Monday, June 29, 2009

Report Reveals the Growing Global Problem of Marine Litter

Washington DC/Nairobi, 8 June 2009 -
The head of the
United Nations Environment Program
Calls for World-Wide Ban on Pointless Thin Film Plastic Bags.

For full report, click on headline.
For related story, click here.

Volunteers help remove nearly 41 tons of
marine debris along the southeastern coast
of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Photo courtesy of

the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

More Reaction to; "To Graze or not to Graze...."

"I have no problem with cattle grazing in riparian areas. However, I do have a problem with cattle pooping in riparian areas. The “expert” opinions which are now giving tacit approval to contaminating water with cow pies are defying the fundamental science of eutrophication. This is mildly Orwellian. One wonders how the vegetation in riparian zones actually survived and flourished before the introduction of cattle to Canada."

C. Hugh Arklie
(Who is Hugh Arklie?)

"I am a chartered accountant now working in the philanthropic sector. I am in my final year of an Environmental Studies degree program at the U of Winnipeg. For many years I have observed and participated in local environmental issues. One of my biggest frustrations is how the public service serves industry more and more, and the public less and less.

"Otherwise I am just a private citizen acting on my own when I feel compelled to point out that the Emperor is sometimes naked. This is the case with respect to grazing in riparian areas. And Meditation Lake. And LP. And Big Pig. And on and on."

In most streams and rivers on the Prairies, not only has the vegetation been removed to the water's edge but then cattle are grazed in the area and erode the system even more. The Little Saskatchewan, the most polluted river I have worked on has 10,000 cattle on it and most of them are in it. Just take a trip in summer along your favourite stream and you will find the same thing. The levels of faecal and total coliform bacteria in our Manitoba surface waters and beaches are indicative of this pollution.
The science clearly indicates that keeping livestock out of the zone close the water's edge has a huge impact on both nutrient and pathogen contamination in our lakes, rivers and streams. My data indicates that this is a widespread problem in southern Manitoba.
Look into what New York city has done for farmers to prevent the huge expenditures needed to filter Cryptosporidium out of drinking water.
Best regards
(William Paton, Prof. of Biology, Brandon University)
Click on headline for original story.

A Fight for the Amazon That Should Inspire the World

Johann Hari: The Independent - UK -

The uprising In the Amazon is more urgent than Iran's - it will determine the future of the planet.
Click on headline for more.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Help Save the Earth, Time to Subsitute Hemp for Oil

By Dara Colwell, AlterNet. Jn. 18, 2009.

Every man-made fiber we wear, sit on, cook with, drive in, is a by-product of the petroleum industry -- all of which could be replaced by hemp.

Hemp photo by L.P.

Machinery Accident Kills Farm Advocate Paul Beingessner

June 26, 2009 - CBC
A farm accident in southern Saskatchewan has claimed the life of Paul Beingessner, known as a passionate advocate for farmers...

Slowdown in Once-Booming Organics Troubles Farmers

Jun 26,'09
Associated Press Writer

The organic dairy industry was thriving when Allen and Jean Moody bought a 200-acre Wisconsin dairy farm in 2006 and joined the ranks of farmers churning out milk raised without growth hormones, pesticides or other chemicals.
Click on headline for full story.

Green Pitch Ironic After Railways Shut Lines

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
By: Laura Rance - 20/06/2009

Given the last 40 years of Prairie history, it was a bit ironic for the Railway of Association of Canada to come up with a rail freight greenhouse-gas calculator a while back to help promote the efficiencies of moving stuff by rail.
Click headline for full story.
An abandon railway bridge in Ontario - photo courtesy of The Paisley Advocate

Consumer Demand Spurs a Corporate Sea Change

June 26, 2009 -

Dr David Suzuki and Dave Robert Taylor

Protecting our planet is no longer seen as a fringe activity. Most people now consider themselves to be environmentally aware and are taking steps to help. Caring for the environment has become mainstream – it’s the “new normal”. And that’s refreshing!
Click on headline for full story.

Many Farmers Don't Want GM Wheat

By Rod Nickel - Reuters news service

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (Reuters) - Canadian farmers oppose the introduction of genetically modified wheat until market conditions change, a Canadian Wheat Board survey has found.
Click on headline for full story.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wildlife Faces Cancer Threat

Science News

ScienceDaily (June 24, 2009) — While cancer touches the lives of many humans, it is also a major threat to wild animal populations as well, according to a recent study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Click headline for full story.

As World Warms, Water Levels Dropping In Major Rivers

ScienceDaily (Apr. 22, 2009) — Rivers in some of the world's most populous regions are losing water, according to a comprehensive study of global stream flows. Click on headline for full story.

