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Showing posts from July, 2020

Canadian ice caps disappear, confirming 2017 scientific prediction

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PHYS ORG The white patch in the lower left and dark spot at right-centre were all that remained of two, once-mighty glaciers in the region in 2016. Now, they're gone. A NASA photo. The St. Patrick Bay ice caps on the Hazen Plateau of northeastern Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada, have disappeared, according to NASA satellite imagery. Story here.

Thumbs-up for Alaskan mine draws fire

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Science Magazine - Edited by Jeffrey Brainard The area of the mine in question. Photo by Erin McKittrick A company seeking to build a controversial gold and copper mine in Alaska won a major victory on 24 July when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued an environmental analysis saying the mine wouldn’t endanger the world’s most productive sockeye salmon fishery. The decision clears the way for the Corps to issue permits needed by promoters of the Pebble Mine, located at the headwaters of two major watersheds that form part of the Bristol Bay salmon runs, just north of the Aleutian Islands. Environmental and Native Alaskan groups and some salmon scientists blasted the new study, saying it understated risks by focusing on the mine’s small, initial footprint over 20 years of mining rather than its potential impacts if it expands to become one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines, as its promoters hope. Mine backers have said such an expansion would get a closer environ

Brazilian meat giant trucked cattle from deforested Amazon ranch

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The Bureau of Investigative Journalism An Adobe photo. This article exposes the brazen culpability of the global beef industry for the fires ravaging the Amazon each year. Please open this "must-read' story here!

World's biggest meat firm, JBS, caught red-handed. (Video)

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The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Livestock expansion is a factor in global pandemics

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Science Daily A new study looks at the growth of global livestock farming and the threat to biodiversity, and the health risks to both humans and domesticated animals. The growth of global livestock farming is a threat to our biodiversity and also increases the health risks to both humans and domesticated animals. The patterns that link them are at the heart of a study published in Biological Conservation by a scientist from the Institute of Evolution Sciences of Montpellier (ISEM -- CNRS/Université de Montpellier/IRD/EPHE) and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development's (CIRAD) ASTRE laboratory.

First active leak of sea-bed methane discovered in Antarctica

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The Guardian The Denman glacier in eastern Antarctica. A public domain photo. Researchers say potent climate-heating gas almost certainly escaping into atmosphere. Story here.

The lynx vs. the bobcat. Two species of wild cat in Ontario, Canada, may face dramatically different futures. Is this "survival of the fittest?"

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by Larry Powell Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis). Bobcat  (Lynx rufus). Photos by US Fish & Wildlife Service. To the untrained eye, the two species might pass as overgrown house cats. They're actually "felids" or mammals belonging to felidae , a family of wild cats.  Both live side by side in the wilds of Ontario, north of Lake Huron (see map). Researchers at the University of Trent (U of T) in Peterborough, Ontario, looked at bobcat and lynx numbers, movements and behaviour over three winters.  Their findings seem to show the bobcat holding an edge over the lynx in the struggle to survive, if not thrive in their rapidly-changing world.  The scientists are unable to give hard numbers. But, "harvest records" which document the numbers taken by trappers, offer an insight.  The lead author, Robby Marrotte, tells PinP, "We've noticed that the number of lynx harvested on traplines has decreased compared to 1960-80

A new study finds - wolf culls - aimed at protecting endangered caribou in western Canada - simply don't work.

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by Larry Powell Photo by Vicious Bits, Creative Commons. New research by a team of Canadian biologists,  seems to support critics who've long argued that wolves are being sacrificed unnecessarily in efforts to save iconic mountain caribou in British Columbia and Alberta from possible extinction. Since the 80s, authorities in the two provinces have been conducting "culls" which have probably killed thousands of wolves since. Culls involve either shooting the animals from helicopters, poisoning them or, in at least one case - an eight-year campaign of sterilization. The iconic caribou. A Wikimedia photo. Yet caribou populations all over Canada, continue to plummet. Thanks to  declines in all sub-species, they're now classified, nationwide as either threatened or endangered. Some of the steepest reductions have occurred in mountainous regions in the two westernmost provinces. A few years ago, they were declared extinct south of the bor

Assessing the dwindling wilderness of Antarctica

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Nature Antarctica. Aerial photo by Astro_Alex. Less than 32% of Antarctica is made up of areas that are free from human interference, and these areas are declining as human activity increases, reports a paper published in Nature. The study finds that although 99.6% of the continent can be considered to be wilderness (a relatively undisturbed environment), this area does not include much of its biodiversity. Despite Antarctica’s isolation, the continent is under increasing pressure from human activity, including scientific research, the development of infrastructure and tourism. However, the total area of wilderness on the continent is unknown, as is the extent to which Antarctica’s biodiversity is contained within this. Four killer whales cooperatively hunting a crabeater  seal off the coast of Antarctica. Photo by Callan Carpenter,  taken from one of many research vessels in the area.  Steven Chown and colleagues assembled a record of ground-based human activ

Beyond Covid 19. Are we risking yet another pandemic if we continue to embrace "assembly-line" livestock production into the future?

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by Larry Powell No one would argue that Covid 19 demands our undivided attention. Surely,  defeating this "beast" has to be "Priority One." But, once it ends, and it will, here’s another key question that needs answering. Are we flirting with more such tragedies down the road if we do not soon end our love affair with an industrial, factory-style model of meat production?  Six years ago, the Director-General of the World Health Organization,  Dr. Margaret Chan (above), delivered this positively prophetic message to an Asian investment conference.  “The industrialization of food production is an especially worrisome trend.  Confined animal feeding operations are not farms any more. They are protein factories with multiple hazards for health and the environment."                                         Photo credit -  Mercy for Animals, Manitob a "These hazards come from the crowding of large numbers of animals in very small spa

Does your place of residence make you immune from climate calamity? I think not! (Opinion)

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by Larry Powell UPDATE...The Rivers dam mentioned in this story has now been declared by government engineers to be safe. I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard one of my fellow "prairie dogs" remark, how "lucky" or how "blessed" we are to be spared the kind of brutal weather that may be pummelling another part of the country or the world at the time. Occasionally, I'll try to remind them, we've already experienced disastrous conditions in our own "neck of the woods" (the eastern prairies) in recent years. They seem either unaware of what I say, or believe they're nothing worse than we've ever had.  So are they or aren't they?  The examples I list below (starting last fall up to the present) are extreme weather events which have broken records or are unprecedented in the human record.  They'e not born of this writer's imagination, but from Environment Canada, the body of record on such matters. (E