Saturday, May 30, 2015

World's First Ocean System Targeting Plastic Pollution to Launch in 2016


The world's first system designed to rid the oceans of plastic pollution will be deployed near Japan in 2016, with the aim of eventually capturing half of the plastic found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a large concentration of marine debris located between Hawaii and California. Story here.

The Abuses of Enchantment

George Monbiot

The cruelties of factory farming shelter behind a fairytale image, promoted by advertisers and children’s authors. Story here.

PinP photo

Related: "Stock Answer"

Friday, May 29, 2015

The US Government Just Released a Plan To Protect The Greater Sage Grouse. Here’s Why You Should Care.

The Department of the Interior Thursday released a long-awaited plan to protect the greater sage grouse, a ground-dwelling bird that was once ubiquitous across the American West but that has seen its numbers plummet as the region’s open sagebrush lands have been lost to energy development, grazing, and catastrophic wildfires. Story here.

In Face of Rising Climate Movement, Tar Sands on Life Support: Report

Common Dreams
Evidence of struggling tar sands sector suggests opportunity to slow the rate of growth 'significantly.’ Story here.

The Tar Sands Sell-Out

The Canadian town that sold itself to tar sands. Story here.

Province of Manitoba Losing Fight Against Zebra Mussels

Winnipeg Free Press
Zebra mussels are here to stay.

The challenge now is controlling their spread, a challenge the province appears to be losing in part due to errant boaters. Story here.

Obama: ‘Best Climate Scientists’ Link Hurricanes, Climate Change


President Obama said Thursday the link between more extreme weather and climate change is undeniable, and that the world’s best scientists have made a conclusive connection. Story here.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Qatar Refuses to let Nepalese Workers Return to Attend Funerals After Quake


Nepalese minister says Fifa must pressure the Gulf state for better treatment of 1.5 million south Asian migrants. Story here.

Sold Down the Yangtze: Canada’s Lopsided Investment Deal With China

In Sold Down the Yangtze, investment treaty expert Gus Van Harten offers a searing critique of Canada’s 31-year investment deal with China, which could end up costing taxpayers billions of dollars. Story here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Trade Talks Set to Divide Farm Communities

Manitoba Co-Operator

Some groups want a trade deal even if it means sacrificing supply management. Story here.

Most Glaciers in Mount Everest Area Will Disappear With Climate Change – Study

About 5,500 glaciers could disappear or drastically retreat by the end of the century with severe impacts on farming and hydropower, say scientists. Story here.

Winnipeg's Urban Forest a Monoculture at Risk of Being Wiped Out by Disease


CBC analysis using city tree inventory data reveals never-before-seen picture of Dutch elm disease. Story here.

Forest Fires Rage Near Manitoba Towns, Burning Permits Cancelled

CBC News

Fire crews battled blazes in dry, windy conditions near the towns of Cormorant and Sherridon in northwestern Manitoba, prompting the province to cancel burning permits and restrict campfires over large stretches of territory. Story here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Demand Pull Nature of Organic Foods Can’t be Ignored - Editorial

Laura Rance - Manitob Co-Operator

The market for organic foods continues to grow in spite of naysayers. Story here.

Extreme Heat Wave In India Is Killing People And Melting Roads


A blistering heat wave in India has killed more than 1,100 people in the country in less than one week. Story here.

Burning Permits Cancelled in Northwest Manitoba

Photo Courtesy of the Royal Aviation Museum of Western CA
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship advises that dry, windy conditions in northwest Manitoba have led to the cancellation of all burning permits in the region north of Flin Flon and Sherridon, south to Grand Rapids, west to the Saskatchewan border and east to PTH 6.

Wildfires Eat Into Oil Sands Production in Alberta

The Globe and Mail

A quickly expanding wildfire in northeastern Alberta has forced Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. to shut down more oil sands production, pushing total volumes offline owing to the blaze to more than 8 per cent of the province’s oil output. Story here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Extending Indonesia’s Forest Moratorium Is a Win for Business

World Resources Institute

Indonesian President Joko Widodo reaffirmed his commitment to climate leadership this week by renewingIndonesia’s national forest moratorium, which prohibits new licenses to clear key forest areas. While the environmental benefits are well-recognized, the move should also be hailed as a win for businesses and local producers. Story here.

Monday, May 18, 2015

More Weird Weather on the Prairies. It May Have Left Significant Crop Damage in its Wake. (Story & Video)

by Larry Powell
Wintery conditions returned to take another swipe at southern Manitoba on the Victoria Day long weekend. The Colorado low dumped 90 millimetres of precipitation on the Town of Melita in the southwest (more than 3 1/2 inches), mostly in the form of rain. But there was also snow, ice pellets, freezing rain and wind. Lots of wind. The City of Winnipeg, Winnipeg Beach and Gimli were all hit with wind gale-force winds of more than 90 kilometres an hour. They brought down trees, tree branches and power lines, knocking out power to thousands in various communities across the south. Manitoba Hydro repair crews were taxed to the limit.
The rain left farmland along the Trans Canada Highway, west of Winnipeg, sodden and submerged. I shot this video from our car as we returned home to Neepawa from Winnipeg on Victoria Day, May 18th, along the north side of the Trans Canada Highway, west of the Portage junction.
PinP photos.
High winds are believed to have caused these accidents along the same section of roadway.
Farmers who've already done significant field work in preparing for this year's planting season must be extremely nervous, given the terrible damage they've already suffered so frequently in recent years. Record, torrential rains and flooded crops have become tales that are all-too familiar as climate change seems to tighten its grip.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Pegs Canada's Fossil Fuel Subsidies at $34 Billion

The Tyee

Pump jacks in southeastern SK. PinP photo.
In such giveaways we're a world leader, a fact rarely noted when federal budgets are debated. Story here.  Story here.

Related: "Governments Giving Fossil Fuel Companies $10 Million a Minute: IMF"

Washington State Declares Drought Emergency


Drought isn't just a California problem, folks. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency on Friday, with snowpack and stream flows dramatically below normal. Story here.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Canada Announces Climate Commitment and it’s Weaker Than it Looks

Climate Action Network

Canada has announced it will cut carbon pollution by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 as part of this year’s international climate negotiations in Paris. While any action is an improvement, the proposed target is….Story here.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Alberta-Based Think-Tank, the Pembina Institute, is Skeptical About Canada's Latest Greenhouse Gas Targets

The Pembina Insitute
The Koch Brothers fertilizer plant in Brandon, MB: At one time, 
Manitoba's largest single source of greenhouse gas pollution. (PinP photo.)
Given Canada’s history of setting climate targets while failing to implement regulations to meet them, today’s announcement doesn’t mean much without a credible plan of action to back it up. Story here.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

California's Fire Season Is Shaping Up to Be a "Disaster"

Mother Jones

It's already looking bad, and it's going to get worse. Story here.

A US Energy Giant Gets a Big Fine After Pleading Guilty to Environmental Crimes

Winnipeg Free Press
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Duke Energy has pleaded guilty in federal court to environmental crimes and agreed to pay $102 million in fines and restitution for illegally discharging pollution from coal-ash dumps at five North Carolina power plants. Story here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Groups Call on National Energy Board to Suspend Energy East Application

Winnipeg Free Press

TORONTO - More than 60 organizations are calling on the National Energy Board to suspend TransCanada's application for the Energy East Pipeline. Story here.

'The World is Watching' Seattle as Arctic Drilling Fight Heats Up

Common Dreams

Shell says 'drop dead' after Port Commission calls for delay of rig arrival. Story here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Canada’s Forest Fires Threaten the Whooping Crane

World Resources Institute
Canada, home to two of the Whooping Crane Summer Ranges, topped the list of countries with the most forest loss. The loss is likely due to sweeping boreal forest fires in the Wood Buffalo National Park. Story here.

Related: "Only 'Heroic Efforts' Will Spare Earth’s Mighty Boreal Forest From the Worst Ravages of Climate Change - Experts."

Letting Shell Drill in Arctic Could Lead to Catastrophic Oil Spill, Experts Warn

Lack of local infrastructure to undertake oil exploration will prove devastating, environmentalists say – there is one road, no rail system and limited air facilities. Story here.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Glyphosate-Resistant Palmer Amaranth Confirmed in Southwest Nebraska, US

Palmer amaranth is a broadleaf annual weed that has created significant problems for growers in the Mid-South US over the past 10 years due to its prolific seed production and resistance to glyphosate. Story here.

Superweed rendering 
by Paul Hoppe

USDA: Cotton Production in California Expected to Decline Due to Drought

California is the fourth largest cotton producing state in US, and production there depends heavily on irrigation. 

Canadian Mining Companies Banned in Three Salvadoran Municipalities

Common Dreams

Nueva Trinidad has become the third municipality in El Salvador to officially declare itself a "territory free of mining" through a historic popular community consultation. Story here.

Related: "Council of Canadians backs protest defending El Salvador's water from World Bank tribunal."

These Scientists Just Lost Their Lives in the Arctic. They Were Heroes.

Mother Jones

Early last month, veteran polar explorers and scientists Marc Cornelissen and Philip de Roo set out on skis from Resolute Bay, a remote outpost in the patchwork of islands between Canada and Greenland. Their destination…Story here.

B.C. Canada Failing to Meet Greenhouse Emission Targets: Federal Government


British Columbia is on track to increase greenhouse gas emissions – not reduce them – according to a letter from Canada’s environment minister. Story here.

Harry Smith Is Coming for Stephen Harper

THE Tyee

The 92-year-old anti-austerity campaigner, a UK sensation, sets his sights on Canada. Story here.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Manitobans in the Dark on Province's Energy East Position

De Smog Canada
Three Manitoba-based environmental groups — Manitoba Wildlands,Wilderness Committee, and Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition — held a press conference Thursday in Winnipeg demanding the Manitoba government “acknowledge the magnitude” of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project, which would see oilsands (also called tar sands) bitumen shipped through the province. Story here.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Winnipeg Hotel Wants Bees on Roof, Beekeeping Bylaws Relaxed

CBC News

Restrictions on beekeeping getting in the way of Fort Garry Hotel's plans for 5 rooftop hives, hotel says. Story here.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Church of England Divests From Dirtiest Fossil Fuels

Amazing news! The Church of England has announced that it will divest its holdings of £12m in thermal coal and tar sands. This is a good step in the right direction and a huge win for the divestment campaign. A special shout-out to our faith campaigners in the UK! Story here.

A First Nation in BC, Canada Rejects $1 Billion In LNG Benefit Offer

WC Native News

PORT SIMPSON, B.C. – The first of three votes on a natural gas benefit offer worth over $1 billion has been unanimously rejected by a First Nation on British Columbia’s northwest coast. Story here.

A Global Milestone: CO2 Passes 400 PPM

Inside Climate News
Another month, another carbon dioxide record. This time the record extends….Story here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

In Blow to Tar Sands Industry, NDP Sweeps Alberta Elections

Common Dreams

In historic shake-up, Canadian voters overwhelming back party that promised higher corporate taxes and less support for pipelines. Story here.

North Dakota Town Evacuated After Oil Train Derailment

CBS News
An oil train derailed and caught fire early Wednesday in a rural area of central North Dakota, prompting the evacuation of a nearby town where about 20 people live. Story here.

North America's Biggest Proponent for Climate Action -, Celebrates the Alberta Election

We’ve said before that the oil price shock could lead to profound shifts, and last night Canada got its first real taste of what that could look like.

Another Lively (Sometimes Nasty) Exchange of Letters Over Manitoba's Hog Industry!

Below is a series of letters to the editor (in chronological order) in the weekly newspaper, the Neepawa (Manitoba) Banner. They swirl around the always stormy issue of factory hog barns. John Fefchak has been a long-time critic of these industries, mainly due to their impact on water resources (and a regular contributor to the "comments" section of this blog). He began the exchange with this first letter, which appeared in the Banner earlier this spring.

Dear Editor,

I’d like to respond to the letter “Look at the Facts,” printed in the Banner on Apr. 24th. 

It claims John Fefchak hates hog producers. I’ve known John for several years now. Sure, he gets passionate about things. Those who put dollars ahead of clean air, water, soil, healthy people and a healthy planet upset him. But to me, that speaks more of caring, than hate.

And John just can’t grasp how hog factories, also called confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), can possibly fit into his vision for that cleaner world. 

After all, do they not cram thousands of live animals into cramped (confined) spaces, where pregnant sows can’t even turn around? Do they not produce large amounts of waste called “slurry,” which, in turn, feed the growth of toxic algae, robbing our waterways of oxygen? 

Do these factories not cost millions of dollars? Do they really bear much resemblance to family farms, where animals once nestled in straw, basked in the sun and grazed on the grass?

CAFO operators have been giving antibiotics to their herds for years now, not only to treat disease, but to fatten them up more quickly for market. This practise has come to be recognized by many experts as a major contributor to the growth of “superbugs” in humans. As they grow more resistant, these bugs are becoming harder to treat with any of the antibiotics we have today. Experts now describe the human illness to which this overuse contributes, as one of the world's emergent health issues.” Others have labeled it“disastrous,” even“promiscuous.”   

Figures in Canada are hard to come by. But, in the States, the Centers for Disease control estimate 80% of antibiotic use there is in agriculture and fish-farming. In that country (which has CAFOs similar to our own) 2 million people get sick and 23 thousand die each year of infections that are resistant to treatment by antibiotics. 

No one is saying hog factories are the only factor. But it now seems harder to deny that they are, indeed a significant one.

“Just the Facts,” also blames the media for calling the pandemic five years ago, “swine flu.” But that was actually the World Health Organization (WHO) (a branch of the United Nations) which said that, not the media. And the WHO still believes that outbreak originated with pigs. I really don’t think that remaining in a state of denial over this is all that helpful.

The letter also quibbles with John over hog numbers in Manitoba. When you consider each hog produces many times more waste than a human, (and human waste is treated while hog waste is not), does it really matter whether there are 3 million or 9 million? The very volume of this kind of waste has to be a problem. It is surely the equivalent of adding several more cities without sewage treatment plants to the ones we already have!

Eight or ten years ago, following exhaustive hearings into the sustainability of the industry, Manitoba’s Clean Environment Commission reached the conclusion that, yes, slurry does pose a problem for our water resources. And so did the provincial government when it imposed a moratorium on new hog barn construction.

I see that Michael McCain of Maple Leaf Foods, our very own “Sultan of Swine,” is now calling for an increase in Manitoba’s hog production. Frankly, that matters not a whit to me. I don’t remember voting for him. Do you? Let’s leave that decision up to those we did vote for!

And “Just the Facts” actually scolds the Banner for printing John’s numerous “rants.” I’d like to do the opposite. I’d like to thank them, not just for that, but for also printing the much longer letter I’m now criticizing! After all, are Letters-to-the-Editor not the last bastion of unfiltered democracy, no matter what point of view they are expressing? 

Thank you, Banner! And keep up the good work!
Larry Powell (PinP publisher)
Neepawa, MB

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Herbal Remedy Dogged by Lead and Arsenic


Chinese-grown herbs are a potential safety risk for Canadian manufacturers and consumers. Story here.

Turning the Tide on Northern Cod

World Wildlife Fund

WWF-Canada and the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) have begun an exciting new project that aims to help an historic northern Newfoundland cod fishery return to health. Story here.

Monday, May 4, 2015

What’s it Going to Take to Stop Soil Erosion? (Editorial)

Laura Rance - Manitoba Co-Operator

Topsoil on the wind. Video credit - the Co-Operator.
Soil erosion still alive and (not) well in Manitoba. Details here.

Jeb Bush Isn’t Running From the Worldview of His Brother George W. Bush — He’s Just Emphasizing it.

By Ed O'Keefe - -Washington Post

If Jeb Bush is elected president, the United States won’t be on speaking terms with Cuba and will partner more closely with Israel. He’ll tighten sanctions on Iran and urge NATO to deploy more troops in Eastern Europe to counter Vladimir Putin. And he’ll order the U.S. military to root out “barbarians” and “evildoers” around the globe.

Far from running from or playing down the views once expressed by his brother George W. Bush, Jeb Bush is embracing them — and emphasizing them.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Big Garden Chain Has Stopped Selling "Neonics!" Thanks For Signing!

We’re buzzing: Lowe’s, one of the world’s biggest home and garden retailers, just announced it’s no longer going to sell bee-killing "neonic" pesticides.
There’s no way Lowe’s would have done this without you and almost a million other SumOfUs members. Together with Friends of the Earth, SumOfUs members have been pushing Lowe’s to save the bees for almost two years -- and it worked!
We’re at a critical moment in the fight to stop the mass bee die-off -- with this move, we can push other big retailers and governments to save the bees as well.
Here are three easy ways you can help right now:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Kate Storey of the Green Party Nails it on GMO and Glyphosate

by Tony Mitra
Kate is an organic farmer based in Manitoba. She is also the Agriculture critic of the Green Party and an aspiring politician that is standing for the coming federal and provincial elections, hoping to be either an MP or an MLA. Story here.

The Guardian Gathers Testimonials for its Fossil Fuel Divestment (Keep-it-in-the-Ground) Campaign

Below are some samples of comments submitted to the Guardian by Canadians.

Among Canadian family physicians, there is a growing recognition that climate change is a medical issue, both locally (with increasing heat waves and severe winter weather in Canada), and for those of us involved in international healthcare projects abroad.

physician in Toronto, Canada
Pollinators are indicator species to the health status of the environment. Their decline in abundance and species diversity are warning signals of the environment being under stress. To deny that the release of billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere has no impact on climate borders on the absurd. The true impact of our collective failure will be experienced by those not yet born.

provincial apiculturist at British Columbia, Canada
Too much pseudo-science funded by vested industrial interests; too few governments able to think for themselves or promote the public good. Inspired, independent, intelligent private philanthropy can fill the gap. To do this work you have to expunge your cognitive dissonance. We don't want to be supported at the expense of social and environmental justice. Blood money is not worth the paper on which it is printed.

Marine ecologist, Canada

Friday, May 1, 2015

Church of England Ends Investments in Heavily Polluting Fossil Fuels


The Church of England has pulled its money out of two of the most polluting fossil fuels as part of what it calls its moral responsibility to protect the world’s poor from the impact of global warming. Story here.

Fossil-Fuel-Free Plan Pitched by Canadian Scientists

Bob McDonald - CBC News.

Acting on Climate Change suggests way to sustainable future. 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...