Tuesday, 30 September 2014

WWF Report: Global Wildlife Populations Down by Half Since 1970

CBC News
Opportunity to 'develop sustainably' must be seized, says the Director of the World Wildlife Fund. Details here.
Pine grosbeak (f.) Larry Powell - P in P photo: 
Susceptible to habitat loss from logging operations that destroy their preferred coniferous forests. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Alberta Ranchers to Conserve Huge Tract of Native Grassland

Canadian Press
CALGARY - Southern Alberta ranchers have banded together to preserve a huge swath of almost untouched native grassland that some call a prairie Serengeti. Story here.

Cause of California Drought Linked to Climate Change

National Science Foundation

Extreme atmospheric conditions responsible for drought more likely to occur in current global warming. Story here.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Tell the Environmental Protection Agency (US): Stop Dow’s Deadly Duo of Agent Orange and Roundup Herbicides

Organic Consumer's Association
Crop-duster in Manitoba. P in P photo.
What’s more poisonous than Dow’s 2,4-D “Agent Orange” herbicide or Monsanto’s Roundup? Story here.                   (See related, below:) 

Real Solutions From Agriculture at the People's Climate March

CommonDreams
On the day before the People’s Climate March—what’s being billed as the largest mass climate demonstration in history—the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) hosted a day of workshops as part of the NYC Climate Convergence. The final workshop was entitled “Now that the U.S. supports Climate-Smart Agriculture, is reform of our climate-dumb food system possible?” Story here.
P in P photo.
OCA’s message? Industrial agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions—and its counterpart, organic regenerative farming and ranching, offers not only a way to reverse global warming, but a way to have better soil, better health, more justice for farmers, and a proven path for feeding the world. 

Peoples' Climate March (Video)

The Biggest Climate March Ever!


Months ago, our community decided on a crazy goal -- the largest mobilisation on climate change in history. This week, it actually happened. Story here.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

US Department of Agriculture says Unapproved Genetically-Modified Wheat is Found Again, This Time in Montana

Canadian Press


Unregulated genetically modified wheat has popped up in a second location in the United States, this time in Huntley, Montana, the Agriculture Department said Friday.  Story here.

Wheat field. P in P photo.

Cost of Lowering Lake Manitoba Could Reach $450 Million

Manitoba Co-Operator
Flooding in Manitoba, 2011. P in P photo.
The province hopes the federal government will provide financial assistance as outlet channels move forward. Story here.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Before Honey Bees Are Extinct - Please STEP UP AND SIGN!

Manitoba bee hive. P in P photo.
We only have days -- send a quick message to the heads of the environment and agriculture departments that President Obama has tasked to come up with a plan for bees. Details here.

Minister of Agriculture Refuses to Release the Annual Report of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Manitoba Co-Operator
PinP photo.
The Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board suspects the report is too politically sensitive to be made public. Story here.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Coming Climate Revolt

OpEd News - Chris Hedges

We have undergone a transformation during the last few decades -- what John Ralston Saul calls a corporate coup d'etat in slow motion. We are no longer a capitalist democracy…Story here.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

New GMO Pesticide Doctors Are Warning Against

The Dr. Oz Show
Click here to watch this "must-watch" video!

Related: "Do Manitoba's Elected Politicians Care About the Health of Their People? A Food Safety Advocate Wonders...The politicians are "no-shows" at a series of summer speaking events." 

Blogger Responds to Accusations from CropLife Canada (Letter)

Dear Editor,

So, I see the head of CropLife Canada, Ted Menzies, thinks I used "inflammatory" language in a recent story I wrote. It posed this question. "Is agriculture's toxic hold on nature turning into a death grip?" The story went on to quote scientific studies which link "neonicotinoids," a group of insecticides, to widespread declines in populations of both honeybees and songbirds. ("Neonics" are made by some of the world's biggest chemical companies that he now represents.)


Excuse me, Mr. Menzies, if my headline sounded "inflammatory." But, if Canadians themselves are not yet "inflamed" by the impact your products are having on our natural world, perhaps it's time they should be!

Every school kid must know by now what a calamity it would be if we lose our pollinators. Bees make our lives universally sweet while helping produce one of every three spoons-full of food we put in our mouths!

