by Angela Lovell

Mar 31, 2011

What has happened to democracy in Canada?

Elizabeth May should be feeling pretty confident about the upcoming federal election on May 2nd.

The leader of the Green Party of Canada has the other political party leaders apparently running scared. Or at least, that would be the only logical conclusion one can draw from the decision, once again, to try and exclude May from the televised leader's debates.

In a press release issued two days ago by the Green Party, May called on all Canadians to once again demand democracy, just as they did in 2008, when the powers that be tried the same thing. Thanks to the indignant outrage expressed by Canadians back then, the television companies and other political party leaders had to back peddle pretty fast and May was included in the debates.

To add insult to injury, May apparently learned of the decision by a Canadian Press reporter and not the TV companies themselves. My goodness, she must be a lot more fearsome than I realised.

“They are trying to silence the voices of one in ten Canadians,” said Elizabeth May.

In 2008 Ms. May was initially excluded - according to the TV companies - because the Conservatives and the NDP refused to participate if she was invited. Less than a week later the decision was reversed after tens of thousands of Canadians emailed and phoned to demand democracy.  During the last election an Angus Reid Poll found that 73 per cent of Canadians wanted Elizabeth May in the debate.

Troy Reeb, Vice President of News for Global TV and head of the committee of TV companies, also says their ruling is based on journalistic decision-making.

“We do not accept this highly arbitrary decision." Mr. Reeb confirmed to us that they have ‘no prescribed rules.’ They describe the debates as a "journalistic exercise”, said May. “What kind of democracy excludes a party with the support of one tenth of its citizens? What kind of democracy allows a handful of TV executives to decide that a party only running candidates in one province had more right to be in a national leaders’ debate than a party with candidates in every riding? This decision will not stand.”

Although the Green Party has yet to elect an MP to the Commons in Canada, they have fielded candidates in all 308 ridings in the last three federal elections and in 2008 they garnered 941,097 votes across the country, which is 6.8% of the popular vote. That's a lot of people to exclude from a political debate.

Marco Dubé, a spokesman for the broadcast consortium that hosts the debates, confirmed the group decided unanimously that a formal proposal will only be made to the leaders of recognized parties in the House of Commons -- Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois.

Not that May is taking the decision lying down - she's doing what a true politician should do - letting the people speak for her - first by signing petitions to show their support for her inclusion in the political debates and secondly, by voting Green in the upcoming election.

To show your support for democracy and let the TV companies and other political parties know that you want to see Elizabeth May included in the leader's debates go to: http://demanddemocraticdebates.ca/

Copyright2011, Angela Lovell.

Mar 25, 2011

Top 10 environmental stories of the week

Here's my Top 10 environmental news stories of the week:

2 Girl Scouts Compel Kellogg's to Take a Stance on Palm Oil (Planet Green)


While it's impressive that Kellogg's recently announced that it will limit deforestation in the production of Frosted Flakes, Keebler cookies, Rice Krispies, and Girl Scout cookies what's more impressive is that two 15 year old Girl Scouts from Michigan compelled the mega manufacturer to do so. According to Grist, Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen have been pushing Girl Scouts USA to switch to cookies made with healthier alternatives like olive or canola oil.
Greenopia's environmental ratings for fast food companies

Can You Compost Dirty Diapers?  (Treehugger)

Toronto collects diapers and other organic items and sends them to a processing facility. The resultant compost gets distributed to farmland and parks. That's right: Canada's babies and toddlers, for all their messes, are helping Canadian crops to grow. The program, called "Green Bin," also accepts animal waste, kitty litter and sanitary products.

Del Monte Bananas Debut World's Least a-peeling Package (The Sceptic Tank) Can you believe this one?

As was foretold in the Book of Revelation, the End Times are fast-approaching, heralded by natural disaster, war, famine, and the kind of rampaging profligacy that gives you Del Monte's plastic-wrapped single serve bananas.
On the other hand, here is a much better use for bananas:
Banana Peel Can Purify Water, Say Scientists (SciDevNet)

And from the Post carbon Institute: 300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Minutes (and it WON the DoGooder non Profit Video Awards).



