Category Archives: Climate change

Amusing Monday: Artistic students inspired by endangered species

In celebration of Endangered Species Day on May 19, more than 1,400 students from across the country submitted their artwork showing threatened and endangered plants and animals. The contest is under the direction of the Endangered Species Coalition.

“Protecting nature is critical to keeping our planet thriving for future generations,” states an introduction to the art contest. “What better way to do that than by engaging youth to put their imaginative skills to work for wildlife in the 2017 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest.”

Art by Rajvi Bhavin Shah, 7, of Roseville, Calif.
Image: Endangered Species Coalition

The annual contest is open to any student from kindergarten to 12th grade. I have to say that I’m always surprised at how environmentally oriented competitions attract young artists able to express themselves in interesting ways.

One of my favorite pieces in the endangered species contest is a drawing of a mother polar bear and her cub on patches of ice — the first picture on this page. The artist is 7-year-old Rajvi Bhavin Shah of Roseville, Calif., who was able to bring a unique artistic style to a scene used before.

Polar bears, by the way, are the first vertebrate species to be formally declared at risk of extinction because of climate change. One of the primary concerns for their survival is a loss of sea ice, essential for their hunting of seals.

Art by Ryan Ng, 13, of Belmont, Calif.
Image: Endangered Species Coalition

The second picture, by 13-year-old Ryan Ng of Belmond, Calif., shows a group of Alabama red-belly turtles, which were listed as endangered in 1987 when it became clear that significant predation of both adult turtles and their eggs is driving the species toward extinction.

The grand-prize winner is another 7-year-old. The judges really liked the portrayal of the rusty-patched bumble bees by Sanah Nuha Hutchins of Washington, D.C. Rusty-patched bumble bees were historically found in the grasslands and tallgrass prairies of the Upper Midwest and Northeast, but the bees declined as their habitats were converted to farms and housing developments.

Art by Sanah Nuha Hutchins, 7, of Washington, D.C. // Image: Endangered Species Coalition

Judges for this year’s competition included marine life artist Wyland; Jack Hanna, host of Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild; David Littschwager, freelance photographer and contributor to National Geographic magazine; Susan Middletown, a photographer who has collaborated with Littschwager and whose own work has been published in four books; and Alice Tangerini, botanical illustrator for the Smithsonian Institution.

The contest is organized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Coalition, Association of Zoos and Aquariums and International Child Art Foundation.

One can see the winning artworks on the webpage of the Endangered Species Coalition. To see all 40 semi-finalists, you can scan through the coalition’s Flickr page. A higher level page shows the semi-finalists organized by grade level along with previous years’ semifinalists.

Amusing Monday: Ontario employs humor in climate discussion

Climate change is a serious issue for the government of Ontario, Canada, yet provincial officials have decided that there is some room for humor. Today, I’m sharing four videos designed to help average Canadians understand the profound effects of a warming world.

“We have so little time,” said Glen Murray, Ontario’s minister on the Environment and Climate Change, speaking with Anthony Leiserowitz of
Yale Climate Connections. “You’ve really got to throw everything at it — your wit, your humor and your sober, serious, heavy-duty conversations about the reality of what we’re facing.”

“Climate change affects everything,” comes the overall message for these four videos. “Climate change affects you and the world around you. This fight is personal.”

For example, rather than profile the economic upheaval expected in commercial agriculture, the first video on this page talks about the effects on the pizza delivered to your door.

Ontario, like the state of Washington, has a Climate Change Action Plan. For Washington’s integrated climate strategy, visit the Department of Ecology’s website. In Ontario’s plan, Murray issues a message to his fellow citizens.

“Climate change is a fact in our daily lives — raising the cost of our food, causing extreme weather that damages property and infrastructure, threatening outdoor activities we love, and melting winter roads that provide critical seasonal access to remote northern Indigenous communities,” Murray writes. “It affects every aspect of our lives, so it is our collective responsibility to fight climate change together to ensure our children benefit from a cleaner planet.”

He describes how some actions can reduce the ultimate effects of climate change and how others can maintain existing jobs and create new ones.

In a 3-minute interview with Climate TV, Murray quickly spells out what he thinks should be done to move Canada and the world to a low-carbon future. His comments were made in the final days of COP21 — the Conference of the Parties 21 — in which representative s from countries throughout the world went to Paris in 2015 to agree to actions that can begin to address climate change.

Earth Day on Saturday includes old events plus new March for Science

With Earth Day falling on a Saturday this year, all sorts of environmental activities have been scheduled for this weekend. On top of your typical Earth Day activities, there will be a March for Science in Washington, D.C., as well as in Seattle and hundreds of other communities across the country.

