Monday, December 30, 2019

Australia's vulnerable species hit hard by fires

The grim toll on many helpless wild creatures from that countries epic infernos is slowly coming to light. Story here.

Below are some of the species at risk, possibly trapped in the flames.
The beautiful Regent Honeyeater, already in diminishing numbers,
living in an area threatened by the flames. Photo by Derek Keats, South Africa.
The pouched frog (Assa darlingtoni), a small,
terrestrial frog 
found in rainforests in mountain
areas of south-eastern Queensland &
New South Wales. Photo credit - Wikipedia.

The endangered Blue Mountains Water Skink. 
Taken a month after a bushfire. Photo by Sarshag7

Onward, Christian Fascists

truthdig - by Chris Hedges

The greatest moral failing of the liberal Christian church was its refusal, justified in the name of tolerance and dialogue, to denounce the followers of the Christian right as heretics. By tolerating the intolerant it ceded religious legitimacy to an array of con artists, charlatans and demagogues and their cultish supporters. It stood by as the core Gospel message—concern for the poor and the oppressed—was perverted into a magical world where God and Jesus showered believers with material wealth and power. The white race, especially in the United States, became God’s chosen agent. Imperialism and war became divine instruments for purging the world of infidels and barbarians, evil itself. Details here.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Canada’s reindeer ‘at risk of extinction’

The Narwhal

As governments drag their feet on caribou habitat protections, the iconic species engraved on the Canadian quarter is winking out across the country. The year 2019 saw alarming declines and local extinctions of a species Indigenous peoples hold sacred. Story here.
"Santa's reindeer" flee a logging truck, somewhere in the boreal
forests of Canada. 

Please read my own, related story and watch my video, below...Larry Powell.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Downstream of Alberta's tar sands, death by cancer comes too often

Canada's National Observer
Ft. Chipewyan from the air. Photo by Mark S. Elliott.
It’s been more than a dozen years since the metaphorical alarm was first sounded, and yet the residents of Fort Chipewyan still don’t know what’s killing them. Story here.

Friday, December 20, 2019

2019 – A Devastating Year in Review


By any measure this has been a devastating year: fires across the Amazon, the Arctic and beyond; floods and drought in Africa; rising temperatures, carbon emissions and sea levels; accelerating loss of species, and mass forced migrations of people. Story here.
Fires in the Brazilian Amazon - 2018. Photo by Ibama from Brasil.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Jane Fonda and Greenpeace. The environment needs you! (Video)

A younger Jane....forever a rebel!

How Has This Pesticide Not Been Banned? Opinion.

The New York Times
Government scientists say chlorpyrifos is unsafe. And yet it’s still in use. Details here.
A "crop-duster" sprays a pesticide believed to be chlorpyrifos
on a canola crop in Manitoba. Circa 2006. A PinP photo.
A related story that may interest you:

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Depression and suicide linked to air pollution in new global study

The Guardian
Cutting toxic air might prevent millions of people getting depression, research suggests.
Smoke from wildfires in Alberta, two provinces away,
blankets Manitoba - 2018. A PinP photo.

Here's a related story of mine that you might enjoy. 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Blogger supports the embattled climate campaigner, Greta Thunberg. (Opinion)

Dear Editor,

So I guess the bully-boys of the world's petro-states sure have Greta Thunberg on the run now. Apparently their "eyebrows were raised" because the 16 year-old schoolgirl suggested global leaders be put "up against the wall" for their lack of action on our climate crisis. I guess they were terrified Greta was going to unleash her standing armies against the likes of Saudi Arabia's murderous Crown Prince and Brazil's homophobic, rainforest-destroying (and Trump wanna be) President. Apparently Saudi Arabia, busily killing children in Yemen as we speak (quite possibly with the help of Canadian-made weapons), and Brazil, whose leader fires scientists for telling him the truth - that his policies are committing Brazilian rainforests to death by wildfire - were major hurdles in the way of any meaningful progress at the recently-failed environmental summit. (Canada's own role, I might add, was weak, unconvincing and disgusting.) So, should leaders like this be "put up agains the wall," as Greta suggested? She has apologized, saying she was not advocating violence. And I believe her. But consider this.Surely the increasingly deadly storms that our children will now face, due to this latest proof that our leaders have no backbone, will prove way more violent than anything Greta is accused of suggesting.

Larry Powell,
Shoal Lk. MB

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Don't let the forces of "anti-science" win Canada over. Please help!