Spain's Motorists Start New Life in the Slow Lane (Business Green)

Spanish commuters are coming to terms with a temporary lower speed limit introduced yesterday as part of efforts to save billions of euros in the face of rising oil prices.

It'a All in a Name:'Global Warming vs Climate Change' (Science Daily)

According to a University of Michigan study published in the forthcoming issue of Public Opinion Quarterly, more people believe in "climate change" than in "global warming."

Rainwater Harvest Study Finds Roofind Material Affects Water Quality (Science Daily)
The study, led by civil, architectural and environmental engineering Assistant Professor Mary Jo Kirisits, showed that, of the five roofing materials tested, metal (specifically Galvalume®), concrete tile and cool roofs produce the highest harvested rainwater quality for indoor domestic use. The study also showed that rainwater from asphalt fiberglass shingle roofs and increasingly popular "green" roofs contain high levels of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Although other potential pollutants can be significantly lower on green roofs (turbidity and aluminum), the high DOCs are significant where these roofs would be used for potable rainwater collection.
Clean Fuel Worstens Climate Impacts for Some Vehicle Engines (Science Daily)

A pioneering program by one of the world's largest cities to switch its vehicle fleet to clean fuel has not significantly improved harmful vehicle emissions in more than 5,000 vehicles -- and worsened some vehicles' climate impacts -- a new University of British Columbia study finds.

Mar 24, 2011

Today is David Suzuki's 75th Birthday!

March 24th is David Suzuki's 75th birthday, and I hope you will all join with me in wishing this remarkable man - who is a truly wonderful ambassador for nature, the environment and Canada - a happy one.

But he`s not just spending this milestone birthday blowing out candles - here`s what David Suzuki is doing to celebrate according to www.happybirthdaydavidsuzuki.com:

David Suzuki is one of the most recognizable and trusted people in Canada. For over 30 years he has shown us the wonders of science and nature, and raised our consciousness to the environmental challenges we face. In the process, he has become one of our most beloved public figures who we trust to give us the straight goods on what we need to know to protect our planet.
For his milestone 75th birthday on March 24, 2011, give David the birthday present he wants most: support his mission to create a healthy environment by creating a fundraising page and inviting your friends and colleagues to donate. Funds raised will support the David Suzuki Foundation's work in the following areas:
Protecting our climate — ensuring that Canada is doing its fair share to avoid dangerous climate change and is on track to achieve a safe level of greenhouse gas emissions.

Transforming the economy — making certain that Canadians can maintain a high quality of life within the finite limits of nature through efficient resource use.

Protecting nature
— working to protect the diversity and health of Canada's marine, freshwater and terrestrial creatures and ecosystems.

Reconnecting with nature
— ensuring that Canadians, especially youth, learn about their dependence on a healthy environment through outdoor education.

Building community
— engaging Canadians to live healthier, more fulfilled and just lives with tips on building Earth-friendly infrastructure, making smart energy choices, using efficient transportation and being mindful of the products, food and water we use.
Take a moment to visit http://www.happybirthdaydavidsuzuki.com/ and send David a birthday wish, make a donation or help with the fundraising effort.

Here`s to many more candles on your future cakes David.
On behalf of our world I thank you.

Copyright2011, Angela Lovell.

Mar 21, 2011

Earthquakes and Tsunamis : I am paying attention - are you?

Has this got your attention yet?



In 2010 I started paying particular attention to nature.

Specifically to the weather related and natural disasters in our world.

Over the year I filed away around 1650 links (thanks to Stumbleupon - I'd recommend it as a great research and archiving tool) all related to global catastrophes such as earthquakes, tornadoes, severe storms, heatwaves, droughts, floods etc.

From my review of those I counted the following incidences last year of world-wide events that have some connection to weather or geological activity (in other worlds the natural forces that shape our planet and provide us with the means to live on it).

