What’s in YOUR Water?

The drinking water of about 244 million Americans is compromised and potentially unsafe to drink. That number represents nearly 2/3 of the American population.

(The following article is from Saving Our Oceans and is being reprinted with the permission of the publisher.)

Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

  Chapter 5: Fresh Water Has Problems Too

While cleaning the oceans of debris is a major challenge and task, it’s not the only task on which survival depends. And frankly, cleaning up the oceans cannot be accomplished without stopping the fresh water pollution that is the primary cause of ocean pollution. Some say that as much as 70 to 80 percent of the ocean’s pollutants comes from rivers and streams.

It’s quite easy to conclude that fresh water pollution is as serious as ocean pollution when one considers that the drinking water of about 244 million Americans is compromised and potentially unsafe to drink. That number represents nearly 2/3 of the American population. Much of the contamination happened in previous years (although it seems likely that there’s still some occurring) and just like plastic, contaminated water doesn’t simply go away. While plastic is a pollution problem, fresh water issues go far beyond plastic bottles left along the shoreline.

Lakes, rivers, streams, and aquifers across the country are home to cancer-causing ingredients from industrial waste, farm fertilizers, and chemical toxins. Whether one believes in global warming or not, there’s also the presence of brain and flesh eating bacteria in the mix that relishes warm waters. There are even more culprits, but these will suffice to make a point.

Let’s start with lakes first, and then delve into the serious issues with “potable” water. The EPA, with the assistance of state and tribal agencies, did water quality assessments for a large number of lakes. 55 percent of the lake water studied was considered to be of acceptable quality (whatever that means), but the other 45 percent had waters “impaired for at least one type of use,” such as drinking water, recreational fishing, swimming, or aquatic life support. Man-made lakes, often serving as dams, accounted for 59% that were impaired. (ThoughtCo. “Lake Pollution: Types, Sources, and Solutions.”) Plastic pollution was not part of this study, unfortunately. When plastic pollution is assessed in lakes, it appears that 100 per cent of them have some degree of contamination.

Algae blooms occur in both fresh water and salt water. These “blooms” are a serious problem that lead to toxin build-up causing oxygen levels to drop which kills fish and is dangerous for swimming. In fact, algae can be deadly to both humans and animals.

Some areas studied had nitrogen and phosphorus pollution which can come from inefficient sewage treatment and fertilizers. This is a far more serious problem than one may realize. Dead zones in lakes and the ocean where there are insufficient oxygen levels are often caused by fertilizer run-off, resulting in death to animals, fish, and plants that enter these zones.

A combination of fresh and salt water, the Baltic Sea is the largest man-made dead zone, and the northern Gulf of Mexico is the second largest and covers over 8700 square miles. Lake Erie (fresh water) and Chesapeake Bay (a combination of fresh and salt water) also have large dead zones. According to ThoughtCo, a 2008 study found over 400 dead zones in lakes and oceans worldwide. “The underlying cause of any dead zone is eutrophication…which is the enrichment of water with nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients causing algae to grow out of control or ‘bloom’.”  Unfortunately, some fresh water dead zones are not recognized or identified as such.

“Pollution is the primary human source of the nutrients that cause eutrophication and dead zones. Fertilizer, manure, industrial waste and inadequately treated waste water overload aquatic ecosystems. In addition, air pollution also contributes to eutrophication.” Waste water is often piped into rivers and coasts.

The study also found that 42 percent of lakes had metal contamination with mercury and lead predominating. Coal-fired power plants are a leading cause of mercury contamination, and lead can be caused by fishing tackle dropped in the water (but often the surviving fish are already inedible due to toxins).

Basically, phosphorous, mercury, sediment and bacteria and pathogens are the main culprits. Added to this, however, are deadly microorganisms like lethal brain-eating bacteria. Although the incidence of people contracting brain-eating bacteria is fairly low, it’s a ghastly brain infection with very few surviving.

The problem with fresh water pollution, however, is it goes far, far beyond lakes. While lakes often provide drinking water, rivers are another very large source of household water. The list of unscrupulous companies that have contaminated drinking water for literally millions of people is shocking. It seems there are endless accounts of “manufacturing, mining and waste disposal companies – and dozens of others – who are among the country’s worst water polluters.” In all fairness, when some of these companies were dumping toxic waste, it’s possible they didn’t understand the ramification of these toxins contaminating groundwater that then causes cancer and all manner of debilitating diseases. This does not absolve them of responsibility for the death and destruction they caused, however. As they say, ignorance of the law is no excuse…neither is ignorance of the ramifications of one’s actions.  Unfortunately, these rivers carry contaminants to the ocean, adding their toxins to the mix.

