Sunday, May 27, 2012

Man-made Pollution Shifting Tropics and Sub-Tropics Poleward

photo credit: © NASA Goddard Photo and Video/CC BY 2.0

by Mat McDermott Science / Climate Change

We've reported before on how climate change is expanding the tropics and sub-tropical zones towards the poles. Now there's some new research showing how man-made pollution, such as black carbon soot, is contributing to this poleward shift.

Think Progress reports on a new study, published in Nature:

Black carbon aerosols and tropospheric ozone, both man-made pollutants emitted predominantly in the Northern Hemisphere's low- to mid-latitudes, are most likely pushing the boundary of the tropics further poleward in that hemisphere.

This expansion of the tropics has been happening at a rate of 0.7° latitude per decade.

As for the potential impact of this, lead author Robert Allen says:

If the tropics are moving poleward, then the sub-tropics will become even drier. If a poleward displacement of the mid-latitude storm tracks also occurs, this will shift mid-latitude precipitation poleward, impacting regional agriculture, economy, and society.

For example, the southern portions of the United States may get drier if the storm systems move further north than they were 30 years ago. Indeed, some climate models have been showing a steady drying of the subtropics, accompanied by an increase in precipitation in higher mid-latitudes. The expansion of the tropical belt that we attribute to black carbon and tropospheric ozone in our work is consistent with the poleward displacement of precipitation seen in these models.

If there's some good news in this, it's that reducing black carbon soot is increasingly on the international agenda, and that compared to other climate pollutants its effects are very short-lived once the source of the pollution is eliminated.

Friday, May 25, 2012

BetterPlanet ‘Donor Wall’ Grows at the University of Guelph

GUELPH, Ontario May 24, 2012 - University of Guelph News Release - The University of Guelph today unveiled seven additions to its dramatic "donor wall" in Rozanski Hall. The donor wall in the lobby of the classroom complex honours supporters and tells the story of the University’s BetterPlanet Project.

“It’s intended to be an evolving symbol of the issues and needs being addressed as we look to create change and make the world a better place,” said president Alastair Summerlee.

“Today we are adding to this work of art. The seven new pieces represent extraordinary giving to the University and the potential for growth via the new opportunities these gifts provide.”

Donors highlighted today are:

...Philip Gosling and Susan Gosling, Gosling Foundation: a second leadership gift to the BetterPlanet Project of $1.5 million to establish the Gosling Research Institute for Plant Preservation;

...Tony and Anne Arrell, U of G graduates: $1 million to support excellence in teaching and 20 annual scholarships for students across disciplines;

...Wolf Haessler, U of G graduate and founder of Skyjack Inc.: $1 million to enhance the University’s engineering facilities and to fund 20 new scholarships;

...Donald Pestell, Ontario Agricultural College graduate: $600,000 for the D.J. Pestell Student Service and Alumni Centre at the Ridgetown Campus;

...The late J.E. Blake Graham, Ontario Veterinary College graduate: $500,000 for the Blake Graham Fellowship Endowment Fund, supporting graduate studies in public health and zoonotic diseases;

Bob and Gail Farquharson, a second leadership gift to the BetterPlanet Project of $537,000 to support individual preventive health-care research; and

...Scotiabank, $500,000 to support scholarships and case study competitions in the College of Management and Economics.

The 42-foot-long installation depicts a mural map of Canada painted by five local artists, along with four columns for the themes of the BetterPlanet Project: food, environment, health and community.

Launched publicly in fall 2010, the BetterPlanet Project aims to raise $200 million to help U of G improve research and teaching.

The donor wall was unveiled last September at the campaign’s halfway point; the campaign had raised more than $136.5 million.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

From the city to the farm to the big screen

NEUSTADT, Ontario May 7, 2012 from — To Make A Farm, a new feature-length documentary film exploring the lives of five new farmers with non-farming backgrounds, will show in Ontario in early March, with screenings in Guelph, Walkerton and Campbellford.

Filmmaker Steve Suderman and the operators of three featured farms — two of which are located near the Grey County community of Neustadt — will be in attendance.

