Saturday, April 30, 2011

Blizzard Worsens Flood Woes for Manitobans

Manitoba News Release
April 30, 2011 FLOOD BULLETIN #29
.    A major storm is causing snow and rain along with high winds that are expected to shift from southerly to northerly directions across most of southern Manitoba.  The slow-moving system is expected to move across Manitoba today (Sat.) and tomorrow.  

A lonely Robin awaits the return of spring.
The storm will affect the dates of river crests and prolong the duration of the flood.  Forecasters are assessing the storm's impact and will have more information once it is over.

.    Due to high wind gusts forecast across southern Manitoba today, those properties with flood-protection works and exposed to north winds can expect wind setup and wave action and are advised to assess the need for flood-protection reinforcements.

Assiniboine River

.    Water levels on the Shellmouth Reservoir increased by 1.18 ft. since yesterday to 1,411.55 ft.  

Above, the bridge over the Lake of the Prairies (Shellmouth Reservoir) near Roblin.
Inflows into the Shellmouth Reservoir have decreased to approximately 16,500 cfs.  
A tighter shot showing water levels beneath the bridge deck.
Outflows are the maximum possible with current reservoir levels at 9,080 cfs.

.    The Shellmouth Reservoir is forecast to receive significant run-off from the current storm, adding to current high water levels.  The dam will be operated to prevent outflows from exceeding 10,000 cfs.

Manitoba may well experience the longest period of flooding in its history, thanks to cooler weather and now this latest system with its unwanted precipitation in the form of wet snow. As much as 30 cm (1 ft) has already fallen in some parts of western Manitoba, with winds gusting up to 100 km/hr. (One community, near Dauphin, recorded an incredible 50cm!)
(All photos by l.p.)

Friday, April 29, 2011

"Massive" Crop Losses Feared in U.S. South's Drought

Apr 28, 2011 Reuters
The worst drought in more than 40 years intensified across Texas over the last week, with high winds and heat causing "massive crop losses," with little relief in sight, according to weather experts Thursday. Details here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Larry Tries Again to Draw Attention to the Manitoba Flooding & Climate Change Connection


Below is my letter to Terry McLeod, host of the CBC Radio "Information Radio," morning show in Winnipeg. It is in response to an invitation he extended to listeners to comment on the current flood situation.

I'm not holding my breath that it will be used. My record in having such letters/emails see the light of day "on the air," especially on the climate change topic, has not been too good! I hope they will prove me wrong this time! l.p.
Dear Terry,

Perhaps it's high-time for us to recognize the link between climate change and the increasingly serious floods we are facing in our province and elsewhere. Climate change is caused by humans. We are creating too many greenhouse gases by, among other things, the vehicles we drive and the planes we fly in. These, in turn are warming the planet and creating more extreme weather events such as the flooding which has definitely been on the increase in both frequency and intensity.

Wouldn't it be better to start putting more emphasis on sustainable energy which would reduce our reliance on fossil fuels? Instead, we are expanding the airport, pressing on with massive transportation corridors and exploring for oil, a decidedly non-sustainable source, at record levels!

We also need to think about just who is suggesting the "link" I refer to. Is it just me? Hardly!
  • Environment Canada's Chief climatolotist, Dave Phillips is saying it.
  • Peer-reviewed articles in the Journal Nature are saying it.
  • The Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development is saying it.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is saying it.
  • Thousands of climate scientists around the world are saying it.
After a brief flurry of attention this problem generated earlier this decade, our politicians, industry and media all seem to have come down with collective amnesia and are now shamefully neglecting this most important environmental issue of our time. In so doing, we are surely immersing not only ourselves, but future generations in a huge whirlpool of uncertainty!

Larry Powell
Roblin, MB

Monday, April 25, 2011

Last Members of Manitoba First Nation Leaving as Reserve Monitors Flood

By: The Canadian Press 04/25/2011

WINNIPEG - The last residents of a Manitoba reserve on the U.S. border were leaving Monday if they weren't needed to monitor flooding, said the man in charge of the evacuation.

Howard Nelson said about 800 members of the Roseau River First Nation would have traded life on the reserve south of Winnipeg for that in city hotels.

He said the evacuees could be there for five to 10 days, but it was hard to predict because the road into the community might be closed by flooding.

However, the water on Monday was still almost two metres below the top of a protective dike.
Nelson said pumps were being used to get water out of almost 30 flooded basements in low-lying areas.

This year's spring flooding has forced about 1,600 people to leave their homes in Manitoba — most from Roseau River and the Peguis First Nation along the Fisher River near Lake Winnipeg.

