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Showing posts from 2021

Decoding the migration of the peregrine falcon

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Nature A Satellite-tagged peregrine at its nest site in the Lena Delta, Russia.  Peregrines  were tracked from six separate breeding areas across  Arctic  Eurasia.  Genome re-sequencing identified differences among  these populations.  Variations in their numbers were linked to changes in  glacial conditions over time.  Credit: Andrew Dixon. The migratory routes used by the peregrine falcon have been shaped by environmental changes since the last Ice Age, reports  a study published in Nature.  The paper also presents evidence that the distance travelled during migration is influenced by a genetic factor. Satellite-tagged peregrine in Taimyr, Russia. Satellite tracking revealed a  high degree of  fidelity to nesting sites, wintering ranges and  to the migratory routes connecting them.   Credit: Andrew Dixon . Millions of migratory birds have seasonally favourable breeding grounds in the Arctic, but spend their winters in different locations across Eurasia. However, little is known about

Long-distance movement of microplastics

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Nature Communications Microplastic pollution collected at a Key largo, Florida beach State Park. An Ocean Blue Project photo. Microplastics, detected in southern France, could have been transported over 4,500 km from their source, including over continents and oceans, suggests a study published in Nature Communications. The findings suggest that microplastic pollution can spread globally from its sources to remote regions. Plastic pollution has been documented at high elevations and latitudes, and in regions with little local plastic use. The transportation of microplastics through the atmosphere has been suggested as occurring on regional scales. However, it is unclear how widespread this phenomenon is and, if like mercury and other pollutants, there is free transport of microplastics through the atmosphere that enables trans-continental movement. Steve Allen and colleagues collected atmospheric microplastics at the high-elevation Pic du Midi Observatory in the French Pyrenees, south

Record profits for foreign-owned pig conglomerate, recently "gifted" with major grant from Canadian taxpayers to help with its Manitoba operations.

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  Below is a financial statement posted on the company website. It was recently announced that the governments of Canada and Manitoba were "investing" $2.2 million in three agricultural research projects, to be conducted by the Dutch-based conglomerate, Topigs Norsvin Canada (TN), that will "enhance the competitiveness of Manitoba pork producers." (And TN, too, no doubt!) The announcement came despite opposition to a recently approved TN project to build major pig barns near the southern Manitoba community of Plumas. It drew the outrage of many of those residents, along with the citizen group, Hogwatch Manitoba. 

Flooding caused by rapidly expanding hydroelectric dams in the tropics is pushing many jaguars and tigers to the brink of extinction

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by Larry Powell Balbina Dam flooded 3,129 square kilometers of tropical rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon. This hydroelectric reservoir is located in the core of the distribution of jaguars. Credit: E. M. Venticinque. New research just published, finds hydropower development to satisfy the growing human demand for energy has become one of the major drivers of habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation everywhere. The dams create massive reservoirs, which drown out the homes of many creatures, including these top predators. A jaguar in the Brazilian Pantanal, the largest tropical wetland habitat in the world. Credit: Steve Winter/National Geographic. The scientists found no less than 164 dams intruding on more than 25 thousand square kilometres of jaguar range in Latin America. Sadly, plans show that number could well triple into the future. Tigers in Sumatra are a critically endangered subspecies, which face additional threats from two hydropower dams planned to be constructed withi

Melting glaciers could create new habitats for Pacific salmon

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Nature Communications US Fish & Wildlife Service` Melting glaciers in western North America could create new habitats for Pacific salmon over the next century, a modelling study in Nature Communications suggests.  Migratory Pacific salmon are one group of species whose abundances have dramatically shifted in response to changing climate patterns, however, the warming of Arctic and subarctic streams, in combination with glacier retreat, could create potential new habitats for salmon. Previous work has observed the colonization of newly de-glaciated streams by salmon, but predicting future shifts in salmon habitat across regions has been difficult.  Kara Pitman and colleagues modelled glacier retreat under different climate change scenarios for a 623,000 km2 region of western North America. They quantified emerging streams created by glacier retreat, which they combined with stream gradient-based salmon habitat models.  By 2100, the authors project that approximately 6,000 km of new

Hog Watch Manitoba decries $2.2 million government subsidies to Topigs Norsvin - a foreign company, despite community concerns and opposition.

