Evaluating targets for reducing carbon emissions. NY Times

An interesting series in the New York Times called Hindsight has been evaluating business and government pledges on various social issues such as global warming, deforestation, drinking water availability and other social crisis’ that have brought attention and demands for change.

This week, they looked at promises made in the 2010 timeframe to lower carbon emissions in the EU. What did they find that’s interesting to us on the Peninsula? That Biomass was thrown in with the mix of “solutions” and that it is not a solution at all.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/02/climate/europe-climate-pledge-carbon-emissions.html?referringSource=articleShare

Back in around 2010, this blog covered the efforts of then State Representative Kevin Van De Wege to promote biomass as a solution to lowering energy costs and protecting the environment. His work was based on research by WSU that resulted in a paper that was heralded as as a reason to promote using clear cut slash (also known as ‘hog fuel’) to burn to create electricity. No environmental organizations at that time bought the idea, though it was passed using a special designation of calling it “experimental” in the bill. It never was taken off experimental status.

Rep Van de Wege understandably promoted it because it gave more jobs to out of work loggers here on the Peninsula and incentivized pulp plants in P.A., Port Townsend and Shelton to experiment with burning hog fuel. Concerns by environmental organizations were ignored in order to allow the companies to build the plants and start using the fuel. Ultimately, all attempts to make this source of energy failed. Additionally, as the NY Times article points out, it actually made things worse.

As one drives around 101 on the Peninsula these days, it is impossible not to notice the enormous amounts of clear cuts going on, from west of the Hood Canal Bridge to Port Angeles. The stacks of slash are sitting in massive piles, some burning, some just rotting. With them go any hope of using the vast forest resources of the Peninsula to sequester carbon for reasons documented in the article above.

Northern Washington Tribes fear devastation of salmon by extreme floodwaters – KUOW

While this story is not specifically about the Peninsula, it is about issues that we faced along with the Bellingham and B.C. environment in the last month. Our rivers flooded also, just not quite as bad. As we all know, the salmon of this region are on the brink of extinction, along with our Orcas. Every year our human induced climate brings 500 year floods to already destroyed ecosystems the fish become more threatened. The Salish Sea is an ecosystem itself, what is happening to the east and north of us is tied to us by the water.

When a month’s worth of rain hit northern Washington and southern British Columbia in just a couple of days in mid-November, the resulting extreme flows scoured streams and riverbeds. They flushed away gravel and the salmon eggs incubating just below the surface, likely by the millions.

KUOW

https://kuow.org/stories/northern-washington-tribes-fear-devastation-of-salmon-by-extreme-floodwaters-ffcd

How heat waves warp ecosystems – High Country News

Just this week I was in an online discussion with a noted wildlife journalist here on the Peninsula who wanted to blame a series of environmental horrors he had recently seen on a certain restoration project, because the project was close to the area he was viewing. I tried to explain that the last few years had seen a variety of shocks to our ecosystem, and what he was seeing was far more widespread than just the area in question. Fish kills, algae blooms, massive die offs of shellfish, are easily observed but hard to map to a single root cause. But today in my inbox was this story and so I share it to help all of us understand that what is happening is anything but a local issue. The effects are widespread and causing destruction across an enormous range of wildlife. Welcome to the new world of the Pacific Northwest ecosystem under global warming.

Initial reports were sobering: A billion shellfish and other intertidal animals baked to death on the coast of British Columbia. The Portland Audubon Society declared a “hawkpocalypse” as it tended to scores of sick and injured birds. And in eastern Oregon, state officials estimated that tens of thousands of sculpin, a bottom-dwelling fish, perished in streams already throttled by drought.

High Country News

Don’t Be So Quick to Doubt China’s Climate Change Dedication -NY Times

While watching the COPS-26 Circus in Glasgow over the last couple weeks it’s easy to get dismayed especially about China’s commitments to solving global warming. However this interesting article in the New York Times today has a different perspective on it from someone who has followed the Chinese environmental stories for the last 20 years. Well worth a read if you’re feeling down about what happened in Glasgow. some of you might have also missed that China announced about a month ago or so the largest solar farm in the world to be constructed in the deserts in eastern China. I think that China takes global warming far more seriously than we do in some cases. They are a leader in electric bike and car production and have ambitious goals to produce vastly more of them. It’s just that, given their behavior on the world stage, it’s very hard to know what it all really means.

www.nytimes.com/2021/11/07/opinion/cop26-china-climate.html

Recycling Wind Turbines

Local Port Townsend resident and ex-New York Times writer Larry Fisher has published a very well researched article in the Milken Review on the recycling of wind turbines titled, “Anyone Want to Buy A Very Used Wind Turbine?” As we see the rush to put in large wind farms off the coast of Washington, promoted by the Department of Energy and the Quinault Nation, it’s worth reviewing that this green technology is still working out the pains of recycling it’s waste.