Stepping into the limelight to help promote the film and connect with those in attendance at the screenings will be Tarrah Young and Nathan Carey of Green Being Farm (also highlighted in this edition of Regional Country News for recently achieving certification as a “Bee Friendly” farm); and Leslie Moskovits and Jeff Boesch of nearby Cedar Down Farm — both of which are Neustadt-area community shared agriculture operations producing a variety of vegetables, meats and other produce.

The other featured farmer in the film is from Minnedosa, Manitoba,

Promotional material for To Make A Farm, named one of the 10 most popular Canadian films at the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2011, says the film asks: “What might the future of local food and farming look like?”

Suderman, who grew up on a farm in western Canada and later taught courses on documentary and experimental film at the University of Regina, examines his own family history in farming while, according to the promo material, “discovering a vibrant community of new farmers with urban backgrounds.”

“To Make A Farm depicts the struggles and triumphs of a season on a fledgling farm through the eyes of five young people who have decided to become small-scale farmers, despite having no backgrounds in this demanding profession.”

Upcoming screening events for the film are:

Jubilee Hall in Walkerton, 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 3; and two screenings at the Bookshelf Cinema in Guelph, at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 5 and 9 p.m. on Monday, March 5.

“I thought it would be impossible for someone to take up farming who didn’t grow up as a farmer,” Suderman says in a news release about the film. “But once I met these farmers and started filming, I was inspired by their passion and hard work."

“I think there are skeptics out there who think the new farmer movement is driven by romanticism, and perhaps there’s an element of that. But in the film you see the struggles and setbacks, and the need to make it work as a business.”

To Make A Farm was described as “exceptionally hopeful” by critics at the Vancouver International Film Festival, where the film had its world premiere in 2011 and was held over for an additional screening after attracting sell-out crowds. Since then, the film has continued to play at festivals across Canada. Last month it made its US premiere at the Big Sky Documentary Festival in Montana, and later will play at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington DC, one of the world’s largest environmental film festivals.

“The filmmaker and farmers hope to draw attention to the lives of local farmers and the realities of small-scale agriculture,” stated the promotional material.

The southern Ontario connections for the film aren’t confined solely to the portrayal of the two Neustadt-area farms. While the director, producer and editor are all based in Saskatchewan, the music for To Make A Farm was recorded at Chalmers United Church in Guelph. More information or to preview clips of the film, visit

To Make A Farm Television Premiere on TVO!

To Make A Farm will make its television debut on TVO (Ontario) Wednesday, May 16 at 9:00 pm EST.

Encore presentations:
Wednesday, May 16 at 12 midnight
Sunday, May 20 at 9:00 pm
Tuesday, May 22 at 9:00 pm

Monday, May 7, 2012

Stephen Lewis talk today at the Global Development Symposium at the University of Guelph

GUELPH, Ontario May 7, 2012 - University of Guelph News - Stephen Lewis, a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS in some of the world’s poorest countries, delivers the keynote speech today at the “Global Development Symposium: Critical Links Between Human and Animal Health.”

The symposium, which runs until Wednesday, is part of the Ontario Veterinary College’s 150th-anniversary celebrations.

Along with Lewis, a distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson University, the event will feature David Butler-Jones, Canada’s chief public health officer; Brian Evans, Canada’s chief food safety officer and chief veterinary officer; John McDermott, director of the research program on agriculture for improved nutrition and health with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research; and U of G president Alastair Summerlee.

Beyond veterinary medicine, the symposium will explore interdisciplinary approaches to improve public health and food security and strengthen communities. It brings together social, environmental, medical and veterinary scientists with policy-makers, students and community members interested in global development.

For more information, see

Saturday, May 5, 2012

6.8 Million Birds Die Because of Communication Towers in North America Each Year

25X More Than the Number of Birds Killed by Exxon Valdez Spill

from by Michael Graham Richard - Science / Natural Sciences

Every single year, the 84,000 communication towers spread around North-America kill an estimated 6.8 million birds. Some of these towers can be 2,000 feet high and surrounded by a large number of dangerous guy wires that help keep the towers upright. To put things in context, the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill killed about 250,000 birds, and the Empire State building is 1,250 feet high, so we truly are talking about very tall towers and a very large number of birds killed.

