Showing posts from 2012

Eat Bacon? Read This

B. McPherson
I received the following from Take the time to have a look at it. Think about the plight of these animals before you order bacon in your BLT or those baby back ribs. Pigs are intelligent animals. If you would not treat your dog this way don't support a meat industry that treats pigs this way.
If the cruelty angle isn't enough to put you off industrially produced pork, there is growing evidence that Salmonella and MRSA bacteria are becoming common in meat produced this way.

I could only watch as she lay kicking and blinking, conscious and suffering, for minutes before she finally died.Pig number 46257's death was no less cruel than her life living in a filthy, metal gestation crate not much larger than her body. She could barely move. She developed sores on her face from being forced to lie pressed against the bars of her cage. By the end, she was too sick to stand.There is a reason why these 'torture chambers' have been banned in the…

Sea Shepherd Counts Coup With New Vessel

B. McPherson
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Outwits, Outsmarts

Bart Simpson will be sailing in spirit with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society this season. His creator, Sam Simon, has donated money to purchase a new ship, and not just any ship. It’s formerly owned by the Japanese government.
The ice-strengthened ship was built for the Japanese Meterological Agency in 1993 and retired in 2010. It had done real work in the north Pacific in support of the whale hunts there. The ship was purchased through agents that did not disclose the names of the ultimate buyers.
The Japanese whaling ships have left Japan and are expected in the Southern Ocean later this month. The Sea Shepherd crews will be trying to dog the wake of the factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, to prevent it from receiving any dead whales.
This year’s anti-whaling campaign is called Operation Zero Tolerance and the crews are aiming at a zero kill this year. With the psychological clout of a former assistant ship now opposi…

Prince Rupert Hosts Enbridge Hearings

B. McPherson

Foreign companies and countries(China) control much of Canada's oil industry Today the northern BC town of Prince Rupert hosted the panel hearing concerns and information about the effect of increased oil tanker traffic on the BC coast if the Enbridge Gateway pipelines are allowed to be built. It is estimated that over 200 supertankers will ply the treacherous coastline to carry oil sands product to Asia.
The hearings are expected to continue in Rupert until December 17.
To help underline the hazards of big ships and the ocean, a tanker limped into the Rupert harbour on the 6th with a crack in the hull. It is expected to be repaired and out on the water within a week. Further south, at Westshore Terminals, the big coal terminal, a freighter slammed into the trestle and coal loading facility destroying about 100 meters. The ship is reported to have had a pilot on board when the accident happened. Fortunately only coal tumbled into the ocean with this incident. Another …

Fin Whale Raising a Stink on California Beach

B. McPherson
One of the leading causes of death to whales is passing ships.

An endangered fin whale has washed up on a beach near Los Angeles and is decomposing. The approximately 40 000 of whale is creating quite a smell as Mother Nature goes about recycling the whale.
The stink has people in the chi chi neighbourhood of Malibu asking for it to be removed.
No agency claims responsibility. It has rotted to the point that it cannot be dragged whole out to sea in any case. Suggestions that it be buried in sand would work, except that it is currently resting in a rocky area.
The juvenile cetacean is about 40 feet long. It has likely been struck by a boat as it is exhibiting wounds to its back and a damaged spine. Large vessels are one of the leading causes of death to whales around the world. Only about 2300 fin whales are resident off the California coast.
California has made great efforts in the past few years to clean up its coastal waters and the result has been a resurgence of a favo…

Snowy Owls Have Invaded the Lower 49

B. McPherson
Snowy owls are visiting from the Arctic.

Snowy owls have been  spotted on Vancouver Island and points south. This has the bird watchers all aflutter as these beautiful birds belong in the Arctic. They are adapted for life on the tundra with their thick feather coats and their white spotted camouflage.
I haven’t seen any of the interlopers as of yet, but they have appeared during the day and in unexpected places. Vancouver Island is mostly snow free through the winter and trees are abundant. This seems to confuse the birds as they are not used to trees. They have even been sighted perching on the railings of the ferry that plies between the mainland and the island.
This is the second year that snowies have been showing up this far south. Last year large numbers flew south across the continent. It was surmised that they were looking for food. There had been a couple of good years for the lemming population in the Arctic and the snowies benefitted from an abundant food supply…

