Sunday, December 31, 2017

Alarming link between fungicides and bee declines revealed

the guardian
Fungicides are found to be the strongest factor linked to steep bumblebee declines, surprising scientists and adding to the threats to vital pollinators. Story here.

Bumble bees forage on chives in 
an organic garden in Manitoba, CA.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Friends of the Earth Fights for Bees. PLEASE DONATE!.

Friends of the Earth 

Donald Trump’s EPA could soon allow bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides to be sprayed on 165 million acres of farmland.

A honeybee hive in Manitoba, Canada. PinP photo.  

Chemical giant Syngenta requested permission to douse our crops with these toxic chemicals. If the EPA grants Syngenta’s wish, the impact on bees and other pollinators could be devastating.
From your backyard to garden retailers to supermarkets, we’re cutting off the demand for bee-killing pesticides. And we’re pushing states and the federal government to ban them. But we need your help to keep this important work going in 2018.

Bees are dying at alarming rates. Monarch butterflies are declining. And a new study found that 75 percent of insects in German nature preserves have disappeared over the past three decades.
Scientists say this indicates that we are in the midst of an “Insect Apocalypse.” One of the key culprits is the massive increase in the use of pesticides.

And science continues to mount that these same pesticides are harming children’s brains, disrupting our hormones, contributing to cancers and more. That’s why we need a rapid shift to organic agriculture -- which is better for people and pollinators.

These pesticides are harming our health and our food system. But they’re generating millions in profits for Syngenta, Bayer, Monsanto, Dow and other pesticide companies. They spend millions every year on lobbying -- in part to block the EPA, state agencies and lawmakers from taking action on their bee-killing products!

Research finds flies carry bacteria — some harmful to people and animals

The Western Producer
They come every summer without fail, but flies are more than an aesthetic problem. Story here.

Sarcophaga (Flesh Fly).
Family.... Sarcohagidae.
feed on dead animal flesh. 
A Wickimedia photo by "Prog"

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

$180 B investment in plastic factories feeds global packaging binge

Colossal funding in manufacturing plants by fossil fuel companies will increase plastic production by 40%, risking permanent pollution of the earth. Story here.

RELATED: Big oil invests $180B in plastics, merging two planet-killing industries

Monday, December 25, 2017

Fungus threatens Brazilian farms


Asian rust in soybeans. USDA.
Brazil has become the world’s largest market for fungicides. Story here.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A deadly fungus is infecting snake species seemingly at random, new study shows.


Any species in the eastern or midwestern United States could potentially be at risk. Story here.

A mating ball of garter snakes.
Oregon State University. Will
they be next?

Friday, December 22, 2017

It will be months before Canada can restore a critical pollution monitoring site


Canada has chosen an alternate site for a critical air pollution research station that was shuttered in June, but almost a year will have passed before it's operational again. Story here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Carbon Loophole: Why Is Wood Burning Counted as Green Energy?

A loophole in carbon-accounting rules is spurring a boom in burning wood pellets in European power plants. The result has been a surge in logging, particularly in the U.S. South, and new doubts about whether Europe can meet its commitments under the Paris accord. Story here.

PinP photo

Monday, December 18, 2017

B.C. government announces end of grizzly hunt


The British Columbia government announced on Monday it was ending the trophy hunt of grizzly bears throughout the province. Story here.

Grizzlies in Yellowstone Park.Chris Servheen/USFWS

Rationale for Site C ‘Utter Nonsense,’ Says Former Hydro CEO

The Tyee

Province had ability to cancel project without cutting services, argues Eliesen. Story here.

Houses built too close to bush spread huge California fires on 'front line of climate change'


California wildfires from the International Space Station. NASA/Randy Bresnik
State's 'new normal' is a fire season 70 days longer than just 15 years ago. Story here.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

While America Focuses on Tax Bill, Congress Quietly Tries to Open Arctic Refuge to Oil Drilling


The U.S. Senate has passed a Republican tax-reform package that contains a provision to authorize oil drilling on the coastal plain of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, placing the biological heart of one of our last pristine, untouched places in severe peril. Story here.

Barrenground caribou, Nunavut. 

In 10 years, the world may not be able to feed itself

The World EconomicForum

Combines in a wheat field in Manitoba, Canada. PinP photo.
By 2027 the world could be facing a 214 trillion calorie deficit, says Sara Menker, founder of an agricultural data technology company. In other words, in just a decade, we won’t have enough food to feed the planet. More here.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Fracking linked to low birth weight in Pennsylvania babies


Study of birth records finds association between infant health and mom’s proximity to production sites. Story here.

Photo by Pexels.

Expert reaction to research on Hurricane Harvey and links to climate change

Science Media Centre
A new study, published in Environmental Research Letters, reported that human-caused climate change made the record rainfall that fell over Houston during Hurricane Harvey roughly three times more likely and 15% more intense. Story here.

Hurricane Harvey. 
 Photo by urban.houstonian

How a Wayward Arctic Current Could Cool the Climate in Europe


The Beaufort Gyre, a key Arctic Ocean current, is acting strangely. Scientists say it may be on the verge of discharging a huge amount of ice and cold freshwater that could kick off a period of lower temperatures in northern Europe. Story here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

In Hogs WeTrust - a Radio Interview

Alon at CKUW Radio (95.9 fm) at the University of Winnipeg, interviews journalist/blogger/activist Larry Powell (L.)  about the recent decision by the Government of Manitoba to expand the hog industry in the province. Are the rewards worth the risk? You be the judge. Runs 38'30". Interview proper starts at the 1'45" mark. This is a podcast (no picture). COMMENTS WELCOME. Thanks to CKUW for the opportunity to get the word out about these important issues. L.P.

World Bank and World Health Organization: Half the world lacks access to essential health services, 100 million still pushed into extreme poverty because of health expenses

TOKYO, December 13, 2017—At least half of the world’s population cannot obtain essential health services, according to a new report from the World Bank and the World Health Organization. 
Photo by Oxfam
And each year, large numbers of households are being pushed into poverty because they must pay for health care out of their own pockets.

Currently, 800 million people spend at least 10 percent of their household budgets on health expenses for themselves, a sick child or other family member. For almost 100 million people these expenses are high enough to push them into extreme poverty, forcing them to survive on just $1.90 or less a day. The findings, released today in Tracking Universal Health Coverage: 2017 Global Monitoring Report, have been simultaneously published in Lancet Global Health.

“It is completely unacceptable that half the world still lacks coverage for the most essential health services,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “And it is unnecessary. A solution exists: universal health coverage (UHC) allows everyone to obtain the health services they need, when and where they need them, without facing financial hardship.” 

“The report makes clear that if we are serious – not just about better health outcomes, but also about ending poverty – we must urgently scale up our efforts on universal health coverage,” said World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim. “Investments in health, and more generally investments in people, are critical to build human capital and enable sustainable and inclusive economic growth. But the system is broken: we need a fundamental shift in the way we mobilize resources for health and human capital, especially at the country level. We are working on many fronts to help countries spend more and more effectively on people, and increase their progress towards universal health coverage.”   

There is some good news: 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Taxes on Meat Could Join Carbon, Sugar and Tobacco to Help Curb Emissions


Driven by a global consensus around meat's negative contributions to climate change and global health epidemics such as obesity, cancer & antibiotic resistance, a new British report concludes that a meat tax should be considered "inevitable" for any government serious about addressing the climate crisis & other health concerns that stem from livestock production. Story here.
Dairy cows. USDA photo.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

As 'Epic Winds' Drive California Fires, Climate Change Fuels the Risk

Inside Climate News

Santa Ana winds are whipping up wildfires in Southern California after a devastating season in wine country. Rising temps can make the West dangerously combustible. Story here.

USDA photo

Friday, December 8, 2017

Diesel vehicles in oil sands operations contribute to regional pollution

Wildfires, cigarette smoking and vehicles all emit a potentially harmful compound called isocyanic acid. The substance has been linked to several health conditions, including heart disease and cataracts. Scientists investigating sources of the compound have now identified off-road diesel vehicles in oil sands production in Alberta, Canada, as a major contributor to regional levels of the pollutant. Story here.

Canola oil linked to worsened memory and learning ability in Alzheimer's

Canola oil is one of the most widely consumed vegetable oils, yet little is known about its health effects. Now, a study links canola oil consumption in the diet with..... Story here.

A canola field - a common site 
on the Canadian prairies. PinP photo.

Related: Canola study on Alzheimer mice seen as ‘huge stretch’

As World Warms, Heart-Breaking Video Shows What It Looks Like When a Polar Bear Starves


"For all of you still trying to hold a ridiculous 'debate' about whether there's something wrong with our planet, please watch this, if you can." Story here.

A starving polar bear in 
the Norwegian Arctic.
Photo by Andreas Weith

Narwhals’ mixed-up response to fear could kill them


Tracking study suggests the Arctic whales are particularly vulnerable to human disturbance. Story here.

Image by Pixabay.

Pipeline regulator will let Kinder Morgan break Burnaby rules, but won't say why


Canada's energy regulator says Texas energy giant Kinder Morgan doesn't have to follow all the rules of a city at the end of the route of its major west coast pipeline expansion project. Story here.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Most Accurate Climate Models Predict Greater Warming, Study Shows


In the range of climate models, those that most successfully simulate the past predict some of the worst-case scenarios for the future, researchers found. Story here.

PinP photo

Saturday, December 2, 2017


UN warns of a "massive humanitarian tragedy."

The partial lifting of the blockade of Yemen’s Red Sea ports by the Saudi-led coalition in recent days is allowing humanitarian organizations to resume the provision of life-saving assistance to people in desperate need. Given the massive scale of Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, however, all this does is slow the collapse towards a massive humanitarian tragedy costing millions of lives. It does not prevent it. Without the urgent resumption of commercial imports, especially food, fuel and medicines, millions of children, women and men risk mass hunger, disease and death.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Nations agree to ban fishing in Arctic Ocean for at least 16 years


Nine nations and the European Union have agreed to place the central Arctic Ocean off-limits to commercial fishers for at least the next 16 years. The pact will give scientists time to understand the region’s marine ecology and the potential impacts of climate change. Story here.
Fishing boat in the Arctic.
Photo by Josef Knecht

Feces from entangled North Atlantic right whales reveals 'sky-high' stress levels


Endangered Species Research journal publishes pioneering whale feces research; also being used to investigate unprecedented number of right whale deaths this summer. Story here.