It’s on. Jason Kenney launched his anti-environmentalist “War Room” this week because he thinks 2020 is going to be the year Alberta starts doubling its oilsands emissions. He’s going to spend $30 million in taxpayer dollars this year to fill the airwaves with ads to promote the oil industry.

We got a taste of what his spin doctors have prescribed with a two-minute video launched on YouTube. It’s ugly — within 20 seconds, it implies babies depend on bitumen sales to live happy lives.

You can count on Dogwood to be a strong voice standing up against Kenney’s propaganda machine, but we need every penny to fight back. Donate $5, $50, or even $500 today — your gift will make a difference.

Jason Kenney is putting the full weight of his government behind this smear campaign. His War Room team wants to erode the work we’ve done together building organized opposition to oil tankers for a decade now — and they have $30 million to do it.

Don’t let Jason Kenney fool you into thinking this is a debate over jobs and families in Alberta. If it was, he’d use his $30 million budget to start transitioning oil patch workers into new careers, opening the door to future opportunities. Instead, he’s using his campaign to protect Big Oil’s bottom line.

Meanwhile, the federal government just spent $4.5 billion on a rusty pipeline, and plans to shell out at least $10 billion more to expand it — think of the schools and hospitals we could build with that money.

With a $30 million budget, the War Room plans to steamroll grassroots opposition and try to bamboozle Canadians into changing the debate. Don’t let that happen.

A generous donor has pledged to match every gift to Dogwood. That means until December 31, your $100 becomes $200 — instantly. We need every last penny to launch a strong opposition to the War Room. Double your money with a gift of $5, $50, or even $500 right now.


Adam Bailey, Dogwood

P.S. Jason Kenney just launched his $30 million War Room to spread pro-oil propaganda across our country’s airwaves. They have deep pockets and a clear goal: to derail the hard work of people like you who have been defending our coast against Big Oil. You can be a strong voice standing up against them with a donation of $5, $50 or even $500. And if you give now, a generous donor will make sure your donation is doubled.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Fires scorching Bolivia’s Chiquitano forest

Science magazine
Wildfires in the Amazon rainforests of Bolivia.
Photo by List Top 10.
The Chiquitano Dry Forest - endemic to Bolivia, highly biodiverse, and considered the world’s best-preserved tropical dry forest - has lost a staggering 1.4 million hectares to fires since July. Story here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Thirteen years after the pesticide Lorsban sickened a Manitoba family, Health Canada is proposing it be severely restricted in Canada. The European Union will ban it in the new year. by Larry Powell

In the fall of 2006, Loyd Burghart told his story to "Planet in Peril." Burghart, a livestock farmer in the Swan Valley of western Manitoba, said he, his wife, Donna and their four children inhaled fumes from the chemical, Lorsban (chlorpyrifos) which a neighbour had been sparing on a nearby crop. (Many farmers in that part of the province had done the same that year, in an effort to control a severe infestation of  Bertha Army worms.) 

Some time after the incident, Burghart, his wife 
and one of their children, pose by a mother sow and 
piglets in their yard. A PinP photo.
The spray had left Burghart's entire family with severe symptoms. He says he, himself, was left writhing with severe pain in his eyes. 

It's not immediately known how many other Canadians have suffered in similar incidents. But it's hard to believe this was the only case. (Burghart was also worried how the chemical might impact the health of his animals and their feed.)

Health Canada announced recently it will propose that Lorsban be banned for "almost all agricultural uses." It will still be allowed for things like mosquito control. The pesticide has been linked to developmental problems in humans. 

And, it has just been announced that the European Union will ban it next year, as well. 

Lorsban is described as a "broad spectrum insecticide," used to control bugs in cereals, oilseeds, grains, fruits and vegetables.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Nitrogen crisis threatens Dutch environment—and economy

Science Magazine
Public domain - by Sachiho 
They're protesting a Dutch high court decision in May that suspended construction projects that pollute the atmosphere with nitrogen compounds and harm nature reserves. The freeze has stalled the expansion of dairy, pig, and poultry farms—major sources of nitrogen in the form of ammonia from animal waste. Also blocked are plans for new homes, roads, and airport runways, because construction machinery emits nitrogen oxides. All told, the shutdown puts some €14 billion worth of projects in jeopardy, according to ABN AMRO Bank. “It has really paralyzed the country,” says a political scientist Details here.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Marine life, fisheries increasingly threatened as the ocean loses oxygen – IUCN report