GM Cotton Crop a Failure in India

B. McPherson
Don't blame Monsanto if the poor Indian farmer is mislead and loses his farm to the money lenders.

This year’s cotton crop in India is a dismal failure. Since India embraced GM cotton, that with the Bt gene inserted into it, the crops have been disappointing. Now with more states reporting in, it appears that the harvest this year is down by 40%.
This year a blue ribbon panel in India urged the government to exercise restraint in allowing and encouraging farmers to plant GM crops.  Currently over 90% of the cotton planted in India has been genetically altered.
Bt cotton carries a gene from a bacterium that kills insects. While it should negate the need for heavy use of pesticides, they are still needed. The Bt characteristic is non-selective for pests and will kill other insects that eat the plant pollen. The pesticides are more expensive than the old, the fertilizer demands are greater, more water is needed and the seeds are way more expensive as well. Now the farmers…

Dengue Fever Hits Spain Malaria Stalks Greece Welcome to a Warmer World

B. McPherson
Increased risk of disease in animals as well as people is expected in a warmer world.

Dengue fever has hit Spain with a whallop. Nearly a thousand people have contracted the mosquito borne disease. Dengue is also known as breakbone fever because of the pain it causes and can develop into a hemorrhagic fever as well. Currently the Portuguese island archipelago of Madiera is reporting more than a thousand cases.
Malaria is an old scourge that is making a comeback in many countries and new inroads in others. In the US, Texas, Florida and Hawaii have all reported cases, some from returned travellers to tropical countries, but not all. The SE of the US is a potential site for the re-establishment of this disease. Portugal, France, Croatia and Greece have all reported outbreaks in recent years.  More than a million people die around the world each year from it.
Chikungunya Fever is another, formerly tropical disease that has made its way to Europe and the Americas. An outbreak …

First Nation Kicks Out Pipeline Surveyors in BC

B. McPherson

A First Nation group in BC has told surveyors for the Pacific Trails Pipeline that they are not welcome on their territory. The Wet’suwet’enNation has closed the roads leading to their territory. Surveyors were marking a route for the ApacheTrails  Pipeline which is slated to carry natural gas to Kitimat.
Much of the territory in BC is claimed by the pre-European people and they have been united in their opposition to gas and petroleum pipelines being built through their territory.
The blockading group said the province does not have the right to approve development on their traditional lands, which lie northwest of Kitimat, the future home of an Apache Canada liquefied natural gas plant and the tanker port for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.CBC News
Some other bands along the proposed route have signed agreements and stipulated benefits, but the Wet’suwet’en Nation has pointed out on its web page that there are 500 issues attached to the environmental certificate…

Galapagos Embarked on Rat Eradication Millions to Die

B. McPherson
Rat eradication program is underway in the Galapagos Islands

The government of Ecuador and conservation groups have embarked on a rat eradication program on the sensitive islands. Since Europeans began landing there in the 17th century the rat population has grown unchecked. Both the black rat (Ratus ratus) and the Norway rat are present. It is estimated that there are now 10 rats for every square metre of land.
The operation currently underway on the island of Pinzon is estimated to kill 180 million rats. Nearly 22 tonnes of rat poison are being dumped for the rat banquet. As a precaution, to prevent hawks and iguanas from eating the dead rodents, they have been temporarily captured.
While the killing of any animals is against most conservation efforts, the rats eat the eggs of birds and reptiles. On Pinzon, no tortoise has hatched for a century due to their predation. Eight small islands and islets have been cleared of rats since the program was begun in 1983.
Other inva…

Finland Toxic Spill Worst Ever in History

B. McPherson

All too often resource extraction promises big bucks but delivers big headaches.

