Tag Archives: northwest

Beyond Words – Carl Safina


Beyond Words

What Animals Think and Feel

Carl Safina

Genre: Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: July 14, 2015

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Seller: Macmillan

I wanted to know what they were experiencing, and why to us they feel so compelling, and so-close. This time I allowed myself to ask them the question that for a scientist was forbidden fruit: Who are you? Weaving decades of field observations with exciting new discoveries about the brain, Carl Safina's landmark book offers an intimate view of animal behavior to challenge the fixed boundary between humans and nonhuman animals. In Beyond Words , readers travel to Amboseli National Park in the threatened landscape of Kenya and witness struggling elephant families work out how to survive poaching and drought, then to Yellowstone National Park to observe wolves sort out the aftermath of one pack's personal tragedy, and finally plunge into the astonishingly peaceful society of killer whales living in the crystalline waters of the Pacific Northwest. Beyond Words brings forth powerful and illuminating insight into the unique personalities of animals through extraordinary stories of animal joy, grief, jealousy, anger, and love. The similarity between human and nonhuman consciousness, self-awareness, and empathy calls us to re-evaluate how we interact with animals. Wise, passionate, and eye-opening at every turn, Beyond Words is ultimately a graceful examination of humanity's place in the world.


Beyond Words – Carl Safina

Posted in alo, Anchor, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, Landmark, LG, ONA, oven, PUR, Ultima, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Beyond Words – Carl Safina

GOP Rep. Mike Simpson: It’s my party, and I’ll fight climate change if I want to

In deep red Idaho, out of sight of the national news media and out of reach of the Twitterati, a real-live Republican member of Congress acknowledged the existence of climate change and even proposed taking action.

“Climate change is a reality,” said Mike Simpson, a Republican Congressman from Idaho, at a conference in Boise last week. “It’s not hard to figure out. Go look at your thermometer.”

Simpson knew he might hear a record scratch when he broke out of the well-worn Republican grooves. After stepping to the lectern, he joked that anyone carrying matches or lighters should pass them to the authorities as a security measure to prevent heads from bursting into flames.

Simpson was there to say he wanted to see Idaho’s mountain lakes full of salmon again, even if it meant tearing down the dams that the state’s politicians have defended for decades. Dams, climate change, and predators all threaten the fish, and Simpson said he was ready to consider all options. It was clear to anyone watching his speech he feels a spiritual obligation to save salmon.

Recounting a trip to a spawning creek in the Sawtooth Mountains in central Idaho, Simpson paused to swallow hard a couple of times. Only one salmon made it to those shallows, he said, to “create its bed, lay its eggs and die. It was the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one. These are the most,” he paused for a deep breath, “most incredible creatures I think that God’s created. It’s a cycle God has created. We shouldn’t mess with it.”

This break with standard Republican talking points has people asking if he had “gone over to the dark side,” Simpson said. “I’ve had people say to my chief of staff, we don’t even like someone of Simpson’s seniority asking these questions.” And in the run up to this speech, he said his office was fielding calls from nervous people asking, “What’s Simpson going to say at this?”

Of course, Simpson isn’t the first Republican advocating for action on climate change, but most of those politicians differ from Simpson in one important way: They come from swing districts. In fact, the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives (Simpson isn’t a member) has a hard time keeping Republicans because voters keep kicking them out in favor of Democrats. Former representatives Carlos Curbelo, Mia Love, and Peter Roskam are exhibits A, B, and C.

Simpson was just elected to his 11th term in the House, so he isn’t pivoting left to get in front of his voters. Elections in Idaho are usually decided in the Republican primaries (personal aside: I started my reporting career covering politics — and everything else — in Idaho). In this part of the country, tacking to the right is smart politics; tacking to the left is often political suicide.

Simpson’s suggestion to consider tearing down dams is, if anything, even more taboo than an embrace of action to curb climate change. “In the past, the people talking about removing dams have been the environmentalists outside screaming and throwing pebbles against the walls of the halls of power,” said Sean O’Leary, communications director for the NW Energy Coalition a regional conservation group. “Now Simpson is saying the same things.”

In black and white text, Simpson’s words may read like political hyperbole — but it didn’t come across that way in the room.

“I looked over to my right and Simpson’s wife was sitting there with tears in her eyes,” O’Leary said. “No, this was genuine.”