International Union for the Conservation of Nature
The Daggernose shark, one of several larger species
considered especially vulnerable. A NOAA rendering.
The loss of oxygen from the world’s ocean is increasingly threatening fish species and disrupting ecosystems, a new IUCN report warns. Ocean oxygen loss, driven by climate change and nutrient pollution, is a growing menace to fisheries and species such as tuna, marlin and sharks, according to the report released today at the UN Climate Change conference in Madrid.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Without drastic and immediate action, climate change will spell less food for the vast majority of Earth's population by century's end. Study. by Larry Powell

A disastrous 2019 growing season in Manitoba included drought,
rain and snow at the wrong times. Both seeding and harvesting
of food crops like canola (above) were disrupted,
yield and quality reduced. A PinP photo.
There are few bright spots in this body of research. 

If developed countries don't reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate "promptly," it warns, a "perfect storm" will result. Food such as soy, corn, wheat and rice produced by the agriculture sector and seafood by marine fisheries, will go down for about 90 percent of Earth's population - more than seven billion, by 2100. Most of those affected already live in the most sensitive and least developed countries.

As overwhelming as the impacts would be, they wouldn't be universal. A scant three percent of the population would actually experience a food production increase over the same period.

And, if countries actually make those emissions cutbacks (a "best-case scenario"), "Most countries would experience net gains in both agriculture and fisheries production."

Even without concerted efforts, consequences for those living in high latitudes in North America and Europe may still not likely be as severe.  Canada and Russia, for example, "will experience losses of lower magnitude or even gains in some cases." That's because residents of those countries do not depend on food from farming and fishing as much as others do.

The authors, part of an international team of scientists, call the effects these changes will have on vulnerable human societies, "One of the grand challenges of our time."

Their findings were published recently in "Science Advances."

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Re-thinking extinction

New research suggests that pollution may be playing a bigger and more ominous role in pushing many of Canada's plants and animals to the brink than earlier thought.

by Larry Powell


       One of the species at risk, the small white lady's slipper, 
Cypripedium candidum. Photo by Mason Brock.

Habitat loss, climate change and invasive species are often referred to as significant players in Earth's calamitous descent into a sixth Great Extinction. While those factors obviously play a part, this new study better recognizes the magnitude of the role played by yet another culprit in the piece - pollution. The authors of the research label contamination of our air, soil and water as a "pervasive, often invisible threat to biodiversity in Canada." And, up until now, the threat it poses, especially to vascular plants (ones that flower, bear fruit and seed), they suggest, has been underestimated by experts in the field. These include ones who serve on Ottawa's advisory agency, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). And, because so little is known about the subject, they've "frequently identified the threat of pollution as absent or negligible," even for species living within areas affected by it.

In order to design a better way of analyzing these threats, the seven-member team mapped known pollution sources and compared them with known ranges of 488 endangered species in this country. These included mammals, birds, plants, freshwater fish, reptiles, amphibians, arthropods (such as insects and crabs) and molluscs (like slugs and snails). It found that, on average, 57% of the habitat of each species also contained at least one pollution source.

"Our analysis shows that species at risk and pollution sources co-occur at a high rate in Canada. In general, the highest densities (of pollution sources and species-at-risk) are concentrated in the south, where the human population density is also highest. The richness of these creatures overlapped strongly with areas of greatest urbanization and landscape modification, such as Ontario, the Prairies and the Lower Mainland of BC."

Agricultural refuse is burned on a farm in Manitoba.
A PinP photo.

Pollution. A challenge of both national and global magnitude

Quoting Government of Canada numbers, the study states: "Tens of thousands of chemicals exist in commerce today and the size of the global chemical industry is set to double by 2030. Contaminants such as flame retardants undergo transformations into more toxic breakdown products in the environment that contribute to heightened environmental effects.

"Each year in Canada, some five million tonnes of pollutants are released from seven thousand facilities. These have included about 700 pipeline spills over the past decade in which natural gas, crude oil and other contaminants have escaped into our environment."

Such spills are capable of either killing species immediately, or dealing "sub-lethal" blows which might sap their fitness, reduce their ability to reproduce or even deprive them of their food.

One of many similar sloughs in southern Manitoba. It's believed the spreading 
of livestock manure on farm fields contributes to the "greening" of 
wetlands such as this. A PinP photo.

