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Mainstream News Articles of interest

Melting glaciers have big carbon impact

As the Earth warms and glaciers all over the world begin to melt, researchers and public policy experts have focused largely on how all of that extra water will contribute to sea level rise.

But another impact lurking in that inevitable scenario is carbon.

More specifically, what happens to all of the organic carbon found in those glaciers when they melt?

That’s the focus of a new paper by a research team that includes Florida State Univ. assistant professor Robert Spencer. The study, published in Nature Geoscience, is the first global estimate by scientists at what happens when major ice sheets break down.

“This is the first attempt to figure out how much organic carbon is in glaciers and how much will be released when they melt,” Spencer said. “It could change the whole food web. We do not know how different ecological systems will react to a new influx of carbon.”

Glaciers and ice sheets contain about 70% of the Earth’s freshwater and ongoing melting is a major contributor to sea level rise. But, glaciers also store organic carbon derived from both primary production on the glaciers and deposition of materials such as soot or other fossil fuel combustion byproducts.

Spencer, along with colleagues from Alaska and Switzerland, studied measurements from ice sheets in mountain glaciers globally, the Greenland ice sheet and the Antarctic ice sheet to measure the total amount of organic carbon stored in the global ice reservoir.

It’s a lot.

Specifically, as glaciers melt, the amount of organic carbon exported in glacier outflow will increase 50% over the next 35 years. To put that in context, that’s about the amount of organic carbon in half of the Mississippi River being added each year to the ocean from melting glaciers.

Read more: Melting glaciers have big carbon impact

How the Ban on images of Muhammad came to be

January 19, 2015Posted without permission from NewsweekRepublish Reprint

In the wake of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, a flurry of articles have explored whether images of the Prophet Muhammad are “banned” in Islam. While some Muslim voices are adamant that this is strictly the case in Islamic law, others (both Muslim and non-Muslim) have cautioned that it is not so.

Most public discussions of this so-called ban have explored verses in the Koran andSayings by the Prophet, neither of which yield decisive results. What has been lost in the mix, however, is an exploration of the evidence found within Islamic law. Indeed, if one is to speak of a “ban,” then one must canvas a variety of Islamic jurisprudential sources in order to determine the legality or illegality of representing the Prophet in Islamic traditions. And if one carefully mines the sources, the results become much clearer — and much more nuanced and complex than one might anticipate.

There exist many handbooks of Islamic law that compile opinions on a number of matters. In regard to image making, the earliest and most synthetic source is the medieval law book of Ibn Qudama (died 1223), a towering Sunni theologian of the medieval period. In his handbook, Ibn Qudama discusses the various possible “abominations” that can occur at wedding ceremonies, including the playing of music and backgammon, the consumption of liquor, and the presence of images. As for the legality of images, he notes that the question is complicated because it depends on what the images depict and where they are situated. (See footnote 1.) 

He thus concludes that images are not prohibited per se; rather, their legality depends on content and context.

Read more: How the Ban on images of Muhammad came to be

MIT Alumnus Larry Linden to speak on his “journey

Founder of Linden Trust for Conservation to speak at MIT this week.
 

Poll: Americans support labeling genetically modified foods

By Mary Clare Jalonick - Associated Press - Associated Press

A large majority of Americans support labeling of genetically modified foods, whether they care about eating them or not.

According to a December Associated Press-GfK poll, 66% of Americans favor requiring food manufacturers to put labels on products that contain genetically modified organisms, or foods grown from seeds engineered in labs. Only 7% are opposed to the idea, and 24% are neutral.

Fewer Americans say genetically modified ingredients are important to them when judging whether a food is healthy. About four in 10 said the presence of such ingredients was very or extremely important to them.

That's higher than the share who say it's important to know whether a food is organic, and about on par with the share saying they consider the amount of protein in a food an important factor.

Genetically modified seeds are engineered to have certain traits, such as resistance to herbicides or certain plant diseases. Most of the country's corn and soybean crop is now genetically modified, with much of that becoming animal feed. Modified corn and soybeans are also made into popular processed food ingredients such as corn oil, corn starch, high-fructose corn syrup and soybean oil.

Read more: Poll: Americans support labeling genetically modified foods

Estimated social cost of climate change not accurate

Tue, 01/13/2015 - 11:41am
Ker Than, Stanford Univ.


The economic damage caused by a ton of carbon dioxide emissions—often referred to as the "social cost" of carbon—could actually be six times higher than the value that the U.S. now uses to guide current energy regulations, and possibly future mitigation policies, Stanford Univ. scientists say.

