Sunday, 31 July 2011

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Arctic Scientist Who Exposed Climate Threat to Polar Bear is Suspended

Suzanne Goldenberg - guardian.co.uk - 28/07/11
US government conducts 'integrity inquiry' on federal biologist amid lobbying by oil firms for Arctic permits. Details here.
My Grandson admires a fake bear at the zoo.
One day, will that be all that's left? PLT photo.

Latest DFO Scientist Muzzling Part of Bigger Pattern Ignored by Media

The Common Sense Canadian - 27 July 2011 - by Rafe Mair
The revelation by two Vancouver newspapers that a Department of Fisheries scientist has been muzzled simply underscores how badly they have covered environmental matters in general. Details here.

Mindless Consumers Force Campbell's to Put More Salt Back in Their US Soup!

W. Gifford-Jones MD - 07/22/20 - Wpg. Free Press

Consumers killing themselves with salt. Details here.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Pakistan Floods - a Year Later

July 27'11 UN - Rome
Smallholders helped back on their feet - but further support needed. Details here.
UN photo

The US House Passes a Bill to Fast-Track the Proposed Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

NRDC Switchboard - Susan Casey-Lefkowitz’s Blog - July 27'11
House under-estimates public concern over oil pipeline spills with bill to rush Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Details here.

PLT: Mercifully, this stupid bill passed by the majority cement-heads in the House, will likely not pass the Senate. So, maybe there is still hope (maybe)! 
Please watch video, "Say no to the ....pipeline...."

Is The Kremlin Now In Charge? Harper Government Silencing Canadian Artists And Scientists

07/27/11 - 350 or bust
The Harper Government is sending out a clear message at home and abroad that if your politics are not correct your art shouldn’t be shown, and if your findings are inconvenient your science doesn’t matter. Details here.                                                                                           
 Harper rendering by PLT
PLT: I wrote the following after reading the "comments" section following the newspaper article. 
"The Sun story is excellent. I'd suggest that those who'd like to discredit the paper and its reporters are Harperites who'd rather defend his misguided efforts to stifle science than hear the truth. The "commenter" who actually believes that the journal Science is "activist" would feel right at home with conspiracy theorists everywhere. The only thing the paper missed in this story was Harper's shameful record at muzzling the science of climate change itself, so Canada can prosper in his image as an ugly 'petro state.'"

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Hungary Destroys All Monsanto GMO Maize Fields

Green Economy 22 July 2011
In an effort to rid the country of Monsanto's GMO products, Hungary has stepped up the pace. Details here.

$100 MILLION EMERGENCY CHANNEL CONSTRUCTION PROCEEDING TO LOWER LAKE MANITOBA, LAKE ST. MARTIN LEVELS




Manitoba News Release - July 26, 2011

The Manitoba government will start construction on an emergency channel out of Lake St. Martin immediately, and Lake Manitoba outflows through the Fairford River water control structure will be unrestricted throughout the winter, as recommended by independent engineering firms KGS and AECOM.  

50% more snow than normal last
winter was a sinister precursor of 
unprecedented flooding in this 
province in 2011. PLT.
 If construction can be completed by this fall, levels on both lakes would be lowered before spring run-off begins, reducing the likelihood of flooding in 2012. 

Several different options were examined by KGS and AECOM with technical support from Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation and Manitoba Water Stewardship.  The option to quickly build an emergency channel that will allow for ongoing maximum flows through the Fairford River water control structure was assessed as the best option to provide emergency relief from high lake levels, and protect homes and communities along lakes Manitoba and St. Martin.  The assessment is based on data which includes site visits, topographic analysis, seismic bedrock investigation, aerial photography, LIDAR surveying and geotechnical work.

