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Showing posts from April, 2019

Pesticide exposure causes bumblebee flight to fall short

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PHYS ORG Bumblebees forage on chives. A PinP photo. Flight behaviour is crucial for determining how bees  forage, so reduced flight performance  from pesticide exposure could lead to colonies going hungry and pollination services being impacted.  More here. RELATED: Scientists cast doubt on claims by the chemical giant, Bayer, that its newest pesticide is safe for bees. By Larry Powell.

The World Lost an Area of Primary Rainforest Last Year, the Size of Ten Riding Mountain National Parks in Manitoba!

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WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE Manitoba's Riding Mtn. Park. The tropics lost 12 million hectares of tree cover in 2018, the fourth-highest annual loss since record-keeping began in 2001. Of greatest concern is the disappearance of 3.6 million hectares of primary rainforest, an area the size of Belgium (ten Riding Mountain Parks). The figures come from updated data from the University of Maryland, released today on Global Forest Watch. More here.

Fungicides move into the headlines. And not in a good way. Letter.

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Dear Editor, These are dark days for science.  A chlorothalonil molecule. Image by Jynto. A month ago, the European Union announced it would ban the widely-used fungicide,  chlorothalonil.   Why?  Because experts in its own Food Safety Agency  suspected it was carcinogenic - or cancer-causing. It just so happens, that very same product is also used right here in Canada, and apparently in no small amounts, either! Yet our own Canadian "regulator," the PMRA, re-assessed the chemical less than a year ago.  While it imposed some restrictions, it will still allow its main use as a treatment for mold, mildew and blight in food crops, to continue. Fast forward to today. The New York Times is now reporting that a new and deadly  fungal infection ,  Candida aurus,  is moving across the globe, with "numerous cases" reported in many countries, including Canada. The fungus is claiming many lives and proving to be well-nigh indestructible. Why? Accordin

A Mysterious Fungal Infection, Spans the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy

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The New York Times The Candidida aurus fungus. A CDC image. The rise of Candida auris embodies a serious and growing public health threat: drug-resistant germs. More here. RELATED? The European Union will soon ban a  fungicide - suspected of being  carcinogenic  -  one which remains in apparently widespread use in Canada today.  Ottawa remains silent -    by Larry Powell

Dark days for science. My latest letter.

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Dear Editor, These are dark days for science. A Gov't. of New Brunswick photo. 2019. Even as violent weather continues to lap at our doorstep, the good people of Alberta have elected yet another climate-denier as their Premier. Soon, Jason Kenney, too will join that merry band of Tory luminaries already conducting a crusade to cripple the most effective way of countering our climate crisis. Knowing that the science is now too compelling to deny it outright, these rebels-without-a-clue, are trying a different tack. They’re taking Ottawa to court, challenging its right to impose a carbon tax. Despite the federal provision for rebates, they seem to think, by dint of saying it often enough, they can reduce this sensible attempt to save our planet, down to some kind of tawdry “tax grab.”

A massive die-off of fish in Shoal Lake, in western Manitoba, has raised the possibility of a huge cleanup ahead.

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by Larry Powell Countless dead fish litter the shores.   The magnitude of the die-off has emerged over the past few days, with spring breakup in full swing. The receding ice is revealing a shocking scene - thousands of fish carcasses piled up along the shorelines. Many more can be seen beneath the ice that hasn't melted yet.  Gulls feast on the remains. (Eagles have also been seen doing the same.) The Mayor of the local government involved -  Mervin Starzyk of  the RM of Yellowhead  - tells PinP , he's waiting for more information from the province on what has happened. He says the Manitoba department of Sustainable Development (SD) has told him it may have been "winter kill." (That's usually a process involving a serious depletion of oxygen in the water.)  The lake shares its name with a town of some 700 people at its north end. (Google map.) Starzyk says any attempt to clean up will be both expensive and - without outside help - b

A Federal Judge Just Nixed Trump’s Attempt to Drill the Arctic and Atlantic

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EARTHJUSTICE The Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Photo by Diego Delso. In a ruling issued from Alaska, a U.S. District Court has determined that President Trump overstepped his constitutional authority and violated federal law.  More here.

How To Talk About Climate Change So People Will Listen

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by Katharine Hayhoe CHATELAINE Railway tracks damaged by severe flooding in High River, Alberta, 2013. Photo by Resolute. As a climate scientist, I've been called everything from a charlatan to the handmaiden of the Antichrist.  Here's how I handle the tough conversations. 

"We Love the Earth" A star-studded new video In recognition of Earth Day.

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Corn-farming fouls the air to fatal effect

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Nature - Agriculture Harvesting corn in Canada. A PinP photo. The dominant US crop plant has a voracious appetite for fertilizer, which leads to air pollution and health problems. More here.

Climate change made the Arctic greener. Now parts of it are turning brown.

