Showing posts from April, 2012

MIT Scientists Invent Self Cleaning Glass

B. McPherson This film shows an earlier version of water repelling glass. Researchers working with nanotechnology at MIT have invented a new kind of glass. The possibilities for the new glass seem endless. Because of the special non-glare, self-cleaning surface engineered by the scientists, always clean car headlamps, more efficient solar panels, an end to window washing all seem possible.
Of course, like many new inventions, this nano-glass will likely take some years to filter down to every day use. The description of the work is found in MIT NEWS.
In a nod to Mother Nature, the scientists gave credit for their inspiration to Nature’s structures such as lotus leaves and insect eyeballs.

Capt. of Ady Gil Speaks of Differences Within Sea Shepherd

Captain Pete Bethune has left the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society organization. Actually, he left October 2010. I just happened to run across his You Tube video explaining why he felt the need to resign.

Many of you will remember that Bethune was captain of the high tech Ady Gil. That was the ship that was in a collision with a Japanese whaler in the Southern Ocean and subsequently sunk. After the sinking Bethune made a daring boarding of the Japanese ship in an attempt to arrest the captain.

He was taken to Japan where he spent four months in prison and was given a suspended sentence and deported.

His version of events differs from the Sea Shepherd's reasons for leaving. Because I have been a cheerleader for the Society's efforts to dissuade the hunting of whales, I felt I should put on both sides here. You will have to judge for yourselves which is the more truthful.

Sea Shepherd Society Turns Spotlight on the Faroe Islands

B. McPherson

Paul Watson and his crews of animal activists have announced their intention to disrupt the mass slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands. Their campaign recorded by Whale Wars Animal Planet is called Operation Ferocious Isles. They will be seeking to divert migrating pilot whales away from the Atlantic islands and failing that, interfere with the actual, bloody killing in the bays.
The Faroe Islands are located in the frigid North Atlantic between Iceland and Scotland. These islands are ultimately administered by Denmark although they are independent in most of their internal affairs. The people are descendants of Gaels who settled the islands in the 6th century and Norsemen who cling to their traditions, one of which has set them against animal rights activists – The Grind. The Grind or grindadrap is a slaughter of pilot whales after having herded them into a shallow bay.
The Faroese traditionally depended on whale meat to supplement their diets, but due to moder…

Chemical Arms Race in America Agent Orange Corn Next

B. McPherson

There’s an arms race going on in N. America’s cornfields. The race is developing genetically modified crops to resist ever more lavish spraying of herbicides. An early winner in the weed race was Monsanto, a corporation that developed seeds containing weed genes that could resist the spraying of that other Monsanto product, Roundup.
Roundup was an effective weed/plant killer for many years, but gradually as Nature will do, some weeds survived Roundup to reproduce. So farmers sprayed Roundup(or the generic glyphosate) in ever heavier doses. The effect has been to breed a wide number of SuperWeeds that will not die when sprayed with the herbicide.
Now rival Agro company Dow AgroSciences has developed a GM corn that carries a gene resistant to Dow Chemical’s herbicide 2,4-D. It is seeking to be allowed to start widespread planting of the genetically altered seeds in time for the 2013 crop year.
Fields planted with the new corn, dubbed Enlist, could be sprayed with the defol…

Harvest Plus Saving Lives One Seed at a Time

B. McPherson
Put a new word into your vocabulary -- biofortified. The Harvest Plus organization is researching and breeding plants with enhanced micronutrients. This is not the high tech gene manipulation so in the news with companies like Monsanto. It is going back to basics in plant husbandry.
Howath Bouis initially floated his ideas about breeding food plants with increased micronuturients in 1994 when the shine was still on the science of gene swapping. He received little support for his initiative Harvest Plus.
Now that the prospect of gene altered plants has been found wanting, Bouis has improved the amount of zinc, iron and a precursor to Vitamin A in cassava by selecting varieties higher in the micronutrients to plant, selecting the offspring that are higher yet, planting those and so on until the desired plant content is reached. The technique of artificial selection has been used by farmers for thousands of years and has given us such familiar organisms as dairy cows, orang…

Scientists Beginning to Sound Warnings About Atmospheric Nitrogen Compounds

B. McPherson

                                                This short film explains very well the greenhouse effect on Earth.

While the world is focussing on the production and release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, other gasses are quietly adding to the catastrophe. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and nitrous oxide is 300 times more efficient at keeping the Earth warmed.
While much of the Earth’s atmosphere is made up of the element nitrogen, it is the nitrogen in reactive compounds that is starting to worry atmospheric scientists.
The Green Revolution was made possible by the industrial production of chemical fertilizers. It, combined with antibiotics has allowed the Earth’s population of humans to swell from 1.6 billion at the beginning of the 20th century to seven billion this year. Nitrogen is a key nutrient in plant growth. Unfortunately over application of nitrogen fertilizers to crops breaks down into nitrous oxide in the atmosphere and may be swept into watercours…

Bat Populations Rebounding in New York Caves

B. McPherson

This little brown bat has white nose syndrome. Note the white dusting on its muzzle

Some bat populations hit hard by White Nose Syndrome have rebounded in their numbers in some caves. Researchers in New York have counted increased populations of little brown bats this spring.  In some caves and abandoned mine shafts the population had plummeted by 90% to 100% due to the fungal disease.
While it is too early to cheer the spring bat counts as some of the population could have been missed during earlier counts, biologists are hopeful that this signals the rebound of the bat population.
Many people do not realize that bats are an important contributor to pollination and insect control, eating thousands of insects in their nightly excursions. With the death of millions of bats in eastern Canada and south in the US as far as Alabama, insect pests were expected to escalate.
White nose syndrome is a fungal disease that appeared in bat caves about six years ago and led to the death…

The Harper government has declared war on our environment.

