The Power of Denial

Today in the New York Times, a story about the washing away of homes on the Carolina Outer Banks. The article points out that some of these homeowners, climate change believers bought their homes as recently as last fall! What kind of denial needs to exist to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in homes within yards of the ocean? What kind of denial are all of us in regarding the effects of climate change?

Here on the Olympic Peninsula, we all suffer from denial. For the majority of us, the denial of a major earthquake of such magnitude that only struck here 322 years ago, is our biggest. Then, tsunamis 33 feet high wiped out many native villages on the shore. Many modern Olympic Peninsula people were woke to this issue for the first time when the New Yorker published a sobering article about just how unprepared we are for this. The Seattle Times followed up with this piece a few years later.

As humans, we all live with denial. Denial that our health will not hold long into older age is one that many of our old population is familiar with and engaged in on a daily basis. And here on the Peninsula, as climate change wreaks havoc across the globe, we deny we are at risk. Let’s count the ways:

  • Forest Fire – Clearly, living on a tree farm with most of us at close proximity to timber, this is the most likely short term issue. We have seen the east side of the Cascades burn in massive wildfires, as well as B.C., Oregon and California. How many years do we have before the forests around us are on fire?
  • Sea Level Rise – Cities, from what I’ve seen, are simply kicking this can down the road. PA and PT especially are at sea level. Water Street is at, yes water level. Are there any serious plans to the business district uptown. Nope. Are there mitigation plans at work? Not that I’ve seen.
    • At Point Hudson, there are houses literally at sea level. A good friend owned one that faced out to the Strait, until they woke up to waves crashing on their front window panes. They sold and now live high on the hill above the Fort.
    • Beckett Point – A disaster waiting to happen, Beckett Point will likely be the first place you see houses washed away as in the NY Times article above.
    • Cliff dwellers like Seaview Drive – Our county development foolishly allowed houses to be built within 50 feet of the cliff edge in the 70s and 80s. Even trying to change this rule has been a struggle with home and land owners fighting being pushed back from the cliffs even 50 feet for future construction to be a very hard issue to convince them of supporting. Unfortunately, we have seen cliffs sluff over 100 feet back on Whidbey Island. The bottom line is that scientifically, cliffs sluff. That is the nature of a cliff. Putting thousands of pounds of concrete weight, water in the form of lawn watering, and septic tanks only helps destabilize the cliff more. Want to see a cliff sluff in action? Walk from North Beach to the Fort on the beach. That is an active sluffing cliff.
  • River course change – The Dungeness has reclaimed many homes over the decades from folks denying the ability of the river to do that. Now the Jamestown S’Kallam Tribe and Clallam County are working to give the river the room to “breathe” as one biologist once called it. The floodplains, he said, “are the lungs of the river. If you dyke them, you give them emphysema.”
  • That certain business activity won’t destroy our natural resources – The DNR decision to allow a commercial aquaculture farm inside a wildlife refuge is another case of denial that your decisions won’t destroy what you claim you love.

You can do your bit, by asking yourself “what am I in denial over?” Are there direct things you can do now to protect yourself from being the next to find that “you can’t fool Mother Nature.” That may mean much harder decisions than you ever thought. Just ask the folks on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Arlington electric aircraft maker logs order for 75 planes- Everett Herald

The future is coming whether we accept it or not. On the same day that the Biden Administration announced it is planning to give $6B to support the economically failed world of nuclear power, the next generation planes are being ordered. While many red state politicians want you to continue our massive taxpayer funded subsidies to fossil fuels, it would be great to see continued investment in this technology that will fuel the second half of this century airplanes.

ARLINGTON — Eviation Aircraft, the Arlington company that has built a fully electric commuter airplane, got a hefty boost this week when one of the nation’s largest commuter airlines, Cape Air, signed a letter of intent to buy 75 of the Eviation Alice model.

https://www.heraldnet.com/business/arlington-electric-aircraft-maker-logs-a-hefty-order/

Trouble on the Half Shell

Scientists have discovered a mystery parasite—what will it mean for the future of Washington’s oysters?

Interesting article that features the Jamestown S’Klallam and their efforts to restore Olympia Oysters, and scientists trying to better understand the history of this mysterious parasite.

Gussman to receive land trusts outstanding honor – PDN

Local photographer/filmmaker John Gussman (who’s work has been featured in this blog) is about to be honored for his work. Couldn’t be a better choice. Congratulations to John.


The North Olympic Land Trust’s spotlight this year falls on a photographer and videographer accustomed to putting the spotlight on the beauty of the North Olympic Peninsula and documenting the community’s conservation efforts. The land trust will honor the efforts of John Gussman, along with award-winning author Dr. Robert Michael Pyle, at the organization’s 14th annual Conservation Breakfast, slated for 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. April 22, online. Michael Dashiell reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Gussman to receive Land Trust’s ‘Out Standing’ honor

New data could help scientists worldwide studying fish passage through dams – NW News Network

More good research being done.


