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Jeff Nagel
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Attended Langara College
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Jeff Nagel

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Ottawa cites steady growth in humpback whale population in downgrading species from 'threatened' to 'species of special concern.' Critics see only pipeline politics.
Critics say federal move aids proposed oil pipeline projects by removing critical habitat protection
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While the population of whales has increased since they were protected from hunting, it's not clear how current populations compare to pre-hunting populations, says the CBC story on the whale status change.
In scientific terms, this is known as a Changing Baseline.   The following story headlined "Baseline shifts prove tough to read -- Ecosystem changes can be attributed somewhat to public’s failure to notice" says it all.

By Andy Lee Roth  May 10, 2013 12:00 am

How do we measure health? If we're talking about a human being, then one measure of it is temperature. Fever, for example, can be a symptom of medical conditions including flu, mononucleosis or malaria. Concerned parents and medical professionals measure temperature with a thermometer and use 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit as a baseline.
Measuring the health of an ecosystem is much more difficult by comparison. If we define an ecosystem as a community of living and non-living things that work together, then what tools do we have to measure an ecosystem's health, and what baselines do we use?
These questions matter to anyone interested in environmental protection. A determination of an ecosystem’s health or degradation depends on what baseline we use. Efforts to rehabilitate degraded ecosystems depend on some baseline, whether explicitly stated or tacitly understood, to define the end goal.
In the mid-1990s, fishery biologists led by Dr. Daniel Pauly developed the concept of “shifting baselines” to describe changes over time in expectations about what constituted a healthy ecosystem. In simple terms, a shifting baseline means "failure to notice change.”
One original example of shifting baselines involved salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River. In the 1990s, biologists determined the Columbia’s salmon population was twice as great as in the 1930s. This sounded like a tremendous success for efforts to restore the Columbia's salmon. However, the 1990s population was only 10 percent of that found in the river during the 1800s.
When we lose track of earlier conditions – such as the 1800s salmon population – we are subject to a shifting baseline. When change occurs slowly, over a long period of time, we may not notice it. A few elders might say, "You should've seen it back in the old days," but most people will lack direct experience with those earlier conditions. As Pauly stated in a 2010 TED Talk, "We transform the world, but we don't remember it."
Some animal species are abundant, like deer; others are rare, like California's protected mountain lions. And still, other species have become extinct. Except in extraordinary cases, abundant species do not become extinct. It's the rare species, or more accurately, the species that have become rare that face extinction.
This shapes our perceptions of extinction as a problem. We might be more concerned about an ecosystem's health if abundant species became threatened with extinction. But, when only rare species face this ultimate threat, we often fail to recognize the significance of their loss as an indicator of the ecosystem's health. 
We're less surprised if we learn the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker has become extinct because it's been rare for our entire lifetimes: We've never seen one and perhaps never even heard of them.
In 1922, the last California grizzly bear was shot. How many Californians alive then remembered a time when grizzlies were abundant in our state? How many people today know grizzlies once inhabited all of California, except for sparse desert areas in eastern Modoc and Lassen Counties and the California desert? When we lose track of earlier conditions, our baselines shift, and we are more likely to accept degradations that in the past would have been unacceptable.
The idea of shifting baselines suggests two basic lessons. First, local efforts to document both current and historic environmental conditions are essential. Second, broadening the idea of shifting baselines beyond environmental issues raises interesting questions. Sociologically, shifting baselines affect our everyday lives. Consider, for example, slow but profound changes in these three fundamental spheres:
• The consolidation of wealth and its impact on our health, families and communities;
• The erosion of civil liberties since 9/11;
• The concentration of media ownership and resulting loss of diversity in news content. 
In both environmental and sociological applications, awareness of shifting baselines underscores how knowledge of the past is crucial. We cannot make informed decisions in the present unless we have some understanding of past conditions.
What baselines would you use to measure health in your own life and in the life of your community?
Note: Previous articles in The Community Voice are useful on this topic. See, for example, Laura Watt's Nov. 3, 2011 column, "What is restoration, anyway?" on the language we use to discuss ecosystems' health; and Jenny Blaker's Sept. 1, 2011 article, "The changing landscape of the Laguna in Cotati since 1953," as one example of documenting past conditions. Both articles are available online at www.cotaticreekcritters.info/press.htm.
Andy Lee Roth, Ph.D., is associate director of Project Censored and teaches sociology at Sonoma State University and the College of Marin.
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Only one Surrey mayor in the past 60 years has won a fourth straight term.
Until Thursday, I was convinced that Dianne Watts would easily do it this fall — and she may indeed do so. But it appears she has a formidable challenger, who has been prepping carefully for a showdown.
Coun. Barinder Rasode has served two terms on Surrey council. A recruit by Watts' Surrey First organization from the left-leaning Surrey Civic Coalition, she is bright, savvy and very well-connected.
Reports published Thursday, and her own comments, indicated that she had left Surrey First, and would run for mayor only if Watts chose not to. That seemed unlikely, and reports later in the day seemed to indicate that she is definitely gunning for the top job.
Watts has been on council since 1997, and been mayor since defeating incumbent Doug McCallum in 2005. In the process, she torpedoed the Surrey Electors Team. The SET members of council elected in that election eventually all came over to her,  and together they formed Surrey First, which won every seat on council in the 2011 election.
However, that kind of dominating power inevitably begins to crumble. While Watts remains very popular in the city, and has not really done much to offend a lot of voters, there are a number of issues which bother some people.
The expensive new city hall is seen by some as over-the-top, with amenities that aren't really necessary in what is supposed to be a utilitarian seat of local government.
Perhaps the issue that dogs her the most is public safety. While Surrey RCMP are generally respected by most citizens, the wave of murders last year seemed to go almost unnoticed for some time. In the fall, Watts finally convened a task force to look into the issue. Then at the end of the year, the shocking murder of Julie Paskall outside the Newton Arena really galvanized the public. Anger and fear levels remain high.
Some citizens feel that policing options needed to be looked into more carefully, and if the RCMP are the best choice, they need a lot more officers on the ground, and on the streets.
Rasode is staking out policing concerns as she begins to craft her campaign for the fall. She says that her concerns have not been addressed and is calling for an immediate boost in policing numbers.
Another thing that is dogging Watts is the persistent rumour that she wants to become the Conservative candidate in the new federal riding encompassing South Surrey and White Rock. Incumbent MP Russ Hiebert is not running again. Watts has said nothing about this race, but her lack of comment fuels continual speculation that she is just biding her time before announcing that she will seek the nomination. A Conservative nomination in that riding is a ticket to Ottawa.
Some people also speculate that she is interested in provincial politics, even though she declined to seek the BC Liberal leadership when it was up for grabs in 2011. She has said nothing about that either.
She hasn't even said if she is running for mayor. She doesn't have to, but if she is planning to run, Rasode is already getting in on the ground floor.
My colleague Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight (see link) says that Rasode will scoop up a lot of votes from the left-leaning South Asian community, and I don't disagree. However, there are many South Asian people in Surrey who lean a bit more to the right, so I'm not sure Rasode will automatically win a majority of South Asian votes. Watts has made many connections in that community and will get plenty of support, should she run again.
In terms of gaining support from NDP voters, that too will be a challenge for Rasode. Many people who vote NDP provincially don't bother to vote in municipal elections. The weakness and eventual disappearance of left-leaning SCC is partial proof of that.
NDP support in Surrey fell sharply in the 2013 provincial election. The NDP lost one of their four seats (and the North Delta seat), and the huge margins enjoyed by Sue Hammell and Harry Bains in 2009, in Surrey-Green Timbers and Surrey-Newton respectively, were sharply diminished.
But despite all those factors, Rasode remains a formidable challenger, should she and Watts square off. The ball is now in the mayor's court. She will have to reveal her intentions soon.
But she needs to keep in mind Surrey voters' fairly constant record of giving mayors about a decade or so in office, and then tossing them out. It happened to her two predecessors, Bob Bose and Doug McCallum.
She, like Rasode, had been a member of McCallum's slate. She then left, ran against him, and won.
Don Ross before Bose served eight years and then stepped aside. When he ran again in 1990, he was soundly defeated.
Only one Surrey mayor has served more than nine consecutive years in office. His name is Tom Sullivan, and when he was mayor, the correct term was reeve. He was in office from 1910 to 1920, almost a century ago.
The two-term municipal politician has had enough of her party's right-wing drift.
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A proposed Duke Point site for a future Metro Vancouver garbage incinerator appears dead after Nanaimo city council unanimously rejected the proposal. But other sites will soon be revealed.
Nanaimo rejects Duke Point waste incinerator, Vancouver backs gasification plant
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Health Minister Terry Lake says he wants fresh eyes at the top as a review readies recommendations to overhaul Fraser Health.
Wynne Powell takes over from David Mitchell amid budget overrun probe
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Conservationists are worried a predicted bonanza of sockeye salmon returning to the Fraser River this summer will also bring a frenzy of fishing that could harm weaker stocks.