 The number of people displaced by the flooding is only a fraction of what it was in the "flood of the century" in '97. 

That's the good news.

Fact is, floodwaters also cover a larger area of the province than ever-before experienced. Several communities in the Red River Valley are still bracing for water levels which will eclipse those of the flood of '09. And that will be the second-worst flooding in a-century-&-a-half! l.p.
The normally tranquil Boggy Creek, near Roblin (above), is now swollen to a torrent. About a kilometer downstream, it empties into Lake of the Prairies on the Assiniboine River. (l.p. video)

BP Getting $13 Billion Tax Break? {TAKE ACTION}

PlanetSave - 24 Apr 2011  
Last Wednesday, it was determined that BP would be getting $13 billion in tax credits. It is not clear if BP is even going to pay any taxes at all or if it will actually get money from the government after this. Why is BP getting so much money? Because of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico….

Yeah, that’s right, BP got to write off its losses from the oil spill. Residents and animals are suffering (if they haven’t already suffered and died) from this unprecedented disaster, the country is struggling, and BP gets to skip tax season because it’s own mistake caused it to lose money.

$13 billion is hard to even comprehend. But let’s put it this way: it’s about equal to the EPA’s annual budget, which just got slashed considerably by a Tea-Party-wacky Congress, and it’s equal to about 1/3 of the total budget cuts our government has put forward for 2011.

Now, though, one of my favorite sites, CREDO Action, is pushing BP to take responsibility for its mess and not write it off. You can sign it’s petition here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Second Garbage Patch Confirmed in Atlantic Ocean

Joshua S Hill - Planetsave
Planet Earth’s oceans now have a second confirmed garbage patch filled with plastic "remains."
Details here.

Truth Comes out on 'Fracking' Toxins

By Andrew Nikiforuk, 20 Apr'11
  Who finally tells us the nasty chemicals used for shale gas drilling in Western Canada? The US Congress. Details here.

Earth Day 2011: Peace with Earth Day

Apr 22'11 - Ecological Internet 
Re-Declaration of a "Planetary Ecological Emergency."  Details here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Agriculture: The Unlikely Earth Day Hero

For over 40 years, Earth Day has served as a call to action, mobilizing individuals and organizations around the world to address these challenges. This year Nourishing the Planet highlights agriculture—often blamed as a driver of environmental problems—as an emerging solution. Details here.

A Reprieve For The Mekong - Xayaburi Dam Delayed

International Rivers - Apr 21 '11
Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia have now agreed that the decision on the Xayaburi Dam be deferred and elevated to the Ministerial level. The decision brings a much needed, if temporary, reprieve to the mighty Mekong River. Details here.

Please also read: Dam Construction Is Set to Destroy the 'Mother of all Rivers' 

Manitoba rolls out its new electric vehicle policy

By: Staff Writer Wpg Free Press Apr 21 - '11

The Manitoba government rolled out its new electric vehicle policy today to get more clean energy cars on the road.
Energy and Mines Minister Dave Chomiak said the province will also sign another memorandum of understanding with Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada to use the province as a testing ground for its i-MiEV electric vehicle.
Mitsubishi has already signed a deal to develop electric-powered buses with New Flyer.
Koji Soga, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada said his company was delighted to be working with the province.
The company is bringing two of its i-MiEVs to the province for testing.
The province is also creating an advisory committee on how electric transporation can be safely and economically introduced to the province.
Chomiak said electric vehicles will never be mass-produced in Manitoba, but that the province can be involved in the developing the techology for reliable electric transporation.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Who Benefits from GM Seeds?

*by Sam Burcher -
Agroecology Offers Real Solutions to World Hunger After Decades of GM Hype
The Via Campesina (the Peasants’ way) is emerging as a potentially powerful international movement mobilizing resistance against the GM Corporations, which have consolidated their agro-chemical companies into just five major global players; Monsanto, Bayer, BASF, Syngenta and Dupont.

A recent report by the Friends of the Earth (FOE) 1 has highlighted the struggle between the two forces for control of the seeds. On one side are the 1.5 million members of the Via Campesina, who are demanding food sovereignty or the right to grow healthy food from local, time-honoured seeds.  On the opposing side are the mega Corporations, which have gained so much power through patents on GM seeds.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Canada Has More to Offer the World Than Oil

Eric Swanson at Apr 15, 2011 DOGWOOD Initiative
Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel has been getting a lot of attention lately while pushing his view that his Northern Gateway oil supertanker proposal for B.C.’s coast presents a profound choice. We couldn’t agree more. Details here.

