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300 Scientists To Harper: Northern Gateway Flawed 6 June 14

A letter signed by hundreds of scientists from around the world is urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reject a flawed federal panel report recommending approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline. The federal government must announce the final decision by June 17 on the 1,200-kilometre pipeline that would link the Alberta oil sands with a tanker port on the B.C. coast.

The letter sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and several key cabinet ministers said the report by the joint review panel is "indefensible as a basis to judge in favour of the project."

It was signed by 300 scientists from universities from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, along with colleagues from international institutions including Stanford, Cornell and Oxford.

"There have been references to the review being science-based," said Eric Taylor, a University of British Columbia zoology professor and letter co-author. "We thought we should test that assumption by looking at the joint review panel report almost as we would a scientific publication, to see if it was rigorous."

Kai Chan, a University of British Columbia associate professor who helped pen the letter, calls the report a failure.

"The consideration of how the benefits outweigh the costs and risks was really given almost no space and no logic. It's absolutely insufficient as a basis to make a decision as to whether the project is in the public interest," says Chan.

View June 5, 2014 CBC News article
View June 3, 2014 The Star article
View June 3, 2014 Vancouver Observer article
View June 3, 2014 The Globe and Mail article
View June 3, 2014 The Vancouver Sun article

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Honeybees: Death Rate Outpacing Action 6 June 14

A U.S. government report admits that the honeybee species are dying off at a rate too high to 'guarantee their long term survival'. It has been proven that the primary factor leading to this extinction is the presence of neonicotinoid poisons, present in insecticides sold by and/or used by corporations such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, and Dupont.

A recent study from Harvard, published on March 27th, 2014, has definitively confirmed what scientists outside the US have been saying for years: neonicotinoids are the cause of colony collapse disorder(CCD). The study showed that 50% of colonies populated by bees who had been in contact with these pesticides collapsed, compared to only 1 in 6 not in contact with neonicotinoids.

The study published in the June edition of the Bulletin of Insectology, concludes that corn, potato and soybean pesticides containing neonicotinoid chemicals are directly to blame for colony collapse disorder (CCD). Worker bees are thought to absorb trace amounts of the neonicotinoids during the pollination process before bringing those chemicals back to the hive.

View June 3, 2014 Live Free Live Natural article
View May 10, 2014 CTV News article
View May 6, 2014 Bee Informed report
View March 27, 2014 Bulletin of Insectology report
View June 17, 2013 Nature World News article
View April 29, 2013 The Guardian article
View January 21, 2013 The Journal of Experimental Biology article

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Clean Beaches In Canada & Manitoba 30 May 14

Ten years ago, the City of Toronto raised the first Blue Flags in Canada - giving a clean bill of health to four beaches: Cherry, Hanlan's Point, Ward's Island and Woodbine. For Toronto, this was a huge accomplishment. Because of major improvements to stormwater and wastewater infrastructure, water that was once brown and smelly was clear and safe to swim in. The Blue Flag celebrated these beaches and encouraged people to reconnect with the waterfront.

Blue Flag is a highly respected and recognized international eco-label. Blue Flags are awarded to beaches and marinas that meet strict criteria for water quality, environmental education, environmental management, and safety and services.

Blue Flags are flying at 24 beaches and 4 marinas in Canada. Environmental Defence Canada manages Blue Flag Canada.

Three Manitoba beaches have received Blue Flag status, which recognizes them around the world as clean and safe beaches. The main beach at Winnipeg Beach Provincial Park and the west beach at Grand Beach Provincial Park are certified by Blue Flag Canada.

View May 28, 2014 Environmental Defence article
View May 28, 2014 CBC News article
View Blue Flag Canada
View The Weather Network article
View June 6 Newswire article

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California: No More Microbeads 30 May 14

In a historic vote, the California Assembly passed the Microplastic Nuisance Prevention Law to ban the sale and manufacturing of personal care products containing tiny, synthetic plastic microbeads. Thanks to 5 Gyres Institute, the group that authored the bill sponsored by Assembly Member Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), California sets a precedent for holding companies liable for products that harm aquatic species and pollutes our water.

"Legislation levels the playing field," said Stiv Wilson of 5 Gyres. The ball began rolling early last year when another organization in Europe called the Plastic Soup Foundation campaigned heavily resulting in the company Unilever banning microbeads in their products by 2015.