Tiny devices, smaller than a couple grains of rice, help provide reams of data as researchers track salmon around Northwest dams. Scientists hope this data from juvenile Chinook salmon could help broaden the understanding of fish behavior and survival in an inexpensive and effective way at other dams around the world. Courtney Flatt reports. (NW News Network)

 https://www.opb.org/article/2022/03/15/data-fish-tracking-salmon-dams/

Killer Whale Scars Tell A Story – Hakai Magazine

Interesting new research


By counting their scars and when they got them, scientists are unlocking new insights on killer whale social dynamics. Marina Wang reports. (Hakai Magazine)

http://Killer whales scars tell a story

A 30-year long Fishing Dispute Fizzles Out – Hakai Magazine

Interesting that a regional court with no native tribal peoples on it should have the last word on a treaty definition. I was under the opinion that only Congress could define treaties.


With the United States Supreme Court declining to hear the case, a protracted legal battle between two Indigenous communities has nowhere to go. ….For the past 30 years two groups, the Lummi Nation and the S’Klallam nations—represented today by the Jamestown S’Klallam, Port Gamble S’Klallam, and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribes—have been fighting in the courts about a contested slice of the Salish Sea: the waters west of Whidbey Island in northwestern Washington. Involved in this dizzying dispute are no fewer than four tribes, two treaties, and four appellate court decisions. The issue was recently brought to the United States Supreme Court for consideration, though the court declined to hear the case, leaving the Lummi and S’Klallam without an obvious legal path forward. Ashley Braun reports. (Hakai Magazine)

A 30-Year-Long Fishing Dispute Fizzles Out https://hakaimagazine.com/news/a-30-year-long-fishing-dispute-fizzles-out/

First Fed Gives $1M to NW Maritime Center to Expand Access

Strengthening our shoreline businesses and the efforts to continue their work.


First Fed Bank, subsidiary of First Northwest Bancorp (FNWB), pledged $1 million to Northwest Maritime Center (NWMC) to expand access to maritime education. The funding will be spread evenly across 10 years. “The maritime industry is vital to our region. First Fed is dedicated to helping the Northwest Maritime Center achieve its goal of doubling program participants by 2025,” stated Matt Deines, CEO of First Fed and FNWB. NWMC served 2,950 program participants in 2019 and plans to reach 6,000 annually by 2025. (Globe Newswire)

First Fed Gives $1M to Northwest Maritime Center to Expand Access

EVENT: Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Schedule

The premiere conference on the science of the Salish Sea.


Check out the program schedule for the three-day virtual conference Apr. 16, 27, 28. Registration deadline April 20.

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference schedule

Model of heatwave ‘blob’ shows unexpected effects in the Salish Sea – Salish Sea Currents

Science on the 2013 Pacific Ocean heatwave.


The marine heatwave that struck the Pacific Ocean in late 2013 also caused large changes in temperature in the Salish Sea, but scientists are still puzzling over the impacts of those changes on Puget Sound’s food web. The so-called “blob” of warmer than average water was thought to have increased the production of plankton, which potentially benefits creatures like herring and salmon that feed on the tiny organisms. A new paper in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science calls that interpretation into question pointing to a computer model that links the cause to higher than normal river flows in the region. Eric Wagner reports. (Salish Sea Currents Magazine)

https://www.eopugetsound.org/magazine/salish-sea-model-the-blob

Kevin Grant named superintendent of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

Kevin Grant, superintendent of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary/ photo: NOAA

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries announced the appointment of Kevin Grant of Port Angeles, Washington, as superintendent of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS). Kevin has been with NOAA for nearly 14 years as a deputy superintendent, with more than nine years at OCNMS and four years at National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.

Kevin has a Masters Degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Washington, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Wisconsin. He was a Knauss Sea Grant Fellow at the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and served two years in the Peace Corps in the Solomon Islands. Nearly all of his experience since leaving graduate school has involved collaboration in resource management with indigenous communities.

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, with offices in Port Angeles, Washington, is managed by NOAA and was designated in 1994. It encompasses nearly 3,200 square miles off the Washington coast, extending from Cape Flattery to the mouth of the Copalis River. Significant natural and cultural resources include 29 species of marine mammals, as well as large populations of nesting seabirds, shipwrecks, and some of the last remaining wilderness coastline in the lower 48 states.

The sanctuary is part of America’s National Marine Sanctuary System, a network of underwater areas encompassing more than 620,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters. The network includes a system of 15 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments. The National Marine Sanctuary System is celebrating its 50 year anniversary in 2022.