 “Hundreds of these companies have been contaminating drinking water throughout the country for decades with everything from arsenic and lead, to mercury and chromium – most coming from improper dumping and waste disposal….” (Environment, “Industrial waste pollutes America’s drinking water.”) “Mining and smelting operations are responsible for contaminating water with heavy metals in almost every state in the nation.”

Example: “In Ringwood, New Jersey, Ford Motor Co. dumped more than 35,000 tons of toxic paint sludge…poisoning groundwater with arsenic, lead, and other harmful bacteria. Today, more than 43 years after the dumping ended, those toxins are still in the groundwater and threaten a reservoir providing water to millions of residents in New Jersey.”

Example: “In North Carolina, the state has told residents living near coal-fired power plants their water contains elevated levels of chromium-6 and other chemicals.”

Example: Anaconda Aluminum in Montana produced manufacturing wastes that contaminated local water sources with lead and chromium. Gulf States Utilities in Louisiana discharged toxins into marshlands polluting waters with benzene and other chemicals, and the Conklin Dumps in New York leaked volatile organic chemicals into groundwater.”

Various industries located on or near the Ohio River which borders six states and provides drinking water to nearly 3 million people, have dumped over 600 million pounds of toxic substances into the river.

Photo by NRDC.ORG

These toxins cause extraordinary health problems in people and animals. Dioxins (byproducts of incinerators) are the most commonly released chemicals. “They are known carcinogens and exposure has been linked to health effects such as heart disease, diabetes, and reproductive issues. Almost every living creature on Earth has been exposed to dioxins, according to the National Institutes of Health.” (“Industrial waste pollutes America’s drinking water.”) And how much of all these poisons floating downstream make it out to sea? We already know that fertilizer runoff provides a lot of contaminants to the Gulf of Mexico helping to create the giant dead zone there.

While many of these offenses may have occurred before people understood the severity of the problem that their illegal dumping was causing – or would cause – that does not appear to be the case with 3M and their fight to avoid massive pollution and restitution lawsuits.

“Chemical industry giant 3M is waging an aggressive campaign to stave off new regulations and potentially billions of dollars in damages stemming from a contamination crisis that has fouled tens of millions of Americans’ drinking water.” (Politico.com Energy and Environment)

As expected, the company has engaged lobbyists to work in Washington ostensibly to woo state attorneys general to their side as the company faces massive financial liability for toxic pollution that has been tied to two of its popular products that have turned up in the water supplies of some 1500 U.S. Communities.

3M argues that the chemicals are not hazardous according to their studies, an opinion many independent studies dispute. The issue that 3M is facing is that there are multiple lawsuits in the wings including personal injury, class-action, and property damage suits. “Altogether, industry experts say the company’s liability could reach the tens of billions of dollars.”

The chemicals known as PFOA and PFOS have been used for five decades in products like Teflon and Scotch Guard. They take years to break down and are called “forever chemicals.” They accumulate in bodies and cause cancers like kidney and testicular cancer, immune disorders and many other ailments – “and have been found in more than 99 percent of Americans’ blood.”

3M is known to support various political candidates, including attorney generals in Michigan, California, Ohio, and Alabama – “all states with major PFAS contamination.”

“In Alabama, where the chemicals made by 3M’s manufacturing plant in Decatur have contaminated the Tennessee River, a drinking water source for 4.7 million people…” the newly elected attorney general will not be joining a water utility’s lawsuit against the company. Is it possible that the contributions he received persuaded him otherwise?  Let’s hope not. But he was not the only person dissuaded. “The representatives of a collation mainly supported by 3M (Responsible Science Policy Coalition) have met with congressional officers and EPA political appointees arguing that the weight of current science evidence does not show PFOS or PFOA to cause adverse health effects in human at the current levels of exposure.” This goes entirely against the findings made by leading independent scientific researchers, the EPA and the CDC. This type of behavior is extremely disappointing and disturbing. If people are willing to do this to other people and the planet, it should come as no surprise that they would do worse to animals. We are all apparently just “collateral damage” – just a member of the herd – when we die of chemical induced cancers and other illnesses caused by their toxic products.

The bottom line: “3M’s own documents handed to the Minnesota attorney general office show that the company has known since the 1970s that the chemicals in question were toxic.”