Songbirds may not figure in the business plans of your member corporations like Bayer, Monsanto or Syngenta. But they add colour and beauty to our lives in ways that fat bottom lines never will. And God forbid they are not actually "canaries in the coal-mine," warning us of dangers these "Croplife" products may pose to human health down the road, too!

Mr. Menzies, you also suggest my story is inaccurate. Then you go on to claim that chemical crops yield more. That, Sir, is, in and of itself, highly questionable.The Rodale Institute in the States has done the longest study anywhere on that very topic. After an initial lag, organic crops yield just as well or better than the GMO kind which need to be carpet-bombed with pesticides. Also, contrary to industry propaganda, the explosion in GMO crops around the world has not resulted in a reduction in pesticide use - but rather a dramatic increase in the volumes applied each year!

You claim that Health Canada subjects pesticides to "rigorous scientific review."  A fascinating choice of words, indeed. Because they are identical to the ones H/C has used for years to defend its continued approval of similar, questionable products in past! Not surprising, considering that the line between regulators and the regulated has been blurred, if not invisible in Canada, for a very long time. (Mr. Menzies was a Conservative MP for 10 years before moving to his present position.) The Sierra Club of Canada wants the House of Commons to look into the possibility of a conflict-of-interest in CropLife Canada's future dealings with the Government of Canada. I believe it should!

My biggest fear is that "neonics," now the world's most widely-used insecticides, may one day come to rival DDT in their infamy. And that's saying a lot. It has been half-a-century since Rachel Carson (in her book, Silent Spring), exposed DDT as the culprit in the massive die-offs of fish and birds and its insidious ability to accumulate dangerously in human tissue. (And recent events seem to indicate,  far from overstating the case against DDT, Ms. Carson may have actually understated it! Another, recent research study has exposed DDT as being harmful in ways never imagined in her time! I'll be telling that story soon, too, to as many people as will listen! (I'll be sure to send you a copy, too, Mr. Menzies.) Stay tuned! 

Ms. Carson had to endure a pricey propaganda campaign launched in the 60s by some of the same corporations CropLife now represents, aimed at sullying her reputation. They failed.


Fast forward to today and we find Mr. Menzies trying to do the same thing to a veteran scientist who is now trying to raise alarm bells over the pesticide, glyphosate. Without providing any proof, Mr. Menzies magically declares "all" of the research the scientist has cited"has been discredited!"

Larry Powell lives in Neepawa, MB where he publishes PlanetInPeril.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

As Climate Change Debate Heats Up, UN Experts Warn ‘We Are Running Out of Time’

United Nations News Service
The United Nations weather agency today voiced concerns over the surge of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, which has reached a new record high in 2013, amid worrying sings that oceans and biosphere seem unable to soak up emissions as quickly as they used to. Story here.
The oceans of the world absorb massive amounts of heat, 
delaying the worst effects of climate change on land. P in P photo.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Manitoba Bee Mortality Down

Manitoba Co-Operator
Bee mortality in Manitoba varied greatly from region to region last winter, but most honey producers saw improvements. Story here.

P in P photo.

U.N. Pushes Climate-Smart Agriculture – But Are the Farmers Willing to Change?

INTER PRESS SERVICE
Is this climate-smart agriculture? Farmin' North American style!
KARNAL, India, Sep 17 2014 (IPS) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to make a strong pitch to world political leaders at the U.N. Climate Summit in New York on Sep. 23 to accept new emissions targets and their timelines. Story here.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Does Farming Contribute as Many Nutrients to Our Waterways as Sometimes Believed? A Unique Manitoba Project Suggests, Maybe Not!

Manitoba Co-Operator
Ducks in a nutrient-rich river 
in Manitoba. P in P photo.
Ultimately, storing water on the land isn’t just about flood control, it’s about capitalizing on available nutrients as well. Story here.


Monday, 15 September 2014

The Planet Just Had Its Warmest August On Record

The Huffington Post
This past August was the warmest since records began in 1881, according to new data released by NASA. The latest readings continue a series of record or near-record breaking months. May of this year was also the warmest in recorded history. Story here.

