And now for some tremendous environmental news – the salmon return in record numbers

Posted August 26, 2010 on 2:10 am | In the category Canada, Environment | by Mackenzie Brothers

After apparently unending terrible stories about the destruction of the environment by oil drilling, global warming, habitat destruction, etc, something amazing has happened that no scientists predicted or could hope for in their wildest dreams. One year after the worst return of sockeye salmon to the Fraser River in history – 1,5 million returned instead of the predicted 12 million and the end of the salmon on the world’s largest free-running salmon river seemed inevitable – the largest run in a century has come from nowhere and stunned both the despairing pessimists and the ever-hopeful scientists.

25 million sockeye salmon are now making their way towards or up the Fraser on the long run to their spawning grounds in the remote heartland of British Columbia and the river is jumping with fish and fishermen who have been allowed to catch salmon for the first time in four years. The spirit of native bands, commercial fishery, recreational fishers and really the whole provincial community has been uplifted by the amazing display of an event that it was assumed would never be seen again. May the force be with it.

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The Arctic Heats Up

Posted August 25, 2010 on 1:29 am | In the category Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

It’s not only global warming that is causing the Arctic to melt. It’s also the hot air and goofy pranks that the various combatants are employing to press their claims to the spoils of the ice war. Leading the pack at the moment is the smallest of the players, Denmark, which is using its colonial outpost, Greenland, which will become independent as soon as somebody or other begins drilling off its shore, to demonstrate what it has learned from the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe. Apparently not a thing. Instead of sitting down with Canada and the US , even Russia, to work on a common plan that will benefit everyone, Denmark unloads 64 tourists on desolate football field-sized Hans Island, which is disputed by Canada and Denmark, who promptly build a cairn topped by a Danish flag. This is a fete that matches or even surpasses in farce the Russian planting of a flag at the bottom of the North Pole. Knut Rasmussen is rolling in his grave. Not at all comical is the Danish granting of deep-water drilling rights to a Scottish company (no, not BP) to search for oil or gas in an area near the Canadian border where a spill would have terrible consequences on the lives of the Inuit who live along the northern coast. Reports claim that Danish warships and small boats with Danish marines are keeping protesters away.

With friends like this who needs enemies, like the Russian bombers who last month had to be repelled by Canadian jet fighters from flying into Canadian air space. The one good thing that may come out of this is that US and Canadian scientists are actually working together on drawing up their mapping information and that it looks like a compromise will be possible in solving the US-Canadian border dispute in the Beaufort Sea. May the force of co-operation, in place of grotesque posturing, be with them.

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Wake up and smell the smoke

Posted August 9, 2010 on 2:37 am | In the category Germany, Global Warming, Russia | by Mackenzie Brothers

Not all of Russia is burning . It is way too big. But a lot of it is and that part is in Europe. It’s been 40 degrees in Moscow on many days for longer than seems possible and it’s been 35-37 degrees in Central Europe for weeks at a time. It turns out the German Bundesbahn is programmed to provide air conditioning in its fast (and expensive) CE trains when the temperature outside reaches 32 degrees, but to stop providing it when it reaches 35, which was assumed to be the maximum possible. The result was that hundreds of passengers were left boiling in superheated trains in the last weeks in which you could not open the windows, and some had to be flagged down before the situation of the passengers became critical. Even Stockholm was hot though few Swedes complained as they enjoyed their water-surrounded vacation spots more than usual.

But the tremendous storms that pushed regularly through Bavaria at dusk this summer never made it to eastern Europe and the question hanging in the air is if we are indeed seeing the future of a different Europe with drought, wild fires, suffocating smog and dangerous heat replacing the relatively moderate Central and Eastern European summers of the past. If that is the case – and lots of researchers think it is – it is simply incredible that the main polluters of the word – Canada, the U.S. China,India etc – are ignoring the problem and still building their energy futures on fossil fuels. The Obama government has stuck its head in the sand, the Harper government has the second largest oil reserves in the word and plans to use it despite the tremendous resources needed to transform it into fuel, and the cities of China and India already live in a permanently toxic soup. Only the European middle powers are making some real efforts at alternate energy sources – Germany, the Netherlands, Spain – but they don’t have a chance if the leaders of the big polluters don’t wake up and smell the smog before it’s too late.

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