Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Science Media Centre of Canada (SMCC) condemns Alberta's efforts to discredit climate journalists.

 S M C C

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. Runs a "war room" at taxpayers expense which
spreads false information about environmental groups.

Alberta Inquiry Paid $28K for a Report Smearing Hundreds of Climate Journalists

The Science Media Centre of Canada (SMCC) condemns all attempts by governments and third-party agencies to discredit the work journalists undertake to cover climate change in Canada. 

Numerous journalistic bodies — including the Society of Environmental Journalists — are smeared in a new Government of Alberta-bankrolled report.

It's called,  "A New Global Paradigm: Understanding the Transnational Progressive Movement, the Energy Transition and the Great Transformation Strangling Alberta’s Petroleum Industry." 

This report was produced as part of the provincial government’s $3.5 million inquiry into international opposition to Alberta’s oilsands.

The report argues that journalists are part of a “disturbing” movement to “coordinate and effectively distribute propagandized climate change issues in their reporting.” According to Vice News, the report’s author was paid $28,000 by the Alberta government. 

The report was written by energy researcher Tammy Nemeth who. according to the CBC, is currently a home-school teacher in England.

The SMCC rejects this conspiratorial mischaracterization of the work undertaken by Canadian climate journalists. 

The report criticizes Canadian outlets including Maclean’s, TVO, and the Toronto Star for covering climate change issues. Similarly, CBC, The Globe and Mail and The National Post are criticized for reprinting stories about climate change from wire services. As an issue of considerable public interest, the SMCC encourages Canadian media outlets to continue covering climate change. 

Thank you.

- Jim Handman, Executive Director

Despite long-standing and widespread warnings of the dangers, hog producers on the Canadian prairies were still feeding more antibiotics to their pigs in 2018 than they did the year before. (Latest figures available.)

by Larry Powell

(Updated - Mar. 5th, 2021)

A Canadian Pork Council photo.

In 2019, an elite panel of experts - The Council of Canadian Academies -  confirmed that thousands of Canadians were already dying each year of "antimicrobial resistance (AMR)." And, with that resistance still growing, up to 400 thousand will likely die of it by mid-century. It calls the problem, “a serious existential threat.” 

And, if anyone needs more convincing, here's how Canada's own Chief Public Health Officer puts it. 

"Left unchecked, there's risk of losing these medications as an essential life-saving treatment. It's estimated that antibiotic-resistant infections could cause 10 million deaths a year, globally by 2050. This is more than the current annual worldwide deaths from cancer."

AMR happens when too many antibiotics are given (when they're not needed), not only to people, but mostly to livestock (domestic animals raised for food), like cattle, pigs and poultry. (Almost 80% of antibiotics in Canada are used by the livestock sector.) 

Producers use them, not only to fight disease in their herds and flocks, but to prevent disease and even promote growth (make their animals grow faster). (See chart, below.)

This has led to the development of "superbugs," in people who eat, not just the contaminated pork, but beef, poultry and eggs, as well. These are bacteria which have grown resistant or downright immune to the drugs which were once effective in treating them.

If more action isn't taken, it appears, the end result will be chilling. Health authorities predict, many human illnesses, including pneumonia, tuberculosis and syphilis, could become incurable.

A report released recently, is revealing.

In its latest 2018 annual report, the federal surveillance group, *CIPARS, states;  total quantities of antibiotics distributed for sale in Canadian livestock, increased about five percent over the previous year. 

Yet total usage across the country, actually went down. (This is apparently due to a lag time between distribution and use.)

The green line shows antibiotics fed to hogs on the Prairies.
(All charts & graphs by CIPARS.)

In Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, however, it was a different story. While inoculating less, producers fed more of these drugs to their herds in 2018 than the year before. 

Over that same period, producers in Ontario and Quebec, by contrast, actually fed"significantly less." 

It's not just how much - but what kind that matters, too!

Producers across the country, administered nineteen different antibiotics, considered important in the treatment of human infections, to their herds in 2018. 