Manitoba Floods Close Main Highway Artery Into the 'States - Is THIS Climate Change?

by Larry Powell - In its latest flood bulletin, the Government of Manitoba has announced it has closed a key access road between Winnipeg and North Dakota, PTH 75, (l.) "as a result of rising floodwater."   
The flooding is already covering a larger area of the province than ever before. And flood levels in the Red River Valley are expected to top leves in 2009, the 2nd worst flood in the province in 150 yrs.    
There have been hundreds of rural road closures, states of emergency and evacuations of both residences and personal care homes.         
Two deaths have been attributed to the flooding.    
 Ice jams on the Assiniboine River west of Winnipeg yesterday caused the water to rise almost 2 meters (6ft). The jams have now moved out, sending water downstream. And that is expected to raise water levels of 30 cm (1 ft) going into Winnipeg. 
The Town of Melita (in the southwest of the province) has declared a state of local emergency.  Work is ongoing on the Melita dike to protect the community. 
The Assiniboine Valley at St. Lazare 
A section of the ring dike at St-Lazare will be raised by approximately 30cm as a precautionary measure in preparation for high flows from the Qu'Appelle River expected later this week.     
 This bridge, (r.) near the confluence of the Qu'Appelle and Assiniboine Rivers at St. Lazare, had very little "freeboard" beneath it, when I visited there yesterday (Sunday) and the crests haven't even arrived yet!
A second peak is expected over the weekend along the Qu'Appelle River. Part of PTH 41 is expected to close because of high waters.

Due to high flows on the Assiniboine, the Portage Diversion has been operated at or near maximum  capacity for the last three days. 
This is the normally docile Boggy Creek, now swollen and rushing toward Lake of the Prairies, on the Assiniboine River near Roblin. (All photos & video by l.p.)
PUBLISHER'S COMMENT: Is it global warming?
I put that question to the chief climatologist at Environment Canada, Dave Phillips. I had sent him a news account out of the States. In it, climate scientists suggested a link between the extreme blizzards which struck the eastern seaboard in the previous two winters, ("Snowmageddons") and climate change. As they explained, that's because a warmer atmosphere can hold a lot more precipitation - hence, more intense rainfalls/snowfalls. So I asked Mr. Phillips whether this might be the case in this country, as well. Here is his response, in an email to me on March 14th. l.p.
 Hello Larry:
Thank you for your question and reference to the newspaper article. (...That article...) focused on weather in the United States but the circulation pattern described in the piece is also influencing the weather here in Canada.  For example what the writer says about the Red River in North Dakota applies equally so in Manitoba and most Canadians in Atlantic Canada will say this winter has been especially difficult with its parade of storms.  I think that climate is having the same effect on our extremes as in the United States.  What is especially becoming evident in recent years is the increased variability of the weather and that likely is associated with altered climate.  More so there seems to be an increase in the frequency of heavy rainfalls.  We are seeing that in Canada.  More of our flooding events come from intense rainfalls than snow and and ice melting events which were the big flood producers of the past.  Just last month a seminal ariticle appeared in Nature linking rainfall intensity with anthropogenic climate change.  Again, I think if you look for them there are changes in the frequency, intensity and duration of extreme weather events in Canada just as there are in the United States.
Thanks for your interest Larry.
David Phillips

Sunday, April 17, 2011

US Meat and Poultry Is Widely Contaminated With Drug-Resistant Staph Bacteria, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Apr. 15, 2011) — Drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus (r.), a bacteria linked to a wide range of human diseases, are present in meat and poultry from U.S. grocery stores at unexpectedly high rates...Details here.

Conversation with Deepak Chopra - GE Alfalfa - Video

Since the making of this video, the USDA has, to its everlasting shame, approved both GE alfalfa and GE sugarbeets. Canada threatens to do the same! l.p.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Catastrophe In The gulf of Mexico: 
Devastation Persists One Year After Spill

Centre for Biological Diversity Apr 12'11
It’s been a year since BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig blew up in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 people and unleashing the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Details here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dam Construction Is Set to Destroy the 'Mother of all Rivers'

AlterNet / By Aviva Imhof - Apr 15 '11
A series of dams proposed along the Mekong River threaten 41 fish species with extinction and puts the livelihoods of nearly half a million people at risk. Details here.

The Red River Valley Could be Headed for its Second-Worst Flooding in a-Century-&-a-Half - The Gov't. of Manitoba

In its latest flood bulletin, the Government of Manitoba states, "While the upper level of the forecast range has been reduced slightly, it still remains somewhat above 2,009 levels for all points on the Red River. 2009 was the second-largest flood in the past 150 years."

