Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Growing Truth About GM Crops

Winnipeg Free Press - Laura Rance

New study finds nothing impressive about yields. Full story here.

Seed pods in a GM canola field in Manitoba.
PLT photo.

Get Used to Weather Extremes, Expert Says

Winnipeg Free Press - Laura Rance
They could eventually bankrupt Manitoba. Details here.

 Excess moisture caused this key highway in western Manitoba to collapse in 2012. Detours were in effect for months while it was being repaired, costing area farmers and businesses dearly. PLT photo.

What Part of 'No' Does Enbridge Not Understand?

Huffington Post

"Pipelines, no! Salmon, yes!"
Last week, hundreds of B.C. residents gathered under the hot sun to say no to Enbridge's proposed pipeline and tankers. On a day better fit for cold drinks and swimming in lakes, people came from across northern B.C. to Terrace on the banks of the Skeena River to deliver a strong message to the energy giant: the answer is still no. Details here.

Indians Question How Far Flash-Flooding Disaster Was Manmade


Boom in religious tourism and hydroelectric projects may have contributed to disaster in Uttarakhand. Details here.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Province of Manitoba, Canada to Proceed With Ban on Chemical Lawn Pesticides

Government of Manitoba

Low-Risk Alternatives for Lawn Care to be Focus of Legislation:  Mackintosh.

Manitoba is proposing to join most of Canada in reducing children's and pets' exposure to synthetic chemical lawn pesticides with legislation to be introduced in the next session that would replace the sale and use of those products with the rapidly growing array of federally approved, effective, low-risk bio-pesticides, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Obama's Groundbreaking Speech Focuses On Power Plant Limits, Climate Change

Huffington Post
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama declared the debate over climate change and its causes obsolete Tuesday as he announced a wide-ranging plan to tackle pollution and prepare communities for global warming. Full story here.

Calgary's Manhattan Moment

By Andrew Nikiforuk. - Opinion

I only hope my city's nightmare is the climate change wake-up Alberta, and Canada, needs. Full story here.

Massive Flooding in Nations Including Canada Bring World to a Cross Roads - United Nations

UN News

A United Nations senior official today stressed that this year will be a “turning point” in how governments view and respond to extreme weather events, and floods in particular. Such events are currently affecting several countries across the world. Details here.

Calgary flooding: Photo credit: 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Climate Change to Shrink Bison, Profit

Science News

As temperatures go up, bison get smaller. Details here.

Manitoba bison. PLT photo

Are GM Seeds a Saviour or a Menace?

The ranks of those who believe they are the latter, are growing. Full story here.
A field of wheat, blowing in the breeze. A PLT video.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Is New York City's Climate Plan Enough to Win the Race Against Rising Seas?

Inside Climate News

The city's climate adaptation projects should be devised to handle conditions far worse than even the most severe sea level rise estimates, scientists say. Details here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Manitoba's Climate Change Chickens.

An Editorial - by Larry Powell

I call them Manitoba's "climate chickens."

Premier Selinger and Finance Minister Struthers had a golden opportunity to tackle this province's climate change woes bravely and effectively. And, they blew it. 

Backyard chickens
Climate chickens

During the last election campaign, they (and the other major parties) seemed to conspire to keep climate change off the table, altogether. Their lips were sealed, even tho the evidence was staring them in their faces. Now, apparently, they've been dragged kicking and screaming to the next level - recognizing that it is happening, after all. 

At long last, In his budget speech, for example, Struthers concedes, "Our climate is changing, bringing an increased frequency of major flooding." (Apparently, flood-fighting costs in this province have jumped, four-fold over the past 15 years compared to the previous 15.) And so, they claim, they need more money to pay the billions of dollars damage which that flooding has caused. 

So, what do they do? 

Instead of biting the bullet and bringing in a carbon tax, like BC did successfully several years ago, they strangely decide to hike the provincial sales tax (PST) by one percent! What on earth has the PST got to do with climate change? Not only is it surely proving just as unpopular as a carbon tax would have been, it is probably a regressive one - shifting an unfair portion of the cost onto the poor - at the same time.

