China joined the Arctic Council as an “observer” in 2013, as opposed to the participant Arctic States (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, U.S.) that have a more active and significant role in the Arctic.


Beijing announced plans to build a “Polar Silk Road” in 2018, which would consist of a network of Arctic shipping routes.

This week, I attended the webinar “Women Communicating Arctic Science | Gender in Transdisciplinary Research” with Dr. Amy Lauren Lovecraft and Dr. Alexandra Middleton.

Essentially, it was an open discussion on the role that women have in science — particularly Arctic science. It was a discussion concerning the existing gender biases in research, and how women struggle to defend their expertise in the fields that they have been studying for years.


This webinar was very eye-opening and focused on the open discussion of the emotional impact of being a woman in the field of science, and particularly of Arctic studies.

The Arctic is home to 4 million people, including indigenous communities, and includes 8 countries (Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the United States).


There is a lot of biodiversity that exists in the Arctic, including whales, polar bears, Pacific salmon, Arctic wolves and Arctic foxes. Overall, the Arctic is home to more than 21,000 known species of mammals, birds, fish, invertebrates, plants, fungi, and microbe species. This vast biodiversity provides food to millions of people and huge cultural significance.

I wish I could tell you for sure that coral reefs are going to make a comeback.

But the fact is that the world’s coral reefs are critically endangered, and nothing will change this fact unless drastic actions are taken — and taken soon. Like, yesterday.


You might be wondering “Why should we care about coral reefs in the first place?” Fasten your seatbelts.

“Why should we care about coral reefs in the first place?”

1. Food

Half a billion people are estimated to live within 100 kilometers of a coral reef, which means that many people depend on them to provide marine life habitats for food production. …

I have learned about urban ecology and planning in several of my graduate courses, and one of the designs I came across specifically caught my attention.

It is an urban design concept entered into the Nordic Built Cities Challenge called “The Soul of Nørrebro”. The design is for Hans Tavsens Park and Korsgade in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A digital rendering of what the completed urban design will look like. (

Copenhagen is an urban neighborhood that experiences frequent flooding, so The Soul of Nørrebro project focuses on mitigating those impacts by establishing new ecosystems. At the same time, the project will provide new social spaces and enhance public interconnection.

The project will cost $19…

I was a strict vegetarian for nearly 3 years. I think it is an interesting, however haphazard, personal story.

Growing up, my friends used to call ME an animal because of how much meat/food I ate. I would out-eat my 240-pound friends with steak and ribs at restaurants. I sort of became a meme for my eating habits.

So when I told them that I was a vegetarian, they all laughed at me. They didn’t believe me. They thought I was joking.

I actually know the exact date that I stopped eating meat because I took a Snapchat picture of…

This is going to more of an introspective post because I am feeling…well, introspective.

Why is it so hard to get people (and governments) on board with sustainability?
It is obviously important. We have the science to back it up.

I have learned a little about this topic in school. Part of the nonchalant attitude toward climate change and global warming comes from the fact that people feel far away from it; they are not directly affected by it, so they don’t feel that it is a real issue that needs to be addressed.

Maybe this will make it more…

I don’t know about you, but I always felt like it was impossible to make a sustainable impact by myself. How could one person make any difference at all in helping the environment?

Well, the truth is that it is hard for one person to make a huge impact — unless they have their own plane and fly out to Paris for escargot every weekend. In that case, all they’d have to do to be more sustainable is…well, stop flying to Paris every weekend.

But for us regular folks, a positive difference can be made collectively.

These 5 small changes…

I’m not sure why everyone wants the same flat, boring lawn in the city. Fresh cuts all the time. It must be sharp. It must be short. It must not have anything special or unique growing at all in it, otherwise it is unkempt and raises eyebrows from suspicious neighbors.

But why? What made us want this uniformity in our lawns that is honestly just dull? Who cares about a few weeds here and there? What about flowers and little blossoms? …

Ayla Kanber

I am a research scientist and Sustainability Management graduate student at Columbia University. I love to share the sustainable practices that I learn about!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store