A recent U.S. government study concluded, based on the results of three widely used economic impact models, that an additional ton of carbon dioxide emitted in 2015 would cause $37 worth of economic damages. These damages are expected to take various forms, including decreased agricultural yields, harm to human health and lower worker productivity, all related to climate change.

But according to a new study, published online in Nature Climate Change, the actual cost could be much higher. "We estimate that the social cost of carbon is not $37 per ton, as previously estimated, but $220 per ton," said study coauthor Frances Moore, a graduate candidate in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources in Stanford's School of Earth Sciences.

Read more: Estimated social cost of climate change not accurate

Fox News host calls for mass murder of Muslims ... by Militaristic Islamist States!?!

Updated by  on January 12, 2015, 5:30 p.m. ET 

You know that sinking feeling you get when a Fox News analyst advocates the use of death squads as a solution to the problem of radical Islamism? No?

You're about to.

Cartoon villain and weekend Fox News host Jeanine Pirro did a segment on Saturday in which she explained her views on radical Islamists quite clearly: "We need to kill them. We need to KILL THEM":

http://www.vox.com/2015/1/12/7533159/fox-news-pirro-rant#ooid=lubnNxcjrNVz2eLTx8FNF46qXDYkemCp

Apparently other Muslims should be the ones responsible for accomplishing this mass murder. "Our job is to arm those Muslims to the teeth, give them everything they need to take out these Islamic fanatics, let them do the job, and when they do, we need to simply ... look the other way."

Read more: Fox News host calls for mass murder of Muslims ... by Militaristic Islamist States!?!

CO2 warming effects felt just a decade after emitted

by Institute of Physics

It takes just 10 years for a single emission of carbon dioxide to have its maximum warming effects on the Earth.

This is according to researchers at the Carnegie Institute for Science who have dispelled a common misconception that the main warming effects from a carbon dioxide emission will not be felt for several decades.

Read more: CO2 warming effects felt just a decade after emitted

Join Us for BCSEA's Annual General Meeting with Special Guest Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan



Join us for BCSEA's Annual General Meeting with a Free Public Special Event to follow!
            Saturday, November 29, 2014 - 1:00pm | Holiday Inn Express Vancouver at Metrotown

 

The BC Sustainable Energy Association invites members and the public to this year's Annual General Meeting and a special event to follow. Join us earlier for the AGM activities, including updates from the President and Executive Director, and for elections to the Board of Directors. Following the AGM, join us for a reception (snacks provided) with our special guest speaker Mayor Derek Corrigan of Burnaby, followed by an opportunity for guests to mingle and network.

Read more: Join Us for BCSEA's Annual General Meeting with Special Guest Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan

Nov 25 Webinar: Renewable Fuels for Transport



BCSEA Webinar: Renewable Fuels for Transport - Opportunities & Challenges to Growth

Join us for a free BCSEA Webinar on Tuesday November 25 at noon PST (3:00 PM EST)

    Reserve your free Webinar seat now at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7343660514730745858 Presenter Photo

Renewables in Canada’s transport fuel mix have grown significantly in the last decade, on the shoulders of EU and US leadership.

Their position as a small but growing component of the fuel supply has brought with it the benefits of emission reductions and increased competition at the pump for consumers.

The growth has not been without challenge, however, both from the traditional fossil fuel sector and from critiques on the sustainability biofuels, either some or all. The technologies and feedstocks currently in commercial development are poised to drive the next phase in growth of second-generation biofuel use. This webinar will review the current status of renewable fuels for transport and address opportunities and challenges to their growth to 2020.

Fred Ghatala is a partner of Waterfall Group, a Vancouver-based consultancy on advanced biofuels and bioenergy.

Read more: Nov 25 Webinar: Renewable Fuels for Transport

Plants have little wiggle room to survive drought

By Stuart Wolpert, Univ. of California, Los Angeles

Plants all over the world are more sensitive to drought than many experts realized, according to a new study by scientists at the Univ. of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and China’s Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden. The research will improve predictions of which plant species will survive the increasingly intense droughts associated with global climate change.

The research is reported online by Ecology Letters.

Researchers measured leaves’ drought tolerance at the “turgor loss point”—the level of dehydration that causes them to wilt. Image: Lawren Sack

Researchers measured leaves’ drought tolerance at the “turgor loss point”—the level of dehydration that causes them to wilt. Image: Lawren Sack

Predicting how plants will respond to climate change is crucial for their conservation. But good predictions require an understanding of plants’ ability to acclimate to environmental changes, or their “plasticity.” All organisms show some degree of plasticity, but because they’re stationary, plants are especially dependent on this ability.

