Tuesday, June 6, 2023

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 the month of September as early as the 2030s even under a low emissions scenario — about one decade earlier than previously projected — suggests a study published in Nature Communications

Thursday, May 18, 2023

United in Science: We are heading in the wrong direction

Geneva, 13 September 2022 (WMO) - Climate science is clear: we are heading in the wrong direction, according to a new multi-agency report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which highlights the huge gap between aspirations and reality. DETAILS HERE.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Substance or showmanship? What's the key to success at the polls? According to the "At Issue" panel - the answer might surprise you! (Letter)

Dear Editor,

And here I thought there were things governments could do to make our planet safer from the ravages of manmade climate change - offer subsidies to those who give us cleaner energy alternatives, or regulations to those who pollute. 

Then, those of us who want to save our earthly home from climate catastrophe, can simply vote for the Party that seems most likely to do these things.

The “At Issue" panel on CBC TV reminded me just how wrong I was, when they recently discussed the topic of Alberta, now facing epic wildfires amidst an election campaign.

The guest panelist from Alberta thought “Danielle,” (Premier Danielle Smith) was “generally acting as a Premier” in the face of the crisis. (I wonder if she knows him as “Jason?”) The other panelists generally thought the way the Premier was handling things would probably be seen as "a plus,” too.

Never mind that, it wasn't that long ago that Smith considered the science of climate change, “unsettled,” or now describes the federal program to transition away from fossil fuels, “an existential threat.” 

Neither does it apparently matter that, when Premier herself, Rachel Notley moved to phase out coal and place a cap on oil sands emissions.

I believe this panel, which mostly offers intelligent insight into world affairs, missed the mark this time.

They also insulted Alberta voters by suggesting they'll be basing their votes - not on solid, science-based policies which will make or break a successful, long-term counter-offensive against these"Hellfires" - but rather on a death-bed display of “showmanship” in the final days of a campaign.

Larry Powell


Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Crab populations are crashing. Could losing their sense of smell be one of the important reasons why?

University of Toronto

Thayne Tuason took this shot at

Ocean Shores WA in 2020. He labelled it, "dungeness crab die off..."  and commented, "Some people might contend they were just "molting", but these crabs looked mostly dead to me and not just a bunch of empty shells as would have been the case if it was them naturally shedding their exoskeleton.

    A new U of T Scarborough study finds that climate change is causing a commercially significant marine crab to lose its sense of smell, which could partially explain why their populations are thinning.
Story here.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Thursday, April 13, 2023

No room for error on water

Letters - Winnipeg Free Press

I wish to add to the comment made by Karen Lalonde (“Project a risk to aquifers,” Letters, Feb. 28) that “there are other companies in Manitoba producing silica sand but not going through aquifers to attain it.” While this is true, this statement implies that drinking water is not affected by traditional silica sand mining methods.

In the case of the Wanipigow Sand Mine, Canadian Premium Sand will use massive amounts of groundwater to wash their sand before exporting it. That groundwater presently drains to Lake Winnipeg, the Manigotogan and the Wanipigow rivers via fish-bearing creeks and underground springs. Four communities obtain their drinking water from the Wanipigow and Manigotogan rivers, and many cottagers along Lake Winnipeg use wells. In fact, the whole ecosystem well past the mine’s boundaries will likely be affected.

A mine can’t take millions of gallons of water out of a watershed without affecting life.

Four years after Canadian Premium Sand received its licence, the public has yet to see the hydrogeological report that would confirm the effects of this project on the ecosystem, the wells and the water people drink. Why hasn’t the government demanded clear, transparent reporting to the citizens most affected?

Let us agree on one thing — the problem is a shoddy environmental-review process and enforcement of the 98 conditions attached to the Wanipigow Sand Licence issued four years ago. This government is failing to protect the water of all of its citizens.

We agree: there is no room for error when it comes to water. The invasive process being proposed for the Sio Silica mine threatens drinking water on a massive scale. Camp Morning Star stands with citizens opposing the Sio Silica Mine. We all deserve thorough research and answers regarding these projects before they license the processing plants. Show us the science! Water is life!

M.J. McCarron

Camp Morning Star


Friday, March 31, 2023

Toward the Creation of a Canada Water Agency

Executive summary

Bighorn Country, Alberta Eastern Slopes 
Photo by Aerin Jacob

The Prime Minister has directed the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, with the support of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Special Representative for the Prairies to create a new Canada Water Agency (CWA) to work together with the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities, local authorities, scientists and others to find the best ways to keep our water safe, clean and well-managed.

The Prime Minister also directed the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada to “develop further protections and take active steps to clean up the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, Lake Simcoe and other large lakes.”

These two commitments are being addressed in an integrated manner. To support this effort, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) released a public discussion paper in December 2020: “Toward the Creation of a Canada Water Agency”.

