Science & Environment

The_Foxer

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Aug 9, 2022
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I know that Alberta, along with Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Ontario were also looking at modular nuclear generation but I don't recall what has happened to the idea.

A strategic plan for the deployment of small modular reactors is where I found this information.


Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Alberta are working together to leverage each province’s experiences and expertise to advance SMR development and deployment in Canada. Together, the four provinces have outlined several actions required to enable provincial decision making on whether or not to move forward with specific SMR projects, and the actions required if a decision to proceed is made.

Yes, they are actively moving towards it. In many ways fission reactors are a bit of a 'middle step' for mankind towards a true affordable clean pure energy source but these new systems are an order of magnitude better than the old ones. And cheaper, although still more expensive by far than oil or gas.
 
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spaminator

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Oct 26, 2009
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Feds say scientific proof plastic pollution 'pervasive in the environment'
Author of the article:Kevin Connor
Published Jan 28, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

There is scientific proof plastic pollution is “pervasive in the environment,” the Government of Canada says.


“Macroplastic pollution is harmful to wildlife and wildlife habitat, and single-use plastics, such as checkout bags, and food and beverage service items, make up the bulk of macroplastics found on shorelines in Canada and internationally,” the government said in a news release.


“Organisms can ingest or become entangled in macroplastics, which can result in direct harm and, in many cases, loss of life. Plastic pollution may physically damage habitats and transport non-native species to the area, which could transmit diseases to wildlife and possibly lead to a loss of biodiversity.”

There are six types of plastics that are being called prohibited and they include checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics, ring carriers, stir sticks, and straws.



To allow industries to adapt to the changes, the regulations will be implemented on the following phased timeline.

“The choice and design of future instruments to address plastic pollution from other single-use plastics will build on the Roadmap to Strengthen the Management of Single-use and Disposable Plastics released by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment earlier this year,” the report says.

“The Roadmap identifies some 30 single-use and disposable plastics and provides guidance on prioritizing those items for targeted management and selecting instruments that may be effective for managing each of them.”


This publication is part of the governments’ planned implementation of the Canada-wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste to move Canada toward its goal of a zero plastic waste future.

“As part of Canada’s ongoing comprehensive agenda to reduce plastic waste and pollution, the Government of Canada is continuing to bring forward new measures to prevent plastic pollution, better manage plastics, and transition to a circular economy,” the report states.

“These measures include developing regulations to set minimum recycled content requirements for certain products, and to establish new labelling rules for recyclability and compostability. The Government is also establishing a federal plastics producer registry and working with industry to establish a strong target for collecting plastic beverage containers for recycling.”

Restaurants Canada would have wanted a more gradual approach to new plastics regulations.

“Above all, Restaurants Canada will continue to call for a ‘do no harm’ approach to any new government policies impacting foodservice operations as our members continue to focus on survival and recovery from the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Restaurants Canada says. “We will continue to work closely with the government to ensure our concerns are recognized.”
 

spaminator

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There’s a hungry Arctic predator with a lot of arms that eats dead polar bears
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Brieanna Charlebois
Published Jan 28, 2023 • 2 minute read

On the Arctic sea floor lie hungry predators that can eat dead polar bears.


The voracious carnivores are seastars, better known as starfish, and a new study by a national research group says they tie with polar bears as the top predators of the Arctic marine ecosystem.


Co-author Remi Amiraux, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Manitoba, said sea floor, or benthic, organisms are not commonly studied because they are often assumed to be lower on the food chain.

But the study published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the ocean floor includes organisms across the whole range of the food chain.

Seastars within the Pterasteridae family sat at the top, with the study dubbing them “the benthic equivalent to polar bears.”


“It’s a shift in our view of how the coastal Arctic marine food web works,” Amiraux said in an interview.


He said that invertebrates, or creatures without backbones, living in sediment on the Arctic sea floor did not just consist of plant-eating herbivores.

“You have a whole food web, including primary predators, herbivores and many carnivores. So it’s way more complex than what we thought,” Amiraux said.

The study’s authors say “megafaunal-predatory” Pterasteridae seastars thrive in this realm “because of their evolved defence mechanism associated with a diet of other predators, including marine mammal carcasses that settle onto the ocean floor.”

Amiraux said that while polar bears do not consume starfish, “the opposite is quite true.”

“Actually, when a polar bear dies, it can be eaten by carnivore seastars,” Amiraux said.



The researchers examined 1,580 samples from wildlife around Nunavut’s Southampton Island in Hudson Bay to understand how the ecosystem functions and help governing bodies protect and conserve marine life in the area.

The Southampton Island region has been identified as an area of interest for Marine Protected Area designation by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Amiraux said food webs provide insight into ecosystem functioning.

He noted that though the study focused on an area in the Arctic, starfish are found worldwide, so it is likely that “there is the same structure or the same food web everywhere on the sea floor.”

“I don’t think it’s a special feature of the coastal environment,” he said. “We pretty much will be able to see that in all environments.”


 

spaminator

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Oct 26, 2009
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Tiny radioactive capsule lost in Australia triggers search
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Jan 28, 2023 • 2 minute read
This image from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services in Australia shows the size of the capsule relative to a 10-cent coin.
This image from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services in Australia shows the size of the capsule relative to a 10-cent coin. PHOTO BY DEPARTMENT OF FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES IN AUSTRALIA
PERTH, Australia — Authorities in Western Australia were searching for a tiny but potentially deadly radioactive capsule that got lost while being transported on a truck from a mine to a depot in the city of Perth, officials said Saturday.


