Monday, 31 March 2014

Conservative Climate Panel Warns World Faces ‘Breakdown Of Food Systems’ And More Violent Conflict

CLIMATEPROGRESS

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued its second of four planned reports examining the state of climate science. This one summarizes what the scientific literature says about “Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability” (big PDF here). As with every recent IPCC report, it is super-cautious to a fault and yet still incredibly alarming. Details here.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Climate Change Already Felt 'On All Continents And Across The Oceans,' IPCC Finds

Huffington Post
Climate change has already left its mark "on all continents and across the oceans", damaging food crops, spreading disease, and melting glaciers, according to the leaked text of a blockbuster UN climate science report due out on Monday. Details here. Full report here.


PLT photo.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Don't Believe the Harperites! There ARE Downsides to Free Trade! (Letter)

Dear Editor,

After reading the letter-to-the-editor from Robert Sopuck, (Conservative MP for Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette) in The Roblin Review back in January (Canada-Eu agreement will bring jobs to the riding) (*see below), one would think there are no "downsides" to free trade, at all! 

How convenient that he and Prime Minister Harper are leaving out the parts that aren't as flattering. Free trade agreements have, for years, been chipping away at the ability of sovereign nations to make laws that protect our health and environment. Far from protecting us, such deals hand over more and more power to giant, ruthless and unelected corporations to sue nations like Canada, if our laws interfere with their own "rights" to make a profit. 

As long ago as the 1990s, an American outfit called Ethyl Corp. made off with $19 million of Canadian taxpayers' money under provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Ethyl Corp. sued Canada because we had the nerve to ban its fuel additive due to health concerns. 

But that's chickenfeed, nowadays. 

As we speak, the US-based pharmaceutical giant, Ely Lilly and Co. is also trying to sue Canada under NAFTA for $500 million! Why? Because, a few years ago, Canadian courts cancelled its patents on two of its drugs. Those rulings took away Lilly's monopoly and allowed another company to also make the drugs in a cheaper, generic form. 

But that's not all.

The Texas-based oil company, Lone Pine Resources is also suing us under NAFTA for $250 million. Why? Because it wants to "frack"under the St. Lawrence River and Quebec won't let it, at least until new regulations are put in place. Fracking involves drilling into underground shale deposits and injecting a secret witches brew of chemicals to force out the oil or gas. For some time now, it's been making people sick in many places and polluting drinking water to the point where some believe it actually renders it flammable! It has also been known to trigger earthquakes! It's now happening all over the world, including Manitoba.

Do you remember voting for any of this nonsense? Did we sleep through that referendum? I don't think so, because there wasn't one!

Corporate power at its ugliest.

But free trade treaties can inflict their harm elsewhere, as well as here at home. In a macabre twist to this already sordid tale, a Canadian company, Infinito Gold, based in Calgary, is suing Costa Rica for $100 million in lost profits under a trade deal between our two countries. Costa Rica is a small and breathtakingly beautiful little nation in Central America. (I know because I've been there.) It counts heavily on tourism dollars, so recognizes the importance of protecting its natural heritage. It's being sued because it won't let Infinito dig an open pit, cyanide-leach mine in the middle of its most pristine rain-forest. Observers believe this bully-boy corporation will actually win its case!

A Canadian expert in international law, Howard Mann, has studied documents which have leaked out about CETA (the agreement Mr. Sopuck brags about in his letter). The leaked ones are the only kind available, since this government refuses to release an official draft which might actually provide Canadians with some clarity. 

Mr. Mann, who has credentials as long as my arm, has issued a sombre warning. The kind of skulduggery I have outlined here, will increase dramatically once CETA becomes law. 

Somehow, somewhere, the voters of this nation need to find politicians who care more about us, and less about rich, corporate investors. 

Larry Powell
Neepawa MB

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Extreme Weather, Natural Disasters Led To $45 Billion In Insurance Losses In 2013

Huffington Post 

Disasters such as floods in Europe, winter storms in the U.S. and typhoons in Asia cost insurance companies $45 billion in 2013, a leading Swiss firm said Wednesday. Details here.