The Lake St. Martin emergency channel will go from Lake St. Martin to Big Buffalo Lake.  The channel is expected to handle flows of up to 9,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), depending on lake levels when the channel becomes operational.  From Big Buffalo Lake, the water will follow natural channels to the Dauphin River.  Both Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin currently drain into Lake Winnipeg through the Dauphin River.  This emergency channel is expected to affect Lake Winnipeg's North Basin levels by less than one inch, which is approximately 0.5 per cent of Lake Winnipeg's inflows.  Lake Winnipeg levels are expected to drop by two feet before the Lake St. Martin channel becomes operational and Lake Winnipeg's flood risk will not be affected by the operation of the channel. 

The five-mile emergency channel is expected to be 300 ft. wide and up to 25 ft. deep.  Details of the construction project are being finalized and consultation with the affected First Nations communities will continue as the project proceeds on an emergency basis.  It is expected to involve the excavation of as much as 2.5 million cubic metres of earth, *50 pieces of heavy equipment and 150 staff.  Preliminary work has already started at the construction site. 

The report from KGS and AECOM is available at www.manitoba.ca/floodwww.manitoba.ca/flood.
====
PLT. Just add this to the spiralling costs of doing nothing about climate change! *And, of course those 50 pieces of heavy equipment will only be emitting water vapour!

Stephen Harper's Bully Boys Pick on a Gifted Canadian for her "Green" Art Work

Gifted Canadian artist Frankie James has become the latest target of the bullying Harper government. According to James, an award-winning author with two masters degrees, Harper's henchmen are actively working to scuttle her Europeon art show! All because she thinks we should do something about climate change - and says so in her art! Details here.  
PLT: Remember how Harper promised on election night to be a Prime Minister "for all Canadians?" He lied.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Climate Change Threatens to Spoil Ontario’s Signature Wines

Globe & Mail Jul 23-11
Ontario’s wine makers are fighting to protect their grapes against Mother Nature’s wrath. Details here.

"PLT" Takes a Former Ambassador to Task for Bullshit Comments on the Keystone XL Pipeline



PLT: Below is an email I sent to "The House" this morning. It followed a very disturbing interview this CBC Radio show did with two former Ambassadors. One, Derek Burney (former Canadian ambassador to the US), dismissed opponents of the climate-killing project, the XL pipeline, as "highly emotional!"
If you enjoy this blog, please consider  
donating to the author to keep it going.  
Just click on the link below 
Thanks!  Larry

Dear Ms. Elliott, (Host)
Derek Burney's argument that opposition to the tar sands pipeline in to the US is spurred by "violent emotion" is outrageous. Sadly,  it reveals that he is nothing more than another cheerleader for dirty energy, with dollar signs where his heart should be. 
Another climate crook.
Where's the violence, Mr. Burney? 
Where's the emotion? I haven't heard of any environmentalists blowing anything up to support their case. Has he? Is it emotion that the Alberta tar sands are huge emitters of greenhouse gases which are feeding catastrophic climate change? It seems to me there is mounting science - not emotion - behind this conclusion. Is it emotion that the tar which will travel through this misguided project is very corrosive and needs to be forced under heat and pressure, increasing the risk of spills? Tell me I'm wrong, Mr. Burney. Unless you do, you have nothing more to tell me, or anyone else for that matter!
Larry Powell,
Roblin, Manitoba
=====
Footnote: According to Wikipedia, Burney is also a Director of TransCanada Pipelines Limited, proposed builders of the pipeline. Gee, what a surprise for him to be taking the position he is taking! No vested interest there! 
===
Please read the happy ending to this tale of woe here.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Say NO to the Keystone XL Tar Sands Oil Pipeline (Video - Natural Resources Defense Council)

The US Secretary of State must decide by year's end whether to allow construction of a massive pipeline carrying dirty tar sands oil from Alberta all the way to the Texas Gulf coast. Watch the video and find out more of the disturbing facts.

Heat, Drought, Famine All Part of Coming Increase Of Climate-Related Disasters

Alternet - Jul 22-11
Climate change will "exponentially" increase the scale of natural disasters -- so when are we going to take this threat seriously? Details here.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Green Party of Saskatchewan Alarmed by Outcome of Canada's Annual Energy & Mines Ministers' Conference

Press Release    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JULY 20, 2011

The Green Party of Saskatchewan today expressed "profound disappointment" in the outcome of Canada's annual energy and mines ministers' conference, held on Monday and Tuesday in Kananaskis, Alberta. 


