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.

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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.

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Wanton slaughter of whales

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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Moonlight Mesa Associates to Host JUST ONE THING Alliance

If every single person chose one form of plastic that they were willing to eliminate from their life, the results would be colossal.

JUST1THING E2   Moonlight Mesa Associates, a western book publisher, will host the JUST ONE THING Alliance on the Moonlight Mesa website, according to publisher Becky Coffield.

“It’s no secret – in fact it’s pretty obvious – we are currently engaged more with environmental issues than we are with publishing,” Coffield said. “In fact, we published only one new title this year (C.L. Lee Anderson’s The View from My Old Saddle) and we have no other titles planned for 2020.”

Moonlight Mesa and publisher Becky Coffield support the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition and The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor with donations. “Also, the proceeds from the sales of Saving Our Oceans are donated to these organizations,” Coffield said. “But we also contribute to The Nature Conservancy (Arizona branch), CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) and NRDC (Nature Resource Defense Council), and we are also a member of GARN (Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature)” the publisher added. She’s also now the unofficial chairperson for JUST ONE THING.

Eventually Coffield plans on getting JUST ONE THING its own website, but for now she says,  “We do what we can do. It would be great, though, if someone volunteered to host the website – or pay for it. Obviously we need to spend more time marketing books to pay for all the things we want to support and do!”

JUST ONE THING is simple: it asks people to eliminate one plastic product. Just one.  “No one expects people to go without plastic products. It would be impossible in today’s world,” Coffield said. “But If every single person chose one form of plastic that they were willing to eliminate from their life, the results would be colossal. Just one. And here’s a good place to start because small things add up!”

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JUST ONE THING invites individuals and businesses to join this Alliance. If you’d like to do so,  Contact us and you will be added to our growing list of people who want to see plastic use and waste diminish.

 

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JUST ONE THING Launched

JUST1THING E2       Our grassroots movement, JUST ONE THING, is being launched. Please join us in this exciting enterprise and help spread the word. It’s FREE to join!

The idea behind JUST ONE THING (aka JOT) is simple. If every person does JUST ONE THING to help alleviate plastic use and waste, it will make an astounding difference in plastic pollution (at least in this country and in coastal and inland waters). It would also send a message, albeit slowly, to the hundreds of plastic producers who yearly spew out billions of plastic products and take no responsibility for the devastation and destruction their products cause our planet.

We’re not suggesting people go “plastic free,” which is near impossible in today’s world anyway. However, there are small things a person can do that that can add up to colossal results. Just choose one form of plastic use that you’re willing to eliminate.

This movement is not meant to be a burden. It’s meant to be a statement. It’s meant to be a positive step toward helping solve what seems to be an insurmountable problem.

This year the world’s largest plastic producer, Coca Cola, plans to manufacture over a billion plastic bottles and 3 billion tons of plastic packaging. That’s just one company out of hundreds. The top plastic producers in the United States are Coca Cola, Pepsico, Colgate, Palmolive, Nestle, Mars Inc., Unilever, and SC Johnson. In told, there are hundreds of plastic producers around the world. These companies have tended to blame the consumer for the pollution problem, but we all know that aside from recycling, which has been a disappointment in this country, there’s not much a person can do. Beach clean-ups certainly help – for a very short period of time.

And few people know that 3/4 of everyday plastic products are TOXIC.

JUST ONE THING may start as a whisper, but when enough people have had enough of the plastic industry’s pollution, it could become a roar.

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Need help with ideas? For starters try these websites:  Myplasticfreelife.com; info@lifewithoutplastic.com. Try this book: Saving Our Oceans, by R.L. Coffield.

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(JUST ONE THING logo designed by Vin Libassi, cover designer for Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc.)

Join the Celebration June 8

downloadOn June 8, a segment of the world’s population will be celebrating World Ocean Day. In many locations the entire month of June is dedicated to the ocean. World Ocean Month recognizes and acknowledges the people striving to protect the ocean and marine life. Are you one of these people?  You don’t need to live in a coastal region to celebrate this wonderful day.

NOAA gives good reasons why we need to take care of our ocean. (There is actually only ONE ocean, but it is divided into geographical areas so it sounds like there’s more than one.)

