Head of State Ecology Answers Prof. Cliff Mass on Ocean Acidification

As reported here in the last few weeks, UW Meteorologist Cliff Mass posted in his blog that recent court filings by the US EPA and State Department of Ecology were evidence that neither really thought that Ocean Acidification was a scientifically proven threat to the Salish Sea and our seafood industries. My criticism here on this blog was then used by him as a place to accuse me of personally attacking him for his views. (see comments in previous articles last week). This week, State Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon stepped into the fray, publishing a scathing blog entry directly addressing his comments. I quote:

Department of Ecology take threats from ocean acidification very seriously. This is not a surprise to many, given our policy and science leadership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to understand and address ocean acidification. But local meteorologist Cliff Mass’s September 7 blog is causing some people to question just what our position is, and whether ocean acidification is real.

Let’s be clear. Ocean acidification is real. Determining the causes, impacts, and identifying potential solutions are high priorities for our agency and our state…

….Cliff Mass quoted a few sentences from legal documents that misled several blog readers to believe that Ecology and EPA have determined that acidification is not damaging oysters in Puget Sound or other local waters. He misinterpreted documents filed under litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


It is gratifying to say the least to see our top bureaucrat in charge of addressing this issue come forward and clearly lay out the issue to any reader in the State. Professor Mass has not yet chosen to respond to this blog post by Ms. Bellon.

Those of us who are involved in educating the public to serious (and sometimes difficult to comprehend) issues like ocean acidification are grateful to Ms. Bellon for stepping up and using her bully pulpit to call out the serious and urgent need for continued scientific work to figure out a solution to this issue, if a solution does in fact exist. There is far too much at stake to sit back and allow critics to derail these efforts without  answering them. It’s what true leadership is all about.

For war games next year, Navy wants to post trucks with electromagnetic radiation equipment on West End – PDN

So this is the rest of the story, which was originally posted in the Forks Forum and reposted here. The Forks Forum article read like a conspiracy theory report, with mentions of a tiny notice in one location in Forks and no contact with local newspapers, elected officials or anyone else. I almost didn’t pass it along because I didn’t have time to verify it independently.

Without any debate from our elected officials in the last three years, we have allowed the Navy to continue to turn our forests, waters  and airspace into a training ground for their war games. Since the Forest Service has decided that there is no health hazard (a bureaucrat decided this on the public’s behalf  without consulting scientists apparently), the Navy has not been asked to do a public Environmental Impact statement.  For those hiking, mushroom collecting, fishing, and hunting in the woods, you may never even know you are possibly being given large doses of electromagnetic radiation. We have endangered species like the Marbled Murrlett, and the Spotted Owl along with eagles out there in those woods as well. All you can hope is that the Navy actually sees you before they blast you. It would be great to see one of our elected officials step in and demand an EIS on this, rather than rely on the good graces of the military, which operates much of what they do in total secret. Without it, we have no idea of what kind of risks this poses. It’s the kind of thing that is much better suited to a treeless, remote Alaskan island in the Aleutians than a working forest.

My issue with all this, is that while well meaning, many of the soldiers working in our bases around here are not from here. And their commanders apparently don’t train them on how these issues affect us. They have no local knowledge of the people who sail, work the forests, or otherwise live here. We see that all the time in the way we are treated when the Coast Guard stops us sailing around the Bay because they need to practice their boarding techniques, treating us as criminals or possible terrorists. We are the ones who pay their salaries. They serve to protect us. We may be doing nothing more than sailing around an area that they are practicing in, and we become their targets for the day. We also see it in the lack of concern that the Navy shows by flying jets at all hours of the day and night. And now we see it here, where military personnel apparently decided there was no reason to really notify anyone about a major war games project in our woods. As an example, on the Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee, we have a standing open position for the Navy, a key player in the shorelines and waters of our county. Despite repeated attempts over the years to get them to participate, by sending even one low level PR person to the meetings, they have never felt it necessary to even show up. It just shows a lack of interest in engaging the public, except when they are forced to. This wargames story is another sad example of that.

FORKS — The Navy wants to allow three camper-sized trucks with electromagnetic radiation equipment to conduct war exercises with military aircraft from 15 sites in Clallam, Jefferson and Grays Harbor counties.