While cooler-than-normal temperatures will blunt the severity of the flooding, it will also make it last longer than it otherwise would, the Government adds.
A swollen stream spills into Boggy Creek, just above Lake of the Prairies (on the Assiniboine River system) in western Manitoba.
PUBLISHER'S COMMENT: It's only mid-April. Yet,  already two people have died and hundreds more have been displaced in flood-related incidents. Scores of roads have been washed out and many homes and businesses are isolated by the floodwaters. Ranchers report conditions hazardous for their livestock. At least three personal care homes have been evacuated. At least one boil-water advisory has been ordered. The main CN rail line was damaged for a time and trains re-routed. In neighboring Saskatchewan, flooding closed the Trans Canada Highway east of Regina and there are fears for the safety of drinking water. 

Just how much longer can the "powers that be" ignore the role that climate change is surely playing in these catastrophic events? One would think the increase in the frequency and severity of these occurrences are now plain for all to see. In a saner world, it surely ought to be more than enough to prompt a response in the form of regulations to control greenhouse gas emissions. 

On the contrary, here in Manitoba, we are seeing:
  • Exploration for oil, a non-renewable, unsustainble, climate-change-producing resource, at an all-time high.
  • Massive excavation and earth-movinig in preparation for "Centreport," a misguided megaproject to turn Winnipeg into a "hub" for just about any mode of transport you can imagine, connecting the city with the rest of the continent, including Mexico and Nunavut! It's promoters call it "world-class." I call it Greenhouse-Gas City!"
  • A massive expansion of the Winnipeg airport, to accomodate many more jetliners, among the worst contributors to the climate change crisis. 
  • Rather than take measures which attack the root-causes of climate change, massive machines break up ice jams, dig deeper trenches and higher dikes, producing more harmful emissions in the process.
  • Meanwhile, greenhouse gases in this province are, like most other places, on the rise. Yet we are apparently supposed to believe this government is, somehow,"green!!!!" l.p. 
Please also read: "Prairie Flooding Delays Seeding Two Weeks So Far."

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Earth to EPA: Bees Need Help Now

    PANNA - Apr 14 '11
    In the last four months, 1.2 million people around the world have raised their voices on behalf of honey bees – urging officials to take decisive, precautionary action by suspending a suspect class of pesticides (neonicotinoids) known to undermine honey bee immunity. Details here.

    EARTH DAY..22 APRIL - A Letter to the Editor

    Dear Editor,
    We put aside this day each year to officially recognize and appreciate our Planet and to honour the sacred elements of Air, Water,
    Earth and Fire.

    Some estimate that North Americans alone need five planets, the size of our earth , to sustain their continued and present rate of green
    house gas emissions. This is very sad and alarming news.

    Our governments have an important role to play in solving this problem. Unfortunately,however,it is governments that have allowed and encouraged activities that increase emissions and brought us to a place of crisis. Our governments are supposed to be accountable for their actions, to regulate and make decisions that protect public interest, the environment.
    Human health and survival depends on a healthy environment.
    Yet, today's governments are unduly influenced and controlled in too many ways by industry and corporations with their promises of investments,development,technological solutions and globalized trade.

    I have yet to see their names printed on ballots at the voting centres, yet their impact and corporate power are prominent and usually prevail in so many controversial decisions,regarding Nature and Earth. This leaves me to conclude, that although not democratically elected, they are the ones effectively in control.They are the ones that control the decision-makers.

    With the compliments of our government, federal and provincial environmental assessment laws, originally put in place, "to protect" our waters and environment, have been gutted and stripped, so as to not hinder the progress of Industry. How often are development proposal approvals denied? Provincial regulations receive little or no enforcement in matters that could impede economic development
    profit and "economic growth".
    These are the workings of corporate-first politics. Is it any wonder,that our planet is in trouble?. 

    Our home,planet earth, does not deserve the disrespectful,unethical exploitation that it is experiencing from the industries and corporations in their relentless pursuit of profit. Our earth does not deserve governments, who wilfully abandon responsibilities to protect, for the primary benefit and domination of industry.
    Granted the planet, environment, water and air pollution issues and the associated health risks are all talked about, but, always seem to come in second best,and in the majority of the final decisions, are the losers. 

    Why do we recognize only "one day each year" as Earth Day?  Shouldn't Earth Day be "every day"? After all, we do not have five other planets to depend onEarth is our one and only home. "There's no place else to go" 

    But I also know and realize there are a great many North Americans fighting very hard to preserve and save our planet from the ravages of industry and its continued plundering of the Earth's resources, realizing that the advertised concepts of "sustainable progress and development," so often end up as economic disasters. Disasters that we,as taxpayers, and nature, end up paying for.
    The lessons of history are there to remind us all,about Corporate "greed".