Emergency services said they were hampered by a lack of equipment and have called on the Commonwealth and other states to provide assistance.


The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has deployed teams with handheld radiation detection devices and metal detectors along 36 kilometres of a busy freight route to look for the 8 millimetres by 6 millimetres (0.31 inches by 0.24 inches) unit.

It is believed to have fallen off the back of a truck on a 1,400-kilometre journey from the Rio Tinto mine in Newman to the the Perth suburb of Malaga.


“What we’re not doing is trying to find a tiny little device by eyesight,” said Superintendent Darryl Ray, adding they were concentrating on populated areas north of Perth and strategic sites along the Great Northern Highway.


“We’re using the radiation detectors to locate the gamma rays,” he said.

Authorities were also using the truck’s GPS data to determine the exact route the driver took and where it stopped after it left the mine on or about Jan. 10.

There are concerns the solid capsule may have already become lodged in another vehicle’s tyre and potentially be hundreds of kilometres away from the search area.

It is believed a screw became loose inside a large lead-lined gauge and the unit fell through a hole.

Rio Tinto said it contracted an expert radioactive materials handler to package the capsule and transport it “safely” to the depot and was not told it was missing until Wednesday.

Chief Health Officer Andrew Robertson defended the Western Australia government’s decision to wait two days to inform the public on Friday, saying the mine and depot had to be searched and excluded, and the route confirmed.


He said the capsule was packed in accordance with the radiation safety transport and regulations inside a box bolted onto a pallet.

“We believe the vibration of the truck may have impacted the integrity of the gauge, that it fell apart and the source actually came out of it,” he said. “It is unusual for a gauge to come apart like this one has.”

An investigation will look at the handling of the gauge and capsule at the mine site, the transport route used and the procedures at the depot in Perth after it arrived on Jan. 16.

Police have determined the incident to be an accident and no criminal charges are likely.

Authorities ruled out theft at the depot before the box was opened on Wednesday.

The small silver cylinder is a 19-becquerel caesium 137 ceramic source commonly used in radiation gauges.

Robertson previously said the unit emits the equivalent of 10 X-rays in an hour and members of the public should stay at least 5 metres (16 feet) away. Contact could result in skin damage, burns and radiation sickness, including impacts to the immune and the gastrointestinal systems.

Long-term exposure could also cause cancer, however, experts say the capsule cannot be weaponized.

“Our concern is someone will pick it up, not knowing what it is, think this is something interesting (and) keep it,” Robertson said.
1675044663624.png
 

spaminator

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Oct 26, 2009
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Bring back dodo? Ambitious plan draws investors, critics
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Christina Larson
Published Jan 31, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read

WASHINGTON — The dodo bird isn’t coming back anytime soon. Nor is the woolly mammoth. But a company working on technologies to bring back extinct species has attracted more investors, while other scientists are skeptical such feats are possible or a good idea.


Colossal Biosciences first announced its ambitious plan to revive the woolly mammoth two years ago, and on Tuesday said it wanted to bring back the dodo bird, too.


“The dodo is a symbol of man-made extinction,” said Ben Lamm, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder and CEO of Colossal. The company has formed a division to focus on bird-related genetic technologies.


The last dodo, a flightless bird about the size of a turkey, was killed in 1681 on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.

The Dallas company, which launched in 2021, also announced Tuesday it had raised an additional $150 million in funding. To date, it has raised $225 million from wide-ranging investors that include United States Innovative Technology Fund, Breyer Capital and In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm which invests in technology.


The prospect of bringing the dodo back isn’t expected to directly make money, said Lamm. But the genetic tools and equipment that the company develops to try to do it may have other uses, including for human health care, he said.

For example, Colossal is now testing tools to tweak several parts of the genome simultaneously. It’s also working on technologies for what is sometimes called an “artificial womb,” he said.

The dodo’s closest living relative is the Nicobar pigeon, said Beth Shapiro, a molecular biologist on Colossal’s scientific advisory board, who has been studying the dodo for two decades. Shapiro is paid by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which also supports The Associated Press’ Health and Science Department.


Her team plans to study DNA differences between the Nicobar pigeon and the dodo to understand “what are the genes that really make a dodo a dodo,” she said.

The team may then attempt to edit Nicobar pigeon cells to make them resemble dodo cells. It may be possible to put the tweaked cells into developing eggs of other birds, such as pigeons or chickens, to create offspring that may in turn naturally produce dodo eggs, said Shapiro. The concept is still in an early theoretical stage for dodos.

Because animals are a product of both their genetics and their environment — which has changed dramatically since the 1600s — Shapiro said that “it’s not possible to recreate a 100% identical copy of something that’s gone.”

Other scientists wonder if it’s even advisable to try, and question whether “de-extinction” diverts attention and money away from efforts to save species still on Earth.


“There’s a real hazard in saying that if we destroy nature, we can just put it back together again — because we can’t,” said Duke University ecologist Stuart Pimm, who has no connection to Colossal.

“And where on Earth would you put a woolly mammoth, other than in a cage?” asked Pimm, who noted that the ecosystems where mammoths lived disappeared long ago.

On a practical level, conservation biologists familiar with captive breeding programs say that it can be tricky for zoo-bred animals to ever adapt to the wild.

It helps if they can learn from other wild animals of their kind — an advantage that potential dodos and mammoths won’t have, said Boris Worm, a biologist at the University of Dalhousie in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who has no connection to Colossal.

