Friday, 29 March 2013

"Mystery" Malady Kills More US Bees, Heightening Worry on Farms

New York Times
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A "mysterious" malady that has been killing honeybees en masse for several years appears to have expanded drastically in the 'States last year, commercial beekeepers say, wiping out 40 percent or even 50 percent of the hives needed to pollinate many of the nation’s fruits and vegetables. Details here.

PLT; I see researchers and the media insist on clinging to  the line that Colony Collapse Disorder is a "mystery." ("Quotation marks"are mine.) This is tragic since a main contributing factor is pesticides. Period. While this is acknowledged in the story, it never seems to occur to the brightest mind to simply ban the fucking ones we already know to be the worst offenders!  


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Worst-Case Climate Scenario May Backfire on Activists: Study


Huffington Post
WASHINGTON -- Climate activists' strategy of barraging people with information about the consequences of climate change could end up hurting the cause, according to a benchmark study released Thursday. Details here.

Canada's Governing Party Blows a Golden Opportunity to Curb the Brutal Practice of "Shark-Finning" on the High Seas

Dear Editor,

It may be deplorable.  But, for the Harper government (and my own MP, Robert Sopuck), not quite deplorable enough.

I'm talking about "shark-finning." Each year, worldwide, an estimated 100 million sharks are caught for their fins, only. The sharks, still alive and bleeding, with their fins cut off, are then dumped back into the ocean, either to die a slow death, or be eaten by other predators. 

Shark fins are considered a delicacy. While shark fishing is legal off Canada's coasts, finning was banned here years ago. Still, tonnes of fins obtained elsewhere in this manner, often from endangered species, are imported, yearly. So an NDP MP introduced a private members' bill to help curb the practice by simply banning imports into this country.

Mr. Sopuck (CPC - Dauphin/Swan River/Marquette), spoke at length during the Commons debate on the Bill. First, he made it clear how much he respected his colleague who introduced it, and that finning was not only deplorable, but "abhorrent." But then he announced his Party would not be supporting the Bill.


MP Sopuck, Minister for Shark-
Finning & Bottom-Trawling.
According to Sopuck, it would set "a very bad precedent, is overly broad and could unfairly target sustainable fisheries around the world." China is already taking action, he claimed. And Canada is "already exploring what can be done." Whatever that means.

Then, (despite winning only 39% of the popular vote in the last election, and despite a recent poll, showing 81 percent of Canadians support a ban) the government used its majority to defeat the Bill.

But this kind of behaviour is hardly new for the Harperites. In '06, shortly after they came to power, they distinguished themselves at the United Nations by helping to scuttle a motion to ban bottom-trawling. That's another brutal practise which basically devastates all sea-life in its path; All this in the face of grave predictions from top marine scientists that, if nothing changes, such life could actually disappear from our oceans in less than half-a-century. 

I guess we're all supposed to assume that the crisis facing dwindling world fish stocks, and the brutal practices that go with it, would be even worse, were it not for "environmentalists" such as Mr. Sopuck, watching out for all of us.

Larry Powell
Roblin, MB

Subsidies Play “Significant Role” in Climate Change, IMF Says

Inter Press Service
WASHINGTON (IPS) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is urging national governments around the world to roll back or eliminate subsidies on petroleum-based energy sources, estimating that this alone could result in a 13-percent decline in global carbon dioxide emissions. Details here.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Ontario Corn Growers, Beekeepers Await Insecticide Review


Country Guide West
PMRA reviewing neonicotinoids after Ont., Que. bee losses last spring. Details here.

A corn harvester in MB. 
PLT photo



PLT: This story seems to suggest there is some doubt that the insecticides mentioned (i.e. the neonicotinoid "family"), actually harm pollinators. Of course they do! So please stop pussyfooting around the issue by suggesting otherwise....or that somehow PMRA's "tinkering" with label wording will clear this up.  An outright ban is the only way to proceed here (as has already been done in some European countries, with great success, I might add). I realize this will never happen in Canada as long as our "regulators" remain in bed with the chemical giants who profit prodigiously from sale of these disgusting poisons....not to mention farmers who read publications such as this. You farmers are surely a cog in the wheel which is crushing our precious pollinators, too...are you not? I'd love to hear from just one of you to justify your position on this....How about it?