“Plants are masters of plasticity, changing their size, branching patterns, leaf colors and even their internal biochemistry to adjust to changes in climate,” said Lawren Sack, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology in the UCLA College and the study’s senior author.

Little has been known about the degree to which plastic changes might allow plants to endure worsening droughts.

Read more: Plants have little wiggle room to survive drought

Climate change magnifies dead zone woes in world waterways and it'll get worse, study says

By: Seth Borenstein, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
2014-11-10

WASHINGTON - Global warming is likely playing a bigger role than previously thought in dead zones in oceans, lakes and rivers around the world and it's only going to get worse, according to a new study.

This handout photo provided by the Smithsonian shows dead juvenile menhaden fish floating to the surface during a dead zone event in Narragansett Bay, R.I. Image: AP Photo, Andrew Altieri, SmithsonianThis handout photo provided by the Smithsonian shows dead juvenile menhaden fish floating to the surface during a dead zone event in Narragansett Bay, R.I. Image: AP Photo, Andrew Altieri, Smithsonian

Dead zones occur when fertilizer runoff clogs waterways with nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous. That leads to an explosion of microbes that consumes oxygen and leaves the water depleted of oxygen, harming marine life.

Scientists have long known that warmer water increases this problem, but a new study Monday in the journal Global Change Biology by Smithsonian Institution researchers found about two dozen different ways - biologically, chemically and physically - that climate change worsens the oxygen depletion.

"We've underestimated the effect of climate change on dead zones,'' said study lead author Andrew Altieri, a researcher at the Smithsonian's tropical centre in Panama.

The researchers looked at 476 dead zones worldwide - 264 in the United States. They found that standard computer climate models predict that, on average, the surface temperature around those dead zones will increase by about 4 degrees Fahrenheit (slightly more than 2 degrees Celsius) from the 1980s and 1990s to the end of this century.

Read more: Climate change magnifies dead zone woes in world waterways and it'll get worse, study says

Ottawa Parliament Shooting RAW Video

Download Video: Closed Format: "MP4"

Download Video: Closed Format: "MP4"

 
 
 

OPPENHEIMER PARK ENCAMPMENT CLEARED OUT BY VANCOUVER POLICE, CITY

BY LINDSAY WILLIAM-ROSS | 11:43 AM PST, THU OCTOBER 16, 2014

Authorities moved in this morning to clear out the encampment at Oppenheimer Park.

The formal eviction notice to the encampment of protesters and the homeless came with a deadline of 10 p.m. Wednesday night, however the Vancouver Police and the City of Vancouver opted to wait until Thursday morning to dismantle the camp.

Wearing body cameras, authorities cleared the camp of people, making room for staff from the City to come in to remove the debris.

Additionally, the City provided the campers with bins for their belongings, and are moving the people into shelters, reports CBC Vancouver.

By late Wednesday night, the City reported they had already successfully relocated over a hundred people from the park to shelters and housing, and that the number of tents was significantly reduced.

A City rep says the campers have been very respectful of the dismantling process.

Wednesday’s slated shut-down was marred by the discovery of a deceased male inside one of the tents. The victim is thought to be a 69-year-old man, and his death is not considered suspicious.

The Oppenheimer Park camp was set up in mid-July by activists as a means to draw attention to the issue of homelessness in Vancouver.

Read more: OPPENHEIMER PARK ENCAMPMENT CLEARED OUT BY VANCOUVER POLICE, CITY

New book is a takedown of Stephen Harper

Party of One by Michael Harris argues that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is destroying Parliament and Canada’s reputation in the world.

http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2014/10/19/author_michael_harriss_new_book_is_a_takedown_of_stephen_harper.html

By:  News, Published on Sun Oct 19 2014

By the time author Michael Harris nears the end of his magisterial review of the strife and times of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, it is as if he felt the need of a shower.

Almost 500 pages of Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover have by then been devoted to chronicling the Harper government’s bullying, abuse, duplicity, betrayal, affinity for crooks, public shaming of individuals, diminishment of democratic institutions.

“It was hard every day getting up and working on this particular government,” Harris told the Star in advance of the book’s publication this week. “It made you feel poorly.”

So in the last chapter he seeks figurative respite. He takes readers on a drive across the Canso Causeway to Cape Breton, N.S., and on to River Bourgeois, there to meet a man worlds away from officialdom, backroomers, talk show know-it-alls.

