Frightening’ number of plant extinctions found in global survey

Study shows 571 species wiped out, and scientists say figure is likely to be big underestimate

” One of these [creation] stories sustains the living systems on which we depend. One of these stories opens the way to living in gratitude and amazement at the richness and generosity of the world. One of the stories asks us to bestow our own gifts in kind to celebrate our kinship with the world.  We can choose. If all the world is a commodity, how poor we grow. When all the world is a gift in motion, how wealthy we become.” — Robin Wall Kimmerer, in Braiding Sweetgrass


Maria Vorontsova: ‘We take them for granted and I don’t think we should.’ Photograph: Kew Gardens

Human destruction of the living world is causing a “frightening” number of plant extinctions, according to scientists who have completed the first global analysis of the issue.

They found 571 species had definitely been wiped out since 1750 but with knowledge of many plant species still very limited the true number is likely to be much higher. The researchers said the plant extinction rate was 500 times greater now than before the industrial revolution, and this was also likely to be an underestimate.

“Plants underpin all life on Earth,” said Dr Eimear Nic Lughadha, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, who was part of the team. “They provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, as well as making up the backbone of the world’s ecosystems – so plant extinction is bad news for all species.”

The number of plants that have disappeared from the wild is more than twice the number of extinct birds, mammals and amphibians combined. The new figure is also four times the number of extinct plants recorded in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list.

“It is way more than we knew and way more than should have gone extinct,” said Dr Maria Vorontsova, also at Kew. “It is frightening not just because of the 571 number but because I think that is a gross underestimate.”

She said the true extinction rate for plants could easily be orders of magnitude higher than that reported in the study, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. There are thousands of “living dead” plant species, where the last survivors have no chance of reproducing because, for example, only one sex remains or the big animals needed to spread their seeds are extinct. MORE

No Pipelines in a Climate Emergency

This is a climate emergency. It’s time to act like it.

From June 9-18, people from coast-to-coast-to-coast are taking action to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet are expected to release their decision on whether they’ll approve the controversial project by June 18.

The Trans Mountain project could add 13 to 15 megatonnes of carbon emissions to the atmosphere, which would be like adding almost 3.8 million cars on the road. This will make it impossible for us to meet our climate targets, which are already far from the scale of emissions cuts that are needed.

At the same time, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) continues to push its “Coastal GasLink” (CGL) fracked gas pipeline.

As the Unist’ot’en Camp writes, “On January 7, 2019, the world watched in shock and horror as the unarmed Indigenous Wet’suwet’en were illegally forced at gunpoint to concede a checkpoint at the entrance to their unceded territories… The international community responded with a massive show of support and solidarity for the Wet’suwet’en protecting their land, with nearly 100 simultaneous demonstrations”.

Council chapters, supporters, and allies took action. It’s time to do so again.

The Unist’ot’en Camp is counting on supporters to mobilize in a big way for the next step in their legal battle. They write that “On the week of June 10, the BC Supreme Court in Prince George will hear Coastal GasLink’s petition for an interlocutory injunction. If they are successful, the interim injunction will be made functionally permanent, allowing CGL to continue with pipeline construction on Unist’ot’en territory without the consent of hereditary chiefs.”

Take Action HERE

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Monsanto hit with staggering $2 billion verdict in Roundup cancer suit

Image result for Monsanto Hit Again! $2 Billion Verdict For Couple Diagnosed With Cancer Caused By RoundupThis Jan. 26, 2017, file photo shows containers of Roundup, a weed killer made by Monsanto, on a shelf at a hardware store in Los Angeles.Photo: Reed Saxon / Associated Press

An Oakland jury awarded a staggering $2 billion-plus in damages Monday to a Bay Area couple who both came down with cancer after spraying Monsanto Co.’s widely used Roundup weed killer on their properties for more than 30 years.

It’s the third such verdict against Monsanto, all in Bay Area lawsuits, and by far the largest judgment against the company.

Alva Pilliod, 76, of Livermore was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011, and his wife, Alberta Pilliod, 74, was diagnosed in 2015. They had used Roundup to kill weeds on the grounds of three properties they owned in the area, applying it once a week for nine months out of the year. Their lawyer estimated they sprayed 1,500 gallons of the herbicide over three decades. SOURCE

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Overwhelming support for more ambitious Canadian ocean protection targets, new survey finds

 

“Canadians care deeply about our ocean, and want to sustain its abundance for future generations. This requires strong leadership and laws that ensure real and lasting protection.” — Stephanie Hewson, West Coast Environmental Law 

Image result for canada's ocean protection plan
The Oceans Protection Plan is the Government of Canada’s largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways 

OTTAWA – Over 90 per cent of Canadians support the call to protect 30 per cent of the country’s oceans by 2030, according to a survey released today by Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, David Suzuki Foundation, West Coast Environmental Law and World Wildlife Fund Canada. This high level of support for ambitious targets aligns with an increase in pessimism about the state of Canada’s oceans, with half of Canadians saying they think ocean health is only fair or poor — a 12-point increase since the survey was last issued in 2016. The results come from a public opinion survey conducted by Environics Research.

Currently, about eight per cent of Canada’s ocean is protected, according to the federal government, which has pledged to protect at least 10 per cent by 2020. However, research suggests this will not be enough to effectively protect marine species and habitats.

Survey highlights:

There is consistent, strong support for ocean protection among Canadians.

