New global weather patterns desertify Atlanta, Georgia as well as return the Pacific Northwest to temperate
rainforest conditions. For example: "Seattle had record rain March 10,
2011: 1.47″ of rain that obliterated the old record for the day, .83″ in 2003". (Bruce Sussman, Portland
If this doesn't float your boat, nothing will. Likewise, Pacific Seafood, a Colville, Oregon organized fish
farming company on tribal land downstream of the Grand Coulee saw their aquacultured fish die due to the bends.
Increased rainfall meant the Grand Coulee dam's operators were oblidged to open the spillway, and relieve the record
rainy season's subsequent rise in water levels. Unfortunately, the resultant water churn nitrogenized the river and killed so
many farmed salmon it was possible to measure 50 feet deep of dead product on the river bed.
The farmers sued and a federal judge recently ruled on the side of the dam's operators. (U.S. Dept. of Reclamation),
since the plaintiff could not clearly show the spill to be a threat to any endangered species; such was the case.
Overall, I believe it was a good ruling in a bad world. This is just another example of how climate shift
is real and making itself quite known.
Everything has to change- everything has to get smart with particular empasis on how smart uses data and science to understand
little things as well as the big. Little things like copper in small, very small concentrations impact fish in a big
way. Copper damages salmon's ability to not only smell, but also to utilize reflex sensory physiology related to movement
of the organism in an aqueous medium.
Automobile brakes shed copper dust which in turn is picked up by rainwater, collects as runoff and eventually
makes its way to the ocean via the Pacific Northwest's magnificent streams and rivers. Salmon need clean rivers, this
In conclusion, we all must begin to push for novel and smarter approaches to how we manage a new emerging dynamic
Old model: Regular planetary warming, cooling easily understood using the various markers used by scientists as helpful
New model: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's "unequivocal" proof of climate change:
"During the last 100 years the Earth has warmed by 0.76 °C on average, and the rate of warming has
further increased. The 11 warmest years on record have all occurred in the last 12 years. The second half of the 20th
century was the warmest period in the northern hemisphere for at least 1 300 years. Europe has warmed by about 1 °C
over the past 100 years, faster than the global average."
A note: Some have problems with any UN related organization coming up with a "scientific" reason to do this or that.
Sure, we can all probably benefit from a hearty dose of "what's in it for you?". And sure, there is reason
to question just why "crisis" seems to be the pretext for anything we do these days. Anything we do which almost
always ends up favoring the rich...
I'm not a climate expert. I don't know for sure. I have looked at a bunch of good work (conclusions drawn
from careful science) coming from a wide and independent range of organizations, associations, universities, think tanks,
interest groups and even individual scientists; the case for warming is pretty convincing.
Just look at glacial retreat, just look at snow levels worldwide, just look at the world's major river systems and compare the
rate of change to any era in millions of years. Its obvious we have a problem. How could anyone argue to the contrary?
Argue they will... I guess its a human trait. We argue. Some of us argue for reasons not apparent. Anytime
this happens, you can bet profit is a motive.
So, this is my point. This is what makes the recent ruling so interesting. Oregon State Senator Scwecker, a salmon
farmer himself abides by the ruling, much to the chagrin of Pacific Seafood, the company suing for decreased Grand Coulee
water flow. He calls for more study and better ways of mitigating Columbia River nitrogen levels. He also knows
the resulting increase of water in the river means spawn will have a better time reaching the sea this year. Dams "decimate"
young fish populations making their way to meet nature's complex and awesome plan. Fast water makes an easy trip for the small
Complex? Yup, that's the word I would use to describe this kind of new world order.
Sustainable Downtown Seattle is in the business of unravelling the complex issues impacting life in a world stressed
by real pressures coming from all quarters. Where do we start? By asking the right questions and beginning our path along
the road of knowing- of wisdom. Citizen inquiry as well as citizen knowledge will probably make us better citizens in
the long run. Sustainable Downtown Seattle hopes to make for a knowledgeable source on our mission to become a knowledgeable
community. The world has changed a great deal in the last 50 years. We live in a complex and changing world. One
fish farmer may find it hard to agree with his industry counterparts serious enough to make their respective
challenges merit a federal case. Overlay the internet and hey presto: More complexity.
Are you ready for the positive viewpoint.
I believe the Grand Coulee Dam example as characteristic of a good and working society. We are fortunate
to live in a society as ours- not that its perfect. Its far from being perfect. Furthermore, it seems to need
real attention at the federal level. I believe Americans generally cooperate at the local level.
I'm pretty sure something will work out for all represented by these issues impacting the Columbia River. It
takes study and it takes work. It will also take time. It will take much time. Time enough to let us attempt
an understanding of our own- the challenges depend on our work, our time. Next question; where do we start?