    In support of this Earth Day and every day from now on, let us all begin by treating and appreciating our earth with the deserving respect of its creation and be thankful for how it sustains human life. 
    Let us continue to support these values by proclaiming "The Truth". The crisis is human. Man is the cause and the victim. We are destroying what we need to survive. Governments must be compelled, by us, to live up to their responsibilities.
    Economy is not the bottom line. The survival of humans through the protection of earth is. 
    The burden of responsibility for the survival of future generations and this Earth,is an honourable and moral commitment.
     John Fefchak.
    Please also read "Born of the Stump."

    Prairie Flooding Delays Seeding Two Weeks So Far

    Manitoba Co-operator - Apr 13'11 By: Rod Nickel Winnipeg | Reuters Farmers in flooded Western Canada look to plant at least two weeks later than normal as... Details here.

    A flooded farm field near Winnipeg.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    UN Document Would Give 'Mother Earth' Same Rights as Humans

    By Steven Edwards, Postmedia News
    UNITED NATIONS — Bolivia will this month table a draft United Nations treaty giving "Mother Earth" the same rights as humans — Details here.

    Parties Support Ag Sector, Differ on Details

    MB Co-Operator Apr 13
    The agriculture policies of all five major Canadian political parties were put front and centre in a debate hosted by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture in Ottawa on Monday. Details here.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Don’t Blame Canada - a Different Perspective on Tar

    Earth Island Journal - Apr '11
    I’ve always been surprised that so many environmentalists, typically found on the political left, are such stalwart believers in the conservative doctrine of supply-side economics. Details here.

    PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Another view of the Alberta oil sands. Not mine! l.p.

    La Via Campesina Opposes the Inclusion of Agriculture in Carbon Markets

    As the first session of climate negotiations for the year come to a close in Bangkok, Thailand, it is clear that the urgency of avoiding a climate disaster  and delivering climate justice remain unaddressed. Details here. 

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Greens Call for Ban on Federal GMO Research

    Manitoba Co-Operator - Apr 10 '11

    A ban on federal research into genetically engineered crops, eventual 100 per cent testing of slaughter cattle for BSE and reducing allowable pesticide residues in crops are on the federal Green Party's policy wish list. Details here.

    Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada.

    Climate Tipping Points | Allianz Knowledge

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    Taseko Tries Again: Puts Fish Lake at Risk a Second Time!

    Manitoba Wildlands - Apr 9 '11
    A revised application for the rejected Prosperity Mine still calls for the destruction of one of the two fish-bearing mountain lakes originally scheduled for eradication. Read more.

    Fish Lake. Environment Canada

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Scientists Link Oil on Dolphins to BP Spill

    By Leigh Coleman - Reuters - Apr 7'11
    BILOXI, Mississippi (Reuters) - Scientists confirmed on Thursday that they have discovered oil on dead dolphins found along the U.S. Gulf Coast, raising fresh concerns about the effects of last year's BP oil spill on sea life. Details.

    No to a New Tar Sands Pipeline

    New York Times Opinion Pages - Published: Apr '11

    Later this year, the State Department will decide whether to approve construction of a 1,700-mile oil pipeline from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast called Keystone XL. The Department should say no.
    Details here.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    What's on my Food?

    Pesticide Action Network North America, is a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide. We gladly accept donations for our work and all contributions are tax deductible in the United States.

    Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) 49 Powell St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94102 USA
    Phone: (415) 981-1771 Fax: (415) 981-1991 Email: Web:

    It's Time for Change. Big Change! (Global Warming & the Manitoba Flood Connection)

    Dear Editor,
    Many Manitobans are upset that the federal election is happening at the same time as major flooding threatens their homes, businesses and farms. 

    Red River Valley - 1997 - Natural Resources CA
    After all, who wants to be distracted from the stressful job of protecting your livelihoods and families by yet another political campaign and trip to the polls?

    In a saner world, there would actually be candidates on the ballot from the two major parties we could vote for, who would be attacking the root causes of the catastrophic flooding so they don't get worse in the future. These candidates would already know that these events are on the rise in both frequency and intensity, due to climate change. Climate change is anthropogenic.

    If that is too big a word for you, Stephen, or you, Michael, it just means, it is caused by human beings. That's because we are producing way too many greenhouse gases from the fossil fuels we produce in various ways - notably through the vehicles we drive and planes we fly in.

