Monday, January 31, 2011

Why You Can Now Kiss Organic Beef, Dairy and Many Vegetables Goodbye

Alternet -  Jan 31 - 2010 - The USDA has ruled that farmers are now free to plant GE alfalfa, and USDA won't even keep track of who plants it where. The implications are huge. 
Editor's Note: What can we Canadians do, you might ask? OUR LAST HOPE in defending against such Frankenfoods is to make sure OUR PARLIAMENT PASSES the bill, below. Please read, understand and SIGN THE PETITION! THANK YOU! JUST GO TO THIS PAGE & FOLLOW THE PROMPTS! l.p.

Stop GM Alfalfa! Please Sign the Petition!

Food & Water Watch: Advocating for our right to safe, affordable, healthy food and water.
The USDA Just Announced Final Approval of Monsanto's GE Alfalfa
Take Action NOW to Demand President Obama Reverse this Decision

Dear L,

Genetically Engineered Alfalfa Has Been Approved, But President Obama Can Have the Final Say
We just found out that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack approved Monsanto's genetically engineered alfalfa for widespread planting this spring. This is outrageous and wrong, and it will hurt organic farmers.

Demand that President Obama reverse this disastrous approval. 

The USDA decision to allow GE alfalfa to be planted unleashes another unnecessary genetically engineered crop into our environment and puts organic farmers at risk of widespread GE contamination. The agency did no real assessment of the harm that GE alfalfa could do, and caved to pressure from big agribusiness to approve this genetically engineered crop before the spring planting season.

President Obama is the last line of defense, and can stop the widespread planting of Monsanto's GE alfalfa. Take action now to demand President Obama stop this disastrous approval.

Thanks for taking action,
Sarah Alexander
Outreach Director
Food & Water Watch

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

US Approves GE Alfalfa Plantings

Jan 27, 2011: The US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack...... 
 Organic Consumers Asn: As Iowa Governor, Tom Vilsack was a leading advocate for Monsanto, genetic engineering, and factory farming. President Obama proudly lauded his new Agriculture Secretary for "promoting biotech."

Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary
Vilsack has, in fact, promoted the most controversial and dangerous forms of agricultural biotechnology, including pharma crops, plants genetically engineered to produce pharmaceuticals. When grown outdoors on farmland, where most pharma crop trials have occurred, pharma crops can easily contaminate conventional and organic varieties.

A Must-See! David Suzuki's 2 Hr. Special - Tippinig Point - the Age of the Oil Sands

Please watch this special presentation of the Nature of Things. Perhaps it should be required viewing for our kids in school!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Driving Straight Into Catastrophe

By Julio Godoy - Interpress Service
PARIS, Jan 24, 2011 (IPS) - Despite repeated warnings by environmental and climate experts that reduction of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions is fundamental to forestalling global warming, disaster appears imminent.                                                                                   (AFP/File/Natalia Kolesnikova)
According to the latest statistics, unprecedented climate change has Earth hurtling down a path of catastrophic proportions. 

FIRST SPRING FLOOD OUTLOOK FOR MANITOBA - another flood of the century?

Gov't of Manitoba News Release - Jan 24, 2011

Manitoba Water Stewardship's first spring flood outlook indicates the 2011 spring flood potential is high for much of Manitoba including the Red, Souris, Pembina, Assiniboine, Winnipeg, Saskatchewan and Fisher rivers and the Interlake.  High river flows, above-normal snow-water content in the snowpack, and an expected cooler and wetter spring have increased the probabilities of significant flooding.

With average weather along the Red River, a flood the size of 2009 is anticipated while unfavourable weather could result in a flood of 1997 levels.  With average weather along other rivers and streams in Manitoba, flooding is still anticipated and, with unfavourable weather, significant flooding could occur.

Resource Revolts Will Make 2011 The Year of Living Dangerously

Michael T. Klare 
- Tomgram Jan 24-2011
Rising Commodity Prices and Extreme Weather Events Threaten Global Stability
Photo credit AFP

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Is Canada's Flagship TV Newscast Telling the Whole Story of Climate Change?

"The National "- a Critique - by Larry Powell 

(Please also watch video at end.)

Overall, I believe the coverage of global warming by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is great, on such programs as “The Nature of Things” and “Doc Zone.” On the other hand, “The National,” the network’s nightly TV newscast, continues to disappoint.

And here’s why.

Last month, it carried a story on the horrific, record-breaking storms, which ravaged many parts of Canada in 2010. Was this climate change, it asked?

For the answer, it went to Dave Phillips, official spokesperson for Environment Canada's Meteorological Service, famous for his “weather trivia” calendars.

Phillips said it would be "bad science" to suggest a link between these storms and global climate change!

Bad science?

Phillips did not say; there may be a link but it's not possible to conclude, scientifically, at least not yet.

Nor did he say; the storms were at least consistent with the now abundant body of scienctific evidence on the matter.

He did say, all these storms may be a dress rehearsal or taste of things to come. But he would not say climate change!

The website of Phillip's own employer, the Government of Canada, at least until about five years ago, was pretty clear;

"Extreme events, such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, hailstorms, heat waves and droughts, may become more frequent on the Prairies due to climate change. Warmer winters may increase the potential for more intense winter storms, and more frequent rain. In the summer, flooding may increase with heavy rains."