Among the most concerning seems to be ceftiofur. (See graph, below.) It's only used to treat animals, not humans. But, it's feared it could still pass resistance on to another very similar drug in the same class which is a human medication. For that reason, it falls into the category of "very high importance" for treating serious human infections. Few, if any alternatives to this class of drugs are available if they don't work. 

The pink line is ceptiofur. After its usage declined sharply in 2017,
it was trending upward again.

Hog producers across the country (see chart, below), were still using antimicrobials more to prevent disease and promote growth than for actual treatment.
These practises run counter to pleas from groups including the World Health Organization. Sixteen years ago, the WHO saw the need to warn the world about the "human health consequences" of AMR. And it  issued guidelines on how to reduce unnecessary use.

Since then, some rules have been put in place in Canada. Since December of 2018, it has been illegal to give medically-important drugs to livestock without a prescription from a vet. Failing to do so would be an infraction under the Food and Drug Act. It's not believed there have been any prosecutions, so far. And it's too early to say whether the new rules have led to a reduction in use.

And the industry group representing hog producers nationally, the Canadian Pork Council, "strictly prohibits" its members from using drugs of highest importance in human medications, just to prevent disease or to promote growth. 

Has the poultry sector set an example for others?

In 2014, Canada's poultry growers actually stopped giving drugs classified as being "very highly important" in human medicine, to their flocks. And, according to CIPARS, "This appears to reduce antimicrobial resistance in most scenarios." But the initiative was taken voluntarily by the poultry sector and does not apply to hogs.

CIPARS expects it'll be releasing its 2019 report soon. It also promises to streamline its operations in order to release its findings in a more timely manner.

*What is CIPARS? 

By legislation, the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance keeps track of trends in antibiotic usage and the degree to which resistances are developing. Run by the Public Health Agency of Canada, it also works to make sure that these medications, many critical to the health of both animals and humans, are preserved. It is independent of Health Canada.

Below is an email I sent to the group representing the hog industry in this province, asking for their input into my story. They have not responded.  l.p.


  • Larry Powell <>
    Wed., Jan. 6 at 7:36 p.m.
    Dear Manitoba Pork,

    I'm attaching a story now published on my blog. I would invite your input. 
    • Why did antibiotic use in your industry increase in the time span mentioned?
    • What has happened with such usage in your industry since 2018?
    • Do you accept the concerns of medical experts over antibiotic use in livestock?
    Thank you.

    Please visit: Planet in Peril - where science gets respect. 


In Hogs we Trust - Part 1

Will the de-regulation of Manitoba's hog industry contribute to a world health crisis?

Oceanic sharks and rays have declined by over 70%


"Great Hammerhead Shark Swimming" by Skylar L. Primm

The number of oceanic sharks and rays worldwide has fallen by 71% since 1970. A study in Nature this week finds that more than three-quarters of these oceanic species are now threatened with extinction.

The risk of extinction to marine species is primarily caused by overfishing, but it has been difficult to measure the decline of individual species. Although reductions in oceanic and coastal shark and ray populations in different regions of the world have previously been documented, a global analysis has not been available.

The Whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus).Photo by Jan Derk

The authors attribute this decline to an 18-fold increase in relative fishing pressure — a measure of the proportion of sharks and rays caught relative to their global population — over the period. They argue that immediate action is needed to prevent collapses in populations. Specifically, they call on governments to implement catch limits to help promote species recovery.Nathan Pacoureau and colleagues estimated the relative abundance of 18 oceanic species of sharks and rays from 1970 to 2018 and assessed the risk of extinction for all 31 oceanic shark and ray species. The authors found that, globally, the abundance of oceanic sharks and rays declined by 71.1% from 1970 to 2018. Of the 31 oceanic species, 24 are now threatened with extinction, and 3 shark species (the oceanic whitetip shark, and the scalloped and great hammerhead sharks) have declined so sharply that they are now classified as critically endangered — the highest threatened category in a list that is produced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


Recent research shows: More rare, endangered sharks are dying in the worldwide trade in shark fins than earlier feared.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Greener northern landscapes under climate change no help to endangered caribou

Proceedings of the Royal Society

The Woodland Caribou. Photo by Steve Forrest.