    In a saner world, that would place the problem in the realm of something which can actually be addressed by governments through enlightened emission control regulations. But, of course, such governments would first of all need to care and, secondly, understand big words. (Neither seems to be the case now if, indeed it ever was.)

    There's little doubt that massive engineering projects like "Duff's Ditch," have spared people a good deal of grief by protecting them from the worst. But just how much longer can we rely on human technology to save us? Are huge machines, which burn lots of fossil fuel, breaking up ice jams and building higher and longer dikes really the long-term answer? Or are they just band-aid solutions which merely dabble with the symptoms while aggravating the disease?

    The refusal of governments to attack the root causes of this phenomenon has now entered the realm of the criminal.

    The fact that greenhouse gas emissions are skyrocketing in Alberta, home of the tar sands, is not surprising. That project, perhaps the dirtiest of its kind anywhere, is one of Stephen's darlings. Not only does he exempt it from meaningful emission controls, he gives the rich oil sands companies over a billion dollars of our money each year, just because he likes them so darn much. Peter, his new "Minister of Environmental Destruction," would have us believe that the government actually has a plan (to fight climate change), and that the plan is working! Michael thinks the sands are pretty nifty, too. His party is calling for a cockamamy scheme called "cap and trade" which will allow the capitalists of the world to somehow make money, betting on our planet's survival.

    Meanwhile, nobody is minding "the climate file." Nobody.

       Flood waters creep up on millions of dollars worth of farm machinery at a dealership (above) at Elie, MB. Apr.'11
    If the flooding is as bad again this spring as it appears now,  these same politicians must surely bear responsibility for the misery they will have once again helped to inflict on the citizens of Manitoba's and elsewhere. 

    Our lawmakers should have stopped acting like climate criminals and taken the catastrophe of global warming seriously years ago. That's when the best brains on the planet were trying to alert them to it. But, instead of setting a leadership example for the world, Canada has become a laughing stock in the international community.

    It goes without saying that we need wise public policies which provide security for our seniors, the disabled and students. We also need to make sure the economy and health care are safeguarded. But politicians who can walk and chew gum really ought to be able to handle these important issues and the climate, too.

    And the myth needs to be exploded that working to fight climate change will somehow damage the economy. We are already seeing good jobs being created elsewhere in the new "green economy." Here in Canada, we are being left behind in the dust. Here, record amounts of taxpayer dollars are being spent to compensate producers and homeowners for mounting crop, livestock and property losses spawned by climate-induced, severe weather.

    It's called the cost of doing nothing.

    Here in Manitoba, greenhouse gas emissions are rising, pretty much unchecked, too. How are we countering this? By allowing increased production of that "clean, sustainable, alternative" fuel - (sarcasm intended) oil! Drilling for oil in this province is now at an all-time high.

    Work is proceeding apace to expand the Winnipeg airport to accomodate countless more jetliners, the most effiient climate-change producers known and to build that white elephant known as Centreport. It will link Winnipeg to distant points such as Mexico and Nunavut by every mode of transport known to man. It's promoters call it "world-class." I call it "fossil fuel City!" Where do governments get their mandate to do these things? Not from their electorate, that's for sure. (I know someone who lives near Winnipeg, who had no idea what all the massive construction was about!) 

    It's clear our powers-that-be now take their cues, not from your or me, but from the non-elected "Captains of Industry" who, in our so-called democracy, stand to profit, big-time from such misguided schemes.

    The World Health Organization says climate change is already killing 150,000 people and making 5 million more sick, worldwide, each year. Populations of insects which carry diseases and destroy vast expanses of forests, are exploding thanks to a warming planet. Food production is being seriously disrupted due to droughts and floods. All this has helped drive food prices to new highs, not just "somewhere else," but in Canada, too.

    The old saying, "It's time for a change," is a saying no longer. It's time to completely jettison the two old parties who have governed this country forever, like the "warts on the rump of history" they have become. If you care about your kids, it's time to elect a party which has never governed this country before. They can do no worse.
    Larry Powell
    Roblin, Manitoba, CA

    National Research Council Disavows GM Wheat

    Canadian Biotechnology Action Network

    Update. Thursday, April 7, 2011: The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) issued a statement to clarify that it has no plans to research genetically modified (GM) wheat. Details here.

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Honeybees 'Entomb' Hives to Protect Against Pesticides, Say Scientists

    Fiona Harvey 4 Apr'11
    By sealing up cells full of contaminated pollen, bees appear to be 
    attempting to protect the rest of the hive. 
    Details here.   

    Koch Brothers' Deeds Exposed in New Film - Please Donate!

