It had to happen. The DR is obviously censoring the BYH submissions so that the posts now are boring, staid and droll....

Protecting habitats essential to saving planet

Trump Giraffes Endangered
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Giraffes and zebras congregate under the shade of a tree in the afternoon in Mikumi National Park, Tanzania, in March 2018.

Bering Sea Transformation

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Our planet is on life support.

That’s the dire message from a landmark United Nations report that found one million species of plants and animals — out of a total of eight million — are at risk of extinction as the result of human actions.

It’s a message the world dare not ignore.

At stake is not just the survival of other species. The UN report, the most thorough health checkup on biodiversity ever conducted by leading scientists, makes clear that the future of our own species is at stake as well.

Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, put it like this: “We are eroding the very foundations of economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

In other words, we must save the plants and animals by protecting their habitats — if only for our own self-preservation.

One way to do that would be for the world to meet the targets set under the 2010 UN Convention on Biodiversity to protect 17 percent of land area and 10 percent of oceans by 2020.

That’s not a unreasonable goal, considering that last week’s report found natural ecosystems have already been diminished by half. But it is a politically difficult one.

The fact is that in order to protect lands and waters governments must ban virtually all economic activity within them, a responsibility Canada’s previous Conservative government ducked.

As a result, until recently this country was a laggard compared to other G7 countries in meeting the goals set out by the UN.

Happily, the Trudeau government has taken important steps to change that, though it still has a ways to go.

Last month, for example, the government set aside 11,580 square kilometers of the Laurentian Channel, a key migratory pathway for whales and other endangered species between Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland, as Canada’s newest and biggest marine protected area, or MPA.

At the same time, Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson released new rules that will ban oil and gas activities, mining, ocean dumping and bottom trawling in all 13 of the country’s MPAs.

Predictably, there was political push-back. The premiers of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland argued that designating the Laurentian Channel as an MPA will hinder economic activity off their coasts.

But if studies of the world’s oceans show anything, it’s that protecting marine habitat isn’t a threat to economic activity in coast areas; it’s vital to making sure it can continue in the future.

MPAs help to connect important feeding, mating and calving grounds for vulnerable species. And in turn, those ecosystems generate essential revenue for island and coastal communities through sustainable fisheries and tourism.

They also protected species that otherwise would be at serious risk. The Laurentian Channel, for example, is home to 20 species of whales and dolphins, as well as northern wolffish, soft corals called sea-pens, sea turtles and more.

At the same time, corals, sponges and other creatures will be protected by a ban on the destructive practice of bottom trawling. Ships drag weighted nets along the ocean floor, destroying coral forests and sea beds and sweeping up hundreds of kinds of unwanted fish, called “bycatch,” which are then discarded.

The new marine protected areas move Canada close to meeting the UN goal for protecting ocean areas by 2020. But on land, this country still falls short.

Canada has now designated 11.8 percent of its land area as “protected,” significantly short of the 17 percent goal it has pledged to reach by next year.

The Trudeau government has done a lot in this area, setting aside new protected areas in the Northwest Territories and as close as the Rouge National Urban Park on the outskirts of Toronto. But it should up its efforts and set an example for the rest of the world. Last week’s sobering report on threatened species gives it added urgency.

The Star of Toronto


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


September 29, 2019

An annual state report released this month showed students in Pitt County public schools improved their scores last year on reading, math and other end-of-grade tests, but we still have a challenge ahead of us.

Based on the report’s School Achievement Scores, which include scoring from all…


September 15, 2019

It was daytime when the first bands of Hurricane Floyd began lashing eastern North Carolina and the Greenville area on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 1999, 20 years ago today.

The Tar River was nearly 5 feet above flood stage already, thanks in good measure to two passes by Hurricane Dennis two weeks before.…


August 18, 2019

A nearly unanimous vote by the Greenville City Council this month to annex nearly 400 acres well outside the city limits raises questions about the rights of rural residents and the city’s direction when it comes to managing growth.

The council voted 5-1 with Rick Smiley in opposition to…


August 09, 2019

The Trump administration is considering a draft regulation to lower drug prices. North Carolinians have little reason to celebrate.

The administration’s proposal would impose price controls in Medicare. Rather than helping patients save money, this drastic step would stifle access to state-of-…

Mary Griswold.png

July 28, 2019

Everyone embroiled in the debate over the State Health Plan should be working toward the same thing: the best health care for the lowest cost for the people of North Carolina.

Unfortunately, disagreement over how to do that escalated into a feud and now has plummeted into a childlike spat.


Vidant medical center

July 21, 2019

“Send her back!”

The racist refrain, soft at first, crescendoed as the crowd at President Donald Trump’s “Keep America Great” rally on Wednesday in Greenville emphatically picked it up. On live television, sitting stage right of the President at East Carolina…


July 04, 2019

As the story goes, our Founding Fathers declared their independence from their mother country 243 years ago today, that the “united colonies are, and of right, ought to be free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown.”

It is a day that…

07-04-19 July 4th Flag2
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