Party leader Larissa Shasko (r.) said,
"Instead of planning for an economically and ecologically sustainable green energy future in Canada where jobs will be created and pollution reduced, the energy and mines ministers have irresponsibly chosen to go the route of increased tar sands extraction that will take Canada and the rest of the world past the tipping point of climate change.

"In describing the Alberta tar sands as a 'sustainable major supplier of energy to the world', the ministers' communiqué distorts the English language to the breaking point. Non-renewable, high-carbon fossil fuels are by their very nature unsustainable," continues Shasko. 


We are already seeing the early impacts of climate change globally in record floods, record droughts, record temperatures, increasingly severe storms, the steady decline of arctic pack ice, and the melting of glaciers worldwide. Weather is becoming more extreme - and not only in rainfall and temperatures in the prairies. This year so far has seen 900 new temperature records in the USA alone and serious drought throughout the US southwest, as well as prolonged and unprecedented floods in Colombia and the developing tragedy of drought in the horn of Africa. 


Professional energy consultant Dr Mark Bigland-Pritchard, who ran for the Green Party in the federal election, pointed out that a graph used in the ministers' report to emphasise "growing global energy demand" describes the International Energy Agency's "current policies scenario", in which increased carbon dioxide emissions would result in a 6 degrees Celsius rise in global average surface temperatures by the end of the century. This would mean, amongst other things, irreversible loss of the polar icecaps, the loss to fire and die-back of most of the world's great forests, and the loss of much oceanic life through acidification. "It is unlikely", says Bigland-Pritchard, "that human civilization could continue for long in such an environment, because of unpredictable and extreme weather, the massive loss of agricultural land, the flooding of major centres of population, the inevitable wars over scarce basic resources, and the destructive impact of failed states." 


The Green Party of Saskatchewan insists that such a global catastrophe is not inevitable, and that as a province we have much to gain by doing our fair share to avoid it. Bigland-Pritchard notes the 300 thousand jobs created so far in the green energy sector in Germany. "By making a radical shift to energy efficiency and clean safe renewable energy sources," said Shasko, "we could create local jobs, strengthen local economies and build local communities throughout Saskatchewan." Saskatchewan has the best solar characteristics and the best usable inland wind resource in Canada, good hydroelectric resources, substantial potential for sustainable biomass and deep geothermal energy, and massive scope for energy efficiency savings. 


"Given the real enduring long-term opportunities which a green energy economy would bring," said Bigland-Pritchard, "I cannot help wondering why Brad Wall and Bill Boyd choose to pursue policies which privilege oil executives in the short term and cockroaches and mosquitoes in the longer term. They could instead be building a truly sustainable society in which our children can be proud to be citizens." 


"A Green government", said Shasko, "would place value on providing for our children, not stealing from them."   

- 30 –  
For more information, contact
Dr Mark Bigland-Pritchard, Professional Energy Consultant,
Mobile:  306.827.7431, Home: 306.997.5721
mark@lowenergydesign.com
Larissa Shasko, Green Party of Saskatchewan Party Leader,
Mobile:  306.690.1404, Home: 306.692.7925
Larissa.Shasko@gmail.com


PLT: Well done, Larissa! You are are a true asset to your country! 

Climate Change’s is Threatening Global Security - UN's Ban Ki-moon Warns

20 July 2011 – UN
Climate change is a real threat to international peace and security, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today….Details here.

UN photo

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Harper Disgraces Us All Once Again!

If you enjoy this blog, please consider 
donating to the author to keep it going. 
Just click on the link below.
Thanks! - Larry
                                                                                                      
Dear Editor,

Well, it looks as if Prime Minister Harper and his government are once again taking Canada's world reputation on a race to the bottom.