In his speech, Simpson said he wanted to study every possible salmon fix, including removing four dams on the Lower Snake River, just across the border in Washington state. But this is about a lot more than fish. The public power agency that sells electricity from the 31 federal dams in the Northwest, the Bonneville Power Administration, is in deep trouble. It’s paying billions to try and rescue salmon, which drives electric rates up, Simpson explained. As a result, utilities and rural electric co-ops are thinking about buying electricity elsewhere, especially now that the combination of natural gas and renewables is providing cheaper rates.

Simpson sees the BPA’s problem as an opportunity: Maybe there’s a way to fix the salmon runs and the BPA in one fell swoop.

Everyone knows the status quo isn’t working, Simpson said. After electricity-bill payers and taxpayers spent some $16 billion on salmon, the fish population is still dwindling. Farmers from Idaho are sending precious water downstream to keep water cool for salmon smolt without seeing any increase in the number of fish that come back upstream. The situation isn’t great for anyone, Simpson argued, but all parties are so focused on protecting what they have that they’re unwilling to consider big changes. “We’ve got to stop thinking that way,” he said.

Simpson’s appeal might just work because he’s dealing with a regional issue, where the tangible facts can replace the hallucinations that accompany partisan rage. While national politics might seem like it’s all about rooting your side on, Idaho is full of farmers, outfitters, fishers, and electricity buyers who are more interested in finding solutions, said Justin Hayes, program director of the Idaho Conservation League. And all these people can see that the status quo is failing.

“It’s clear to everyone that the strategy of ‘our interests are more important than your interests, let’s fight’ doesn’t work,” Hayes said.

How does climate change enter into this? Well, removing dams would take a good chunk of clean electricity off the grid. So Simpson wants to replace the dams with new forms of power built in the region. He pointed to the Idaho National Lab’s work on new types of nuclear reactors. In eastern Washington, he said the Pacific Northwest National Lab is “the leader in battery storage in this country.”

So Simpson believes there’s a way to turn this whole mess into a surge of business for Idaho. In that way, he’s not straying from his red-state brand at all. But Simpson is unusual in that he’s willing to shake things up and make himself vulnerable, all to create the possibility of change.

The speech ended with Simpson looking to the end of his own life and his political legacy. “I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to stay alive long enough to see salmon return in healthy populations in Idaho … We need to do it for future generations.”

View the original here: 

GOP Rep. Mike Simpson: It’s my party, and I’ll fight climate change if I want to

Posted in Accent, alo, Anchor, Everyone, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on GOP Rep. Mike Simpson: It’s my party, and I’ll fight climate change if I want to

What Washington and Oregon taught us about climate action at the ballot

Subscribe to The Beacon

Two climate-friendly taxes, two different results.

Washingtonians turned down another shot at having the country’s first “carbon fee” this week. Initiative 1631 was rejected by 56 percent of voters, faring only slightly better than the revenue-neutral carbon tax that met a similar fate two years ago.

Across the border in Portland, Oregon, the climate had better luck. Voters in the city backed the Portland Clean Energy Initiative, which aims to raise $30 million a year for renewables and clean-energy job training through a tax on big retailers.

Story continues below

What can we learn from comparing these two grassroots measures in one of the country’s blue strongholds, the Northwest? They have some key differences: Washington’s promised a whole-scale, state-level climate policy; Portland’s concerned a single step for climate action at the city level.

But the parallels are striking. They were both clean-energy campaigns that faced misleading tactics and an outpouring of money from corporate opposition. And they both showed that it’s possible to build a broad, diverse coalition of labor, environmental, and justice organizations behind climate policy — something activists have said needs to happen for years.

Their respective fates can’t be waved away as politics as usual. In King County, home to the progressive bastion of Seattle, 57 percent of voters supported I-1631, not enough backing to overcome opposition from conservative parts of the state. In hyper-progressive Portland, 64 percent went for the clean energy initiative. How do you explain that?

Money talks

Here’s one explanation: money. That’s certainly part of it. The campaign against Washington’s carbon fee raised $31 million, with 99 percent of that coming from oil and gas companies. That’s the most that’s been raised for a ballot initiative in state history. Supporters of the fee raised slightly less than half of that — around $15 million — with big donations from Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg.

“We have just got to figure out a way for big corporations to not be able to buy elections,” said Nick Abraham, spokesperson for Yes on 1631.

In Portland, the spending was more evenly matched. The opposition campaign raised $1.4 million, with big donations from Amazon, Walmart, and other companies, according to the Oregon Secretary of State. Portland Clean Energy Initiative backers raised almost as much: $1.2 million.