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ScienceNews A green Arctic meadow - Baffin Island, CA. Photo by Mike Beauregard. Warming trends bring more insects, extreme weather and wildfires that wipe out plants. More here.

Yukon temperatures are the highest in 13,600 years

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CLIMATE&CAPITALISM Photo by Diego Delso. Warming of over 2 degrees Celsius is above the global average and well above the average of the rest of the Arctic region. More here.

The Trump Administration Has Thrown Out Protections for Migratory Birds

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truthout A great egret . One of the many birds that migrate between Canada and the U.S. A PinP photo. Under Republican and Democratic presidents from Nixon through Obama, killing migratory birds, even inadvertently, was a crime, with fines for violations ranging from $250 to $100 million. The power to prosecute created a deterrent that protected birds and enabled government to hold companies to account for environmental disasters.  But in part due to President Donald Trump’s interior secretary nominee… more here. RELATED:   New Studies Show Farm Chemicals Are Affecting More Than Bees. Bird Populations are Declining, Too. Is modern agriculture's hold on nature becoming a death grip?

Rising global shipping traffic could lead to surge in invasive species

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Science Daily Ship traffic in the Suez Canal - 1957. Photo by  Buonasera Maritime trade is likely to far outweigh climate change as the driver of bio-invasions over the next 30 years,  study finds.

Even our national bird - the grey jay - is not immune from the ravages of manmade climate change.

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Decades of Canadian research, just released , finds "strong evidence" that increasing "freeze-thaw" cycles are destroying food the birds store away in the fall. This, in turn is damaging their ability to reproduce and likely playing a role in a severe population decline in at least one region. by Larry Powell   The grey jay,  AKA as Canada jay or "Whiskey-Jack." Photo by Steve Phillips, via  Canadian Geographic  magazine. It's been known for some time that our changing climate is leading to reductions, even entire removal of many species from certain areas (a process called "extirpation"). This new research by the University of Guelph, sheds more light on just how that happens.  Using 40 years of breeding data, scientists studied grey jays  (scientific name p erisoreus canadensis )   at the southern edge of their range in Algonquin Park, Ontario. (The birds can be found in all Canadian provinces and territorie

The Insect Apocalypse Is Coming: Here are Five Lessons we Must Learn

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truthout A PinP photo. In a new report, scientists warn of a precipitous drop in the world’s insect population. We need to pay close attention, as over time, this could be just as catastrophic to humans as it is to insects. Special attention must be paid to the principal drivers of this insect decline, because while climate change is adding to the problem, food production is a much larger contributor. Story here.

While Nestlé extracts millions of litres from their land in Ontario, Canada, residents have no drinking water

The Guardian Just 90 minutes from Toronto, residents of a First Nations community try to improve the water situation as the beverage company extracts from their land. Story here .

From Canadian Coal Mines, Toxic Pollution That Knows No Borders

Yale Environment 360 Massive open-pit coal mines in British Columbia are leaching high concentrations of selenium into the Elk River watershed, damaging fish populations and contaminating drinking water. Now this pollution is flowing across the Canadian-U.S. border, threatening the quality of U.S. waters. Story here.

Bill McKibben likens climate change to Second World War

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National Observer Ponds in the Canadian Arctic, believed to be caused by melting of the permafrost. Photo by Steve Jurvetson Environmentalist and author Bill McKibben  calls climate change the most important issue facing the world today and likens the struggle against it to the Second World War. Story here.

Canada failing in climate change fight: watchdog

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PHYS ORG Trees downed in a fierce windstorm in Duck Mountain forest, Manitoba, Canada. A PinP photo. Canada is doing too little to combat climate change, a parliamentary report warned Tuesday, a day after government scientists warned the country was warming at twice the global rate. Story here.

A slippery slope: How climate change is reshaping the Arctic landscape.

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UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA A collapsed block of ice-rich permafrost in Alaska. Benjamin Jones, U.S. Geological Surve y Extremes of summer climate trigger thousands of thermokarst landslides (ones triggered by melting permafrost) in a High Arctic environment. Details here. (Includes a must-see video.) RELATED: Canada warming at twice the global rate, climate report finds  

Rapid apple decline has researchers stumped

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Science Magazine An apple orchard in Quebec, Canada.  Photo by "Daniel Fafard ( Dreamdan )" Young apple trees have been inexplicably dying across the US and Canada.  Story here.

When mines poison waterways in British Columbia, Canada, taxpayers swallow the costs

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Dogwood The Mount Polley mine - Jul. 2014 - about a week before the infamous breach of its earthen containment dam. After the breach, massive amounts of wastewater surged into nearby creeks & lakes. Photos by NASA. Outdated laws, weak enforcement leave the public on the hook for cleanup.  Story here.

Great Lakes are rapidly warming, likely to trigger more flooding and extreme weather.

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CBC News North shore of Lk. Superior. A Wikimedia photo. Report also predicts more severe algae blooms will increase water treatment costs. Story here.