With countless numbers of attorneys, lobbyists and “representatives” involved, the delay tactic for solving this issue may be even longer than the tobacco industry’s delay in finally coming to terms with the fact that tobacco causes cancer. How’s your water today? Perhaps you should have it checked.

Closer to home, “PFAS… have been found in five Washington drinking-water systems at levels over the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, as well as dozens of private drinking-water wells near firefighting training areas where the foams were used.” (PFAS are used in fire retardants, such as firefighting foam.) This discovery contradicts somewhat the 3M disparagement of their products being deadly even in small doses.

Also troubles still haunt Hanford, Washington, the site where 56 million gallons of radiative waste are stored. Although there have been problems with leakage, and threats of leakage, the waste has probably not made it to the Columbia River or to underground aquifers (that are known, anyway). However, during the time the nuclear power plant was in production, water was released into the river; in fact, “Groundwater contaminated with radioactive waste from the decommissioned Hanford nuclear facility in Washington state is still ‘flowing freely’ into the Columbia River…” according to a program manager with the U.S. EPA. This is a river regularly used for fishing, swimming and boating activities. How much is withdrawn for irrigation? How many cancers have resulted from exposure to this freely flowing contaminated groundwater? Are the fish safe to eat?

It seems state leaders are becoming seriously galvanized to take a better look at the quality of water their constituents drink. Like plastic, PFOS and PFAS are ubiquitous. Partly this increased interest in local water safety may have been prompted by the “lead” scandal in the water supply of Detroit, Michigan’s residents, another debacle that exposed citizens, especially vulnerable children, to life-long debilitating toxins.

Thus most toxins in the water are the result of farming, mining, industry and activities of this nature. Some, however, are deadly pathogens of nature. Brain-eating bacteria (amoeba) officially known as Naegleria fowleri may be the worst. The infections occur when contaminated water gets in the nose. The amoeba travels up the nose and into the brain which it destroys. The disease itself is known as PAM (primary amoebic meningoencephalitis). This disease is almost always fatal (97 percent).  

The bacteria have been reported worldwide and live primarily in warm water, but can live in colder water for a length of time. In the United States the bacteria is most commonly found in warm lakes or rivers in the south, and even in water parks and pools. Some estimate that about 8 people a year die from this infection, mostly young males, but these estimates vary depending on the source. The exact number is unknown because PAN is difficult to diagnose in its early stage where it might be cured. It’s sometimes mistaken for bacterial meningitis. Likely climate change will contribute to this infection if temperatures continue to warm.

Unfortunately, the bacteria can also be found in drinking water – and that was the situation in 2017 in Louisiana. Health officials reassured people that contaminated tap water would not lead to an infection, “but using it for nasal irrigation or accidentally getting it into your nose can.” (“Brain-Eating Amoeba Found in Louisiana Tap Water, People Warned to Avoid Water in Nose.”) Residents were given a list of things to do to avoid contracting the bacteria, such as flushing out pipes by running showers and water hoses for a full five minutes before use, and also they could boil their water or use distilled or sterile water for washing and making nasal rinses. Yet another warning about the presence of the amoeba in drinking water was issued by the New York Post in June of 2018.

At the risk of being morbid, I will only briefly mention flesh eating bacteria – known as necrotizing fasciitis – a rare condition, but not as rare as brain-eating bacteria. There have been between 600 and 1200 cases of this disease every year since 2010. This is not necessarily a water-born disease, although it can be. The water version is from an ocean-dwelling bacterium called vibrio vulnificus. The bacteria can be found in warm coastal waters during the summer months. People can develop this infection by going into the water with an open wound and having the bad luck of coming into contact with the Vibrio. One can also become infected from eating contaminated seafood.

It might be worthwhile to consider using a water filter for all potable water, particularly water from private wells. (City water sources are likely tested more often than private wells although many people find the taste of treated water to be repugnant, but water filters may help with that.) These filters do not need to be elaborate systems. Some refrigerator filters work fine for filtering drinking water. There are many relatively inexpensive filtration products available. Using one of these for drinking water is not being paranoid. Doing so is completely understandable and justifiable considering the chemicals and toxins dumped in the water supply.

Release date: May 2019

To order your signed copy of Saving Our Oceans directly from the publisher, contact us at orders@moonlightmesaassociates.com.

It’s not Too Late to Avoid Another “Catastrophic” Problem, But Time is Running Out

People need to know the truth about critical freshwater sources and issues.

2020 will no doubt be a year that no one will forget. Will we want to forget? YES. The pandemic has jerked people around endlessly: Masks, no masks, advice to get outside, advice to hunker down, close schools, open schools, close schools.