  • Since at least 2012, Canadians have agreed that ocean protection is an important way to reduce environmental impact.
  • 65 per cent“strongly support” marine protected areas (MPAs), 32 per cent “somewhat support” them and only three per cent oppose them.
  • Nearly three out of four Canadians feel strongly about prioritizing ocean protections to sustain coastal economies, rather than allowing industrial activities in all parts of the ocean.
  • A strong majority of people across the political spectrum think that ocean protection is “very important,” with results for this finding ranging from 65 to 85 per cent agreeing.

Canadians are not satisfied with the current level of ocean protection and support continued momentum.

  • Over 90 per cent of those polled support international momentum to set a more ambitious target for ocean protection.
  • 74 per cent say the current level of ocean protection is not enough.

Canadians recognize the benefits of MPAs for people and the planet.

  • Those who believe MPAs will benefit the economy outnumber those who think it will hurt the economy three to one.

Canadians believe that industrial development should not be allowed in protected ocean areas.

  • More than four out of five Canadians believe oil and gas, bottom trawling, and dumping should be excluded from MPAs.

MORE

Finally, federal action to stop the rising plastic tide

The Ford Government quickly introduced a slew of legislative changes in it’s first year in government. Apparently it is too big a challenge for Canada’s Environment Minister to quickly introduce a single-use plastics ban even though it is widely supported by Canadians. (Notice the ban doesn’t start until after the  federal election.)

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Plastic has invaded every corner of the planet, and it’s harming every form of life. Whales and turtles die from eating plastic bags and tiny microplastics are now present in the water we drink and the food we eat. By 2050, it’s estimated there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish.

This why we’re pleased to start the week by sharing some good news. Today, the federal government announced its intention to ban unnecessary single-use plastics as early as 2021, as part of a larger plan to tackle Canada’s staggering plastic waste problem.

Ecojustice has worked for several years to convince the federal government to recognize the damage plastic does to our oceans, rivers and land.

A year ago, on behalf of 10 environmental groups, Ecojustice asked Minister Catherine McKenna to add single-use plastics, microplastics and microfibers to the Priority Substances List under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Having received no reply, Ecojustice sent a new letter – signed by more than 20 environmental lawyers – to the Minister just last week, urging the federal government to use the full extent of the law to regulate plastics. MORE

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BC’s Anti-Pipeline Law Is Unconstitutional

Image result for trans mountain pipeline
The British Columbia director for a First Nations consortium planning to buy a majority stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline says the emergence of a rival Alberta Indigenous bidder raises concerns about weakening his group’s all-inclusive bid.

On Friday May 24th, the BC Court of Appeal held that BC’s proposed legislation blocking the Trans Mountain pipeline is unconstitutional. In a clear decision curtailing the provinces’ ability to interfere with federal undertakings, the Court reaffirmed that pipelines and railways cannot be subject to a patchwork of provincial laws. If upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada, the Court’s decision will provide considerable certainty for present and future federal projects.

The proposed legislation (the “Proposed Legislation“) prohibits anyone from possessing “heavy oil” in quantities greater than that possessed between 2013 and 2017, unless they obtain a discretionary permit from BC. The definition of “heavy oil” was such that it essentially only applied to synthetic crude oil that originated outside BC.

The Court held that the Proposed Legislation specifically targets federal undertakings (pipelines and railways) carrying oil across BC’s borders and, consequently, it is beyond BC’s jurisdiction. The federal government—not BC—has exclusive jurisdiction over federal undertakings, including interprovincial pipelines and railways.

The Court further held that unless an undertaking is contained entirely within a province, “federal jurisdiction is the only way in which it may be regulated.” The Court reasoned that if a patchwork of provincial and federal legislation applied, the operation of interprovincial undertakings would be stymied. New laws would apply each time a pipeline or railroad crossed a provincial border. For good reason, the constitution allocates jurisdiction over interprovincial undertakings exclusively to Parliament. MORE

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News Indigenous Pipeline Opponents Seek Court OK for Blockade Protest

Clouds hang over the island of Haida Gwaii in British Columbia, Canada, on Aug. 26, 2016. Photographer: Ben Nelms/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    • Wet’suwet’en First Nation members seek to stop court order preventing their blockade
    • Coastal GasLink pipeline construction in British Columbia would be boon to Canada’s LNG industry

A First Nation in northern British Columbia will seek June 10 to quash orders preventing them from blockading a natural gas pipeline seen as crucial to Canada’s nascent liquefied natural gas sector.

Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation will ask the the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Prince George to reverse a temporary injunction that allows Calgary-based TC Energy Corp. to proceed with construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police broke up a blockade of First Nations members and their supporters Jan. 7 on a remote logging road after the orders were made in December.

The national police force made over a dozen arrests, but those criminal charges later dropped.

‘Unprecedented Support’

TC Energy, which until recently was known as TransCanada Corp., wants the orders made permanent.

“There is unprecedented support for this important natural gas pipeline project from local and Indigenous communities along the route,” Suzanne Wilton, a spokesperson for TC Energy-owned Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd., said in an email June 7. “The continuance of the injunction will ensure continued safe and unimpeded access.”

The Wet’suwet’en First Nation opposes Coastal GasLink because of environmental concerns, and the pipeline’s representatives have tried to subvert its authority by engaging with Indigenous organizations that do not represent Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, the First Nation said in a February court filing. MORE