“Preventing species from going extinct in the first place should be our priority, and in most cases, it’s a lot cheaper,” said Worm.

— The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
 

spaminator

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Viral video shows Canada's dirty dairy secret - we dump lots of milk
Author of the article:Brian Lilley
Published Feb 02, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read
In Canada, we waste a lot of milk to keep prices high, writes Brian Lilley.
In Canada, we waste a lot of milk to keep prices high, writes Brian Lilley. PHOTO BY ISTOCK /GETTY IMAGES
With one simple video, Jerry Huigen let the rest of the country in on Canada’s dirty dairy secret: We waste a lot of milk to keep prices high. Huigen, a southern Ontario dairy farmer, posted an emotional video to TikTok showing his dairy operation spilling milk because he was over his quota for January.


“I dumped 30,000 litres of milk. It breaks my heart,” Huigen said in the video.


It also pains the parents who do the shopping in every household with young kids. Kids drink a lot of milk and like everything else, the price of milk is going up at a time when many are feeling the pinch at the grocery store.

“This time, I’m going public. I want the people to see the pain us growers have,” Huigen said. “Only one country in the world — in Canada, not in the United States, not in Europe — do they dump when they are over, but we’re not supposed to talk about it.”


Huigen said the excess milk could go to low-income families or food banks, or even donated to hospitals, but instead it is ordered dumped by the regulators of the system.

Milk production in Canada is controlled by a national supply management system that also has provincial arms at work. Farmers have a quota of how much milk they can produce — a quota that must be purchased. No farmer is allowed to sell or distribute more milk than their quota allows.

Dumping milk has been going on since the start of the system to control supply, and thus price, but few people know about this dirty dairy secret.


In Ontario alone, farmers dumped 74 million litres of milk between Nov. 1, 2020, and Oct. 31, 2021. Those figures, which used to be public, are now considered “commercially sensitive” information and kept secret.

Sylvain Charlebois, a professor at Dalhousie University and expert in food distribution and agriculture in Canada, said he had asked the federal Canadian Dairy Commission last week for figures on how much milk is dumped down the drain, but they did not respond.

The news of the dumping of 30,000 litres in one month at one farm comes just as farmers were given a 2.2% increase in the price they are paid for their milk, which went into effect Feb. 1. It comes on top of a 2.5% increase last September and an 8.4% increase last February.


If you feel like milk costs more, you’re right.

It makes the supply management system look cold, callous and greedy. The system was put in place to give farmers a stable income and as an alternative to what most countries do, which is subsidize farmers directly.

The news of the dumping will have some calling for an end to the supply management system, something that won’t happen. It’s too touchy politically and banks and credit unions across the country have billions of dollars of loans tied up in financing the quota loans farmers have taken out.

That doesn’t mean there can’t be changes to the system to make it work better for farmers and consumers — there just needs to be some political will on that front from elected officials and enough producers in the dairy sector.



“Let’s make supply management work for farmers and Canadians,” Charlebois said.

He said Canada could export more of its dairy products, which other countries want, but the industry has been slow to react to that demand. That could stop the massive dumping, give farmers more income and keep prices lower for Canadian consumers.

The industry already had an image problem with rising prices and this dumping fiasco will only make matters worse. If they won’t innovate themselves, someone eventually will, and it may not be to their liking.

Best to change and find solutions now.

blilley@postmedia.com
 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
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Long-term exposure to pollution linked to depression, study finds
Scientists have long raised alarm about pollution's impact on physical health

Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Kelly Kasulis Cho, The Washington Post
Published Feb 02, 2023 • 2 minute read

Long-term exposure to even low levels of air pollution is linked to increased incidence of depression and anxiety, a U.K. study suggests, adding to a wave of evidence that fossil fuels may be negatively impacting mental health.


Researchers in the United Kingdom and China followed nearly 390,000 adults in the U.K. for roughly 11 years and found long-term exposure to multiple air pollutants was associated with a greater risk of depression and anxiety. These pollutants – which include fine particulate matter, nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide – are commonly emitted into the air when fossil fuels are burned for vehicles, power plants, construction equipment and industrial work.


Scientists have long raised alarm about pollution’s impact on physical health, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory infections, lung cancer and more. A University of Chicago report last year said air pollution now takes more than two years off the global average life expectancy – more than cigarettes, alcohol, or conflict and terrorism. Another recent study said that eliminating air pollution from fossil fuels would prevent more than 50,000 premature deaths and provide more than $600 billion in health benefits in the United States every year. Air pollution has also been shown to harm older adults’ brains, contributing to cognitive decline and dementia.


The study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, which took into account socioeconomic status and preexisting mental illness, supports a growing understanding among scientists that fossil fuels affect more than one’s physical health.

Potential links between pollution and mental health are “clearly a serious issue,” said Cybele Dey, a child and adolescent psychiatrist who serves as co-chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia.

“In terms of links to depression and anxiety, those findings have varied depending on the study,” she said. “There seems to be a link of some kind, but the pathway for how that link is happening is still something we haven’t figured out.”


Dey, who studies such links in children and teens, pointed to air pollution, increased heat, natural disasters and distress over climate change as potential factors that could have negative effects on mental health.

