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Archive for November, 2008

Keep the promise to protect the Great Bear Rainforest

Keep the promise to protect the Great Bear Rainforest! That’s what you need to tell British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell. It’s the world’s largest temperate rainforest and home to the ‘Spirit Bear,’ the rarely seen white form of the black bear, as well as the forest-nesting marbled murrelet sea bird and salmon-eating coastal wolves.

A couple of years ago, Premier Campbell made a very specific commitment to preserve this precious rainforest. The final countdown is on for the BC government to make their promise a reality by the March 31, 2009 deadline. Premier Campbell needs to hear from you.

We are down to the wire. Unless all elements of the promise are kept, the ecological health of the rainforest will be in jeopardy once again. We’ve come so far towards the rare success of having a vast unspoiled forest safeguarded, let’s not undermine all this good work by not reaching the finish line.

Help us tell the BC government that a promise is a promise. Send your message to BC Premier Gordon Campbell today! (Copied to Environment Minister Barry Penner, Agriculture & Lands Minister Stan Hagen, and Forests & Range Minister Pat Bell).

Thank you for voicing your support for the Great Bear Rainforest at this critical time.

Click here to Send your Message!

Climate Crisis Countdown to Copenhagen: Stop Climate Chaos – December 7 / le 7 décembre 2008

stop-climate-chaos-2008-12-07

On December 7, 2008, Canadians from coast to coast will take to the streets to urge governments to stop climate chaos. The protests coincide with international climate talks in Poznan, Poland.

At this crucial time, let’s bring a message to the federal government – we need urgent action to solve the climate crisis. Canada should stop obstructing negotiations at international climate meetings – we need to do our fair share, to protect the environment, our health, and the economy.

Interested in joining a protest, teach-in, or other event across the country? There will be a list of events at:
www.sierraclub.ca/climatecrisis
www.climatechaos.net

Need a hand getting started? Register your action with:

– Mike Buckthought, National Climate Change Campaigner, Sierra Club Canada at: mikeb@sierraclub.ca
– Barbara Hayes, Director, Canadian Youth Climate Coalition at: director@ourclimate.ca

Your Creative Thinking‏ Needed: ‘Coal is NOT the answer’

Are you in on the truth?

Tens of thousands of people have learned the truth about coal through our new website and online video at CoalIsNotTheAnswer.org. Despite the coal industry’s $40 million slick advertising campaign to mask the harmful and polluting nature of coal fired power plants, we are just not falling for it.

Now it’s time to take the truth about coal to the masses. We are launching a public awareness campaign to rebut the coal industry’s misleading claims. And we need your help.

Click here to come up with a new slogan for coal. One that tells the truth.

The best entries will be used on our ‘truth truck’ that will a carry a mobile billboard around D.C. and straight to the coal industry’s headquarters. (Don’t worry, we’ve made sure our campaign is carbon neutral, which is more than we can say about the coal industry!)

Hundreds of comments have flooded in to the website from people telling their own story about coal. Here are a few of the most powerful:

Cathy in Ohio: I worked for a respiratory doctor and we would get coal miners in our office for treatment with black lung disease, emphysema. Poor souls had worked all their lives and basically gave their lives to that miserable coal mine. Their families felt helpless because it was the only job they knew and they worked and suffered. My utility bill was horribly expensive and they burned coal for our power and we paid dearly. There’s got to be a better way for all involved.

Bill in Wyoming: I live in Wyoming, and we are coal country, and I live and breathe coal, but I do agree we have many, many options, so who will take that leap into the future? So instead of mining coal, we can get good jobs building wind turbines, solar panels, and set up incentives for research and development in alternative renewable energy sources. We can do it!

John in West Virginia: I grew up with coal in WV. For people who like to continue breathing, coal is not an answer. The strip miners are also polluting the beautiful state of my birth, making it impossible for people to live anywhere near their mining operations. Coal is part of the problem, and no part of the solution.

Real people, telling real stories about how coal affects their lives and communities. Let’s make sure that these are the types of messages that get out to the public, not the misleading sound bites the coal industry uses to mask the truth.