The Colorado, one of the rivers in question.

Photo courtesy "The Sustainability Ninja"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cargill and the Priest: Priest Stands Up Against BigAg and Deforestation

Polly Cook - the Ecologist -

19th June, 2009
In the Brazilian town of Santarem, one brave priest is the only thing standing between multi-national grain trader Cargill and the rest of the Amazon. Click headline for full story.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mother Nature Doesn't Do Bailouts

Globe and Mail - Climate change heavyweight Al Gore has delivered that message to 500 business elite in Copenhagen, where a critical world meeting on the crisis is scheduled for late this year.
Click on headline for full story.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To Graze or not to Graze. Do Cattle Belong in Riparian Areas? In Some Cases, Yes, say Experts.

by Larry Powell

While mixed messages seem to be emerging about the wisdom of grazing cattle near rivers, streams and lakes, experts say, not so.

Courtesy of Water's Edge

Courtesy of the Upper Assiniboine
River Conservation District
Above - The pretty and the ugly sides of riparian management.
For years, the Government of Manitoba and Conservation Districts have promoted the idea of keeping livestock away from these so-called "riparian areas." Financial incentives, grants and even tax breaks have been offered to producers who keep their cattle away from shorelines.
The Lake of the Prairies Conservation District, (LPCD) for example, is now offering ranchers along waterways such as the Shell and Assiniboine Rivers, up to $5,000 each if they take certain steps. They'll be eligible for up to $3,000 if they install "offsite" (away from shorelines) watering systems and additional incentives for building fences to keep their livestock back, or repair areas already destabilized by cattle, such as cattle crossings and river banks.
The main purpose is to benefit water quality but it's hoped it will also encourage the preservation of natural vegetation for wildlife.
A recent series of workshops in the Roblin area may have seemed, on the surface, to be delivering quite a different message about riparian usage; that it is acceptable to graze and water cattle in natural waterways, as long as it is done properly.
It's called "riparian management."
A riparian specialist with the Alberta-based group, "Cows and Fish," Michael Gerrand, took at least a dozen people on a tour of such a place, on the Beasley cattle ranch north of Roblin near Boggy Creek on Tuesday. Those taking part did an inspection of an area along a lake where cattle had previously grazed and watered.
Gerrand told the group, "These areas are meant to be grazed."
After the inspection, he had the group do a step-by-step assessment of the impact of the practice on plants, shrubs, trees and shoreline there.
The conclusion - the area had been only lightly impacted.
And he advised the owners to graze cattle in that spot again to, among other things, ensure that invasive plant species are contained.
Another workshop in the area heard similar testimony later from a Manitoba group called "Managing the Water's Edge." It has published a brochure in which five Manitoba ranchers (including one along the Shell River) tell of favourable experiences in which they use natural shorelines to feed and water their herds.
They believe riparian areas not only offer them economic value, but can be managed without compromising their ecological integrity.
Eric Busch of the Lake of the Prairies Conservation District doesn't believe there is really any contradictory advice here at all.
Mr. Busch told Paths Less Travelled, "While it may seem that there are mixed messages coming out, I don’t think it takes a lot of investigation to realize that there aren’t. The main message that has never changed is that riparian areas are important, and that a degraded riparian area will have a negative effect on your watercourse. The rest of the discussion really comes down to how you want to ensure the health of your riparian area. Fence posts and barb wire are not environmental saving objects on their own, they never were. They are and will continue to be a tool that producers have the option of using for ensuring the condition of their riparian areas. The Cows and fish Workshop is saying that although fencing is a tool, it is not the best one. They are saying (and I tend to support this) that selective and carefully managed grazing is the best tool. You may then ask why we have a fencing program and not a selective grazing program. The answer is, you can’t purchase selective grazing techniques, they are learned and then applied at the producers discretion. Hence, grant programs for the tool that can be purchased, and education events such as the one you were at yesterday for the tools that cannot be purchased, only learned. We will continue to offer our fencing program until it is no longer a preferred tool for managing riparian areas while pursuing more educational events on grazing management. I suspect that where most of our producers are approaching retirement age grazing system changeover will not be prevalent and fencing will be more popular. As newer producers join the game we will likely see fencing decline."
Mr. Gerrand of "Cows and Fish" also discounts any suggestion that advice coming out on this issue has been contradictory.
"Regarding fencing there are no mixed messages. I think the CD's and anyone associated with govt grants would agree that riparian areas can be grazed and in most cases the overall riparian health can be be maintained and even improved with properly managed grazing (adhering to the four principles of range management; timing, distribution, effective rest and balancing stocking rate with available forage).
Fences are provided to producers to use as a distribution tool. In some situations fences can provide exclusion for a short period of time (2-3 years) in order to rest a recovering riparian area. But after the rest a skim graze would be beneficial (as we discussed on Tuesday).
In many cases fences do exclude cattle from riparian areas but often it is due to other reasons (for example preventing cattle from crossing the river to the neighbours place or drowning)."
Kelsey Dawn Beasley of the Beasley ranch, meanwhile, calls the Cows and Fish workshop there "A great learning experience. It is always a good thing when you are given more options & tools to utilize in ranch management."