The paper acknowledges that freshwater management is a shared responsibility between Canada’s federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous governments. In creating the CWA, the Government of Canada has committed to ensuring that each jurisdiction is respected, and that overlap, and duplication is avoided.

ECCC invited Canadians to provide their thoughts and ideas via participation in national and regional forums, an online survey or written submissions.

Input was received from individuals, municipal government representatives, non-government organizations, industry representatives, academia and Indigenous peoples.

Read the full report here.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Monday, March 20, 2023

Devastating Impacts, Affordable Climate Solutions Drive IPCC’s Urgent Call for Action

 The Energy Mix

Sahtu region, western NWT - Photo by Jean Polfus 

A stark choice between climate stability and global devastation is the constant drumbeat from a landmark report released today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Details here.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Stunning satellite photos reveal - often harmful blooms of phytoplankton have not only been expanding - but intensifying significantly in the world’s coastal waters this century.

Canada is not immune.

by Larry Powell

Intensifying phytoplankton blooms off 

the coasts of BC and Washington State, 2006.

Credit: Lian Feng

After pouring over almost 800 thousand NASA satellite images taken over almost two decades, a team of Chinese researchers has generated a map which paints perhaps the clearest picture yet of the extent of these blooms - organisms that can be agents of either good or ill. 

Their findings have just been published in the journal, Nature.

Dr. Lian Feng of the Southern University of Science in Shenzhen, China and colleagues discovered, phytoplankton were affecting 8.6% of the entire global ocean area in 2020 -  a stunning expanse of 31.47 million km2. That was an increase of 13.2%, or 3.97 million km2 from 2003.

They found algal blooms in 126 out of the 153 coastal countries examined. Globally, both the size and frequency of blooms increased significantly over the study period,

Phytoplankton are families of microscopic algae. Their blooms heave been accumulating in the surface layers of both marine and freshwater ecosystems of the planet for a long time. They include (but are not limited to) the well-known cyanobacteria, often called “blue-green algae” which have also severely clogged freshwater systems such as Lake Erie and Lake Winnipeg for years.

To quote the report, “Many algal blooms are beneficial, fixing carbon at the base of the food chain and supporting fisheries and ecosystems worldwide. However, proliferations of algae that cause harm have become a major environmental problem worldwide. For instance, the toxins produced by some algal species can accumulate in the food web, causing closures of fisheries as well as illness or mortality of marine species and humans. In other cases, the decay of a dense algal bloom can deplete oxygen in bottom waters, forming anoxic ‘dead zones’ that can cause fish and invertebrate die-offs…with serious consequences for the well-being of coastal communities." 

Unfortunately, algal bloom frequency and distribution are projected to increase with future climate change…causing adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems, fisheries and coastal resources.

The team also found that increases in sea surface temperature - due to manmade climate change - can “significantly and positively stimulate bloom occurrence.”

Intensifying phytoplankton blooms off 

the Alaskan coast.

Credit: Lian Feng

In an email, Dr. Feng tells PinP,“Blooms were also found in the Alaska Current system, stimulated by the increase in sea surface temperature over the past two decades.” That system includes the waters around Haida Gwaii, also in BC coastal waters, to the north of Vancouver Island. 

The researchers hope their findings “can aid the development of strategies to minimize the occurrence or consequences of harmful blooms.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Almost two out of every three shark or ray species living in coral reefs are at risk of disappearing from the world forever

 by Larry Powell

Bull sharks in Fiji.
This widely-distributed species is among the most at risk of extinction.

The alarming study has just been published in Nature Communiciations.    

It finds, except for marine mammals, these coral sharks and rays are more likely to go extinct than any other wildlife group in the world.

The usual culprits behind this tragic state of affairs have, once again been found to be; overfishing, habitat loss and climate change.

Bluespotted lagoon ray. Photos by Colin Simpfendorfer.
There is a glimmer of hope amid the findings. The ray (above) is the only coral reef shark or ray with an increasing population trend.

Thursday, January 12, 2023


by Larry Powell

The Yangtze finless porpoise feeds in Poyang Lake, where sand is heavily mined. 
Photo by Huigong Yu.

A long-term assessment of theYangtze finless porpoise in a heavily mined lake in China, has made some disturbing discoveries.

Sand mining boats, similar to those in Poyang Lake.
Photo by Zhigang Mei.

In only a decade, the mining has significantly restricted the porpoise’s habitat, compromised its population connectivity, and destroyed its nearshore habitats.

The researchers hope their findings will promote government accountability and raise general awareness of the plight of the animal.

Two porpoises leap from the water.
Photo by Huigong Yu.

Sand has for some time been second only to water as the planet's most heavily extracted resource, with huge implications for habitat and biodiversity health.

The findings of the research team from the Chinese Academy of Science are now published in the proceedings of the Royal Society. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Loss of pollinators causing more than 400,000 early deaths a year: study

CTV News

A recent study says pollination loss may be leading to hundreds of thousands of excess deaths worldwide as supplies of healthy food become less plentiful. More 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...