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Winnipeg (December 2, 2021) – Hog Watch Manitoba shares the anger and frustration felt by many Plumas area residents who fought the approval of two large hog facilities in their municipality this past summer. Not only are they angered by the decision to go ahead with these two huge barns in the face of so much local opposition but now to find that their tax dollars are going to pay for it, is outrageous.   They dispute the company’s claim this is being built in an isolated area as there are 8 homes in less than a 3 km circumference of one barn and the other is in close range to the Big Grass River and marshland, environmentally sensitive areas.  There were 52 letters of opposition to the proposal and numerous presentations made expressing legitimate concerns about health impacts from toxic emissions from barns and open manure lagoons, and water consumption of 44,000 gallons a day depleting local water resources. Hog Watch Manitoba is calling on both the provincial and federal governmen

Arctic rainfall predicted to increase faster than expected

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Kayaking in the Canadian Arctic. Photo credit -  Kerry Raymond Nature Communications The amount of rainfall in the Arctic may increase at a faster rate than previously thought, according to a modelling study published in  Nature Communications . The research suggests that total rainfall will supersede snowfall in the Arctic decades earlier than previously thought, and could have various climatic, ecosystem and socio-economic impacts. The Arctic is known to be warming faster than most other parts of the world, leading to substantial environmental changes in this region. Research suggests that there will be more rainfall than snowfall in the Arctic at some stage of the 21st century, but it is not yet clear when this shift will occur. Michelle McCrystall and colleagues used the latest projections from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) to assess the changes in the Arctic water cycle by the year 2100. The authors found that precipitation, such as rainfall and snowfall, is p

THE HIGH-MAINTENANCE POLLUTING PORK INDUSTRY BELLIES UP to THE TAXPAYER TROUGH ONCE AGAIN.

 Manitoba/Canada News Release GOVERNMENTS INVEST IN "INNOVATION" TO "HELP INCREASE  COMPETITIVENESS AND SUSTAINABILITY OF PORK PRODUCERS" The governments of Canada and Manitoba are investing $2.2 million in three agricultural research projects, to be conducted by Topigs Norsvin Canada (TN), that will enhance the competitiveness of Manitoba pork producers by improving the precision feeding of sows and promoting higher animal welfare standards, Federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Ralph Eichler announced today. "These innovative projects will give the pork industry more tools in their sustainability toolbox," said Bibeau. "They will help to improve feeding and housing for the pigs, which leads to better resource efficiency and a reduced environmental footprint for producers. Topigs Norsvin plays a big role in making Canada a global leader in swine genetics, and we are p

Cancer: Fatty acid in palm oil promotes tumour metastasis in mice

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Nature Vast areas of rain forest habitat continue to be cleared for oil palm plantations like this in Sarawak. Photo credit: Ben Sutherland Exposure to high concentrations of a dietary fatty acid contained in palm oil promotes the metastasis of mouth and skin cancer cells in mice, according to a paper published in Nature. Changes in the uptake and metabolism of fatty acids have been linked to cancer metastasis — the process by which cancer cells spread to other parts of the body. However, it is unclear which dietary fatty acids in particular might be responsible for these changes, and the biological mechanisms involved. Salvador Benitah and colleagues exposed human mouth and skin cancer cells to one of three types of dietary fatty acid — palmitic acid (the main saturated fatty acid in palm oil), oleic acid or linoleic acid — for four days, before introducing them into corresponding tissues in mice fed a standard diet. Although tumour initiation was not found to be influenced by any of

Farmers on the Canadian prairies set fire to their fields - are they placing their reputation as "stewards of the land" on the line?

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by Larry Powell SHOAL LAKE, MANITOBA, CANADA: As dedicated, well-meaning people gathered in Scotland to find ways to counter our climate crisis, farmers on the Canadian prairies were waging a "scorched earth" war on their fields.  By taking advantage of severe drought that has rendered those fields tinder-dry, they were able to effectively burn down marsh-plants - mostly cattails in and around wetlands diminished by that same drought.  Farmers commonly use specially-fitted quads like this to light fires on their land.  PinP photos.  Dozens of such fires could be spotted each day for many days this fall in the vicinity of my own community in southwestern Manitoba, too. So, do they really "get" the adage, "Think globally. Act locally?"  You be the judge.

Airguns and ship sounds dangerously disrupt the natural behaviour of the "unicorn of the sea." Study

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The Royal Society - Biology Letters A pod of narwhals in the Arctic. Manmade noise is increasing in the Arctic, posing a threat to narwhals. To study this, narwhals were fitted with tags and exposed to ship and airgun noise. The whales showed clear reactions to sound disturbance by first reducing and then ceasing foraging. Reactions could be detected as far as 40 km from the ship, where the signals were embedded in the natural background noise. The reactions of the whales demonstrate their sensitivity and emphasize that - "if healthy narwhal populations are to be maintained,"  humans need to "manage" activities that make such noise. The findings have just been published by the Royal Society. Please also read: RAPIDLY WARMING OCEANS HAVE LEFT MANY NORTHERN MARINE MAMMALS SWIMMING IN TROUBLED WATERS. BUT PERHAPS NONE MORE SO THAN THAT STRANGE AND MYSTERIOUS "UNICORN OF THE SEA," THE NARWHAL .

