Friday, May 31, 2019

Conservationists find protected areas worldwide are shrinking

Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.
A PinP photo.
A large international team of researchers reports that the amount of land designated as protected around the globe is shrinking. Story here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A warming Arctic produces weather extremes further south!

The Northern Hemisphere Jet Stream can be seen crossing
Cape Breton Island in Eastern Canada. A NASA photo.
Atmospheric researchers have developed a climate model that can accurately depict the frequently observed winding course of the jet stream, a major air current over the Northern Hemisphere. It demonstrates that the jet stream's wavelike course and subsequent extreme weather conditions like cold air outbreaks in Central Europe and North America are the direct results of climate change. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Jane Fonda Speaks Out on Behalf of Greenpeace. "The Environment Needs Our Help!" (Video)

Stop using taxpayers’ money to destroy the world: Guterres

UN News
Fires around Fort McMurray, Alberta, 2016. 
The red dots show active fires.The European Space Agency.
The idea that subsidizing fossil fuels is a way to improve people’s lives could not be more wrong, says António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, because it means spending taxpayers’ money to “boost hurricanes, spread droughts, melt glaciers, bleach corals: destroy the world.” Story here.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Soil communities threatened by destruction, instability of Amazon forests

 In this image, intact forest is deep green, while cleared areas are tan (bare ground) or light green (crops, pasture, or occasionally, second-growth forest). The fish-bone pattern of small clearings along new roads is the beginning of one of the common deforestation trajectories in the Amazon. 
A NASA photo.
The clearing and subsequent instability of Amazonian forests are among the greatest threats to tropical biodiversity conservation today. Story here.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Will the rich escape climate apocalypse?

New Internationalist
The dirty grey is smoke from Alberta wildfires this year.
Photo by NASA.
The billionaire class is preparing for doomsday. Only problem is, the rest of us aren't invited. Story here.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Albertans lose more than they gain with carbon tax repeal


Slave Lake, Alberta, June 2011. The aftermath of the wildfire 
that destroyed one third of the town. Photo by Mrsramsey.
Pembina Institute reacts to repeal of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Act. Story here.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Manitoba's "Protein Advantage"

A few months ago, the Government of Manitoba invited input from the public on a proposal to expand production of protein-rich food, whether plant or animal-based, in this province. It claims, meeting this fast-growing global demand offers much bigger opportunities than those which have existed before, for both farmers and investors. The province has embarked on a massive expansion of its industrial pork industry by relaxing both health and environmental regulations and obviously hopes through this new initiative,  to make it even bigger.

In this in-depth article, long-time farm activist and livestock producer, Ruth Pryzer, offers many valuable insights into why this all needs to be taken with several grains of salt.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Reckless farming is harming the planet. This could save it

CNN Business 
A common site on the Canadian prairies at seeding time. Two big tractors
with air seeders and chemical tanks attached, ready to roll. A PinP photo.
The United Nations released a dire warning recently: Climate change is here and it's a clear and present danger to our entire planet. Of course, we didn't need another report to tell us that — we see it in extreme and unusual weather, disappearing wildlife and falling farm yields. But there is one major cause of this global catastrophe that doesn't get the attention it deserves: industrial-scale chemical agriculture. Story here.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Plastic Proliferation Threatens the Climate on a Global Scale

A crab trapped in a plastic cup.
The plastic pollution crisis that overwhelms our oceans is also a significant and growing threat to the Earth’s climate. At current levels, greenhouse gas emissions from the plastic lifecycle threaten the ability of the global community to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C. With the petrochemical and plastic industries planning a massive expansion in production, the problem is on track to get much worse. Story here. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

‘Extraordinary thinning’ of ice sheets revealed deep inside Antarctica

The Guardian
Antarctica. Wikimedia public domain. 
New research shows affected areas are losing ice five times faster than in the 1990s, with more than 100m of thickness gone in some places. Story here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Two-thirds of world's longest rivers throttled by mankind: study

The design of the "site c" dam in B.C.

