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Insects could disappear ‘all at the same time’: scientist

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A new research paper has come to the startling conclusion that without changes to the way we produce our food, “insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades.”

The review published in the journal Biological Conservation looked at 73 studies that measured the prevalence of insects, mostly in North America and Europe. They calculated that populations are declining at an average rate of 2.5 per cent annually.

Examples of the studies included are a 27-year-long study in Germany that found a 76 per cent decline in flying insect biomass and a 36-year-long study in Puerto Rican rainforests that found losses of 98 per cent of ground-foraging and 78 per cent of canopy-dwelling arthropods.

Study co-author Francisco Sanchez-Bayo, an ecologist at the University of Sydney in Australia, told CTV News Channel on Monday that we could lose insects “all at the same time.”

“They’re all going down in parallel,” he said.

Researchers identified four major causes for the declines, Sanchez-Bayo explained.

“The first one obviously is the habitat loss,” he said. “That’s due to agricultural practices, urbanization and deforestation.”

The second factor, he said, is “pollution by pesticides and industrial chemicals of different kinds.”

“A small contribution of biological factors like invasive species and pathogens” is the third factor, according to Sanchez-Bayo.

The fourth major cause — and least significant of the group, the researchers say — is climate change. “Not only the warming we’ve experienced in the last century but also the cyclones (are) devastating.”

The researchers say that “rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices, is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends.”

“In addition, effective remediation technologies should be applied to clean polluted waters in both agricultural and urban environments,” they write.

Sanchez-Bayo said that losing insects altogether would have dramatic impacts on other species – including humans – because we would lose all of the “ecosystem services they provide.”

“For example, pollination in the case of the bees or butterflies (and) some of the beetles as well,” he said.

“We have to bear in mind (that) insects provide the main food source for innumerable species of vertebrates,” Sanchez-Bayo added, pointing to birds, bats, frogs, reptiles and freshwater fish as examples. “All these other species of vertebrates will go down with the insects at the same time.”

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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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