In her studies of children and teens, Dey said there has been “consistent evidence” linking air pollution to problems with learning, attention and focus. Air pollution has also been associated with lower birthweights, premature births, heart disease, lung disease, shorter life spans and a number of other factors that could negatively impact a community’s mental health, she said. Asthma, for example, can be caused by high levels of pollution and is also associated with mood disorders and other mental health symptoms. And after a gas leak led a school in Los Angeles to install air filters, researchers began to notice significantly improved test scores.

Dey also noted pollution’s potential as a disruptive force; air pollution has closed schools and led to driving restrictions in parts of Asia: “We know that, when children are not able to go to school for periods of time, that’s associated with effects on mental health,” she said.

“It’s really important for governments to be aware of the impacts,” she added, “and conversely aware of the benefits for our health of transitioning off fossil fuels and protecting people from exposure to excessive pollution.”
 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
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Case of mad cow disease discovered on Dutch farm
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Feb 01, 2023 • 1 minute read

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A cow that died recently on a Dutch farm tested positive for mad cow disease, the government of the Netherlands announced Wednesday, in a rare case of the cattle illness that can cause a fatal brain disease in people who eat tainted beef.


The farm where the cow died has been sealed off, Agriculture Minister Piet Adema said in a letter to lawmakers. He added that the infected animal “did not get into the food chain and does not constitute a risk to food safety.”


Formally called bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, the disease first broke out in the late 1980s among cattle in Britain. Hundreds of people fell ill with the human equivalent, a brain disorder called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and many died. Over the years, 4.5 million cattle were slaughtered to contain the spread.

The number of BSE cases plummeted after bans were introduced on feed that included meat and bone meal from infected cows believed to cause the disease.

The last case detected in the Netherlands was in 2011.

Tests on the 8-year-old cow from a farm in South Holland province established that the dead animal had a naturally occurring form of the disease called atypical BSE, the government said later Wednesday, and not so-called classical BSE, which is caused by animals eating contaminated feed.

Food safety authorities are conducting an investigation to trace any offspring of the dead animal as well as cows that ate the same feed or grew up with it. They will be euthanized, tested for BSE and destroyed, the ministry said.
 

spaminator

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Oct 26, 2009
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Eye drop linked to some infections, blindness and one death: U.S. FDA
Artificial Tears eye drop is manufactured by India's Global Pharma Healthcare Pvt Ltd

Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Published Feb 03, 2023 • 1 minute read

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned against using an India-made eye drop that has been linked to the outbreak of a drug-resistant bacteria leading to adverse events in at least 55 patients including infections, blindness and one death.


The agency said on Thursday that Artificial Tears eye drop manufactured by India’s Global Pharma Healthcare Pvt Ltd has a potential bacterial contamination and the company has violated current good manufacturing practices.


The company, based in India’s southern city of Chennai, on Wednesday said it had issued a voluntary recall at the consumer level of unexpired lots of the eye drop, which was distributed in the United States by EzriCare LLC and Delsam Pharma.

Global Pharma Healthcare did not immediately respond to a Reuters request seeking comment on the FDA statement.

The U.S. agency said it was collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local health departments to investigate a multistate outbreak involving a rare, extensively drug-resistant bacteria.


It said that as of Jan. 31, the CDC had identified 55 patients in 12 states with infections linked to the use of Artificial Tears distributed by EzriCare.

“Associated adverse events include hospitalization, one death with bloodstream infection, and permanent vision loss from eye infections,” the FDA said.

EzriCare said in a statement on Wednesday that it had stopped further distribution and sale of the eye drop, and it was not aware of any testing that “definitively links” the bacterial outbreak to the product.

Delsam Pharma did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

For more health news and content around diseases, conditions, wellness, healthy living, drugs, treatments and more, head to Healthing.ca – a member of the Postmedia Network.
 

Dixie Cup

Senate Member
Sep 16, 2006
5,724
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Edmonton
Viral video shows Canada's dirty dairy secret - we dump lots of milk
Author of the article:Brian Lilley
Published Feb 02, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read
In Canada, we waste a lot of milk to keep prices high, writes Brian Lilley.
In Canada, we waste a lot of milk to keep prices high, writes Brian Lilley. PHOTO BY ISTOCK /GETTY IMAGES
With one simple video, Jerry Huigen let the rest of the country in on Canada’s dirty dairy secret: We waste a lot of milk to keep prices high. Huigen, a southern Ontario dairy farmer, posted an emotional video to TikTok showing his dairy operation spilling milk because he was over his quota for January.


“I dumped 30,000 litres of milk. It breaks my heart,” Huigen said in the video.


It also pains the parents who do the shopping in every household with young kids. Kids drink a lot of milk and like everything else, the price of milk is going up at a time when many are feeling the pinch at the grocery store.

“This time, I’m going public. I want the people to see the pain us growers have,” Huigen said. “Only one country in the world — in Canada, not in the United States, not in Europe — do they dump when they are over, but we’re not supposed to talk about it.”


Huigen said the excess milk could go to low-income families or food banks, or even donated to hospitals, but instead it is ordered dumped by the regulators of the system.

Milk production in Canada is controlled by a national supply management system that also has provincial arms at work. Farmers have a quota of how much milk they can produce — a quota that must be purchased. No farmer is allowed to sell or distribute more milk than their quota allows.

Dumping milk has been going on since the start of the system to control supply, and thus price, but few people know about this dirty dairy secret.


In Ontario alone, farmers dumped 74 million litres of milk between Nov. 1, 2020, and Oct. 31, 2021. Those figures, which used to be public, are now considered “commercially sensitive” information and kept secret.