  • Floods/Mudslides - 31
  • Earthquakes - 15
  • Severe storms (rain, wind, snow or thunderstorms) - 39
  • Tornadoes - 7
  • Hurricanes/Cyclones/Typhoons/Tropical Storms - 23
  • Volcano eruptions - 3
  • Droughts - 4
  • Heatwaves/Forest Fires - 9

These are only the ones that I happened to catch and record. (And by the way 21 of those severe storms were in Canada alone). But if you want more proof of the tumultuous weather year that was 2010 you need look no further than the website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's World Wide Weather and Climate Events page at the following page, and click on the list of weather events for 2010:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/reports/weather-events.html#recent

2010 has set records right across the globe for the warmest year on record.There have been the coldest temperatures ever recorded, the most snowfall, the hottest temperatures, the list goes on. See the full article from which the following extract is drawn on on Treehugger's website:
Insurance Giant Says 2010 Had Highest Number of Extreme Weather Events
"This year really has been a year of weather records," Peter Hoeppe, an expert from Munich Re's Geo Risks Research department, told journalists. "The first nine months of the year have seen the highest number of weather-related events since Munich Re started keeping records," he added.
Hoeppe added that a clear pattern of continuing global warming was contributing to the natural disasters. 2010 has so far been the warmest since measurements began 130 years ago. New temperature records were set in Russia (37.8 degrees centigrade) and in Asia (53.5 degrees in Pakistan)."

We even had the largest hailstone ever recorded in the US weighing a kilo, which fell from the skies in South Dakota in July.

Personally, here on the prairies, having shivered through a winter that has rivalled any since I moved to Canada for the worst, I need no more convincing that, as a race, humans are managing to screw things up pretty good as far as our environment goes!

If there are still climate skeptics out there I wonder how much more evidence do they need?

Here's just a few of the more salient links I have amassed (in addition to the great volume from 2010) in just the past few months as analysts and experts all over the world draw the same conclusions: that human-induced climate change can be linked to to everything from increased numbers of forest fires to more seismic activity.

NASA's top climatologist James Hansen:

NASA’s Hansen: Would recent extreme “events have occurred if atmospheric carbon dioxide had remained at its pre-industrial level of 280 ppm?” The “appropriate answer” is “almost certainly not.”

"The greater water vapor content of a warmer atmosphere allows larger rainfall anomalies and provides the fuel for stronger storms driven by latent heat."
Volcanologist, Bill McGuire:

Potential for a hazardous geospheric response to projected future climate changes
"Periods of exceptional climate change in Earth history are associated with a dynamic response from the geosphere, involving enhanced levels of potentially hazardous geological and geomorphological activity. The response is expressed through the adjustment, modulation or triggering of a broad range of surface and crustal phenomena, including volcanic and seismic activity, submarine and subaerial landslides, tsunamis and landslide ‘splash’ waves, glacial outburst and rock-dam failure floods, debris flows and gas-hydrate destabilization. In relation to anthropogenic climate change, modelling studies and projection of current trends point towards increased risk in relation to a spectrum of geological and geomorphological hazards in a warmer world, while observations suggest that the ongoing rise in global average temperatures may already be eliciting a hazardous response from the geosphere."
The Independent Newspaper (UK)

British floods 'were the result of climate change'
"The catastrophic floods of autumn 2000, which saw river levels reach 400-year highs and left 10,000 homes underwater across England and Wales, were most likely the result of global warming."
Reuters: February 2, 2011:


Stronger cyclones to menace miners, crops in warmer world
"Climate scientists say global warming is heating up the world's oceans and atmosphere, providing more fuel for tropical cyclones and creating ever greater risks for crops, miners and billion-dollar beachfronts.
The risks from stronger storms flow right through the heart of the global economy, affecting food security and inflation, iron ore and coal production and higher insurance losses."
Science Daily February 20, 2011:

Frequent, Severe Fires Turn Alaskan Forests Into a Carbon Production Line
"But now, American and Canadian researchers report that climate change is causing wildfires to burn larger swaths of Alaskan trees and to char the groundcover more severely, turning the black spruce forests of Alaska from repositories of carbon to generators of it. And the more carbon dioxide they release, the greater impact that may have in turn on future climate change."
New York Times February 17, 2011:

Heavy Rains Linked to Humans

"An increase in heavy precipitation that has afflicted many countries is at least partly a consequence of human influence on the atmosphere, climate scientists reported in a new study.
The principal finding of the new study is “that this 7 percent is well outside the bounds of natural variability,” said Francis W. Zwiers, a Canadian climate scientist who took part in the research. The paper is being published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Nature."
Environmental Expert January 31, 2011:

More frequent drought likely in Eastern Africa 

"The increased frequency of drought observed in eastern Africa over the last twenty years is likely to continue as long as global temperatures continue to rise, according to new research published in Climate Dynamics. This poses increased risk to the estimated 17.5 million people in the Greater Horn of Africa who currently face potential food shortages."
New York Times, January 24, 2011:

Cold Jumps Arctic ‘Fence,’ Stoking Winter’s Fury
"Since satellites began tracking it in 1979, the ice on the Arctic Ocean’s surface in the bellwether month of September has declined by more than 30 percent. It is the most striking change in the terrain of the planet in recent decades, and a major question is whether it is starting to have an effect on broad weather patterns.
Ice reflects sunlight, and scientists say the loss of ice is causing the Arctic Ocean to absorb more heat in the summer. A handful of scientists point to that extra heat as a possible culprit in the recent harsh winters in Europe and the United States."
Circle of Blue, January 14, 2011:


Peter Gleick: 2010 Hottest Year on Record—The Graph That Should Be on the Front Page of Every Newspaper

"Climate change is worsening, fast.
The National Climate Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just announced that for the entire planet, 2010 is the hottest year on record, tied with 2005. And the period 2001 to 2010 is the hottest decade on record for the globe. The actual data are here
This graph and this information should be on the front page of every newspaper in the world. Every Congressional representative should see it."
I want to end with one final quote from Dr. Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, an internationally recognized water expert and a MacArthur Fellow.

"How often do you have to get hit on the head before you say “ouch.” Or before you even say “stop hitting me on the head”? For climate deniers, probably forever. We can expect them to talk about how cold the winter is, here or there. But for the rest of us, enough should be enough. The planet has a fever and it’s getting worse."
 Are you paying attention now?

Mar 19, 2011

Canada Water Week

We are in the midst of the very first Canada Water Week (March 14th - 22nd).
people splashing water
Picture: www.canadawaterweek.com











































  According to the Canada Water Week website it's "a week-long celebration of water from coast-to-coast-to-coast, starting March 14 and culminating with World Water Day on March 22, 2011. Individuals, organizations and governments across the country are encouraged to get involved by organizing or participating in fun and educational events. Together, we will raise the profile and understanding of water and its importance to Canada’s prosperity."

Here in Manitoba, nothing could be more appropriate, as we begin to see the first signs of our reluctant spring and brace for flooding that could break the record-breaking flood we saw in 1997.

The below normal temperatures we have seen over February and March have prolonged our winter, which is making many people nervous about a too-rapid spring thaw (and we have a lot of snow to get rid of this year) and some serious flooding.

When our water decides to fight back it does it with a vengeance, especially in the flat, floodplains of Manitoba, where farmers may face another woeful year of late seeded or never-seeded crops and homeowners in cities and towns deal with flooded basements and insurance claims.

As the sandbags are dispersed across the province and hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent to shore up dikes and flood control structures along river banks, it's a reminder of how little control we really have over the most precious resource our world provides. As if we needed more evidence of that after the earthquake- induced tsunami which deluged Japan last week, killing tens of thousands of people.

There is no doubt that Manitoba is blessed with ample water resources which provide our energy, our recreation, our drinking water and our food.  Not that we are always kind to our water. The theme of Canada Water Week is Healthy Rivers, Living Lakes, and we can't claim, at least in Manitoba, that many of our rivers or lakes are either healthy or provide the best of environments for life to flourish, particularly in the agriculturally-intensive and more densely population southern portion of the province.


It is improving as more landowners, charged with stewardship of this resource which crosses their land, but which is in fact owned by the Province of Manitoba, adopt conservation measures like re-establishment of vegetation along riparian areas and fencing off rivers and streams to cattle.

Natural vegetation along waterways provides a filter system to help reduce the amount of nutrients like phosphorus, from agricultural chemicals and domestic sources, that enter our rivers and lakes. It prevents erosion of the banks and silting of river beds that can restrict the flow. It provides habitat for waterfowl and other aquatic species like frogs and turtles.

Cleaner water means more fish species and less toxic algae blooms that can seriously impede the quality of water for human consumption.

So perhaps we can pacify our water by taking better care of it and making sure as much of it stays where it's supposed to be as possible. We still have a way to go, but increasingly I think we are becoming aware that what we do upstream affects those who live downstream.

Which isn't a bad adage for us to live our lives by.

Copyright2011, Angela Lovell.

Mar 14, 2011

Where Are The Shelterbelts That Would Make Our Roads Safer?

Anyone who has driven a vehicle on Manitoba’s roads during winter will know how stressful an experience it can be. Even during extremely cold days winds can whip up loose snow to form whiteout conditions. During the milder days, when temperatures approach zero, drifting snow can stick to the warm roads and turn to sheer ice as soon as the thermometer drops just a few degrees.


Then, as you drive, miraculously, you briefly enter a totally different world. No blowing snow, normal visibility and no ice. Unfortunately the respite lasts only as long as it takes to pass by the trees, bush or buildings close by that have provided a windbreak and improved conditions 100%.



In 2003 a report was commissioned by the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials, entitled “Controlling Blowing and Drifting Snow with Snow Fences and Road Design.” The report states:

“Studies on Interstate Highway 80 in Wyoming indicate that over the last ten years, up to 25% of all crashes occur during blowing snow in areas without snow fences, compared to 11% in areas protected by fences.”

So it begs the question, why do we not have shelterbelts or wind breaks along at least every major highway and secondary road in Manitoba? Why does the Province not step in and mandate that trees, shrubs or hedgerows be planted along road allowances or ditches to help make Manitoba’s roads safer for all who travel on them? Or if not mandate, at least provide incentives for landowners to install and maintain shelterbelts along roadsides?

The fact remains that driving in rural Manitoba during the winter months is becoming more hazardous, and some may argue that, with a changing climate, it’s not going to get any better.

Manitoba Public Insurance doesn’t collect data about motor vehicle accidents specifically related to weather conditions such as blowing snow, but a spokesman told me that they do see an increase in collisions and insurance claims from December to February. So it isn’t much of a stretch to assume that weather conditions during these months (which often tend to be the coldest and snowiest) contribute significantly to these statistics. For example in January 2010, MPIC dealt with 13,000 collision reports as opposed to 9,400 in May 2010.

If this past winter is anything to go by we can look forward to more erratic weather conditions, lots more precipitation and horrendous winter storms. There is plenty of research that connects the dots between climate change and changes in local weather conditions, and there are those who claim it’s just a part of the normal weather cycles of our planet.

Whichever argument you want to believe makes little difference when you find yourself, (as I have recently) caught in a situation where you are driving on icy roads or in near-zero visibility thanks to blowing or drifting snow.

Logic might well dictate that we all stay at home during such conditions, but the practical reality of living in rural areas is that, increasingly, staying safe and sound at home isn’t always an option. As our small rural communities suffer the continuous erosion of facilities, services and resources from health care to groceries to participation in sports, their residents often have no option but to travel ever increasing distances to access these things.