Almost two in three of Earth's longest rivers have been severed by dams, reservoirs or other manmade constructions, severely damaging some of the most important ecosystems on the planet, researchers said Wednesday. Story here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Microplastics in freshwaters

Microplastics in sediments from the rivers Elbe (A), Mosel (B), Neckar (C), and Rhine (D).Note the diverse shapes (filaments, fragments, and spheres) and that not all items are microplastics (e.g., aluminum foil (C) and glass spheres and sand (D), white arrowheads). The white bars represent 1 mm. PhotoS by Martin Wagner et al.
As small as a grain of dust—but of great global significance. The word microplastics is familiar to many, but the dangers are virtually unexplored. In recent years, plastic pollution has become an ever-increasing burden on the environment. Countless videos and media reports draw attention to this problem. While the dangers of large plastic pieces for animals are impossible to overlook, there is practically nothing about the dangers posed by microplastics. But what are microplastics anyway? Get the answer here.

Jury rules Roundup gave a California couple cancer - orders the manufacturer, Bayer, to pay $2B.

by Larry Powell (Opinion)
A pesticide collection depot in Manitoba.
A PinP photo.
It’s a record settlement in a Roundup case, so far.

In Canada, there are no signs of similar court actions, even though  Roundup is generously applied here, too. 

Sadly, our Canadian regulators seem far from vigilant in protecting the public against harmful chemicals. For example, less than a year ago, the PMRA re-registered a fungicide so its main uses can continue. That same product has just been banned in the EU as a possible carcinogen!

And the same corporation, Bayer, is busily registering (or trying to register) its latest insecticide for use, worldwide, including Canada. Never mind that scientists are questioning Bayer’s claim that it is not harmful to pollinators. 

The PMRA has been stone-silent on my own requests to justify this apparent inaction in either of these cases. I call it governance by neglect. 

It is to be hoped that punishing fines like this will eventually call this monstrous Corporation to heel and make it more accountable to the public good.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Nunavut's ill-advised hunting proposal

A polar bear and her two cubs.
Photo by Alastair Rae.
The government of one of Canada’s northern territories may soon adopt a recommendation which may well threaten the ability of the polar bear to reproduce. Story here.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Replanting oil palm may be driving a second wave of biodiversity loss


A palm oil plantation in Malaysia,
poisoned to make way for new growth.
CEphoto, Uwe Aranas
The environmental impact of palm oil production has been well publicized. Found in everything from food to cosmetics, the deforestation, ecosystem decline and biodiversity loss associated with its use is a serious cause for concern. What many people may not know, however, is...story here.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Bee Alert: Is a Controversial Herbicide Harming Honeybees?

Recent court cases have focused on the possible effects of glyphosate, found in Monsanto’s Roundup, on humans. But researchers are now investigating whether this commonly used herbicide could also be having adverse effects on the health and behaviour of honeybees.

Monday, May 6, 2019

It's Time for a Green New Deal - Build it With Us!

World is ‘on notice’ as major UN report shows one million species face extinction

UN News Service
A hard-hitting report into the impact of humans on nature shows that nearly one million species risk becoming extinct within decades, while current efforts to conserve the earth’s resources will likely fail without radical action, UN biodiversity experts say.
The Chatham penguin, once endemic to the Chatham Islands,
off New Zealand. Its bones indicate it likely became extinct
shortly after Polynesians arrived about 450 years ago.
Image by Sean Murtha.
Also, please watch this "Life Below Water," video, below.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Climate Change Has Made Droughts More Frequent Since 1900

The Smithsonian
Photo by Tomas Castelazo

Tree ring data from various parts of the world show that greenhouse gas increases have impacted soil moisture for over 100 years. Story here.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Farm Country: Don’t Get Fooled Again

By Cherie Mortice - Common Dreams.