The taller the tower the greater the threat, the study found. The 1,000 or so towers above 900 feet accounted for only 1.6 percent of the total number of towers. Yet these skyscraper towers killed 70 percent of the birds, about 4.5 million a year, said lead author Travis Longcore, associate professor in the USC Spatial Sciences Institute at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences..

The author does a very good job explaining it, so please check out the video below:

These birds are worth saving just because of their intrinsic value, but on top of that they also provide many services to us, such as eating insects and keeping our forests healthy.

Via USC News

Fertile Soils Need Animal Agriculture: Joel Salatin on Integrated Farming

photo credit: Peak Moment/Video screen capture

from by Sami Grover - Science / Sustainable Agriculture

Joel Salatin has been described as America's most influential farmer, and with good reason. While mainstream agriculture has subscribed to the "get big or get out" school of farming, Salatin's Polyface Farms venture has been developing a deeper, more integrated approach to sustainable food production based on human-scale farming systems and a tight symbiosis between plants, animals and their human stewards.

For those who believe the vegan diet is the path to sustainability, Salatin's systems of rotational grazing and pasture will no doubt sound like (if you'll pardon the expression) putting lipstick on a pig—but as Salatin explains in the interview below with Peak Moment TV, the deep, rich soils that our current farming system is busy depleting have been brought about by the interaction of perennial plants and grazing animals.

It is true vegan diets avoid many of the worst excesses of our current farming systems. It is also true that we could recycle an awful lot of human poop to lessen the reliance on animal agriculture. But until someone can show me what a vegan world really might look like, my money is on a more enlightened form of animal agriculture playing an important role in feeding us humans for some time to come.

Folks like Joel Salatin are showing us what that might actually look like. Thanks to Peak Moment TV for another great video.

FortisBC Osprey nest camera launches for another season

KELOWNA, British Columbia, May 4, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - FortisBC's nest camera has begun streaming live video of a pair of Osprey that return every spring to their nest near Benvoulin Road.

FortisBC relocated this nest from a nearby utility pole in 2007 to protect the Osprey from risk of electrocution and the pair has continued to return to this nest each year.

"Our nest camera has proven to be extremely popular with our customers in recent years," said Tom Loski, vice president, customer service. "Again this year we are looking forward to the tens of thousands of views we receive from our customers interested in catching a glimpse of the Osprey and their offspring."

Typically, Osprey return to the same nesting site each year. Their usual routine is to build up their nest with new materials, lay their eggs and then hatch and raise new chicks each year. Osprey will typically nest between May and September and migrate south for the winter.

Watch live streaming video from fortisbc at

FortisBC's successful Osprey nest management program relocates nests from atop energized power poles to safer sites. This program helps protect birds from electrocution and improves electrical safety and reliability. Birds nesting on energized poles can damage the electrical equipment, causing power outages or fire when nest debris falls on power lines.

FortisBC follows the Ministry of Environment's permitting conditions and enlists the services of biologists to assist in the removal of the nests to alternative platforms on poles nearby. FortisBC's success with the program has seen more than 40 poles installed throughout B.C.'s southern interior.

For more information on the nest management program or to watch streaming live video of the Osprey, please visit

FortisBC is an integrated energy solutions provider focused on providing safe and reliable energy, including natural gas, electricity, propane and alternative energy solutions, at the lowest reasonable cost. FortisBC employs more than 2,300 British Columbians and serves approximately 1.1 million customers in more than 135 B.C. communities. FortisBC is indirectly wholly owned by Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada. FortisBC owns and operates four regulated hydroelectric generating plants, approximately 7,000 kilometres of transmission and distribution power lines and approximately 47,000 kilometres of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines. FortisBC Inc., FortisBC Energy Inc., FortisBC Energy (Vancouver Island) Inc., and FortisBC Energy (Whistler) Inc. do business as FortisBC. Fortis Inc. shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and trade under the symbol FTS. Additional information can be accessed at or

Live video link available at

Tim Hortons responds to customer demands for more humane eggs and pork

VANCOUVER, May 4, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Under mounting pressure from animal welfare organizations and consumers, Tim Hortons announced today it will call on its pork suppliers to eliminate the gestation confinement of breeding sows and that it plans to purchase at least 10 per cent of its eggs from enriched caging systems by the end of 2013.