That website was taken down in 2006, the year Stephen Harper came to power. Since then, Harper has carved out a reputation as the world leader with arguably the most hostile attitude toward the environment and the least inclined to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity.

And this is the response I got from Ian Hanington, Communications Specialist with the Suzuki Foundation when I invited that group to comment on my story.

"Although it is difficult to link any individual extreme weather event to global warming, scientists have shown that global warming brings with it increases in the intensity and frequency of these types of events.  In other words, although direct cause and effect is always difficult to prove in individual cases, the overall patterns were seeing are consistent with scientific predictions about climate change."

So what am I suggesting here, you may be asking?

I am suggesting that Phillips may, for political reasons, be "pulling his punches" here. Or, he may actually be afraid for his career if he becomes more candid. 

While some may be shocked at such a suggestion, let's look at recent history.

In a news release last spring, the advocacy group, Climate Action Network Canada, listed what it called "A troubling catalogue of actions by Ottawa to muzzle its own climate scientists and weaken the research capacity of Canada's climate science community."

Please also read: "Stephen Harper's War on Climate Science," here.

Recently, a top US climate scientist, *Kevin Trenberth, was interviewed on this very topic - the link between global warming and extreme weather - and the tendency of even his colleagues to play it down.

 “I find it systematically tends to get underplayed by my fellow scientists. I’m sure you’ve probably heard, ‘Well you can’t attribute a single event to climate change.’ But there is a systematic influence on all of these weather events nowadays because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms and it’s unfortunate that the public is not associating these with the fact that this is one manifestation of climate change. And the prospects are that these kinds of things will only get bigger and worse in the future.”

Another weather expert I contacted for this story, falls into the category Trenberth talks about. Scott Stephens is a meteorologist with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Referring to the "bad science" remark, Stephens responded, "The statement made is correct. One event or even a series of events cannot be directly linked to climate change. Having said that, one of the basic tenets of global warming would be for increasing extreme events around the globe. (Emphasis mine.) But, you would have to look at an increasing frequency of such events over a much longer period of time in order to be able to connect the dots."

This begs the question, how many more catastrophic storms and weather extremes must we endure before these "dots are connected?" 

*Dr. Trenberth is Senior Scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado. He was also a lead author with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) when it issued its famous assessment report in 2007. The IPCC was awarded the Nobel Prize for its groundbreaking work.

In fact, the scientific record now abounds with evidence supporting Trenberth.

For example, a new study by Duke University suggests that global warming is the main cause of a significant intensification of abnormally wet or dry summer weather in the southeastern United States.

So just how bad was it last year in Canada?

Can all those storms be considered “just a bad year?” You be the judge. This is just a “smattering” of what it was like last year in this country:
  • A vicious Atlantic hurricane dubbed "Igor" became Newfoundland's most destructive, ever.
  •  Prairie farmers experienced their wettest growing season, ever.
  •  British Columbia lost huge tracts of valuable timber to wild fires in one of the most expensive years ever for fire fighters. 
For a more complete list, just click here: Environment Canada’s page on our “worst 10 storms of 2010. 
Unfortunately, this is not the end of the story.

Claire Martin of CBC's Weather Centre appears each weeknight on "The National." I watch regularly. I've never heard her mention "climate change!"

She recently attributed the monster flooding now ravaging Australia to La Niña, an ancient, natural phenomenon that sees ocean currents cool down, below normal.

Later, also on The National, Bob MacDonald of CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks, gave a similar interpretation. No mention of the dreaded "c" "c" words!

I do not question that they were technically correct in their analyses - as far is they went.

What they both failed to mention is that both La Niñas (cooling trends) and El Niños (warming ones), have been scientifically shown to be behaving strangely in recent years, with the onset of global warming!

In the early ‘90s, several El Niños were recorded, but with no La Niñas in between! The IPCC describes this occurrence as "highly unusual and very unlikely to be accounted for solely by natural variability.”

Then, in the spring of 1997 until the summer of '98, perhaps the most devastating and prolonged El Niños of all time slammed into Ecuador, in South America. It caused a staggering $2.6 billion in damage to that country's infrastructure, farms, fisheries, homes and businesses.

Events like this have prompted the IPCC itself to observe "Whether global warming is affecting El Niños is now a key question."

Meanwhile, the La Niña plaguing Australia is being described as one of the worst on record and unlikely to let up soon! 

Anything else? You bet! 

Even more recently, the host of "The National,” Peter Mansbridge, interviewed Prime Minister Harper. He did not even ask him about climate change, his attitude toward it, or the low esteem in which Harper is held in the rest of the world for the contempt he seems to display, not only for environmentalists, but climate science itself! 
(Some observers have even attributed this "anti-science" attitude as one reason Canada lost its bid last year for a seat on the UN Security Council!)

Finally, Global TV News featured a major story last week, reporting that 2010 had gone down on record, tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record.

What did The National report?  Nothing.