Please also read: 

Billion Dollar Cleanup of 2010 Michigan Oil Spill to Proceed


InsideClimate News
Enbridge, the Canadian corporation proposing to build the Northern Gateway pipeline in Canada, agrees to comply with EPA order to dredge Kalamazoo River. Details here.

PLT: But the NG line won't spill, will it Enbridge?

Manitoba Upgrades Flood Threat, but Says no Repeat of 2011 Levels

Winnipeg Free Press


The province upgraded the spring flood threat today in southern Manitoba to moderate to major depending on how the spring melt goes over the next month. Details here.

Lake Manitoba - fall, 2011. PLT photo


PLT: The ravages of man-made climate change transcend politics. Sure, governments can tinker around the edges, digging deeper ditches and building higher dams. But ignorance and/or willful neglect of the underlying cause has long-since passed the realm of the criminal in all political parties. Therefore, suggesting that we'd be better off with a party of a different political stripe is fruitless. None - right, left or centre - has achieved the "eco-wisdom" necessary to adopt any plan that might last longer than a single term in office. If we all want to guarantee that this phenomenon, complete with killer storms, floods, droughts and wildfires continues, just keep living the way we are. (i.e. burn as much fossil fuel as we possibly can.) Now, jump in that big truck and head off snowmobiling with the kids. Don't worry - be happy!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Small and Medium-Sized Canadian Farms Fall Behind While Big Ones Keep on Getting Bigger


Manitoba Co-Operator

Level of on-farm investment favours large Canadian farms...Details here.

PLT photo




PLT: The law of the jungle still rules in the Canadian countryside!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Secrets of the Rich


Billionaires are hiding behind a network of “independent” groups, who manipulate politics on their behalf.
By George Monbiot... the Guardian 

Conspiracies against the public don’t get much uglier than this. As the Guardian revealed last week, two secretive organisations working for US billionaires have spent $118m to ensure that no action is taken to prevent manmade climate change(1). While inflicting untold suffering on the world’s people, their funders have used these opaque structures to ensure that their identities are never exposed.

The two organisations – the Donors’ Trust and the Donors’ Capital Fund – were set up as political funding channels for people handing over $1m or more. They have financed 102 organisations which either dismiss climate science or downplay the need to take action. The large number of recipients creates the impression that there are many independent voices challenging climate science. These groups, working through the media, mobilising gullible voters and lobbying politicians, helped to derail Obama’s cap and trade bill and the climate talks at Copenhagen. Now they’re seeking to prevent the US president from trying again(2).

Sunday, 24 March 2013

US Groups Sue Environmental Protection Agency Over Honey Bee Deaths


(Reuters) - U.S. environmental regulators are failing to protect honey bees and their role in pollinating important food crops, and should immediately suspend use of some toxic insecticides tied to the widespread deaths of the bees, a lawsuit charges. Details here.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Major Canadian Pork Processor, Olymel Hints at a Phase-Out of Gestation Crates - But Not for Awhile

The Manitoba Co-Operator
Packer/producer's move ahead of revisions to code of care for pigs. Full story here.

Billion Dollar Caribou - Nature of Things - CBC TV

CBC - TV
Through its beautiful and elusive Canadian icon - the woodland caribou - and their passionate advocates, Billion Dollar Caribou will reveal that even in the 21st century, the conservation of natural spaces and the species that live there is much contested territory, mired in controversy, drama and debate. Click here to watch!

PLT: The first show aired last night (Thurs.). So please watch for a repeat! I'm also a day late posting the item, below. But, once again, please note the CBC always repeats the shows, both on CBC TV and CBC New Channel!

Dear Manitobans - Fracking May Well be Coming to a Neighbourhood, Town or Park Near You!