Finland is waking up to the realization that they are coping with their worst toxic spill ever. A formerly pristine area of eastern Finland has become fouled by uranium and nickel. Leachate ponds for the Talvivaara Mine have failed and are allowing toxic levels of nickel to spill into nearby waterways. 
The local health people say that the levels of radiation from the uranium are below levels that would damage health – unless the radioactive material gets into the drinking water supply. That means that people cannot use the water from lakes, streams or rivers in the area for cooking or drinking. Due to the possible impact on skin, it is also recommended that people not use the water in their saunas.
The Talvivaara mine is an open pit operation, extracting low grade nickel sulphide. Other metals extracted include copper, zinc and cobalt. The method used is a leaching process where the crushed o…

Efficient Rail Transport May Make Pipelines Obsolete

B. McPherson
What happens to all the abandoned pipelines?

Oil pipelines have huge direct costs to build, but they also have many hidden costs. In spite of dire warnings by environmentalist the world is demanding ever greater supplies of the black gold. For those countries that have it and market it successfully, money comes rolling in.
But at what cost? An oil pipeline is a hugely complex thing. Enbridge Corp. has been battling citizens in British Columbia over its proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline and the Keystone Pipeline in the US has been stalled for months.
When Big Oil needs to transport oil or bitumen to refineries, it usually gets a smooth ride to approval. Labelling energy security as a national priority, property rights are infringed upon. People in Canada cannot legally stop the installation of a pipeline across their property. The high pressure conduit is often buried only a few feet below the surface leaving crops, buildings and livestock vulnerable to a high pressure so…

Enbridge Applies for Pipeline Reversal in Eastern Canada

B. McPherson
Enbridge wants us to believe that their pipelines are safe. This one hasn't leaked -- yet. It lies exposed in an Ontario river.

Enbridge has applied to the National Energy Board to allow it to reverse the flow of oil in its Line 9 pipeline. Between Sarnia and Montreal, the company wants to be able to ship Alberta oil to the Suncor refinery in Montreal.
It is being touted as a move to achieve energy security for Canada. Canada imports about half the oil used in the country while at the same time shipping oil south to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Others are not so enthusiastic about the plan.
Enbridge has admitted that they might want to ship oil sands bitumen through Line 9 at a later date. The bitumen is loaded with sand and will have a sandpaper effect on the inside of the pipes. Currently, the 60 year old conduit has only carried sweet, light petroleum. Some are even more outspoken. A former employee is quoted on CBC who thinks this is a revival of a plan to ship t…

The Oceans on Acid

B. McPherson
NOAA's Explanation of Our Changing Oceans

Most of us are by now aware of the increase in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. We have been told of the Greenhouse Effect on the air we breathe. A less well known effect of the increasing carbon dioxide in the air is an increase in acidity in the world’s oceans.
For most of the geological history of the Earth, slow change occurs with punctuations of extensive extinctions of life both on land and sea. Many natural phenomena can trigger a mass extinction.  Some scientists are concerned that humans may be about to inadvertently cause a collapse of systems in the oceans which will in turn, hit humanity like a tsunami.
Since the Industrial Revolution there has been increasing dependence on the burning of fossil fuels – oil, coal, gas – to power the machines that have transformed our lives. One of the bad side effects of this is the release of carbon dioxide gas. This is a normal cog in the Carbon Cycle.
The oceans act as a buffer …

Mexican Honey Producers Lose Out to Monsanto

B. McPherson

Mexican honey producers in the Yucatan Peninsula have lost their legal bid to keep out widespread planting of GM Soybeans in their area. The honey industry in Mexico supports the economy to the tune of about $90 million per year. Much of the Mexican honey is exported to the European Union. This industry has now been thrown into jeopardy.
Most countries in Europe require the labeling of produce and products that contain genetically modified ingredients. Honey is made by bees that gather nectar from flowers. Some pollen from the plants inevitably finds its way into the honey. With the widespread planting of GM crops, the honey producers can no longer market their honey without labeling it GM contaminated.
Mexico is a major world producer of honey. The fourth largest producer has about 16 000 people directly dependent on the industry.
The widespread planting of GM crops threatens the livelihood of the honey producers in ruining their lucrative European markets and also more…