Many Canadians were already shaking their heads in disbelief when Mr. Harper disgraced this country's good name by turning his back on a binding international agreement to limit greenhouse gases which cause global warming.

Now, its asbestos. 
A Cdn. asbestos mine.
The Prime Minister's newly-minted government has brazenly refused to sign another international treaty which would simply have warned of its dangers. Asbestos causes deadly diseases including lung cancer. 
 (r.) This 58-year-old Canadian died in 2004 from mesothelioma, a cancer associated with asbestos exposure. (Courtesy Scotland on Sunday.)
Yet Ottawa continues to spin this indisputable fact because of the money it brings to the province of Quebec, where it is mined and exported abroad, often to developing countries. There, regulations are often lax, and those who are exposed to it have little knowledge of its deadly effects.

My own MP, Robert Sopuck (Conservative, Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette, l.), suggests there is confusion over the fact that there is more than one kind of such fibre in the world. 
Bob Sopuck, Honourable Member for "Asbestos East"
In an email to me, he points to "scientific reviews" which show the risks posed by the kind which Canada mines and exports "can be managed if adequate controls are put in place."  He doesn't spell out what scientific reviews he is referring to. 

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, Canada's asbestos exports contribute to cancer epidemics which kill 90,000 people, yearly! Not much room for confusion there, Mr. Sopuck!

Yet he refuses to admit that it is the Canadian kind that's responsible. He claims health problems showing up today are a result of "poor handling methods and high exposure levels, which were abandoned in the late '70s!"
 

I watched a TV documentary just a few months ago (not 3 decades), showing workers in India handling raw asbestos with their bare hands and nothing more than a kerchief over their faces! 
Courtesy, the Sierra Club
Are these the safe handling methods Mr. Sopuck implies are in use today?

His heroic attempts to divert attention from his government's outrageous behaviour simply do not fly with me. Nor will they, I trust, with many of my fellow Canadians.  Besides, if there are ways to handle asbestos safely, why didn't his government just sign the agreement so these could be included on the labels?                    

Sadly, that's not all.

Two years ago, according to the Ottawa Citizen, the government Mr. Sopuck now represents, covered up evidence from credible Health Canada scientists, tying asbestos to lung cancer. In the words of the newspaper, "It appears the government employs a variety of measures to suppress information on the threat to health posed by Canada’s asbestos."


Then, there's a final irony. Canada has, for years, been diligently removing asbestos from our own public buildings and even the Prime Minister's residence, because of the dangers it poses. If Mr. Harper is so convinced of its safety, why did he not simply leave it where it was?

Another disturbing aspect of all of this is the aura of environmentalism Mr. Sopuck has chosen to cloak himself in, while running for office and since. 


He regularly points out he was once a member of the National Round table for the Environment and Economy. Since his election, he has been chosen to serve on the Standing Commons Committee for the Environment and Sustainable Development.

Call me crazy. But would you not expect someone with his credentials, rather than defending such obvious affronts to anyone with a reasonable, environmental conscience, to be speaking out against them, instead?


Could it be that Canada is now a henhouse, firmly in the control of a strong, stable, national majority of Conservative foxes?

Larry Powell
Roblin, Manitoba
=====
References: "Canada's Asbestos Shame"
"Asbestos & Canada's Shame"




Manitoba Crop Report: Things Turn Hot & Dry

08/19/11 Manitoba CO-OPERATOR
After several months of cool wet weather, Manitoba has turned hot and dry... Details here.
Around Rosetown, Sask., 
farmers say they're worried 
the worst drought in decades 
could be underway. (CBC)

Please also read: Parched Prairies: Latest Drought a Sign of Things to Come? A university of Regina professor calls it climate change!