The War over Eco-Certified Wood

When it comes to buying nature-friendly wood, two stamps of approval vie, with vast forests at stake. Which will win out? Big timber firms back the one critics call greenwashing. A Tyee special report. (Just click on headline.)
By Christopher Pollon
Published: June, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Fight for Pollution Controls at a Manitoba Wood Products Plant

- by Larry Powell
Battle lines are drawn again between environmentalists, the Government of Manitoba and a subsidiary of an American logging giant over the same issue which flared up in the mid-'90s; the pollution abatement equipment at the wood products plant of Louisiana Part of LP's log by Larry
Pacific Canada Ltd. in the Swan Valley of western Manitoba. That equipment has been shut down since early this year. That's because the provincial government granted "LPs" request to do so, at least temporarily.
The environmental group, "Concerned Citizens of the Valley," fought long and hard when "LP" first opened its plant in 1995, to force it to install the equipment in the first place.
Now, several years later, is that struggle going to prove to have been in vain?
Members of "Concerned Citizens" have regrouped to make sure it will not.
Manitoba has instructed its Clean Environment Commission to hold a "hearing" into the matter in July and recommend whether the controls should remain shut down, permanently.
But "Concerned Citizens" worry the format of the hearing will not really be democratic. While it will hear from expert witnesses, it will not allow members of the public to cross-examine those witnesses.
Meanwhile, the group warns that increased levels of toxic substances have been escaping from the plant since the shutdown, posing unknown health risks to residents of the area.
(See announcement of hearings in post, below.)

Louisiana Pacific Strandboard Plant Air Emissions Public Meeting dates announced

----- Original Message -----
From: Johnson, Cathy (CON)
Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 9:11 AM

The dates for the public meetings regarding Louisiana Pacific Strandboard Plant Air Emissions have been set.

For more information on the place and time and registration procedures just click on headline.

Cathy Johnson

Secretary, Clean Environment Commission

305-155 Carlton St.

Winnipeg, MB R3C 3H8

(204) 945-7091

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Caribou, Reindeer Numbers Show Dramatic Decline

ScienceDaily (June 12, 2009) —
Caribou and reindeer numbers worldwide have plunged almost 60% in the last three decades. Click on headline for full story. Also please read a related story by clicking on the "endangered species" category of this blog.

Reindeer. Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Green Party of Manitoba Believes Now is the Time to Bring "CAFOs" to an End.

News Release - June 13 - '09
In light of the current outbreak of H1N1 influenza, or Swine 'Flu, the Green Party of Manitoba is calling for an immediate halt to the development of any new confined animal feeding operations, or "CAFOs," in the province. Large numbers of hogs and chickens are fed in these facilities, also referred to as "factory farms." The Government of Manitoba has allowed the development of many such operations, especially in the southeast and central areas.
While it has placed a freeze on any new developments in these regions, vast areas of the province are still eligible for new ones. It is a style of industrialized agriculture which has for years, drawn growing concern from around the world.
The Green Party leader, James Beddome says, "The preponderance of scientific evidence implicating such operations in the spread of serious infectious diseases, is just too convincing to allow them to multiply."

Not only that, Beddome adds, "Operations housing both hogs and chickens in close proximity, already up and running in parts of Manitoba, (notably the RM of Hanover) pose a potentially dangerous combination. These must be phased out as soon as possible."
The Green Party's spokesperson on food security, Larry Powell, notes that several huge hog and chicken "CAFOs" also operate near the small Mexican town where the Swine 'Flu outbreak apparently began. Some local people there believe a virus from those barns infected the little boy who became the first known victim.

Powell says "Premier Doer seems not to be aware of the body of medical research and scientific evidence pertaining to this issue."
For example;

• The World Health Organization, Canadian Public Health Association, American Public Health Association, Canadian Medical Association, and American Medical Association have, for years, all raised alarms about the public health risks of "CAFOs."

• In 2006, research teams from the Universities of Iowa and Wisconsin, with help from the Centres for Disease Control, warned that pigs play an important role in the transmission of the 'flu virus back and forth from animals to humans. Their study found that farmers, veterinarians and meat processors exposed to hogs in their jobs, ran a greatly increased risk of coming down with H1N1, the flu strain involved in the current outbreak.

