Monday, February 27, 2012

Start of Trial on Gulf Oil Spill Is Delayed Amid Talk of a Settlement

John Schwartz - New York Times - Feb 26'12
NEW ORLEANS — The civil trial over America’s biggest oil spill has been delayed for a week as efforts to settle the multibillion-dollar litigation intensify. Details here.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Canada Still Refusing to Issue Order to Protect Caribou

Manitoba Wildlands - Feb. '12
For the second time Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent has declined to issue an emergency order to protect woodland caribou. Details here.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Harper - The Man Who Killed the Family Farm?

Bill Redekop - Winnipeg Free Press 02/25/2012
PLT photo
Roving rural columnist finds Harper's decision to dismantle the wheat board goes against the grain for many Manitoba farmers. Details here.

Global Day of Action: Occupy Our Food Supply

Feb 24, 2012 by Common Dreams
Food justice advocates rise up to confront corporate control of our food system. Details here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Back to the Start (Video)

            Coldplay's haunting classic "The Scientist" is performed by country music legend Willie Nelson for the soundtrack of the short film entitled "Back to the Start." The film, by film-maker Johnny Kelly, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Does Big Oil Now Have Some Science on its Side? Hardly!

by Larry Powell

It's hardly surprising that Big Oil is already brandishing the latest scientific study on the Alberta oil-sands as a weapon in its crusade to peddle bitumen to the world. 

The study was done by a noted Canadian climatologist, Andrew Weaver and a colleague at the University of Victoria. 

This is the part Big Oil likes.

If all of the oil-sand's reserves considered "economically viable" were developed, the resulting rise in global temperatures would be "almost undetectable," when compared to massively larger, global deposits of coal.

But there are other parts of the study you won't hear Big Oil quoting. 
For example, what if all of the tarsand's reserves known to be there, (known as "oil-in-place and seven times larger than Saudi Arabia's) are developed, over time?  In that case, Earth's temperature would rise up to ten times as much as in the last scenario! And that would represent almost half of the man-made warming the planet has already experienced over the past 100 years!

Surely, that would be detectable!

While total oilsands development might seem unlikely, given improved technologies and the almost messianic bent of this and (heaven forbid), future governments to exploit the resource, surely it is not imposssible, either. 

To quote from the study;

"Greenhouse-gas emissions resulting from expanding oil-sands production are Canada’s fastest-growing emissions source, and have the potential to contribute significantly to anthropogenic climate change. This is accentuated by the fact that the oil sands are more energy-intensive to produce than conventional crude oil — and have a greater ‘well-to-wheel’ carbon footprint."

"If North American and international policymakers wish to limit global warming to less than 2 °C, they will clearly need to put in place measures that ensure a rapid transition of global energy systems to non-greenhouse-gas-emitting sources, while avoiding commitments to new infrastructure supporting dependence on fossil fuels."

One of the report's authors, Prof. Weaver, said this in a recent, online video: "The tar sands are an interesting example of end-to-end environmental degradation, whether it be excessive use of water, toxic sludge that affects eco-systems, or greenhouse gas emissions."

After carefully reading the study myself, I remain convinced (as do these scientists) that untrummelled development of the tar sands is still just wrongheaded

But my main message to honest activists everywhere would be this: Let's show the world we are not like the cranks or vested interests we all reject - that we can actually learn from the science we are presented with.  

It is therefore time to redouble our efforts to slay the ugly elephant in the room - coal. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Andrew Weaver on Tar and Climate

Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Could Hurt Canadian Economy

(Source - Wikipedia) A report put forth by economist and former Insurance Corporation of BC CEO, Robyn Allan, in early 2012, states that this proposed pipeline could actually hurt non-oil based sectors of the Canadian economy. Allan stated in the report that the project's success depends on continual yearly oil price increases, by about $3/barrel. She also stated that an increase in oil prices will lead to "a decrease in family purchasing power, higher prices for industries who use oil as an input into their production process, higher rates of unemployment in non-oil industry related sectors, a decline in real GDP, a decline in government revenues, an increase in inflation, an increase in interest rates and further appreciation of the Canadian dollar." 

Coal the True Climate Change Bad Guy, Analysis Shows

Globe & Mail Feb 19-'12

One of the world’s top climate scientists has calculated that emissions from Alberta’s oil sands are unlikely to make a big difference to global warming and that the real threat to the planet comes from burning coal. Details here.
PLT: Quite a shocker for those of use who, like myself, have been fighting the tar sands, tooth and nail. While this hardly turns the tar sands into "clean, alternative energy," I believe we should all begin paying more attention now to finding better ways of producing energy we now produce from coal (and fracking) here in Canada!