Climatologist Dave Phillips Blames Climate Change for Destructive Storms

The Canadian Press - Jul 19-11
OTTAWA - The freak windstorm that toppled the main stage at the Ottawa Bluesfest may be a sign of weather to come, warns a top climatologist. Details here.
PLT: I'd like to applaud Mr. Phillips for finally using the term "climate change," publicly. More and more scientists such as himself are moving away from the old line that "you can not link climate change to any particularly freak weather event." These freak events are becoming so common and widespread, only the most hidebound of "climate-denier" can any longer argue with any credibility against the fact that climate change is real, it is happening now and is very ominous, indeed.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Use of a Herbicide has Taken Away a Home for Monarch Butterflies.

New York Times. Jul 15'11 
As recently as a decade ago, farms in the Midwest were commonly marred — at least as a farmer would view it — by unruly patches of milkweed. Details here.

Stop the Tar Sands Pipeline!

Natural Resources Defense Council - 07/15/11 
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry
dirty tar sands oil from Canada’s Boreal forest to refineries in Texas, destroying songbird habitat, fueling global warming and threatening drinking water for millions of Americans.


Take action now.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

US Opens Canada to GM Grass Contamination

Press Release: July 13, 2011, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network

 US Department of Agriculture will not regulate genetically modified bluegrass, decision could be applied to future GM crops

Ottawa. Canadian environmental groups today expressed new concerns about a serious threat of contamination from genetically modified (GM) plants across the U.S. border after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) decided last week not to regulate a GM herbicide-tolerant grass, potentially opening the door to similar decisions on future GM crops.

U.S. company Scotts Miracle Gro is now free to sell its herbicide-tolerant “Roundup Ready” Kentucky bluegrass in the U.S., without regulatory oversight. In an exchange of letters with Scotts, the USDA declared that it lacked authority over the new GM bluegrass because Scotts did not use a certain “plant pest” in the process of genetically engineering.

Superweed rendering by Paul Hoppe
“GM grass is a nightmare scenario for contamination into Canada,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, “GM plants do not stop at our border. To make matters worse, the grass is engineered to be tolerant to Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, so the GM grass will add to the spread of superweeds. Herbicide tolerant weeds are already a major problem for U.S. farmers.”

“This is a transparent effort to avoid any government oversight,” said George Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety, a U.S. sustainable agriculture non-profit. “USDA’s rubberstamp here illustrates a larger regulatory disfunction: the placing of biotech profit above protection of the environment and public.”

“Its unacceptable that corporations are being given the green light to contaminate our environment with genetically modified plants, and for what? Weed-free lawns and golf courses?” said Sharon Labchuk of EarthAction PEI.

“Genetically modified alfalfa plantings in the US are already a profound contamination concern for Canadian farmers, although we know GM alfalfa is under legal challenge,” stated Maureen Bostock of the Ecological Farmers of Ontario, “Because grasses and alfalfa are perennial, their contamination will just keep spreading year after year.”

“In the case of this GM grass, US regulation has gone from weak to nonexistent,” said Eric Darier of Greenpeace, “The stage is now set for the testing and commercial release of GM crops in the U.S. without any oversight whatsoever.”

Scotts licensed the “Roundup Ready” GM herbicide-tolerant technology from Monsanto which markets the brand-name Roundup herbicide. The GM Kentucky bluegrass is intended for lawns while Scotts also has a GM creeping bentgrass, intended for use on golf courses, that has been on the list for commercialization since 2002. Scotts was fined $500,000 in 2007 after its GM bentgrass spread from from field tests in Oregon.

-30-
For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267 ext 25; George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety, 415 826 2770; Sharon Labchuk, EarthAction PEI, 902 621 0719; Maureen Bostock, Ecological Farmers of Ontario, 613 259 5757; Eric Darier, Greenpeace, cell 514 605 6497.

The Great American Carbon Bomb

Jul 14 '11 TomDispatch.com

These days, even ostriches suffer from heat waves. Details here.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

CBAN Clarifies Canada's Position on GM Food Labelling.

On July 11th, PLT reported that regulators from more than 100 countries had agreed on guidance on the labelling of GM foods. Read: "Consumer Rights Victory as US Ends Opposition to GM Labelling Guidelines"

I then asked Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network to clarify what Canada's position is on this old and contentious issue. Here is her response.  (Emphasis mine.)
======

Dear Larry,

Thank you for your question.