Turbine blades’ “biggest problem is they are gigantic, and there are not many groups that can cut them into pieces that a general recycler can handle. There’s no furnace you can just feed one into because it’s so huge.”

https://www.milkenreview.org/articles/anyone-want-to-buy-a-very-used-wind-turbine

Valuable crab populations are in a ‘very scary’ decline in warming Bering Sea

The latest from the Alaska seafood front. The warming planet is now severely impacting Alaskan crab.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/valuable-crab-populations-crash-in-a-warming-bering-sea/

B.C. Sea Stars approaching extinction?

Seems hard to fathom, that we may be losing the entire species.

A new study published by the Royal Society said sea stars are getting close to extinction as waters along the west coast. Sea stars in the waters off British Columbia that died off in the billions about a decade ago are not recovering as expected, an expert says. Hina Alam reports. (The Canadian Press)

Expert says B.C. sea stars melting away because of wasting disease

Taking the Temperature of Salmon -Salish Sea Currents

Good overview of one of the most critical issues facing recovery of endangered salmon. Rising temperatures in streams.

In the Puget Sound region, elevated stream temperatures are believed to be one of the great downfalls for salmon, especially in areas where streamside vegetation has been removed by farming, forestry or development.

https://www.eopugetsound.org/magazine/taking-temperature-salmon

Hydrogen Fuel may not be the salvation we have been told.

New studies show the dangers in betting on hydrogen fuel. By the way, who has been promoting it’s use? The oil and gas industry, of course.

www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/climate/hydrogen-fuel-natural-gas-pollution.html

Secretary of Interior visits Quinault Indian Nation to deliver support for moving them to higher ground.

It’s great to see our first Native American Secretary of the Interior visit a local tribe to reinforce the issue of the U.N. Climate Change report, which is a grim warning to all of us that time is running out to do dramatic changes to save ourselves from truly catastrophic climate change. The Quinault are on the front lines, as this story points out.

The visit, Haaland’s first to Washington state since her appointment to the Biden Administration, coincided with the release of a dire report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, predicting global havoc due to human-caused climate warming.

Lynda Mapes, Seattle Times

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/this-tribe-has-lived-on-the-coast-of-washington-for-thousands-of-years-now-climate-change-is-forcing-it-uphill/

How extreme is this year’s extreme weather? Here’s a closer look – AP

An analysis of the spread of extreme heat as we sit back and do nothing to stop the climate catastrophe moving across the globe like a shroud. Canada had over 230 fires burning in B.C. alone last month. We are in for a very rough ride, and at the present, it seems the Olympic Peninsula is holding it’s own. There’s no telling how long it will be before we are also impacted.

As the world staggers through another summer of extreme weather, experts are noticing something different: 2021’s onslaught is hitting harder and in places that have been spared global warming’s wrath in the past. Wealthy countries such as the United States, Canada, Germany and Belgium are joining poorer and more vulnerable nations on a growing list of extreme weather events that scientists say have some connection to human-caused climate change. (Associated Press)

How extreme is this year’s extreme weather? Here’s a closer look

Biotoxins in shellfish lead to closure at Discovery Bay – Peninsula Daily News

Following on a recent post about the effects of the recent heatwave, here’s more economic and enviromental effects. Yes, global warming is costing all of us. Discovery Bay is home to a number of commercial geoduck operations as well as recreational shellfish harvesting.

Discovery Bay is closed to shellfish harvesting due to high levels of marine biotoxins discovered in the water. Shellfish samples taken from Discovery Bay were found to contain elevated levels of the marine biotoxin that causes diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, resulting in the state Department of Health closing the beaches around the bay for all shellfish harvesting, Jefferson County Environmental Health said in a press release. Zach Jablonski reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Read the whole story here:

Biotoxins in shellfish lead to closure at Discovery Bay

Vibriosis infections on rise, state officials say -Associated Press


A word of caution for those of us who like to eat shellfish. The recent heat wave has a cost.

