Global warming made real

Over the last month, we have had a full taste of global warming. We are breathing it. It’s no longer just some abstract event impacting people in some far away third world country like Bangladesh or  even heat waves and droughts in Australia, on the other side of the planet.

Scientists (perhaps now fired by the current administration in Washington D.C) have been warning for decades that the effects of global warming will be much larger, more frequent storms. With the oceans being heated up, the normal storms will get even greater strength. And that is exactly what is happening with Irma and Harvey. There are still thousands of people, maybe tens of thousands, that have never recovered from Sandy or Katrina, or any of the other storms we now have forgotten in the last ten years.

In the western U.S. a heavy drought with intense heat has laid in from California to British Columbia. Hundreds of fires are raging across the west, destroying Southern Oregon forests, the north side of the Columbia Gorge, the Cascades and into central British Columbia. Many of these fires are being described as the largest ever witnessed in these areas. Thousands have been displaced while the smoke from these fires are being breathed by millions for weeks on end, including us here on the Olympic Peninsula. The outcome of that will be greater lung cancers in years to come.

Snow packs in this heat continue to melt and rise. I drove north from San Francisco to Seattle last week, driving through Arizona desert like temperatures of 112 degrees F.  in Redding California. It was over 100 at the summit of Shasta’s I5 pass.

If this kind of heat continues, it will make farming in California very difficult. Along with the physical stress of trying to expect humans to farm in  112 heat, is the question of whether there will be snow pack for drinking and agriculture in 20 years. California produces a huge amount of our vegetables. Adapting farming for this kind of scenario is going to cost all of us a lot more at the grocery store.

The Americans who have willfully ignored the warnings of scientists now are part of the refugee pool in Houston and much of Southern Texas’ coast. We can look at that outcome and say, well, you asked for it by continuing to elect politicians that want to tell you that all is well.  But this country is not red or blue. It’s purple everywhere, with people supporting each side in elections, or no side at all.  Unfortunately, the neighbors of these ignorant climate change deniers  voted for people who wanted us to pay attention, had their candidates lose and also find themselves in the same, literal and physical boat.

This emerging crisis needs leadership. We unfortunately now find ourselves turning to local and state politics as the Presidency and Congress seem, for reasons harder and harder to comprehend, to willfully want to ignore the alarm bells of climate change. What is it going to take? A hurricane to level Washington D.C.?

Locally we need to continue to talk about where Port Townsend is going to get it’s water if drought continues for decades and snow packs continue to recede.  I don’t hear much about that issue at all.

Time to get serious and act as if every decision by our local and state governments is going to have to take global warming into consideration. Now.

Port Townsend Leader Apologizes to Ex-Commissioner Phil Johnson on net pen issue

In an editorial today, Alison Arthur apologized to former county commissioner Phil Johnson, whom the Leader once recommended to ‘move on’ on the issue of net pens and declare the issue resolved. Phil never did. Now we have the ecological disaster that he predicted might happen. While I was the chair of the Jefferson County Marine Resource Committee Phil (who as county commissioner was often present to inform and educate us on his efforts) and I constantly had to fight the aquaculture representative who continually downplayed any problem with net pens,  would engage in character assassination of Alexandra Morton in Canada (the leader of the anti-net pen coalition) and his constant belittling of concerned scientists and Phil for their concerns about  the net pen issues. Phil shrugged it off as pure industry propaganda. Phil realized that any possible threat to reigning in any aspect of aquaculture, even one as harmful as net pens,  will elicit an attack by the industry. Their PR machine is extremely well oiled. Back in Washington, D.C. they spent tens of thousands of dollars last year making sure that their would be minimal regulation on expansion of their industry.

Thanks to the Leader for being big enough to realize it had made a mistake in asking Phil to give up on this issue.



Good article pulling together the issues we faced five years back. Now the questions about who and why Ecology and WDFW were fighting us tooth and nail may become clearer.