What’s in a name?

Almost 70 percent of Washington voters, including a majority of the state’s Republicans, say they would support a measure to regulate carbon pollution — at least in the abstract, surveys show. But it’s still pretty hard to get people to vote for an actual tax, even if you call it something else.

Washington’s measure was technically a fee because its revenue would have gone straight to a designated purpose, as opposed to a general tax that raises revenue the legislature might spend on whatever it wants. The hope was that the “fee” language would be less off-putting for voters.

But you can’t run away from the t-word. “As soon as the opponents start organizing, they’re going to call it a tax,” Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, told me in an interview earlier this year.

Boy, was he right. The No on 1631 campaign made sure that everyone in Washington saw the words “unfair energy tax” in the television ads and mailers that blanketed the state.

Lost in the details

I-1631 was a complex policy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it likely made countering the opposition’s message much harder. It gave the No campaign plenty of lines of attack. It pointed out that gas prices would rise under the tax, that some big polluters would be exempted, and that the money would be handled by an unelected board. Yes on 1631 had responses to all of these points, but the No message resonated, even among some Democrats.

Portland’s measure was simpler. The opposition campaign similarly said the tax on big retailers would be passed to consumers and businesses. But that was pretty much it. Advocates had only one argument to refute, said Coalition of Communities of Color Advocacy Director Jenny Lee, making it less confusing for voters and easier to communicate their rebuttal (no, this will be paid by big corporations!).

“It’s hard to fight multiple fires,” Lee said. “It’s no comment on how the [Yes on 1631] campaign did, but there are challenges of putting complex policy before the voter.”

Back to the legislature

Would a complex climate policy have a better chance in front of elected officials? We may find out next year. The good news in the Northwest is that more climate champions are headed to office.

“Stepping back, I am truly more hopeful at any point than I have been since 2008 or 2009,” said Gregg Small, executive director of the Climate Solutions, a Pacific Northwest-based clean energy nonprofit. Small said support for action in both states looks stronger than it did before.

Some races are still shaking out as absentee ballots roll in, but it’s clear that Oregon will have a supermajority of Democrats in the Senate next year. Oregon legislators had already made passing a cap-and-trade bill a priority for 2019. And in Washington, there’s already talk of taking another carbon pricing bill to the state legislature. (A carbon tax failed in the state legislature this year by a single vote.)

Governor Jay Inslee assured me in an interview back in May that if I-1631 failed, there’d be another big push to enact a carbon tax, fee, price, or whatever you want to call it. “One way or another,” he explained, “we’re going to get this job done.”

View post: 

What Washington and Oregon taught us about climate action at the ballot

Posted in alo, Anchor, Everyone, FF, GE, LAI, ONA, PUR, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on What Washington and Oregon taught us about climate action at the ballot

Should big corporations pay for clean energy? Portland voters will decide.

A new ballot initiative in Portland would raise $30 million a year for clean energy through a tax on giant retailers. Sound unusual? It is.

The campaign for the Portland Clean Energy Fund is led by groups representing communities of color and grassroots environmental organizations. The local branches of the Sierra Club, 350.org, and the NAACP are all involved, too.

“It’s groundbreaking,” says Jenny Lee, advocacy director at the Coalition of Communities of Color, another organization spearheading the measure. “It’s the first environmental or climate initiative, as far as we know, that’s been led by organizations of color in Oregon.”

The campaign officially qualified for the November ballot on Friday after gathering 60,000 signatures from Portland voters (it only needed 34,000.) Lee says the volume of signatures speaks to the public enthusiasm for the measure, which would place a 1 percent charge on mega-retailers on revenue from Portland sales, excluding groceries and medicine.

So who would be paying up? We’re talking Wells Fargo, Apple, Comcast, and Banana Republic — companies that make over $1 billion in revenue a year and over $500,000 in Portland alone.

Between 40 and 60 percent of the money in the fund would be directed toward renewable energy and energy efficiency projects — half of which must be specifically intended to benefit low-income residents and communities of color. The fund devotes 20-25 percent to clean-energy jobs training that prioritizes women, people of color, and people with disabilities; 10-15 percent to greenhouse gas sequestration programs; and 5 percent to a flexible “future innovation” fund.

It’s the latest instance of social justice advocates and grassroots organizers calling for climate action in the Northwest. In Washington state, a wide coalition introduced a “carbon fee” that’s almost certainly headed to the ballot this November. If passed, it would become the first state law that looks anything like a carbon tax.

