Monday, April 30, 2018

A British vessel leads £20m mission to melting Antarctic glacier

The Guardian

British and US scientists are to examine the risk of the Thwaites glacier collapsing, which is already responsible for a 4% sea-level rise. More here.

Thwaites Glacier. European Space Agency

Help Rural Manitobans Shut the Door on More Pig Factories: Stop Bill 19.

Expectant Moms spend their pregnancies in heartless, confining steel crates.

In Huge Win for Pollinators, People & the Planet , EU Bans Bee-killing Pesticides. WHAT ABOUT CANADA? ASK YOUR LOCAL POLITICIAN!!!

Bumble bees forage on chives in an organic garden in Manitoba, CA. PinP photo.
"Authorizing neonicotinoids during a quarter of a century was a mistake and led to an environmental disaster. Today's vote is historic." More here.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

What is Bill 19 - The Planning Amendment Act (Efficiency in Planning)?

Photo - Mercy for Animals, Canada.
It is a series of changes to allow two hog processing corporations Maple Leaf and HyLife Foods, to increase their shareholder profits at the expense of rural homeowners, taxpayers, family farms, degraded air, environment, water quality and pig welfare.

Why Bill 19?

The Manitoba Department of Agriculture advised the Pallister cabinet in a 2017 internal brief that 285 more new barns were needed to “ensure an adequate supply of hogs to the Maple Leaf and HyLife Food slaughter facilities.” And, that “public conflict,” “public pressure” and the locally controlled conditional use approval process are in the way of “growth of the industry.”

How will Bill 19 help the hog industry expand?

Bill 19 will silence the public. It will allow municipal leaders to get rid of conditional use hearings and Provincial Technical Reviews for factory hog barns. If local politicians take this route, the Province will have the only and final say on where hog factories can be built. The Government of Manitoba is and has been both a promoter and regulator of the hog industry.  Bill 19 is the latest move to promote and de-regulate hog industry expansion.

Why is Provincial control a problem?

If conditional use disappears, local councils and rural people will not have any say in how factory hog operations perform. Municipalities will have no means of monitoring, enforcing conditions, and protecting local people and the environment from hog operations.

Won’t the hog industry still have to follow some rules?

Yes, once municipal control is surrendered, the industry will still have to follow a few rules to get a manure storage permit and a water rights license. But, these processes are secret and protected by the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. Applications and approvals for these permits and licenses are “private business information.” The public and municipal officials will have no idea what the province is doing.

What about Manure Management?

The over-application of phosphorus, even with provincially required manure management plans, will continue. Current rules allow phosphorus loading on spread fields up to 826lbs/acre of soil test P2O5. The average annual crop removal rate of P2O5 by Manitoba crops is reported to be 20.47lbs/acre. The provincial government has stated that water is harmed when soil test P2O5  is 276lbs/acre. 285 more factory farms and millions more finished hogs will exacerbate the long-term water quality problems we experience in surface waterbodies. Millions of tax dollars have already been spent on Lake Winnipeg’s nutrient problem.

What is the Province’s track record?

During the last round of hog industry expansion, provincial approvals to build cheap, seeping manure storages were issued in areas with high water tables (e.g. the Interlake), flood plains, marshes, and groundwater sensitive areas, and where provincial officials knew there were not enough acres to sustainably spread manure.  Recently, Provincial officials at the RM of Oakview’s conditional use hearing advocated on behalf of the hog barn applicant for the council’s approval of another cheap, seepage prone, outdated type of earthen manure storage. They would have allowed it to be built illegally on a surface water drainage area. In part, because Oakview rejected the application, the Province changed the rules making such sites legal. Manitoba Agriculture has admitted that since 2012, taxpayers have spent over $19 million to fix problems with these outdated storages.

Can Municipalities keep the conditional use process and all the protections contained in the Planning Act?

Yes. Bill 19 requires all municipalities to make a decision within a year of it becoming law. A simple resolution to keep conditional use is all that is required.