So, it is Sunday morning… and after reading more articles about the environmental catastrophe and the release of thousands of Atlantic Salmon into the waters of Puget Sound, I am drawn to my computer to pen a few words about how Counties identified this as a significant environmental issue over 5 years ago, and how the state environmental agencies and leaders interfered with our efforts to ban Atlantic Salmon Net Pens. This fact has led me to look through emails and documents that jarred my memory and further made me proud of our county leaders… and disappointed that the state rebuffed our efforts.

Starting in 2012, the Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC), through the leadership of our Coastal Counties Caucus, desired to place a moratorium on Atlantic Salmon Fish Farms in Puget Sound. Led by Whatcom County through their Shoreline Management Master Plan, and later by then, County Commissioners Phil Johnson (Jefferson County) and Angie Homola Island County, Counties sought an outright ban on Atlantic Salmon Net Pens – fish farms – as we knew they are an ecological disaster waiting to happen.

Read the whole story here.


EVENT: Learn about the proposed salmon net pens and why they should be stopped.

8-29-17 AquacultureForum

“Solar eclipse’s” high tides break net, dumping up to 305,000 Atlantic salmon into waters near San Juan Islands – Seattle Times

(UPDATE: It still has not been definitively proven that the eclipse caused this failure. It was a story put forward by the company. It may not be accurate.)

“Whatever could go wrong?” they said and keep saying…. And the same company is wanting to put a huge net pen directly in the path of migrating wild salmon just west of Port Angeles. Public testimony will come in September. Hope you can attend! Note in the story that this company has treated these escaped fish for disease once already, and whatever they treated them with was also released into the Sound. Now these fish are out in the wild, competing with our wild salmon, including likely eating wild smolt.

I keep reminding people that we have spent and continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to restore wild stock. Elwha dam removal, re-engineering river beds, and much more, just to save our wild stocks. We keep allowing one small industry to put non-native fish that create disease vectors, attract wild salmon to the pens for food, put antibiotics into the waters around the pens, and destroy bottom habitat, usually for good (check out the waters under the old pens in Port Townsend for example). It’s time to call a halt to this nonsense based on an erroneous belief that this is a good way to grow protein.

Thousands of 10-pound Atlantic salmon were accidentally released into the waters between Anacortes and the San Juan Islands, and officials are asking people to catch as many as possible. Tribal fishers, concerned about native salmon populations, call the accident “a devastation.”

Elwha River mouth work funding in state capital budget – PDN

Hopefully, the Governor can get the Republicans to finish this work on the budget. To hold the entire budget of the state hostage for one project’s point of view is a new low in politics. And there is only one group to blame on this, the Republicans in the Senate. They talk about working together, but then when push comes to shove, they are unwilling to work and willing to put thousands of people out of work who would have been getting ready to go to work on these projects. Remember this the next time you go to vote. Get things done, or shut down projects across the state?

Funding that would help the Coastal Watershed Institute continue its restoration efforts east of the Elwha River mouth is delayed as the state Senate has continued to fail to pass a capital budget. If the budget passes as recommended, state officials said Coastal Watershed Institute (CWI) is due to receive $668,652 in state Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program (ESRP) funding, a program through the state Recreation and Conservation Office and state Department of Fish and Wildlife. The project is the eighth on the list and officials said they expect enough funding for the first 11 projects on the 2017 prioritized project list. Jesse Major reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

One of the largest solar projects in the state just opened. And it’s gorgeous. – Olympian

The unstoppable progress towards a solar fueled future continues. Your good news of the day.

The Skokomish Tribe’s long-awaited community center features more than 400 solar panels on the roof — enough that it is expected to produce more energy than it uses. “It’s slated to potentially be the first net-zero building on tribal land in the United States,” said Daniel Glenn, principal with 7 Directions, the Seattle-based architectural firm that designed the building. The tribe, which is headquartered north of Shelton, plans to sell any excess solar energy that’s generated to Mason County Public Utility District No. 1, which serves approximately more than 5,200 electric customers. Lisa Pemberton reports. (Olympian)

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