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Professor accuses Alberta MP of spreading ‘climate misinformation’ to school kids

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A University of Calgary professor says he’s concerned about what he calls “climate misinformation” presented by a Conservative member of Parliament last week to junior high students in Red Deer.

On Friday, Conservative MP Blaine Calkins was taking questions from Grade 7 and 8 students of É​cole La Prairie when one asked about the carbon tax.

A Radio-Canada reporter was in the room and recorded Calkins’ answer.

Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins’ tells grade 7 and 8 students that adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere can be a good thing. 1:23

Calkins told the students he and the federal Conservative party oppose the carbon tax, then expanded his answer to talk about pollution.

“First of all, right now the current government is pointing at it as a tax on pollution,” he said of the tax. “And whether or not you think carbon dioxide is pollution or not is, I still think, a question. I’m a biologist. I know that carbon dioxide is actually plant food, so there’s arguments for and against.”

Shawn Marshall, a professor at the University of Calgary’s department of geography and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Climate Change, said Calkins’ comments aren’t false but lack context.

“Of course plants need CO2,” Marshall said. “You know kids learn that by the time they get to Grade 7 or Grade 8. But the problem is that the plants are taking up CO2 but they’re not taking up enough to keep up with the CO2 that we’re burning.”

Calkins concluded his comments by saying that burning fossil fuels is having an impact on the environment, but questioned whether that has caused extreme weather events.

“There’s just more people now than there was before,” Calkins said. “So, when we have a major weather event, more people get affected, because the chances of it affecting people are that much higher.”

That statement also struck Marshall as a half-truth.

“The statement that he made is true, that we have a greater population that’s more vulnerable to these kinds of extreme weather events,” he said. “But there’s also this huge overprint of climate change on these extreme weather events.

“Those two things together are the reason why people are concerned about climate change.”

Marshall said such comments about climate change from politicians who disagree with the carbon tax aren’t new, but he was concerned they were made to junior high students.

“These kinds of statements are typical and they get frustrating after a while, because it’s designed to paralyze us a little bit,” he said. “This is very textbook, in that sense and it’s too bad it’s coming into the school system.”

Superintendent statement

Robert Lessard, superintendent of Conseil Scolaire Centre-Nord, issued a statement to Radio-Canada.

“I’m happy that our students care about important questions of our time,” Lessard said.

“We’re taking this as his [Calkins’] personal opinion. It belongs to him. In our classes, we teach about the biological cycle of carbon, about the environment and its impact on the planet. We talk about facts. There are ecological impacts that need to be taken care of.”

CBC News reached out to Calkins’ office on Monday for comment, but those calls were not returned.

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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