Sure, BC's carbon tax isn't popular, either. But, while it discourages people from burning fossil fuels of any kind, it also rebates them in other ways, through reductions in income tax, for example. 

And, it's working. 

An economist who studied its effects found that, within three years of its introduction, the  carbon emissions and fossil fuel consumption had dropped more in B.C. than anywhere else in Canada by a significant margin! His conclusion; these emissions reductions are attributable to the carbon tax.

Don't forget, it is these emissions which are to blame for catastrophic global warming and an increase in the frequency and severity of such extreme weather events as we are seeing right now in Alberta.

Sadly, as long as our leaders think they can uses climate change as some kind of excuse for bringing in unpopular tax increases that do nothing to lessen the ravages of a changing climate, we can all brace for more floods, wildfires, droughts and crop losses in our future. 

And our climate chickens will truly have come home to roost!

Climate Change Clearly the Culprit in the Alberta Flooding - CBC Radio Podcast.

PLT: The CBC Radio program, "The Current," interviewed a UN climate expert on the flooding in Alberta this morning. (Ironically, he is from Canmore, one of the hardest-hit communities in the province, himself.) He laid out the climate change connection to the disaster in no uncertain terms. But, like so many others, he did not mention humanity's role in the very creation of this horrible "new normal." Below is a copy of an email I subsequently sent to "The Current" after hearing the interview.

Dear Erika,

I listened with interest to your excellent interview this morning with the UN scientist, Bob Sanford, commenting on the serious flooding in Alberta. His assessment that climate change was behind the profound changes we are seeing  in hydrologic cycles, worldwide was, I thought, "bang-on." At least as far as it went. He emphasized the need to "adapt" to "the new normal" by building better infrastructure, etc. That's nice. But, climate change is man-made. It is caused by us. So, if we don't start paying more attention to the "mitigation" part of the equation, we and future generations are in even bigger trouble. Mitigation, in this context, simply means, we must all find ways of shedding our addiction to fossil fuels. These are what produce greenhouse gasses, which trap heat close to the globe and push our global temperatures upward. This may sound, fundamental. But it is surprising how often this part of the equation remains unspoken in the media or, apparently, in our classrooms. This may be a bitter pill to swallow, especially in energy-indulgent Alberta. But, with the stakes being so high, it is surely a necessary one!

Larry Powell

Thursday, June 20, 2013

One in Eight Bird Species Threatened With Extinction

CBC News
Canada's birds in better shape than most, study says, but situation still dire. Details here.
Birds like these rose-breasted grosbeak have declined by 10% since1970 in part due to the loss of mature forests through logging & invasive species like the pine beetle.  (Source: Birdlife International)
Barn swallows nest under a bridge in Manitoba. PLT photos.

India Now Has its Own "Monsanto Protection Act!"

Tonu - Tony Mitra
Bt. Cotton enters India through the backdoor. Details here.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Benefits of Community Pasture on the Canadian Prairies Misunderstood

Western Producer

Should we not look beyond mere “price” and protect ongoing “value?” Full story here.

Goats graze on a community pasture. 

Bee-Killing Pesticides Could Also Harm Butterflies, Mice And Birds, Study Claims

Daily Express

PESTICIDES which have been linked with the decline in bees could also harm other wildlife such as butterflies, mice and partridges, it has emerged. Full story here.

Swallowtail butterfly. PLT photo

Oilsands Tailings Cleanup Far Behind Schedule


Alberta's energy industry has found that cleaning up oilsands tailings is much harder than it thought. Details here.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Al Gore Says Obama Must Veto 'Atrocity' of Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

Former vice-president says oil pipeline is 'really a losing proposition' and demands climate plan promised at inauguration. Details here.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dirty Energy Ushers Us Into New, and Disturbing, Territory in Canada

350 or bust

How much more damage to our land, water, and climate are we willing to tolerate before we just say noto this economic system of death? Details here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

UN Climate Change Conference Sees Concrete Progress Toward New Agreement

UN Climate Change Secretariat
The UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, ended on Friday after making concrete progress towards a new universal climate change agreement and…Details here.

PLT photo

Monday, June 10, 2013

Agri-Giants Trying to Solve Bee Deaths. Many Believe They Caused Them

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

One of every three bites of food we consume depends on pollination by honeybees, but these overlooked contributors to our food system are continuing to die in stubbornly perplexing ways. Details here.

A honeybee hive, Manitoba, 
Canada.  PLT photo.

Great News for the Spirit Bear Coast!

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) -- Victory for spirit bears

Dear Larry,

Spirit Bear

In a big win for the spectacular Spirit Bear Coast and its wildlife, the British Columbia government has just announced its formal opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline.

This is a key breakthrough in our fight against tar sands development -- and one that would not have been possible without your online activism.

Canada's 'Northern Amazon' on the Brink

The Tyee
Report details how industry, climate change could 'eat up' the Mackenzie River Basin and its vital ecological services. Full story here.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

First Green Party Member in the History of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, Canada, Sworn In

Globe & Mail
British Columbia’s first provincially elected Green Party member, Andrew Weaver (r.) wasted little time attacking Premier Christy Clark’s plans to export liquefied natural gas from northern B.C. to Asia after a swearing-in ceremony Thursday at the legislature. Details here.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Canadian Province of Manitoba Announces "Stewards Alliance" to Speed Cleanup of Lake Winnipeg Basin

Partnerships Will Help Leverage More Than $1 Billion Over Five Years: (Minister for the Environment) Mackintosh

A Lake Friendly Accord and Stewards Alliance, and partnerships and initiatives between the Manitoba government and other jurisdictions will leverage more than $1 billion to better co-ordinate efforts to improve all waterways in the Lake Winnipeg basin with the majority of                     PLT Photo                   funding dedicated to reducing nutrient pollution from waste water, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Artist Finds Inspiration in Canadian Government's Attempt to Silence Her

Visual essays by Franke James reveal how the 'troublesome artist' was targeted because her views on climate change clashed with the push to develop Alberta's tar sands. Full story here.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Scientists Find Holes in Monsanto GM Wheat Denial

Common Dreams
Monsanto claimed Wednesday that the Oregon field found last week to be contaminated with Monsanto's unapproved GM wheat was an "isolated" incident, and that it was likely either the result of an accident or "sabotage." However, scientists warned Thursday that the biotech giant's denial has many holes. Details here.

Ottawa Greenwashes the Tar Sands - at Taxpayer Expense. Greenpeace Video.

A Fragile Ecosystem in Ecuador Threatened by Climate Change

QUITO, (Inter Press Service) - The “páramos” or high plateaus of Ecuador, a crucial source of water, are showing signs of extreme fragility and a troubling loss of capacity to conserve this vital resource and sustain the survival of numerous species found nowhere else on earth. Full story here.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

GM Corn Has Bleak Future in Most of Europe – a Victory for Environmental Organisations

Investigative Reporting Denmark
Monsanto will halt production of genetically modified corn in all of Europe, except Spain, Portugal and Czech republic. The agribusiness multinational resolves not to spend any more money on trials, development, marketing, court cases or    PLT photo.                                                                  anything else to get GM corn accepted in Europe. Full story here.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Illegal GM Wheat Contamination Discovered in US

Canadian Biotechnology Action Network

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed that Monsanto’s unapproved genetically modified (GM, also called genetically engineered) herbicide tolerant wheat was found growing in a farmer’s field in the state of Oregon. Details here.
A field of non-GM wheat 

World’s Largest Pork Producer Could be Sold to a Chinese Company

Grist - a beacon in the smog
In Smithfield, Va., on Wednesday, locals were shocked to discover that their town’s namesake, Smithfield Foods, founded in 1936 as a single meatpacking plant and now the largest pork producer in the world, is poised to be sold to Chinese meat company Shuanghui International. If approved by federal regulators, the $4.7 billion deal would be the biggest takeover in history of an American company by a Chinese one. Details here.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tar Sands Supporters Suffer Setback as British Columbia Rejects Pipeline

Canadian province rejects plan for Enbridge Northern Gateway, saying company failed to demonstrate adequate clean-up plan. Full story here.

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...