View May 24, 2014 EcoWatch article
View February 13, 2014 Bill Number AB 1699
View February 17, 2014 EcoWatch article
View Beat the Micro Bead Microplastics: scientific evidence
Visit 5 Gyres website

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Oil Industry Not Ready For Spills In Arctic 30 May 14

A new study from the U.S. National Research Council is warning that neither the science nor the currently available public or private response infrastructure is anywhere near prepared for an oil spill in the Arctic Ocean.

A changing climate is increasing the accessibility of U.S. Arctic waters to commercial activities such as shipping, oil and gas development, and tourism, raising concern about the risk of oil spills. The report from the National Research Council says that proven oil response tools are needed to address potential oil spills in arctic waters, but not all of them are readily available.

"The lack of infrastructure and oil spill response equipment in the U.S. Arctic is a significant liability in the event of a large oil spill," the report warns. "Building U.S. capabilities to support oil spill response will require significant investment in physical infrastructure and human capabilities, from communications and personnel to transportation systems and traffic monitoring."

View May 27, 2014 EcoWatch article
View May 2, 2014 EcoWatch article
View April 23, 2014 The National Academies news release
View 2014 National Research Council report
View Center for American Progress report

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Enbridge Line 9 Blockaded 24 May 14

Climate defenders in Canada stopped work on a section of Enbridge's controversial 'Line 9' pipeline in Burlington, Ontario Tuesday morning, May 20th , as part of a rising tide of opposition to the pipeline.

The group comprised of environmentalists, local residents, and members of First Nations, arrived and turned away Enbridge Oil employees from a work site. The protesters say Enbridge is preparing the pipe to carry tar sands bitumen across Ontario eastward through Quebec into the United States through Vermont and on to the Maine coast for export.

The work being done on the site is called an "integrity dig," where a section of pipe is unearthed to fix a crack, dent or corrosion. According to Burlington resident Brian Sutherland, Line 9 has nearly 13,000 such structural weaknesses along its length, ďand yet Enbridge is only doing a few hundred integrity digs."

The Line 9 pipeline is 40 years old, and would be reversed to carry bitumen.

View May 20, 2014 Common Dreams article
View May 20, 2014 CBC News article
View May 20, 2014 article
View March 7, 2014 CBC News article

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Air Pollution More Dangerous Than Cars 24 May 14

Chronic exposure to air pollution causes nearly nine times as many premature deaths in Canada as traffic crashes, University of B.C. researchers say in an article published Monday, May 19th, in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. About 21,000 Canadians die prematurely from the ill effects of air pollution each year, compared to 2,400 from traffic crashes.

Outdoor air pollution kills more than 3.5 million people a year globally, far more than was previously estimated. Air pollution has now become the biggest environmental cause of premature death, overtaking poor sanitation and a lack of clean drinking water.

Air pollution is mainly associated with asthma, other lung conditions and cardiovascular diseases. Exhaust fumes from diesel, a known carcinogen, are tied to lung cancer. A 2008 federal report estimated that on an annual basis, there are 306 premature deaths, 1,158 hospital admissions, and 8,763 emergency department visits related to air pollution in British Columbia.

The United Nations, and Canadian Medical Association both see see air pollution and climate change as contributors to premature deaths.

View May 22, 2014 E&E Publishing article
View March 28, 2014 Responding to Climate Change article
View November 2013 World Health Organization Factsheet
View October 21, 2013 The Vancouver Sun article
View July 11, 2013 IOP Science article
View August 13, 2008 The Star article
View Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development page

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Melting BC Glaciers Will Affect Sea Levels 24 May 14

"Most glaciers in Alaska and British Columbia are shrinking substantially," said the U.S. National Climate Assessment released last week. "This trend is expected to continue and has implications for hydropower production, ocean circulation patterns, fisheries, and global sea level rise." There could be potential flooding in wet seasons and drought in dry, a particular problem in B.C., which relies on hydroelectricity to meet its energy needs.

According to the National Climate Assessment report, glaciers in the region are losing 20 to 30 per cent of what is melting annually from the Greenland Ice Sheet, which has received far more worldwide attention. The glacial decline in western Canada and Alaska significantly contributes to sea level rise, said the U.S. report. There are 200,000 glaciers on Earth, 17,000 of them in British Columbia. Another 800 are in Alberta.

