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Watch: Climate Change Is Cooking Salmon in the Pacific Northwest
By Howard Hsu
The Tulalip Indian Reservation sits on the east side of the Puget Sound, about 40 miles north of Seattle, Washington, where the change in seasons is marked by the arrival and departure of salmon. At the heart of the reservation is Tulalip Bay, where salmon return every spring and fall before swimming upstream to spawn.
In tribal folklore, the Tulalip people are descended from salmon. As Cary Williams, who works at the tribe's cultural center, tells the story, the ancient salmon saw people walking on land and wanted to become human. When they asked the grandfather salmon to give them human form, he granted their wish and told them, "I will take care of you, but you must take care of me."
But it has become increasingly difficult for the Tulalip people to care for the salmon. Since the 1980s, wild Pacific salmon have faced a sharp decline due to overfishing, habitat loss and pollution, leaving several local populations threatened or endangered. Now, climate change is further imperiling the fish.
Climate Change Is Cooking Salmon in the Pacific Northwest youtu.be
Recent summers in the Pacific Northwest have been beset by record heat, and higher water temperatures are killing the adult salmon before they can reproduce. Pacific Salmon are anadromous, meaning they spend their juvenile years in freshwater streams and rivers, before moving on to estuaries, and then, in their adult years, the open ocean. Adults return to the streams where they were born at the end of their lives to spawn. Extreme heat has made this journey particularly treacherous.
"The biggest issues we've had are the warm summers," said Trevor Jenison, who manages the Wallace River State Hatchery in Washington state. "Salmon don't like warm water. They're a cold water fish. Once we start getting up past 65 degrees, they're still okay, but we start running into disease issues."
The impact of the warmer waters can be seen at state and tribal hatcheries like the one Jenison operates. Hatcheries boost wild salmon populations by harvesting the adult salmon that return each year and incubating their eggs under optimal conditions to release the following year. Hatcheries also raise and release juvenile fish to rivers and streams, helping to ensure they make it to adulthood. While some experts have suggested that hatcheries threaten the long-term health of the species by breeding fish who are ill-adapted for life in the wild, salmon fishing in the Pacific Northwest depends on hatcheries. More than 75 percent of all salmon caught in Puget Sound are hatchery fish.
The Washington Department of Fish and Game does not track the number of fish who make it to spawning grounds but die before they can reproduce. However, hatchery workers say they seen have more and more adult fish perish in stream beds before they can spawn. It's not just heat that is threatening fish. Dwindling winter snowpack has deprived the rivers and streams where salmon spawn of a key source of water.
"With lower water [levels] and higher water temperatures, it makes it a lot harder for them to find the safe places to survive until they're ready to spawn," said Ashley Caldwell, a fisheries biologist for the Tulalip Tribes, who explained that increased rain in cooler months is making life difficult for the salmon as well.
"Climate change has created much higher rains in the fall and winter months … that wipe out their spawning grounds," she said. "It's not ideal. It's not the constant rain that we're used to here in Washington. It's these monsoon-type rains that we're getting. Everything's getting thrown out of whack."
A juvenile Chinook Salmon.
Now, tribal hatcheries are accounting for climate change in their management plans and working to mitigate its impact on salmon. Measures include surveying the number of salmon in streams, adding aerators to keep oxygen levels up, and cooling the water by increasing the rate of flow.
"We're looking for more sources of water to add more flow during those crucial times," said Jesse Rude, assistant manager for the Tulalip Hatchery. "There are concerns in the future, that it could get worse, that the weather would be drier and hotter than usual, or flows would drop even more, but we're actively taking steps to prepare for that. "
In the Pacific Northwest, salmon is more than just food. It's a keystone species that helps keep ecosystems in balance. Salmon provide food for killer whales, birds, bears and other wildlife, and when they die, they supply nutrients to the old-growth forests.
"Salmon is the giver of life. It's what provides our people to sustain life," Rude said. "Before colonization, that's what our people centered their lives around. We are called the people of the salmon for a reason."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Nexus Media.
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.