Thursday, August 31, 2017

Hell Hath No Fury Like Mother Earth Scorned


Hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm Harvey unleashed the fury of a warming planet on the Gulf Coast of Texas this week, leaving hundreds of thousands displaced and homeless, thousands languishing in crowded shelters, and killing at least 28 people. Story here.

A rabbi removes a Torah scroll from the synagogue before Hurricane Harvey hit the area. Photo by Chad Lubavitch.

A small recreational lake in central Manitoba gets a dose of a farm chemical. Caution advised.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Military to help evacuate 3 Manitoba First Nations at risk from wildfire


Fire prompted evacuation of Wasagamack First Nation, partial evacuations of Garden Hill, St. Theresa Point. Story here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Houston, We Have a Climate Problem


The best response to a disaster is to learn lessons to prevent the next one. Story here.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Did Climate Change Intensify Hurricane Harvey?

The Atlantic

“The human contribution can be up to 30 percent or so of the total rainfall coming out of the storm.” Story here.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

“The Sixth Extinction - an Unnatural History” - a Book Review

by Larry Powell

If the rest of the living world were to take we homo sapiens to court for ecocide, this book provides copious evidence to find us “guilty as charged.” As a matter of fact, you’d be hard-pressed not to find clues of human culpability in just about every extinction which has occurred since modern man began walking Earth. And that, after all, in geologic time, was just moments ago. 

As we speak, fungi incapable of being spread worldwide by any way other than human activity, are killing millions of bats and frogs. For example, where there once were millions, only a handful of Panamanian Golden Frogs now cling to life in a building which must be sanitized regularly with bleach to keep the fungus at bay. And amphibians as a whole are perhaps the most endangered class of animal on the planet today.

Prolonged, relentless and cruel hunting methods by humans wiped out every last trace of the Great Auk, a bird born with the misfortune of being flightless, in the 19th century. 

Even our distant cousins, the Neanderthals, with whom modern man is known to have interbred, disappeared as our own populations were on the rise. Coincidence? Perhaps not.

Even the large mammals of the last ice age - the wooly mammoths and mastadons were hunted by humans and disappeared several thousand years ago as the range and numbers of the hunters grew.

Sea life, too, is in grave danger, from ocean acidification and warming. Massive amounts of manmade greenhouse gases in the air (esp. C02) are being absorbed into the waters. This is especially dangerous for animals like oysters and clams because this process produces carbonic acid, which can literally dissolve their shells. Even the world’s coral reefs, the largest living structures on Earth, are not immune. One chilling passage in the book states, “If current emission trends continue, within the next 50 years or so, ‘all coral reefs will cease to grow and start to dissolve.’”

Like five previous extinctions millions/billions of years ago which, for different reasons, wiped out countless life forms (most famously, the dinosaurs), this so-called “Sixth Extinction” seems poised to do the same, only, in our lifetime, as we speak.

And we are showing our closest living relatives no more respect or consideration than the Great Auk. The primates, including the orangutans, are facing imminent eradication in the wild, as our lust for cooking oil and hand cream wipes out their jungle homes, to make way for palm oil plantations.

And it’s not just the scale of change documented in the book that’s alarming. The speed of that change is breathtaking, as well. 

Even since "The Sixth Extinction" was published a scant three years ago, grave threats to the survival of other species have emerged.

Fears have grown that heroic human efforts to save the vaquita, a small porpoise that lives only in Mexico's Sea of Cortez, will not be enough. Its numbers are down to a dangerous few, thanks to illegal fishing with gill-nets.

Rare right whales are being found dead in record numbers off Atlantic Canada. It is likely they're being run over by large ships or gotten entangled in fishing gear.

And, evidence of the harm modern farm pesticides are doing to the world’s pollinators is being revealed with increasing frequency.

I believe “The Sixth Extinction” and its author, Elizabeth Kolbert, richly deserve their pulitzer prize. It is a painstakingly researched and carefully-crafted cautionary tale for the 21st century. 

It ought to be taken very seriously. 

It is published by Picador for $18.50 in Canada.


7 reasons we face a global water crisis

Nation of Change

Lake Winnipeg, the world's 10th-largest freshwater lake. In serious trouble due to pollution. Greenpeace photo.
Along with fresh water, political will and public pressure are critical resources in ensuring a sustainable future for all. Story here.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Harvard Study Finds Exxon Misled Public about Climate Change


An analysis of Exxon’s research and public statements shows a sharp contrast between what the oil giant knew about climate change and what it told the public. Story here.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Big business and big oil lose climate battle in pipeline review


Canada's National Energy Board has rejected recommendations from big business and big oil, agreeing for the first time in its history to consider both upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions while reviewing a major pipeline project. Story here

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Warmer waters from climate change will leave fish shrinking, gasping for air


Great White shark. Photo by Pterantula (Terry Goss) 
Fish are expected to shrink in size by 20 to 30 per cent if ocean temperatures continue to climb due to climate change. Story here.

Only Solution, Says McKibben, 100% Renewables 'As Fast as Humanly Possible'


"No more half-measures," warns prominent climate author and activist. Story here.

Solar panels on a roof top in Germany. Photo by R-E-AL

Pesticide increases probability of bumblebee extinction.

Nature Ecology & Evolution
Pollinators are in global decline and agricultural pesticides are a potential driver of this. Story here.

How climate change has altered Kodiak bears' feeding habits

Red elderberry and sockeye salmon make up a large portion of a Kodiak bear's diet; usually, the bears treat themselves to spawning salmon before the elderberry season begins. Recently, warmer springs have shifted the elderberry fruiting time to an earlier period, which coincides with the salmon spawn. Researchers observed how warmer springs affected the bears' diets, and found that bears left the streams to forage on berries on adjacent hillsides, disrupting an ecological link that typically fertilizes terrestrial ecosystems and generates high mortality rates for salmon. These findings contribute to the ongoing exploration of the effects of climate change on specific predator-prey relationships and ecosystems as a whole.