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) still feels Tim Hortons' initiative falls short of making necessary improvements to animal welfare, particularly in regards to egg-laying hens. Through VHS's online petition on Change.Org, more than 30,000 people have urged Tim Hortons to stop the use of cages and crates for hens and sows.

"VHS is pleased that Tim Hortons is sending a strong message to the pork industry that change is needed to get animals out of tiny crates," said Leanne McConnachie, Director of the Vancouver Humane Society's Farm Animal Programs. "Like many consumers nationwide, we are disappointed that the company still refuses to use any cage-free eggs though."

Approximately 26 million hens produce Canada's egg supply, and Tim Hortons' 10 per cent commitment will only affect about 35,000 hens—the equivalent size of the average battery cage barn. In B.C. alone, more than 300,000 hens are raised in cage-free systems such as free-run, free-range and organic free-range. Most of Tim Hortons' competitors have opted to purchase eggs from farms using cage-free systems.

Friday, May 4, 2012

OGRA Partners with RCCAO and MTO for Wellington County Bridges Study

OAKVILLE, Ontario, May 4, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) has partnered with the Residential & Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO) and the Ministry of Transportation to undertake the Wellington County Bridges Study.

This pilot study will determine the bridge infrastructure needs of Wellington County and its constituent municipalities and assess the potential to use alternative delivery methods. MTO has provided $50,000 in funding with the balance of the $100,000 study being funded by RCCAO and OGRA.

The work will be phased with the first three stages relating to the key steps in developing a bridge asset management plan. Phase 4 will consider alternative delivery options such as bridge bundling and phase 5 will include conclusions and recommendations. A Project Team will be organized with representation from the RCCAO, OGRA, MTO and Wellington County. The final report will be made available to OGRA members.

OGRA President Alan Korell is eager to begin this project.

"To partner with a respectable organization such as RCCAO and to have the support of MTO enables us to bring our shared expertise and experience to the table. This study will benefit Ontario municipalities by providing guidance on how they can use innovative delivery approaches to reduce their long term bridge renewal costs."

"We need to look at new ways to help municipalities maintain, rehabilitate and replace their bridges. This study follows on other OGRA efforts such as Municipal DataWorks, ongoing training and advocacy work in support of Ontario municipalities" said Joe Tiernay, OGRA Executive Director.

Andy Manahan, RCCAO's Executive Director, feels that

"The Wellington County Bridges Study supports the goal of the province's long-term 'Building Together' strategy to use innovative approaches to fund infrastructure improvements. RCCAO is particularly pleased that analytical methods will be used to compare traditional approaches with AFP and bundling approaches for the rehabilitation and maintenance of municipal bridge structures."

The mandate of the Ontario Good Roads Association is to represent the infrastructure interests of municipalities through advocacy, consultation, training and the delivery of identified services.

For more information, please visit

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Celebrating the Nature Conservancy of Canada's Golden Anniversary

Canada's leading non-profit land conservation organization
celebrates fifty years of conservation legacies

CALGARY, May 2, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Fifty years of conservation is worthy of a celebration! And what a celebration this will be!

This "Legacy of Landscapes" event will celebrate projects in Alberta conserved by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the people who have made it happen. CBC Radio's Stuart McLean is the featured guest speaker, along with award-winning cowboy poet Doris Daley. The Honourable Diana McQueen, Minister of Environment will bring welcoming remarks, while His Worship, Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary will also join supporters to celebrate this milestone.

Honourary co-chairs of the event, Hal Kvisle (retired President & CEO, TransCanada Corporation and Chair, NCC National Board), Pat Daniel (CEO, Enbridge Inc.) and Fred Green (President and CEO, CP Rail) have brought together sponsors, supporters and corporate Calgary to celebrate this Legacies of Landscapes event. And NCC is celebrating by bringing the landscapes they have conserved to life in the Westin's grand ballroom. A 63-foot projection of landscapes NCC has conserved, other visual displays, live greenery and rehabilitated birds from the Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale will round out a spectacular evening.