Blogger Strikes a Nerve With the Top Gun in Canadian "Agri-Biz"

by Ted Menzies, President of CropLife Canada.

Ted Menzies, President of CropLife Canada. 
Inflammatory language such as that expressed in the article "Is agriculture’s toxic hold turning into a death grip?" creates a false impression that is both unfair to farmers and inaccurate. Farmers overwhelmingly choose to grow genetically-improved varieties of corn, canola, soybeans and other crops due to the numerous benefits they offer, such as increased yields, which allows more food to be produced on the same amount of land. The plant science industry is committed to the responsible use of its products. Neonicotinoid seed treatments use a very small amount of pesticide and place it directly where it needs to be to protect the crop, thereby reducing the risk to non-target organisms, such as bees, and the environment. 

Pesticides, whether used on conventional or organic farms, undergo a rigorous scientific review and assessment by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency – this includes its persistence and impact on aquatic insects and birds. Pest control products are only approved for use once a scientific evaluation demonstrates no harm to human health, future generations or the environment.

Agriculture in Canada has never been more sustainable than it is today and part of the reason is the use of innovative products — like neonicotinoid seed treatments. Our industry welcomes questions about our products and looks forward to future opportunities to set the record straight about their safety and our deep commitment to working with all stakeholders to continue to ensure a sustainable future for agriculture.

Ted Menzies

President, CropLife Canada 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Canada PM to Miss UN Climate Summit

The
Hill

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper won't be attending the United Nations climate summit in New York this month. Story here.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Earth’s Ozone Layer is Recovering, Scientists Say

The Boston Globe
WASHINGTON (AP) — Earth’s protective but fragile ozone layer is beginning to recover, largely because of the phase-out since the 1980s of certain chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans, a U.N. scientific panel reported Wednesday in a rare piece of good news about the health of the planet. Story here.

Trees Are Dying From ‘No Obvious Cause’ In Rocky Mountains, Report Says

ClimateProgress.
"Jasper," a Rock Mountain national park in Alberta, Canada. "P in P" photo.
The Rocky Mountain forests that traverse the West are under unprecedented danger from climate-related impacts according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization. The Rockies include national parks like Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier National Park, and are facing a “triple assault — tree-killing insects, wildfires, and heat and drought — that could fundamentally alter these forests as we know them.” Story here.

Health Canada's "Vitamin Police" Begin Raiding Health Food Retailers

Citizens for Choice
In early 2012 Health Canada's Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD) had already spent over one billion dollars of taxpayer's money regulating an industry that was on record as having caused zero deaths. Two and a half years later, the taxpayer's bill is still climbing.but the death toll isn't. It's still zero! Yet, as of September 1st, in the name of safety,
Health Canada has sent out inspectors to force all products not possessing a natural product license off health retailer shelves.


"P in P" photo

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Audubon's Birds & Climate Change Report

314 Species on the Brink
Shrinking & shifting ranges could imperil nearly half of North American birds within this century. Story here.


A robin caught in a freak storm in Manitoba.                                                                                                                                                         Barn swallows. 

Yellow-headed Blackbirds, a familiar sight in western North America, 
may be under threat before the end of the century. (P in P photos)



Monday, 8 September 2014

Organic Food Council of Manitoba screening of ‘Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds’

The Park Theatre — 698 Osborne St., Winnipeg

Sunday Sep 21 at 6:00pm. “Movie followed by a panel discussion, including the filmmaker.” Tickets $10 online, $12 at door. For more info or to buy tickets visit the Canadian Organic Growers website.

Photos Capture Amazon Tribe As They Beat And Strip Illegal Loggers

Huffington Post
The Ka'apor Indians, a tribe of indigenous Brazilians living in the northeast region of the country's expansive rainforest, have begun taking up arms against illegal loggers who are threatening their homeland. On one of their recent searches for loggers, they were joined by Reuters photographer Lunae Parracho, who documented the scene when they reportedly found a number of the men. Story here.