Another Heartfelt Appeal to Stop the Slaughter of Earth's Precious Pollinators (Video)

Stop Stalling on Action to Protect Bees, Environmental Groups Tell Canadian Minister

Sierra Club Canada
Ottawa – Four major environmental organizations have written to Health Minister Rona Ambrose asking her to stop stalling on taking action on pesticides suspected of killing bees, and that lack critical toxicity data.
Clothianidin, one of the neonicotinoid pesticides suspected of killing bees, remains on the market despite the lack of valid scientific studies to support assessment of environmental hazards to bees. Scientific studies investigating the pesticide’s chronic toxicity to bees have been requested since 2004 by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) from certain Clothianidin registration-holders, and since 2008-2009 from other companies whose registrations were renewed by PMRA in July 2013 and that sparked a notice of objection in September 2013 by the environmental groups.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

7 Million Premature Deaths Annually Linked to Air Pollution - UN

World Health Organization
In new estimates released today, WHO reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died - one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives. Details here.

Beekeepers in Ontario, Canada Reject Bee Health Report - Doesn't do Enough to Stem Pesticide Residues

Canadian Press

The Ontario Beekeepers Association says it can't endorse the final report from the Bee Health Working Group. Details here.

Monday, 24 March 2014

2013 - Sixth Warmest Year on Record

Voice of America

The World Meteorological Organization reports 2013 was the sixth warmest year on record, confirming the long-term global warming is continuing. In its annual report on the Status of the Climate, WMO describes a pattern of extreme weather events across the planet. Details here. 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Deep Ocean Current May Slow Due to Climate Change

ScicnceDaily

Far beneath the surface of the ocean, deep currents act as conveyer belts, channeling heat, carbon, oxygen and nutrients around the globe. A new has found that recent climate change may be acting to slow down one of these conveyer belts, with potentially serious consequences for the future of the planet's climate. Details here.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon Urges Water, Energy Security ‘For the Many & Not Just the Few’

Following is THE Secretary-General's message for World Water Day March 22ND:

A Manitoba lake. PLT photo.
Water is at the core of sustainable development.  This year’s observance of World Water Day focuses on the links between water and energy.  Both are critical for eradicating poverty.  And they interact with each other in ways that can help — or hinder — our efforts to build stable societies and lives of dignity for all.

Climate change driven in great part by the unsustainable use of energy will exacerbate water stress and scarcity in many regions.  Efforts to provide universal access to water and energy will be undermined if the current warming trend continues.

The many strong links between water and energy demand coherent, integrated policies and innovative strategies.  Water must be used — and electricity must be generated and distributed — equitably and efficiently, so all users get a fair share.

These are the goals of the ongoing work of UN-Water and of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative.  These issues are also crucially important elements in our discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.

On World Water Day, let us pledge to develop the policies needed to ensure that sustainable water and energy are secured for the many and not just the few.

Crops in Valley of Peace, Belize, Destroyed by Herbicide Sprayed on Them

News5

About a million dollars in vegetables have been destroyed in the Valley of Peace area, Cayo District of Belize (Central America).  The community is the largest provider of vegetables to two districts, but the farmers have lost their crops due to crop-dusting.  Green Tropics, the controversial company which grazed land in the Laboring Creek Jaguar Corridor Wildlife Sanctuary in 2012, is looking like a repeat offender tonight because they are said to be responsible for the herbicide spraying.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Sea Sick: A Thoughtful, Sobering Account of Climate Change and the Ocean, Live on Stage

Globe & Mail

There’s a funny anecdote that occurs late into Alanna Mitchell’s Sea Sick, the solo show opening the Theatre Centre’s handsome new Queen West home in Toronto. It finds Mitchell in a submersible 3,000 feet under the sea, crammed into a compartment no wider than a bathtub, and suddenly having a desperate need to pee. Details here.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

State Of The Future Report: Humans are Doing OK, But Nature Suffers As a Result – And We’ll Pay For It

The Independent

The future's bright – but only if we rise to the challenges which threaten environmental catastrophe, a major new report warns this week. Details here.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Salmon Genetically Modified in Canada May Soon Be In Stores, Thanks To AquaBounty