Surely the accuracy, integrity and completeness of media coverage of the climate change phenomenon are key to public understanding of this global crisis. Without enlightened and well-informed citizens, chances of averting or even lessening this scourge (which some of our best brains warn could actually lead to an unihabitable planet) become slim, indeed. Surely incorrect, incomplete or sloppy media messages can only provide comfort to the climate deniers of this world who will then press on with their dishonourable, dangerous and self-serving crusade for "business as usual."

And our leaders of government, industry and way too many individuals who've already shown zero backbone to do anything about this, will have even less reason to do what must be done to save our common home from a grave and uncertain future - reduce greenhouse gases!
Please also watch this video.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Minister of Environmental Destruction Says He Will Not Let Emissions Rules Hamper Tar Sands Development

DESMOGBLOG.COM  6 January 11
Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent is off...
EDITOR'S NOTE: When I recently wrote "Peter Kent - hope or disappointment?"on his being named to his new cabinet post, I was skeptical - but tried to at least leave him the benefit of the doubt. Well, congrats, Peter! You have now let down totally, not just me but everyone other Canadian who had hopes for a cleaner country! Shame! l.p.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pfffft Goes Promise of Pumping C02 Underground

By Andrew Nikiforuk, 12 Jan 2011,

Farmers say high profile carbon sequestration experiment is a bubbling, dangerous failure.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Future of Food Riots

January 10, 2011 - by Gwynne Dyer -
If all the food in the world were...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tomatoes Found to Contain Nutrient Which Prevents Vascular Diseases

ScienceDaily (Jan. 7, 2011) — They are the most...

Cherry tomatoes.
l.p. photo

Illnesses linked to BP Oil Disaster: Widespread Sickness due to Toxic Chemicals

by Dahr Jamail - Global Research Jan '11
Doctor attributes widespread sickness to toxic chemicals from the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

'Aflockalypse': Why We Should Be Concerned

Tara Lohan - Alternet

The massive death toll of dead birds and sea life should draw attention to the countless other species on the brink of extinction.

White-headed woodpecker
Courtesy, BC Gov't.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Save the Bees - Sign the Petition!

Dear friends,

Bees are dying off worldwide and our entire food chain is in peril. Scientists blame toxic pesticides and four European governments have already banned them. If we get the US and the EU to join the ban, other governments across the world could follow, and save bees from extinction. Sign the petition and forward this urgent appeal:

Silently, billions of bees are dying off and our entire food chain is in danger. Bees don't just make honey, they are a giant, humble workforce, pollinating 90% of the plants we grow.

Multiple scientific studies fault one group of toxic pesticides for their rapid demise, and bee populations have soared in four European countries that have banned these products. But powerful chemical companies are lobbying hard to keep selling this poison. Our best chance to save bees now is to push the US and EU to ban this deadly product -- their action is critical and will have a ripple effect on the rest of the world.

We have no time to lose -- the debate is raging about what to do. This is not just about saving bumble bees, this is about survival. Let’s build a giant global buzz calling for the EU and US to outlaw these killer chemicals and save our bees and our food. Sign the emergency petition now and send it onto to everyone and we’ll deliver it to key decision makers:

The US House of Representatives v. the Environmental Protection Agency, Round One

— By Kate Sheppard MotherJones - Jan. 6, 2011

That didn't take long. On the first…

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A New Direction in Agriculture: Up

By Emily Voigt - OnEarth - January 3, 2011
The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century

Designed by Dickson Despommier and architect Eric Ellingsen, 
the Pyramid Farm would separate sewage into water and carbon, 
used to power lighting and machinery. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Peter Kent - Hope Or Disappointment?

-by Larry Powell-

So Canada has a new Minister of the Environment!

Peter Kent used to be a credible journalist with CBC Television News many years ago.

But Kent's appointement comes at a time when Canada's reputation on fighting the scourges of climate change remains in the toilet.

He takes over from Jim Prentice, who abandon his post late last year to take a cushy job with a major bank which helps enable the Alberta tar sands, the worlds dirtiest energy project. Such, I guess, are the ethical standards to which Stephen Harper holds his appointees!

Harper and his minions have been preaching for some time, Canada will follow the US lead and taylor our environmental policies after them.


Since President Obama is actually doing something concrete about climate change, I guess that means we will be too, then, Mr. Kent?

Obama has given the go-ahead to the Environmental Protection Agency to use powers it has held for some time under the Clean Air Act. Buttressed by a ruling from the US Supreme Court, the EPA will start to enforce greenhouse gas emission limits for coal-fiired power plants in the next couple of years.

It's kind of "put up or shut up time" for Canada, one might say.

So which will it be, Peter? A future made up of genuine efforts by you and our government to steer away from a calamatous future full of weather catastrophes and economic collapse due to global warming; Or one of continued subservience to the powerful and rich, non-sustainable energy lobby?

Opposition parties say Kent will do little more for the environment than recite the cautious script prepared for him by the Prime Minister's Office.

And the oil industry is confident that it will continue to be smooth sailing down the road for it.

So, which will it be, Peter? 

Will it be more of the same under your watch? Or will you do something honourable and right for our nation and our planet by bringing in strict regulation of the industry - an element that has been shamfully lacking for far too long.

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...