Showing posts from November, 2012

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…