Read more: New book is a takedown of Stephen Harper

B.C. organizations challenge Society Act overhaul

VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Oct. 13 2014, 7:55 PM EDT
Last updated Monday, Oct. 13 2014, 7:55 PM EDT

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-organizations-challenge-society-act-overhaul/article21083419/

More than two dozen B.C. societies have signed on to an October letter that raises concerns about a pending overhaul of the B.C. Society Act, saying the proposed legislation has the potential to intimidate the groups and have a chilling effect on their work.

The October letter, prepared by West Coast Environmental Law and other groups, follows a posting last month in which WCEL said the revamped legislation “invites harassment of societies by any deep-pocketed and litigious opponents.”

 

The province is mulling new legislation for societies as many such groups are involved in debates over proposed resource developments, including the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, LNG-related pipelines and the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

The province in 2009 launched a process to update its current Society Act, which applies to about 27,000 societies in B.C. Draft legislation was released in a White Paper in August.

The deadline for submitting comments on the proposed legislation, which would be called the Societies Act, is October 15.

The groups that have signed the October letter are concerned about a clause – Section 99 of the proposed legislation – that would allow any person whom the court considers “appropriate” to apply for a court order on grounds that a society is carrying on activities “detrimental to the public interest.” Potential litigants could include corporations. Opponents fear the proposal could result in a greater regulatory burden for non-profit groups and more cases for an already overextended legal system.

Read more: B.C. organizations challenge Society Act overhaul

21 Technologies That Will Decentralize the World

NINA IGNACZAK's picture

By Nina Misuraca Ignaczak

February 19, 2014

Across the planet, new technologies and business models are decentralizing power and placing it in the hands of communities and individuals. 

"We are seeing technology-driven networks replacing bureacratically-driven hierarchies," says VC and futurist Fred Wilson, speaking on what to expect in the next ten years. View the entire 25-minute video below (it's worth it!) and then check out the 21 innovations below. Thanks to Jenny Ryan whose Open Garden newsletter inspired this post.

Here are 21 innovations that will help make it happen:

1. Open Garden

Decentralized technology will become mainstream in 2014, according to the Open Garden Foundation, a San Francisco-based startup dedicated to net neutrality and internet access for everyone. Open Garden, a product of the Open Garden Foundation, provides mesh networking through an app that creates a wirelesh mesh network, enabling everyone to have faster downloads, and stronger and cheaper connectivity.

2.  Commotion Router

Commotion Router is free, open source software that allows for communities to build their own mesh networks.

3. Twister

Do you really want to trust your data to Twitter? Twister is a peer-to-peer alternative social network operating on a decentralized framework, designed in a way that prevents other users from knowing too much about your whereabouts and online habits. 

Read more: 21 Technologies That Will Decentralize the World

The politics of Israeli settlements - Another thousand acres

Binyamin Netanyahu orders the biggest land-grab in a generation

Sep 6th 2014 | From the print edition
http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21615644-binyamin-netanyahu-orders-biggest-land-grab-generation-another-thousand

SOME people are never grateful. On August 31st Israel’s government made its largest appropriation of occupied West Bank land in a generation. It took some 1,000 acres of virgin hills for a proposed new city, Givaot, doubling the population of the Gush Etzion block of settlements sprawling on the hills around Bethlehem.

But it was not enough for the area’s Israeli mayor, Davidi Perl. Frustrated by what he perceives as the government’s grovelling to westerners, on everything from the recently halted war in Gaza to the conduct of peace talks with Palestinians, he says he will change party—defecting from Likud, led by the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to Jewish Home, a party of religious radicals headed by Naftali Bennett.

Many others are following. A poll on September 2nd showed that Mr Bennett had, in effect, replaced Mr Netanyahu as champion of the right-wing camp. Although Mr Netanyahu’s approval ratings are roughly on a level with where they stood before the 50-day war in Gaza, much of the approval comes from Israelis who vote for parties left of Likud. Challengers within his party are demanding more aggression in Gaza, where the ceasefire left no clear winners, and faster entrenchment of settlements in the West Bank, even though the settler population is growing three times faster than that of Israel proper.

During the Gaza war former loyalists like Gidon Saar, his interior minister, repeatedly denounced the ceasefire deal, which envisages a gradual easing of the blockade on Gaza. A bruised Mr Netanyahu is resorting to political outreach. He and his wife, Sara, are hosting party members in the run-up to the Jewish new year. After months of relying on statements, he is again giving televised interviews.

Read more: The politics of Israeli settlements - Another thousand acres

John Crawford supporters occupying Beavercreek police station

Group has demands after innocent man slain -- and will stay at station until police chief meets with them (UPDATE)

UPDATE, 10/8/14: On Wednesday, organizers from the Ohio Student Association met with Beavercreek police chief Dennis Evers and presented their demands: that Officer Sean Williams, who shot John Crawford, be fired or disarmed, that Ronald Ritchie, the man who called 911 and complained that Crawford was aiming a gun at Walmart customers, face consequences for his part in the shooting, and that the department would work with the community to overhaul police training and protocols on the use of lethal force. The chief refused their demands. The activists engaged in a sit-in outside of the police station, which led police to lock up early. “Police Chief Dennis Evers has decided that he would rather protect own of his own rather than protect us too,” said OSA member Alice Ragland. “It proves that we cannot rely on others to give us what we need, and instead need to build the political power it takes to protect ourselves.” No arrests occurred and the students were eventually given their belongings back from inside of the station. The students are continuing to plan a statewide convergence for October 18th.

Breaking: John Crawford supporters occupying Beavercreek police stationJohn Crawford (Credit: WDTN)

Read more: John Crawford supporters occupying Beavercreek police station

Ottawa refuses to let injured Gaza children into Canada for treatment

http://globalnews.ca/news/1500138/ottawa-wont-let-injured-gaza-children-come-to-canada-for-treatment/

  Global News  

Ottawa is refusing to bring injured children from Gaza to Canada for treatment, despite pleas from hospitals, health-care workers and the Ontario government.

It’s too risky to transport injured children and keep them away from family, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Adam Hodge via email. He said Ottawa’s “exploring” other kinds of aid but wouldn’t say what that would entail or when it would materialize.

In the meantime, Izzeldine Abuelaish can’t believe anyone would refuse to help a hurt child.

“It’s an ethical responsibility to jump and to give help in times of need,” he said, urging the federal Tories to imagine Gaza’s children as their own.

“What do they expect… people to do for them? For someone to say ‘No, I’m not treating your son or your daughter?’”

  Israel-Gaza ceasefire is over

A Palestinian child sits on a mattress on the rubble of a house which was destroyed in an Israeli air strike on Abasan, east of the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis and close to the border with Israel on August 7, 2014.
-=-=-

Read more: Ottawa refuses to let injured Gaza children into Canada for treatment

Blame the provincial government for the toxic mine spill

Ramshackle system: Lack of good regulatory culture has led to repeated tailings spills in B.C.

 BY STEPHEN HUME, VANCOUVER SUN COLUMNIST
The spill of 10 million cubic metres of toxic effluent laced with heavy metals, mercury and arsenic from a failed tailings pond into waterways feeding Quesnel Lake occurs just as the summer sockeye run arrives at what is one of the richest rearing habitats for salmon in the province.

The visceral, knee-jerk reaction is to point the finger of blame squarely at industry. And industry should be held accountable.

But the buck really stops with the province, which is responsible for the regulatory culture — or lack thereof — that permits catastrophes like this to happen repeatedly.

About 1.3 million sockeye are returning to spawn in the Quesnel system from now to the end of August. On average, if those fish are worth about $30 each in harvested retail value, the economic implications are huge — especially if you extend those average values over 100 years. Then losses in forgone revenue start to zoom into the high hundreds of millions of dollars, compared to the short-term gains from the non-renewable mineral resource.

Contents from a tailings pond drifts down the Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake near the town of Likely on Tuesday. The pond which stores toxic waste from the Mount Polley Mine had its dam break on Monday spilling its contents into the Hazeltine Creek causing a wide water-use ban in the area.  

Contents from a tailings pond drifts down the Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake near the town of Likely on Tuesday. The pond which stores toxic waste from the Mount Polley Mine had its dam break on Monday spilling its contents into the Hazeltine Creek causing a wide water-use ban in the area.

Photograph by: JONATHAN HAYWARD, THE CANADIAN PRESS

And, of course, there are the human beings who rely on the watersheds for drinking water and agricultural irrigation.

Not to mention the First Nations’ powerful moral and economic claims on the salmon resource — I’d reasonably expect them to come looking for compensation armed with the recent Chilcotin ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada.

It would be bad enough if this was an isolated incident, but it’s not. Spills like this are not uncommon in the regulatory culture championed by the current Liberal government in Victoria.

The University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre warned in 2012 that environmental assessment certificates for mines issued by government are often “vague and unenforceable.”

It said that by 2008 the number of mine inspections had fallen to half what they were in 2001. Small wonder — Ministry of Environment staff shrank by 25 per cent. The chief mining inspector said he had insufficient staff to complete the annual mine monitoring reports required.

Read more: Blame the provincial government for the toxic mine spill

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