An outbreak of vibriosis in Washington has already surpassed the highest number of cases ever recorded by the state for the month of July, the state Department of Health said in a press release. Health officials say 52 cases of vibriosis have been reported in July, KING-5 reported. They blame the record-breaking high temperatures that killed millions, if not billions, of sea creatures during the Pacific Northwest heat wave. The infections are associated with eating raw or undercooked shellfish, especially oysters, that are contaminated with Vibrio. (Associated Press)

Associated Press

Read the whole story here:

Vibriosis infections on rise, state officials say

How healthy is the Salish Sea? Canada-U.S. study tracks ecosystem decline – Coast Reporter

We hear from our Puget Sound Partnership that things are doing “better” from their indicators. However, this new study sheds another perspective on the issue. I’m wondering after the recent heat wave, whether shellfish are going to remain a “positive” indicator.


A joint Canada-U.S. report on the health of the Salish Sea has found either an overwhelming decline or stable trend in nine out of 10 environmental indicators tracked by researchers. The only positive? Shellfish. Stefan Labbe reports. (Coast Reporter)

How healthy is the Salish Sea? Canada-U.S. study tracks ecosystem decline

and read the whole EPA report here:
Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report | US EPA

Can biologists estimate the massive loss of shellfish caused by low tides, high temps? PSI

We are just beginning to understand the incredible loss of shellfish from the latest heat wave.


The putrid smell of rotting shellfish on some beaches in Puget Sound and elsewhere along the West Coast were a clear sign that large numbers of clams, mussels, oysters and other intertidal creatures were killed from exposure to extreme low tides, record-breaking temperatures and a blazing hot sun. The total losses of shellfish that perished late last month may be difficult to estimate, but experts are beginning to piece together evidence from shoreline residents, state and tribal biologists, and commercial shellfish growers. Their goal is to describe what took place during the record-breaking temperatures of June 25-29 during some of the lowest tides of the past century. Christopher Dunagan reports. (Puget Sound Institute)

Can biologists estimate the massive loss of shellfish caused by low tides, high temps?

Solar rooftops fight solar farms in Infrastructure bill.Seattle Times

Interesting take on a battle for the future of energy transmission. Note that solar rooftops provided a small but significant amount of California’s electricity when needed during the wildfire electrical outages.

More power lines, or rooftop solar panels? The fight over energy’s future.

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/more-power-lines-or-rooftop-solar-panels-the-fight-over-energys-future/

Texas and the lessons of deregulation

As millions of people freezing at home in the dark without electricity and potable water continues in first world Texas, there is one thing that Texas is not having a shortage of, and that’s political hot air about who and what is to blame for this fiasco.

The grid failure has nothing to do with the move to solar or wind energy, which makes up less than 10% of the energy generated in Texas. However that’s become the whipping boy of Republican politicians and right wing media. How about looking at the deregulation of this industry, which happened to avoid government regulation? Anyone sitting in the dark now down there think that was a good idea? Do you now understand what regulation helps to protect against? Might there be even more interest in solar and wind if your neighbors have power because they invested in it and you didn’t?

Texas has the only deregulated energy market in the United States. According to a simple Internet search, “One of the reasons why all of these plants are offline is because the Texas power grid is largely deregulated and privatized. As the Texas Tribune laid out in 2011, the state isolated its power grid from that of the rest of the nation because it didn’t want it to be subject to federal regulation.” That led to under investment in upgrading the grid, as profits sank due to competition.

In fact, for those savvy and wealthy enough to implement off the grid solar and wind power generation, two things that Texas has in abundance free, they would be sitting in a warm room right now.

No fake news here. Virtually all the scientists on the planet agree that we are creating unpredictable weather because of fossil fuel use. The Arctic has been heating much faster than the rest of the planet. Now that heat is apparently pushing the polar vortex south. This is just the early phases of what is to come as we refuse to implement radical change across the globe to minimize global warming. The time for half measures is over. It’s time to prepare for a most unpredictable next phase.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if heating the planet through fossil fuels leads to a mini ice age like Europe experienced from 1300 to 1850?