Please read and contribute if you can.

After months of attacking environmental charities they announced yesterday that they are gutting environmental oversight of pipeline, drilling, fracking and other destructive projects across Canada.
I am outraged. That’s why I’m helping ForestEthics launch a new organization – ForestEthics Advocacy -- that can act and speak freely in the face of this government crackdown.
Will you join me in defending our rights, forests, air and water bymaking a gift to ForestEthics Advocacy today?
Every dollar you contribute will be matched by a generous donor who has pledged $10,000 to help us fight against this Big Oil agenda. In order for the match to count you must make a gift by midnight this Thursday, April 19.
Recently, the Harper government set aside $8 million in the federal budget to muzzle environmental groups by giving the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) the authority to conduct aggressive investigations that remind me of the McCarthy …

Canadian Tories Declare War on Environment

B. McPherson

                                                       Tell me that an oil spill here could ever be cleaned up.

The federal Tories have declared war on the Canadian environment. In their rush to cash in on the appetite for oil, uranium and potash from emerging nations, the Tories have slashed the environmental review process turning over most of the responsibilities to the provinces.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has tried to characterize the moves as a ‘streamlining’ and ‘cutting of red tape’, but for most people concerned about the environment it smacks as a bow to Big Oil and Big Business.
In the face of mounting opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project the Conservative government led by Stephen Harper has changed the law to apply retroactively in order to snuff out the chances of people who wish to speak about the project. The review process which is supposed to be neutral has been changed in the politicians’ jargon to “approval process”.

Enbridge Pipeline Will Face Many Hurtles if Approved

B. McPherson

While the Canadian federal government is pushing hard for a speedy approval process to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project opposition to the scheme is gathering organization and force. Today the Financial Post is referring to the project as being in a “legal swamp”.
The proposed pipeline would transport bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands extraction to the British Columbia coast for shipment to markets in Asia. The proposed route would track through the Great Bear Rainforest, an area that National Geographic calls the wildest place on earth. It is home to rare ecosystems and the unique Kermode Bear. The terminal of the pipelines would end at Kitimat at the end of Douglas Channel. An estimated 200 super-tankers would navigate the treacherous waters each year. Enbridge spokespersons have assured the public that the chances of a spill are very low.
Oil tankers transporting crude from Alaska to the lower US states travel far off BC’s coast in order to avoid the numerous islan…

Snuneymuxw First Nation Welcomes Public to Conversation About Douglas Treaties

B. McPherson                  Grand Chief Shawn Atleo, third from left, and Snuneymuxw
                                         Chief Douglas White, fourth from left

The Snuneymexw First Nation held the third in a series of information meetings about the historical Douglas Treaties signed in the 1850’s with groups of indigenous people on Vancouver Island. At the time Britain claimed Vancouver Island as a colony, but wished to engage in peaceful settlement and resource extraction.
This third in the series was held at the Nanaimo’s main library. The public was treated to native dancers in the Diana Krall plaza before the lecture. The young people carried on in spite of the rain, hail and finally a burst of sunshine and a rainbow over the harbour.
Inside the library, the overflow crowd was addressed by Grand Chief Shawn Atleo and by Snuneymuxw Chief, Douglas White. Both stressed the need for conversation between different parts of the community as well as the need for awareness and recog…

Americans Eat Pink Slime in Their Burgers

B. McPherson

Many Americans are eating Pink Slime in their burger patties. Not all, of course, those that can afford a better grade of hamburger made from freshly ground beef that’s not been frozen won’t be eating Pink Slime. Poor kids eating subsidized school lunches get to eat it.
What is Pink Slime? It does have other names. Big Agro calls it Lean finely textured beef (LFTB) or Boneless lean beef trimmings (BLBT). In an attempt to use as much of a beef carcass as possible for the food trade, some companies have come up with a technique to use meat scraps and connective tissue for human food. The bits are processed, heated and extruded. The product is disinfected of possible bacteria that it has picked up from the slaughter process by exposing it to either ammonia or citric acid. The term Pink Slime was used by Gerald Zirnstein in 2002 in describing the pink, jelly like substance when he was opposing the use of it in human food. He was an employee of the USDA Food Safety and Inspect…

Enbridge Panel Turns Tail When Met by Singing Demonstrators

B. McPherson
Video of protest demonstration in Comox March 31st

Bella Bella people from the Heltsuk First Nation met the plane carrying their chief and the Enbridge Northern Pipeline Panel Sunday. The panel promptly cancelled hearings scheduled for the next few days and scampered back to Vancouver.
They have been met time and again with peaceful demonstrations that speak against the installation of the Enbridge Northern Gateway twinned pipelines through British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. The prospect of supertankers plying the treacherous waters of the coast grounding and spilling their cargo have many speaking out.
The RCMP officer stationed in the small village of Bella Bella spoke about the peaceful nature of the demonstration which was partly to welcome back a fellow band member.
"From what I understand it was a peaceful demonstration - there were religious regalia being worn by band members and there was drumming, and singing as well, at the airport," said Const. …