Saturday, June 30, 2012

Heat... Fire... Disaster: What Climate Change Looks Like

June 29, 2012 by Common Dreams 
Western US fires are being driven by extreme temperatures, which are consistent with IPCC projections. Details here.


After Rio, we Know. Governments Have Given up on the Planet

George Monbiot - the Guardian
It is, perhaps, the greatest failure of collective leadership since the first world war. Full story here.
PLT photo
 Please also read: "Governments and the Climate Challenge. Leadership Failure on a Psychotic Scale"

Violent Storms in Eastern US Leave 3 Million Without Power in Sweltering Heat; 13 Killed

By: Jessica Gresko, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Millions across the mid-Atlantic region sweltered Saturday in the aftermath of violent storms that pummeled the eastern U.S. with high winds and downed trees, killing at least 13 people and leaving 3 million without power during a triple-digit heat wave. Full story here.
Residents of the eastern Canadian prairies were no strangers to violent weather, either. See photos, below.

Winds of over 100K per hour struck the area around the west-central Manitoba town of Roblin this week.It was just part of a much larger system that created havoc from Saskatchewan into a wide area of Manitoba. Below, some of the damage in our own yard, northwest of Roblin.  (PLT photos)

Canada Dives Back Into Asbestos Industry

Montreal Gazette
Doctors condemn move, but miners and residents applaud it. Full story here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Prime Minister Harper, Where's My Canada?

Dear Larry,

Canada has become a country that I barely recognize. My Canada, the one that respects people and places, has vanished. Since when did this country bully charities, trash environmental laws, thumb its nose at the international community and silence its own citizens?
Columbia Icefield, Jasper Nat'l. Park
Since Harper took office in May of last year, His Canada starts and ends in the Tar Sands. Whatever Big Oil wants, Big Oil gets. Fish, forests, wildlife be damned.
Our government’s actions are appalling. That’s why this Canada Day I’m honouring my country by vowing to bring back my Canada. I invite you to join me by making a gift to ForestEthics Advocacy today. Here’s why.
Like millions of Canadians, I value clean air and water. I take great pride in this country’s stunning landscapes. I believe government is entrusted to act on behalf of its citizens. And I think every voice must count. This is My Canada.
ForestEthics Advocacy is working hard to restore these values that you and I cherish—to bring back the Canada we know and love. A Canada that protects its people from the tyranny of powerful corporate interests…
…A Canada that is blessed with mountains, forests, rivers, salmon, caribou, wolves, the haunting cry of loons, the wind in the trees, and the tranquility of the wild.
This is the Canada I stand behind and believe in. A Canada worth fighting for.
Thank you.
Clayton Ruby, C.M.

Board Chair, ForestEthics Advocacy
B.A., LL.B, LL.M., LL.D. (honoris causa)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sea Level Rise Accelerating in U.S. Atlantic Coast - US Geological Survey

Rates of sea level rise are increasing three-to-four times faster along portions of the U.S. Atlantic Coast than globally, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report published in Nature Climate Change. Details here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Elizabeth May: Rookie MP makes mark in Parliament

 By PETER O'NEIL, Vancouver Sun June 22, 2012

OTTAWA - Elizabeth May is holding the last staff meeting of a parliamentary session that is ending this week with the Green party leader and rookie West Coast MP getting widespread accolades for her impressive, though predictably....Details here.

Earth's Defenders Being Murdered at Increasingly Alarming Rate

June 19, 2012 by Common Dreams

Environmentalists across the world being killed at rate of one per week, and growing
. Story here

Wheat Board Finished but Battles Rage on

Winnipeg Free Press By: Laura Rance  06/23/2012
Supporters still could turn to Supreme Court. Story here.

India Wakes up to the Menace of Chemically-Enhanced Veggies

India Today - June 24-'12

Several studies have established the fact that the level of harmful chemicals in India's edible crops is perilously high because of excessive exposure to pesticides or other growth enhancers. Now, the Delhi government is planning to weed out this health hazard by detecting the specific contaminants in vegetables and fruits with the help of mega scanners right at the entry point. Full story here.

