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Showing posts from December, 2020

Cargill: the company feeding the world by helping destroy the planet

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THE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM      North America’s largest single coronavirus outbreak at the time, started at this Cargill meat-packing plant in Alberta in May. At least one worker died. Dozens contracted it. The Union lost its fight to keep the plant closed after a brief shut-down.     Photo credit - CBC News. It's a controversial corporate giant that transformed how we eat and has the global food industry in its grip. So why haven't we heard of it? Details here.

The graceful albatross - immortalized over the ages as a symbol of both good and ill - is under siege like never before.

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by Larry Powell This is the story of the "Grey-Head." It's but a single member of a large family of albatrosses called Diomedeidae. Major research studies published recently, warn of twin threats facing the already-endangered bird. Each is different. Each is insidious.  The grey-headed albatross (Thalassarche chrysostoma).  Photo by Lieutenant Elizabeth Crapo, NOAA. In general, the albatross carries higher burdens of mercury in its body than any other bird on earth. (In the marine environment, only some marine mammals carry more.)   Still, even those who measured levels of mercury in "Grey-Heads" at their largest breeding colony on South Georgia Island recently, must have been shocked by what they found. Photo credit: Richard Phillips. They discovered the highest amounts of that contaminant ever recorded in that species anywhere - a  threefold increase over twenty-five-years.  Mercury is described as a “pervasive environmental contaminant that can negatively imp

Ivory Coast without ivory? Elephant populations decline rapidly in Côte d'Ivoire

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Science Daily UN officials take part in the production of manioc (cassava) in Ivory Coast. It's believed large tracts of forest have been cleared there to make way for crops like this.   UN Photo/Abdul Fatai Adegboye Recent years have witnessed a widespread and catastrophic decline in the number of forest elephants in protected areas in Côte d'Ivoire, according to a new study.  Story here.

Weather disasters in 2020 boosted by climate change: report

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PHYS ORG US Firefighter Clay Stephen helps fight Australian bushfires in Tambo Complex near Victoria. Photo by BLM Idaho. The ten costliest weather disasters worldwide this year saw insured damages worth $150 billion, topping the figure for 2019 and reflecting a long-term impact of global warming, according to a report today. Story here.

Manitoba's last wild river.

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The Narwhal The Seal River. A Gov't. of Manitoba photo.     The Seal River is Manitoba’s only major waterway that hasn’t been dammed — and five Indigenous communities have banded together to keep it that way. Story here.

Fertilizer runoff in streams and rivers can have cascading effects, analysis shows

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Science Daily A river in west-central Manitoba, Canada. A PinP photo. Fertilizer pollution can have significant ripple effects in the food webs of streams and rivers, according to a new analysis of global data.  Story here.

Agricultural expansion could cause widespread biodiversity declines by 2050

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                              Journal: Nature Sustainability       A Colombian farmer working on his "finca". These patches of forest are given away at a low price by the government to farmers who then clear them up to grow crops. Photo by  LAIF . Almost 90% of terrestrial vertebrate species around the world might lose some of their habitat by 2050 as land is cleared to meet the future demand for food. However,  according to a modelling study  published in Nature Sustainability ,  proactive policies focusing on how, where and what food is produced could reduce these threats while also supporting human well-being. Slashing is a common site on the Canadian prairies. Farmers cut and burn trees and shrubs to make way for more farmland. In this case, it's along the fringes of the Boreal forest in west-central Manitoba. A PinP photo. Habitat loss driven by agricultural expansion is a major threat to terrestrial vertebrates. Projections based on human population growth and diet

More proof. A walk-in-the-park really can boost our feelings of well-being - especially when there are wild birds to sing to us along the way! Researchers.

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It's not exactly "news" that spending time in nature benefits human health and well-being. But an experiment conducted  by social scientists along some mountain trails in Colorado shows - it's not just the wind in our faces or the grandeur of the scenery we need to thank.                                              by Larry Powell A PinP photo.

Tough Times for Animal Travellers

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Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. (COSEWIC) The Blackmouth ( Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) a type of Chinook.  Image by Animal Diversity Web. After maturing at sea, Chinook Salmon on Canada's West Coast swim back to their natal streams to spawn. Twenty-eight populations of Chinook Salmon live in Southern British Columbia, each with different habitats and survival strategies. Chinook Salmon face many threats in both fresh and saltwater, including climate change and detrimental effects from hatchery fish. At the current meeting, COSEWIC considered the 12 populations of Chinook Salmon most impacted by hatcheries: four were designated Endangered, three Threatened, and one Special Concern, while one was deemed Not at Risk. Three remote populations were determined to be Data Deficient, and will require additional research before being re-assessed.   Details here.

If we are to stabilize world food production, we not only need a wider variety of crops, but ones that are sown and harvested at different times, too.

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SCIENCE DAILY Harvesting of vast fields of food crops like this one in Manitoba, Canada, have had to be delayed over winter due to unseasonably bad weather in recent years. A PinP photo. Securing food supplies around the globe is a challenge facing humanity, especially in light of the predicted increase in the world's population and the effects of climate change. Greater crop diversity in agriculture is seen as a stabilizing factor for food security. Yet crop diversity alone is not sufficient. Researchers now argue that it's also essential that crops differ in their temporal production patterns. Story here.

Human-made materials outweigh living biomass

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                        Journal Nature A PinP photo. The year 2020 may mark the crossover point when human-made mass surpasses that of living biomass according to a study published in Nature this week. The mass embedded in human-made items, such as buildings, roads and machines, has doubled every 20 years for the past 100 years. These findings underscore the increasing impacts that humans have on Earth. Since the first agricultural revolution humans have halved plant biomass, from around 2 teratonnes (2,000,000,000,000 tonnes) to the current value of around 1 teratonne, through land-use changes such as agriculture and deforestation. The increasing production and accumulation of human-made objects (termed anthropogenic mass) has also contributed to a shift in the balance between living and human-made mass. Ron Milo and colleagues estimate changes in global biomass and human-made mass from 1900 to the present day. They show that at the beginning of the twentieth century, the mass of hu

The Big Banks’ Green Bafflegab

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The Tyee Profit, profit, profit. Look behind their pro-climate ads and do what they do. Follow the money. Story here. RELATED: How ethical are ethical funds?

Humanity is waging war on nature, says UN secretary general

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António Guterres lists human-inflicted wounds on natural world in stark message World is ‘doubling down’ on fossil fuels despite climate crisis – UN report Pumpjacks dot the landscape in southwestern Manitoba. A PinP image.

New UN climate report is bleak, but there's a solution - trees.

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CONSERVATION  INTERNATIONAL (Note - this report came out last year. But it bears repeating.) Humanity must overhaul the global food system to stop the climate breakdown, according to a dire report released in 2019.  Story here. When trees are grown together with crops and livestock, as an integrated production unit, numerous benefits can be observed. Trees have been shown to indirectly increase crop yields, improve soil and water quality, increase biodiversity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase carbon sequestration. (Source - Climate Connection.) Scenes such as this, where trees were planted in rows, as "shelterbelts," used to be common on the Canadian prairies. But, no more. Many farmers are now slashing and burning such trees, so their huge farm machines can operate more efficiently, such as this one in southwestern Manitoba. A PinP photo.