*The weather in 2020, particularly in hurricane country, has served up fear and excitement…rather like a horror movie might.

*Riots and protests: democracy at work or terrorism in play?

*Unemployment and evictions have abounded.

*The stock market has offered its thrills and chills.

*And, of course, the election has been a nightmare for everyone regardless of who wins. The election may last longer than the pandemic!

When the pandemic was first declared, we at Moonlight Mesa expected an onslaught of book orders. After all, we reasoned, people were being confined at home (hunkering down in place I think they called it) and would tire of daytime television in short order. Wrong. Spring book orders languished horribly. Then, come late spring and summer when we traditionally have our slower months, sales unexpectedly bloomed. Best summer sales ever.

Fall arrived, but so far sales have failed to be as robust has usual.

But overall, what’s been selling for us? Nonfiction. Nothing else: NONFICTION.

Unfortunately, while the sales of all our nonfiction books have been very respectable, sales of Saving Our Oceans have greatly disappointed us, and we feel this book is one of the most timely, important books we’ve yet published. There are several likely reasons for this poor response – one being that the vast majority of people DO NOT LIVE BY OR NEAR THE OCEAN and aren’t really engaged with the issues. This is understandable – but not excusable when one considers that the ocean provides 70 to 80% of the oxygen we breathe.  And, the other issue (no surprise) is that people who actually live in coastal states may already be aware of many of the issues that Saving Our Oceans covers.

However…there are chapters in Saving Our Oceans  that should be read by everyone no matter where they live. People need to know the truth about freshwater sources and its critical issues (which the book also covers). Because we feel this information is vitally important, future blogs will offer chapters from the book. It’s not too late to avoid another catastrophe that will put the pandemic to shame in comparison, but time is running out.

(Or, you can buy the book. It’s priced at just 12.95 to expedite sales. All proceeds are donated to the Friday Harbor Whale Museum and the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, both in Washington State.)

Photo by NRDC.ORG

Major Changes to Publishing House

Three primary areas have become the publisher’s center of attention: The Ocean; Whales; and the Rights of Nature.

Becky on her mule, Reba Peru.

It’s become apparent to many of Moonlight Mesa’s blog followers and customers, that the publishing house is no longer the same company that used to avidly only promote western books and authors. “There is no question that we’re on a different path,” admitted publisher Becky Coffield. “The change is a difficult, time-consuming, uphill struggle, and one we’ve been trying to win using emotional appeal – not tactics. It hasn’t been as easy as I thought it’d be. Somehow that’s got to change.”

It’s tempting to say that the biggest cause of struggle is Moonlight Mesa’s rural location – being housed on the borderline of a dinky seasonal community and a small cowboy town. This hurts, but it’s not the only issue. Not being a coastal state, Arizonans generally tend to be indifferent to the issues that Moonlight Mesa’s publisher finds to be a priority. “This is to be expected, I suppose. Arizona has issues and problems of its own to deal with that are troublesome: drought and potential water shortage; rapid growth due to a massive influx of newcomers; and border issues to name a few. Expected, but disappointing,” Coffield said.

So, what is the pubisher’s focus? Three primary areas have become the publisher’s center of attention: the Ocean; Whales; and The Rights of Nature. That is, of course, a simplification, but it generally sums it up.  Coffield is also a supporter of NRDC, CELDEF, and GARN.*

For starters, as chairperson of the JUST ONE THING Alliance, Coffield decided to house the small, grass-roots movement on Moonlight Mesa’s website as its own domain. (www.justonething.life) She has also recently added Moonlight Mesa’s publication, Saving Our Oceans. (www.saving-our-oceans.com) as a domain on the website.

“Though the addition of these two domains to Moonlight Mesa’s website does not in any way help book sales or the company, the fact is it’s a step in going where I have to go,” Coffield said.

Coffield became an ocean/whale devotee after spending six years blue-water sailing on a Cal 2-34, traveling around 25,000 miles, then living on the Oregon Coast for many years. Originally from the Northwest, Coffield has spent years boating in the San Juan Islands and traveling the Inside Passage to the Broughton Islands and S.E. Alaska. “I’ve had fantastic whale encounters in S.E. Alaska,” Coffield recalled. “And, of course, a person can’t help but love the Southern Resident Pod that hangs out in the San Juans.” Coffield is currently endeavoring to complete a Marine Naturalist Certification.