The deterioration of rural communities is an issue that requires some large-scale solutions that go far beyond the ability of local or even provincial boundaries, but not so the problem of making our major highways and other roads in Manitoba safer for those who travel them.

The above report demonstrated that in a 15 year study on Interstate Highway 80 in Wyoming snow fences reduced crashes in blowing snow conditions by over 60%.

Drifting and blowing snow can also have a huge impact on municipal and provincial budgets. The US report states:

“The quantity of snow that blows onto a road can be hundreds of times greater than the precipitation that falls directly on the road. This adds significantly to snow removal costs and safety hazards.”

It goes on to say that snowdrifts can contribute to pavement damage by promoting the infiltration of water under the pavement, and snow removal equipment can damage road surfaces.

In the same 15-year study in Wyoming it was proven that snow fences reduced snow removal expenditures by one-third to one-half. Benefit- to-cost ratios calculated for permanent snow fences, based only on snow removal costs typically ranged from 50 to 100:1 says the report’s authors. When other annual costs were taken into consideration, such as property damage, injuries and reduced delay times, the savings were approximately equal to the initial cost of the fences, giving a benefit-to-cost ratio greater than 3:1 overall.

So why aren’t we following the example of Wyoming and planting shelterbelts along our roadways? The Province certainly has the power to do so. According to Manitoba’s Highways & Transportation Act:

“For the purpose of planting hedges, shrubs, or trees or erecting snow fences along a departmental road to prevent snow from drifting on to the departmental road, the minister may, as provided in section 6, acquire land adjacent to the departmental road; and the land acquired for that purpose shall be deemed to be a public work under the control of the minister and not part of the departmental road or the road allowance therefore; but the cost of acquiring the land and of procuring, planting, erecting, and maintaining the hedges, shrubs, trees, and snow fences shall be deemed to be part of the cost of constructing or maintaining the departmental road.”

Whilst the Province does not have to compensate landowners for the erection (or planting) of a snow fence on their land, I would suggest that the cost benefits overall (and the improvement in public safety) would outweigh the cost of providing landowners an incentive to voluntarily erect these structures, the maintenance of which could also provide summer employment opportunities for students and others.

Another fairly effective and economical alternative, which has been used extensively in some areas of the US, is to plant rows of corn adjacent to roads that are left standing in the field to catch blowing snow.

Farmers and other landowners are drivers too and it’s the safety of their loved ones that are at risk from bad road conditions. I can’t imagine too many people, when presented with the benefits that a simple shelterbelt or snow fence can provide, would not want to participate.

But still, it will probably require a co-ordinated provincial program of some kind to get the ball rolling to improve winter driving conditions by the erection of snow control structures alongside our roads.

Perhaps the next logical step here is to ask our local politicians just why this isn’t being done?

Copyright2011, Angela Lovell.

Mar 11, 2011

Vote for 300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds

 Not sure how many of you may have seen this before but this is a great video: 300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 seconds by Richard Heinberg, a fellow of the Post Carbon Institute.


AND it's up for an award for the DoGooder Non Profit Video Awards so if you want to do something worthwhile gp to http://www.youtube.com/nonprofitvideoawards  click on vote - select the video 300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds and hit the green thumbs up.

Then tell all your friends to do the same - please!

Mar 10, 2011

Cheap Food May Not be an Option Much Longer.

Prairie grain elevators like this one will need to be
brimming in 2011 if world demand for grain
is to be met.
Another great post from Lester R. Brown at the Earth Policy Institute yesterday deals with the issue of global food security and food prices.

In his article, Why World Food Prices May Keep Climbing, he does a great job of setting out, in detail, just how much grain (mainly rice, wheat and corn) the world produces, how much we need (and are likely to need in the year ahead) and our capacity to grow it.

His estimates look pretty spot on to me; if anything I'd have been a bit more pessimistic with the numbers. Here on the Canadian prairies, many of our major grain producing areas are preparing for record spring floods, (especially here in southern, western and central Manitoba). That follows a poor crop year in 2010 that saw record insurance payouts for unseeded and drowned out acres due to wet conditions that prevailed all summer and into the fall.