Manitoba's Green Party Leader Takes Newspaper to Task for Misleading Editorial

From the Blog of James Beddome, Leader, Green Party of Manitoba.
GOOD NEWS! The Manitoba Government is finally going to follow the lead of the other 6 provinces in Canada which have put in place bans on the aesthetic or non-essential use of pesticides. This is a first step that Greens have been calling for, for years.     Full story here

Saturday, February 18, 2012

All Sizzle, No Steak - (an HONEST View of the State of our National Parks)

Dec '11 Alternatives - Jeff Gailus
LAST JUNE, I returned to Banff National Park after a long absence. Details here.
PLT: Jeff's article, which actually appeared in "Alternatives" late last year, has proven timely, if not prescient, in pointing out the chasm between the hype of Parks Canada and the reality when it come to the condition of our national parks. Now, Harper & his minions have pushed through a scandalous scheme for an icefields "lookout," involving the blasting out of the side of the mountain, once again illustrating the misplaced priority of this government to attract even more tourists rather than protect natural ecosystems. 
(Those damn mountains. They do get in the way of the scenery, don't they? This photo I took of the Columbia Icefield this past summer - above - where the lookout will be built - shows just how lousy the view is without something concrete and steel to stand on! Sarcasm intended.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Town Council in Terrace, BC Does the Right Thing - Opposes Pipeline!

Terrace Daily Online Feb '12

Terrace citizens have reacted strongly to Terrace City Councils decision to oppose the Northern Gateway Pipeline project. Details here.

Supporters of the Canadian Wheat Board Launch Another Court Fight

Canadian Press - 02/15/2012
WINNIPEG - Supporters of the Canadian Wheat Board have launched yet another court challenge. The Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board filed Tuesday a class-action lawsuit in Federal Court asking the court to restore the board and give farmers $17 billion in damages. Details here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Monsanto Set to Appeal French Poisoning Verdict

Feb 15, 2012 Manitoba Co-Operator
U.S. agribusiness giant Monsanto said Tuesday it will appeal a French court ruling that found it responsible for the poisoning of a farmer who inhaled a weed killer, in the first such case to reach court in France. Details here.
Please also read: "Canada Fiddles While Concerns Fester Over 'Roundup'"

Sobering Future of Wildfire Dangers in U.S. West, Researchers Predict

ScienceDaily (Feb. 14, 2012) — The American West has seen a recent increase in large wildfires due to droughts, the build-up of combustible fuel, or biomass, in forests, a spread of fire-prone species and increased tree mortality 
from insects and heat. Details here.Mark Thiessen - Nat'l Geographic
High winds and hot temperatures fanned a 1996 
wildfire in the foothills around Boise, 
Idaho, into an inferno that burned for seven days.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ottawa Dithers Over Health Concerns About "Roundup"


- by Larry Powell

Despite copious evidence that the globally-popular weed-killer may be harmful to crops, wildlife, livestock and humans, the Government of Canada seems in no hurry to act. Last June, Health Canada (the federal Department which regulates pesticides) told me, it was aware of such evidence, but, that, "It did not raise immediate risk concerns that would have triggered regulatory action." 
A "crop-duster" sprays a field in western MB.  A PinP photo.
Then, in November, the Federal Court ordered the Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, to reconsider a decision she had made in August, 2009. That's when she refused a citizen's request for a "special" review of the product. The Minister settled instead for a longer-range, routine re-evaluation. That didn't begin until some two years later and won't be finished for about another two. 

The court ruling came down almost three months ago. 

The Minister is still "reconsidering" whether to call that  special review.

Ask most conventional farmers about Roundup, they'll tell you. It's a chemical they spray regularly on their canola, soybeans, corn or, in some cases, sugar beets, to get rid of weeds. Sometimes, they also apply it in the fall to cereal crops like wheat and barley as a "desiccant," )to dry them out, in preparation for harvest).

Is 'Prescription for Disaster' Our 'Most Optimistic' Climate Future?

February 11, 2012 by Common Dreams
New data indicates warming of 2C now planet's "most optimistic" scenario Details here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Cancer in Occupy

By Chris Hedges Truthdig Feb 6 - '12
The Black Bloc anarchists, who have been active on the streets in Oakland and other cities, are the cancer of the Occupy movement. Details here.

