University main campus and the sustainable society we aspire to be.
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    A Review of the Potential Concerns Regarding In Utero Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (BTEX) in Household Paints
    (2014-05-22) Geen, Chelsea Elizabeth
    Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are found ubiquitously throughout the environment. Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, a combination also known as BTEX, are common VOCs found indoors. In particular, these compounds can be found in household consumer products such as paints and related organic solvents. Exposure to these compounds has been associated with adverse health effects. Of the BTEX compounds, benzene has been identified as a human carcinogen. Maternal inhalation of benzene may result in fetal exposure through transplacental migration from mother to fetus. To date, the specific mechanism of benzene toxicity remains unknown, but there is enough evidence to conclude that benzene exerts its toxic effects through reactive metabolites. Since pregnant mothers spend much of their time in the household environment, there is the possibility for in utero benzene exposure from indoor paints and paint solvents. Here, a review of VOC and BTEX properties is given, as well as current regulations and components of paints. This information is followed by a risk assessment for in utero exposure to paint fumes containing benzene as a model BTEX compound, using available data regarding human exposure and potential hazards to the fetus. Hazardous exposure of the fetus to paint fumes may occur at the earliest stages of gestation; however, as data used for risk quantification was limited, further research is needed to confirm this conclusion.