Monday, 30 September 2013

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Save the Bees! Let Home Hardware and Lowe's Know You Won't Take it Anymore!

Larry,
Home Depot and Lowe’s still haven’t committed to stop selling the pesticides that are killing the bees -- and now it’s time to up the pressure.
A new report by our allies at Friends of the Earth reveals that more than half of the “bee-friendly” home garden plants sold at stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s actually contain bee-killing pesticides called neonics -- with no warning to consumers!
Nearly 125,000 of us have asked Home Depot and Lowe’s to stop selling pre-poisoned plants and bee-killing pesticides. But so far, neither company has responded. Now, we need to up the buzz to protect the bees.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    PLT photo

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Keystone XL's Ugly Toll on America's Endangered Species

Huffington Post

Much of the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline has rightly been focused on the staggering damage it'll do to our climate. Details here.

Western Prairie Fringed Orchid. 
Photo Credit - US Fish & Wildlife


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Beyond the Birds and the Bees

The Xerces Society

Effects of "neonic" insecticides on agriculturally important beneficial insects. Details here.

Unidentified pollinator. PLT photo. 

Apple Turnover - How This "Supercool" Tech Giant Plays Fast & Loose With the Environment

George Monbiot

Apple offers 21st Century technology – with 19th Century ethics. Full story here.

Writer Knocks Manitoba Government for "Disgusting" Response to Arsenic Issue

Dear Editor:

Complacency about water safety thrives in Manitoba.

What are we putting into our water ?
PLT photo
We are putting toxic waste (poison) into our water. Toxic = dangerous, immediate or long term effects. In the absence of scientific research, no one should simply claim those products are safe and acceptable, then allow them to be discarded into a water source.

There is absolutely no legitimate government interest
fulfilled, by allowing arsenic, lead and other contaminants 
into a water source. Yet, that is exactly what is happening!
The town of Virden, Manitoba, for instance, has been issued 
a  licence by the province  to dump arsenic taken from the 
water treatment plant, into a surface water source, which
downstream, enters into the Assiniboine River.

The questions then that need to be answered are:
Why does government, the province of Manitoba 
condone and permit such a disdainful action?

Why are the long-term health risks from chronic exposure
to arsenic being ignored? Why are we being valued
as subjects, used in an experimental laboratory?

Why is this human impact allowed?

Why are people being complacent and not speaking
out on this travesty and mockery to our personal health 
and the health of water, the life blood of all living creatures.?

This is a shameful and disgusting act against humans
and our most precious resource. It's time that the
public retaliated; put aside its complacency, and 
started voicing  its opposition to the province. 

The government's lack of moral and humane principles 
must be challenged.  Arsenic is a deadly poison and warrants 
extreme respect, not defensive political bafflegab.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Wake Up! Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable - UNCTAD

United Nations Conference on Trade & Development


The world needs "a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high external-input-dependent industrial production towards mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems." Full story here.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Environmental Report Details Extent of Contamination in the Quebec Runaway Train Disaster

(The Toronto Star)
There was never doubt that the deadly train derailment in Lac-Mégantic caused an environmental disaster, but a report made public this week by Quebec's ministry of the environment details the extent of the devastation to the soil, river and lake near the disaster zone. Details here.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Water is Our Most Precious Resource

by John Fefchak

Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined.


Water is the life blood of all living things.

It just seems we have so much fresh water in Canada, we don't look after it, as we know we should. (U.S. and Canada need to reduce algae bloom on Lake Erie, WFP 29 Aug)

It is clear that governments have ignored the basic principles of water stewardship for too many years in the pursuit of narrow economic interests.
Lake Winnipeg has become a horrid reminder of devastation, that we are leaving our children and their children to bear alone.



Now Lake Erie has a sickness that has returned.


So many of our Lakes have become diseased.

The name of this disease is 'human complacency.'





Slime on a Lake Winnipeg beach near 
Gimli. PLT photo.

Food Crisis Fears Prompt UN Wake-Up Call to World Leaders

UN Conference on Trade & Development

Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate. Full story here.

Read Guardian story here.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Family From Turtle Mountain in Southwestern Manitoba Says Crop-Dusting Spray Made Them Ill

CBC Radio

Woman says she had allergic reaction to pesticide sprayed on canola field. Details here.