Welcome to the future.

Inaugural people’s assembly invites 80 Washingtonians to discuss climate pollution

An interesting experiment in public discourse starts tonight to bring together a truly random group of Washingtonians to discuss Climate Change and what can be done to bridge the gap between beliefs to find a solution that might be acceptable to all. It’s being supported by some of our legislature. Can this work? As one of the people involved told me, “It’s an experiment being done with a rigorous framework.” Could it fail? Yes. Is it worth doing ? You bet. You can watch the assembly tonight (1/12/21) at 6PM at this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q1_0VI71Aw\

The WA Climate Assembly will focus on answering the following question:

How can Washington State equitably design and implement climate mitigation strategies while strengthening communities disproportionately impacted by climate change across the State?

People’s Voice on Climate is the initiator and sponsor of the Washington Climate Assembly, the nation’s first climate assembly. Supported by five key State House Committee chairs, this event will gather “our state in miniature” to deliberate and ultimately answer this question: How can Washington State equitably design and implement climate mitigation strategies while strengthening communities disproportionately impacted by climate change across the State?

The Assembly itself is conducted by an independent team hired by a diverse panel of Washingtonians. People’s Voice On Climate will publicize this event and promote the Assembly’s recommendations in the Legislature and elsewhere.\\

A People’s (or Citizens’) Assembly is a democratic process that seeks to answer a question or solve a problem facing a community in a way that fairly represents the interests of people from all walks of life.

An Assembly can center around any topic; a Climate Assembly is one that centers around the problem of climate pollution.

Assemblies have been used worldwide to help shape the work of governments.  At the WA Climate Assembly, members will learn about the issue of climate pollution, take time to discuss the issue and potential solutions with one another, and then make recommendations about what should happen legislatively.​

The Assembly is an exciting event in which 80 Washington residents will come together remotely in Winter 2021 to learn about, discuss, deliberate, and recommend climate change solutions for consideration by the State Legislature. Participants will be chosen through a lottery so as to accurately represent the state in terms of demographics such as age, race/ethnicity, geographic distribution, and views on climate change. 

Assembly Meeting Schedule

Inaugural Meeting  •  Watch Live on Youtube

6:00pm – 8:00pm

Tuesday, January 12
 

Learning Session 1: 

Introduction to climate change and climate mitigation

10:00am – 1:00pm

Saturday, January 16

Learning Session 2: 

Social issues & climate mitigation

6:00pm – 8:00pm

Tuesday, January 19

Learning Session 3: 

Environment & climate mitigation

10:00am – 1:00pm

Saturday, January 23

Learning Session 4: 

Economic issues & climate mitigation

6:00pm – 8:00pm

Tuesday, January 26

Learning Session 5: 

Technology issues & climate mitigation

10:00am – 1:00pm

Saturday, January 30

Learning Session 6: 

Political issues & climate mitigation

6:00pm – 8:00pm

Tuesday, February 2

Learning Session 7: 

Climate action and just transitions / Bringing it all together

10:00am – 1:00pm

Saturday, February 6

How Trump tried, but largely failed, to derail America’s top climate report – NY Times

More fallout of the destructive force of Hurricane Trump. In this instance, scientists managed to hold off his flunkies from essentially gutting the report. As he leaves we can only look forward to rebuilding this nation’s science credibility world wide. Why is this important? Because the output of this report guides decision making for years to come.

North Pacific fishing crews on edge about what they’ll find this month, after a tough 2020 of small fish and COVID-19 – Seattle Times

This is a very good roundup of what happened to the Pollack fishing last year in the Bering Sea, and what the fishermen and scientists are doing to try and predict this year. Short story: Global warming is appearing to significantly affect the stocks of one of the basic fish we North Pacific fishing crews on edge about what they’ll find this month, after a tough 2020 of small fish and COVID-19eat in large quantities.

Though the weather often is rough, these winter harvests typically offer prime fishing as the pollock come together in the southern Bering Sea before spawning. But the disappointing fishing in the last half of 2020 has put Ganley on edge about what he and his four crew members will find when they drop their nets.


https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/skinny-small-fish-and-covid-19-made-2020-a-difficult-year-for-north-pacific-pollock-fleet/

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