Showing posts from December, 2011

Christmas Day Boxing Day Shopping Blowout Consumerism Run Amok

By B. McPherson Coca Cola Santa Helps Sell Goods at Christmas
Did you do your fair share of shopping this holiday season? Did you line up for bargains on Black Friday or rush to get the Boxing Day specials? Did you even line up on Christmas night so that you might be through the doors of the local electronic shop when it opened on the 26th? Well, merry Christmas.
The shopping frenzies that have been shown on the TV this season border on the obscene. Pepper spray, stabbings, pushing and shoving so that the latest or cheapest can be grabbed and hauled home to add to the rest of the electronic junk cluttering homes.
Stop this madness. Think about the reason for the holy day. Are you lemmings that you must run to spend money you might not have to drag home electronic toys that are obsolete a month after the wrappings come off? It’s not just electronic goods that people have dragged home during the past month – clothing, appliances, great quantities of alcohol, and massive amounts of “chr…

Doomsday Virus Created by Scientists

By B. McPherson

Have scientists in Wisconsin and the Netherlands created a path to a doomsday virus? Investigations into the genetic makeup of the Bird Flu virus H5N1 have led to the announcement that the creation of a more transferrable virus is possible. Until now, the H5N1 avian flu virus rarely infects humans. When it does infect humans, it kills 60% of those it infects. Other symptoms that the virus prompts are acute respiratory distress, pneumonia, organ failure and sepsis(blood poisoning).
The research, sponsored by the US government, is about to be published in respected journals. Now the government is asking that some of the details of the work be censored. Security people are waking up to the very real possibility that a more transmissible form of the bird flu could be a bioterrorism tool.
Gene sequencers are for sale to individuals. LabX is just one such site on the Net. There is a new phenomenon among young, go ahead biologists with interest in genetics to set up what are …

Vancouver Island Roosevelt Elk Evicted from Winter Home

By B. McPherson
Weep for this small group of Roosevelt Elk. They will probably be dead by spring. They’ve come down from the Island Range of mountains to winter in the Douglas Fir lowlands. Big surprise for them this year – the local First Nation group has been given permission to log the endangered fir trees. They no longer have a winter home.
The Province of British Columbia touts its “Supernatural BC” on its car license plates. It is a beautiful province but like any delicate treasure it needs to be treated gently. The Nanoose Bay forest is being logged on Vancouver Island. The land is crown land, that is publicly owned, yet desperate pleas and court cases have failed to dissuade the provincial government and the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation from logging a forest that holds endangered old growth Douglas Fir trees as well as red listed(critically endangered) plants and animals.
For more details on this rare jewel that is being killed off along with the organisms that depend on its shelt…

One Step Closer to Food Security

By B. McPherson

Food security is on the minds of more and more people these days. Whether it is the desire to eliminate GMOs, pesticides and antibiotic resistant bacteria  in our food or simply to ensure that there will be sufficient, nutritious food available when we need it.
I am gradually moving closer to that goal of food security. When I retired I started my kitchen garden. It’s quite a lot of work during growing season, but Nature is generous and most of the summer vegetables and some of the winter ones are grown there. The soil that I purchased was poor and gradually my husband and I are improving the nutrients and texture of it. Judicious applications of well rotted horse manure help the process along.
The next step is establishing a secure source of meat. I am not choosing to go vegetarian but am very choosey about where my dead animals for the table come from. Chickens meet the criteria beautifully. They are small enough to be easily handled, good to look at, and if one deci…

Yellowstone Grizzlies Will Continue Federal Protection

By B. McPherson

Yellowstone Park Grizzlies will continue their federal protection. There had been a move to remove them from the endangered list within the park, but evidence of a diminishing food supply due to climate change has them keeping their protected status. Like wolves in the park, grizzlies are an essential part of maintaining a natural balance.
Climate warming is being blamed for the widespread destruction of pine forests that provide the grizzly bears with what was an abundant supply of highly nutritious seeds. The pine forests are being attacked and killed by the mountain pine beetle. The insect burrows into the trees and introduces a fungus which eventually kills the trees. The beetles’ numbers have exploded in the past 20 years due to a series of milder winters. Previously a quick hard freeze killed enough of the marauders to keep their numbers in check.
While the megafauna receive the most attention, smaller animals are being affected by the warming trend as well. Rock…

Earthwatch Volunteers Spot Rare Madagascar Creature

By B. McPherson

                                         Illegally Harvested Rosewood Threatens Forest

A volunteer working under the guidance of Dr. Luke Dollar(Duke University) whose work is bringing attention to rare carnivores on the island of Madagascar has scored a major victory. A sharp eyed volunteer worker spotted the elusive and rare western falnaouc (Eupleres goudoti major) and managed to snap a photo of the little critter. This is the first time that an image of the falanouc has been captured in the wild. These little creatures are about the size of a large house cat and eat mostly worms and insects. They are classified as endangered due to competition with humans, dogs and habitat destruction.
Earthwatch is a non profit organization that arranges for people to volunteer to work with scientists in the field. They pay their own way, but are able to work on real field science and often are able to interact with local populations. Dr. Dollar was a student volunteer when he firs…

Northern Gateway Pipeline Exposes Split in Aboriginal Solidarity

By B. McPherson

With the suspension of work on the Keystone Pipeline through the continental United States, eyes have turned to the Enbridge project that would transport bitumen from Alberta to the British Columbia coast. The pipeline, dubbed the Northern Gateway Project would route through the Great Bear Rainforest and terminate at the town of Kitimat. Tankers would have to navigate a challenging fiord to pick up their cargos.
At a press conference yesterday Jackie Thomas, an aboriginal leader, joined others in opposing the $5.5 billion project that would see twin pipelines moving oil sand product to Asian markets. Paul Stanway, speaking on behalf of Enbridge, challenged the unanimity of the opposition, claiming that some groups were already in negotiations with the company.
Today the Hereditary Chief Elmer Derrick, speaking for the Gitxan announced their agreement with Enbridge, becoming partners in the enterprise. It is expected that the Gitxan will net at least $7 million for thei…

Blood Coltan Fuels Butchery in the Congo

By B. McPherson

Is that blood on your ear? Is blood oozing from the coltan that helps power your phone, your computer and a myriad of other electronic goods that make life in N. America so enjoyable?
Coltan is the commercial name for the ores columbite and tantalite which, when refined, is used in electronic capacitors. Australia, Brazil and Canada are some of the leading producers of this new “gold”, but 80% of the world’s supply comes from sub-Saharan Africa. At one point this most useful substance was fetching $1000 per kilo. It has fueled a mineral rush in the eastern Congo (DRC).
There were far reaching effects of the discovery of this mineral. Firstly, the miners rushed to exploit possible deposits, with no regard to the environmental consequences. Virunga Park has fallen victim to the freelance digging. Accompanying the ruin by mining is the poaching of large mammals for bush meat, including the critically endangered mountain gorilla. The DRC has the second largest rain forest…