Hottest ocean temperatures in history recorded last year – The Guardian

Not great news for those hoping to protect our oceans from the ravages of humankind. Sixth consecutive year. Whatever can be done to slow this must. While we are a small island of calm in the midst of this, nevertheless we cannot escape it. Forest fires, smoke, heat waves like last summer, acidifying oceans affecting sea food output etc. are all ahead.

“Last year saw a heat record for the top 2,000 meters of all oceans around the world, despite an ongoing La Niña event, a periodic climatic feature that cools waters in the Pacific. The 2021 record tops a stretch of modern record-keeping that goes back to 1955. The second hottest year for oceans was 2020, while the third hottest was 2019.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jan/11/oceans-hottest-temperatures-research-climate-crisis

Ediz Hook enhanced for salmon, public use – NWTTM

Here’s an update on the work at Ediz Hook in Port Angeles by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. They have been removing debris from the shore and planting eel grass to renew the nearshore habitat for fish and other species.

Below the surface, the tribe and partners Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Washington Sea Grant have been restoring eelgrass beds on the sand spit’s south shore for the past four years, with greater success than expected

Northwest Treaty Tribes January 2022

Read the whole story here. https://nwtreatytribes.org/publications/magazine/

Good news, bad news for whale sightings in 2021

Reports in from Pacific Whale Watch Association that whale sightings were up was reported in The Canadian press, (CBC), as good news. It is, in totality of sightings for Biggs and humpbacks. But if you read the details, you find that Southern Resident Orcas sightings are actually down. Let’s take what we can of the positive but not be fooled into thinking we have turned around the issue of local residents. As mentioned in the article, the Biggs eat seals and sea lions, which have been overpopulating the area and eating vast amounts of food that competes with the resident southerns. (another way to think of this is that because we have depleted the salmon runs there are fewer fish to feed all the mammals that eat them). This may help balance out the food chain, but we won’t know for a number of years.

… it’s a different story for the endangered Southern Resident whales — the other principal killer whale found in the region — as their sightings dropped to a record low last year. The salmon-eating mammals were documented on just 103 days, or 28 per cent of the year.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/record-whale-sightings-2021-1.6311282

Read the whole story here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/record-whale-sightings-2021-1.6311282

How do we stop tire debris from killing coho? NWTTM

Over the last decade science done at the UW has identified a chemical in our tires that leaches out as we drive and ends up killing salmon when it runs off into the lakes, rivers and bays of Puget Sound. This issue will require billions of dollars to fix, just as the culvert problem, created over the last 100 years of road building has done. But it must be done if we are to save coho in our waters.

This article, in the Northwest Treaty Tribes magazine does a good job of updating us on the issue and what is being done about it now.

We need to deal with these impacts immediately by filtering 6PPD-Q from
stormwater before it enters the water. The Nisqually Tribe is working with McIntyre, Long Live the Kings and the state Department of Transportation to develop a compostable biofiltration system on
Highway 7 where it crosses Ohop Creek. If we are successful, similar systems could be retrofitted along all roadways to remove this lethal, toxic chemical.

Northwest Treaty Tribes Magazine -2022 January

Read the whole story here: https://nwtreatytribes.org/publications/magazine/

Welcome to 2022 – King tides takes out shoreline homes and businesses in the Salish Sea

In a grand “Climate Change” welcome to 2022 King tides moved into the Salish Sea along with a major storm front. The outcome was widespread destruction across a huge swath of the shorelines, from the South Sound up through British Columbia. This is just a taste of what’s ahead, as we await the break off of a huge glacier in Antarctica, and it’s subsequent melt down, which will add to sea level rise. If you have a home or business on the shoreline, now is a good time to reconsider your long term options.

Let’s do a quick overview. If there is only one thing to see, watch this video that was posted by a homeowner from Blaine on Twitter.

And KUOW coverage opens with a scary photo of a neighborhood built on the “wrong side of the tracks”.

KUOW – Sea level on steroids: Record tides flood Washington coastlines

The CBC covered the British Columbia story.

B.C. coastal communities assess damage, look to future after king tides, extreme weather wreak havoc | CBC News

This does not even begin to cover the amount of businesses that have docks that may have been destroyed, nor the simple flooding that may have occurred.

I have watched with disbelief over the last decades as more and more luxury homes have been built on spits in Puget Sound. Some examples? Three Tree Point in South King County. A more recent one in is Miller Bay near Indianola. Let’s look! These houses are really expensive and right at sea level!

Image by Google Earth

Or how about our own Beckett Point in Jefferson County?