A North Pacific right whale.
Photo by John Durban, NOAA

Supreme Court rules in favour of Yukon First Nations in Peel watershed dispute

Unanimous decision returns planning process to earlier stage, requires additional consultation. Story here.
Boreal forest in the broad valley of the Hart River, (Peel Watershed). Photo: Juri Peepre

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Neurotoxin found in some Lake Winnipeg algae


UBC researchers found BMAA toxin in high concentrations in 25% of algal blooms tested in Manitoba lake. Story here.

Lake Winnipeg. Greenpeace photo.

A FOOTNOTE: In the interests of fairness and accuracy, it should be pointed out that it was Eva Pip,
a long-time water expert at the University of Winnipeg, and a colleague who are on the record as first confirming BMAA in Lake Winnipeg, NOT the BC research team referenced in the CBC story.  


Find Prof. Pip's research here.

Global response to malaria at crossroads - WHO report shows gains are levelling off

World Health Organization

After unprecedented global success in malaria control, progress has stalled, according to the World malaria report 2017.  There were an estimated 5 million more malaria cases in 2016 than in 2015. Malaria deaths stood at around 445 000, a similar number to the previous year.
A female malaria mosquito (Anopheles albimanus), feeding on a human host. 
Photo Credit: James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control

“In recent years, we have made major gains in the fight against malaria,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “We are now at a turning point. Without urgent action, we risk going backwards, and missing the global malaria targets for 2020 and beyond.”

The WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria[ii] calls for reductions of at least 40% in malaria case incidence and mortality rates by the year 2020. According to WHO’s latest malaria report, the world is not on track to reach these critical milestones.

A major problem is insufficient funding at both domestic and international levels,  resulting in major gaps in coverage of insecticide-treated nets, medicines, and other life-saving tools.

RELATED: Malaria response at ‘crossroads,’ risks backward slide – UN

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Proposed fossil fuel development threatens yet another caribou herd - by Larry Powell.

Antlers of the barren ground caribou can be a meter tall. 
The majestic animals have traditionally provided food for subsistence hunters
A Wikimedia Commons photo. 

According to the magazine Science, US politicians may be about to put the continent’s biggest and healthiest caribou herd at risk. That’s because a US Senate committee has just voted to allow drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The coastal plain region of the sprawling refuge happens to be the calving grounds for the Porcupine caribou herd.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit - 
US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Republicans supporting drilling say its footprint will be small. Environmental groups disagree, saying roads and pipelines will dissect the animals' habitat. 

A Canadian wildlife ecologist quoted in the story, Chris Johnson of the University of Northern BC (Prince George), says the consensus that industrial activity disturbs the animals is “pretty strong.” It has already been observed that caribou stay away from industrial activity, including diamond mines in Canada and will even move their calving grounds, as a result.

It is estimated that the Porcupine herd may consist of as many as 200 thousand animals.

US Republicans have been trying to open up the refuge to drilling for decades.


Monday, November 27, 2017

Yet another of Earth's creatures faces extinction. - by Larry Powell

It’s not looking good for the vaquita. 
Photo: C. Faesi / Proyecto Vaquita 1992.
The vaquita are porpoises which measure only about 1.5 meters, fully grown. They’re among the smallest of the cetaceans, an order of marine mammals which includes porpoises, dolphins and whales. Their numbers have now dwindled to fewer than 30 in Mexico’s Gulf of California, where they live. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports vaquita numbers have declined an astonishing 92% since 1997. Gill net fishing is the main culprit. The vaquita have become “collateral damage” as poachers target a fish whose swim bladder fetches $20 thousand dollars per kilogram for use in Chinese medicine.

Mexico has imposed a permanent ban on the taking of vaquita. But authorities have been unable to enforce the law sufficiently to make a difference.

Now, the magazine, Science is reporting, an eleventh-hour bid by a team of conservationists, to bring them back from the brink, has been a heartbreaking failure.

A rescue team has been trying for some two years now to capture enough live animals to breed them in captivity, so their numbers can recover. But the vaquita have proven so sensitive to the stress of capture, two females have now died. And the rescuers have decided it's just not worth risking the death of any more. So the effort has been called off with no plans for another.

The rescuers do not regret having tried. They’re just sorry they hadn’t started sooner.

So where does this leave these vulnerable, intelligent, innocent creatures? 
According to the author of the Science article - in “extreme peril.”


Nebraska approves alternative route for TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline


PinP photo.
Nebraska regulators approved passage of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline Monday, clearing the last major regulatory hurdle for the controversial $10-billion project but creating a new wrinkle by choosing an alternative route for the pipeline. 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...