....and there will be "frack-all" you can do about it!
Please read the Winnipeg Free Press article,  "Shale gas seen as possible new resource here," then watch and learn of this horrific practice on:
CBC -The Nature of Things with David Suzuki - - Shattered Ground

As reported in the Winnipeg Free Press, exploration for shale in Manitoba is underway with the potential for the industry to develop within the next ten years.

The potential shale formation runs from the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border to Treheme, including the Manitoba Escarpment, Swan Valley, the Porcupine Hills and around Riding Mountain.
Province's geologists are (as of January 2012) four years into a study of the province's shale gas potential.

Source: Mary Agnes Welch, Shale Gas seen as Possible new Resource Here, Winnipeg Free Press, January 21, 2012,http://goo.gl/AjXlr

It is also reported in the news that Petroleum Services Association of Canada predicted 300 new fracked wells will be drilled in Manitoba.

Source: Joyce Nelson/Watershed Sentinel, Ugly Reality of Fracking, Greenmuze, April 19, 2010, http://goo.gl/ofqUf  

PLT: Make no mistake - if the industry considers this viable, it WILL happen here! Our moronic leaders care nothing about the health or well-being of you, me, nor, apparently, themselves, as long as oil-industry bottom-lines and raw greed are satiated! Watch for it - it's coming. Mark my word. Because we no longer live in a democracy. Neither you nor I have ANY power. Get used to it.

Via Rail Passengers Stranded Near Unity, Sask. (& Video)

CBC SK: Whiteout conditions are said to have contributed to the stranding of more than 150 people near Unity, SK since early yesterday. Details here.

A wintry view from the train. Winnipeg to Toronto in Feb.'13. A PLT video.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Of GM Foods and Harper's Bully-Boys

Dear Editor,

Is it now old-fashioned to expect those who govern us, to do so in a decent, respectful way? If it is, then call me old-fashioned. Even for someone painfully aware of the depths to which our democratic system has sunk, especially since the Harperites took over, I was shocked to learn about a bullying incident which played out on Parliament Hill earlier this month. 

The Commons Agriculture Committee was meeting to talk about "low-level presence." Before you doze off, it's a topic which everyone who puts food in his mouth, should care about! This government actually wants Canada to start accepting traces of genetically-modified (GM) genes in the food we import, even though those genes have neither been inspected nor approved by our own domestic regulators! A guest appearing before the committee, Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), opposed this idea. This was hardly surprising, since CBAN's very reason for being is to act as a watchdog on the implications of adopting more and more GM-altered food in our country. Her argument was, if this government gets its way, Canada will become the first country in the world to accept such imports. And, by so doing, we are not only inviting contamination of our food imports, but destroying the livelihoods of organic farmers, as well. 

Opposition members of the committee challenged Ms. Sharratt, but at least, they were respectful and let her state her case. Such was not the case when it came to Blake Richards, a gunslinging Conservative MP and committee member from Alberta. Instead of sticking to the topic, he went off on Ms. Sharratt, obsessing over the source of CBAN's funding.  In the words of a veteran journalist covering the meeting, Barry Wilson of the Western Producer, "Richards argued she represents radical American, anti-GM environmentalists, opposed to Canadian interests. The implication was, she has a hidden anti-Canadian agenda." Wilson's editorial accused the Conservative Party of Canada of a “'take no prisoners' vision: you are for me or against me" and that this "vision" was showing through at other committee meetings, not just this one. His verdict on Richard's overall conduct? "It was rude, crude and abusive." 

Meanwhile, the global trend is decidedly leaning toward the domination of Corporate, GM agribusiness, its resultant increase in the application of harmful pesticides and the decline of non-GM and organic methods. Why should we be concerned? Because parents who want nothing more than to minimize levels of pesticides in their children's bodies, are slowly but surely losing that option. And with a wild-west mentality now firmly entrenched in the psyche of the governing, GM-boosting Harperites, it seems nothing short of a concerted effort on the part of us all, to stop voting Conservative,  offers the best path to the future.