Baleens - beneficial gluttons of the high seas

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Scientists believe the ravenous appetites of baleen whales - Earth's largest creatures - and their prodigious waste - hold clues to the very health and productivity of our oceans. by Larry Powell A blue whale  (Balaenoptera musculus)  defecates.  Photo credit-Ryan Lavery (Smithsonian) Baleens include humpbacks, fins, minkes and blue whales, the latter being the largest creatures ever to live on Earth. The carnivorous marine mammals catch and consume vast amounts of prey. And they recycle ocean nutrients by excreting undigested food in what have been described as "volcano-like" movements. A minke whale tagged by the research team off the coast of Antarctica in 2019. Credit: Ari Friedlaender under NOAA/NMFS permit 23095. By attaching tags to the backs of 321 whales from seven baleen species, the researchers now reckon that - before the onset of whaling in the twentieth century - and in the Southern Ocean alone - baleens were, amazingly, consuming  more than twice what the w

Declining Arctic sea ice may increase wildfires in the western US - & Canada?

Nature Declining sea ice in the Arctic may contribute to increased wildfire activity in the western United States, suggests a modelling study published in Nature Communications . The finding demonstrates the influence that human-induced climate change can have on extreme weather events in the region. Wildfires in the western US (& Canada) have become more frequent and severe in recent years. Although there is some evidence that Arctic sea ice declines can influence extreme weather conditions in temperate and subtropical regions, the impact on wildfires has been unclear. Yufei Zou, Hailong Wang and colleagues combined data on wildfire incidence, sea ice concentrations and weather conditions over the past 40 years and conducted model simulations to investigate the relationship between these factors.  The authors identified an association between declining Arctic sea ice concentrations from July to October and the increasing probability of large wildfires in the western US during the

Major toilet paper brands are flushing our forests down the drain

The National Observer What runs through your mind when you’re deciding which toilet paper to buy? Sale price, roll size, pitiful single-ply or luxurious triple? Climate change might not make your list of considerations, but it should. Story here. Please also watch this video. "Truth in Advertising - a TV commercial as it should be"

Australian bushfires triggered prolific phytoplankton blooms vast distances away

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Nature Bushfire East of Lake Dundas, Western Australia. Photo by Pierre Markuse The 2019–2020 Australian wildfires released more than twice as much CO2 as previously reported on the basis of different fire inventories, reports  a Nature paper.   An independent study  also published in Nature ,  suggests that aerosol emissions from these wildfires are likely to have fuelled vast plankton blooms thousands of kilometres away in the Southern Ocean.  The findings highlight the complex links between wildfires, ecosystems and the climate.  Climate-change-driven droughts and warming play a role in increasing the frequency and intensity of wildfires, which release CO2 into the atmosphere, potentially driving further climate change and increasing the risk of wildfires.  In the summer season of 2019–2020, around 74,000 km2 — an area roughly equivalent to 2.5 times the area of Belgium — burned in the eucalyptus forests in the coastal regions of Victoria and New South Wales, Australia. These wildfi

Deforestation and fires are shrinking Amazonian habitats

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Nature  The Amazon - Manaus, Brazil. Photo by  Bruno Kelly The Amazon Basin has a vital role in regulating the Earth’s climate and is home to 10% of all known species. Degradation of the forest threatens the resilience of this ecosystem; around 21–40% of the forest cover is predicted to be lost by 2050, which will have large impacts on Amazonian biodiversity.  To better understand these impacts, Xiao Feng and colleagues investigate how forest fires have been affecting the geographic range of 11,514 plant species and 3,079 animal species over the past two decades.Up to 85% of species listed as threatened in the Amazon may have lost a substantial portion of their habitat owing to deforestation and fires in the past two decades, a study in Nature indicates. It is estimated that for every 10,000 km2 of forest that is burned, about 27–37 additional plant species and about 2 or 3 more vertebrate species that have more than 10% of their range in the Amazon will be affected. As fires move clos

Nearly Half the World's Children at 'Extremely High Risk' for Facing Effects of Climate Crisis, Report Finds

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Common Dreams   OCHA/Giles Clarke.  Displaced children stand in the shredded remains of tents in Abs settlement, Yemen, for internally displaced persons. Located just 40 km from the frontlines, the settlement is regularly damaged by passing sandstorms. "Virtually no child's life will be unaffected" by the climate emergency, said the director of UNICEF. Story here.