The True Cost of Mad Cow Disease in the West Midlands (England)

Justine Halifax, Birmingham Mail - Feb 6 2012
Birmingham could be facing a disease timebomb following the outbreak of the human form of mad cow disease or vCJD, health experts say. Details here.

PLT photo

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Corporations Have No Use for Borders

By Chris Hedges - Truthdig Jan 30-'12

What happened to Canada? It used to be the country we would flee to if life in the United States became unpalatable. No nuclear weapons. No huge military-industrial complex. Universal health care. Funding for the arts. A good record on the environment. But that was the old Canada. Details here.

Minister of Natural Resources Prepares to Help his Boss, Stephen, Sell Out Canada!

PLT: Just heard Joe Oliver spouting off on CBC Radio. Boy, does he like to have it both ways! On the one hand, he loves to brag that the TAR Sands are the 3rd largest oil reserve in the world and THE biggest single, industrial project. 
Alberta tar sands. Courtesy of Beautiful Destruction
Well, what about greenhouse gas emissions then? They must be significant, too? Naaah, they're tiny compared to everybody else. 
He and Steve will soon be visiting China, hobnobbing with the "ethical" members of the Communist Party, selling out as many of the Canadian people's resources as they can get away with. These Dudes are out of control!

Fatal Deception - Investigative Report Exposes Canada's Asbestos Policies - CBC Video

Is the federal government relying on junk science to justify its support for re-opening asbestos mines in Quebec? Click here and watch the program, "Fatal Deception."

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cosmetic Pesticides Face Ban in Manitoba

Winnipeg Free Press
 Feb 1'12
Manitoba will soon join most other Canadian provinces and ban cosmetic pesticides -- sprays such as WeedEx and Roundup that keep lawns perfect by killing weeds and bugs. Details here.
PLT photo

CPAWS Update on Developments in Jasper National Park

Jasper viewParks Canada announced it will delay its decision on Brewster Travel Canada's proposed development of the  Glacier Discovery Walk in Jasper National Park.
Public opinion matters!

Parks Canada is now reviewing over 2,000 letters it has received on this issue. They are also reconsidering its environmental impact. 
Write a letter
CPAWS opposes this proposed development because we fear it would set a dangerous precedent for renewed commercial development in our mountain national parks.  If this goes ahead, what will be next?
As well, the long term impact of it on wildlife, including mountain goats and big horn sheep, can’t be predicted with confidence. There just isn’t enough data.
Please help show that public concern is still growing. Take a minute now to send a letter to Parks Canada on this issue.
It’s easy. When you click here, you’ll  find suggestions for points you may wish to make in your letter, and an easy form that you can send directly to Parks Canada and the Minister of the Environment.

Write a letter
Thank you for helping to protect our precious national parks.
The CPAWS conservation team

Let's Protect the Spirit Bear - Stop the Pipeline! (Video)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

2011 - A Year of Weather Extremes, With More to Come

Analysis by Janet Larsen and Sara Rasmussen*
WASHINGTON, Feb 1, 2012 (IPS)  
According to NASA scientists, this was the ninth warmest year in 132 years of recordkeeping. Details here. 

Prairie sunset PLT photo

Monsanto petition tells Obama: ‘Cease FDA ties to Monsanto’

By Elizabeth Flock Washington Post Jan 30 2012

A two-year-old Food and Drug Administration appointment is stirring up online protests once more. Details here.

Peat Mines OK'd Despite Manitoba Ban

By Mychaylo Prystupa, CBC News: Feb 2, 2012
Three peat mining companies were authorized to level thousands of hectares of Manitoba's boreal forest, just days after….Details here.

Fired Environmentalist Sees Conspiracy

Frances Russell Wpg Free Press 02/1/2012
A B.C. environmentalist claims in a sworn affidavit the Harper government labelled him and his organization, ForestEthics, an "enemy of the government of Canada" and…Details here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Harper Names Top Advisor

Paths Less Traveled would like to congratulate Wiarton Willy on his appointement as Stephen Harper's Chief Advisor on Climate Change!
 PLT photo

We’ll Frack Alberta’s Next Election, Vow Landowners

30th January 2012 - Andrew Nikiforuk -
Drilling accident fuels rebellion demanding halt to hydraulic fracturing. Details here.

Diesel vehicles in oil sands operations contribute to regional pollution

EurekAlert Wildfires, cigarette smoking and vehicles all emit a potentially harmful compound called isocyanic acid. The substance has been l...