@CharlesMenzies responds on Twitter:
"Ecologists want it both ways. No fish, no fishing. Lots of fish, no fishing. http://www.surreyleader.com/news/254384271.html …@jeffnagel @WatershedWatch_"
Bycatch fears rise with expectations of massive salmon fishery on Fraser River this summer
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Richmond Coun. Harold Steves has consistently opposed any new garbage incinerator in Metro Vancouver, but he says Lehigh Cement's proposal to burn garbage instead of the coal it now uses in its cement plant may win his support.
FVRD says Lehigh plan to burn garbage just swaps 'dirty fuels'
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B.C. doctors are being divided into two camps – the ones who will prescribe medical marijuana to their patients and the majority who won't.
And that split, driven wider by new federal rules for authorizing the drug's use, has triggered a rush of doctor shopping by those seeking prescription pot.
Health Canada urged to rethink half-baked implementation of marijuana policy
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"The sooner the doubters get behind this and recognize that this is probably the most empowering initiative that we could possibly provide the people of the Lower Mainland to break what has been a logjam for decades, the better." - Transportation Minister Todd Stone
http://www.surreyleader.com/news/254976771.html
NDP critics denounce planned vote on new TransLink taxes
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This tiny stinging, swarming pest is set to become a progressively bigger problem in southwestern B.C.
Stinging, swarming pest likely present in most of Lower Mainland
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"We're doing the same thing they're doing in the emergency department but we're doing it on the street or in people's homes." – William Dick equating ambulance service change to ER triage.
'Safer' service shift defended as equivalent of triage of hospital ER resources
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Have him in circles
86 people
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  • Black Press
    Regional Reporter - Lower Mainland, 2005 - present
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Regional reporter for Black Press in the Lower Mainland
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Canadian, resident of Metro Vancouver, B.C. Print newspaper reporter with Black Press based at the Surrey Leader.

Interested in how old media news hounds can learn new media digital tricks.
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  • Langara College
    Journalism, 1987 - 1989
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