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Sustainable development, not culling, key to reviving caribou populations in Alberta

"The caribou again are in the way."

By Michael Bloomfield, Edmonton Journal

For more than 30 years, Alberta has failed to implement the land-use guidelines necessary to protect declining caribou populations.

As collateral damage in our frenzied pursuit of natural resource revenue, Alberta’s caribou have been brought to the brink of disaster. While we should be furious, we should not be surprised. As Gordon Pitts recently wrote in a column on the shift of economic power west, “When Canadians find stuff in the ground, they take leave of their senses, unleashing contagions of get-rich-quick thinking.”

Now, as we stampede in our quest to become a Pacific power and build a pipeline from the Alberta oilsands to the B.C. coast, the caribou again are in the way. This time, if we care, not only for their sake but for ourselves and future generations, we have the power to demand change for the better. Are we ready to forgo a few dollars for a healthier environment?

Let’s make no mistake, habitat loss from logging, mining, oil and gas development and roads has been and continues to be the primary cause of the caribou decline. Wolves, if they contributed at all to the decline, were only significant because caribou were already so vulnerable. Predation has been overemphasized to avoid dealing with the real issues of power and money.

Caribou depend on mature and climax forests, and the cumulative effect of recreational and industrial activities on those forests has been devastating. The destruction of habitat fragmented a once cohesive population which stretched from B.C. through our Rocky Mountain parks into western Alberta. In turn, this fragmentation increased the vulnerability of local bands to disturbance from industrial and recreational activities in breeding, calving, migration corridors and other seasonally important areas.

Mismanagement of hunting caused further damage to already threatened herds.

To once again kill wolves to save caribou is like recycling beer cans in Fort McMurray to deal with greenhouse gases produced by oilsands development.

It’s long past time we developed a serious strategy that provides a sustainable future for us and the environment and includes a well-funded, science-based caribou recovery plan. Our economic footprint doesn’t need to squash caribou to extinction, nor liquidate the inheritance of future generations so we can enrich ourselves now.

So what’s required to achieve recovery and restoration of caribou in Alberta and Western Canada?

First, we must deal comprehensively with all of the issues and involve government, business and the public in development and implementation of the plan. It’s not enough to manage habitat for currently depressed populations and leave them perpetually at risk.

We must provide sufficient habitat to allow recovery to self-sustaining levels. Such action must include protection of migratory routes and seasonally important areas.

Furthermore, there must be a moratorium on new industrial and recreational activity in critical caribou range, coupled with urgent research into the effects of existing industrial activity and motorized recreation on caribou and their habitat. Where necessary, herd augmentation and adaptive management practices should be employed.

Albertans have been blessed with exceptional wealth derived from natural resources. With privilege comes responsibility and Albertans, therefore, have a serious duty to protect caribou and provide adequate habitat for their long term recovery.

After I left Alberta in 1982, I continued to work for the caribou, urging the Committee on the Status of Wildlife in Canada to recognize the woodland caribou as a rare species, something done in 1984. In 2000, the committee designated caribou as a threatened species.

So where are we today? Nearly 25 years of Alberta’s caribou “recovery” process has brought looming disaster. Despite compelling evidence, government continues to risk caribou survival to squeeze a bit more revenue out of Alberta’s wilderness.

In July 2010, the Alberta government updated its report on the status of the woodland caribou. In response to dismal results, the Alberta government ignored the advice of its own scientists and failed to downgrade caribou from threatened to endangered status.

Then in January 2012, federal Environment Minister Peter Kent delivered another blow to caribou survival, deciding not to recommend emergency protection for critical habitat for threatened caribou herds in Alberta.

If those trusted to defend the environment abdicate their responsibilities, it’s in our hands. Either we make it clear to our political and business leaders that we want a more environmentally sustainable approach to development with ample room for caribou and other endangered species, or accept that we are partners in this deadly greed.

You can start by asking candidates in the current election campaign to pledge themselves to action now before the caribou disappear.

“We must save caribou from our deadly greed”

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

Habitat loss from logging, mining, oil and gas development and roads is the primary cause of Alberta's caribou decline. The role of wolves has been overemphasized to avoid dealing with real issues of power and money.


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Giant furry T-rex discovered in China

Saw this article catching up on my Journal readings this morning… CRAZY!

A giant feathered tyrannosaur has been unearthed in China, the largest creature – living or extinct – known to sport a downy coat.

The carnivore, which grew up to nine metres long, likely looked “downright shaggy,” Corwin Sullivan, a Canadian paleontologist on the team that unveiled the creature, said on Wednesday.

Three specimens of the dinosaur, which the scientists have called Yutyrannus huali for “beautiful feathered tyrant,” have been uncovered in north-eastern China.

One was an adult estimated to have weighed 1.414 tonnes, 40 times bigger than any previously found feathered dinosaur. Two juveniles tipped the scales at about half a tonne.

The ancient bones were found by fossil traders and brought to museums where paleon-tologists realized their significance, which is detailed in the journal Nature this week.

The discovery “provides sol-id evidence for the existence of gigantic feathered dinosaurs,” reports the team led by Xu Xing, at Beijing’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology.