Mt. Polley Debacle: The Canadian Province of British Columbia is Miles behind US on Mine Danger Info

Public here (in BC)  barred from records which are freely available in US to help avert disasters. Story here.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

40 Percent of Countries with Largest Shale Deposits Face Water Stress

World Resources Institute

Right now, dozens of countries around the world are deciding whether or not to develop their shale gas and tight oil resources (tight oil deposits are trapped in fine-grained sedimentary rock, including shale). It’s easy to understand why: shale gas could boost the world’s recoverable natural gas resources by 47 percent, cut greenhouse gas emissions compared to coal, create new revenue and jobs, and raise national energy supplies.

However, extracting natural gas and tight oil from shale poses environmental risks, especially when it comes to water. Hydraulic fracturing requires up to 25 million liters of fresh water per well, meaning shale resources can be hard to develop where fresh water is hard to find—including in some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and populations. Details here.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Canada's Transportation Safety Board (TSB) Warns, Dangerous Crude Could Still Travel in Misclassified Tank Cars

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

The TSB is raising concerns that dangerous crude oil could still be travelling by rail inside misclassified tank cars, despite assurances from the federal government that the problem has been fixed. STORY HERE.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Do Manitoba's Elected Politicians Care About the Health of Their People? A Food Safety Advocate Wonders...

The politicians are "no-shows" at a series of summer speaking events.
by Larry Powell

Organizers of a national speaking tour, designed to warn of the potential health impacts of genetically-engineered foods, had high hopes of winning the ear of governments when the tour arrived in Manitoba in July. The Co-ordinator for the "GE Foods and Health Cross-Canada Speakers Tour" in the province, Rose Stevens, personally sent e-mails to numerous Members of Parliament and MLAs in Manitoba. She invited them to attend one of the seven events held in the province that month. 

Some sent regrets, without further explanation. Others said they had other commitments, without saying what they were. One said he was going to be out of the country for one of the dates, but didn't mention the others. Several did not even respond. 

Whatever their circumstance, not one of the invited politicians showed up! 
Some also declined invitations to send representatives, if they could not be there, themselves.

What might these politicians have heard, had they attended?

Expert speakers sounded alarm bells over glyphosate. That's the active ingredient in Roundup, a widely-used herbicide which kills broad-leaf weeds but spares crops which have been genetically-engineered to resist it. Crops altered in this way are referred to as "Roundup-Ready."

One speaker, Thierry Vrain, cited evidence that glyphosate depletes "GE" soybean crops of certain minerals, making them less nutritious. Dr. Vrain worked for Agriculture Canada for 30 years as a soil scientist and geneticist.

He referred to statistics from both the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Agriculture in the US which show "a very probable link between the amount of glyphosate sprayed on crops and the number of people coming down with gastrointestinal problems." And he pointed to many research studies which suggest a similar link to an increasing litany of human ailments like "kidney inflammation, liver damage, diabetes, celiac disease, autism, even cancer, premature births and miscarriages." 

Dr. Vrain concedes that these studies simply establish a link and are not "scientifically conclusive." But, he says they are like a road map, pointing to the critical need for further studies which will either prove or disprove "causation," once and for all. He suggests, to press ahead with such studies would be relatively easy and logical; not to do so, downright irresponsible.

He adds, the millions of kilograms of glyphosate now applied to crops in North America each year have dispersed so widely, they can be found "In our food, our drinking water, the rain and most importantly, in our bodies." 

Another speaker on the tour, BC activist and organic food advocate, Tony Mitra, pointed out, there is not a single laboratory in all of Canada which will test mothers' milk or our own blood or urine for glyphosate residue - even if we are prepared to pay for it! He calls this unacceptable. Mitra has embarked on a campaign to get such a lab up and running as a way of allowing ordinary people to find out just how much of the pesticide they are coping with in their bodies.

All of the major parties seemed to share equally in their disinterest. 

Since it is not practical to document all of the politicians’ responses (or non-responses) in this space, here's a sampling of one from each major party who were invited, but did not attend. 