It’s become apparent to all who know the publisher that she (and her husband) are  fish out of water living in Arizona – The big question is “for how much longer?” She’s choosing not say at this time –

Meanwhile, look for the saving-our-oceans.blog in the very near future.

*CELDEF: Community Environmental Defense Fund

NRDC – Nature Resource Defense Council

GARN – Global Alliance for Rights of Nature

Blog submitted by Renee Witty

Another First Place for Moonlight Mesa Author

Lee Anderson on his rescued thoroughbred Concho

Congratulations go to C.L. “Lee” Anderson whose book, The View from My Old Saddle, has been awarded first place in the 2020 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards Contest.

The View from My Old Saddle was entered in the Pets and Animals category by Becky Coffield, publisher at Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc. The cover design is by Moonlight Mesa’s long-time graphic artist, Vin Libassi.

This is Anderson’s second time competing in this contest. He was a finalist two years ago with his first book, Developing the Art of Equine Communication,” which has been an extremely popular title. Another equine book, A Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule, has also been a finalist in this contest and currently is Moonlight Mesa’s top-selling book for 2020.

Originally Moonlight Mesa Associates started as a western book publisher – but after seven successful years and the retirement of the company’s highly popular author of the Jake Silver Series, Jere D. James, against all advice Coffield began making the transition to nonfiction, and it has proven to be an excellent decision. The company’s top-selling books are now all nonfiction:

Casey Tibbs – Born to Ride, by Rusty Richards

Some Gave All – Lawmen Who Died with their Boots On, by J.R. Sanders

A Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule, by Becky Coffield

We managed to survive 7 years and 25,000 miles aboard a 34′ Cal 2-34

Developing the Art of Equine Communication, by C.L. Lee Anderson, paperback and ebook

Life Was A Cabaret – A Tale of Two Fools, A Boat, and a Big-A** Ocean, by Becky Coffield

Getting a Handle on Herpes, by P.A. Arnold (ebook only)

Saving Our Oceans, by R.L. Coffield

The Old Folks in the Boat, Becky Coffield (currently not available online – email publisher for copy)

“Book sales overall have not been spectacular in this Covid/Election year, but we certainly could have done worse,” Coffield said. “Our move to a new location took longer and had more setbacks than we ever imagined, so that didn’t help either.”

Time to Decide: Money or Nature?

If developed, the Pebble Mine would produce 10 billion tons of mining waste that would threaten communities and ecosystems, and it would increase the climate crisis by emitting millions of tons of greenhouse gases.

Recently (September 11)  an article appeared in the Google list of weird articles that definitely was an attention-getter for those concerned about the Rights of Nature, the environment, and species extinction.

The article was entitled, “U.S. must not let China stop Pebble Mine that has rare earths we need.”

The Pebble Mine has been under siege by the NRDC (Natural Resource Defense Council), Alaskan native groups, and environmental groups in general, and now China. The proposed mine site is in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

This long drawn-out legal battle basically is an attempt by NRDC, environmentalists, and native groups to stop the development of a mine that will completely devastate the Bristol Bay wilderness, renowned for salmon runs and wildlife as well as Native communities. It’s estimated that the planned toxic gold and copper mega-mine will produce billions of tons of mining waste and will have a devastating impact on the people, water, fisheries, and wildlife.

Photo by orvis.com

Despite pressure from President Trump’s administration, the pressure from the public and the NRDC proved to be too much for the Army Corps of Engineers, and they rejected the mining plan  because it posed “unavoidable adverse impacts” to the water and marine life of Bristol Bay, one of the nation’s last, truly wild places. (Despite the author claiming that Bristol Bay is a desolate location, plenty of photos say otherwise.)

Photo by glampinghub.com

However, the developers have 90 days to make changes…and they will. If developed, the Pebble Mine would produce 10 billion tons of mining waste that would threaten communities and ecosystems, and it would increase the climate crisis by emitting millions of tons of greenhouse gases.

So where does China come in? The Chinese are working in their own insidious, under-handed way to ensure that the Pebble Mine project does not move forward. Why? Currently, China has a virtual monopoly on rare earth minerals, and it has been discovered that the Pebble Mine could produce minerals that are essential for the production of “many military and high tech items.”

The author of the Google article subtly implies his disdain for environmentalists who appear to be on the same team as those communist Chinese. He fails to recognize that the big losers in this ongoing mining drama are the American people, and fish, animals, and nature. Who wins: corporations greedy for the money they will make from the minerals that are essential for the production of many military and high tech items. Do we really need even more weapons of mass destruction and high tech items? Perhaps we would really benefit from more NATURE!