Haida Gwai Earthquake Raises New Questions for Enbridge

B. McPherson

The 7.7 earthquake off the BC coast on Saturday night raises new questions about the safety of bringing more supertankers to Kitimat. Enbridge Corporation is in the process of trying to get approval for a twinned pipeline through BC for its Tar Sands bitumen.
When the earthquake hit the islands of Haida Gwai (Queen Charlotte Islands) there was little damage done and no fatalities. The islands are sparsely populated which helped lower the danger. The massive earthquake shook the ground hundreds of miles away in Alberta.
We usually see a tsunami accompany such a large land slip. Destructive tsunamis hitting the coast of Japan in 2011 showed the world the destructive power of the ocean. The BC earthquake generated tsunami warnings and alerts, but generated only small waves along the coast and Hawaii.
The coast of British Columbia is the most active in N. America and part of the Ring of Fire that circles the Pacific Ocean. This is the area that Enbridge wishes to build its …

Thousands Tell Big Oil Where to Put Their Pipeline

B. McPherson

Scenes from Monday's Demonstration

Thousands of British Columbians told Enbridge and KinderMorgan what to do with their pipeline plans. Braving blustery weather and rain, people converged on the BC Legislature lawns to hear speakers and show their solidarity in opposition to Big Oil and their pipeline plans.
Organized by a group called Defend our Coast and working with other environmentally active groups as well as First Nations and labour groups, people from all ages turned out to express their opinions. The youngest came in strollers and the oldest came in wheel chairs. The peaceful, orderly crowd stood listening to those whose lives have already been affected by the Alberta Tar Sands, how pollution and oil spills have killed the land where they live and how we need to stop the pipeline building through our land.
The organizers emphasized the necessity of a peaceful, respectful gathering and that is what they got. The crowd was overseen by police and security statio…

Haida Gwaii Ocean Experiment Controversial

B. McPherson
Tinkering with the ocean's fertility can bring unintended consequences.

The Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation has paid about $2 million to dump 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean 300 km offshore of the Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlottes) Islands. This has resulted in a giant algal bloom that can be seen from space.
The algae treat iron as a fertilizer and can divide rapidly when given enough nutrients. The experiment has been deemed a success by the salmon restoration corporation and reckless by others. The logic that an algal bloom would enhance salmon health is unclear, as salmon are carnivores.
Iron sulphate has been proposed to geoengineer the world’s oceans to push the algae to grow more rapidly, absorb more carbon out of the air and help stave off global warming. On a very simple level, this might sound like a good idea, but when an algal bloom(huge numbers of single celled plants) dies, they are decomposed by oxygen eating bacteria. The removal of …

Warmer World Means More Disease

B. McPherson

If you swim in warm, fresh water experts recommend nose plugs. Our home planet is warming. Not by much so far, only a degree or two. But already we are seeing an increase in distribution of diseases that are thought of as ‘tropical’. North America and other temperate developed areas have enjoyed freedom from many parasites and microbes that plague the warmer climates.
This summer a microbe found in warm water, soil, hot springs has attacked people. In Pakistan, they are trying to track down the source of a brain eating amoeba. Sounds like something from a grade B movie. Not at all. In the US there are fatalities from this common microbe. Two children in Virginia died last August of the parasite after jumping into a warm lake. The meningitis the amoeba causes rarely gets far enough up the nasal passages to cause trouble, but the USDA has reported 32 infections over the past ten years. Once contracted the microbe causes death in 98% of victims.
Caution is urged for people wh…