    Dear Friend,
    I'm writing to ask you to support an incredibly important film, one that will save lives and thwart what may be the most destructive pair of brothers in American history.
    A $50 gift today will get you listed as 
    a "producer" plus this exclusively
    designed Shepard Fairey t-shirt 
    with the Koch-topus logo 
    By now you have probably heard of the nefarious Koch Brothers. They are two super wealthy radical conservatives who are spreading their billions to crush working people, destroy the environment, undermine health care, demean immigrants, avoid responsibility for their own death and destruction, and the list goes on.

    Already the Koch's have paid $30 million in fines for 300 oil spills, and invested $34 million to support groups who are trying to steal rights away from teachers,fireman, police, nurses -- our neighbors and friends.
    We have to get the truth about the Koch's to millions more people and the best person to do this is Robert Greenwald. Greenwald and his team at Brave New Foundation. They have produced "Outfoxed," "Walmart," and " Iraq For Sale" -- all political film classics that have had a huge influence on the public debate -- and now they want to expose the Koch brothers.

    Please become a "producer" of the expose film about the Koch brothers. Be part of history. Your support will help produce this eight-part video series, documentary film, and campaign while earning you what many are considering the coolest t-shirt of the year, featuring an exclusive Shepard Fairey design of the "Kochtopus"

    The movie needs to be made ASAP. So your help right now is incredibly important.

    Yours in the fight against the radical right,

    Don Hazen
    Executive Editor, AlterNet 
     P.S. We have teamed up with Brave New Foundation in the past. I can assure you that they are very tough and creative. They make Hollywood-quality films with great story telling that millions of Americans will want to see and that make a difference.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Can We Solve Our Environmental Crisis Without Talking About Climate Change and Global Warming?

    AlterNet / By Brendan Smith and Jeremy Brecher
    Poll-oriented groups say that public opinion surveys prove Americans care most about jobs and lack the capacity to act on some distant threat. But here's where they're wrong. Details here.

    Record Stratospheric Ozone Loss in the Arctic in Spring of 2011

    Geneva, 5 Apr '11 (WMO) 
    Depletion of the ozone layer- the shield that protects life on Earth from harmful levels of ultraviolet rays - has reached an unprecedented level over the Arctic this spring… Full story here.

    How Is Saskatchewan Involved With Japan’s Nuclear Disaster?

    BY Jim Harding

    THE SASKATCHEWAN CONNECTION  Published in R-Town News on April 1, 2011
    The Fukushima’s nuclear reactors which are steadily contaminating Japan’s atmosphere, seashore, watersheds, food chains and making millions of Japanese into nuclear refugees are owned and operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. or Tepco.  Tepco  has Saskatchewan connections. The Globe and Mail describes Tepco as “one of (Cameco’s) largest customers for uranium used to fuel nuclear power plants”, and there is little doubt that much of the radioactive contamination threatening Japan comes from uranium fuel mined in northern Saskatchewan. And Tepco is directly involved in this mining; since the 1990s it has been Cameco’s partner in the massive Cigar Lake mine, which has itself had serious “accidents” and is years behind its production schedule due to recurring underground flooding. 
    Cameco has taken a big hit since the nuclear disaster started at Tepco’s plants; its share value has dropped 20% and the demand for uranium could markedly fall as more countries become wary of nuclear power. Still, Cameco’s CEO Jerry Grandey isn’t sounding bitter, though he admitted to the Globe and Mail that Japan is “not living up to our standards of transparency”. Grandey himself may not want “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” to come out; he flippantly states that “in the long term all of this will demonstrate the strength of the industry”, a cavalier attitude in the face of such devastation.

    While there have been periods of media blackout about the Fukushima reactors and the industry continues to try to normalize the disaster, things continue to spin more out of control since the disaster started three weeks ago. The New York Times is now reporting the disaster as “the worst atomic crisis in 25 years”, second only to Chernobyl in 1986, but information coming out of Japan remains sketchy. The 19 million people residing in Tokyo are told not to worry, even though the Fukushima reactors at risk of melt-down are only 150 miles away, the distance from Regina’s Legislative Buildings to Premier Brad Walls’ Swift Current riding. Meanwhile radioactive particles from Japan are being “found as far away as Iceland” and over Newfoundland. And though Tokyo residents are being told to “sit tight”, at one point mothers were told to not give their infants tap water. There was an immediate run on bottled water which some are also using for cooking.
    The nuclear disaster was initially correctly reported as a global nuclear disaster. Then its profile receded, and enforcing the “no fly zone” over Libya gained the camera’s attention. But every day or two something more slips out. Tepco and government authorities try in vain to normalize the disaster, as though things are coming under control, but this has more to do with Japanese face-saving than scientific honesty. In a recent CBC radio interview the Japanese ambassador to Canada refused to respond to any questions about radioactivity and risk. When it was pointed out that the evacuation zone for Japanese was only 25 KM whereas the US had already pulled its nationals back 80 KM from Fukushima, he simply responded that America is a democracy and has a right to do as it decides.
    Tepco officials are clearly scrambling to avert a full melt down. Ten days after the first hydrogen explosions that destroyed the containment buildings the company still hadn’t hooked electricity back up to their six reactors. (Meanwhile it was reported that an offshore wind farm survived the earthquake and continued to produce electricity after the tsunami.) With no power to pump water to cool the core (or the overheating spent fuel bundles stored outside four reactors), Tepco officials have regularly vented radioactive gases into the air to avert a core explosion and possible meltdown. Tepco brought in helicopters which desperately dropped sea water onto the reactors, often missing the targets altogether. Then fire trucks were brought in to spray seawater onto the reactors, in what seemed another futile though symbolically heroic gesture.