The National Farmers' Union Rejects Completely Martha Hall-Findlay’s Anti-Supply Management Report

NFU News Release - June 22, 2012

Ottawa: “Former Liberal leadership candidate Martha Hall-Findlay has made public both her opposition to, and her lack of understanding of Canada’s supply management system for dairy in the report she presented in a press conference yesterday,” said Paul Slomp, National Farmers Union (NFU) Youth Vice President. “Her report is full of misinformation, skewed statistics, contradictions, and reprehensible arguments calling to eliminate supply management in order to gain points in behind-closed-doors international trade negotiations.”

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Biodiversity and the Environment: Silent Spring For Us?

by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts - Centre for Research on Globalization
With her 1962 book, Silent Spring, Rachel Carson got DDT and other synthetic pesticides banned and saved bird life. Today it is humans who are directly threatened by  technologies designed to extract the maximum profit at the lowest private cost and the maximum social cost from natural resources. Full story here.  
Bumblebees on an 
organic acreage. 
PLT photo

Mexico Saves Coral Reef From Over-Development!

Dear Larry,

VICTORY! Cabo Pulmo
coral reef saved!

Mexican President Felipe Calderón just put an end to plans that would have imperiled the marine paradise of Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, home to the only living hard coral reef in Mexico’s Gulf of California. Please thank President Calderón for doing the right thing!
Say Thanks!

Mexican President Felipe Calderón has just rejected plans for a massive resort complex that could have devastated the marine paradise of Cabo Pulmo, its coral reef and the local community.

This is a huge victory for NRDC and all the local, national and international groups that waged a strong multi-year campaign urging officials to abandon the destructive proposal called Cabo Cortés.

Tens of thousands of BioGems Defenders like you stood strong in vocally opposing this mega-tourism scheme.

Please send a message to President Calderón and thank him for stopping Cabo Cortés in its tracks.


The Great "Locavore" Debate

"Q" CBC Radio
PLT photo  
 Between farmer's markets and a new trend of grocery stores advertising "local food," locavorism seems to have gone mainstream.  But is it really as good for you, and the environment, as you think?  Pierre Desrochers, one of the authors of The Locavore's Dilemma is joined by Jill Richardson, author of Recipe for America for a Q debate. Listen to the podcast here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Manitoba Schools to Teach Sustainability: Selinger to Rio Summit

By: Nick Martin Winnipeg Free Press
Manitoba students will have a new Grade 12 course on sustainable development, and every school will have a sustainability plan, Premier Greg Selinger said today at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro. Full story here.

Tell Brazil Rio+20 Host: “The World We Want” Is Not 60 Amazon Rainforest Destroying Dams

By Rainforest Portal – a project of Ecological Internet June 20, 2012

To protect the Amazon with sustainable development based upon standing rainforests:

Brazil’s government – host of the “Rio+20” UN Conference on Sustainable Development devoted to sustainable development and sustaining ecosystems – is planning to build 60 dams on tributaries to the Amazon -- including the controversial $11 billion Belo Monte project. Industrial destruction of intact primary rainforest ecosystems based upon ecocide and genocide is not “the world we want” – a motto of Rio+20. These plans for massive Amazon dam construction reveal Brazil’s meaningless rhetoric regarding environmental sustainability and sustainable development, as they hypocritically continue destroying key regional and global ecosystems. Brazil’s deceptive doublespeak regarding sustaining ecology must not be allowed to stand unchallenged during Rio+20. Stand with brave indigenous protestors who recently dismantled a portion of Belo Monte’s construction, as we call upon all Rio+20 delegates to demand Brazil cancel Belo Monte and other Amazon rainforest destroying dams, embracing instead a program of sustainable development based upon standing primary rainforests.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Mendacity of Hope

George Monbiot - June 18, 2012
PLT photo
The summits which promise to save the world keep us dangling, not mobilising. Full story here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dark Ages Redux: American Politics and the End of the Enlightenment

by John Atcheson - Common Dreams
We are witnessing an epochal shift in our socio-political world. Full story here.