This recent wave of ballot initiatives followed some legislative letdowns in the region. Right after a carbon-tax proposal fizzled out in the Washington Senate in March, Oregon lawmakers set aside their plans for a cap-and-trade program. “Maybe Blue States Won’t Take Serious Action on Climate Change,” ran a headline in The Atlantic at the time. The article called into question the narrative we keep hearing — you know, the one about progressive cities and states fighting for climate action when the federal government refuses to.

While elected officials are one way to change policy, ballot initiatives are another — and they’re beginning to look like a hallmark of the Northwest’s climate justice movement.

“We knew that we couldn’t count on our legislators, both at the state and city level,” says Khanh Pham, manager of immigrant organizing at the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, who served on the steering committee for the Portland Clean Energy Fund.

Initially, Pham says, her group wanted to take the measure to city council — an easier, more familiar way to pass city legislation. But without strong support from their local elected officials, they decided to try and put something on the ballot instead.

She says the Portland Clean Energy Fund would be complementary to other climate policies, such as a statewide carbon price. It’s meant to address the hidden carbon emissions in the products we buy.

“When I buy clothing that comes from China or Vietnam, or food from Peru, there’s a lot of carbon emissions that are baked into those supply chains from these global retailers that are unaccounted for,” Pham says.

Reverend E.D. Mondainé, president of the NAACP Portland Branch and chief petitioner of the Portland Clean Energy Fund.Rick Rappaport / Portland Clean Energy Fund

It’s challenging to raise revenue in Oregon, especially to meet the needs of vulnerable communities, says Tony DeFalco, Verde executive director and one of the initiative’s organizers.

In 2016, Oregon voters shot down Measure 97, an attempt to place a 2.5 percent tax on corporations with more than $25 million a year in Oregon sales. DeFalco says the new initiative wasn’t inspired by that attempt. Measure 97 did, however, suggest that Portland has some appetite for a tax on corporations: 60 percent of the city voted for the measure, which would have spent the money on education, health care, and senior services.

Still, the groups behind the measure know they’re up against a challenge. There’s already a PAC, Keep Portland Affordable, that’s fighting the new initiative.

“We knew that we needed to be organizing in communities beyond our own to win this,” Pham says. “It’s been really eye-opening to see the power that a coalition like ours can build — a green-brown coalition.”

Portland is 78 percent white, making it the whitest big city in America. But communities of color have always been in Portland, says Lee, and her group is seeking to make them more visible. This ballot initiative is one such effort, she says:

“It’s a very clear statement that we are here, we are leading on policy, and we are also building political power.”

Visit site: 

Should big corporations pay for clean energy? Portland voters will decide.

Posted in alo, Anchor, FF, GE, ONA, The Atlantic, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Should big corporations pay for clean energy? Portland voters will decide.

