Monthly archives: April 2019

Loss of whale poop disrupts planet’s ecosystem: study

It turns out that the giant animals that once roamed the land and the oceans were vital in the planet’s health and overall formation. In particular, their poop.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science concluded that nutrients from their feces were transported from the depths of the ocean and spread through waterways and eventually inland and up to the mountaintops.

This diagram shows an interlinked system of animals that carry nutrients from ocean depths to deep inland —; through their poop, urine, and, upon death, decomposing bodies.

Diagram from PNAS; designed by Renate Helmiss

However, since the declines of such giants —; including the whales which at one time numbered in the hundreds of thousands, rather than the thousands we have today —; has resulted in the decline of this type of recycling system, something that the study’s authors feel are vital.

“This broken global cycle may weaken ecosystem health, fisheries, and agriculture,” says Joe Roman, a biologist at the University of Vermont and co-author on the new study.

ChangSha Night Net


  • Are we in the midst of a mass extinction?

  • Researchers use drones to monitor killer whales as El Niño threatens food source

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The authors said that the ability of animals to transport nutrients from “hotspots” has dropped eight per cent, before the extinction of about 150 species of mammal megafauna at the end of the last ice age.

It’s probably no surprise to learn that humans have had a hand in disrupting this ecosystem balance. Whale-hunting has resulted in the loss of a particularly important nutrient —; phosphorus —; by more than 75 per cent.

“This once was a world that had ten times more whales; twenty times more anadromous fish, like salmon; double the number of seabirds; and ten times more large herbivores —; giant sloths and mastodons and mammoths,” said Roman.

The authors also concluded that if we could re-establish whale populations, it could help increase the ocean’s ability to absorb climate warming carbon dioxide.

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Saskatoon Blades acquire local talent in trade with Calgary Hitmen

SASKATOON – The Saskatoon Blades have added some local talent to the roster. On Tuesday, the team announced it acquired Terrell Draude, 18, from the Calgary Hitmen in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.

The centre is from the nearby city of Warman, Sask.

“We are excited to bring Terrell back closer to home. His size and skill will be great additions to our hockey club,” said Blades head coach and general manager Bob Woods.

READ MORE: Home sweet home for Saskatchewan products at NHL pre-season game

Calgary selected Draude 39th overall in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

The six-foot three, 209-pound centre posted a breakout 2014-15 season. Draude more than quadrupled his points from his rookie campaign, finishing with 12 goals and 18 assists with the Hitmen.

In Saskatoon, he rejoins former teammates Cameron Hebig and Wyatt Sloboshan. They played together in 2012-13 with the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League (SMAAAHL).

The Blades take on the Edmonton Oil Kings at 7:05 p.m. CT on Thursday at SaskTel Centre.

ChangSha Night Net


  • Saskatoon Blades mount 3rd-period comeback past Medicine Hat Tigers


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Weyburn, Sask. man fined $5K for illegal hunting

A Weyburn, Sask. man has been fined after he was found guilty of illegal hunting in the province. Dustin Hoskins, 35, was fined $5,000 and handed a two-year hunting suspension after two bull moose and a white-tail deer were illegally shot in November 2011.

Conservations officers found he had falsified documents by using another person’s First Nations treaty number. Hoskins was also found to be in possession of a black bear rug.

ChangSha Night Net


  • Saskatchewan man fined for hunting illegally

  • Saskatchewan men fined for hunting elk unlawfully

“People who kill animals illegally are stealing from the law-abiding hunters of our province,” said Ken Aube with the Ministry of Environment

“Our laws are designed to provide effective management of wildlife populations to ensure hunting opportunities are available now and in the future.”

READ MORE: New Saskatchewan hunting regulations in place on Canada Day

Hoskins was fined $2,100 for unlawfully hunting moose, $1,400 for unlawful possession of a white-tail deer, $700 for unlawful possession of a black bear and $480 for falsifying a document.

He was also fined $320 for resisting arrest.

A second Weyburn man, Corby Obyrne, was found guilty of aiding and abetting Hoskins and was fined $1,500. He was also handing a one year hunting suspension.


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High hopes for NYC’s ‘Lowline’: The quest to grow gardens underground

The future of urban green space is blossoming 22 feet below the concrete jungle that is New York City’s Lower East Side.

It’s called the “Lowline.” Billed as the world’s first underground park, it will be a subterranean version of the city’s popular High Line, an elevated green oasis built on defunct railroad tracks.

The project itself is years away. Its backers have $0 of the estimated $70 million they’ll need to get it going.

ChangSha Night Net


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But a small-scale prototype of the space-age garden just opened up down the block, giving tourists, students and passersby the chance to check out the buried green space.

The unique environment is a testing ground for the ultimate plan, which is to turn an abandoned 1908 trolley terminal into a football field-sized underground garden by 2020. Project co-founder James Ramsey says they hope to grow 60 species down there — “from mosses and ferns to strawberries and even pineapples.”