Huffington Post

HALIFAX - A U.S. company hoping to produce genetically modified salmon eggs in Canada has also applied to the federal government to sell its fish for human consumption.  Full story here.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

All Give & No Take

Do those negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership have any interest in democracy? Here’s a test.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 11th March 2014
Nothing threatens democracy as much as corporate power. Nowhere do corporations operate with greater freedom than between nations, for here there is no competition. With the exception of the European parliament there is no transnational democracy, anywhere. All other supranational bodies – the IMF, the World Bank, the United Nations, trade organisations and the rest – work on the principle of photocopy democracy (presumed consent is transferred, copy by copy, to ever greyer and more remote institutions) or no democracy at all(1).

The Great Divide - Canadian Tar Spreads its Filth Everywhere

OnEarth

What is happening along the Rocky Mountain Front is what happens whenever big energy arrives in small places. It offers a devil’s bargain: a choice between the lure of prosperity and the preservation of place. It pits neighbour against neighbour, family against family, and whatever the eventual outcome, a lot of people are probably going to be unhappy. Details here.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Canada's Dep't of Fisheries & Oceans ‘Fudging Numbers,’ Court Finds; Bars Commercial Fishery off Vancouver Island

The Globe and Mail
An unprecedented court injunction has barred the DFO from opening a commercial fishery off Vancouver Island after a judge concluded DFO was “fudging the numbers” and that the federal minister declared it open against her own bureaucrats’ advice. Details here.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

New England on 'High Alert' After Canadian Pipeline Reversal Approved

Common Dreams

Environmental groups raise alarm over potential transport of tar sands oil from western regions to New England coast. Detail here.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Have Western Farmers Been Sacrificed For Big Oil?

Council of Canadians
Oil pipe awaiting allocation on the CN line in Manitoba. PLT photo.
Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow Tweeted these questions this week. "Were western farmers sacrificed so that Big Oil could take over the trains? Is that why Harper killed the Wheat Board?" Details here.

Sandhill Cranes Face Shut-Off as Colorado Weighs Who Gets Scarce Water


The Denver Post
Sandhill Cranes Over Manitoba, Canada. PLT photo.
Colorado's effort to replenish its aquifers by cracking down on pumping groundwater threatens to leave the thousands of sandhill cranes that arrive here each February without the water they need. Details here.



Thursday, 6 March 2014

500 Million Family Farmers Have Enormous Potential to Feed the World. New Research.

FoodTank.com
Family Farmers conserve environmental resources, protect biodiversity, and increase incomes while feeding nine billion people by 2050. Details here.
A farmer's market in Regina, 
Saskatchewan, Canada. PLT photo.

Sochi Olympics Going For Gold, But Not Green

A\J Alternatives Journal

Russia has not lived up to the environmental promises made for the 2014 Winter Olympics, and is cracking down on environmentalists for pointing this out. Full story here.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Aboriginal Rights a Threat to Canada's Resource Agenda, Documents Reveal

theguardian
Canadian government closely monitoring how legal rulings and aboriginal protest pose an increasing ‘risk’ for multi-billion dollar oil and mining plans. Details here.

A First Nations protester 
in Regina. PLT photo

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

City of Winnipeg Needs to Prepare Better for Changing Climate: Councillor Vandal

Winnipeg Free Press
A veteran city councillor says emergency situations resulting from climate change will be more frequent in the future and the city needs to be better prepared to deal with them. Details here.

CWB Alliance to Hold Public Meeting Updating Farmers on Marketing Chaos

                                 Canadian Wheat Board Alliance
PinP photo 
   
(Pelly, Sk., March 3, 2014)  The Canadian Wheat Board Alliance is inviting farmers to a public meeting, Sunday, March 9th, one PM, at the Elks Hall in Raymore, Saskatchewan. 

Monday, 3 March 2014

Beautiful Relationships: Local Biz Sees the Upside of Dung

THE TYEE
For Cowpower, green and local energy is only a field away. Details here.

PLT photo.

Ahhh...That's Awful! That's Tetley! Please sign!

Larry,
Recent reports disclose the horrific reality behind the Tetley tea empire --workers on plantations in northern India, including children, are paid less than $3 a day to pick our tea.


Boycott Tetley!