For starters, NOAA says the following:

The air we breathe: the ocean produces over half of the world’s oxygen and absorbs 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere. Climate regulation: covering 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean transports heat from the equator to the poles, regulating our climate and weather patterns. Transportation: 76% of all U.S. trade involves some form of marine transportation. Recreation: From fishing to boating to kayaking and whale watching, the ocean provides us with many unique activities. Economic benefitsthe U.S. ocean economy produces $282 billion in goods and services and ocean-dependent businesses employ almost three million people. Food: the ocean provides more than just seafood; ingredients from the sea are found in surprising foods such as peanut butter and soymilk. Medicine: many medicinal products come from the ocean, including ingredients that help fight cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease.

I think this is plenty of reason in itself why the ocean deserves a special day to be celebrated. The oxygen part certainly gets my attention!

 

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Now available

June 8, Ocean Celebration Day, is one of the reasons we drove ourselves cranky and crazy trying to get Saving Our Oceans into print when we did. We wanted it to be available as part of the celebration…and perhaps to help people understand why the ocean and its inhabitants are in such a perilous state.

Ocean problems cannot be solved by beach clean-ups, no matter how noble the effort. Unless the pollution itself is stopped, the ocean will die. Simply put, when the ocean dies, we die.

So, you may not live near the ocean, but you can celebrate this day anyway. One way to do this is to resolve to stop one habit that contributes to ocean pollution. Even if you live in the middle of Kansas, or the heart of Africa, remember that plastic travels down streams and rivers and through the air. Every lake in the world has evidence of plastic pollution. Sewage, fertilizers, and garbage tossed about carelessly (and off Carnival Cruise Lines) all contribute.

And, most important of all, you can buy a copy of Saving Our Oceans. You’ll be shocked at what you read. Saving Our Oceans is available on Amazon and can also be ordered through any book dealer.

If everyone adopts just one habit, makes one change, we could literally see an ocean of difference.

Are Oil Producers Feeling Some Heat?

According to “Investors Pressure Oil Giants on Ocean Plastics Pollution,” by David Hasemyer (Inside Climate News)  oil magnets are beginning to feel some heat for the plastic waste they continue to create – and that “heat” also refers to climate change heat the oil industry is primarily responsible for.

Savvy “environmentally friendly” oil investors are beginning to focus on the plastic disaster created by oil producers. The disaster not only includes the mountains of plastic covering landfills, but also the plastic pollution that now kills over 1,000,000 sea birds a year, untold turtles, and countless other sea inhabitants including whales. But the damage goes further: it’s now recognized that microscopic plastic pieces are blown through the air, infecting the food we eat and the air we breathe. This should come as no surprise, though.

“Conrad Mackerron, senior vice president of As You Sow…said he was prepared for a stiff fight when his organization filed plastics-related shareholder resolutions this year with Exxon, Chevron, Phillips 66 and chemical giant DowDuPont,” according to Hasemyer’s article.

Ah! Typical move, though, when the oil producers “agreed to address the plastics issue in exchange for the investors withdrawing their formal resolutions.” Is this just another delay tactic? It’s a tactic other plastic producers are accused of using: Coca Cola, PepsiCo, etc.  Everybody is always “working on it.” Nothing seems to get done, however, but a lot of lip service. We are talking about both “gas” and “oil” producers.

One of the major issues is the ubiquitous spread of “nurdles.” Captain Charles Moore, in Plastic Ocean studied not just the large, visible plastic in the Pacific gyre, but also documented the presence of billions upon billions of nurdles in the water – the very tiny plastic items that  are used to make plastic products. These nurdles are consumed by fish, fowl, and mammals…and that indirectly includes people.

It’s a fact that plastic production is responsible for a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Fracking, the act of destroying the earth and copious amounts of fresh water to extract gas from the earth, releases methane into the atmosphere. (So it’s not just cow farts that create methane gas, folks.)

Then any leaks along the trip to the destination account for more methane leakage. Finally, the manufacture of plastic feedstock creates even more methane leakage.

“The whole refining process is very greenhouse gas intensive…from the gas fields to the production end there is a huge carbon footprint to plastics,” explained Lisa Holzman, energy program manager for As You Sow. The methane release is just one of the problems with fracking – toxic fresh water pollution is as bad as the methane release. Gas, like oil, is a fossil fuel.

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Photo compliments of Fractracker.org

Boycotting and banning plastic bags, bottles and straws are excellent, effective first-steps that consumers can easily take to send the message that they are fed up with the wanton trashing of the world by big oil and big chemical producing companies.