TAKE ACTION to Protest Failed Global Ecological Leadership

Rio+20: Protest Global Leaders Obama, Merkel and Cameron’s Absence
By Ecological Internet June 18, 2012
PLT photo
These major nations dawdle as Earth burns. Their failed leadership obstructs international efforts to protect our one collapsing biosphere while sustainably meeting all of humanity’s basic needs… Based upon ecological science, we know what must be done to sustain Earth’s life and human advancement: protect and restore primary forest and other intact ecosystems, immediately begin reducing emissions to avoid abrupt climate change based upon common but differentiated responsibilities, reduce inequitable consumption and population growth, and promote fairness in sharing of Earth’s dwindling abundance amongst all nations and their peoples… What could possibly be more important than ensuring Earth remains habitable, and all humanity’s basic needs are met? Ecological Internet’s Earth Action Network must bear witness to such deadly and dangerous environmental intransigence, holding failed leadership accountable for ecocide.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Robert Sopuck - Environmentalist or Hypocrite?

Dear Editor, 

I've been struck by the irony of recent, published pictures of my Member of Parliament, Robert Sopick. Smiling broadly, he is shown in one, presenting trophies to the winners of a fishing derby and, in the other, in beaming attendance at a sport fishing banquet (below)

A few days later, the government Mr. Sopuck represents, rammed through the all-purpose budget bill which included the gutting of the Fisheries Act. Now, all the Act will allegedly "protect" are those fish that are part of "a commercial, recreational or aboriginal fishery." The old Act protected all fisheries, presumably because fish don't always stop abruptly at the boundaries they have been designated. How naive! As a recent article from a Canadian professor of environmental law suggests, if the fish don't "obey" the new rules imposed by Harper, they could find themselves in mortal danger of strip mines, oil spills, clear cuts and the other hazards posed by this government's wild west, development-at-any-cost mentality.

In his latest flyer, Mr. Sopuck is appealing to his constituents to fly a flag to show their "patriotism." Since patriotism means accepting your government whether it is right or wrong, I guess he'll be needing as much of that as he can get.

Mr. Sopuck, shame on you! Some environmentalist!

If more voters around here don't soon start connecting the dots between the party they keep re-electing, and the destruction it is wrecking on our beautiful country, God help us all!

Larry Powell
Roblin, MB

Non-Democratic Party Undermining Democracy

Changing Election Law Requires All-party Consultation
For Immediate Release:

The Manitoba Government, at its own initiative and without consulting with the other political parties in Manitoba, is moving to completely rewrite election law in Manitoba.

Typically amendments to the elections law are suggested by Elections Manitoba, the independent agency charged with overseeing elections, and then discussed at an all-party committee meeting before changes are made.

Clearly the principles of democracy once held dear by the NDP have now been abandoned. The proposals before the legislature seek only to cement efforts to create a two party system in Manitoba.

“The New Democratic Party of Manitoba should rename itself the Non-Democratic Party of Manitoba,” said Green Party of Manitoba Leader James Beddome. “We are outraged that this stealth attack on a fundamental issue of fairness is brought about by the same stealth tactics the Federal Conservatives are using in Ottawa,”

Although on first glance,  it appears that the intent of this bill is to avoid overlapping federal and provincial elections, Schedule A completely replaces the Elections Financing Act.  The stated purpose of replacing the Elections Financing Act is to draft the law in more plain language.

The new act puts the issue of annual funding for political parties before an "independent allowance commissioner."  The Green Party expresses some skepticism as to the neutrality of an “allowance commissioner” who will be appointed by Cabinet.

Beddome said, “Putting a person that is likely to be a friend of the Government in charge of the distribution of the funds to political parties is like putting a mouse in charge of the cheese factory!”

“There is no need to hurry this legislation through.  The next scheduled federal and provincial elections are not until 2015.  And if we want plain language legislation, then time should be given so that the changes can be discussed with all parties affected, including the public.  This is completely unacceptable and undermines the democratic process. We will oppose this every step of the way,” said Beddome

- 30 -

More Details here.