Smithfield Food's pig-breeding facility, Virginia. Sows in cruel
gestation crates. Photo by US Humane Society.
Big ag companies killed family farms and polluted our water, while politicians blamed our immigrant neighbours. Let’s not turn on each other again. Story here

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Make EU trade with Brazil sustainable

The Amazon, near Manaus. 
Photo by Neil Palmer (CIAT).
Brazil, home to one of the planet's last great forests, is currently in trade negotiations with its second largest trading partner, the European Union (EU). We urge the EU to seize this critical opportunity to ensure that Brazil protects human rights and the environment. More here.

New research finds that “marine reserves” – tracts of ocean where fishing is banned – are protecting fish, the coral reefs where they live and vast undersea "gardens," a lot more than once thought.

Large-scale commercial fishing has, for years, been depleting fish-stocks in many places around the world - especially in coral reefs in the tropics. In response, several countries have designated certain areas of the sea as "marine reserves," where neither fishing nor other development is allowed. Now, a team of scientists from US and Australian universities has produced compelling new evidence. It shows these reserves have not only been helping stocks rebound, but are also protecting massive coral "food webs" - beds of sea-grasses and algae - important reservoirs for carbon storage. 
by Larry Powell
In this satellite photo, "halos" appear as pale blue circular bands 
surrounding tiny dark spots.The spots are likely small patch reefs 
or other shelter for small fish and invertebrates that protect them 
from predators. Each halo is probably about 10 meters wide. 
The more there are, the healthier marine life there is likely to be.
Using hi-rez images from both satellites and underwater cameras, the researchers studied hundreds of small, tropical reefs in the huge Great Barrier Reef complex off Australia. 

Those images detected about two-&-a-half times more halos within the reserves than elsewhere. The more halos, the healthier the reef is considered to be as a home for both fish and invertebrates. 

These pale blue, circular bands surrounding the small dark spots, are where herbivorous, or plant-eating fish and some marine mammals, venture out to graze on surrounding vegetation such as algae or seagrass. Then, they dart back in, using the reefs as protection from the predators. 

The scientists refer to the halos as "seascape-scale footprints" of healthy, increased activity in aquatic life.
Elizabeth M.P. Madin, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor
Hawaii Institute of Marin Biology
University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA.
The spokesperson for the study, Dr. Elizabeth Madin (above), tells PinP, "What the halos are telling us is that marine reserves - especially older ones - where predator and herbivore populations have had sufficient time to recover from previous fishing - are protecting key species and their resulting interactions.

"Specifically," she adds, "we’re more likely to see halos in especially older reserves (40 years old or so), which suggests that predators and prey are in sufficient numbers there to interact and cause these halo patterns." 

Since halos can also be found in some ares unprotected from fishing, the team calls for more research to further confirm the connection.

Among groups funding the research were the World Wildlife Fund and the US National Science Foundation.

The findings were published recently in the proceedings of The Royal Society in the UK and in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.  

But the benefits of marine reserves, don't stop here.

"Importantly," Dr. Madin goes on, "we know from another of our studies, that halos affect carbon storage. So, not only are marine reserves re-shaping coral reef landscapes on very large scales in ways we didn’t know about before, but they’re also affecting a key ecosystem service - carbon storage."

She's referring to a truly fascinating undersea scenario in which predator fish actually play a beneficial - albeit indirect - role in carbon sequestration. A healthy habitat means more predators. Their prey, often herbivorous fish or marine mammals, cling to the relative safety of their home reefs and don't venture too far afield to find plants to eat. 

Dugongs, a type of marine mammal, are
known to be capable of decimating sea-grass beds
as they graze. Photo taken in an oceanarium in Jakarta.

This spares massive sea-scapes of algae and sea-grasses nearby, which would otherwise be stripped by the plant-eaters. Instead, the vegetation grows taller and denser, greatly increasing its capacity to store carbon, thus providing a significant buffer against climate change.

Not only are the number of marine reserves growing, worldwide, they're getting bigger, too (some more than 100 thousand km2). Nineteen of these "mega-reserves" have been established since 2009. And happily for the sea-life living there, the research finds, the bigger the reserves, the more protection they offer!

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...