The locations — 12 in Olympic National Forest and three on state Department of Natural Resources land — would be part of the Pacific Northwest Electronic Warfare Range and would involve aircraft from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

Read the rest of the story here: (and support local journalism by subscribing to the PDN!)


More on Navy Electronic Warfare Plans

One of our correspondents did some digging today. Thanks to L.P.  Here’s the report:

I just got a call from John Mosher, Navy Project Manager for that “electronic warfare testing project” reported in the Forks Forum. He had just received a similar call from someone in Forks so he knew my concerns – he confirmed that there was no posting of the project info or comment period for project, in particular in Forks Forum or PDN.

At first he started out defending the project, saying there were going to be 15 sites, only 3 of which were in an area east of Forks “far from the town, in the remote mountains of the Olympic National Forest.”  The sounds were to be emitted from a vehicle, only after it had been ascertained that “no people or animals were nearby.”  I pointed out that was impossible in the terrrain he described.  I also explained that what might seem remote to someone in an office was not remote to the people of Forks who have made/are making their living by logging and collecting salal.  The forest is their “neighborhood.”

I asked whether the Environmental Assessment and the Navy’s Declaration of Non-Significance are posted on the web and he gave me this link  http://go.usa.gov/kQ6e

But when I went there it had lots of old postings with meaningless titles and didn’t see anything that obviously related to this issue.   Unfortunately I didn’t get his contact info but he’s on the Whidbey Island base outside of Oak Harbor.

As we finished he did say that our phone comments now were being made note of, not in the official Comments on those documents but they may be taken into account for “further outreach.”  He did say “I can say that I now wish we had posted the information locally.

So it seems that yes, the Navy is up to something out near Forks, that it involves some kind of electronic warfare testing that involves sound emission, not clear if it’s something that is sonic, ultrasonic or electro magnetic. We hope that a larger news agency with staff might follow up on this issue.

Navy Planning on Electronic Warfare Exercises Near Forks – No warning to locals – Forks Forum

Apparently the Navy is planning on conducting unannounced Electronic Warfare Exercise in rural areas around Forks sometime in the near future. The exercises will include some kind of electromagnetic radiation exposure, that the Navy intends to stop if humans are found in the area. WTF?

Discussed in the Forks Forum, http://www.forksforum.com/opinion/277005121.html, this training exercise, which was ‘publicized’ in news outlets far from the affected areas, is somehow secret, yet needing local approval. According to the article, local politicians in Forks are unaware of the activity.

You can read the whole story at the link above, but if you want to call and complain, here’s the info:

Call Dean Millett at 374-1222 or Charles Escola (Navy-Silverdale) at 360-396-0069 or Leslie Yuenger, Northwest Public Affairs Officer (Navy) 360-396-6387.

So today you marched…now what?

Millions of people came out today (Sunday) to march to tell the elected officials in WA DC, that we demand real change on the environment.  Real progress to move the needle from imminent human ecological disaster to at least a plan to get us headed a right way. Maybe something minor, like Germany has done, actually moving themselves to well over 30% of their energy being generated by non fossil fuels. Can you imagine if we got that far? We are less than 3% now! Oh sorry, I didn’t include all the fracked energy that our elected officials pretend is “renewable”. Or the food products that we are turning into fuel for our cars. Get real!

But as we saw during Viet Nam, one march isn’t going to change the world. It took years of marches. Let me repeat. Years of marches.

But wait, it was an egomaniac point of view to think that we, here in the US, stopped the Viet Nam War. Nope. We significantly influenced our politicians, but the real people who stopped it, were the Viet Cong and North Viet Namese. The people who went out there and fought the battles on the ground. While we certainly aren’t advocating that kind of warfare, the issue here is that someone has to actually get out and do something more than march. Today’s analogy is to get the right folks elected, and the wrong folks voted out. That includes Democrats upholding the status quo,  that pretend they are for environment regs when they only say that to get elected.

We have to educate and help the Chinese and Indians (in India) to figure out better ways to get modern than burn  the remaining fossil fuels on the planet. That’s called *environmental education* and maybe paying for ads on Chinese TV is a start. But wait! They are leading the way in solar installations! Where is the US? Far down the pack. Who really needs the education? Them or us?