A "crop-duster" similar to the one said to be involved in this latest incident. PLT photo.
Related: 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

CDC Study on Superbugs Does Not Reflect Well on Factory Farming Methods

Centers for Disease Control - Threat Report 2013

This report, Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013, gives a first-ever snapshot of the burden and threats posed by the antibiotic-resistant germs having the most impact on human health. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year...Details here.

Related: 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

World 'Not On Track' To Prevent Warming - UN Climate Official

Huffington Post
Appealing directly to the world's voters to pressure their politicians into taking tougher action against the buildup of greenhouse gases, a top climate official with the United Nations says, international leaders are failing to fight global warming. Details here.



A brooding skyline in Manitoba, CA. PLT photo.

Help Coming for the Greater sage-grouse

Ecojustice Breaking News logo - flying gooseLarry,

It took nearly two years of legal wrangling, but it looks like the federal government is finally prepared to introduce emergency protections for Canada’s endangered Greater sage-grouse.

The announcement, made this morning, is a welcome breath of fresh air to a case that’s been mired in secrecy, delays and procedural roadblocks. In fact, our efforts may well have helped set another important legal precedent. To our knowledge, this is the first time Ottawa has explicitly stated its intention to introduce emergency protections for an endangered species.

Thank you. None of this would have been possible without you. 

Thanks to your support, we were able to bring forward a series of legal challenges that have forced the federal government to act. But as I told CBC’s The National (10 p.m. local), we know all too well that the devil will be in the details and that our work is far from done. 

We’re still waiting to learn when the emergency order will be implemented and what it will include.


Sunday, 15 September 2013

Dangers Pesticides Pose To Workers Force Farmers To Look For Alternatives

Fox News Latino
California's $2.3 billion strawberry industry edging toward non-chemical alternatives to pesticides. Details here.

Organic strawberries in Manitoba. PLT photo

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Wilderness Committee: Tanco Mine Disaster Risk in Manitoba, Canada

Manitoba Wilderness Committee

According to an engineering report filed with the Manitoba government on August 30, 
an underground mine is on the verge of collapse under Bernic Lake in eastern Manitoba. 
Details here.

Food Waste Harms Climate, Water, Land and Biodiversity – New FAO Report (Story & Video)

Food and Agriculture Organization - United Nations
Discarded cucumbers. PLT photo
Rome - The waste of a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year is not only causing major economic losses but also wreaking significant harm on the natural resources that humanity relies upon to feed itself, says a new FAO report. Full story here.


Friday, 13 September 2013

Environmentalist Can't Believe Government Response To His Campaign to Condemn Arsenic Releases Into a Creek Near His Home in Virden, Manitoba

Below is the response from the Government of Manitoba to a complaint by John Fefchak that arsenic was being released into the water supply of his hometown, Virden, Manitoba. 
(Please read) Keep Arsenic out of the Water at Virden, Manitoba, Canada! An Open Letter to Manitoba's Minister of Conservation (Environment)
====
Dear Mr. Fefchak:

September 13, 2013
Thank you for your e-mail of August 15, 2013, to the
Honourable Gord Mackintosh, Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship regarding the discharge of arsenic from the Town of Virden Water Treatment Plant. I have been asked to respond to your letter on his behalf.


It is not accurate that the practice of discharging minute amounts of arsenic constitutes a violation of provincial legislation. It is permitted by the Town of Virden's Environment Act licence. Your assertion that arsenic is a pollutant is incorrect in this context, as the discharge of arsenic does not affect the natural, physical, chemical or biological quality of the environment. It is not injurious to the health or safety of persons, or injurious or damaging to property or to plant or animal life, nor does it interfere with, or is it likely to interfere with the comfort, well being, livelihood or enjoyment of life by a person. Therefore, arsenic discharge in these minute amounts does not meet the definition of a pollutant under The Environment Act.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

G20 Agreement to Reduce Greenhouse Gases Vital to Tackle Climate Change – United Nations

UN - New York

The United Nations environment agency today welcomed an agreement signed by world leaders at the recent Group of 20 (G20) Summit to reduce the emission of potent greenhouse gases, adding this is a vital contribution in efforts to combat climate change. Details  here.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Canadian PM Offers Obama Carbon Reductions for Keystone Approval

Inside Climate News

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama formally proposing "joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector," Full story here.