Submit your slogan today and let the country know what you really think of coal.

Thanks for all you do to protect the planet.

Bruce Nilles
National Director, Sierra Club Coal Campaign

Punjab tops in infant mortality, poverty, income inequality

Friday, November 07, 2008
By Mansoor Ahmad

LAHORE

THE poverty profile of Pakistan reveals that districts having highest infant mortality rate, lowest literacy and highest poverty rate are in Punjab that also has the highest income inequality in the country.

Though Punjab is considered the most affluent province, however, recent research by creditable institutions reveals that few islands of prosperity in the province are surrounding acute poverty. The income disparity was high even a decade Ago that has been compounded by skewed distribution of resources during last one decade.

According to research by an economist of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, the national infant mortality rate are 78 deaths per thousand with Islamabad performing best at 38 deaths per thousand while the infant mortality in Sargodha district of Punjab is 98. Layyah another district in Punjab has literacy rate of 20 per cent that is less than half the national average. Highest income poverty in the country was also recorded in Layyah where 91 per cent of the people live below poverty line.

Punjab was the first province to evaluate poverty level in districts. The study was started during previous Shahbaz Sharif government and its findings were made public during the early years of Musharraf regime. The disparities observed between the different regions of the province a decade ago have not been reversed. In early 2000, a Punjab government document declared that Rajanpur district was the poorest district in Punjab followed by Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalnagar and Lodhran. All these districts are also located in the South or West and all had income poverty of 55 per cent or above. The yearly income in these districts was two to three times less than the affluent districts that are mostly located in Central or Northern Punjab.

A recent study conducted by Ali and others of the Lahore University of Management Science reveals that the incidence of poverty in South Punjab is 50.1 per cent. Districts in the South include Rahim Yar Khan, Bhawalpur, Bhawalnagar, Multan, Lodhran, Vehari and Khenwal. The percentage of population living in poverty in West Punjab is even higher at 52.1 per cent. Western districts include Mianawali, Khushab, Bhakkar, DG Khan, Rajanpur, Liyyah and Muzaffargarh. Compared to that, the incidence of poverty in Northern Punjab is only 21.31 per cent and the districts there include Rawalpindi, Chakkwal, Jehlum and Attock. The Central Punjab consisting of Lahore, Kasur, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot and rest of the central Punjab districts have 28.76 per cent of the population living below poverty line.

The research also revealed that poverty status in various districts of Punjab is correlated to their deprivation index. The deprivation index is evaluated on the basis of education, housing quality, housing services (provision of utility services) and employment ratio. Those districts having low scores in these indicators are poor. The analysis also revealed that Rahim Yar Khan was ranked lowest among the 34 districts of Punjab in the Deprivation Index followed by 13 more districts of West and South Punjab. Rawalpindi was the least deprived district followed by Chakkwal, Lahore and Sialkot. Ranking of districts evaluated on social indicators such as immunization, under five mortality rate and ante natal care revealed same pattern with slight changes as Rajanpur was comparatively less served than Rahim Yar Khan that was ranked number 2. In the same way, Lahore was served better socially followed by Rawalpindi and Sialkot.

All the four regions of Punjab follow divergent socio-economic paths. While agriculture labour accounts for only 27 per cent of the workforce in North Punjab, it is 33 per cent in Central Punjab and 55 and 53 per cent in the Southern and Western Punjab. The percentage of boys that never enrol in schools is six per cent in north, 12 per cent in the centre, 30 per cent in the South and 27 per cent in the West Punjab. In case of girls, those that never got enrolled were 15 per cent in North, 23 per cent in Centre and 44 and 44.5 per cent in the Southern and western Punjab.

thenews.com.pk

Harmful industrial oil being sold as edible in Lahore

Friday, November 07, 2008
By Our Correspondent

LAHORE

POULTRY protein processing units are selling harmful “industrial oil”, which is being used as edible oil by different vendors resulting in spread of dangerous diseases in the provincial capital.

This was alleged by Major Arif, chairman of an NGO, Pathfinders, in a press conference held at a hotel here on Thursday.

The NGO is working to get rid of hazards these protein processing units are spreading in the city’s environment.

Major Arif disclosed that five poultry processing units were operating in the city and were producing seven-tonne oil daily.

He said the oil produced during the protein extraction process was very harmful for human consumption and should be coloured blue or red so that it should not be used as edible oil.

He alleged that these units used to sell this oil to various people especially small vendors who used it in frying fish, samosas and other items, which resulted in serious affects on the health of their consumers.

He said these units were established in Mohlanwal area, which was a residential area and some two years ago, the NGO started a campaign to remove these units from this locality.

A petition was moved before the High Court against the units, in result of which four units agreed to shift from the area except M/S Adrees & Co, he said, adding the said unit took up their case in Supreme Court and got time to shift from the place till December 31st but the decision was not implemented. He alleged that the DCO was involved in illegal means on behalf of owners of the processing units and was supporting them by giving them more time to shift.

He alleged that the Environmental Protection Department and Health Department were also not fulfilling their responsibilities by not taking any action against these dangerous polluters.

He demanded the Punjab government to take a serious note of the situation and stop sale of oil produced by these units as edible oil and direct these units that they should give blue or red colour to the oil they produce so that consumer could distinguish between industrial oil and cooking oil.

thenews.com.pk

Americans come to the rescue of 15,000 plants in MTS

Thursday, November 06, 2008

By Ali Raza

LAHORE

CALIFORNIA State University, CHICO, USA has expressed its willingness to establish an environmental research centre at one of the oldest nurseries of the country and requested the Punjab government to save the botanical garden from commercialism.

The issue of razing one of the oldest nurseries in Pakistan gained international attention after the Model Town Society (MTS) got possession of the 28 kanal land with over 15,000 plants including many rare species some days back.

A local civil court had already issued contempt of court notices to the MTS office-bearers for displacing the owners who leased the nursery.

Professor Iftikhar Ahmed, Environmentalist and Botanical Gardens Consultant, California and Oregon, USA called the correspondent from USA and raised serious concern over the taking over of the Mian Brothers Nursery by the MTS, and said the government should intervene to rescue the plants.

“Unfortunately, I was recently informed that the Model Town Society again has attacked the garden. This time they are heavily armed, with some corrupt police and apparently they have blockaded the garden and they are readying to bulldoze the garden. It is difficult to understand how such an action can be allowed,” he said.

Talking about the project of establishing a research centre in Mian Brothers Nursery, he said, “We have great interest in protecting educational and natural resources. Here in the University of California, we have considered the possibility of establishing a cooperative environmental sciences programme with Pakistan, possibly using the garden as a site to establish an environmental education centre. While it is agreed that such a programme might be highly beneficial to the citizens of Pakistan, we were advised not to pursue such a venture until there is greater stability in Pakistan. The suggestion was made not because of local instability, but because of the obvious regional disruptions.”

He revealed that in the last meeting of Environment studies department of California State University, CHICO it was decided that the university would establish an environmental sciences and horticultural studies research centre in the Mian Brothers Nursery & Botanical Garden without destroying the environment of the existing garden and no trees would be cut for this purpose.

About the funds, he said the project would be run through NGOs and the university would give scholarships to the local students. The funds will be released not at once and will take time, he maintained.

He also revealed that the Director of the Environmental Department has also written letters to the Pakistan embassy in Washington DC and US embassy in Pakistan regarding the issue.

He said he also wrote letters to the Minister of Environment seeking his intervention into the issue.

He said the university would soon send a letter of support to the chief minister of Punjab and would request the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court as well as the Federal government in Pakistan to save this precious nursery and rare species of plants, which are at the brink of extinction.

Prof Iftikhar said that these kind of brutal activities against the local environment (destroying plants trees and green spaces) would negatively affect the local environment.

He added that such situations create more difficulties in attracting international environmental protection funds as well as educational funds to Pakistan.

On the other hand, when contacted, MTS President Col (Retd) Tahir Kardar said the MTS would not allow establishment of any such centre in the nursery. He said the land was the property of MTS and the society has already approved construction of a shopping mall at the site.

thenews.com.pk

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