"Runoff from urban, agricultural and industrial landscapes contaminates Canada's groundwater and downstream aquatic ecosystems. Finally, over 23 thousand known or suspected contaminated sites have been identified and classified in urban, rural and remote areas of Canada, many of which are contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons, metals and/or persistent organic pollutants such as PCBs."

Jenny McCune - Ast. Prof. Dept. of 
Biological Sciences,
University of Lethbridge, AB
The lead author of the study, Prof. Jenny McCune (l.) told PinP in an e-mail, "We did not measure the effect of different pollutants on individual species. We need more research to test the effects of specific contaminants on individual species at risk. We simply measured the potential for species to come into contact with different types of pollution based on the geographical overlap between sources of pollution and the known ranges of species at risk.

"The eastern prairies (MB and eastern SK) have sources of all 6 categories of pollution ( as defined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature): household sewage and urban waste water, industrial and agricultural effluents, garbage and solid waste, air-borne pollutants, and excess energy"

The authors of the study, recently published in the journal, Facets, hope this new information will help us better understand just how much endangered wildlife are threatened, and where to go from here.

Other research only confirms the worst fears.

The Bakken formation (above) is a major oil deposit straddling
two provinces and three states. US Geological Survey.

A study published last year in "Cogent Science," reminds us that the Bakken oilfield "overlaps with one of the largest areas for grassland birds in North America. Access to the oil is made possible by fracking and horizontal drilling, both controversial techniques which have been banned in other parts of the world. This paper illustrates that oil development is impacting species through habitat destruction, oil and noise pollution, invasive species and road infrastructure. Current wildlife policy in Saskatchewan is insufficient to protect species at risk in the Bakken formation."
The iconic Eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna), a grasslands bird listed by 
"threatened" in Canada. A PinP photo.

Grassland birds are said to be the among the group most vulnerable to environmental pressures in all of North America.

Some other stories of mine you may like:

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Wexit and climate pollution: a tale of two Canadas

National Observer
This PinP photo was taken along a highway construction project in SK.
There are already two Canadas when it comes to climate pollution, and they've been heading in opposite directions for years. A successful "Wexit" would split them into two separate countries: One would become the world's most climate polluting country per person, with an economy twice as dirty as China's. Story here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Earth set to warm 3.2 C by 2100 unless efforts to cut emissions are tripled, new UN report finds

CBC News

Syrian & Iraqi refugees. Photo by Ggia.
One expert calls findings of 3.2 C warming 'terrifying.’ Story here.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Greenhouse gas levels at an all-time high - again. A WMO video.

Greenhouse gas concentrations in atmosphere reach yet another high

Sunset over Manitoba. A PinP photo.
Levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Story here.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The loss of ‘eternal ice’ threatens Mongolian reindeer herders’ way of life

Map: Distribution of Rangifer tarandus (Caribou/Reindeer)

Newly-recorded oral histories of the Tsaatan people help researchers document climate change.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Nearly all (North) America's endangered species will struggle to adapt to climate crisis

The Guardian
An emaciated moose in Riding Mtn. National Park, Canada.
A PinP photo.
All but one of 459 species have traits making them vulnerable to rising temperatures, study finds.
Story here.

To quote from the initial study in Nature, Climate Change: 

"Climate change is a threat to ecosystems and biodiversity globally and has emerged as a driver of observed and potential species decline and extinction. Government laws and policies should play a vital role in supporting climate change adaptation for imperilled species, yet imperilled species protections have been critiqued as insufficient in Australia, Canada and Europe." 


Friday, November 22, 2019

Australian blazes will ‘reframe our understanding of bushfire’

Science Magazine
Fire on Cape Barren Is. Australia, 2016. Photo by Planet Labs, Inc.

Australia is on fire like never before—and this year's "bushfire" season, which typically peaks in January or February, has barely begun. Driven in part by a severe drought, fires have burned 1.65 million hectares in the state of New South Wales, more than the state's total in the previous 3 years combined. Six people have died and more than 500 homes have been destroyed. As Science went to press, some 70 uncontrolled fires were burning in adjacent Queensland, and South Australia was bracing for potentially "catastrophic" burns. David Bowman, a fire geographer and director of the Fire Centre Research Hub at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, spoke with Science about the unprecedented crisis. The flames have charred even wet ecosystems once thought safe, he says. And the fires have become "white-hot politically," with Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Liberal government drawing criticism for refusing to acknowledge any link to 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...