Contamination Cases Renew Fears Over Globalized Food Supply

ALJAZEERA AMERICA

A recent spate of contamination outbreaks highlights safety challenges of transnational food distribution. Details here.

Organic veggies, grown and eaten safely in Manitoba, Canada. PLT photo.

Global warming? No, Actually We're Cooling, Claim Some Scientists

The Telegraph

A cold Arctic summer has led to a record increase in the ice cap, leading experts to predict a period of global cooling. Full story here.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Have Our Servants Become Our Masters?

by Larry Powell



There was a time when coal, oil and natural gas served us well; powering our vehicles, heating and cooling our homes, generating our electricity and keeping our industries going.

While they may still be doing all of those things, there’s been a huge, even sinister shift over the generations since the industrial revolution of the 19th century.
World populations have skyrocketed, along with our expectations. Our lust for more and more of the things these fossil fuels can give us - electronic gadgets, power boats and quads - has turned into a life-threatening addiction. 

Conservation and moderation are now dirty words. Consumption is the new religion – with no thought for tomorrow. Sadly, even our schools and churches are doing little to counter this kind of mindset! Parents are even drilling it into their children, at home. 

Make no mistake. Fossil fuels, which once served us well, are no longer our friends.   

The more of them we burn, the more heat-trapping emissions are produced. These greenhouse gases are rapidly changing the very makeup of the biosphere – the air upon which we and all other creatures on earth depend, for life itself.

It’s been said that, if Earth were the size of a soccer ball, that biosphere would be about the thickness of tissue paper! Yet we treat it as if it is indestructible, relentlessly spewing our filth into it like an open sewer.

As a result, our planet is heating up, spawning terrible storms, wildfires, droughts, flash-floods and rising sea levels due to melting ice-caps and glaciers.

It’s gotten so bad, hardly a day goes by any more without news of another terrible event occurring somewhere in the world which can be laid directly at the feet of our addiction to oil and its treacherous cousins, natural gas and coal.

In Canada alone, the awful flooding in Alberta and the tragic and deadly train accident in Quebec recently, are painfully fresh in the minds of many. Surely both are examples of our "fossil fuel demons" coming back to bite us in different ways.

Reliable experts in the field are saying that climate change caused by humans, likely contributed to the flooding.

And it was crude oil, now being moved in increasingly massive amounts around the globe, that ignited when a runaway train rolled into that quiet little Quebec town on a fateful night this summer, bringing with it such terrible loss of innocent life and human misery.

Despite all of this, our leaders, whether they be politicians, journalists or industry moguls, are now all a-flutter over a proposal for a new, west-to-east pipeline. Apparently spawned during a corporate wet dream in the boardrooms of the energy giant, Trans-Canada Pipelines, the line (if approved) would move sludgy, sticky, corrosive, climate-destroying tar from Alberta to Atlantic Canada.

In so doing, it would travel much of the way through existing pipe which now carries natural gas. (Natural gas destroys the climate, too, just not quite as well.) 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Harper, Canada's premiere "fossil fool," is four-square behind this reckless, misguided project. "It's safer to move oil by pipe than by rail," he pontificates, shamelessly using the recent Quebec tragedy to his own political ends.

Which mode of travel is safer, of course, is not the point. It is, rather, how can we stop being the fossil fuel junkies we have become and find new energy sources which don’t destroy us all?
Sadly, Mr. Harper displayed his willful ignorance of the basic science of climate change when commenting on this year’s  terrible flooding in Alberta.

"I never imagined we could have a flood of this magnitude in this part of the country," he declared, preposterously!


CNN photo
Apparently you can be the leader of a great nation and still be oblivious to the warnings which top climate scientists from around the world have been sounding for decades. On second thought, it was not surprising coming as it did from one who thinks climate change is a "socialist plot!" And not surprising either, given that this is a Prime Minister actively muzzling climate scientists if they speak the truth on the matter.

Meanwhile, Trans-Canada's slick bigwigs are promising that "environmental" concerns will be taken into consideration in the new pipeline project, as if they had a clue as to what that word even means, let alone cared. And environmentalists are once again being treated as quaint creatures who need to be patted on the head, then dismissed. What fails to get mentioned is, it is the environmental movement which has science on its side, not the vested, profit-driven interests of Big Oil.