————–

A word about the NRDC. If you are environmentally inclined please consider membership in the NRDC. It is not expensive, and this organization takes on environmental destruction in the courtroom. They are very successful in stopping an inordinate amount of assaults on our environment, from the “Dirty Water Rule” to the effort to allow industrial take-over and pollution of our national parks and nature preserves by drilling, fracking, mining, and hunting.

Check out NRDC.org and learn more about their incredible efforts and victories in fighting against the industrial poisoning of people, animals, and nature.

The JUST ONE THING Alliance is now a domain!

Remember the goal of JUST ONE THING: if every person eliminates JUST ONE form of plastic use from their life, JUST ONE, it can make an astounding difference in the amount of plastic pollution in this country and its coastal and inland waters.

The fledgling JUST ONE THING Alliance is now alive on the web. Or let’s say it’s now at least a domain. The rest of the input and information will be forthcoming in a few days.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, Moonlight Mesa Associates is “hosting” the JUST ONE THING Alliance. Finally the alliance has been added as a domain to the website. Just google justonething.life and you’ll find it on the Moonlight Mesa Associates, Westerns Whales and Oceans website.

Now, more than ever, people need to think of something besides Covid-19 and all the hardships this has caused every single person (with the possible exception of Nancy Pelosi). Many people have lost interest in everything except Covid, the riots in major cities, and the upcoming elections. Even at Moonlight Mesa we find ourselves bemoaning the pandemic and neglecting the JUST ONE THING Alliance, the Southern Resident Pod of Orcas, Plastic Pollution clogging the oceans and filling the air, and the brutal killing and captivity of dolphins and whales and, of course, the apparent climate change, which is getting very difficult to deny. Sometimes it all becomes too overwhelming and depressing. But, we can do our part – SMALL THINGS ADD UP!

Remember the goal of JUST ONE THING: if every person eliminates JUST ONE form of plastic use from their life (preferably single-use plastic), JUST ONE, it can make an astounding difference in the amount of plastic pollution in this country and its coastal and inland waters.

Second, it will send a message to the hundreds of plastic producers who yearly spew out billions of plastic products and take no responsibility for the devastation their products cause to the environment or the health of the ocean, and all waterways, animals, and people. Plastic bottles are among the chief offenders. Trevor Nace in Science claims that “We’re at a Million Plastic Bottles per minute – 91% of which are not recycled.” Worse, “it is estimated that over half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold in 2020.” (Chapter 3, “Plastic Bottles,” Saving Our Oceans.)

Third, if at all possible, buy items from companies crafting their products from recycled materials. An increasing number of companies making clothes and many other items from plastic can be found on the web.

If you’d like to be part of this effort, send me your name, or your company’s name, and we’ll add you to our growing list of participants who want to eliminate a single-use plastic item. Our list includes the International Whaling Commission, the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, the Friday Harbor Whale Museum, Jeff Bridges, the Five Gyres Institute, and many others. You can contact us at this email address.

Open Letter to the IWC (International Whaling Community)

Before a person finishes reading this blog, more than a thousand pounds of plastics is dumped into the ocean.

Dear Sir,

Thank you so much for the recent IWC minutes/report. Although I am not a member of any particular IWC committee, I am deeply interested in preserving the oceans, whales and sea life. I may currently live in Arizona, but I spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest and still spend months at a time there on our small tugboat.

Last year we published Saving Our Oceans. There is a chapter in the book about the IWC and your organization is mentioned several times throughout. Unfortunately, due to all the brouhaha over Covid-19 and the uprising in the United States over “police brutality” this book has not sold as well as hoped and anticipated. (The funds from the book are earmarked for the Friday Harbor Whale Museum and for the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition.) It has been an eye-opening realization for me that most people don’t really seem to care all that much about whales, ocean pollution, etc. In fact, before a person finishes reading this blog, more than a thousand pounds of plastics is dumped into the ocean. The people who do care seem to be intensely concerned, but these people wouldn’t need to read the book – they already know the issues.

The apathy of many people toward the ocean is understandable. Even though the Saving Our Oceans was written to introduce people to the issues of plastic pollution and the slow death of the ocean and its inhabitants, people who do not live by the sea have their own problems to deal with. People who live in Kansas or Oklahoma might care, but they have their state’s immediate issues.  Other topics are also covered in the book, from plastic pollution and the failure of recycling, to dying aquifers around the globe, fresh water pollution, the Rights of Nature movement, the Southern Resident Pod of Orcas, etc. 

