Green Planet Monitor Podcast


Marla Gross, Manitoba midwife

Voices & Stories From a Warm Wet Planet

GPM # 13

Back in early May, the World Health Organization announced that the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic “no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.”

Since it was first reported in China in December 2019, the RNA virus has infected over 767 million people around the world, and killed almost seven million. As the pandemic fades, its long-term aftermath continues to build in the form of so-called ‘Long COVID’.

The WHO defines post COVID-19 Condition as the “the continuation or development of new symptoms 3 months after the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection, with these symptoms lasting for at least 2 months with no other explanation.”

Common long-haul Covid symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath and cognitive dysfunction. Many others have been reported, including hair loss, skin rash and unusual autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s Disease, that affects the thyroid gland.

According to the WHO, between ten and twenty percent of those infected by COVID have or will go long-haul.

According to Health Canada, about fifteen percent of the 4.7 million Canadians who came down with Covid one more times have suffered symptoms for three or more months following their initial infection. Almost half have had symptoms for a year or longer.

One of these long-haul Covid sufferers is Manali Mukherjee, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario. Mukherjee and her colleagues are now working with a cohort of 120 Long Covid patients, trying to tease out what’s causing their prolonged symptoms.

The GPM spoke with Mukherjee. Click on the podcast link above, or go here.

It’s one of the greatest episodes in a human being’s life — getting primed and colonized by bacteria.

Inside mom, a developing fetus is supposed to be sterile. The instant she or he emerges, microbes move in, as vital to a growing infant and child as that little kid is to them — a lifetime bond that sometimes goes sideways, though usually not, and spans generations.

Here’s a story about that. Click on the podcast link above, or go here

Earth’s forests store carbon. Walk through a dense one, you’d be forgiven for thinking most of that carbon is stored in big tree trunks, branches and leaves.

In fact, in the northern hemisphere, most forest carbon ends up below ground, in root structure – particularly in fine roots – and in slowly decomposing soil.

Nowhere more so than in Earth’s vast boreal region. Across northern Canada, Scandinavia and Russia colossal volumes of carbon are stored in forest soils, boggy sediments and peat. As the climate warms, though, forests are drying and burning. They and their underlying soils are releasing vast quantities of CO2.

According to a recent report in the journal Science, CO2 emissions from boreal forest fires have doubled in recent years. Insect infestations, tied to climate warming, are weakening forests, amplifying emissions.

Then there’s clear-cutting – a big industry all around the world. Wherever forests have been slashed, their soils release carbon at an accelerated rate. Tree-planting – much touted by governments and the forest industry – doesn’t seem to compensate.

In Canada, the federal Commissioner of Environment & Sustainable Development is less than impressed.

Canada’s “2 Billion Trees Program” will only reach two percent of its goal, says Commissioner Jerry DeMarco. Ottawa hasn’t struck long-term deals with provinces and territories to meet program objectives, DeMarco says, and it hasn’t been upfront about how it monitors planted trees to see if they’re actually growing!

Courtesy CPAWS Wildlands League / Jackie Hookimaw Witt

Worse still, government reporting on logging emissions was “inconsistent,” the Commissioner says.

“Inconsistent” may be an understatement. According to a pair of independent policy analysts, “Ottawa is effectively erasing logging’s emissions from its ledger book.”

Canada’s logging industry generates eleven percent of national greenhouse gas emissions, the analysts say. More than Canada’s electricity sector, and just a bit less than the oil sands.

The GPM spoke with Michael Polanyi, policy and campaign manager for nature-based climate solutions at Nature Canada, and with Jennifer Skene, natural climate solutions policy manager for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Canada program. Listen to our conversation. Click on the podcast link above, or go here.

And read a recent commentary by Skene and Polanyi, right here.

Thanks to Dan Weisenberger for his wonderful guitar themes.


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