View May 18, 2014 Huffington Post article
View May 18, 2014 CBC News article
View May 18, 2014 National Post article
View March 14, 2013 The Star article
View November 2005 Nature article
View University of Northern British Columbia Newsroom

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Triclosan Safety Concerns Alarming 24 May 14

Minnesota is banning the germ killer triclosan, which is found in many anti-bacterial soaps and body washes. Triclosan, a high production volume ingredient used as a bactericide in personal care products such as toothpaste, deodorant, and antibacterial soap, has been linked to heart disease and heart failure. Originally, the chemical, developed in the 1960s, was used in hospitals to prevent bacterial infections.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of California, Davis, found that triclosan also interferes with muscle function. In the lab, they exposed human muscle cells, from the heart and elsewhere, to triclosan and discovered that the chemical interrupted cellular communication necessary for muscle contraction.

An initial assessment, conducted by Environment Canada and Health Canada in 2012 was inconclusive.

View May 19, 2014 Time article
View December 17, 2013 National Geographic article
View December 16, 2013 CNN article
View February 5, 2013 Huffington Post article
View August 29, 2012 Mercola article
View August 15, 2012 Time article
View July 13, 2012 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences report

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Ocean Levels' Rise Inevitable: Polar Ice To Melt 16 May 14

A large section of the vast West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable. The melting could destabilize neighbouring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable. Global warming caused by the human-driven release of greenhouse gases has helped to destabilize the ice sheet.

Climate scientists have concluded that widespread burning of fossil fuels is releasing heat-trapping gases that are warming the planet. While this will produce a host of effects, the most worrisome may be the melting of much of the earth's ice, which is likely to raise sea levels and flood coastal regions.

View May 15, 2014 EcoWatch article
View May 13, 2014 The Weather Network article
View May 12, 2014 The New York Times article
View May 12, 2014 Business Insider article
View May 12, 2014 NBC News article
View May 17, 2014 The Guardian article
View Manitoba Wildlands Addressing Climate Change page

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UN Urges Canada To Consult First Nations 16 May 14

A new United Nations report urges Canadian governments and industry to win aboriginal consent before proceeding with resource developments on First Nation traditional territory.

In a report released Monday, May 12th, the UN's special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, James Anaya, said aboriginal Canadians have expressed concerns over a number of proposed resource projects that they fear will pollute their traditional lands, including Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan's TransMountain expansion.

The report, citing the UN Declaration on international human rights, says, "In accordance with the Canadian constitution and relevant international human rights standards, as a general rule resource extraction should not occur on lands subject to aboriginal claims without adequate consultations with, and the free, prior and informed consent of, the indigenous peoples concerned."

"The way it's supposed to work is that whenever these rights are affected, there needs to be consultation and agreement about any decision that would limit those rights in order to, in the end, protect them." Mr. Anaya said in an interview. "Whenever someone goes onto someone's land, there needs to be permissions sought and some kind of agreement."

View May 13, 2014 The Vancouver Sun article
View May 13, 2014 Leader-Post article
View May 12, 2014 The Globe and Mail article
View May 12, 2014 Financial Post article

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Manitoba Upgrading Water And Waster Water Facilities 16 May 14

The province will spend $84 million over the next five years to improve and upgrade water and waste-water facilities in communities outside of Winnipeg.

The money is for distributed through the Manitoba Water Services Board. Municipalities will be expected to match any monies they receive. There will also be opportunities for municipalities to apply for federal funds through a new Building Canada program. Municipalities are already applying for funding for projects, said Doug Dobrowolski, president of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, who sits on the water services board.

New projects already approved include $1.5 million for water supply upgrades in the RM of MacDonald to meet increasing water demands in Oak Bluff, and $1 million in upgrades and the expansion of the waste-water lagoon in the Local Government District of Pinawa that will benefit residents and the Tim Horton's children's camp.

"We are long overdue to make sure municipalities take water conservation steps before or as a condition of new capital funding. It appears Manitoba has not put a requirement in place." said Gaile Whelan-Enns, Director at Manitoba Wildlands.

View April 30, 2014 Winnipeg Free Press article
View September 30, 2009 Water Canada article
View Manitoba Government Onsite Wastewater Management Systems Program page
Visit Manitoba Onsite Wastewater Management Association website
View November 2010, Changes And Clarifications To Rules Regarding Sewage Ejectors and Wasterwater Management Systems
View March 2009 Manitoba Clean Environment Commission report

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Manitoba Wildlands2002-2014