I was extremely disturbed to read that the Japanese withdrew from membership from the IWC and are continuing to slaughter whales. Disgraceful and barbaric. Their dolphin massacres are totally shameful. So is the captivity of orcas. It’s beyond belief that so-called “civilized” people do these things. 

Again, thank you for your information.

Sincerely,

Becky Coffield

Where Are the Whales? Where are the Salmon?

It’s painfully simple: between dams, climate change,  an over abundance of seals, and the fishing industry, there are basically no Chinook Salmon this year for the Southern Resident Pod of Orcas.

1d0cc-orca2bphoto   The highly-loved Southern Resident Pod of Orcas apparently may not be calling the Salish Sea (specifically the Puget Sound area) home anymore it seems. Their lack of prompt appearance last summer couldn’t be denied and caused some consternation. The whales showed up late and left quickly, spending most of their time on the outer coast of Vancouver Island. Instead, transient orcas from the northern reaches of the Inside Passage were more often seen. The transient pod dines more on seals which are plentiful in the area.

So what gives? It’s painfully simple: between dams, climate change,  an over abundance of seals, and the fishing industry, there are basically no Chinook Salmon this year, and Chinook are the Southern Resident Pod’s main, preferred, and greatly needed food.

If one wants to play the blame game, point first to the Lower Snake River dams  and Governor Inslee’s inability, and unwillingness, to take affirmative action in removing these dams despite that action being the most voted on as high priority by concerned citizens. The Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, spearheaded by Joseph Bogaard, puts the removal of dams as an extremely high priority for saving wild salmon runs.

Indeed, even Oregon’s Bonneville Dam is a disaster for the salmon runs, which use to number in the thousands. Allowing a bit of extra water spill to “cool” the river doesn’t cut it.

Besides blaming the dams, there is no doubt that climate change has taken its toll on the Chinook, and no matter how one feels about it, climate change can no longer be denied. The Fraser River is very low (due to water withdrawal for agriculture) and it’s now too warm. The test fishery didn’t catch any Chinook in May, and only three in June. Hundreds used to be caught.

Finally, and not often considered, is the massive number of fish (including salmon) that seals and sea lions eat. Since these pinnipeds became “protected” some years ago, their numbers have exploded, and they all have healthy appetites.

3167e-SOOpc2B2Bjpeg

Of course there is the never-ending issue of plastic and chemical pollution and sewage spills that can sicken and kill all aquatic life, including whales.

Do not overlook the impact of sport and commercial fishing ventures. Ship strikes and a plethora of boaters may also be contributing factors to the whales’ demise.

The Southern Resident Pod has lived in the Puget Sound area for thousands of years. Their numbers diminished greatly decades ago, however, because of the rampant brutal  capture and sale of these magnificent creatures by uncaring, greedy, self-serving owners of  aquatic parks that tragically decimated their numbers. (Obviously, they did not believe in the Rights of Nature.) Few captured whales live beyond 30 years of age due to abuse and the stress of being held captive in a swimming pool. In their natural habitat these whales can live as long as 90 years.

One can only hope, and pray, that these much-loved whales, in their quest for food, will avoid the rapacious Japanese and Norwegian whale hunters.

dead whales copy
Wanton slaughter of whales

The Thousand Mile Challenge

A good challenge may help distract you from the endless episodes of corona chatter, death, and mob destruction.

Let a good challenge provide distraction and relief from today’s endless episodes of corona chatter, death, and mob destruction. My challenge? 1,000 miles.

We’ve been plenty busy salvaging Moonlight Mesa Associates from three, yes 3, fires since March. The latest fire wiped out three of the company’s four acres. It was started, experts believe, by somebody who drove down the highway with their chains dragging on the cement. Unless you’re around trucks and trailers you might not know that the safety chains often drag on the ground. This can cause a spark. Arizona is bone dry right now.  (The 1,000 miles is coming up.)

Fortunately, the building and immediate grounds were saved, although the fire came as close as 10’ from the back of the building. We were huddled 1600 miles away in Anacortes licking our wounds from our earlier disasters when our realtor called and informed us that helicopters were dropping buckets of water on our back porch. Hmm. Stunned at yet another catastrophe and unable to do anything at the time, we stayed a few more days in Anacortes, then took a beautiful week-long trip down the coast driving back to Arizona avoiding any discussion of what might be awaiting us.

So, where do the thousand miles come in? I’m getting to that.