How will they pull it off? By harnessing the sun’s rays using giant mirror-like “heliostats,” magnifying those rays, transporting them underground through a fibre-optic “helio tube,” then using a dome to disperse them across the green space.

Ramsey likens it to an elaborate plumbing system. He admits it’s a “kooky” idea.

The architecture firm owner and former NASA engineer had the brainstorm in 2009 when he learned of the long-forgotten trolley terminal.

His friend Dan Barasch was exploring a project that would bring art to the city’s subway system. The two combined their interests into the idea of an underground garden.

“It’s almost sort of a new form of horticulture that we’ve developed,” the 38-year-old said. “The conditions we’re creating are really quite specialized and unlike any existing environment in the world.”

He said NASA uses similar optical devices on a much smaller scale.

“We have a self-contained environment almost a bit like The Martian.

(Spoiler alert: In that film, Matt Damon finds a way to grow crops on Mars.)

In addition to looking cool, Ramsey said, the Lowline would also provide badly needed green space, which is at a premium in NYC’s concrete jungle.

“I think one of the big challenges here is, ‘Okay, we [build] up, up, up. But that just means we’re increasing the density of our cities. And as our cities become more dense, we have to get a little more innovative about solutions for creating space for people,” he said.

“This is one potential solution.”

This Aug. 15, 2012, photo provided The Lowline shows the abandoned trolley terminal deep underground in New York’s Lower East Side, which may one day house a park. The project-in-the-works, history meets 21st century technology; will employ the latest solar technology to illuminate the subterranean space, filtering the sun via a collector at street level. (AP Photo/The Lowline, Danny Fuchs)

Rendering of the Lowline, courtesy of Raad Studio.

The newly-opened Lowline Lab serves as a testing ground for the actual Lowline, mimicking its environment and using its technology to keep the greenery alive.

The lab has only three of the roughly 200 heliostats that would be required for the actual Lowline.

Visitors can drop in for free every weekend until March 2016 to experience the space firsthand. During the week, students visit on field trips to learn about the science, technology, engineering, art and math behind the project.

Lowline co-founder Dan Barasch told CBS News that the idea has the potential to be used in many other kinds of contexts.

“There are a lot of spaces from hospitals to prisons to schools that don’t have natural access to the sun,” Barasch said.

But even if this experiment works, it could be tough to replicate.

For one thing, it’s pricey: The Lowline team raised about $200,000 in its second Kickstarter campaign. That was just to fund the lab. Up to $70 million more will be needed to get the actual project off the ground.

A financing campaign will be launched once negotiations over the land are complete with the city and Municipal Transit Authority (the land is currently leased to the MTA by the city). The backers hope to get some of the cash from crowdfunding and government grants.

Seed money, one could say, to grow their unorthodox brand of urban agriculture.

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Ontario Progressive Conservatives want auditor general to investigate union payments

TORONTO – Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives plan to ask the auditor general to look into $3.74 million the government paid unions representing teachers and education workers over the past three rounds of bargaining.

Tory MPP Lisa MacLeod will introduce a notice of motion Wednesday at the public accounts committee, of which she is vice-chair, asking the auditor general to investigate those payments as well as $4.6 million that is being paid to school boards for their bargaining costs.

ChangSha Night Net

But the Liberals have a majority on the committee, which means they could easily block the motion.

READ MORE: Union payouts an ‘investment’ in bargaining, education minister says

MacLeod, though, is hopeful because the Liberals previously agreed to a motion asking Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk for a Pan Am Games audit.

“A sum of money this large going undocumented to some public-sector unions who ran attack ads – it doesn’t look good,” said MacLeod, referring to anti-Tory advertising during the last provincial election.

“I think it would be important that the auditor review those numbers and make sure the money wasn’t misappropriated, although I believe it has been.”

Education Minister Liz Sandals has defended the payments as being necessary because the transition to a new bargaining system made this round quite lengthy.

READ MORE: Elementary teachers’ pay could be docked if work-to-rule expanded: Wynne

And the ministry has said that it was appropriate to make similar payments in 2008 and 2012 to three education unions because it involved voluntary discussions that were a precursor to the new system.

Sandals said she is not at all concerned about a possible auditor general investigation.

In the last provincial election, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario put $250,000 each toward third-party advertising from the Working Families coalition, a group of unions that comes together each election to run anti-Tory ads.

ETFO, which is still in negotiations and has said it won’t take government money for bargaining costs, spent another $1.3 million on election advertising in 2014. OECTA spent a further $2.2 million and OSSTF spent $386,000.

The committee would vote on MacLeod’s motion next Wednesday. She is concerned the practice is more widespread than the government is saying.

“We know some unions have indicated it hasn’t, but we have over 4,000 collective agreements” in the broader public sector, she said. “Can you imagine if each time we sat down for a collective agreement we gave the union we’re negotiating with one million dollars?”


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