Showing posts from May, 2014

Going Green: Is Your Seafood Sustainable?

Summertime is nearly here; we can sense its approach in the lengthening daylight hours, warming temperatures, longer spells of dry weather, and in the mouthwatering scent of barbeque wafting through the neighborhood. In addition to the typical burgers and hot dogs, many a backyard barbeque will feature seafood... salmon, halibut, shrimp... you name it. Those of us in the Pacific Northwest especially love our seafood. But beware before loading up on supplies for your next grilling event - if you plan to consume seafood, make sure you're doing so sustainably.

Why the concern?

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program, 85 percent of the world's fisheries have been fully exploited, over-exploited, or have collapsed.  What does this mean?  In many cases, fish are being harvested faster than they can reproduce, and their populations are declining rapidly.  Not only does this lead to fewer fish available for human consumption and those ubiquitous summertime ba…

Musings: The Nature of Distractions

You're cruising down the highway at a comfortable sixty miles per hour.  The sun is shining, skies are blue--it's a beautiful day. Glancing out the window of your vehicle to take in the scenery, you instead find yourself staring at a technicolor blur of unending billboards and advertisements; a confining corridor of consumerism doing its best to convince you that whatever products they're hawking are more deserving of your attention than the natural scenery concealed at their backs.

Thankfully, in real life, these grotesque scenes do not exist along our highways.  We aren't facing "a wall of civilization between us  and between the beauty of our land and our countryside," in the form of advertisements, as President Johnson remarked in his speech at the signing of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965.  I recently read this speech in an anthology of nature writing, and found it to be rather thought-provoking.  Further along, the President commented that the …

In the News: National Climate Assessment 2014

Earlier this week, the U.S. government released the National Climate Assessment (NCA), a hefty tome compiled by 300 experts in the field. This report presents a synthesis of the latest and greatest science on the issue of climate change in the United States, and was eagerly anticipated by those of us who fall into the green/ nature nerd/ environmentalist category. After admiring the report's slick website and appealing graphics, I scrolled through and excitedly began to read the report highlights... and then my eyes glazed over.

But wait... isn't this your "thing"? Don't you care about climate change?  Absolutely.  But truthfully, this report seems to be the same iteration of every other climate change report that I've seen in the past few years: climate change will affect our water supply and agriculture, threaten human health, lead to increased conflicts, cause species extinctions and range shifts, melt the Arctic, lead to increased extreme weather events, …

Oil spills and exploding trains: is this Washington's future?

There is an ominous rainbow sheen on the calm surface of the water.  Thick globs of coagulated brown liquid ride the waves onto the beach, forming a layer of suffocating clots on the rocky shoreline.  Fish float belly-up in the water.  Shorebirds attempt to flap their heavy, sodden wings to escape from the deadly oil that coats their feathers.  Where is this nightmarish scene?  The Gulf of Mexico? Prince William Sound? Some far-flung country on another continent?  What if someone told you that this could be our own Puget Sound?

While our attention has been diverted by news stories of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, bursting tar sands pipelines in Mayflower, Arkansas, and exploding crude oil tanker trains and spills in Lynchburg, Virginia, North Dakota, and Quebec (to name a few), the insidious threat of fossil fuel transport has quietly been ramping up right here in Washington.

The Seattle Times recently published a front-page article exposing the threat of growing oil traffi…