It was James Hansen of NASA, the world's foremost climatologist, who warned a year or two ago, it would be "game over for the climate" if the XL pipeline is built to carry tar from Alberta to the Texas coast.  So, are we to somehow believe that this latest brainwave (the west-east pipeline) will somehow be less harmful if it is aligned across Canada, rather than south into the 'States? Give me a break! 

Even I am not suggesting we can go "cold turkey" on fossil fuels. Junkies, of course, need time to "taper off" from their habits. But surely we need to be seeking alternatives like wind and solar way more aggressively than we are. (And, don't forget, despite earlier promises to remove them, the Harperites have kept those disgraceful subsidies to the "poor, impoverished" oil industry in place, costing hard-working Canadians well over a billion a year in tax dollars!)

Trouble is, zealots like Mr. Harper, other members of his “team” like my own MP, Robert Sopuck and their friends in Big Oil, don't want that. They want it all. And, if that means the degradation or even destruction of Canada’s precious wild places which so many of us hold dear – not to mention the planet itself - then, so be it!

Related: "Rail Versus Pipeline is the Wrong Question." 
"Writer Comes to my Defence"

Environmentalists Say Alberta Government Keeping Them Out of Oilsands Hearing

Edmonton Journal

Alberta environmentalists argued in court Thursday that the provincial government is keeping them out of hearings on a proposed oilsands development at least partly because of their concerns about the industry. Details here. 

Are Weeds Healthier Than Farmed Veggies?

Mother Jones
Here's why you might consider replacing that romaine salad with dandelion greens. Full story here.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Population Growth Increases Climate Fear

San Francisco Chronicle

"The combination of climate change and 9 billion people to me is one that is just fraught with potential catastrophes," said…Full story here.

Golden Rice: No Silver Bullet

Organic Consumers Association

The biotech industry is trying to revive Golden Rice in the consciousness of the public, even though it still remains a largely theoretical product. In the absense of any real news on a crop that hasn't gained traction in more than a decade, the move looks more like an act of desperation than a legitimate defence of biotechnology. Details here.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Is Global Warming Really Slowing Down?

Mother Jones

Skeptics say global warming is over. They're wrong. Full story here.

No Thanks to Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper And His "Wrecking Crew," Resurrection of the Priceless Experimental Lakes Area Again Looks Promising


The Province of Manitoba is distributing this news release on behalf of the Government of Manitoba and the International Institute of Sustainable Development.

News Release

September 2, 2013

MANITOBA TO HELP ENSURE CONTINUED OPERATION OF EXPERIMENTAL LAKES AREA WITH LONG-TERM FUNDING TO IISD, FRESHWATER RESEARCH 
- - -
ELA Research Invaluable in Saving Lake Winnipeg:  Premier

The Manitoba government is providing the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) ongoing, secure funding as the organization takes over operation of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), Premier Greg Selinger announced today.  The new, more than $6 million, six-year agreement includes $900,000 to be dedicated to funding freshwater research and technology at the ELA.  

"The ELA will be invaluable to helping us solve the complex issues surrounding the health of Lake Winnipeg and basin waterway challenges," said Selinger.  "Stable long-term funding is critical for the nationally and internationally important work that is conducted at this facility."

The premier noted the government of Manitoba is the largest core funder of the IISD.  


Sunday, 1 September 2013

Bayer Sues EC for Saving Bees

Sum of Us
Larry,
Wow. Bayer has just sued the European Commission to overturn a ban on the pesticides that are killing millions of bees around the world. A huge public push won this landmark ban only months ago -- and we can't sit back and let Big Pesticide overturn it while the bees vanish.
Bayer and Syngenta, two of the world's largest chemical corporations, claim that the ban is "unjustified" and "disproportionate." But clear scientific evidence shows their products are behind the massive bee die-off that puts our entire food chain in peril. 
Just last month, 37 million bees were discovered dead on a single Canadian farm. And unless we act now, the bees will keep dying. We have to show Bayer now that we won't tolerate it putting its profits ahead of our planet's health. If this giant corporation manages to bully Europe into submission, it would spell disaster for the bees.

New Studies Show The Oceans Are Acidifying at the Fastest Rate in 300 Million Years. Should We Be Concerned?

Washington Post

The results, published this week in Nature Climate Change, aren’t exactly encouraging: “Our analysis demonstrates that the groups studied - corals, molluscs, echinoderms, crustaceans and fishes - are all impacted negatively, albeit differently, even by moderate acidification.” Details here.