Sylvain Charlebois, a professor at Dalhousie University and expert in food distribution and agriculture in Canada, said he had asked the federal Canadian Dairy Commission last week for figures on how much milk is dumped down the drain, but they did not respond.

The news of the dumping of 30,000 litres in one month at one farm comes just as farmers were given a 2.2% increase in the price they are paid for their milk, which went into effect Feb. 1. It comes on top of a 2.5% increase last September and an 8.4% increase last February.


If you feel like milk costs more, you’re right.

It makes the supply management system look cold, callous and greedy. The system was put in place to give farmers a stable income and as an alternative to what most countries do, which is subsidize farmers directly.

The news of the dumping will have some calling for an end to the supply management system, something that won’t happen. It’s too touchy politically and banks and credit unions across the country have billions of dollars of loans tied up in financing the quota loans farmers have taken out.

That doesn’t mean there can’t be changes to the system to make it work better for farmers and consumers — there just needs to be some political will on that front from elected officials and enough producers in the dairy sector.



“Let’s make supply management work for farmers and Canadians,” Charlebois said.

He said Canada could export more of its dairy products, which other countries want, but the industry has been slow to react to that demand. That could stop the massive dumping, give farmers more income and keep prices lower for Canadian consumers.

The industry already had an image problem with rising prices and this dumping fiasco will only make matters worse. If they won’t innovate themselves, someone eventually will, and it may not be to their liking.

Best to change and find solutions now.

blilley@postmedia.com
Ya, the milk marketing board doesn't have consumers interests at heart - only Quebec's which is why our milk prices are high.
 

spaminator

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Oct 26, 2009
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Removal of historic trees at Osgoode Hall delayed by injunction
Metrolinx was to remove the trees, but will now have to wait until at least February 10

Author of the article:postmedia News
Published Feb 05, 2023 • 1 minute read

A court injunction has saved a group of historic trees at Osgood Hall until at least Friday.


Metrolinx says it needs to cut down the trees at Osgoode Hall — located at Queen St. W. and University Ave. — as part of its plan to build the new Ontario subway line.


“The interim injunction is in effect until midnight Feb. 10, 2023 unless extended by further order of the court,” tweeted the Law Society of Ontario.

“The Law Society of Ontario is pleased with the outcome of the proceedings. We extend our thanks to the courts and community and look forward to next steps in the process.”



Metrolinx had been observed removing some limbs from the trees on Saturday morning, leading to some protests in the area. Metrolinx agreed to temporarily halt the destruction of the trees.



The Law Society of Ontario co-owns Osgoode Hall with the Ontario government.

In order to use space around Osgoode Hall for a subway station entrance, Metrolinx wants to clear trees which have at the location since 1867.

Metrolinx had said in a statement last week: “Building a new subway line through Canada’s largest city means unavoidable impacts to things like trees, buildings, and roads, and Metrolinx makes every effort to mitigate those impacts.

“This was not a decision Metrolinx made lightly, and it was only made after the agency explored multiple other options to ensure the site was the best option moving forward.”

Metrolinx followed up with another statement on Sunday, according to CBC, saying it had met with “the Law Society of Ontario 17 times prior to the start of work to avoid unnecessary delays that will cause significant financial consequences to taxpayers and commuters.

“We look forward to resolving this matter quickly, getting this new subway built and serving nearly 400,000 passengers every day.”
 

spaminator

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Oct 26, 2009
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Huge chunk of plants, animals in U.S. at risk of extinction: report
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Brad Brooks
Published Feb 06, 2023 • 4 minute read

A leading conservation research group found that 40% of animals and 34% of plants in the United States are at risk of extinction, while 41% of ecosystems are facing collapse.


Everything from crayfish and cacti to freshwater mussels and iconic American species such as the Venus flytrap are in danger of disappearing, a report released on Monday found.


NatureServe, which analyzes data from its network of over 1,000 scientists across the United States and Canada, said the report was its most comprehensive yet, synthesizing five decades’ worth of its own information on the health of animals, plants and ecosystems.

Importantly, the report pinpoints the areas in the United States where land is unprotected and where animals and plants are facing the most threats.

Sean O’Brien, president of NatureServe, said the conclusions of the report were “terrifying” and he hoped it would help lawmakers understand the urgency of passing protections, such as the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act that stalled out in Congress last year.


“If we want to maintain the panoply of biodiversity that we currently enjoy, we need to target the places where the biodiversity is most threatened,” O’Brien said. “This report allows us to do that.”


U.S. Representative Don Beyer, a Democrat who has proposed legislation to create a wildlife corridor system to rebuild threatened populations of fish, wildlife and plants, said NatureServe’s work would be critical to helping agencies identify what areas to prioritize and where to establish migration routes.

“The data reported by NatureServe is grim, a harrowing sign of the very real problems our wildlife and ecosystems are facing,” Beyer told Reuters. “I am thankful for their efforts, which will give a boost to efforts to protect biodiversity.”


HUMAN ENCROACHMENT
Among the species at risk of disappearing are icons like the carnivorous Venus flytrap, which is only found in the wild in a few counties of North and South Carolina.

Nearly half of all cacti species are at risk of extinction, while 200 species of trees, including a maple-leaf oak found in Arkansas, are also at risk of disappearing. Among ecosystems, America’s expansive temperate and boreal grasslands are among the most imperiled, with over half of 78 grassland types at risk of a range-wide collapse.


The threats against plants, animals and ecosystems are varied, the report found, but include “habitat degradation and land conversion, invasive species, damming and polluting of rivers, and climate change.”


