Conservative MP Slammed for ‘Appalling’ Polar Bear Letter

Polar bear ~ photo by Daniel J. Cox/Natural Exposures

Polar bear ~ photo by Daniel J. Cox/Natural Exposures

April 30, 2013 _ A Conservative MP has been peddling what researchers describe as “bogus” information on polar bears and citing U.S. climate skeptics as experts on the iconic creatures.

In a letter that shocked scientists, Yukon MP Ryan Leef said: “The global polar bear population has quadrupled over the last 40 years.”

The letter, which Leef wrote to a constituent in February, said many “pessimistic studies” about the bears have been judged “unscientific and inconsequential to decision makers” by U.S. researchers. The researchers he refers to are well-known climate skeptics.

Ian Stirling, a world authority on the bears at the University of Alberta, said he was shocked by Leef’s letter. Continue reading

When it comes to survival, being a bit squirrely can be good

Red squirrel, sporting ear tag,  emitting a territorial "rattle" ~ photo Ryan W. Taylor

Red squirrel, sporting ear tag, emitting a territorial “rattle”
~ photo Ryan W. Taylor

Published April 18, 2013

The wilds of the Yukon may seem like a strange place to study stress.

But a long-running project in a spruce forest near Kluane National Park has found that when it comes to survival of the fittest, stress can be a good thing.

Females squirrels, when stressed by life in the woods, improve their pup’s odds of survival by making them grow faster, according to the latest study from the Yukon “squirrel camp” published in the journal Science on Thursday. Continue reading

Closure of fisheries’ libraries called a ‘disaster’ for science

Rare books on the shelf at DFO's St. Andrews library ~  SOS

Rare books on the shelf at DFO’s St. Andrews library ~ SOS

April 14, 2013 _ The libraries are home to the 50 illustrated volumes from Britain’s Challenger expedition that sailed the seas in the late 1800s exploring the mysteries of the deep.
The shelves heave with reports detailing the DDT pollution that wiped out young salmon in New Brunswick’s “rivers of death” in the 1950s. And they contain vivid reminders of native fisheries, Canada’s once vast cod stocks and the U.S. submarines that prowled the quiet fjords along the B.C. coast in the 1940s — history that is being packed into boxes as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans “consolidates” its world-class library collection.

Seven DFO libraries across Canada are to close by the fall, including two that have been amassing books and technical reports on the aquatic realm for more than a century. Continue reading

Investigation launched into ‘muzzling’ of scientists by Harper government

Canada's information commissioner Suzanne Legault ~ Postmedia News

Canada’s information commissioner Suzanne Legault ~ Postmedia News

01/04/13 _ The federal information commissioner’s office is launching a sweeping investigation into complaints that the Harper government has been ”muzzling” and restricting access to scientists.

Seven federal departments and agencies, from Environment Canada to the National Research Council of Canada, have been told Suzanne Legault’s office plans to act on complaints about “the systematic efforts by the Government of Canada to obstruct the right of the media — and through them, the Canadian public — to timely access to government scientists.”

“A notice of our intention to investigate and a summary of complaint has been sent” to the seven departments, Emily McCarthy, assistant information commissioner, says in a March 27 letter to Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria. Continue reading

Aiming for round-the-clock renewable energy

"Tiny

Tiny gas bubbles turn water white in  a small electrolyzer at the University of Calgary as catalysts split water into oxygen and hydrogen, a potent form of energyPhoto ~ Rodney Smith, University of Calgary

Tiny gas bubbles turn the  water white in a small electrolyzer at the University of Calgary as catalysts split H2O into oxygen and hydrogen, a potent form of energy
Photo ~ Rodney Smith, University of Calgary

Published 23/03/13 – If you’d like to unplug from the grid, Curtis Berlinguette and his colleagues could have the machine for you.

The University of Calgary chemists are working on a “FireWater” fuel device, about half the size of a fridge, to deliver renewable, carbon-free electricity around the clock.

While it will be at least a couple of years before FireWater is energizing houses near you, the scientists’ patented new process is being held up as a “game changer” for renewable energy. Continue reading