East Coast of Vancouver Island

East Coast of Vancouver Island
Natural Beauty is Worth Preserving

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Blue Revolution is a Lie

B. McPherson
This video is quite long, but it is a real eye opener about "organic prawns"

The Blue Revolution is the set of lies told to the public about the sustainability of fish farming. It includes fables about the farming of shrimp and prawns as well. Industrialists that own the “farms” have been tireless in repeating the story.

The open net fish farming industry has shown how disease is concentrated in the feed lot of the nets. Waste from the fish drops to the ocean floor and contributes to pollution. The overcrowded conditions require the heavy use of antibiotics to keep disease at bay. And often, that is not enough. Currently, on the west coast of British Columbia, millions of farmed Atlantic salmon have been killed because they are infected with a deadly virus.

They promised us cheap fish if we accepted the farm leases in our clean coastal waters.

Ever wonder what those farmed fish eat? They eat wild fish. Not salmon. The industry would claim that they only catch “garbage fish”. There is no such thing. All wild creatures have a place in the tapestry of life. Turning less desirable fish into meal for farmed salmon probably means that someone in a third world country goes hungry tonight.

Ever have shrimp at a restaurant? Do you ask where it comes from? Shrimp and prawns used to be so expensive that the average person had them only once or twice a year. Now some restaurants have “endless shrimp” and “all you can eat shrimp”. How about “popcorn shrimp”? Where do they come from and why are they so cheap? Everything must be paid for one way or the other. It looks as if the people living on the north east coast of Brazil are paying. The environment is paying. Corporations are making a killing.

Damage to the local mangrove forests and other life in the area has been extensively documented. Even when the farms are abandoned, they continue to disrupt and prevent the healing of the environment.

The carrot that the corporations hold out to the local, often subsistence farmers in the area is the prospect of well paying jobs. Once the leases are granted, the promise of jobs evaporates in the tropical sun, while villagers find their routes to the mangroves cut off by high fences. Those that make it to coastal rivers find them dying from the chemicals released into the water as the shrimp ponds are cleaned.

What Can You Do?
·         Always ask when you buy fish whether it’s in a restaurant or the supermarket. Never buy farmed fish. The price is far higher than the money you pay for it.

·         Always ask where the prawns and shrimp are sourced. Never buy farmed shrimp. They are grown on the backs of the poor. Prawns and shrimp are luxury foods and wild caught will reflect the price.

·         Reduce the amount of animal flesh that you eat.

I     In case you are wondering, the Green Revolution was a Lie Too.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

US Drought Withers Corn and Soybean Crops


This may be evidence of climate change or it may be a periodic disaster. Either way it hits the consumer and producer hard.
The US Mid-West is facing its worst drought in 56 years and it is having a major impact on the soybean and corn yields.  The American Mid-West is the world’s largest supplier of corn and a leading supplier of soybeans. Both have been hit hard by the lack of rain this summer.

Iowa has been the hardest hit of the states under extreme drought conditions. They share that unfortunate designation with Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Currently 35 states have counties that have been declared disaster areas.

The corn and soybean futures have reached record high prices. The ripples from the failed crops will spread across N.America and also to the hungry in foreign countries. Corn and its processed products are found in much of the processed foods in the supermarkets. Corn is the principle food for feed lot cattle. The American chicken industry usually feeds corn to its poultry. Higher prices for animal feeds will push up the prices for eggs, chicken and beef.

To add to the farmers’ woes, the pastureland for cattle has dried up and cattlemen are having to buy hay to keep their dairy cattle producing and their beef cattle in shape for slaughter. It is expected that many farmers will be sending their animals to the slaughterhouses early to avoid having to feed expensive purchased food over the winter. So while beef prices may take a brief dip, they are expected to more than rebound as the surplus is taken up.

The American farmers are hoping that an updated Farm Bill before the House of Representatives will be passed to help them through this drought. It has been passed by the Senate but partisan politics in Congress have stalled it.

Besides the obvious crop failures from this year’s massive drought in the Bread Basket, there are other important consequences. The nation’s electrical supply generated by coal or nuclear stations requires massive amounts of water. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, 41% of the water used in the US is used for generating electricity. As the weather heats, more electricity is used to cool urban spaces and homes.

Wildlife is increasingly impacted as the supply of water dries up. Obviously animals require a steady source of water throughout the year, as do the plants that they live on. Massive fish kills have been reported as some of the remaining rivers have climbed to lethally hot temperatures for the aquatic life. Sturgeon are dying. In monetary terms the loss for sturgeon alone is about $10 million.

While many of us focus on oil and petroleum products, allowing Big Oil to dictate policies and politics, little attention is focussed on water. This is a water planet. We are primarily water. Water is life and without it, all the big SUVs and plastic bags will be useless.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Enbridge Repair Team

This was sent to me without attribution, but I thought it was too good to not post. Thank you to the wag who composed this. The only thing missing here are the Keystone Kops.