Europe’s Nuclear Power Plants in Urgent Need of Upgrades

B. McPherson
This report is very worrisome. 

A leaked report on the state of Europe’s nuclear power stations has pointed out the urgent need for upgrades that could cost the countries up to $32 billion to complete. The report also pointed out widely varying standards of safety among the 14 member states that participated in the stress tests which are designed to highlight weaknesses in the safety of the electrical plants.
A worrisome aspect of the leaked report is they revealed that enforcement of current safety standards was needed. Currently 12 of the member states have failed to meet safety standards. Four reactors were found to have less than one hour of before catastrophic damage if their electrical power were interrupted. The report also cited plants in Spain, France and the Czech Republic that lacked adequate earthquake detectors.
France is heavily dependent on nuclear generated electricity, producing 80% of their needs this way. Of the 58 power stations in the country, none met…

BC Rivers Day Last Sunday in September

B. McPherson

Pardon the sun spot. This scene was too good to pass up. People in British Columbia celebrate the importance of rivers on the last Sunday in September. This annual event was started in 1980 spearheaded by Mark Angelo who became a missionary for rivers around the world. Around 77 000 people in BC were expected to participate in river activities yesterday. There was no agenda – picnic by a river, float down a river, pick up heavy duty garbage from a river – your choice.
I was privileged to be invited to participate with a group that was going to float down the Nanaimo River on Vancouver Island. A couple of kayakers accompanied those of us who were on an inflatable raft. This river has rapid and swift water in places, but we wisely put in where the river flattens out and drifted much like the autumn leaves.
The chum salmon were waiting in the deep areas for more water to come down so they could make their way to their spawning grounds. These mature salmon(aka dog salmon, ket…

Con Agra to Eliminate Sow Stalls Just Not Yet

B. McPherson
Got Pork? Love bacon? 

Con Agra, one of the large food supply corporations is asking its pork suppliers to construct plans that would eliminate sow stalls, otherwise known as gestation crates by 2017. Five years from now there may be a plan to eliminate these cruel devices. Then the elimination of the stalls may take another 10 years.
For those of you who eat pork, you should know what you are putting into your mouths and that of your children. In Europe sow crates are still used, but are slated to be eliminated by 2013. N. American pork producers have industrialized their operations in the past couple of decades. They have become efficient meat producers. Consumers have seen the price of pork, bacon, ribs, hams steadily decrease as efficiencies have been implemented.
In order to become efficient meat factories, the animals become cogs in the production line. Sow stalls are just one aspect of the inhumane practise of factory raised pork. The female pig(sow) is impregnated …

Big Rally Planned to Protest Oil Tankers on the Coast


Grassroots people are coming together on October 22 in Victoria BC to show the provincial government that the coast is not for sale. If you can, help swell the numbers on October 22 in a show of peaceful solidarity.

The following is from a group calling themselves defendourcoast:

In a little over a week, you and almost 2000 other supporters have logged on to our website and pledged to Defend Our Coast. Thank you for your support in the first week of the launch and for sharing it with your family, friends, colleagues, and allies. On October 22nd, we will meet in Victoria and join together for a non-violent direct action to tell Christy Clark and Stephen Harper that our coast cannot be sold off for pipelines and tankers.

The action on Monday, October 22nd will be an act of peaceful civil disobedience meaning that arrest is a possibility. We will have a legal analysis that we will send out to everyone soon so you know exactly what the legal risks are and will have la…

Religious Worshippers Driving Elephants to Extinction

B. McPherson

African elephants are under more pressure from poachers than ever. A global ban on ivory trade was instituted in 1990 but that hasn’t stopped the faithful demanding ivory for their religious props. From a baby Jesus to prayer beads to amulets and carvings, the elephants are fighting a losing battle.  According to information released by National Geographic Magazine in 2011 25 000 of those magnificent animals were slaughtered for profit.
The poachers have no regard for family groups or the boundaries of national parks. In January poachers riding horses killed hundreds of elephants using AK 47s and rocket launchers. The elephants never had a chance to run. Adults, mothers protecting their babies and the babies all slaughtered inside a park in Cameroon.
We no longer use ivory to make piano keys or billiard balls or anything else but what constitutes religious icons. The icons may be abstract, like prayer beads or images of a god. It is a cruel joke on the elephants that thos…