Larry Powell
Roblin, MB

Cancer-Causing Toxins in Household Products




Canadian rock-and-roll legend Randy Bachman will be sharing Environmental Defence’s campaign message, “We Gotta Change” with thousands of people in cities across the country during his current nation-wide tour - Vinyl Tap Tour: Every Song Tells A Story.  He’ll assist in raising awareness both on and off stage about chemicals with links to cancer that are found in many commonly used household products in Canada, and share with fans the effects on human health and the environment.

If you’re interested in attending one of Randy’s concerts during his tour, visit his website for tour dates and to purchase tickets.

Photo courtesy of Randy Bachman's website

Monday, 18 March 2013

Ottawa Seeks Emergency Cleanup of Abandoned Northern Mine


CTV News
YELLOWKNIFE -- Federal officials are scrambling to clean up a crumbling, abandoned northern gold mine that is in imminent danger of releasing massive amounts of arsenic, asbestos and other toxins. Details here.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Arsenic Kills Thousands of Sri Lankans While Health Ministry Slumbers


The Sunday Leader - an English-language, Sri Lankan newspaper.

Although the Health Ministry denies that the Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) slowly killing thousands in the North Central, Eastern, Wayamba, Ruhuna and Uva Provinces is due to pesticides and fertilisers containing arsenic being used for agriculture, studies now confirm that the use of fertilizer has contaminated…Details here.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

New Research Tracks 11,300 Years of Climate


Winnipeg Free Press
Scientists have a good sense of what the Earth’s climate has been like over the past handful of centuries. But what about many thousands of years back? Details here.

Great Lakes Experiencing 'New Stresses'


CBC Radio
Pharmaceutical waste, fertilizers and climate change all new threats to fresh water. Full story here.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

UK Set to Scupper Ban on Pesticides Linked to Bee Harm



theguardian

Environment secretary not expected to support proposal despite poll showing almost three-quarters of the UK public wants ban. Details here.

Bumble bees on chives. PLT photo

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

It's Just Horse, of Course. But Don't Lie About It!


Laura Rance - Winnipeg Free Press
It doesn't matter how you dice it, the discovery of horsemeat in European meat products raises some awkward questions for the global meat industry. Details here.
PLT photo

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Dead-Pig Tide Shows China Learned Little From SARs


Winnipeg Free Press

The dead pigs started appearing on the riverbanks of Shanghai’s iconic Huangpu River on March 4, and by the weekend, state media were reporting that 900 had been found floating in the river, the source of much of the city’s water supply. Details here.

Monday, 11 March 2013

BC Should Protect its Rockies for Grizzlies, Wolverines: Conservation Group

The Tyee
A conservation group says British Columbia should establish "safe havens" for wildlife in the southern Rockies to preserve habitat where animals will be able to flee the effects of climate change. Details here.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Fossil Fools Day - March 27, 2013

What do you call an industry that is planning to cook the planet? An industry responsible for destroying land, polluting the air and water and violating the rights of people around the world? An industry who'se business model means burning over three times the amount of carbon our planetary budget can handle?

They are Fossil Fools, and on March 27th we're declaring Fossil Fools Day. A national day of student action across Canada, we're going to take aim at the Fossil Fools on our campuses.

We'll follow it up on April 1st with a special April Fools online action to send a message to the Fossil Fools!

Already nearly a dozen fossil fuels divestment campaigns have started up on campuses across the country, with more ready to launch in the coming weeks. March 27th will be a chance for us all to stand together as one and show Canada and the world the rising student power to take on climate injustice. This has the chance to be the largest student day of action on climate in Canada's history! For some campuses this will be the launch of their divestment campaigns, for others a chance to escalate, and educate their fellow students about the Fossil Fools they are investing in and supporting.

Fossil Fools is a partnership between 350.org and the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition.