• In 2007, another research team with the (U.S.) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences concluded, "Because 'CAFOs' tend to concentrate large numbers of animals close together, they facilitate rapid transmission and mixing of viruses. There is a concern that increasing the numbers of swine facilities adjacent to avian facilities could further promote the evolution of the next pandemic."

Beddome says, "Since the current outbreak is still cropping up disturbingly in unexpected places in Manitoba, steps such as the ones I'm suggesting, are essential as a precaution against a full-blown pandemic which some medical authorities say is not only possible, but probable in the future.
But more steps should also be taken. These could include improved bio-security measures at "CAFOs" and stepped up-medical monitoring of people involved in their operation.
"The government must also be mindful of any economic hardships these policy changes might have on the industry. So it should consider appropriate financial aid to any operators adversely affected by them."
Beddome concludes, "Manitoba should also provide assistance and encouragement to smaller, straw-based, organic, family livestock farms in this province as well as the establishment of new ones."
Please also read "H1N1 - The First Legal Action Targets a Pig Farm."
Hello Larry;

Great release; one can only echo the valid info and realize that in many cases (if not all)that Pandemics and outbreaks stem from concentrated operations. No doubt that these present operations have to be curbed. The Moratorium and Bill 17 did nothing to prevent the previous existing operations from polluting. Business as usual. Our Governments of the day far and wide don't operate even with a minimum of any Conscience !


Joe Leschyshn

Thursday, June 11, 2009

PERU: ‘Police Are Throwing Bodies in the River,’ Say Native Protesters

By Milagros Salazar - Interpress Service
LIMA, Jun 8 (IPS) - There are conflicting reports on a violent incident in Peru’s Amazon jungle region in which both police officers and indigenous protesters were killed.
Click headline for details.

Natives set up a road block at the
entrance of the Amazonian town
of Yurimaguas, northern Peru.

Peruvian lawmakers have voted not to
ease restrictions on lumber harvesting
in the Amazon rain forest,
days after it sparked clashes between
police and indigenous protesters,
killing dozens of people. (AFP/Ernesto Benavides)

China Alone Could Bring World to Brink of Climate Calamity - US official

The Guardian UK - Business as usual in China would lead to 2.7C rise by 2050 even if all other countries slash emissions...
Click headline for the full story.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Farm Suicides Turn Children Into Farmers

Published on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 by Inter Press Service
by Jaideep Hardikar. Click on headline for complete story.
Please also read related story..

Fawzan Husein for the New York Times

Friday, June 5, 2009

Manitoba's Minister of Conservation and the Clean Environment Commission Muzzle the Voice of the People ... Democracy is Not Being Served!

Press Release - Concerned Citizens of the Valley.
NDP Conservation Minister Stan Struthers and the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission (CEC) have agreed to restrict the ability of the public to ask questions and cross examine the government and the Louisiana Pacific Corporation at the upcoming CEC investigation into the "LP's" plant at Minnitonis, Manitoba (Photo by Larry)
shutting down of the pollution controls at the company's OSB mill in the Swan River Valley.

The Terms of Reference from the Minister to the CEC called for an investigation and a public meeting. This process would allow the CEC panel members to question or cross examine any presenters, such as the government or LP consultants, but it would not allow the public to do this. Further, it is not known whether the public can bring forward as presenters their expert, knowledgeable spokespersons to identify the many contradictions and perceptual screens that confuse the whole issue.

The government needs to change its Terms of Reference to say that the CEC "investigation" be instead a democratically conducted Public Hearing, for all the facts to be revealed.

“We Canadians deserve the same level of protection from harmful emissions that this corporation affords its own citizens in the USA.”
Concerned Citizens of the Valley

For more information: Maggie Romak - 734-9064
Iris Jonsson - 734-2807
Dan Soprovich - 734-3054
COMMENT: Hey great blog!
Thanks, Chris.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Remarkable Commencement Address - by Paul Hawken

University of Portland, May 3rd, 2009 - by Paul Hawken
Courtesy of Common Dreams
For full address, just click on headline.

Paul Hawken, (l.) author and actor.

Ag Groups from Canada & Other Countries Push Back Against Biotech Wheat

Manitoba Co-Operator
Staff - 6/2/2009
To read full story, just click on headline...

Massive B.C. coal mines are about to get a new owner. Why some are worried about Glencore’s record

THE NARWHAL Coal mine at Tumbler Ridge, B.C.  Jeffrey Wynne ,      If the sale goes through, the company will inherit a contamination proble...