Upstream – Langdon Cook



Searching for Wild Salmon, from River to Table

Langdon Cook

Genre: Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: May 30, 2017

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC

From the award-winning author of The Mushroom Hunters comes the story of an iconic fish, perhaps the last great wild food: salmon. For some, a salmon evokes the distant wild, thrashing in the jaws of a hungry grizzly bear on TV. For others, it’s the catch of the day on a restaurant menu, or a deep red fillet at the market. For others still, it’s the jolt of adrenaline on a successful fishing trip. Our fascination with these superlative fish is as old as humanity itself. Long a source of sustenance among native peoples, salmon is now more popular than ever. Fish hatcheries and farms serve modern appetites with a domesticated “product”—while wild runs of salmon dwindle across the globe. How has this once-abundant resource reached this point, and what can we do to safeguard wild populations for future generations? Langdon Cook goes in search of the salmon in Upstream, his timely and in-depth look at how these beloved fish have nourished humankind through the ages and why their destiny is so closely tied to our own. Cook journeys up and down salmon country, from the glacial rivers of Alaska to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest to California’s drought-stricken Central Valley and a wealth of places in between. Reporting from remote coastlines and busy city streets, he follows today’s commercial pipeline from fisherman’s net to corporate seafood vendor to boutique marketplace. At stake is nothing less than an ancient livelihood. But salmon are more than food. They are game fish, wildlife spectacle, sacred totem, and inspiration—and their fate is largely in our hands. Cook introduces us to tribal fishermen handing down an age-old tradition, sport anglers seeking adventure and a renewed connection to the wild, and scientists and activists working tirelessly to restore salmon runs. In sharing their stories, Cook covers all sides of the debate: the legacy of overfishing and industrial development; the conflicts between fishermen, environmentalists, and Native Americans; the modern proliferation of fish hatcheries and farms; and the longstanding battle lines of science versus politics, wilderness versus civilization. This firsthand account—reminiscent of the work of John McPhee and Mark Kurlansky—is filled with the keen insights and observations of the best narrative writing. Cook offers an absorbing portrait of a remarkable fish and the many obstacles it faces, while taking readers on a fast-paced fishing trip through salmon country. Upstream is an essential look at the intersection of man, food, and nature. Praise for Upstream “Invigorating . . . Mr. Cook is a congenial and intrepid companion, happily hiking into hinterlands and snorkeling in headwaters. Along the way we learn about filleting techniques, native cooking methods and self-pollinating almond trees, and his continual curiosity ensures that the narrative unfurls gradually, like a long spey cast. . . . With a pedigree that includes Mark Kurlansky, John McPhee and Roderick Haig-Brown, Mr. Cook’s style is suitably fluent, an occasional phrase flashing like a flank in the current. . . . For all its rehearsal of the perils and vicissitudes facing Pacific salmon, Upstream remains a celebration.” — The Wall Street Journal “Passionate . . . Cook deftly conveys his love of nature, the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and the delectable eating provided by fresh caught wild salmon.” — Library Journal “Insightful . . . this work is a great place to learn what needs to done—and an entertaining view on the positive and negative connections humans have with the natural environment.” — Publishers Weekly

Source – 

Upstream – Langdon Cook

Posted in alo, Anchor, Casio, FF, GE, ONA, PUR, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Upstream – Langdon Cook

Luxury Arctic cruise ship sets sail. What could go wrong?

Luxury Arctic cruise ship sets sail. What could go wrong?

By on 28 Mar 2016commentsShare

This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

On April 13, coast guard officials from the U.S. and Canada will train for a cruise ship catastrophe: a mass rescue from a luxury liner on its maiden voyage through the remote and deathly cold waters between the Northwest Passage and the Bering Strait.

The prospect of just such a disaster occurring amid the uncharted waters and capricious weather of the Arctic is becoming all too real.

Advertisement – Article continues below

The loss of Arctic sea ice cover, due to climate change, has spurred a sharp rise in shipping traffic — as well as coast guard rescue missions — and increased the risks of oil spills, shipping accidents, and pollution, much to the apprehension of native communities who make their living on the ice.

It’s into these turbulent waters that the luxury cruise ship Crystal Serenity will set sail next August, departing from Seward, Alaska, and transiting the Bering Strait and Northwest Passage, before docking in New York City 32 days later.

The scale of the Crystal — 1,700 passengers and crew — and the potential for higher-volume traffic in the Arctic has commanded the attention of the coast guard, government officials, and local communities, all trying to navigate an Arctic without year-round ice.

“If something were to go wrong it would be very, very bad,” said Richard Beneville, the mayor of the coastal town of Nome, which the Crystal is due to visit. “Most cruise ships that get here have passenger manifests of 100, maybe 150. This is a very different ship.”

A century after explorer Roald Amundsen transited the sea route connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, officials and local communities are struggling to keep pace with the changes in the Arctic set in motion by the disappearing sea ice.

Scientists expect the Arctic will be almost entirely ice-free in the summer within 25 years — exposing profitable new year-round shipping routes.

“The United States should be getting prepared by building infrastructure in the north,” Robert Papp, a former Coast Guard admiral and the State Department’s special envoy to the Arctic, said.

“Yes, we are concerned about this cruise ship going through but we have been concerned for a number of years because during the summer time Shell has been going up there to drill, other companies have been exploring, there has been an increase even in recreational sailors or adventure sailors going up there.”

The Crystal is by far the biggest and most luxuriously appointed vessel to sail through the Northwest Passage since the crossing became accessible to ships without an icebreaker in 2007. Just 17 ships crossed through the passage last year, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Prices for the journey aboard the 14-deck luxury liner start at nearly $22,000 rising to $120,000 for a deluxe stateroom — and this year’s cruise is sold out, according to the company.

The April 13 table-top planning exercise, involving U.S. and Canadian coast guard and government officials, will walk Crystal operators and rescue officials through the nightmarish scenario of rescuing hundreds of passengers up to 1,000 miles from the nearest coast guard base, officials said.