Manitoba's (NDP) Minister of Healthy Living, Sharon Blady, (above) did not respond, to either of Ms. Stevens' two invitations to attend. (On her webside, Ms. Blady promises to "create environments that support health and wellness in our communities.")
Larry Maquire, the Conservative MP for Brandon-Souris (above), did not respond to two invitation from Ms. Stevens, either. (In June, Maquire announced a joint grant from both Ottawa and Manitoba, of $1.8 million, to develop new varieties of sunflower seed which would be, among other things, "herbicide tolerant." That's usually code for "Roundup-Ready.") 
Kevin Lamoureux (above), Liberal MP for Winnipeg North was invited, too. He simply said he was "unavailable" due to "scheduling conflicts."
Mayor Sam Katz (above) and the entire city council of Winnipeg were also invited. No one replied.
Kate Story (above), a candidate and official of both the federal and provincial Green Parties (believed to be the only unelected politician to be invited), did not attend, either. Ironically, she was in the Maritimes at the time, at a party convention where she was instrumental in defeating a motion that would have weakened the party's anti-GMO stance. (Other Green Party supporters did attend the speaking events. And one "Green" candidate, Janine Gibson, actually chaired one of them.)

Rose Stevens, the tour organizer, is satisfied with the response of the Green Party. But she is both frustrated and disappointed with the rest. 

"We elect our politicians because we feel they will represent our best interests.  After such a poor response from all of them on such an important health issue it really makes me wonder why we bother to vote for them? Are they more interested in protecting big corporations and not making waves so they can remain in good favour with the highly influential biotech companies?"

Canada Largest Contributor To Deforestation Worldwide: Study

The Huffington Post
P in P photo.
Add another black mark to Canada’s environmental image around the world: The country now leads the planet in the degradation of untouched forests, according to a study from Forest Watch.  Story here.

As Aircraft Emissions Skyrocket, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Looks Into Regulation For First Time

CLIMATEPROGRESS

Air travel is a carbon-intensive industry, and just like vehicles and power plants, its rising carbon pollution may soon be curtailed due to efforts from the Obama administration. Story here.
                



                P in P photo

Massive Canadian Mining Waste Spill Was Nearly 70 Percent Larger Than Previous Estimates

CLIMATEPROGRESS
Photo courtesy of "Cowichan Conversations."
The mining waste spill that led to water bans for hundreds of British Columbians was almost 70 percent larger than previously estimated, according to the company in charge of the mine. Story here.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

British Petroleum's Recklessness Caused Gulf Oil Spill, U.S. Judge Rules


HuffingtonPost
A U.S. judge has ruled that BP's recklessness caused 2010's massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a move that could cost the company billions. Earlier this week Halliburton, the company in charge of sealing the completed Deepwater Horizon well that spewed millions of gallons of oil into the gulf, agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle claims arising from its negligence. Story here.

Canadian Beekeepers Sue Bayer, Syngenta Over Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Energy Generation in Australia Jump Most in Eight Years After Carbon Price Axed

The Sydney Morning Herald

Carbon emissions from the country's main electricity grid have risen since the end of the carbon tax by the largest amount in nearly eight years. Story here.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

"Limit to Growth" Was Right. New Research Shows We're Nearing Collapse

TheGuardian

Four decades after the book was published, Limit to Growth’s forecasts have been vindicated by new Australian research. Expect the early stages of global collapse to start appearing soon. Story here.

Government of Nova Scotia, Canada to Prohibit Hydraulic Fracturing

Government Of Nova Scotia

Energy Minister Andrew Younger has announced, the government of Nova Scotia will introduce legislation this fall to prohibit high volume hydraulic fracturing for onshore shale gas. Story here.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Farm Pests' Global Advance Threatens Food Security

Ecologist

Agricultural pests - viruses, bacteria, fungi, blights, mildews, rusts, beetles, nematodes, flies, mites, spiders and caterpillars - are spreading thanks to trade, travel and global warming, writes Tim Radford. The world faces a dire future of increased crop losses and growing insecurity. Story here.

The Last Gasp of Climate Change Liberals

OpEdNews - Chris Hedges

The climate change march in New York on Sept. 21, expected to draw as many as 200,000 people, is one of the last gasps of conventional liberalism's response to the climate crisis. Details here.

Video Trailer for Naomi Klein's Newest Book - This Changes Everything. Capitalism vs. The Climate.