View Fossil Free Canada website
View Fossil Free Canada Divestment Toolkit web page
View Fossil Free Canada Campaigns web page
View We Are Power Shift web site
View April 2, 2012 Blue & Green Tomorrow article
View Fossil Free Canada Facebook page

Saturday, 9 March 2013

We Are Bradley Manning


Chris Hedges - TruthDig
I was in a military courtroom at Fort Meade in Maryland on Thursday as Pfc. Bradley Manning admitted giving classified government documents to WikiLeaks. Details here.

Dancing the World into Being: A Conversation with Idle No More’s Leanne Simpson


Yes! magazine 

Naomi Klein speaks with writer, spoken-word artist, and indigenous academic Leanne Betasamosake Simpson about “extractivism,” why it’s important to talk about memories of the land, and what’s next for Idle No More. Details here.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Will You Help to Protect the Sage Grouse?

Dear Larry,

It is like nothing you've ever seen before.

This charismatic, five pound bird, with a spikey tail and a plump, brownish-gray body struts, swishes, pops and whistles. He puffs out sacs from his incredible white chest and erects his head back and forth in a beautiful dance trying to attract a mate.

You’re seeing the Greater Sage-grouse and he is performing a ritual that has gone on for centuries, a ritual that could be lost forever,  if we don't act now


US ‘State Department’ Keystone XL Report Actually Written By TransCanada Contractor

grist
a beacon in the smog

The State Department’s “don’t worry” environmental impact statement for the proposed Keystone XL tarsands pipeline, released late Friday afternoon, was written not by government officials but by... Full story here.

PLT: This needs to be called what it is. Fraud. 

Please also read: The Unsung Victims of the XL Pipeline, here.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Tar Sands Even More Harmful That Previously Believed?

Ecojustice Logo One
Dear Larry,
New Ecojustice research confirms that upgrading oil extracted from 
Alberta’s oilsands is indeed a nasty bit of business that puts waterways, 
fish and people at risk.
The burning and combustion required to transform raw bitumen into 
synthetic crude oil comes at a heavy cost: the release of airborne 
pollutants — some of which have been found to cause cancer in humans 
and impact the development and survival of fish. 
Our research shows that these toxic substances are making their way into 
the Athabasca River, contaminating a waterway that holds ecological, 
cultural and commercial significance for the people who live along its 
shores. The river is also a vital life source for many wildlife species; it is 
home to more than half of the province’s fish species.
But that’s just part of the story. Because even though the oilsands are one 
of the biggest industrial projects on the planet, the federal government 
doesn’t monitor and report oilsands pollution in an accessible, 
transparent way. That means we have no way of knowing the 
cumulative effects oilsands production has on human health and 
the environment.
That needs to end now. We need answers.
Tell the federal government that your health is a priority and that polluters 
must be held accountable for what they put into the air, water and land you depend on.
Tell the federal government to investigate and disclose the full impacts of oilsands pollution today.
Thanks for taking action and making a difference!
Elaine MacDonald
Senior staff scientist | Ecojustice

While Canada Drags its Feet, US and Russia Unite in Bid to Strengthen Polar Bear Protection


theguardian
Proposal to ban international commercial trade in polar bear products sets up showdown with Canada over a key vote. Full story here.

PLT: Once again, the "regressive Conservatism" of the Harperites rears its ugly head. When, oh when will we be rid of them?

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Ice Melt to Expand Arctic Shipping by Midcentury

Los Angeles Times

Loss of sea ice due to global warming could open new seasonal shipping lanes through the Arctic Ocean by midcentury, sharply reducing transit times and opening a Pandora's box of safety, environmental and legal issues, according to scientists. Full story here.

Monday, 4 March 2013

China Has Good Reason to Embrace a Carbon Tax


By: Gwynne Dyer
The announcement last week by China’s ministry of finance that the country will introduce a carbon tax, probably in the next two years, did not dominate the international headlines. It was too vague about the timetable and the rate at which the tax would be levied, and fossil fuel lobbyists were quick to portray it as meaningless. But the Chinese are deadly serious about fighting global warming, because they are really scared. Details here.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Unsung Victims of the XL Pipeline

by Larry Powell

It's nothing but another act of criminal negligence. In their coverage of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) into the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, our corporate media have flagrantly ignored the lowly creatures we share Planet Earth with; creatures which will be pushed closer to extinction if this project proceeds.