Cows - Too Much of a Good Thing?

North Carolina Considers Making Sea Level Rise Illegal

By Scott Huler | May 30, 2012 Scientific American 
According to North Carolina law, I am a billionaire. Full story here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Harper Government Targeted Artist for her Green Conscience, Internal Documents Reveal

Vancouver Observer
Franke James, a Canadian artist and environmental advocate blacklisted by the Harper government, has obtained internal documents indicating

BERNARD WEIL/TORONTO STAR   Canadian officials worked behind the scenes to discredit her work. Full story here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Update: Election Fraud Legal Cases

Council of Canadians.

Tories attack Council of Canadians’ involvement in election fraud court cases
In the latest twist of the election fraud scandal, lawyers representing the Conservative MPs from the seven ridings involved in the citizen-led legal challenges to overturn election results have filed motions to throw out the cases. The initial legal skirmishes are now underway, and important developments are expected before the end of June.
The Council of Canadians is supporting court challenges to overturn election results by nine electors who allege that they received a fraudulent call advising them of a change in their polling location, that these calls were made to other electors, and that this lowered the voter turnout to a degree that affected the outcome of the election. Several affidavits have been filed in support of these applications, including one from Frank Graves of EKOS Research, whose firm surveyed voters and concluded that there were a large number of fraudulent calls in each of the seven ridings and that they were targeted at supporters of the NDP, Liberals and Greens. EKOS estimates that between 0.8% and 2.2% of the total eligible voters in the seven ridings were successfully dissuaded from voting as a direct result of these misleading calls.
The response of the Conservative Party of Canada has been to file numerous procedural motions, including to allege that the challenges are untimely and “without merit.” The most recent motion citesthe little-used legal doctrine of “champerty and maintenance,” meant to prevent frivolous litigation from outside parties with no interest in a case. With the motion, Conservative Party lawyers filed a scurrilous attack on the Council of Canadians that is more than 750 pages in length. On June 25, the Court will consider the Conservative Party motions and the applicants’ responses.
“The strategy of the Conservative Party lawyers is clearly to try to divert attention away from the fraudulent voter suppression activity, delay the process and drive up the legal costs,” said Garry Neil, Executive Director of the Council of Canadians.

Election fraud cannot go unchallenged

Defending our democracy is difficult and expensive, but it’s something we must do. Even with the generous contribution of the law firm, the bills for the legal work and expenses to support the court challenges are expected to reach $240,000 by the end of June.
Canadians have been extremely generous with their support for the Council’s Democracy 24/7 fundraising campaign. We thank everyone who has contributed. With only a few weeks to go, we are almost half-way to our fundraising target, and your support is needed now, more than ever.
Please consider making a donation today and add your support to the fight for democracy in Canada. Visit our website to donate to the Democracy 24/7 Legal Fund and to see all the latest updates on our fight for democratic rights in Canada. You can also contact us by e-mail at, or call us toll free at 1-800-387-7177.

It's Time to Fight the Status Quo

By Bill McKibben - Solution
Climate protest, Regina, SK. 2009. PLT photo
My solution is: get outraged. Full story here. 

Stop Enbridge

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Local Manitoba Government Seems Set to Ignore Concerns Over a Planned Sewage Lagoon

Dear Editor,

It looks like my local government, the RM of Shell River, is pressing ahead with secret plans for a sewage lagoon with no intention of looking at alternatives.

It's now been a month since a Manitoba company, Blue Diamond Technologies, briefed a meeting of the RM Council. Blue Diamond has invented a system to treat and purify both hog and human waste, using a patented chemical process. Company officials are confident their technology is cleaner, greener, less stinky and even cheaper (possibly much cheaper) than an old-style lagoon!

(See "Company offers new way to deal with human waste" in the May 29th edition of "The Review," p. 9. Please read!)  

