1. Our disappearing forests
“Despite what the Nova Scotia government has said in response to concerns raised over clearcutting, the most recent figures released from the National Forestry Database (NFD) indicate that in 2015, both the overall harvest and the proportion of trees removed by clearcutting continued to increase,” reports Jennifer Henderson:
And ironically, the national body used data supplied by the province for its assessment.
The National Forestry Database shows that out of a total of 34,777 hectares harvested in 2015, an estimated 30,937 hectares of publicly and privately owned woodland, or 88.95 per cent, were clearcut. That’s the highest combined total in five years. The figure is considered an “estimate” because of uncertainty related to cutting on private woodlots.
Henderson goes on to show that the province contests the NFD figures because the two disagree on the definition of a clearcut.
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
Relatedly, Linda Pannozzo and I recently tramped through the woods in search of the elusive (and endangered) boreal felt lichen. Pannozzo used the trip as a basis for a photo essay that explains how the province’s approach to forestry is all wrong.
This article is also behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
How we manage, steward, and profit from our forests is a fundamental political, economic, environmental, and social issue that deserves informed public debate, and so I have committed the Examiner to reporting on resource issues, and I hope to increase that coverage. We’re lucky to have capable and experienced reporters like Henderson and Pannozzo on the beat.
I know the repeated “this article is behind the Examiner’s paywall…” thing is off-putting, but this is how we pay for such work. If you doubt that, consider: is any advertising-based media outlet (not to mention paper-based) providing such depth of coverage? There’s a reason for that: economic self-interest runs deeper than people consciously realize.
So, please subscribe.
2. Blueberries and bees
The CBC has a pair of articles about the blueberry industry.
In the first, David Burke reports that:
The wild blueberry industry in Nova Scotia is proving that you can have too much of a good thing.
Three good growing seasons have flooded the market with product and forced prices down, according to the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia.
Peter Rideout, the association’s executive director, said in 2013 growers were getting about 60 cents per pound of blueberries.
As blueberry production rose in 2014, prices started to drop. Last year, grower prices were down to 30 cents per pound. It costs about 20 cents per pound to harvest blueberries.
In the second article, Steve Berry reports that:
An application to ship bees from Ontario — a province known to have a widespread infection of small hive beetles — has been submitted to the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture.
The Nova Scotia Beekeepers Association says that if the import permit is approved, about 500 rented hives could cross Nova Scotia’s border in May and leave at the end of the summer.
The association says the bees would be headed for wild blueberry fields in Nova Scotia to aid pollination of those crops.
The group is concerned that the shipment could infect Nova Scotian hives with small hive beetles…
“If they were to become established in Nova Scotia there’s a chance we would never be able to get rid of them,” [said association president and beekeeper Lauren Park.]
I suspect that there the monopolization of the blueberry industry by one large player is analogous to the monopolization of the lobster industry by one large player, and that in each case the monopoly has “captured” the regulatory agencies such that government rules and regulations are created and enforced to benefit the monopoly — and not the small growers that are hanging on, not associated industries like the beekeepers, and certainly not the public.
As with forestry and fishing, the blueberry industry mostly takes place in rural areas that urbanites don’t often directly butt up against, and are off the beaten path for most reporters. I’m glad to see the CBC on these stories, and I think there’s still more journalism that can be done around the industry.
3. Pedestrian struck
A police email to reporters last night:
Shortly before 9pm Halifax Regional Police responded to a report of a person struck by a truck with a plow attached, near the intersection of Rufus Avenue at Dutch Village Road. Upon arrival officers learned that a 61-year-old male had been struck by the vehicle while crossing Dutch Village Rd on the crosswalk. The injured male was transported to hospital by EHS with non-life threatening injuries. A 41-year-old male was issued summary offence tickets for two offences; making an improper left turn at an intersection and for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
4. People in Annapolis Royal are riled up
Annapolis Royal mayor Bill MacDonald first took to Facebook earlier this week with his own cranky letter:
I am very troubled that the CBC has misrepresented Canadian history in the first episode of its television mini-series: ‘Canada: The Story of Us’. In the first episode aired last night, the CBC incorrectly asserts that Samuel de Champlain built the first European settlement in 1608 — a fortified habitation that would become Quebec City.
In actual fact, as most of us know, the first European settlement was established here, in Port Royal, by Champlain (and Pierre Dugua) in 1605. Annapolis Royal is the cradle of our nation, and this erroneous representation of history is disrespectful — as it erases (in a national broadcast) the true origins of our country. This misrepresentation of Canadian history warrants a campaign to set the record straight.
And then, Lawrence Powell, editor of the Annapolis County Spectator got all the other locals riled up.
It’s important to document where the very first European sperm landed in what would later become the country of Canada, I guess. It’s not like there was anyone else here before then…
But besides that, why are we discounting the Vikings, eh? Was their sperm not virile enough? And there were Europeans living in St. John’s at least as early as 1583 (and probably much earlier).
5. Matt Whitman does something stupid
Twitter has a “collage” feature that lets users post four photos in a grid. It’s been around since 2014, but I’ve noticed lately that many users are starting to use it for their profile photos — they’ll post photos of themselves at four different ages, or whatever.
Matt Whitman has updated his profile photo, too. In his case, though, he has posted a collage that includes celebrated Canadian portraitist Yousuf Karsh’s photos of Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, and Mikhail Gorbachev. The fourth photo (presumably not taken by Karsh, but in the same manner) is of Whitman.
1. Cranky letter of the day
To the Halifax Examiner:
Someone recently pointed out that in your October 17, 2016 article on the NS Ombudsman’s title you quoted a “delightful ” email I wrote several years ago on the use of ombudsman vs ombudsperson.
You said I was the Ombudsperson at Concordia University in the US. Wrong! There is a Concordia University (somewhere in the Chicago area, I think) but MY Concordia is in Montreal, only a couple of provinces away from you. You got your info from a paper by Tim Moore, a researcher with the Northern Ireland government. At least he was wrong first! I’ve written to him, too. Given that the topic of ombudsman titles (comes up often enough) we may as well get things right before I get Americanized again!
In any event it was fun to see that email again — thanks for that.
No public meetings.
Innovative Solutions (Thursday, 8:30am, Westin Nova Scotia) — senior Engineering students show off their design projects. They get 10 extra points every time they use “innovation.”
Feng Zhang (Thursday, 6:15pm, Scotia Auditorium, McCain Building) — Zhang is the 2016 Recipient of the Canada Gairdner Award; he worked on the CRISPR gene editing tool, which is a very big deal.
Physical Computing (Thursday, 11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Sowmya Somanath, from the University of Calgary, will speak on “Engaging Makers in Physical Computing.”
War on Drugs (Thursday, 4pm, Room 212, Henry Hicks Building) — Juanita Díaz-Cotto, from the State University of New York, will speak on “The US War on Drugs and its Impact on Latinas, Chicanas, and Latin American Women.”
Research Presentations (Thursday, 4:30pm, 3H, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Day 1 of this year’s research presentations from the honours students of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Immigration Detention in Canada and the United States (Thursday, 6pm, Room 1020, Rowe Management Building) — Juanita Diaz-Cotto, Morey Williams, Carrie Dawson, and Julie Chamagne will speak.
The Ark (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — Steven Mannell will speak about “Living Lightly on the Earth: Building an Ark for Prince Edward Island.” More info here.
In the harbour
2:30am: ZIM New York, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
11am: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
Noon: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
4pm: ZIM Alabama, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Valencia, Spain
4:30pm: Zenith Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
8:30pm: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for New York