Friday, 22 February 2013

The Green Party of Manitoba Calls for a Moratorium on Mining in Provincial Parks

GRANDVIEW:  The Green Party of Manitoba condemns the NDP government for allowing the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting company to start construction of a mine in Grass River Provincial Park without approval or public consultation. “If allowed to proceed, the Reed Lake Mine will destroy the woodland Caribou herd which the Park was intended to protect,” says Kate Storey, Green Party councillor and former researcher of the Reed Lake woodland caribou herd.

Kate uses radio telemetry to track movements 
of woodland caribou at  Reed Lake

Grass River Provincial Park is a small park surrounding Reed Lake. This park is a rare area of ideal woodland caribou habitat. Woodland caribou depend on the islands of Reed Lake for protection of their young calves from wolves. Every spring the caribou mothers leave their wintering grounds in old growth forest and swim out to the many islands on Reed Lake where their calves are born in safety.

Kate examines a caribou calf. 

Editorial: Unmuzzle Our Scientists

Edmonton Journal
A bid by Ottawa to impose sweeping confidentiality rules on an Arctic science project is the latest in a disturbing trend that suggests federal environmental scientists are being systematically silenced from communicating their findings to the public. Details here.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Record Area of Biotech Crops Used in 2012 - Report


U.S. farmers still lead world in planting GMO crops. Details here.

PLT: Unelected agrifood giants like Bayer and Monsanto continue to throw their weight around, dictating the shape of our world food system, while yellow-bellied, elected "lawmakers" sit back and say nothing. They are no better than those who hunker down while the school yard bully beats up on little kids. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The War on Weeds

The Dominion - News From the Grassroots
Canada Goldenrod - a favourite food plant for pollinators - one of the 
hundreds of "weeds" on Manitoba's hitlist for eradication. PLT photo
Manitoba farmers grapple with impacts and legality of municipal herbicide use. Full story here.

Climate Change and the CNR.

Are the two already on a collision course, with Canadian train travellers caught in the middle?

by Larry Powell 

Uneventful? Forgettable?

Our Via Rail trip from Winnipeg to Toronto this week, would hardly fall into either of those categories.

First, as we waited to board, our train, The Canadian, was over two hours late arriving at the Winnipeg station from the west. 

Larry on a less "eventful" ride to 
Toronto a few years ago. PLT photo.
Some of the passengers who got off there made mention of white-out conditions before their arrival. But others seemed to think the delay was mainly due to the number of freight trains they had to yield to by pulling over and stopping on sidings along the way. The CNR owns the rail line so their freights always have the right-of-way over trains carrying passengers. This has been the case for many years, so that part has not changed. What seems to be changing is the frequency and duration of those stops. For example, passengers who used to spend a single night on the Winnipeg-Toronto train a few years ago, now spend two. 

After finally boarding after midnight to begin our journey, Rowena and I encountered more delays than we recalled having experienced on any of our several, previous trips. That night, in the middle of the night, our train sat motionless for no less than three hours somewhere in Northern Ontario. The next morning, a Via Rail staffer explained, we had to wait because a CN freight had broken down ahead of us and had to be repaired. As if that wasn't enough, relentless snowfall along the way and the resulting buildup of slush and ice, had played havoc with the switches, complicating the job of entering and exiting the sidings. 
The view from the rear window. PLT photo.
While all of this has been happening, CN freight traffic is said to be expanding rapidly. This means longer, slower trains and undoubtedly growing frustration between Via, a crown corporation, and the CNR, a now-private, shareholder-owned corporation. Apparently, Via trains such as The Canadian, can generally go faster than the freights, too. This means further delays when they get stuck behind the slower-moving freights. 

But our Toronto-bound train wasn't the only one to face delays this week. The west-bound Canadian was a whopping 18 hours late leaving Winnipeg because of another disabled freight train on the main line!

By the time our own train arrived in Toronto, it was about eight hours behind-schedule. 

The snowfall that seemed so persistent during our long journey and the mounds that had already accumulated on the roof-tops and roadways of the rail-side communities, left some passengers bewildered. One woman from Florida wondered if the deep snow might be piling up against doors, preventing the residents from getting out. 

Her companion remained cheerful, but painfully conscious of the long trip. He remarked with a smile, "I can't remember when I wasn't on this train!"

All this begs the question, could climate change and the CNR be converging on a "collision course" which might catch rail passengers in the middle?

In some way, we may have already reached that point. Mercifully, the troubles described here don't seem to be going beyond what might be called inconveniences, so far. Nor do they seem to have dampened the enthusiasm - even affection - which many passengers still feel for this amazingly civilized mode of travel. 
Chinese bullet trains are capable of travelling 350 kmh. Do you suppose they share the right-of-way with freights?

So, do we need to fuss, fret or worry about getting on a train in Canada right now? Probably not.

Should we be concerned about where all this is going?


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Going Green, Making Green (Video)

CBC TV - The National 
Duncan McCue looks at the booming business of renewable energy in the United States, in spite of its reputation for an addiction to cheap energy. Watch the video here.

PLT: Obama puts Harper to shame by recognizing climate change for what it is and doing something about it. Harper has been criminally negligent on this file and ought to be brought up on charges.

India's Rice (Potato and Wheat) Revolution

John Vidal - The Guardian
Organic Canadian potatoes. PLT photo
In a village in India's poorest state, Bihar, farmers are growing world record amounts of rice, potatoes and wheat with no GM, and no herbicide. Is this one solution to world food shortages? Details here.

PLT: These breakthroughs need to be shouted from the rooftops. Do North American farmers even know about this? Here in my home province of Manitoba, Canada, commercial potato-growers spray their crops up to 5 times a season with potent fungicides. How healthy is that? Excellent story, John!

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

by Larry Powell No one would argue that Covid 19 demands our undivided attention. Surely,  defeating this "beast" has to be &...