Here in the US, we have to stop pretending we are leaders in anything, other than great ideas. We are trailing across the board on climate change issues, but remember, we are what the rest of much of the world wants to emulate. If we can’t clean up our own house, we can’t expect them to follow suit. Unless, sorry to say, it’s us following them.

But I’m hopeful! Why? Because if there is anything we humans can brag about  to the rest of the animal kingdom, it’s that we are supremely clever. When we want something, we will figure out a way to get it. So let’s just take 100 years and say we need to fix the planet, rather than go to another one. That we will stop fighting long enough to fix what is broken here. Now.

As the kids say, “If wishes were fishes.”  We can’t wish ourselves out of this. We have to do the heavy lifting. And now that you have your walking shoes on for the march, it’s time to keep moving. You don’t need to get on a boat to head off the arctic whalers with Greenpeace. You have experience, or at  least a lot of stamina if you are young and without a specific talent. You know your strengths. Play to them.  You know the things to do in your community. You live there. Do what you are good at to do good. Change your own community first. Hell, write your own blog. Produce your own movie. Don’t wait for me or anyone else. But most of all, change the status quo.

If you are going to march, you can’t stop there. You have to do a long walk. You’ll need more than one pair of shoes to get to where we are going. You’ll need hip boots to wade through all the bs you will encounter in the way. You’ll need fast shoes to outrun the ones trying to stop you.  It’s a long way to the end of that road. But the real fun in is in the travels. Now that we’ve seen that you can march, let’s see if you can travel. See you on the road.

Return of the River – A homerun of a movie for Gussman and Plumb

Just got out of the world premiere of  ‘Return of the River”, the film that likely will be considered the definitive work on the Elwha Dam removal.  This film, years in the making, was a labor of love for the two Peninsula based filmmakers, John Gussman and Jessica Plumb. And it was great to see it premiered here at the Port Townsend Film Festival.

The film tracks in detail the history of the dam, but more importantly the place that is the Elwha River, the feel for the Olympic Peninsula then and now, and a great depth of interviews with people that were instrumental, on both sides of the controversial project.  It is impossible not to come away impressed with the idea that hard things to do take a long time, and a lot of consensus building. From the interviews with leading politicians, mill managers, environmentalists, writers, biologists, and most importantly, the tribal members of the Lower Elwha Tribe, who never gave up hope to bring back the historic runs. There were so many people who played significant small roles in this drama. Gussman and Plumb treated all with the respect they deserve. There are no demeaning ‘heroes and villains’ caricatures.

It is almost trite to say that certain stories are ‘epic’ and ‘pivotal’ but the removal of the Elwha Dam has been just that. It has galvanized world attention more than almost any other single environmental event of the last ten years, because it is a message of hope. Hope that we can restore what we have destroyed. Gussman and Plumb have captured that story, distilled it to 70 minutes, and given fair treatment to all sides, and points of view. More than ever, we need stories of hope in the face of ever mounting environmental problems to solve.

In the last week, I’ve posted the story that bull trout have been seen in the upper Elwha for the first time in a century. Also that the shores of the Elwha estuary are turning back into a clam bed capable  sand spit. The power of restoration is an amazing thing to watch.  The restoration of this river, with it’s unique short run from sea to protected park, is possible, and is happening, right now, in front of our eyes for just taking the time to go look.

Gussman and Plumb, along with the rest of their crew, have given us the story, in all it’s facets. A well crafted storyline, beautiful filmmaking, solid editing, a wonderful original soundtrack, animation when needed of the hard concepts.

Congratulations for a remarkable piece of work. A 5 star must see film.

EVENT: Premiere of “Return of the River” on the Elwha Dam Removal

My friend and fellow filmmaker John Gussman has completed his epic film on the removal of the Elwha dam. Come see his film in Port Townsend

Friday, 6:30 p.m., Rose Theatre
Saturday, 12:15 p.m., Peter Simpson Free Cinema

“Return of the River” is a feature documentary that tells the story of the largest dam removal and river restoration project in history, currently unfolding on the Elwha River in Washington State. The film explores an extraordinary community effort to set the river free, and shows an unlikely victory for environmental justice. Told by an ensemble cast of characters, “Return of the River” offers hope amid grim environmental news.

Find us on facebook at facebook.com/ReturnOfTheRiver


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