Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Global Warming affecting Puget Sound

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Lest there be any doubt--this is Mukilteo NOT Miami

Both of my Seattle papers this morning had huge front page headlines about global warming and what is happening to us right here. It is positively frightening and it infuriates me that certain people in power in this country ignore science. The articles are about the University of Washington's new report today about the impact of global warming on Puget Sound.



Evidently, Puget Sound waters are warming rather rapidly in the grand scheme of things. In 1925, the temperature was 48 degrees but in 1965 a steady upward trend began so that now the water is 50 degrees and rising. Our winters have warmed by three degrees since 1950. Furthermore, our waters are rising and the glaciers in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains are shrinking rapidly. Six inches to a foot more water along the shoreline will cause havoc to flora and fauna but, of course, to homes and businesses, too. For example, a coffee roasting company in Olympia is located by the bay a mere 6 inches above sea level. Needless to say, they are concerned.

When my kids were little we would take them on a hike to the Ice Caves not far from here. The Ice Caves are at the bottom of a glacier and existed even in the hot August sun. But just in the last 15 years, they are melting so quickly that they have caved in and killed people. No longer is hiking encouraged to this destination and walking inside is forbidden.

We have lived in Mukilteo for 17 years. And in the last few years, I have noticed palm trees in the neighborhood. Our house is a few hundred feet from this huge body of water. With the water warming and our winters warming even a few degrees, tropical trees are not only surviving but thriving! In the land of cedar trees and mushrooms, we can now grow dates, figs, and bananas?? We might as well start growing our own coffee instead of simply roasting it. What would Lewis and Clark say? This is just nuts!

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Four houses from me

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On my street

Disturbing is the description of the effects on our delicate ecosystem:

"It's frightening and baffling," said Brad Ack, executive director of the Puget Sound Action Team. "I was surprised by how much we've already experienced — some of the most significant change in North America....

Runoff from the 10,000 rivers and streams that spill into the Sound is already shifting, according to the report: About 13 percent less freshwater flows to Puget Sound now than in 1948, and snowmelt is coming an average of 12 days earlier.

With lower snowfall, more of the Northwest's precipitation comes as rain, the study says, so flooding is likely to increase because the water isn't held in mountain snowpack. And that could affect how sediment and debris is washed into the Sound.

Such simple-seeming swings can have wide impacts.

Rising water increases erosion, and also threatens the habitat of kelp and other grassy plants that incubate dozens of species of fish and vegetation that can't survive without it.
Warming water could increase harmful algae blooms, which can contaminate shellfish. When those blooms die, they suck oxygen out of the water, causing "dead zones" like an area in Hood Canal where thousands of fish have been killed.

Lower water levels in rivers and streams already have hurt salmon runs.
" (Seattle Times)

So what do we do about this?? This UW report was basically a study and included observations and predictions but not necessarily solutions. As such, first of all, we recognize that there is a problem and it is caused at least in part by us. Of course, there are natural climate changes but unnatural global warming must be faced and accepted. Secondly, we need to reverse the trend. From what I understand, it is not too late. We need government recognition and government action. And we need it now!!

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A little blurry--didn't want people to yell at me.

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A Banana Tree--a fricking banana tree!

All photos were taken this morning along my street. I did not have to drive around Seattle looking for these. I see these things every day on my walk and it's not right. This is not California. I love to see palm trees and tropical plants but only when I get off an airplane in HAWAII!