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A new study finds - wolf culls - aimed at protecting endangered caribou in western Canada - simply don't work.

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by Larry Powell Photo by Vicious Bits, Creative Commons. New research by a team of Canadian biologists,  seems to support critics who've long argued that wolves are being sacrificed unnecessarily in efforts to save iconic mountain caribou in British Columbia and Alberta from possible extinction. Since the 80s, authorities in the two provinces have been conducting "culls" which have probably killed thousands of wolves since. Culls involve either shooting the animals from helicopters, poisoning them or, in at least one case - an eight-year campaign of sterilization. The iconic caribou. A Wikimedia photo. Yet caribou populations all over Canada, continue to plummet. Thanks to  declines in all sub-species, they're now classified, nationwide as either threatened or endangered. Some of the steepest reductions have occurred in mountainous regions in the two westernmost provinces. A few years ago, they were declared extinct south of the bor

Assessing the dwindling wilderness of Antarctica

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Nature Antarctica. Aerial photo by Astro_Alex. Less than 32% of Antarctica is made up of areas that are free from human interference, and these areas are declining as human activity increases, reports a paper published in Nature. The study finds that although 99.6% of the continent can be considered to be wilderness (a relatively undisturbed environment), this area does not include much of its biodiversity. Despite Antarctica’s isolation, the continent is under increasing pressure from human activity, including scientific research, the development of infrastructure and tourism. However, the total area of wilderness on the continent is unknown, as is the extent to which Antarctica’s biodiversity is contained within this. Four killer whales cooperatively hunting a crabeater  seal off the coast of Antarctica. Photo by Callan Carpenter,  taken from one of many research vessels in the area.  Steven Chown and colleagues assembled a record of ground-based human activ

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

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by Larry Powell No one would argue that Covid 19 demands our undivided attention. Surely,  defeating this "beast" has to be "Priority One." But, once it ends, and it will, here’s another key question that needs answering. Are we flirting with more such tragedies down the road if we do not soon end our love affair with an industrial, factory-style model of meat production?  Six years ago, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, a Canadian, Dr. Margaret Chan (above), delivered this positively prophetic message to an Asian investment conference.  “The industrialization of food production is an especially worrisome trend.  Confined animal feeding operations are not farms any more. They are protein factories with multiple hazards for health and the environment."                                         Photo credit -  Mercy for Animals, Manitob a "These hazards come from the crowding of large numbers of animals in ver

Does your place of residence make you immune from climate calamity? I think not! (Opinion)

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by Larry Powell UPDATE...The Rivers dam mentioned in this story has now been declared by government engineers to be safe. I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard one of my fellow "prairie dogs" remark, how "lucky" or how "blessed" we are to be spared the kind of brutal weather that may be pummelling another part of the country or the world at the time. Occasionally, I'll try to remind them, we've already experienced disastrous conditions in our own "neck of the woods" (the eastern prairies) in recent years. They seem either unaware of what I say, or believe they're nothing worse than we've ever had.  So are they or aren't they?  The examples I list below (starting last fall up to the present) are extreme weather events which have broken records or are unprecedented in the human record.  They come, not from this writer's brain, but from Environment Canada, the body of record on such matters. (Emphases m

Climate change: Likelihood of UK temperatures exceeding 40°C increasing

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Nature Communications A public domain photo. Temperatures exceeding 40°C may be reached somewhere in the UK every 3.5 to 15 years by 2100 under continued greenhouse gas emissions, suggests a modelling study in Nature Communications. The paper reports that anthropogenic emissions are increasing the likelihood of extremely warm days in the UK (particularly in the southeast), with temperatures becoming more likely to exceed 30, 35 and 40°C by the end of the century in different parts of the country.

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.

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by Larry Powell Narwhals are cetaceans, a family of marine mammals which includes whales and dolphins. Most are found in Canada's Baffin Bay and Davis Strait, in the high Arctic and Atlantic Arctic. Others live off Greenland, Norway and Russia. Many spend several months over winter, beneath the ice-pack, feeding on fish, squid and shrimp and their summers in more open water. It's believed they're capable of diving as deep as 15 hundred meters and holding their breath for an astonishing 25 minutes!  A pod "breaches" through an opening in the sea-ice.  A US Fish &  Wildlife Service photo.   They can weigh up to two thousand kilograms and reach a length of about five meters. They're much larger than some dolphin species, but tiny compared to the mighty blue whale. Many migrate along the ice's edge some 17 hundred kilometres from Canada to Russia. The males grow long, spiral tusks - actually overgrown teeth - that can protrude up t

The South Pole feels the heat

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Nature Climate Change Mt. Herschel, Antarctica. Photo by Andrew Mandemaker. The South Pole has warmed at over three times the global rate since 1989, according to a paper just published in Nature Climate Change. This warming period was mainly driven by natural tropical climate variability and was likely intensified by increases in greenhouse gas, the study suggests. The Antarctic climate exhibits some of the largest regional temperature trends on the planet. Most of West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula experienced warming and ice-sheet thinning during the late twentieth century, and this has continued to the present day. By contrast, the South Pole — located in the remote and high-altitude continental interior — cooled until the 1980s and has since warmed substantially. These trends are affected by natural and anthropogenic climate change, but the individual contribution of each factor is not well understood. Kyle Clem and colleagues analysed weather station data,