Wild Animals Keep our Cities Clean

CBC’s ecological science show is taking an unorthodox look at the vermin and critters in our cities by showing how they help us. On Jan. 31 The Nature of Things will air the episode, trailer above, all about how animals have adapted to urban environments and how those animals end up helping humans. It’s a neat approach to animals that otherwise get a bad reputation.

In Toronto, we join urban wildlife behaviour expert Suzanne MacDonald and Toronto Wildlife Centre Team Leader Andrew Wight on their hunt for the elusive opossum. Opossums are native to the southern United States, but in recent years, climate change has extended their habitat north to Canada. They look fierce and foreboding but they are one of the shyest scavengers of all. We discover how they help make our cities healthier by eating our refuse – they can even digest bone. They also eat and eliminate disease-laden ticks.

In Manhattan, we meet a team of young entomologists and learn the importance of ants in keeping city streets clean. There are over 2,000 ants for every human. The pavement ant, a rarely studied species, picks up and eliminates the food that people drop. These foraging ants can lift over ten times their weight and eat as much or more than rats in the city. Unlike rats, they do not transmit human diseases.

Check it out.

The Optimistic Environmentalist


David Boyd is sick of hearing doom and gloom when we talk about the climate and the environment. Sure, we’ve basically ruined this planet but there’s still good news out there and we can talk about the solutions. Indeed, we have the knowledge to save the planet and all we need to do is – do it!

When it comes to news about climate change and the environment, it has to be said that the vast majority of what you hear tends to be full of doom and gloom…our own show included.

In fact, it seems the more attention one pays to the state of the planet, the more hand-wringing and pessimism would be the only suitable reaction.

But David Boyd is here to say that the position of “environmental optimism” is not the oxymoron it may appear to be.

Listen to it here.

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