What if a municipality wants to remove conditional use and open its arms to hog factories that they can’t control?

Development Plan by-laws and Zoning by-laws must be changed. Public hearings will have to be held on both by-laws. The mechanism for changing Development Plans will remain the same, but Bill 19 makes it harder for people to object to zoning by-law changes. The Bill requires 25 people, instead of one person, to register formal objections at both 1st and 2nd reading of any zoning by-law, proposing the removal of conditional use for 300+ animal unit livestock operations, to get a Municipal Board hearing. However, only Canadian citizens, eligible for election to Council, can have a say. Any person such as a permanent resident or recent immigrant who has invested in a home, farm, and their community will be denied a voice.  A place for the expression of Indigenous people’s concerns have not been considered in Bill 19.

But, isn’t Hog factory production profitable and its expansion good for Manitoba?

Consider this: the Manitoba Pork Council reports that finishing hog producers lost money in eight of the last nine years, ending in 2017. Meanwhile, Maple Leaf’s profits in 2016 tripled in 2017, and the 49.9% Japanese owned HyLife Foods expanded its Neepawa plant with taxpayer help. So, expansion is profitable, but not for hog producers. And, what are the social, environmental, water quality and public health costs of such expansion for Manitobans? Do we want rural communities divided by the Pallister government’s promotion of the hog industry with off-loading of the political fallout onto municipal leaders, our neighbours?

What will happen to the role of Conservation Districts as Watershed Planning Authorities and in encouraging sustainable land use practices?

It is expected that Conservation Districts will be facing a steeper uphill climb to preserve and attempt to repair damage done by unfettered and minimally regulated hog industry expansion.

A request has been made to Maple Leaf and HyLife Foods to support volunteer efforts to assist in the development and implementation of citizen water quality monitoring of phosphorus in ditches and creeks. To date, there has been no response.  Anyone interested in helping with this endeavour, or for more information and assistance with taking action on Bill 19, please contact:

Thursday, April 26, 2018

'Nowhere Is Immune': Researchers Find Record Levels of Microplastics in Arctic Sea Ice


North Polar flight with Air Berlin: Pole overflight (Photographer: Basti, Editor: Hedwig)
Scientists found record levels of microplastics in Arctic sea ice, a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications revealed. More here.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Common pesticide can make migrating birds lose their way, research shows

The Guardian
A ring-necked pheasant on the Canadian Prairies. Will they be next? PinP photo.

The experimental study is the first to directly show harm to songbirds, extending the known impacts of neonicotinoids beyond insects. More here.

In worst case scenario, the trees in big parts of Canada's boreal forest 'will probably die,' says federal scientist



A devastating wildfire near Fort MacMurray, Alberta, Photo by DarrenRD
Large portions of Canada’s vast boreal forest could be at risk of dying off by the end of the century, as climate change will dramatically aggravate the risk of wildfires, drought and insect infestations, say government scientists in a groundbreaking new study. More here.

RELATED: Only “Heroic Efforts” Will Spare Earth’s Mighty Boreal Forest From the Worst Ravages of Climate Change - Experts.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Early rains expose risks for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, but worst ‘yet to come,’ warns UN agency

UN News

Rohingya refugees in a camp in Bangladesh. Photo by Zlatica Hoke (VOA)
The arrival of pre-monsoon rains in southern Bangladesh has revealed an alarming level of risks for Rohingya refugees, United Nations humanitarian agencies said on Friday, warning that they do not  have the funds needed to protect hundreds of thousands of desperate people once the rainy season begins in earnest. More here.

