Orca Whale 'Crewser' Presumed Dead as Population Reaches Its Lowest Point Since 1984
Following the suspected death of an orca whale nicknamed Crewser, the population of southern resident orca whales is the lowest it has been in 34 years, The Seattle Times reported Saturday.
The Center for Whale Research (CWR) declared the whale, officially known as L92, "missing and presumed dead" on Friday. L92 had not been seen since November 2017 and was "conspicuously absent" from 2018 sightings. He was 23 years old.
With L92s death, the number of southern resident orca whales, who travel between waters in Washington State and southwestern British Columbia, fell to 75, the lowest it has been since 1984. Orca whales were listed as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2005.
Despite a baby boom, the southern orca population has fallen by eight since 2016, The Canadian Press reported.
Deaths are being blamed on a decline in Chinook salmon, the whale's main prey, as well as noise and boat traffic, The Seattle Times reported.
Conservationists are concerned that the increased shipping associated with the Trans Mountain pipeline could exacerbate these risks, since it will increase tanker traffic in the Salish Sea by 700 percent, according to the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
"Even without oil spills the additional noise from Kinder Morgan tanker traffic increases the risk of extinction to already imperilled Southern Residents. Today's approval of the Kinder Morgan project sanctions the probable extinction of Southern Resident killer whales. We are now considering our options including additional legal action," Raincoast Executive Director Chris Genovali said in 2016, when the pipeline was first approved.
L92's death is a reminder of the urgency of the orca's situation, coming three months after Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed an executive order to protect orcas and Chinook salmon.
"The problems faced by orcas and salmon are human-caused, and we as Washingtonians have a duty to protect these species," Inslee said at the time. "The impacts of letting these two species disappear would be felt for generations."
He ordered state agencies to outline both immediate and long-term solutions to ensure both species' survival.
L92 was a member of L pod, the largest group of orca whales that spends time in Washington and BC waters. The smaller J and K pods complete the southern resident population.
On June 11, the CWR counted 50 whales in inland waters. The CWR said the whales were spending less and less time inland in the spring as Fraser River Chinook salmon runs decreased. 2018 looks to be an especially low year for Fraser River Chinook salmon, the CWR reported.
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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