Coastal First Nations Shut Down Trophy Hunting In Great Bear Rainforest

B. McPherson
Would you kill this magnificent creature and hang it on a wall?

The alliance of Coastal First Nations have declared a ban on trophy hunting for bears in their traditional territories. Protection of bears will be monitored and enforced by a coalition of ten nations including the Haida from Haida Gwai(formerly Queen Charlotte Islands). In a strong statement issued on September 12, Kitasoo/Xaixais Chief Doug Neasloss declared that the bears will be protected by any means.
This is the result of several years of working with the provincial government to halt trophy hunting.

"Despite years of effort by the Coastal First Nations to find a resolution to this issue with the Province this senseless and brutal trophy hunt continues.” Chief Doug Neasloss

First Nations spokesman pointed out that the trophy hunters often shoot their quarry by the shoreline where they come to look for food. The native people are not against a food hunt, but that the trophy hunting is alien to their…

Wasps Swarm at End of Summer

B. McPherson

Hundreds of wasps swarm greenhouse
Wasp hunting for insects in corn patch
Black and yellow warns of a bad temper

As summer slides into autumn many changes occur in my garden. All summer I have tolerated wasp nests in my green house. If they get too large and the ladies too aggressive they will be evicted, but generally their presence is a plus for the garden. This morning I saw this large cluster of wasps(we call them yellow jackets for obvious reasons) on the outside of the greenhouse. I couldn’t decide whether it was a swarm for mating or they were trying to find a more secure winter home than their paper one. In fact, I still don’t know. I had never seen or noticed this behavior in wasps before. You’ll have to decide. Wasps are fierce predators. If you can, leave them alone in your garden and you’ll find that they work better than any pesticide – and they work for free. Just be careful and look before you grab a plant or flower. They do take umbrage at being grabbed.

Glow in the Dark Pet Fish Endanger Fish Stocks

B. McPherson

Does food as entertainment justify chancing the genetic pollution of our wild animals?

The commercial distribution of GMO fish as pets has biologists worried about wild fish stocks. A genetic engineering company, Yorktown Technologies, debuted a glow in the dark variant of the zebra fish as GloFish in 2003. The natural variety is a native of south east Asia and is not found in N. America. They originally were marketed as pets glowing green in the dark. Now they are available in five colours – Starfire Red, Electric Green, Sunburst Orange, Galactic Purple and Cosmic Blue. The GloFish are touted as the first genetically modified organism as a pet.
Recently GloFish has made available to the public, glowing green tetras for the home hobbyist . While the GM zebra fish are unable to survive in the wild in N. America, the tetras can. South Florida is particularly at risk for these creatures to establish themselves. S. America is also at risk.
The GM fish are banned in California…

Support Your Local Cedar Farmers Market

B. McPherson

Scenes taken on Sunday September 2nd at the Cedar Farmers' Market

 Kiddies preparing racing zucchinis for the big race

Local honey producer sells a sweet product

Local farm produce. Note insecticide free veggies

The 'Dahlia Man' is always in demand when his flowers are in bloom.

Vine ripened tomatoes and hot peppers are the jewels of the garden.                                                    

As the public gets educated about the advantages of buying local, the Cedar Farmers’ Market has thrived. They have a location on Yellowpoint Road at the sign for the Crow and Gate Pub. The farmers set up in a grassy field in May and continue to offer their goods for sale until late October.  Vendors put up tents in the early morning, by 2:30 the field reverts to its quiet state.

In the meantime, shoppers intent on buying the freshest, most colourful of vegetables converge on the site. Some are looking for specialty items, some just looking. Old, young, babes and dogs on…