Lake Trout adjust their behaviour in the face of a changing climate, new Canadian study reveals.


The scientists observed a reduction in the fish’s growth and condition, which can impact their reproductive success. Story here.

Dirty business: The livestock farms polluting the UK


A Bureau investigation has found pig, poultry and dairy farms are releasing harmful pollution once a week on average in England and Wales. STORY HERE.

We Hardly Know Anything About the Deep-Sea Life we Are Destroying.

BuzzFeed News

A weedy sea dragon. Photo by Richard Ling.
There's been hardly any research into most residents of the deep oceans, despite it being the biggest habitat on Earth – and it's making them harder to protect, according to a new review. Story here.

Monday, August 21, 2017

UN health agency rushes to prevent malaria, cholera outbreaks in flood-hit Sierra Leone

UN News Agency
The United Nations health agency is working closely with the Government of Sierra Leone to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria and cholera in the wake of last week's mudslides and flooding in the country's capital, Freetown. Story here.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Camper concerned for the health of a Manitoba lake after a chemical appears to have killed off aquatic life.

QC Country

"Residents were shovelling away dead crayfish" according to Denise Melnyk. Story here.

World's Biggest Brands Are Pushing Indonesia's Endangered Wildlife to Extinction

An ancient Indonesian rainforest, home to elephants, orangutans, tigers and rhinos, is being destroyed by industries which extract products such as palm oil. Story here.

A Sumatran tiger. Dick Mudde.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Facts Don’t Matter

albertaviews - David Schindler

Harper is gone, but pro-development governments continue to ignore science. Story here.

Environment Canada confirms tornado hit Ontario's cottage country, 3,000 still without power


Too soon to know how strong twister was, but several structures damaged. Story here.

Temperature anomalies arranged by country from 1900 - 2016

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Gulf of Mexico's Dead Zone Could be Largest Ever, Thanks to the Meat Industry


Photo of a dead zone with sediment from the Mississippi River 
carrying fertilizer to the Gulf of Mexico. Photo by NOAA.
Scientists predict that so much pollution is pouring into the Gulf of Mexico this year that it is creating a larger-than-ever "dead zone" in which low to no oxygen can suffocate or kill fish and other marine life. Details here.

Industrial Pollution Costs Cattle Producers Access to a River in Saskatchewan, Canada.

The Western Producer

Several cattle producers along the Wood River in south-central Saskatchewan have to move about 1,000 head to different pastures after water quality in the river declined unexpectedly. Story here.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Extreme heat warnings issued in Europe as temperatures pass 40C

PinP photo.
Authorities in 11 countries warn residents and tourists to take precautions amid region’s most intense heatwave – nicknamed Lucifer – since 2003. Story here.


Sierra Club of BC
A wildfire in the Okanagan region of BC a few years ago, from space. NASA.

Record-breaking wildfires and heat waves are a reminder that we have little time to save nature, phase out fossil fuels and leap to a low-carbon economy, all at the same time. Story here.

Friday, August 4, 2017

'The damage is done': Home electricity meters exploding, starting fires in Sask. drought


Regina's driest July in 130 years also threatening livestock, crops and farmers' livelihoods. Story here.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Climate change to cause humid heatwaves that will kill even healthy people

Drought-affected area in Karnataka,_India,_2012 - Photo by Pushkarv
If warming is not tackled, levels of humid heat that can kill within hours will affect millions across south Asia within decades, analysis finds Story here.

Blue-Green Algae Fouling Lake Winnipeg Beaches Again 2017

H2O: Ideas & Action for Canada's Water

A blog about the Lake Winnipeg Watershed 

The hot summer weather in Manitoba has brought along another reminder that all is not well in our great Lake Winnipeg, the 10th largest freshwater lake in the world. Story here.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

New Studies Show - Goals of Paris Climate Accord Unlikely to be Achieved. by Larry Powell

Wildfires in Portugal. Wikimedia Commons.
Two new studies paint a sobering picture for the future of the Earth in a changing climate.

One report by a team of American scientists estimates there’s only a five percent chance that global warming can be kept below 2 degrees celsius by 2100. On the other hand, there’s a 95 percent likelihood the increase will be more like 2 to 4.9 degrees! That upper range would generally be considered by many experts as catastrophic for life on earth. And it would clearly represent a failure of the Paris Climate Accord. 

That agreement, signed last year, commits almost 200 member countries, including Canada, to limit the increase to “well under 2 degrees” above pre-industrial levels. Achieving that goal, adds the study, “will require carbon intensity to decline much faster than in the recent past.”

The second study (done jointly by a researcher with the Max Planck Institute in Germany and another from the University of Colorado), makes similar findings. Future warming, which “will likely exceed 1.5 degrees” is inevitable even in “the unreasonably optimistic scenario of an abrupt halt to fossil-fuel emissions.” That’s because of carbon dioxide emissions already in the atmosphere from our long-standing reliance on oil, gas and coal. And neither the ability of the ocean to absorb excess heat, nor the presence of aerosols in the air, will be enough to offset that net increase in temperature. Aerosols are tiny, manmade particles which tend to cool the planet. In that unlikely event of a sudden end to fossil fuel burning, those particles would quickly wash out of the atmosphere. But the C02 would remain. 

A leading US environmentalist, Bill McKibben told CNN, "These studies are part of the emerging scientific understanding that we're in even hotter water than we'd thought. We're a long ways down the path to disastrous global warming, and the policy response - especially in the US has been pathetically underwhelming."

Both studies were published this week in the prestigious journal, “Nature - Climate Change.”

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...