Needless to say, we spent the next few weeks pushing back our fire-line. This means raking, hoeing, and hooping acres of dull, dead, dry grass that’s knee deep, and cutting limbs off out-of-control creosote bushes and damaged mesquite and palo verde trees. It’s beginning to look good…the part we’ve done anyway.

IMG_1479    So, now onto the 1,000 miles. On a recent windless morning, we actually stole away and went rowing at Lake Pleasant. We arrived at 6:00 a.m., and were launched by 6:20. It helps if you know that I’m an avid rower. I currently own two rowing vessels. My rowing skiff, complete with row-wings made by my husband Tom, is in Anacortes, WA. with our small tugboat. My wherry, built by my husband for my birthday several years ago, lives with us in Wickenburg. It has the full set-up of sliding seats, 9’6” oars, and of course, row-wings. It’s a creation of beauty!

50dfc-oldfolksweb-jpeg Rowing is very physical – and mental. I wrote a book about this, The Old Folks in the Boat, which I took off the market. (You may order a copy from me if you wish – it’s heavily discounted.) Anyway, I won’t go into the details at this time. However, as we rowed I realized I needed a good, challenging goal to boost my morale. On a whim I decided I would row 1,000 miles this year. Oops. I then realized the year is half over and I’ve hardly rowed due to the move, the fires, and my mule launch. So, I decided I’d row 500 miles in 2020, but in 2021 I would row 1,000 miles.

In July  we’ll be building the new shop. ( We do the job. No contractors.) But, I’ll sneak in some rows and in August we’ll head back to the tug where I can row every day. Still, 500 miles is a lot of miles. Arizona is hot hot hot…too hot to row unless I start at 6:00 in the morning. Can’t get the shop built and row every day, though.

Not everyone needs a challenge. I do. It keeps me enthused and determined and distracted from today’s endless episodes of corona chatter, death, and mob destruction. I need that. So far, I’ve only rowed 10.92 miles this year, but the year is not yet done. Keep in mind that the skiff is more difficult to row than the long, graceful wherry which can be rowed by either one or two people. The skiff is slower for one thing, and only one person can row. The wherry glides through the water like a fish…or surfer…whatever. Unfortunately, the wherry cannot go with us to the tugboat…it’s too big for our small vessel and it’s too risky to tow it behind the tug. Nevertheless, I’m excited about this challenge. I’m feeling pretty positive, in fact.

Do you have a challenge?

My First Big Challenge...crossing oceans
We managed to survive 7 years and 25,000 miles aboard a 34′ Cal 2-34. Now THAT was often a challenge!

 

Too Much Noise

Too much noise. There is simply too much noise for people to think clearly and calmly.

I’m not talking about honking horns, sirens, and social media conflicts. I’m talking about the social upheaval and unrest that’s descended not just in this country, but around the globe. Some is justified. Some not. I’m not going there, however. We’re all living in the midst of this terrible social angst and no one needs yet another voice from the wilderness dishing out unsought opinions. I’ll keep my thoughts about George Floyd and his untimely, unnecessary death to myself. I’ll refrain from railing about the lawless looting, vandalism and destruction of so many people’s dreams. Commentary on the innocent dead left in the wake of the massive and brutal uprising will not be discussed. And most certainly Covid-19 is not going to rear its ugly head here.

Despite the brouhaha raging in cities across America, I find it odd that I’m still mostly oiled birdjust concerned about plastic pollution, the Southern Resident Pod of Orcas, diminishing salmon runs, and the continuous destruction of nature and our earthly habitat.

I’m still plugging for the Rights of Nature. I recently renewed my membership to the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), and I’m applauding CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) for providing invaluable assistance to those fighting for the right to live in communities that aren’t damaged by greedy developers and industrial chemical tycoons.

However, I must confess that I’m a bit conflicted (is that a real word?) that I still eat red meat a few times a week. I love cows. I used to own a small herd of Texas Long Horns. I never butchered them except for one who was very mean and surly. Okay, I did eat her. I found wonderful homes for the other beautiful animals when we moved though.

I feel a bit bad that I no longer have any interest in being a political activist. Been there done that back in the Viet Nam days. I feel even worse that I’m not busting my ass getting more businesses and people involved in the JUST ONE THING Alliance. My thinking is that people have too many other things to deal with right now to be concerned about plastic pollution, captive whales held in swimming pools, the Rights of Nature, growing dead zones around the globe, aquifers worldwide drying up, the JUST ONE THING Alliance – and the list goes on.

Perhaps it’s my job to keep these things remembered until the noise stops.

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