Globally, climate change and habitat loss are increasing “global greening.” While these changes benefit some species, animals such as woodland caribou may suffer in a greener world. We studied links between habitat alteration (e.g. forest cutting), primary productivity, moose, wolves and caribou across part of the Canadian Boreal forest. By studying all these components simultaneously, we found that habitat alteration led to more productivity, which in turn produced more moose and wolves, and precipitated caribou declines. Species like caribou, which are adapted to low productivity environments, however, are not expected to do well in a greener world.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Climate change will alter the position of the Earth's tropical rain belt. Researchers.


Pixabay Public Domain

Future climate change will cause a regionally uneven shifting of the tropical rain belt—a narrow band of heavy precipitation near the equator. This development may threaten food security for billions of people. 

Story here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Part of the Solution? Or part of the Problem? The Government of Manitoba fails in its sacred duty to protect our precious waterways

 by John Fefchak - PinP guest-writer.

Lake Winnipeg, clogged with toxic algae. Nutrients from human and animal waste (including large commercial hog operations) pollute the tenth largest freshwater lake in the world.

More than twenty years ago, I, along with many others, became aware of how Lake Winnipeg and other Manitoba waters were becoming polluted. Our government was ignoring the dire situation; and pressing on with the expansion of Intensive livestock (hog) Operations (ILO's).  Our concerns over the massive amounts of manure being created, were ignored. Despite evidence being presented in the media, including a major TV documentary, "Choking Lake Winnipeg," we were called fear-mongers. 

Still, we didn't give up.

Eventually, there was a glimmer of hope. In 2007, Manitoba's Clean Environment Commission released a ground-breaking report, recognizing a problem with the environmental sustainability of hog production.  

The Lake Winnipeg Act was established and stringent regulations were enacted. Progress to help save Lake Winnipeg seemed achievable. The potential was inspiring.

However, over time, governments change. And the positive steps taken then became a "hindrance." So they were trashed. "The Red Tape Reduction and Government Efficiency Act" was introduced - a process to allow the wheels to be "greased," so that many more factory hog barns could be built. (And they are.)

A decades-old map showing hog-barn locations in Manitoba. How many are enough?

So often we hear the outcry for economic development and associated employment, but there are no concerns expressed for environment and our water sources.  

Overwhelming scientific evidence proves our present economic system is rapidly destroying our planet's ability to sustain life. 

Yet, too many of our politicians turn away from science to favour of the same systems of development that have brought us to the brink of this cataclysmic situation. If we forge ahead in total selective ignorance, then we're guilty in the destruction of Earth's life-sustaining gifts. 

For without water,....there is no economy.....without water...there is nothing!

So, as I re-watch the ten-year-old documentary, I have concluded that the waters of Lake Winnipeg are more polluted than before, and one of the main reasons, is government who, instead of being part of the solution, has sadly become a huge part of the problem. 


Monday, January 11, 2021

The number of people suffering extreme droughts will double. Study.

Phys Org

Drought leaves dead and dying livestock in northern Kenya.
Photo by Oxfam Intl.

By the late 21st century, global land area and population facing extreme droughts could more than double—increasing from 3% during 1976-2005 to 7%-8%. Story here.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Ice arches holding back Arctic's ‘Last Ice Area’ might soon let go, research shows.

University of Toronto 

The vast Milne Ice Shelf, a small part of the Last Ice Area, broke up this summer.
Photo credit: Joseph Mascaro, Planet Labs Inc.

The Last Ice Area may be in more peril than people thought. In a recent paper published in the journal Nature Communications, a Canadian research team describes how this multi-year ice is at risk not just of melting in place, but of floating southward into warmer regions. This would create an “ice deficit” and hasten the disappearance of the Last Ice Area. Details here.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Alaska oil bid alarms scientists

Science Magazine

Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - Canning River/ by Jan Reurink. 
View map here.

Mapping plan for Arctic refuge ignores risks, critics say. Story here.

The Arctic may be sea-ice-free in summer by the 2030s

  Nature Communications                                                 Photo by Patrick Kelley   The Arctic could be sea-ice-free during th...