According to that same EIS, no less than 13 animal species, already declared endangered under federal "laws," "could be impacted" by the proposed project. 

Impacted? They're already endangered! Ah, what the Hell! Let's run 'em down! They don't count anyway! 

Here is the havoc this massive, misguided project will wreck on the plants and animals of our natural world which happen to be in its way.

Remember, the passages below are taken directly from the EIS.

"• Habitat loss, alteration, and fragmentation; 
• Direct mortality during construction and operation, including collision with power lines; 
• Indirect mortality due to stress or avoidance of feeding, and/or reduced breeding success due to exposure to noise and/or increased human activity; and 
• Reduced survival or reproduction due to decreased abundance of food or reduced cover."

Here are some of the unfortunate plants and animals who are guilty of nothing more than that they happen to live, or pass over, the proposed route!


The Whooping Crane



"Whooping cranes could be impacted by collisions with power lines associated with the proposed Project. The majority of the proposed project route crosses the central flyway whooping crane migration corridor in South Dakota and Nebraska, and the Rainwater Basin in south central Nebraska provides whooping crane migration habitat."

Greater Sage-Grouse 

"Approximately 190 miles of the proposed Project route would cross areas with greater sage-grouse habitat in Montana, of which 94 miles are classified as moderate to high-quality habitat for greater sage-grouse."


Western Prairie Fringed Orchid
"The western prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) (l.) is federally listed as threatened, state-listed as threatened in Nebraska, and is a species of conservation concern in South Dakota. The proposed project would pass near known populations of western prairie fringed orchid in Nebraska, and through land where the orchid may potentially occur in South Dakota. Clearing and grading of land associated with construction of the proposed Project (including pipeline and ancillary facilities) may potentially disturb western prairie fringed orchids, and may introduce or expand invasive species that already contribute to the orchid’s decline." 

Photo credit: US Fish and
 Wildlife



American Burying Beetle 



"Approximately 50 miles of the proposed 
Project Route in Nebraska would affect American burying beetle habitat; approximately 43 miles in South Dakota would affect suitable habitat for the species. The proposed project could affect, and would be likely to adversely affect the American burying beetle, resulting in incidental takes (unintended death of individual beetles) during construction or operations." 

This lowly creature is already in serious decline due to human activity, likely including - wait for it - pesticide use. As a carrion-eater, it is part of nature's "clean-up crew," an unattractive but essential part of Earth's endless cycle of life and death.

If the corporate media are to be believed, this report "removes a hurdle" in the way of the project. That's hardly surprising. Does anyone seriously believe that other living creatures we share space with on this earth will have any impact whatever on the collective consciousness of the hollow men of Capitol Hill, Parliament Hill or, perhaps least of all, the denizens of those sterile, unforgiving glass towers of the Calgary oil patch?
l.p.

Pressure Mounting to Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides


Glasgow Herald
Scottish ministers are under mounting pressure to defy the Westminster government and back a European ban on toxic pesticides which are blamed for killing bees. Details here.

Bumble Bees on sunflower. PLT photo

PLT; At least civilized societies such as this see the need for action. Sadly, here in Canada, the hearts and brains of the Harperites turned to stone long ago.

A Better Plan Than 'Endless Growth': Enough Is Enough

Common
Dreams
The World Economic Forum held its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland last month.  The official theme was "Resilient Dynamism," a catchphrase that makes about as much sense as...Details here.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Loss of Wild Pollinators Serious Threat to Crop Yields, Study Finds

theguardian
                                                        Photo credit: Graham Powell photography.
Wild bees and other insects are twice as effective as honeybees in producing seeds and fruit on crops. Details here.