Just today, one of those officials told me,  they are still waiting to hear back from the RM, in terms of doing a follow-up or taking a closer look!

My elected representatives also seem just as determined as ever to keep information about the new lagoon from the public. They have now officially refused my request, under the Freedom of Information Act,  for results of soil-tests done on a potential lagoon site some time ago. Why? Because, "This information has not yet been discussed in open session and therefore cannot be disclosed...."

The soil tests were done in March. And I know there has been at least one "in camera" (secret) meeting on this since. (An informed source told me the drill truck struck water on the first try. I'm no engineer, but that can't be good can it?) If the soil there is not suitable, will the RM seek another site, or will it actually take the heroic step of installing a million-dollar liner, to prevent leakage?

As a result of their refusal, I will now file an official complaint with the Manitoba Ombudsman, as provided for under the Act, to get some answers.

A recent editorial in "The Review," points out, Manitoba is introducing legislation to address secrecy and lack of accountability on the part of local governments across the province and suggests this may be timely, given recent events here. (If you haven't read it, please do! It's in the May 22nd issue.)

It is regrettable that legislation is needed to make sure democratically-elected local governments do what they should be doing, as a matter of course.
It just seems so basic. "Do public business in public!"

Sadly, it's not just the lagoon, it's the way council has handled the issue, that worries me.

Reeve Albert Nabe can't vote or discuss it at meetings because he owns the quarter where the tests were done, so has a conflict-of-interest. Councillor Jack Lenderbeck can't either, because he rents land from the Reeve.

That leaves a rather important decision on a major capital project to the remaining four councillors.

I'm also a bit puzzled at the seeming lack of public interest here.

There are plenty of folks in these parts who love fishing, boating and owning a waterfront property. There are others working actively to promote the Roblin area as a tourist destination. Are you OK with the prospect of another old-style lagoon? Experts say these facilities often leak, contaminating groundwater. (One of those experts, Prof. Bill Paton of Brandon University even claims, "I have not found any Manitoba lagoons that meet effluent license requirements." Quite a statement!)

According to the Lake of the Prairies Conservation District, phosphorous buildup in our waterways has been causing fish-kills and compromising drinking water quality for years. Do we really want to make these problems worse, or find better ways of dealing with them?

Boggy Crk. possible future "drain" for sewage effluent. PLT photo
If the lagoon goes ahead, a pipeline would apparently drain the effluent from there into beautiful Boggy Creek (above), where I fished, myself, when I was a kid, then, into Lake of the Prairies. 

Isn't that where a lot of you fish, or own cottages? Do you want that effluent to be as clean as it can be, or just "good enough," as seems to be the present mentality?

I'd love to hear how you "Bug-Chuckers," or anyone else for that matter, feel about this!

If you decide you'd also like some answers from the RM, here is some contact information which may help.

Reeve Albert Nabe tel. 937- 2610
Dep. Reeve Joe Senderewich 937-3257
Councillor Jack Lenderbeck 937- 2812
      "           Louise Smigelski 937-2346
      "           Craig Mohr 937- 2672
      "           Doug Cranwell 937- 4940
RM of Shell River 937- 4430
email -
RM website:

While you're at it, ask them why the minutes from their April 13th PUBLIC meeting, have not been posted on their website yet!

Larry Powell, concerned citizen, resident and ratepayer,
RM of Shell River.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Is a Top Tory an Election Crook?

World's Environmental Outlook Grim, UN Warns

By Kazi Stastna, CBC News - Jun 6, 2012
A "crop-duster" sprays harmful chemicals on a field in western Manitoba, CA. (PLT photo.)
Little progress made on goals set by nations. Details here.

Emphasis on Oil Sands Called a ‘Historic Mistake for Canada’

Richard Blackwell - The Globe and Mail
A high-profile adviser on renewable energy to the European Union says Canada is making a huge mistake in placing so much emphasis on the oil sands as the key component of the country’s energy policy. Full story here.

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

  Nature Communications                                                 Photo by Patrick Kelley   The Arctic could be sea-ice-free during th...