The scientists say the creature did not actually fly, which would have been impossible given its large size – far bigger than the average cow – and the downy structure of its feathers. But they say the feathers may have had an important function as insulation because the creatures lived about 125 mil-lion years ago when global temperatures took a dip.

“The average temperature would have been about 10 C,” says Sullivan, an associate professor at the Beijing paleontology institute.

“That is perhaps not too different from northern China today,” he says, but was an “unusually cool” period in the age of the dinosaurs.

Tyrannosaurus rex, which was larger and roamed a warmer world, is not believed to have had any feathers though the researchers don’t rule it out.”It’s possible that some dinosaurs that were even bigger had feathers but we can’t tell one way or the other because most dinosaurs are known only from bones,” Sullivan said from Beijing.

While the feather preservation on the three specimens “is patchy,” the team says the creatures had plenty of long, filamentous feathered plumage.

“They would have looked superficially more like hair than the feathers of modern birds,” says Sullivan, who de-scribes the downy creature as quite a carnivore.

“I wouldn’t want to meet one in a dark alley,” he says.

The obtaining of specimens from fossil traders is not uncommon in China. But the trade is not without problems.

“Some dealers will yield to the temptation to improve their specimens,” says Sullivan, explaining how they have been known to combine parts from different specimens and species.

But with experience and knowledge of both the fossils beds and the traders “who you are dealing with it is possible to largely avoid those problems,” he says. “So we are quite sure these specimens are authentic.”

Sullivan, who was raised in Ontario and British Columbia, did graduate studies at the University of Toronto and Harvard University before heading to China four years ago where he has been involved in several significant fossils finds.

By Margaret Munro, Postmedia News

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

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Green Milk?

One of the first things I noticed after moving to China was the milk.  When I drank it the first time, I thought it had a different, somewhat sweetened flavor and a very odd texture kinda like a Slimfast shake.  Where I come from, milk is stored and is refrigerated in the supermarkets for like 2 or 3 weeks max before someone’s gotta drink it.  In China, milk is stored at room temperature, likely for a long period of time, so at first I thought it wasn’t pasteurized.  Turns out, the milk that I’m used to drinking back home is treated by what’s called high temperature short time (HTST) pasteurization and Chinese milk is treated by a process called ultra heat treatment (UHT), or ultra pasteurization.

So, apparently UHT is another type of pasteurization that involves boiling at what they call ultra high temperatures for a fraction of a second, as opposed to exposure to lower temperatures for about 15-30 seconds at a time, increasing the shelf-life of milk from weeks to months.  Later I discovered that HTST milk, albeit less readily available, is also available in Chinese supermarkets, but it still don’t taste right to me (must be the cow).  UHT pasteurization is largely the preferred method of milk treatment obviously for economic reasons; however, UHT milk isn’t as rich in nutrients and loses some of its natural flavoring (which may explain the sweetening I noticed), further highlighting the unbalanced bias for development by leaders of this country not only over environmental concerns but over human health as well. 

What’s worse, you may have heard by now that the dairy industry in China was tangled in 2008, and again last year in a scandal involving melamine contamination.  Melamine is a chemical used to make various plastics and other industrial products and was added to milk because of its protein-like qualities in order to deceive health inspectors, but if consumed can cause potentially lethal health concerns involving kidney problems.  How some people can commit such devious crimes has always eluded me… babies depend on milk for sustenance and believe me there’s a LOT of frickin’ babies in China.  Seriously, I mean if you wanna be a bad guy go and rob a bank or something.  You don’t jeopardize the health of millions of peers and end lives before they even have a chance to begin.

A number of companies had their reputations tarnished by the scandal but only one has gone the extra mile to re-polish it.  Mengniu, a giant in China’s dairy industry, is collaborating with WWF to reduce carbon emissions through their Climate Savers programme, which is an international organization that promotes sustainable business partnerships with world-class producers.  Battling through economic obstacles towards GHG reductions and a low-carbon economy by facilitating companies to achieve ambitious emission reduction objectives in a profitable manner, a number of big name companies such as IBM, Sony, Nokia, National Geographic, TetraPak, Coca-cola and recently Volvo, have already established this relationship with the World Wide Fund for Nature.  As a world renowned NGO, the image created by a partnership with WWF is a necessary step for Mengniu to regain positive status, and is now leading the way as the first company to join the Climate Savers in China.


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Mr/s. Garrison’s Theory of Evolution

ms garrison

Mr/s. Garrison:

Now I for one think that evolution is a bunch of BULLCRAP.  But I’ve been told I have to teach it anyway.  It was thought up by Charles Darwin and it goes something like this…

In the beginning we were all fish, ok?  Swimming around in the water, and then one day a couple of fish had a retard baby, and the retard baby was different so it got to live.  So retard fish goes on to make more retard babies, and then one day a retard baby fish crawled out of the ocean with its MUTANT fish hands, andithadbuttsexwithasquirrelorsomethingandmadethisretardfrogsquirrelandthenthat hadaretardbabywhichwasamonkeyfishfrogandthenthismonkeyfishfroghadbuttsexwith thatmonkeyandthatmonkeyhadamutantretardbabyandscrewedanothermonkey…

and that made YOU.

So there you go.  You’re the retarded offspring of 5 monkeys having butt sex with a fish squirrel.  Congratulations.


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Scientists discover “missing link” in Human Evolution

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