Pipeline Spills 290,000 Litres of Crude Oil Emulsion in Northern Alberta

A pipeline owned by Paramount Resources Ltd. released an estimated 100,000 litres of crude oil and 190,000 litres of produced water near Zama City, in northwest Alberta, according to an April 11 incident report filed with the Alberta Energy Regulator. Details here.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Exclusive: US official appeared to delay protections for endangered species at behest of oil group

The energy-friendlly agenda inside Trump's iinterior department is revealed in rccords obtained by the Guardian and the watchdog groups, Documented and the Western Values Project.  More here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Twenty environmental defenders have been killed so far in 2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018

'Beyond Comprehension': In Just Two Years, Half of All Corals in 'Forever Damaged' Great Barrier Reef Have Died

Bleached coral. 
Global warming, researchers warn, "is rapidly emerging as a universal threat to ecological integrity and function." More here.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Salmon farms are in crisis – here in Canada & elsewhere. Here’s how scientists are trying to save them

The Conversation
Fish farming in Greece. Photo by Jebulon
Salmon farming is facing a huge challenge in the form of a tiny pest. The parasitic sea louse is infecting salmon stocks worldwide, causing devastating losses for salmon farmers and increased prices for shoppers. But scientists are working hard to tackle this global problem, with a combination of new ways to biologically and mechanically remove the lice and to make the salmon more resilient to infection. More here.

I’m an expat US scientist – and I’m returning to Trump’s America to stand up for science

The Conversation
Donald Trump’s presidency has not been good for science or scientists. Since Trump took office 15 months ago, his administration has proposed to terminate many federally funded research programs and slash funding for others. Trump’s appointees are working to roll back environmental regulations and conservation policies. More here.

Friday, April 13, 2018

How to make global food systems more sustainable

Barley in western Canada. PinP photo.

Last October, movie director James Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis Cameron launched an organic pea protein operation in Saskatchewan. Once it is up and running, this facility will be the top producer of organic pea protein in North America. More here.

Avoid Gulf stream disruption at all costs, scientists warn

How close the world is to a catastrophic collapse of giant ocean currents is unknown, making halting global warming more critical than ever, scientists say. More here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Gulf Stream current at its weakest in 1,600 years, studies show

Warm current that has historically caused dramatic changes in climate is experiencing an unprecedented slowdown and may be less stable than thought - with potentially severe consequences. More here.

Monday, April 9, 2018

California’s Dwindling Snowpack: Another Year of Drought, Floods, Wildfires and Mudslides?

The Sierra Nevada range near Reno.
Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA

California is likely facing another year of water woes. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which supplies up to a third of California's water, is exceptionally meager this year. Experts found around half as much snow on the mountains as they typically would in early April, when the snowpack is historically most voluminous. Story here.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Are we ready for the deadly heat waves of the future?


When days and nights get too hot, city dwellers are the first to run into trouble. More here.

Jeroen Moes from 
Florence, Italy.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Climate change is wreaking havoc on delicate relationship between orchids and bees


The first definitive demonstration of climate change upsetting the vital interdependent relationships between species has been revealed. More here.

Photo by Björn S.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Carbon taxes can be both fair and effective, study shows

Flooding in Iowa.
Several different carbon-pricing approaches would help reduce emissions, and some would be fair as well, researchers report. More here.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Battle for the future of Parma ham - a tale of corporate spin & animal suffering.

A PEXALS photo.
How "Parma" ham became a battleground for the future of Italian food. Story here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Vancouver Island rainforest stands are becoming as rare as white rhinos

The Province

Part of the remaining stand of rainforest on Vancouver Island. Photo by Jason Holinger.
For millennia, Vancouver Island was mostly covered by spectacular, globally rare ancient rainforest. Many trees were 1,000 years old or older. Indigenous peoples co-existed with the rainforest using many of its plants and animals without destroying it. Shortly after the arrival of Europeans, logging began in earnest. In less than 100 years, the majority of the ancient trees have been logged. Story here.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Conflicts Force Up Global Hunger Levels

IPS Interpress Service
UN-IPS: Largely driven by conflict, the number of hungry people has dramatically increased around the world, reversing decades of progress, according to a new report. Story here.

Diesel vehicles in oil sands operations contribute to regional pollution

EurekAlert Wildfires, cigarette smoking and vehicles all emit a potentially harmful compound called isocyanic acid. The substance has been l...