As we have already seen in 2010, when grain demand exceeds the amount produced food prices rise (everywhere) and, as people become hungrier, food riots and protests increase. And if you think that just happens in places like India, Haiti, Egypt or Bangaldesh, think again. The USDA reported around this time last year that one in eight Americans now rely on some kind of assistance (like food stamps) to buy food. That's a lot of hungry people.

I don't need political or economic analysts to tell me the truth of this; I just have to look at my weekly grocery bill and recall that the shopping bag I carry home from the store today seems considerably lighter, for the same amount of money spent on its contents, than it did a year ago. Either I'm developing more muscle power or my dollars are developing less.

So, after a detailed (and quite plausible) assessment of the likely situation for the year ahead, Brown concludes:

"Let’s review the global numbers. It will take 100 million tons of additional grain just to maintain the current precarious situation and close to 150 million tons to restore some semblance of stability in the world grain market. We can count on a 10-million-ton increase in this year’s rice harvest. We are hoping for a 20-million-ton rise with wheat and a 40-million-ton jump in corn. Let us also assume that minor cereals increase by 10 million tons over last year. This would give us a total increase of 80 million tons, not enough to prevent further price rises."

We either need to drastically re-think our agricultural and food distribution paradigms or I need to buy a smaller shopping bag. Or maybe both.

Copyright2011, Angela Lovell.

Mar 9, 2011

Pandemics could kill more than just people.

It would appear that the health of the environment could be as severely impacted by a serious pandemic as that of humans.
Picture: http://www.freeimages.co.uk/

Findings from a fascinating (and alarming) study were recently released by a team of public health scientists that looked into the possible effects on the environment of medicine use during a pandemic.

In an article published in Environmental Health Perspectives concludes that “existing plans for antiviral and antibiotic use during a severe influenza pandemic could reduce wastewater treatment efficiency prior to discharge into receiving rivers, resulting in water quality deterioration at drinking water abstraction points.”

Put simply, using various simulations the researchers tried to predict what would happen if a large percentage of the population was treated with medications during an influenza pandemic, which would eventually be flushed out their system and down into the sewer.

A moderate to severe outbreak could affect the ability of most wastewater treatment plants to effectively inhibit microbial growth, leading to potentially contaminated water to enter rivers and streams.

In a press release issued by the UK’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the research team leader, Dr Andrew Singer said, “Our results suggest that existing plans for drug use during an influenza pandemic could result in discharge of inefficiently treated wastewater into the UK’s rivers. The potential widespread release of antivirals and antibiotics into the environment may hasten the development of resistant pathogens with implications for human health during and potentially well after the formal end of the pandemic.”

What I find particularly ironic about this study is its significance given the fact that Health Canada is getting set to enforce legislation from 2004 which will restrict the sale of natural health products in Canada by requiring them to have either a Drug Identification Number or a Natural Product Number. (More on this topic to follow in a subsequent post).

It’s interesting how pathogens (whether they are diseases of human, animals or plants), seem able to develop resistance to medicines or disease resistant traits with relative ease, whereas natural remedies seem able to keep ahead of the curve and remain effective for ever.

And given that many natural health products are taken to maintain good health and prevent illness we could just be compounding the problem if we’re not careful.

Copyright2011, Angela Lovell.

Mar 8, 2011

Welcome to onceafortnight.com

Hi Everyone

Just a short post to let my subscribers and other readers know that I have finally switched to the url:

                                            http://www.onceafortnight.com

What does the following picture have to do with this? Absolutely nothing - I just thought it was cool. This double-headed calf was actually stillborn on a dairy farm close to where I live.

My subscribers should be automatically re-directed. Anyone else that is a regular reader but does not subscribe may wish to change bookmarks just to be sure.

And in case you have all been wondering where I have been - well, me too! I am back with a vengeance so watch this space folks.

Oh, and welcome to www.onceafortnight.com

Angela.

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