Subject: We'll Fix That Right Away (Enbridge's famous words!)

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Enormous Sinkhole Opens in Louisiana Bayou

B. McPherson

Ordinary people are out of their homes and businesses are shut down. Who is responsible? Where is the radiation coming from? It the butane storage compromised?
Grand Bayou, Louisiana is home to a brand new salty, murky lake. No one wants to take responsibility for the enormous sinkhole that has swallowed 100 foot long cypress trees. Bubbles have marred the surface of the bayou since May, but no answers came from the environmental investigations.

Now there is diesel floating on the surface of the salty water. Natural gas pipelines cross this area, but the gas companies have had divers checking the pipes since bubbles were reported and they were intact. 

Eyes have now turned to the Texas Brine Company which mines brine from a large underground salt dome. They use the sodium chloride for industrial purposes. The brine company has been ordered to drill an exploratory well to see if their brine claim has been compromised. Their estimate of time it will take – 40 days. Sounds a bit Biblical.

The hole which has not grown since Saturday, is currently 372 feet across and 422 feet deep.

It is emanating low levels of radiation, but ‘experts’ have told the locals that there is nothing to worry about with low levels of radiation. As a precaution, about 150 people have had to evacuate homes and businesses. The operators of the gas pipelines have been asked to depressurize the lines after one was twisted in the mystery hole.

Residents are expressing their lack of confidence in the state authorities and have been left apprehensive of natural gas explosions ever since an incident in 2003 which saw people evacuated from an area close to natural gas storage in a salt dome. The gas was escaping and bubbling into the water wells. Chevron currently uses three salt dome formations to store nearly 13 billion cubic feet of gas, at least one of which is filled with liquid butane.

Most homeowners have no control over industrial operations that take place under ground. Industrial operations have been blamed for ground shaking and sinkholes forming.

“Residents have also been reporting earthquakes but despite a battery of tests conducted by federal, parish and local officials, no one has been able to figure out the source of the tremors.

Randy Rousseau, who lives in Grand Bayou and owns a body shop in Belle Rose, said he's noticed tremors for years. He eventually moved out of his house because he didn't feel safe and has been unable to sell it because the property value plummeted after several small sinkholes opened up in his yard.” Daily Mail UK

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Failing Rains, Failing Crops World Faces Hunger

B. McPherson

Changing weather patterns around the world are causing droughts and crop failures. The American mid-west which produces more corn and soy than any other country is facing the worst drought in 56 years. While the harvest isn’t in in the US, estimates are that it will be about 30% lower than usual. Already those bidding on corn commodities have pushed the price up by about 50%.

Wheat crops in Canada are about normal with adequate rainfall in most areas except the Peace River area in the north which is dry.

Drought in the Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan has curtailed grain in those countries.

Argentina and Brazil are both experiencing drought conditions.

India had disappointing rain yield from their monsoon season.

The global food harvest may be as poor as 2008 when hunger drove many to agitate for subsidized food supplies. India curtailed the export of their lower grades of rice so that supplies could be available to their own residents. This year the expected drop in rice production is estimated at 7.8 million metric tonnes(8.6 million tons).

China seems to have escaped the worst of the weather changes this growing season. With over 1.3 billion mouths to feed this is good news indeed. Some areas in northern China can now produce two crops per year because of temperature increases, but are limited to one because of the shortage of water.

For the average N. American price increases are expected across the board and the higher cost for corn is passed through the food chain. Initially prices for pork and beef may dip as ranchers seek to reduce their stock to avoid having to purchase more expensive feed. Cattle that would normally graze are having to be fed from purchased forage crops. Corn and soy are used extensively in processed foods.

For the poor, the inevitable increases in food prices are a catastrophe. The World Hunger Education Service states that their latest figures show that 925 million people were malnourished in 2010. This was down from the critical 2008. Food aid NGO’s and UN agencies have been forced cut back their purchases for distribution to the most hungry due to price increases.

The poor spend a far greater proportion of their income on food. Because foods low in protein are cheaper, the poor are forced to cut back on protein necessary for health. With the ongoing financial crisis in the world, more and more people have been pushed from working poor or middle class to simply poor. People who have been forced to flee areas of armed conflict are suddenly thrust into the role of destitute beggars. While many of us think of the poor as “people over there”, hunger is creeping and growing in our N.American society as our beleaguered food banks can attest.

An academic paper produced this spring gives cause for more pessimism. The socioeconomics of food crop production and climate
change vulnerability: a global scale quantitative analysis
of how grain crops are sensitive to drought

discusses the possibility of public unrest and international conflicts if food production cannot maintain an adequate level of supply. They estimate that an increase of 70% in food production will be necessary to fend off these dangers. This seems like an impossibility in the face of climatic uncertainties.