    And then, not surprisingly, the other shoe fell and it was reported that milk had 27 times the acceptable radioactivity and that vegetables had 17 times the allowable. And then, as if it wasn’t expected, that the sea water offshore from the reactors had radioactivity more than 1,000 times the normal. This continues to rise; it’s now up to 4,000 times.
    A full two weeks into the disaster Japan’s Prime Minister admitted that the situation was still “grave and serious” and that we “can’t be optimistic”. But even this was a face-saving understatement, as the water coming from reactor # 3 was soon to be 10,000 times as radioactive as permissible. The fuel in this reactor was what’s called MOX fuel, which is a mixture of plutonium and uranium. Then we heard that another 10,000 people were being relocated as the evacuation zone was enlarged by 10 KM. The next day a government spokesman said things were still “very unpredictable” as they’d found that water from reactor # 1 was also 10,000 times more radioactive than allowable.
    Nearly three weeks into the disaster Tepco clearly isn’t able to control what’s happening at their crippled reactors.  Even more radioactivity is getting outside reactor # 2 and it is near certain its containment has been breached. Workers are reported fumbling around in the dark trying to hook up electrical cables while standing in highly radioactive water, with only plastic bags tied around their shoes; such is nuclear energy in the trenches. In late March Tepco officials apologized for erroneously reporting that water leaking from reactor # 2 was 10,000,000 times the norm. They later reported the more correct figure was 100,000 times the radioactivity, which remains a seriously dangerous level. The Washington Post just reported that this amounts to 1,000 millisieverts (mSv) per hour, an exposure that would give a worker a yearly dose in just 15 minutes, and will most certainly be life-threatening to Tepco workers.
    All of the radioactive elements being spewed into the environment present health hazards to present and future generations. It is interesting that most reporting has been on the fairly short-lived Iodine 131. But what of radioactive Caesium 137, which will contaminate farmland for 400 years; or the more long-lived carcinogens that are most certainly being released, including Plutonium 239, which is toxic for 500,000 years? Plutonium is now contaminating the land and sea around Tepco’s reactors.

    Ignorance, confusion and misinformation aren’t a sound way to deal with a catastrophic nuclear accident. When you see the twisted buildings left from earlier explosions and realize that there are no control rooms operating to reliably monitor what’s actually happening in the reactors, you get more compassionate for those making the face-saving statements and those sacrificing their health. Trauma as well as radioactivity will take its toll on the Japanese.
    Prior to this accident Japan was considering expanding its nuclear power “arsenal” so that its nuclear-generated electricity would go from today’s 30% to 50% of the total by 2030. This won’t happen after Fukushima, and Cameco won’t be able to count on an enlarged uranium market from this contaminated country.  Japan already has 55 nuclear plants squeezed onto its small, earthquake prone island and there’s no safe place to put its nuclear wastes.
    And this brings us back to Saskatchewan, which is being targeted for a nuclear waste dump. Cameco is on record as supporting taking nuclear wastes back from countries that buy its uranium. Like Japan! When Saskatchewan’s Cigar Lake mine flooded, co-owner Tepco provided pumping technology to help Cameco deal with the problem. Well, their pumps have clearly now faced their Alamo. And what might Cameco now do to help its corporate partner Tepco? What might be Cameco’s  quid-pro-quo? What about investing in renewable energy and leaving the toxic uranium in the ground?
    Jim Harding is a retired professor of environmental and justice studies. Other writings on sustainability, nuclear, renewable, etc. at:
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    Additional Uranium/Nuclear Related postings:

    The Arctic may be sea-ice-free in summer by the 2030s

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