News from the Center - Jun/Jul 2015
Geoengineering is truly one of the biggest threats to our species. To be clear, I am not talking about chemtrails or the work of some secretive arm of the United Nations. I am referring to the alteration of our planet as a result of humanity’s collective enterprise: our ceaseless utilization of fossil fuels; depletion of once-fertile agricultural land; deforestation; and the dewatering and pollution of streams and aquifers. The biggest threat to life on our planet is not some shadowy, fantastical “them,” it is us. As grim as this may come off, I write this with hope: for it is connection with one another and our passion for a living planet that will save us if anything will.
The last few months we’ve spent considerable time in meetings, typing in front of glowing screens and pondering humanity’s penchant for destruction. We’ve also tried to balance these sometimes necessary activities with exploring wild wonder, joining together in celebration of life on this planet, and taking hands-on action to safeguard our coast. For, as it is said, action is the antidote to despair and we continue to be grateful to live and work with so many informed, artistic, passionate, pro-active people.
Even so, the clock is ticking. NOAA recently reported that for the first time since tracking of carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere began (and likely the first time in over one million years), our planet has surpassed greenhouse gas concentrations of 400 parts per million. Being well above the established “safe” level of 350 ppm, we are experiencing extreme weather patterns that are impacting life on land and at sea. Fluctuations in the ocean’s temperatures are shaking up the marine food web and the “warm blob” in the Pacific is projected to exacerbate ongoing drought conditions throughout the Western United States. At a regional scale, water supplies are at concerning levels and fisheries experts are warning of rising disease rates in out-migrating juvenile salmon on the Klamath River—a bad sign for the coming fall when salmon return to spawn.
Despite these warnings and despite the far-too-common occurrence of polluted waterways and massive oil spills—such as the recent catastrophe near Southern California’s Refugio State Beach—fossil fuel pipelines continue to be installed and fracking continues unchecked. Moreover, industrial agriculture (such as mega-almond operations in the Central Valley and mega-marijuana grows in the Emerald Triangle), is sucking dry our water supplies and laying waste to forests and farmland. These activities are undermining our chance at a safe and secure future.
Fortunately, there are many who are taking a stand. Up in Seattle, kayaks, canoes and other seaworthy vessels floated out en masse to protest Shell’s plan to drill in the Arctic this summer. In Oregon, concerned citizens are gearing up to battle a fracked natural gas pipeline which threatens to cut a swath hundreds of miles long, impacting waterways, forests and homes. In California, tribes and other citizen groups are taking action against projects that threaten North Coast rivers such as Governor Brown’s Twin-Tunnels and the proposed Shasta Dam raise. Activists are also increasing pressure for a ban on fracking in California and fighting corporate bottled-water operations that are depleting threatened aquifers.
We are heartened by all who are doing their part for a better future—and it is going to take each one of us engaging at the level we can to offset the damage done.
Birders Raise Funds for the NEC and Redwood Region Audubon
We are very grateful to everyone who took part in the First Annual Tim McKay Birdathon—from those who went in search of feathered friends to the many generous donors. Thank you!
Birders new to the field and expert alike explored some beautiful places, encountered an incredible diversity of birds and together we raised over $3,000 to support the ongoing work of the NEC and Redwood Region Audubon Society! Kudos to the birders: Rob Fowler, Daryl Coldren, Tony Kurz, Casey Ryan, Bill Rodstrom, Laurie Lawrence, Cedric Dualde, Gary Friedrichsen, Dan Ehresman, Emily Sinkhorn, Bob Morris, Gayle Garman, Gary Falxa, Dan Sealy, Elias Elias, Tristan McKee, Brad Elvert, David Fix, Sean McAllister, Gary Bloomfield and everyone else who made it out (reports are still coming in). Special thanks to Gary Friedrichsen for inspiring the rekindling of this annual event! We are already excited to be planning the next Birdathon for around the same time next year!
We are still compiling the Birdathon results, and will have the full list of contributors in our next EcoNews. For those who pledged, or even if you didn’t, it’s not too late to contribute!
‘Tis the Giving Season
At the beginning of each summer and winter, we appeal to our friends to send in a contribution to help protect the special places and communities of our North Coast. We are extremely thankful for all who have been so supportive through the years, and for those who are standing with us today. Given the significant issues we are grappling with
(mega-grows, dewatering of streams, and the backdrop of severe drought), we need your help! As you read through this issue, please consider doubling down your contribution to the Northcoast Environmental Center this season—and double your impact in confronting these significant threats while working to build a more vibrant and ecologically connected future.
A clean and green bouquet to the City of Arcata for passing a polystyrene ban that will help keep the North Coast more debris-free!
An abundantly aqueous bouquet to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors for standing in support of of water for fish on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers!
Ginormous, eco-loving bouquets to our two amazing staffers, Justin Zakoren and Cherry Sripan, who are setting off on their own post-graduation adventures! Justin has done an immense job compiling coastal environmental curriculum and inspiring over 500 elementary school students in our region. His passion for education and connecting youth with our surrounding world will be missed locally. Cherry brought an impressive amount of energy and organization to the diversity of tasks that came her way. We will greatly miss her enthusiasm to create change along with her stories that impart wisdom beyond her years. Wishing you both adventures fulfilling and grand in the days ahead!