There are a few more than usual this week….it’s been busy.

1. 3 mins  Switzerland Too Needs a National Water Policy (Jan. 29, 2017)

This article was selected for two reasons: one, it reinforces the fact that nowhere on the planet is any place immune from the impacts of climate change and global and global and that water issues always play a dominant role in the equation. Two, the article makes the point that Switzerland needs a national water policy to be able to effectively deal with the growing cascade of issues like disappearing glaciers, new lakes, drought and sustainability. The call for a national water policy resonates because many (see FLOW) believe Canada also needs such a policy, as the impacts of global warming and climate change intensify.

2. 2 mins Pipeline Spill on First Nations Lands (Jan. 24, 2017)

The most disturbing aspect of this article is not that it took days to notify the First Nation about the spill (notification protocols are notoriously weak when it comes top spills), but the reason for the failure to notify. It took days to even discover the leak. Further, according to the Saskatchewan Economic Ministry’s assistant deputy minister, Doug MacKnight, it is not clear if the ruptured pipeline had undergone any government inspections in recent months. This is an issue of diligent maintenance. It should be the first thing a government should know.

3. 6 mins Snows in Spain and Sahara (Jan. 21, 2017)

In previous WYT posts, Michael shared his new year’s greeting: “Get ready. 2017 is going to be a year of extreme events”. Yesterday saw the most extreme political event of the year with the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States. On the climate change and weather front are two related extreme weather events, snow and lots of it, in the Sahara and Spain, with accompanying cold temperatures. This is not a fluke to be dismissed as such. The jet stream is looping deeply south, new atmospheric rivers are developing, major ocean currents that heat and cool the earth are being thrown out of kilter by the vast amounts of fresh, cold water pouring into the oceans from the melting Ice and glaciers. 2017 is off to a grim start on both the political and climate change front. This means we all keep working hard at doing the right things politically and environmentally. Giving up is not an option.

4. 3 mins A Fix for Antibiotic Resistance? (Jan. 21, 2017)

The challenge of antibiotic resistance is one of a global health disaster for which there is no current cure. This story is about one molecule that may prevent a health disaster from becoming an epidemic. The bad guy is New Dehli Metallo-beta-lactamase NDM-1, a gene that makes bacteria resistant to a class of penicillin know as our last resort drugs. The good guy is a molecule that is a type of peptide-conjugated-phosphorodiamitate morpholino oligomer PPMO. The molecule attacks NDM-1 and reverses antibiotic resistance. Hopefully it works. That one molecule may be all that prevents tens of millions of deaths worldwide.

5. 10 mins Know What By-Catch Is? (Jan. 21, 2017)

The tragedy of the global ocean commons continues. Some things in this article standout:

  • According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 85 percent of global fish stocks are “overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion.”
  • Most scientists studying the issue agree that the three primary causes of the crisis are overfishing, plastic pollution and anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD).
  • “From 1994 onwards, 27 million tons of bycatch are discarded every year,” she said. “Thirty percent of marine catch is thrown overboard dead. For shrimpers, 80 percent of everything caught is bycatch and thrown back for dead. It is a mode of mass marine extinction.”

Like global warming/climate change, it seems it will take a global epiphany to save the oceans and all that dwells in them. We are still waiting. It could be done; two suggestions are artisanal fisheries – once the current commercial fisheries are shut down – and the focus on local solutions. It won’t be easy and the time is short.

6. 5 mins Big Oil is Unprepared for Big Energy War (Jan. 21, 2017)

Don’t be misled by the title of this article. This is an assessment of the weak spot of the two energy giants, the fossil fuel industry and the renewable energy industry, fighting for the future. The author asserts that neither side really knows the competition. The last two short paragraphs should be first.

 “This is one of the most dramatic moments I’ve experienced in my 35-year career studying all energy systems. The technological change is breath-taking; the investment potential is staggering; and on top of it all, the business psychology is intriguing.

“Get to know your competition,” I suggested to my audience. “This is going to be one of the most exciting business duels in history; two giant energy systems will be competing for the hearts and wheels of the people.”

This is not about which side is right, but how the battle is being fought,  and the strategies being used or not used. There are lessons here for us all.

7. 10 mins No Justice Over Air Pollution (Feb. 4, 2017)

These articles chronicle the deadly and growing air pollution, some of it from massive forest fires deliberately set, choking and killing millions yearly in Asia. It is a sad, too common story of powerful economic interests, weak laws and enforcement, and corruption and intimidation. The people dying are local, hard working, everyday people. It is easy to become desensitized to this massive environmental degradation, death and suffering, because it happens far away, and doesn’t affect us. But it does affect us. That fine particulate pollution settles out here in the north, on the land, in the vegetation, the water, the animals and eventually into us. No one, no place is immune on earth.

8. 3 mins Spectacular Northern Lights (Feb. 4, 2017)

The short video clip is spectacular. Michael has lived in the NWT since 1962 and has seen some amazing northern lights but the northern lights in the video clip are in a league of their own. Watch the video clip and see if you agree. Even if you don’t, you’ll learn something because the article explains the very interesting science of the aurora.