We have seen wars fought over control of oil supplies, but you can’t eat or drink oil and you can live without it. You can’t grow crops without water. You can’t live very long without water. The conflicts will be vicious.

Water Porn: The Bellagio Water Display in Las Vegas

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Abandoned Oil Pipelines What Lurks Below?

These photos were taken July 2012 in the historic Turner Valley, Alberta
B. McPherson

Controversy over new oil pipelines is reaching boiling point in many circles. Heated debate is taking place over the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway and Keystone Pipeline proposals. Safety, disruption to landowners  and more are being weighed against the money to be made transporting and selling petroleum products. It got me thinking about the old pipelines. What happens to a pipeline when it is too old to use or not needed?

It’s a bit of an Alice in Wonderland scene. The US laws and regulations are different from ours in Canada. The Pipeline and Gas Journal is a source of information about abandoned pipelines in Texas. Apparently a pipeline in Texas may be abandoned by a company, but it still retains ownership and may choose to reactivate the line at a later date. In the meantime, the right of way or easement is no longer maintained, but the through which the pipe extends is not free to dig it up or build on top of it.

Abandoning a pipeline, but retaining ownership allows the oil transport company to avoid expenses and liabilities. The following points were copied from the Pipeline and Gas Journal, Oct 2009

* Possible environmental problems,
 * Possible opportunity for future use,
 * No company policy regarding this kind of property,
 * Ignorance of potential profits, and
 * Ignorance of potential liabilities.  Pipeline and Gas Journal, Oct. 2009

In Canada an oil company must apply to the National Energy Board to abandon a pipeline. There are considerations as to whether to leave the line in the ground or to remove it. The Energy Board has the final say as to the disposition of the asset(or liability). In Canada, a pipeline may not be reactivated without the permission of the Board.

OK so the pipeline is abandoned and left in place. Is it cleaned? The recent spill into the Red Deer River in Alberta was from an unused(abandoned) pipeline. It fouled a large area of the river and rendered a lake unusable for recreation and threatened the drinking water of the town of Red Deer.

According to the National Energy Board of Canada(NEB) there are 700 000 kilometres of oil and gas pipelines in Canada. I could not find figures for the extent of abandoned pipes. As a field is pumped out and left, often the pipes are also left. Eventually those metal pipes will corrode, spilling the residues into the adjoining landscape. Also the empty tubes may serve as water conduits moving water along with hydrocarbon residues to unexpected places.

People in Canada cannot legally stop a Big Oil company from trenching across their land to lay pipelines. The best they can do is to negotiate a pathway that keeps the high pressure lines away from houses and buildings. Oil pipelines are buried an average of one to two metres(3 to 6 ft.) under the soil. If their property is poisoned by leaking pipes, ask them how much Big Oil has benefited them.

Pipelines leak, sometimes early, sometimes late, but they will leak and poison the environment.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Cdn. Heritage Minister Doubts Enbridge’s Safety

B. McPherson

While Enbridge would like you to believe little damage was done at its oil leak in Grand Marsh, the evidence points to  far greater environmental damage. Light, toxic oil, kills.

Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore speaking on a Vancouver Talk Show(CKNW), expressed his doubts about the sincerity of Enbridge’s commitment to safety. While the company was trying to “sell” the idea of the twinned Northern Gateway Pipeline to the public, they stated that they had learned much from the past and were committed to all the best safety measures. As opposition to the proposed Oil Sands pipeline mounted and finally the British Columbia Primier Christie Clark joined the majority, Enbridge has made an announcement that they would spend a further $500 million to beef up safety. This left even a federal minister wondering about why the commitment wasn’t made in the first place.

“This project will not survive scrutiny unless Enbridge takes far more seriously their obligation to engage the public,” he said.

Asked outright if he has “real serious doubts” about Enbridge, Mr. Moore replied, “Sure.” Globe andMail

Enbridge’s proposal has come under increasing scrutiny since the US report on the disastrous oil leak in the Kalamazoo River which saw 40 miles of the river and adjoining wetlands fouled. The report referred to their safety response as a “Keystone cops” response which allowed more than a million gallons of crude oil into the water and soil.

Last week a leak in an Enbridge pipeline in Wisconsin(Grand Marsh) allowed about 1200(50 400 gal.) barrels of the toxic substance to cover a farmhouse, its ponds and crops. Initially Enbridge spokepeople said that little damage was done and only a couple of farm ponds were covered. Now the story is that they aren’t sure about the effect on the ground water for the area.

The Us Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has shut the pipeline down until an acceptable safety plan is in place. The US Transporation Secretary Ray La Hood called the leak “unacceptable”.
While spokesperson for Enbridge on this incident, Jennifer Smith, stated that these leaks are “truly rare” the evidence compiled by Watershed Sentinel over the past 12 years shows a different picture. According to their figures Enbridge pipelines have spilled 132 715 barrels of oil.

If you build it, it will leak.