California, Texas and the southeastern United States are where the highest percentages of plants, animals and ecosystems are at risk, the report found.

Those areas are both the richest in terms of biodiversity in the country, but also where population growth has boomed in recent decades, and where human encroachment on nature has been harshest, said Wesley Knapp, the chief botanist at NatureServe.

Knapp highlighted the threats facing plants, which typically get less conservation funding than animals. There are nearly 1,250 plants in NatureServe’s “critically imperiled” category, the final stage before extinction, meaning that conservationists have to decide where to spend scant funds even among the most vulnerable species to prevent extinctions.


“Which means a lot of plants are not going to get conservation attention. We’re almost in triage mode trying to keep our natural systems in place,” Knapp said.

‘NATURE SAVINGS ACCOUNT’
Vivian Negron-Ortiz, the president of the Botanical Society of America and a botanist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who was not involved in the NatureServe report, said there is still a lot scientists do not know and have not yet discovered about biodiversity in the United States, and that NatureServe’s data helped illuminate that darkness.

More than anything, she sees the new data as a call to action.

“This report shows the need for the public to help prevent the disappearance of many of our plant species,” she said. “The public can help by finding and engaging with local organizations that are actively working to protect wild places and conserve rare species.”

John Kanter, the senior wildlife biologist with the National Wildlife Federation, said the data in the report, which he was not involved with, was essential to guiding state and regional officials in creating impactful State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs), which they must do every 10 years to receive federal funding to protect vulnerable species.

Currently $50 million in federal funding is divided up among all states to carry out their SWAPs. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, whose congressional sponsors say will be reintroduced soon, would have increased that to $1.4 billion, which would have a huge impact on the state’s abilities to protect animals and ecosystems, Kanter said, and the NatureServe report can act as roadmap for officials to best spend their money.

“Our biodiversity and its conservation is like a ‘nature savings account’ and if we don’t have this kind of accounting of what’s out there and how’s it doing, and what are the threats, there’s no way to prioritize action,” Kanter said. “This new report is critical for that.”
 

spaminator

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What to know about OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT
Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Pranshu Verma, The Washington Post
Published Feb 06, 2023 • 5 minute read

A popular tool that can respond to questions in eerily human ways, called ChatGPT, has captured the internet’s attention as people use it write song lyrics, essays, TV episodes and more.


Now, OpenAI, the company behind the chatbot, is rocketing into the mainstream. Microsoft is reportedly investing up to $10 billion in the company, hoping it can use ChatGPT to resuscitate its search engine, Bing, and improve products in its Microsoft Office suite.


But OpenAI faces steep challenges, notably fixing its products’ glaring issues with accuracy, bias and harm.

Here’s everything you need to know about OpenAI.

What is OpenAI’s history, and how was Elon Musk involved?
The San Francisco-based artificial intelligence lab started in 2015 as a nonprofit, trying to build “artificial general intelligence,” or AGI, which is essentially software that’s as smart as humans.

The company wanted to protect against a future in which big tech companies, like Google, mastered AI technology and monopolized its benefits. The nonprofit’s goal was to build AI software transparently and make its products open-source so the world could benefit.


Silicon Valley notables pledged $1 billion to start it up. Donors included Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk; venture capitalist Peter Thiel; and Sam Altman, who became the CEO of OpenAI in 2019. Musk left the company’s board in 2018, citing time demands of running Tesla and SpaceX.

OpenAI charted a complicated path. It would use extraordinarily large amounts of data and powerful neural networks, which is software loosely based on neurons in the human brain, to create its AI products. But the computing power and compensation costs to pull that off – one early-era OpenAI employee was paid $1.9 million in salary, according to its 2016 tax records – made it difficult to run the company as a nonprofit.

In 2019, OpenAI transitioned into a for-profit company, with an unusual structure to cap investor profits at a certain multiple of their investment. Altman also took $1 billion in funding from Microsoft, which agreed to license and commercialize some of OpenAI’s technology.


Microsoft declined to comment on its partnership with OpenAI beyond what’s public. OpenAI did not respond to a request for comment.

What does OpenAI make and who can use it?
OpenAI started by trying to build a system that understood language, taking advantage of the troves of text on the internet to learn from, OpenAI officials told The Washington Post.

In 2020, it released GPT-3, a text-generating tool that could produce plausible-sounding passages of text on demand.

After that, OpenAI tried to replicate GPT-3’s success by feeding it computer code and creating a tool called Codex, which helps computer programmers write code faster. Codex fuels GitHub’s Co-Pilot, a publicly available tool that translates human instructions into computer code for a monthly fee. (Microsoft owns GitHub.)


OpenAI also tried to combine vision with language, and trained GPT-3 to find patterns between words and images by ingesting massive data sets filled with pictures and captions from the internet. That resulted in DALL-E, which released in January 2021, and could create images based off human prompts.

Soon after, it created DALL-E 2, a program that generated even better photorealistic images.

DALL-E 2 went viral after it publicly released last year. People could enter nonsensical prompts, such as asking for a photo of a Dachsund puppy in space in the style of painted glass, and received high-quality images. The public can use DALL-E 2 for a fee. Companies can also incorporate the technology into their own apps for a cost.


In November, OpenAI released ChatGPT. The chatbot, essentially a fine-tuned version of its earlier text-generators, impressed the public with its humanlike prose. The chatbot could talk about religion, write essays and poetry or complete computer code. It also got basic facts wrong, provided racist and sexist responses and prompted worries about cheating in school. ChatGPT is estimated to have reached roughly 100 million active users in January, reports show.

