How protesters kept the pressure on at the Paris climate talks

iPolitics Wed Dec 23 2015 By: D.B. Tindall

D.B. Tindall, an associate professor of sociology at UBC, writes about the role of environmental protestors during the recent climate talks in Paris, in a piece in iPolitics.

“In the days following the agreement, it became evident from the statements of various movement leaders, such as Bill McKibben (of, and Elizabeth May (of the Canadian Green Party), that part of the reason for qualified optimism is that many environmentalists see the agreement as an tool/opportunity to put further pressure on governments to do more, and they see protest as a mechanism to hold governments to account,” writes Tindall.

Give, if you know what’s good for you

New York Times Thu Dec 24 2015 By: Elizabeth W. Dunn and Ashley Whillans

Elizabeth W. Dunn and Ashley Whillans report on a study that shows that generosity can provide physical health benefits in the New York Times.

“We discovered that the more money people had reported spending on others, the lower their blood pressure was two years later,” they write. “Our research points to the conclusion that embracing the spirit of generosity may not only be heartwarming; it may also be good for the heart.”

Did Egypt’s Old Kingdom die—or simply fade away?

National Geographic Thu Dec 24 2015 By: Andrew Lawler

A National Geographic article looks at one of the most dramatic instances of climate change in human history. Around 2200 B.C., ancient texts suggest that Egypt’s so-called Old Kingdom gave way to a disastrous era of foreign invasions, pestilence, civil war, and famine. In the past decade, climate data revealed that a severe and long-term drought afflicted the region.

“The majority view today is that the Old Kingdom did not come to an end all of a sudden,” says Thomas Schneider, professor of Egyptology at UBC.

Mulcair: Should He Stay or Should He Go?

The Tyee Wed Dec 23 2015 By: Jeremy J. Nuttall

UBC political science professor Michael Byers is quoted in a Tyee article that discusses whether or not Tom Mulcair should remain leader of the NDP.

Byers, who worked on Mulcair’s leadership campaign in 2011-12 believes that Mulcair’s name recognition and general good favour with the Canadian public, along with his strong presence in the House of Commons, provides a good case for him to stay on as party leader.

“I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t respect Tom in terms of him being a principled man,” Byers said. “They refer to his stance on C-51 and on the niqab both as instances where he bucked public opinion on principle. That is unusual and also valuable.”

UBC student Ann Makosinski wins $50K for phone-charging mug

CBC Wed Dec 23 2015

Ann Makosinski, a first-year University of British Columbia student, has won $50,000 for inventing a travel mug that can charge phones by using the heat from hot beverages to create energy.

Makosinki’s creation won the Quest Climate Change Grant on Dec. 16. She recently debuted the creation on the Tonight Show with host Jimmy Fallon.

The story appeared on CBC and 24 Hours.

Salvadoran dad who spent years in sanctuary at B.C. church free to leave

Canadian Press Tue Dec 22 2015 By: Tamsyn Burgmann

Canadian Press story about Jose Figueroa, a man who escaped El Salvador and sought sanctuary in a church in Langley, features UBC professor Maxwell Cameron. In 2013, Figueroa received a deportation order because he admitted to participating in a revolutionary movement during a civil war in his homeland in the 1980s. He has now been granted permission to stay in Canada and seek permanent residency.

“Calling someone who was part of the popular resistance a terrorist … goes against the historical record and exposes the lack of nuance in the application of our legislation,” said Cameron, director at the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions.

Climate change, El Nino bring balmy December in parts of Canada, scientists say

CBC Wed Dec 23 2015

University of British Columbia climate scientist Simon Donner is quoted in a CBC story about warmer than usual weather across Canada in November and December.

While El Nino accounts for some of the warmth, Donner explains that climate change is also playing a role.

“The reason that it’s breaking temperature records is because you have the El Nino event on top of the fact that the planet is slowly warming,” said Donner. “El Nino would mean a mild winter in a lot of Canada. El Nino plus global warming means a record-breaking warm winter.”

Spending cash brings both frequent and intense joy, finds study

Daily Mail Tue Dec 22 2015 By: Stacy Liberatore

A UBC study about the happiness and joy we feel from buying gifts is featured in the Daily MailResearchers found that purchasing material goods gives us more frequent joy over the course of weeks and month compared to the happiness we get from an experience. Experiences provide intense feelings at first but eventually fade.

“The decision of whether to buy a material thing or a life experience may therefore boil down to what kind of happiness one desires,” said Aaron Weidman, one of the researchers and a UBC student.

Similar stories also appeared in MetroHuffington Post and others.

BIV 2015 Year in Review

Business in Vancouver Mon Dec 21 2015 By: Jen St. Denis and Timothy Renshaw

UBC professors comment on the big news stories of the year in Business in Vancouver‘s Year in Review.

In a story about Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, UBC economics professor Kevin Milligan discusses income inequality and the Liberal leader’s economic plans for the country.

Tsur Somerville, a professor at the Sauder School of Business, weighs in on a story from March about high house prices in Vancouver and home ownership for residents under the age of 40.

John Innes, dean of the Faculty of Forestry, speaks about the economic impact of the forest fires that swept through the province in July.

Who is buying homes on Vancouver’s Angus Drive?

BC Business Mon Dec 21 2015 By: Jacob Parry

A BCBusiness investigation into property transactions in Vancouver quotes David Ley, a UBC professor of geography.

The story delves into the factors driving Vancouver’s luxury property market by investigating transactions along Angus Drive, on the city’s westside.

Canada and Denmark keep relations warm in Arctic island dispute

Toronto Star Mon Dec 21 2015 By: Jim Coyle

UBC political science professor and Arctic expert Michael Byers and a colleague from Denmark have proposed a solution to a dispute between Canada and Denmark, writes the Toronto Star.

Hans Island, a 1.2-square-km rock, has been a point of dispute in the boundary markings between Canada and Denmark’s Greenland since the boundaries were established in a treaty in 1973.

Byers and his Danish colleague, Michael Boss, have put forward the Aarhus Declaration, which proposes that the dispute over Hans Island be resolved by “creating a condominium of shared authority.”

The year in photos

The Globe and Mail Tue Dec 22 2015

John Lehman’s best photos from the past year are featured in the Globe and Mail including a photo of a B.C. ballet dancer behind the Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

Study shows material things can bring happiness

Gizmodo Mon Dec 21 2015 By: Esther Inglis-Arkell

Gizmodo reports on a new study by UBC psychologists that examined whether receiving a gift can bring as much happiness as participating in an experience. By tracking the happiness of the participants over two weeks, researchers found that experiential gifts gave more intense happiness during the experience but material gifts made people happier more frequently over the time.

New course in public policy and global affairs

The Hindu Mon Dec 21 2015

A new two-year master’s program in public policy and global affairs at UBC is highlighted in a new article in The Hindu.

These dogs have a good sense of humour

Tech Times Fri Dec 18 2015 By: Alyssa Navarro

UBC psychology professor and canine expert Stanley Coren believes some dogs actually have a good sense of humour, while some do not. In a Tech Times article, Coren also recommended that people hoping to adopt a dog should look for one that matches their temperament.