"After fifty years, NCC is really just gaining momentum. 45,000 supporters - individuals, corporations, foundations and governments - support our conservation work from coast to coast. Everything flows from nature in one way or other. People really are realizing that the well-being of our planet, our children depends on the proper functioning of our natural systems. Tonight is a celebration of the many Canadians who already believe in the critical importance of our work and an opportunity to celebrate the many significant projects that have been completed in Alberta and across Canada. We look forward to creating another fifty years of conservation legacies." - Bob Demulder, Vice President, Nature Conservancy of Canada - Alberta Region

Since 1962, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and its partners have helped to protect more than 2.6 million acres (1 million hectares), coast to coast - and over 185,000 acres (75,000 hectares) in Alberta, including projects like the 35,000-acre Waterton Park Front conservation project.

Proceeds from table and ticket sales support East Slopes stewardship - started by Daryl K. ("Doc") Seaman when he conserved the 9,400-acre OH Ranch near Longview, under conservation easement through NCC. This will help ensure the ongoing care of nearly 100,000 acres of lands conserved by NCC along the eastern slopes of Alberta's Rocky Mountains.

"The Conservancy's legacy of leadership and innovation in the preservation and management of important natural areas has made an invaluable contribution to the protection of our country's natural heritage," said Alberta Environment and Water Minister Diana McQueen. "The work of the Alberta Chapter and its dedication to Alberta's natural splendour is greatly appreciated and highly valued by our government."

"It is my distinct pleasure to serve as honourary co-chair of the Nature Conservancy of Canada's fiftieth anniversary celebration in Calgary. We have so many conservation success stories to celebrate over our fifty years - from the landowners who have chosen to work with NCC to protect their lands, to partners who have participated in a number of our projects, to our supporters without whom none of this would be possible. This is one of the first celebrations in 2012 that will take place across Canada in honour of NCC's golden anniversary, and serves as a grand way to kick off our next fifty years." - Hal Kvisle - Nature Conservancy of Canada national board chair

About the Nature Conservancy of Canada

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the plants and animals they sustain. Since 1962 NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2.6 million acres (1 million hectares), coast to coast and over 185,000 acres (75,000 hectares) in Alberta. By investing in conservation we are ensuring that our natural world remains a home for wildlife, a haven for recreation and a vital resource that cleans the air we breathe and the water we drink. Through strong partnerships NCC works to safeguard our natural areas so that our children and grandchildren will have the chance to enjoy them. To learn more visit:

Government of Canada announces support for women and girls in rural Nova Scotia

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, May 2, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women highlighted Government of Canada support for women and girls in rural and remote communities in Nova Scotia.

"I am pleased to highlight our Government's support for projects in Nova Scotia that address issues of violence and economic security affecting women and girls living in rural and remote communities," said Minister Ambrose. "In every region of Canada, particularly in rural and remote regions, women play important roles in their families and communities, and are key to our country's prosperity."

As part of its recent Call for Proposals for Women Living in Rural and Remote Communities and Small Urban Centres, the Government of Canada has invested in projects through the following organizations in Nova Scotia:

Nova Scotia Native Women's Association

The Nova Scotia Native Women's Association is receiving $265,600 in Government of Canada support for a project that will work with Mi'kmaq women located in the rural regions of Cape Breton and Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. The goal is to create two community plans to address the issue of violence against women: one for three communities in Cape Breton, and the other for three communities in the Annapolis Valley.

The Second Story Women's Centre, Lunenburg

The Second Story Women's Centre in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia is receiving $296,377 in Government of Canada support for a project to improve community support for women and girls affected by violence in communities along the South Shore of Nova Scotia. In addition to supporting women and girls, the group will engage men and boys to help stop violence against women, and encourage healthy relationships.

YWCA Halifax

YWCA Halifax is receiving $298,438 in Government of Canada support for a project that will work with women residing in the community of Spryfield, Nova Scotia. The goal is to develop a community plan in collaboration with business and community leaders to better coordinate services and resources, and more efficiently address the economic security of women in Spryfield.

Tri-County Women's Centre, Yarmouth

The Tri-County Women's Centre is receiving $300,000 in Government of Canada support for a project which will work with adult women from various ethno-backgrounds in Yarmouth County who have experienced financial insecurity. The goal is to identify and work to address institutional or other gaps in the community that can cause financial difficulty in areas such as employment, affordable housing, childcare, transportation, financial literacy, training or education.

Over the last two years, through the Women's Program of Status of Women Canada, over $2 million in funding has been approved for community-based projects in Nova Scotia.