On Wednesday, OpenAI said it will offer a premium version of the service, called ChatGPT Plus, for $20 per month. There will still be a free version that people can use during off-peak times.

Why are people excited about ChatGPT, and what does Silicon Valley think?
Article content
For the general public, the release of ChatGPT felt like a sudden leap forward, specifically in the field of generative artificial intelligence, where software creates content like texts or images based on descriptions.

Some industry analysts said this would spell the end for professionals such as journalists and screenwriters, though high-profile disasters incorporating the tool into news writing have cast doubt on that view.

The advances, as people in Silicon Valley have pointed out, are not exactly new. Tech titans such as Meta and Google had been working on similar technology, offering limited releases for some, and taking others down when they exhibit problematic behavior.

But with OpenAI’s strategy of releasing ChatGPT for millions to use, despite the harms it could cause, the general public got to interact with AI software in a very tangible way.

The intense interest in ChatGPT has ignited a race at companies like Google and Meta to fast-track their own AI products to the public, current and former officials from those companies earlier told The Post. Google wants to speed up its processes for making these products public, according to a report in the New York Times.

Who are the big players in AI right now?
Many tech companies are involved in artificial intelligence. Google pioneered advances in generative artificial intelligence, some of which underpin ChatGPT, and created the language model LaMDA, which a former Google engineer claimed was sentient.

The start-up Stable Diffusion launched its own version of OpenAI’s DALL-E, with fewer restrictions on how it’s used. Research lab Midjourney released another text-to-image generator in the summer, which created the illustration that sparked a controversy in August when it won an art competition at the Colorado State Fair.

In November, Meta released an AI tool called Galactica. The company pulled it down three days later after it was criticized for being inaccurate. Months before, it released a chatbot called BlenderBot 3, which reportedly made racist comments. In 2016, Microsoft created a chatbot, Tay, which it took down after a day after it was also revealed to be racist.

Does Microsoft own OpenAI?
No. Microsoft is an investor in OpenAI.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company has been chasing Google’s advances in artificial intelligence and is now pouring billions into OpenAI, in hopes that the investment can help Microsoft leapfrog its competitors.

Microsoft wants to use ChatGPT’s technology to revitalize its products, potentially having AI help create Excel spreadsheets, generate art for Power Point slides or draft an email in Outlook.

News reports indicate that Microsoft will incorporate a newer version of ChatGPT, called GPT-4, into its search engine, Bing, in a bid to overtake Google’s dominance.
 

spaminator

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Seven Ontario cities top list of dirtiest air in Canada
Author of the article:Denette Wilford
Published Feb 09, 2023 • 2 minute read

Toronto and six other cities in Ontario are in the top 10 boasting poor air quality in Canada.


As a whole, the country has some of the cleanest air in the world but due to industrial emissions, wood burning and energy production in some parts along with wildfires in others, it’s not as clean as one would initially assume.


However, cigarettes play a huge factor in poor air quality. In fact, the air pollution emitted by cigarettes is 10 times greater than that of a diesel car exhaust, according to a controlled experiment reported by Tobacco Control.

The team over at HouseFresh, researched the number of cigarettes people around the world are indirectly smoking due to the dirty and analyzed the data to provide more insight into the health risks of air pollution.

Montreal has the honour of having the dirtiest air in Canada, mostly thanks to vehicle emissions but in the winter, it’s pollution from domestic wood-burning appliances that can cause thick layers of smog to hover over the city.


The study found that due to all that pollution, on average, Montreal residents smoke the equivalent of 124 cigarettes every year. That’s the most of any Canadian city — but not by much.

In second is Windsor, whose residents average the equivalent of smoking 123 cigarettes a year.

Hamilton, averaging 116 is in third, followed by Kitchener averaging 115 and Ottawa, with 113, finished in fifth.

London, Quebec City, Mississauga, Toronto and Edmonton round out the top 10.



The top 5 U.S. cities with the dirtiest air are Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, Louisville and Atlanta.

Around the world, many of the cities with the worst air quality are in developing economies in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa.

The capital city that has the worst air pollution on the planet is Dhaka, Bangladesh, where the yearly cigarettes indirectly smoked is an average of 1,176.

The capital city with the cleanest air is Bern, Switzerland.

For the entire list and all of HouseFresh’s extensive calculations, click here.
 

spaminator

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Ontario issues warning about invasive pest that threatens maples, other trees
Spotted Lanternfly threatens many of our native tree species, including maples, poplars, pines, and cherries

Author of the article:postmedia News
Published Feb 12, 2023 • 1 minute read
The Spotted Lanternfly "threatens many of our native tree species, including maples, poplars, pines, and cherries. Grape vines are also susceptible to this pest," said Ontario Parks in a warning. While the insects haven't yet been spotted in Canada, they are in many states in the U.S.
The Spotted Lanternfly "threatens many of our native tree species, including maples, poplars, pines, and cherries. Grape vines are also susceptible to this pest," said Ontario Parks in a warning. While the insects haven't yet been spotted in Canada, they are in many states in the U.S. PHOTO BY SCREENGRAB /Ontario Parks
Ontario Parks is sounding the alarm on an invasive species that could be set to cause trouble in the province.


The Spotted Lanternfly “threatens many of our native tree species, including maples, poplars, pines, and cherries. Grape vines are also susceptible to this pest,” warned Ontario Parks. While the insects haven’t yet been spotted in Canada, they are in many states in the U.S.