Canada allowed the Codex agreement to be finalized, after trying to stop it and/or sabotage it in various ways over the years.

So, officially Canada has agreed to the Codex labelling guidance which, according to the Codex press office: "World food standard body, the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission has stated that governments are free to decide on whether and how to label foods derived from modern biotechnology, including foods containing genetically-modified organisms. The labelling should be done in conformity with the text approved by the Codex Commission, to avoid potential trade barrier. The decision, which will help inform consumers' choices regarding genetically-modified foodstuffs, was taken at the 34th Session of the Commission, held inGeneva from 4-9 July 2011.  More than 600 delegates from 145 of the 184 member countries, UN, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations attended."

As you know, however, the Canadian government does not support mandatory labelling in Canada.

The Codex guidance is not mandatory so no country is compelled to label.


Please let me know if you would like further information or clarity. Thanks, Best, Lucy

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Happy 100th Birthday Parks Canada!

Nature Canada - The Parks Canada Agency, the World's oldest parks service, is reaching an important milestone: 100 yrs. of overseeing one of the most extensive, best-managed & highly-respected parks systems in the world. Details here.
In or near Jasper National Park. 
All photos by PLT.






Canada Mimics US Republicans

Dear Editor,

Well, it didn't take long for the new Harper government to start showing its true colours. And, if you care about the rights of ordinary workers, it doesn't look good.

With the help of his new "Sarah Palin wanna-be" Labour Minister, Harper has, predictably, legislated an end to the postal lockout. In his infinite "wisdom and mercy," he has imposed a wage settlement on the workers which is even lower than Canada Post had been offering. Canada Post's decision to lock out its workers (if indeed that decision was its own) played conveniently into Harper's hands. It allowed him to impose back-to-work legislation, which fit right in, not only with his own mean-spirited, hidebound ideology, but that of Republicans and Tea-Partiers everywhere. Up until the lockout, at least the mail had been getting through.

Sadly, it now seems our descent into American-style austerity, which treats working people as the enemy and the rich as our saviours, has now begun. And who is the next target, do you suppose? The folks who teach our kids? Fix our roads? Treat our sick? Help the poor? You know the mantra. Our teachers, labourers, health care and social workers just cost too damn much. And after all, jobs in the public sector aren't real jobs anyway.

But if you are a corporation, with way more money than you can roll in, now you're talkin'! Tear up the environment, produce dirty oil and you'll register high on the radar of this government. You're in line, not only for continuing, generous subsidies from the public purse but tax breaks, too!

Brace yourselves, folks. I fear this is just the beginning of a long ordeal for ordinary workers in this country - one which will only end when Harper is gone.  

Larry Powell
Roblin, Manitoba

United Nations Predicts Earth's Population to Hit 7 Billion in Fall 2011 (CBC TV)

This old world of ours is becoming a very crowded place, very quickly. (Watch video here.)

Courtesy, NASA

Monday, 11 July 2011

Exxon Crude Oil Spills Into Yellowstone River as Obama Mulls New Pipeline From Canada to Texas

Democracy Now - Jul 7
Oil giant ExxonMobil faces mounting criticism of its clean-up efforts after one of its oil pipelines ruptured on Friday and leaked 42,000 gallons of crude oil into Montana’s Yellowstone River.

Exxon workers scan a section of the river. 
 Details here.
Please also read - Receding Yellowstone Waters Reveal Extent Of ExxonMobil Oil Spill

Consumer Rights Victory as US Ends Opposition to GM Labelling Guidelines

05/06/11 Consumers International  
Consumers International (CI) and its member organisations celebrated victory today as regulators from more than 100 countries agreed on long overdue guidance on the labelling of genetically modified (GM) food. Details here.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

PLT Takes a Break!

This blogger is on a summer break. I'll return on or about Monday, the 11th!
CU then!



Larry