Almost a trillion Euros in taxpayers' money is handed to EU farmers as part of the Common Agricultural Policy. The money is supposed to leverage environmental practices. But an international team of investigative journalists, today publishing with THE ECOLOGIST, has found the cash actually feeds significant pollution. More here.
A traffic jam on the road to the famed Lake Louise in Jasper National Park, Canada. PinP photo.
A study published in Science Friday presents what authors call a sobering "reality check" on global efforts to protect biodiversity—one third of all conservation areas set aside as wildlife sanctuaries or national parks are "highly degraded" by human activities. More here.
Salmon farming in Reloncavi Estuary, Chile. Photo by Pablo Rodríguez
Tasty, versatile, and rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids: salmon is one of the most popular edible fish of all. Shops sell fish caught in the wild, but their main produce is salmon from breeding farms which can pollute rivers, lakes and oceans. Just how big is the problem? Scientists are working to answer this question by examining the dissolved organic compounds which enter Chile’s rivers from salmon farms. They warn that these substances are placing huge strain on ecosystems and are changing entire biological communities. More here.
The Porcupine herd on its home range - the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. It's feared the decision last year by the U.S. Senate to allow oil drilling there will disrupt and endanger the herd, considered the largest and healthiest on the continent. Photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Oil extraction in Alaskan wilderness area would be an ‘irresponsible business decision’, trillion-dollar investors say. More here.
In Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, a good home is hard to find. More here.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Jesse Allen, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
The walls of this immense Siberian crater are more than 85 meters tall in places. Batagaika Crater has formed as rising temperatures have thawed the permafrost in Siberia. Warmer summers and shorter winters are causing the frozen layer cake of ice and soil to collapse (or “slump”) and erode away in much of the Arctic.
Drift ice in the archipelago of Svalbard. Photo by AWeith
The “Atlantification” and “Pacification” of the Arctic has begun. As warmer waters stream into an increasingly ice-free Arctic Ocean, new species — from phytoplankton to whales — have the potential to upend this sensitive polar environment. More here.
The plan to build a massive hydropower dam in Sumatra as part of China’s immense Belt and Road Initiative threatens the habitat of the rarest ape in the world, which has only 800 remaining members. More here.
Two "big rigs" ready to begin work in western Manitoba. PinP photo.
Agroecology is a better alternative than large-scale agriculture, both for the climate and for small farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to researcher. This agricultural model preserves biodiversity and safeguards food supply while avoiding soil depletion. More here.
Rural people could wake up one morning to find a factory hog barn next door, and there will be nothing they can say or do about it if the hog industry gets its way and the Pallister government passes Bill 19, The Planning Amendment Act.
Bill 19 gives local councils and planning districts the “choice” to get rid of the mandatory conditional use approval process for large livestock operations, along with all the legal protections the public currently has. In so choosing, municipalities give away the ability to set conditions such as requiring manure storage covers and shelterbelts to attempt to control odour and require development agreements to make the hog factory pay for road building and maintenance, instead of taxpayers.
All municipalities will have to review their zoning by-laws and decide within one year if they want to control large factory hog and poultry operations, cattle and sheep feedlots on behalf of the people they are supposed to protect from harm or open the municipality to uncontrolled and unlimited livestock growth. Bill 19 changes the rules so that 25 people have to make formal objections to get a Municipal Board review. Immigrants and permanent residents are disqualified from participating. Imagine not being able to say anything about decisions that could harm your investment in a home, farm and community.
Livestock operations would merely have to get a Provincial manure storage permit and water rights licence to get building. These processes are secret and “business information” is private, protected by law. So, nobody will be able to find out if provincial officials and industry are doing things right. Last fall, many rules were weakened. For example, almost all of the oversight of the construction of manure storages was given to the engineers building them in the name of “red tape reduction”. Provincial regulators allowed manure storages to be built in high water tables, flood plains, marsh and ground water sensitive areas. This practice will get worse.
The last “line of defense” for rural people against inadequate and weakened provincial regulations are local councils who put the interest of their constituents first. Those who truly care about what happens to people’s health, quality of life and homes, non-industrial farmers livelihoods, animal welfare and our air, water and environmental health.
Why is this Bill before the legislature? Because a 2017 internal advisory brief to cabinet identified “public conflict” and “public pressure” as impediments to the hog industry getting what it wants – 285 more pig factories so that Maple Leaf and HyLife Foods can increase their profits by exporting 95 per cent of Manitoba produced pork while leaving rural people to suffer the consequences.
Why would any intelligent farmer want to invest in an industry where hog finisher producers lost money in eight out of the past nine years? Manitoba Pork Council’s numbers, not mine.
Councils and rural people must raise their voices now, loud and clear against Bill 19 before it’s too late.
The 2018 State of the World’s Birds report, which provides a comprehensive look at the health of bird populations globally, has found that the extinction crisis has spread so far that even some well-known species are now in danger. More here.