Communications in the Arctic are extremely challenging — cellphone reception is patchy, and there are no roads. Most of the towns along the Crystal’s route are tiny. Even Nome, which has a sizable population, has just 18 hospital beds.

“We all have to be very proactive in trying to game out what we do in an emergency situation,” Lieutenant Commander Jason Boyle, the Coast Guard’s prevention officer for the Alaska region, said in a telephone interview.

The Crystal will sail with an ice-breaking escort vessel carrying two helicopters along its entire route, Paul Garcia, a company spokesperson, wrote in an email. Ice pilots, polar bear researchers, and veterans of other Arctic expeditions will be aboard to ensure passengers’ safety and to protect the local wildlife, environment, and customs, the company said.

For the coastal town of Nome, and the other ports of call on the Crystal’s route, the cruise symbolizes the economic possibilities of an ice-free Arctic in the summer.

Nome, which saw just 35 dockings in the 1990s, had more than 730 last year.

“I think tourism is good for Nome,” Beneville, the town’s indefatigable mayor, said. “In tourism there is a saying: ‘If people can get there, they will go,’ and that is becoming possible.” He went on: “There is a lot at stake here. We want Nome to be a strategic point in the north.”

But even before the Crystal Serenity began planning its voyage, the Coast Guard and local communities were raising concerns that the Arctic was not ready for the sharp rise in traffic through the Bering Strait.

The Coast Guard recorded 540 crossings through the narrow passage between the U.S. and Russia last year — more than double the number in 2008.

The vessels included Korean cargo ships, Russian tankers, supply barges, oil industry vessels, and smaller cruise ships — and adventurers.

Commander Mark Wilcox, the Arctic planner for the U.S. Coast Guard, falls back on the phrase “tyranny of distance” to describe the epic challenges of assuring safe passage through the northern waterways for an increasing number of independent tourists.

On March 4, two British adventurers who set out to ski across the Bering Strait had to be flown to safety from thin ice — an operation that required two Coast Guard helicopters, a C-130 military transport plane, and 24 highly trained personnel deployed from a base 700 miles away, according to the coast guard.

Advertisement – Article continues below

Two years ago, a scientific research ship in the Chukchi Sea was diverted to rescue adventurers. In 2010, a smaller cruise ship went aground in the Canadian Arctic, forcing the evacuation of some 300 passengers.

“We are starting to see more of the adventure tourists that have a lot more interest in the Arctic,” Wilcox said. “As we see more human activity it increases our risk for potential incidents.”

In addition to emergencies, local people said they were afraid of oil spills, pollution, and waste, because of the rise in shipping traffic. In 2012, hunters from St. Lawrence Island reported finding heavily oiled seals and seabirds in the Bering Strait. A year earlier, government wildlife biologists began recording a mysterious illness killing off seals, as well as avian cholera.

Local communities grew concerned about the use of heavy bunker fuels, and dumping of gray water from passing vessels.

The loss of ice opening up the Arctic to year-round traffic was also upending the way of life for native Alaskan communities who have used the ice as a platform for hunting and fishing, or as transport routes. The winter ice could no longer be trusted, according to local people.

“There are five to seven people in the last five years that I know of off the top of my head who have gone through the ice on snow machines or four-wheelers while traveling,” said Anahma Shannon, who works with Kawerak, a service organization for native Alaskans in the Bering coastal region.

In typical winters, there is about a mile of solid ice from shore, enabling walrus hunters to approach their prey on land. Hunting from small boats is much riskier. But in this year’s record high temperatures, the ice is thin and drifting away from the shore. “This year may be the first year in recent history that we haven’t had the outside ice,” Shannon said.

The season’s thin and slushy ice was also hurting fisheries. In past winters, it would be common to see people fishing for king crab on the ice off Nome, setting out traps through holes drilled into the ice. Commercial fishermen might strike out farther, riding their snowmobiles six or seven miles across the ice to Sled Island. But the thinner ice was squeezing fishermen into smaller areas and shallower waters, said Adem Boeckmann, a commercial fisher.

“The lack of ice is making it tougher to find the crab and harvest them,” he said. He estimated the catch was only a third or a half of last year’s. “We are not making money, we are just making ends meet.”

The native Alaskan communities recognize that cruise ships and tourist dollars could bring big money to places like Nome. But they were already experiencing loss of income and a way of life because of the retreat of the sea ice.

The prospect of a flood of visitors to the region was only adding to those fears of losing their livelihoods and their culture, said Austin Ahmasuk, who runs Kawerak’s marine program.

“We can draw these very clear parallels from the past for the possibility of the destruction of our culture,” he said. “Let’s just say we suspect that maybe not the most holistic way of approaching development will occur.”



enable JavaScript

to view the comments.

Find this article interesting?

Donate now to support our work.

Get Grist in your inbox

Link – 

Luxury Arctic cruise ship sets sail. What could go wrong?

Posted in alo, Anchor, Anker, FF, GE, Jason, ONA, PUR, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Luxury Arctic cruise ship sets sail. What could go wrong?

Warming waters are destroying your salmon burger

Spoiler Alert

Warming waters are destroying your salmon burger

By on 28 Jul 2015 4:52 pmcommentsShare

The Columbia River is many things: the fourth largest U.S. river by volume, the river that generates more hydroelectric power than any other in North America, and now, a mass salmon gravesite. Warming river water has killed or will kill more than 250,000 sockeye salmon this spawning season. Welcome to the latest installment of Spoiler Alerts, where climate change deflates all the balloons.

Al Jazeera America lays out the grisly details:

Federal and state fisheries biologists say the warm water is lethal for the cold-water species and is wiping out at least half of this year’s return of 500,000 fish and by the end of the season that death toll could grow to as high as 400,000.

“We had a really big migration of sockeye,” Ritchie Graves of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told The Associated Press. “The thing that really hurts is we’re going to lose a majority of those fish.”

He said up to 80 percent of the population could ultimately perish.

One of the problems is that record low snowfall in the surrounding mountain ranges has resulted in little runoff that would normally cool the river. The fish, which start to experience stress around 68 degrees F, have been subjected to 70 degree waters since June, with some tributaries reaching 76 degrees. Which means you should wasabi up that Columbia River sashimi while you can — it might be going out of style. In addition to composing a healthy link in the Pacific Northwest ecosystem, Pacific domestic salmon made up about 80 metric tons of food for Americans annually between 2000 and 2004.

Not only are the effects of warming temperatures on the salmon population extreme, climatologists and animal scientists suggest that they’re an expected extreme. Al Jazeera America continues:

The devastation to the local sockeye salmon population is just one of climate change’s effects on wildlife and will “likely” reoccur intermittently over the next decade, James J. Anderson, a University of Washington fisheries scientist whose research focuses on the fish of the Columbia basin, told Al Jazeera.

“The larger problem is that the climate is changing faster than our ability to comprehend the magnitude of the problem,” he said. “Warmer rivers and salmon die-offs can be added to the many events that individually may be random, but which together reveal a rapidly changing world.”

This rapidly changing world has made for a bad month for animals and the climate. The sockeye news follows reports of climate-induced bee deaths and climate change culpability in the extinction of woolly mammoths.

When asked about the salmon deaths, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries manager John North told Reuters, “We’ve never had mortalities at this scale.” When the effects of climate change start sounding like a war zone, we’ve got a problem.

In hot water: Columbia’s sockeye salmon face mass die-off

, Al Jazeera America.

Thousands of salmon die in hotter-than-usual Northwest rivers

, Reuters.



enable JavaScript

to view the comments.

Find this article interesting?

Donate now to support our work. A Grist Special Series

Meat: What’s smart, what’s right, what’s next

Get Grist in your inbox


Warming waters are destroying your salmon burger

Posted in Anchor, FF, GE, LG, ONA, Radius, solar, solar power, Ultima, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Warming waters are destroying your salmon burger

In the battle against proposed coal terminals, you are kicking ass

In the battle against proposed coal terminals, you are kicking ass


Companies that want to build hulking coal export terminals in Washington state have put out an industrywide mayday after a string of similar proposed projects were defeated amid fierce local opposition from activists and neighbors.

Opponents of such projects are worried about climate change and local air pollution and congestion. And now the terminal developers are worried that they are staring down complete and utter defeat. The Missoulian reports on a delightful tidbit from an energy conference last week:

Developers said Wednesday they are politically outmatched in their battle to build two coal ports in Washington state, and they’re begging for help from Montana industry.

That means letters, online comments and even trips to hearings in the Pacific Northwest, where regulators are conducting an “unprecedented” environmental review, developers said during Montana Energy 2014 in Billings.

“Lots and lots of ground-level organizing. And I’ll tell you, the opposition is better at it than we are,” said Wendy Hutchinson of Millennium Bulk Terminals, which is seeking to build the $643 million Longview dock on the Columbia River.