New polling shows Canadian voters are very concerned about the impact of industrial farming

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PRESS RELEASE PR Newswire TORONTO - The global charity World Animal Protection commissioned a public opinion poll to find out where Canadians stand on issues related to our food system, including animal welfare, the environmental impacts of industrial animal agriculture and the overuse of antibiotics. An EKOS research online survey of 2,143 Canadians conducted last month shows that Canadians have many concerns about the harmful effects of industrial animal agriculture. And with a potential election looming, the charity hopes all political party leaders will address such issues on the campaign trail. When it comes to safeguarding human health, 60 per cent of Canadians agreed with many experts who have identified antibiotic overuse on farm animals as contributing to a rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria (aka "superbugs"). Superbugs make it harder for humans to respond to treatment from antibiotics. A recent report from the charity even found antibiotic resistance genes (whic

Loophole keeps bee-killing pesticides in widespread use, two years after EU ban

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Unearthed Investigation finds EU countries have issued at least 67 different 'emergency authorisations' for outdoor use of three neonicotinoids since ban came into force in 2018. Story here.

UN sounds alarm on 'irreversible' climate impacts, but offers hope

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CBC News Two plumes of smoke from the Long Loch wildfire and the Derrickson Lake wildfire, British Columbia 2021. BC Wildfire Service. This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels': UN Secretary General António Guterres. Story here.

A FOREIGN LOGGING CORPORATION CONTINUES TO HAVE ITS WAY WITH MANITOBA'S BEAUTIFUL DUCK MOUNTAIN PARK. THE WILDERNESS COMMITTEE BLOWS THE WHISTLE.

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Show your support - write a leTTer here!

THE TIPPING POINT APPROACHETH.

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I wr o te  this le t ter a couple of years ago about a road construction project past my door. I realize it was a "minority" if not an "oddball" position to be taking. Now that our world is descending, and n o t  s o  sl o wl y  an y m o re,  i n t o  a k i nd  o f Hell  o n ear t h, w i t h w i ldf i re sm o ke  i ns i n u a t i ng  i self  i n  y o u r l u ngs and m i ne, h o w  o ddball  do I seem now? See "c o mmen t s," at b ottom .                                               ======= If ever there was an example of just how numb we are to the planetary crisis we are now in, it’s surely playing out in plain sight right here, right now, in Shoal Lake. As many of my neighbours will already know, big dump trucks have been lumbering by on the street in front of our homes for about a week now. Beginning before dawn, they sometimes approach a steady stream that lasts all day until about dusk.  The mine supplying the raw product has been expanding for years

"OF PORK & POTATOES" - A REVIEW

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 By Larry Powell This book should be required reading for anyone who is concerned about the way hogs are raised in Manitoba. And that goes double for those who may still actually believe there's nothing to be concerned about.  Manitoba author Bill Massey (above) grew up in a troubled family with an abusive father. Despite all this, or perhaps because of it, he emerged with a heightened sense of what was fair and what was not. His toughness and perseverance would serve him well in the face of the challenges which lay ahead - ones he could not have possibly imagined.  Bill and his wife Dorothy have, for years, raised chickens and a few hogs on their little farm near Grosse Isle, northwest of Winnipeg. Both have also been teachers, he, a principal and an advocate for abused children.  In 2004, their lives would change, and not for the better. A nearby hog barn, operated by a Hutterite colony, announced it planned to expand. Right away, Bill smelled trouble ahead. And he was right. In

Only 1% of British Columbia's old growth forests remain, researchers find (Video)

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More than five million deaths a year can be attributed to abnormal hot and cold temperatures

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Monash University - Science Daily The Sparks fire during an historic heatwave in BC, Canada. A BC Wildfire Service photo June 20-21. The world's largest study of global climate related mortality found deaths related to hot temperatures increased in all regions from 2000 to 2019, indicating that global warming due to climate change will make this mortality figure worse in the future. The international research team looked at mortality and temperature data across the world.    Story here.

A VOICE OF EXPERIENCE CAUTIONS AGAINST ANOTHER HOG BARN IN MANITOBA

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Bill Massey - author of, "Of Pork & Potatoes - a memoir" Massey made the presentation, below, to a Conditional Use Hearing at the RM of  Westlake-Gladstone Municipality on  July 8th 2021.     Thank you for the opportunity to speak at this hearing.  My name is Bill Massey and I have led a group called the Concerned Citizens of Grosse Isle in our struggle with a hog barn in our community.  I have written a book called Of Pork & Potatoes that chronicles the events of the past 15 years in our community.  I’ve been asked to speak by members of your municipality and I’m hoping my remarks will be helpful. I want to begin by describing the issue of odour that our community experienced.  People have been unable to enjoy their properties or care for their yards because of the smell.  Some of them had even confined themselves to their homes.  Others had disconnected fresh air intakes on air conditioning units to attempt to minimize the odor.  People without air conditioning and