Image by Google Earth

Beckett Point is no stranger to flooding. It was wiped out in the 1930s by a massive wind storm. Back then it was just fishing shacks but those were replaced by homes. Bottom line, these people are living on a sandspit, at sea level, and likely their home owners insurance is provided by the Federal Government because there is no way they could afford to pay for private insurance, even if it’s available. Choosing to live here, while incredibly beautiful and usually no problem, is and will continue to be challenging.

Want to add your own and track more vulnerable communities on the Sound? Go to my little project on Google Earth. https://earth.google.com/earth/d/1ZiX9tu1nnWs16-Lwnm4CORazbgPMJJ5H?usp=sharing

It is worth remembering that these homeowners get federal insurance to live here, so our tax dollars go to help continue this behavior. Please make sure that you let our elected officials know that with rising costs due to sea level rise, we cannot continue to subsidize everyone who lives on the shore. Now is the time to end this practice and let these homeowners bear the full cost of their decision (and it is also the decision of the local land use officials and county officials).

I’ve left out the massive flooding all over western Washington and British Columbia in the last 60 days, along with wildfires in December in Colorado, and massive super tornadoes in Kentucky (can you picture a tornado 250 miles long? with winds of 94 MPH sustained over four hours and 24 minutes?). Global warming is upon us and our best situation is to begin making changes to issues like insurance and infrastructure to mitigate the worse that is yet to come in future decades.

For the Northwest, climate change was hard to ignore in 2021 -KUOW

A good wrap up of the Northwest climate change in 2021. The photo in the article is a great example of what a flood plain is and why so many restoration projects (i.e. the Dungeness) are working to recover old flood plains. So many of them were used for farming (as in the Nooksack pictured) or just putting in housing, like on the Dungeness. Building dykes is a long term failure strategy for salmon and the people trying to live on the flood plain. As shown, the dykes just won’t protect you from climate change as we are seeing it unfold.

From heat domes to record-breaking rainfall, climate change was hard to ignore in Washington.As temperature records were shattered around the state in late June, the 911 calls poured in.

https://kuow.org/stories/climate-change-was-hard-to-ignore-for-the-northwest-in-2021

Postscripts 2021: Jerry Franklin is still standing up and speaking out for our old-growth forests – Seattle Times

The venerable professor from the U.W.is still hard at work promoting the science of old growth and second growth forests. Don’t know who he is? Follow the link below to the summary article and then follow the links in the article to read his writings.

Franklin was among the first to discover the unique ecological value of old-growth trees and forest ecosystems. He also was among a team of scientists whose work led to the protection of old growth on federal land in Washington, Oregon and Northern California through the implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan in 1994.

https://www.seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-magazine/postscripts-2021-jerry-franklin-is-still-standing-up-and-speaking-out-for-our-old-growth-forests/

Canadian Federal government announces closure of most Pacific herring fisheries | CBC News

Perhaps good news for the herring stocks in B.C. as the Canadian government closes the fisheries. Herring stocks in B.C. have been in trouble for years, following mismanagement by the Federal Government, habitat destruction and over-fishing. As the article states, Indigenous Tribes on the west coast seem to be supporting this, as they have been warning about the collapse for years.

Pacific Herring (Photo by NOAA)

Most commercial fisheries for Pacific herring on the West Coast have been closed with the exception of harvests by First Nations for food and ceremonial purposes. Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray says in a statement that this “cautious” approach to Pacific herring management is based on recently intensified risks to wild salmon. Pacific herring are an important food source for salmon, sea birds, marine mammals and other fish. (Canadian Press)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/pacific-herring-fisheries-closure-1.6289030

European green crab invasion report. Lummi’s in trouble, still ok here

The recent discovery of a huge increase in invasive green crabs on the Lummi tidelands has not been seen in waters here. A good update by Sea Grant. Wendy Feltham who has been volunteering locally had this to say: “I’ve been part of a small team looking for the invasive European Green Crab at Kala Point Lagoon for the past six years. In all those years we’ve handled thousands of shore crabs and a few others, but only one European Green Crab.”

Invasive European Green Crab (Photo courtesy of WDFW)

Here’s the report from the Lummi. The link is at the bottom of the quote.

December 6, 2021

The recent report by the Lummi Nation of more than 70,000 European green crabs captured this year has many wondering what this could mean for efforts to prevent green crabs from establishing in the Salish Sea. This number certainly indicates that the population of green crabs within the sea pond on the Lummi Reservation has grown exponentially since their first detection in 2019 (Mueller and Jefferson, 2019), and currently represents the largest population along inland Washington shorelines. The disaster declaration made by the Lummi Indian Business Council, highlights both the threat to tribal resources, and the need for increased control measures to effectively protect both the reservation, as well as the region, from accelerated spread and impacts of the invasion.

https://wsg.washington.edu/21-lummi-update/

%d bloggers like this: