Thursday, September 26, 2019

Unprecedented damage to oceans has Canada's marine life on the run

Canada's National Observer 
The world's foremost climate scientists have found oceans are getting intensely warmer, sea levels are rising and the Earth's waters are losing oxygen and becoming more acidic. Story here.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

In Alberta, a shocking abuse of political power to protect the oil industry


This story is part of "Covering Climate Now," a global collaboration of more than 220 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story:

The Government of Alberta has created the new “Energy War Room” (with an annual budget of $30 million) to combat environmental NGOs, specifically those who have been campaigning against the oil sector. 
This may come as a surprise to taxpayers wondering why a billion-dollar industry needs such government-subsidized assistance in the first place. Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage provided an answer of sorts, offering the following as the higher purpose of the Energy War Room: More here.
An aerial photo believed to depict a dump site near the Muskeg River mine,
Alberta tar sands. A "Beautiful Destruction" photo.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Three billion birds in the US and Canada have vanished since 1970, surveys show

Science magazine
North America's birds are disappearing from the skies at a rate that's shocking even to ornithologists. Story here.

Birds ranging from the iconic meadowlark (l.) to the common house sparrow (below) are being hit. PinP photos.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Manitoba taxpayers paid out almost $900 thousand to help counter a deadly hog disease in this province. A PinP exclusive.

by Larry Powell

It cost the Manitoba treasury $871,847.26  to help hog producers battle “Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea,” (PED) since the killer virus invaded many barns in the southeast in the spring of 2017. But even with authorities warning that PED has now spread further west and north than ever before, and could return to the same high levels as it did in 2017, the provincial government claims it still doesn’t know how many piglets have died in the outbreak. (PED causes significant deaths only in animals in their first few days of life.)
Photo credit - Manitoba Pork.

*The Department of Agriculture tells PinP, "With respect to the number of piglet mortalities, this is personal business information and mortalities are not required to be reported for any livestock species.”

Yet the government’s own “Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management Regulations” seem to suggest otherwise. They say, when a producer has more animals dying than he/she can routinely dispose of (as was almost certainly the case here), “the operator shall, without delay, provide an environment officer with any information about the situation that the officer requests.” 

So, what does this mean? The industry has been reporting the numbers, and the government is lying? Or, has the industry not been reporting them and, by so doing, breaking the law by ignoring the regulations? Or, has the government simply not been asking these question? Any one of these scenarios surely display serious neglect on someone's part!

A year or so after the initial outbreak, industry officials were describing how they got “walloped” by it, how desperate efforts to fight it were causing symptoms in some owners and barn workers similar to PTSD, and describing it as "the largest animal disease outbreak in the province in 30 years."

Yet the closest estimate to the number of mortalities on the public record appears in the online publication “Pig Progress” in March of 2018. A swine specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Robyn Harte, is quoted as saying, at the peak of the outbreak, “There were over one million pigs under surveillance.” She does not elaborate. 

Several other requests I’ve made to the industry group, Manitoba Pork for a figure on mortalities, have gone unanswered.

Another partial hint on the death toll came in June of 2017. The President of Hylife, a major, Manitoba-based producer and pork processor, was appearing before the Commons Agriculture Committee. Claude Vielfaure testified, "As of yesterday, we believe that we've lost 21,000 pigs already to PED." 

The cost to the public treasury comes in because the government helps industry manage the disease by paying for some veterinary fees, diagnostic services, lab supplies and staff expenses. 

Experts have warned for years that Intensive Livestock Operations, like the ones in Manitoba, where large numbers of animals are housed in confined spaces, contribute to disease outbreaks. Late in 2017, well after the initial outbreak, the provincial government relaxed regulations to allow for industry expansion.


**I initially asked the Government for this information in an e-mail. But it only responded after I launched a formal inquiry under “FIPPA,” the Freedom of Information and Personal Privacy Act. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Boreal Forest Fires Could Release Deep Soil Carbon

Courtesy Environment & Climate Change, Canada.
Increasingly frequent and severe forest fires could burn generations-old carbon stored in the soils of boreal forests. Releasing this previously buried carbon into the atmosphere could change these forests’ balance of carbon gain and loss, potentially accelerating warming. Story here.

Healthy foods are expensive in poor countries, unhealthy foods cheap in rich countries. Study.

International Livestock Research Institute

Eggs and other nutrient-dense foods are expensive in poor countries, leading to child stunting, 
Photo by OXFAM.

while sugar and other nutrient-poor food are cheap in rich countries. 
Photo by Bennysaunders

Story here.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Environmentally-Caused Disease Crisis? Pesticide Damage to DNA Found 'Programmed' Into Future Generations

Researchers have found that concentrations of atrazine in drinking water were highest in May and June when farmers sprayed with the herbicide. They also found that birth defects peaked during the same months. 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...