But that’s not all. Something called Tree of Heaven is also a potential threat.

Tree of Heaven is an invasive tree native to China. It was first introduced to North America in 1784 in the Philadelphia area, according to Ontario Parks, which added the species has since spread across Ontario.

It is the primary host species for the Spotted Lanternfly, which has been detected in nearby New York State.

Spotted Lanternfly species “threatens to severely impact Ontario’s viticulture (wine), fruit-tree, and maple industries, which have a combined estimated worth of over $530 billion/year in Canada,” they said.

Ontario Parks asks those who have spotted Tree of LIfe to upload a picture which will be added to the provincial database.

Tree of Life. Barb Alber/Ontario Parks
Tree of Life. Barb Alber/Ontario Parks
“Tree of Heaven grows rapidly. It can become very large, and can reach heights of over 21 metres tall. It is able to produce suckers from its base, so it often appears to be the size of a small to medium-sized shrub.”
1676343071845.png
 

spaminator

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Osgoode Hall trees can get the axe, court rules
Author of the article:Antonella Artuso
Published Feb 21, 2023 • Last updated 21 hours ago • 1 minute read
An Ontario court has cleared the way for Metrolinx to cut down trees at Osgoode Hall -- at Queen St. and University Ave. -- to accommodate construction of the Ontario subway line.
Metrolinx has won the legal right to chop down Osgoode Hall trees to make way for an Ontario Line station.


The Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed an attempt by the Haudenosaunee Development Institute to obtain an injunction to protect 11 trees located near Queen St. and University Ave. An attempt to appeal that decision failed in court Tuesday.


“The 11 trees which Metrolinx will remove from its property to facilitate the subway construction are not special in any way and will be replaced by Metrolinx at the conclusion of construction,” says a decision by Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles T. Hackland last week. “An injunction would likely delay the archeological investigations which Metrolinx needs to complete in order to hand over the site to the construction conglomerate by May 1, 2023. Failure to meet that deadline could result in heavy financial penalties to Metrolinx and to taxpayers.”


Hackland found it significant that the elected leadership of the Haudenosaunee and other First Nations that have been engaged on the project, as well as the City of Toronto, do not oppose the tree removal.

The decision notes that the trees are not 200-years-old as claimed but rather between 50- to 100-years-old.

Haudenosaunee Development Institute had unsuccessfully argued that Metrolinx was required to obtain its permission to cut down the trees.

In a separate legal action, the Law Society of Ontario was also unable to obtain a court injunction to spare the trees.

Metrolinx is removing thousands of trees from public parks and other spaces to make way for the Ontario Line, a relief subway between the Ontario Science Centre and Ontario Place, according to local city councillors and MPPs who are reporting complaints by their constituents.

aartuso@postmedia.com
 

spaminator

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‘Super pig’ poses real threat to Canada and U.S.
Author of the article:Denette Wilford
Published Feb 21, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

A Canadian ‘super pig’ could threaten crops, spread disease and kill deer and elk if they find their way to the northern U.S. states.


The massive wild pigs, a result of cross-breeding domestic pigs with wild boars by farmers in the 1980s, is something many fear, the Guardian reported.


The giant beast is described as “intelligent,” “elusive,” and can survive cold climates by tunnelling under snow.

In Canada, they have become a relatively recent problem where up until 2002, there were barely any in the country.

“Wild pigs are easily the worst invasive large mammal on the planet,” according to Ryan Brook, who leads the University of Saskatchewan’s Canadian wild pig research project.

“They’re incredibly intelligent,” he told the Guardian. “They’re highly elusive, and also when there’s any pressure on them, especially if people start hunting them, they become almost completely nocturnal, and they become very elusive – hiding in heavy forest cover, and they disappear into wetlands and they can be very hard to locate.”

The wild pigs — which average between 75 and 250 pounds but can weigh double that, and measure between three- and five-feet long — escaped captivity and swiftly spread across Canada, with the super pig proving to be an incredibly proficient breeder, Brook said.

Given the damage the pigs do, many want to get rid of them — not the easiest of tasks, however.


The U.S. government estimates about six million wild or feral pigs have caused $1.5 billion in damage each year in recent decades.

“Pigs are also accomplished predators,” Michael Marlow, assistant program manager for the Department of Agriculture’s national feral swine damage management program, told the outlet, and are known for being a nuisance on the environment, including eating farmers’ crops, destroying trees and polluting water.

They also pose “a human health and safety risk,” according to Marlow, who explained they are known as a “mixing vessel,” which means they can carry viruses, such as influenza, which can be spread to humans.




“They lived a benign existence up until, you know, probably three or four decades ago, where we started seeing these rapid excursions in areas we hadn’t seen before,” Marlow explained.

Brook believes it should be more about managing the havoc they wreak than eliminating them entirely.

“Probably as late as maybe 2010 to 2012, there was probably a reasonable chance of finding and removing them. But now, they’re so widespread, and so abundant, that certainly as late as 2018 or 19 I stopped saying that eradication was possible. They’re just so established,” Brook said.

“They’ve definitely moved in, and they’re here to stay.”
 

petros

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Nov 21, 2008
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Low Earth Orbit
Y'all know me. Know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad pig. Not like going down the pond chasin' bluegills and tommycods. This pig"ll, swallow you whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', an' down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back your tourists, put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant. I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's just too many captains on this island. $10,000 for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.