Coal industry leaders pledged to rush to the defense of their enfeebled would-be port-developing conspirators. If the developers fail to build or expand ports where coal can be loaded onto ships bound for Asia, then coal companies’ fortunes will fall with them. Coal consumption has been declining in the U.S. and producers see exports as their only savior.

“We either stand alone and fall,” said Bud Clinch, director of the Montana Coal Council. “Or we become a team and help each other.”

Message to coal export protesters: Don’t let down your guard.

Coal port developers ask for support in Pacific Northwest, The Missoulian

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com.

Find this article interesting? Donate now to support our work.Read more: Business & Technology


Climate & Energy



View original – 

In the battle against proposed coal terminals, you are kicking ass

Posted in alo, Anchor, FF, Free Press, G & F, GE, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on In the battle against proposed coal terminals, you are kicking ass

Dot Earth Blog: Another Warning for the Northwest From Chile’s Earthquake Hot Zone

A powerful earthquake off the coast of Chile provides a fresh warning to the Pacific Northwest. Visit site:   Dot Earth Blog: Another Warning for the Northwest From Chile’s Earthquake Hot Zone ; ;Related ArticlesEarthquake Hits Off Coast of North ChileDot Earth Blog: A Whale of an International Court Ruling Against JapanSteelhead Drive Is Gone After Mudslide, Along With Many Lives Lived on It ;

Link to original: 

Dot Earth Blog: Another Warning for the Northwest From Chile’s Earthquake Hot Zone

Posted in alo, Bunn, Citadel, eco-friendly, FF, G & F, GE, growing marijuana, horticulture, LAI, Monterey, Mop, ONA, organic, organic gardening, solar, solar power, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dot Earth Blog: Another Warning for the Northwest From Chile’s Earthquake Hot Zone

Oh rot: Climate change could topple Northwest’s Douglas fir forests

Oh rot: Climate change could topple Northwest’s Douglas fir forests


Root-rotting fungi have lived among the Douglas firs of the Pacific Northwest for thousands of years — perhaps since the last ice age. They’re an invisible part of the sweeping forest scenery, ready to fell a sick tree or feast on a dead one.

But, in case you haven’t noticed, things have been going a tad crazy with the environment lately. Douglas firs in the Pacific Northwest have been dying, costing the timber industry millions of dollars a year. Some have been killed by beetle attacks; others by fungal diseases. Tree die-offs in the region have become so bad that scientists fear the natural carbon sink — that is, a place where plants pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere — is turning into a net emitter of the greenhouse gas.

And scientists fear the problem will grow worse as the globe continues to warm. A new report warns that climate change threatens to usher in an era of unprecedented root-rotting fungus infestations.

“Root diseases in managed western forests are a major contributor to the loss in timber productivity, revenues, and environmental benefits — negative impacts that will likely continue to increase, especially in the context of climate change,” states the report, which was published by the Washington State Academy of Sciences. “Anticipated climate change could increase the spread rate of the pathogen as well as host susceptibility.”

Laminated root rot, one of several major tree diseases caused by fungi in the region, is already thought to be reducing timber harvests by 5 to 15 percent. Warming temperatures combined with reduced snow and rainfall are forecast for the North American range of Douglas firs, and that’s expected to further “stress” the trees. Fungal pathogens tend to prey on weak individuals.

“Additional host stress is the primary driver of the assumption that diseases such as laminated root rot will increase,” Karen Ripley, a forest health manager with the Washington Department of Natural Resources, told us. “Because the host tree is likely to be more moisture stressed, the fungus may be more able to overcome host defenses, and the host may be less able to compensate for loss of roots.”

Even if the fungus doesn’t kill directly, an attack can leave trees vulnerable to fire, to beetles, or to toppling over in strong winds — and climate models warn of stronger wind storms in the region. Some dead trees are good for a forest, as they provide holes used for nests by birds and other wildlife. But trees killed by fungus tend to fall over and break down quickly.

Opportunities for addressing laminated root rot caused by Phellinus sulphurascens in Washington’s forests, Washington State Academy of Sciences
Root rot to become bigger problem for Douglas firs, study suggests, The Spokesman-Review

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com.

Find this article interesting? Donate now to support our work.Read more: Climate & Energy

See the article here: 

Oh rot: Climate change could topple Northwest’s Douglas fir forests

Posted in Anchor, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Oh rot: Climate change could topple Northwest’s Douglas fir forests