It just seems like a great time to get out and do something. I’m hoping the weather cooperates. The National Weather Service predicts that warm weather tomorrow will give way to a low-pressure trough moving over Western Washington on Saturday. That weather system might be traveling slowly enough that the rains won’t appear until later in the day when most activities have been wrapped up in the Puget Sound region.

I should mention that Saturday also is the annual Kids Fishing Party in Gorst, which coincides with the opening of trout season. Sponsored by the Kitsap Poggie Club, the family-fun event allows youngsters to catch a fish at the fish-rearing facility at Otto Jarstad Park in Gorst. Fishing rods and bait are provided, and the Poggies will even clean the fish for cooking. For details, go to the Poggie Club’s website.

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New brochure alerts landowners to landslide hazards and what to do

Geology experts in Washington and Oregon have produced an easy-to-read brochure that can help people understand landslide risks, the underlying geology of slides and precautions that could avoid a disaster.

I have written a lot of words about landslides through the years, often relating stories of people involved in a catastrophic slope failures. But this new publication excels as a concise discussion of what people need to know if they live on or near a steep slope.

After the Oso landslide in the Stillaguamish Valley three years ago, I wrote a piece in the Kitsap Sun to help residents of the Kitsap Peninsula understand the risks they could be facing. Now I can point people to this graphically rich pamphlet, called “A Homeowners Guide to Landslides for Washington and Oregon” (PDF, 3.8 mb). It was produced by the Washington Department of Natural Resources and the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

“Our job is to understand Washington’s complex geology and how it impacts the people who live here,” Washington State Geologist Dave Norman said in a news release. “We want to make sure we put that information into their hands.”

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Amusing Monday: Artist goes to water and to ice to make giant portraits

Sean Yoro, a Hawaiian-born artist, paints landscapes — or should I say he paints on the landscape, often taking great risks.

Sean, who goes by the name Hula, has stood on a surfboard to paint at the edge of a waterfall. He has paddled among Arctic icebergs to create his art. And he has worked for days on the watery undersides of bridges, painted the hull of an old ship and rendered images on many other man-made structures that impose on the natural world.

What he most often paints are visually stunning murals of human faces and forms — mostly women — on a huge scale.

His latest project, called Maka’u, found him precariously standing on his paddle board at the edge of a high man-made waterfall. His picture shows a female subject deep in the water and clinging to a rope to avoid being swept over the spillway. Check out the first video on this page.

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Rainfall in the first six months of water year exceeds yearly average

Halfway through the current water year, which began on Oct. 1, rainfall patterns on the Kitsap Peninsula are shaping up to look a lot like last year.

Hansville rain gauge (click to enlarge)
Source: Kitsap PUD

For most areas, total rainfall is well above average, as it was last year at this time. It is also well below the record accumulation in most places. One exception is Hansville in North Kitsap, as you can see in the first chart on this page. There, the total rainfall is tracking both last year and 1999 — the highest year on record, which goes back 35 years at that station.

Moving into the drier half of the water year, it is now obvious that we will be above average in rainfall for the entire year, since we have already reached the average in most places.

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Earth Hour on Saturday is 60 minutes to share with people of the world

Tomorrow evening is the annual event known as Earth Hour, when people throughout the world turn off their lights as a symbolic gesture of environmental unity. See Earth Hour homepage.

Granted, turning out the lights by itself doesn’t do much to help the Earth, but I find that it is a good time to think about the environment, including climate change, and consider what each of us can do.

Most of the time, my wife and I — occasionally with family and friends — take a moment to appreciate what we have, discuss things in general or play a game. The grandkids like to play Hide and Seek in our darkened house.

Earth Hour is celebrated in 7,000 cities and 178 countries and territories, according to officials with World Wildlife Fund, which initiated the event 10 years ago in 2007. Hundreds of lighted structures, monuments and buildings go dark from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. along with millions of households. In Seattle, Earth Hour is recognized by the:

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Amusing Monday: World Water Day inspires photos and videos

World Water Day, coming up on Wednesday, is an annual event first established by the United Nations in 1992 to focus on the importance of freshwater and to encourage actions to provide clean drinking water while reducing water-borne illness around the world.

This year’s theme, waste water, was formulated into a question that creates a double meaning. It can be either “Why waste water?” or “Why wastewater?” The first question emphasizes the water-supply issues associated with World Water Day. The second emphasizes the closely related health aspects of sanitation. For a serious discussion of these two questions, listen to the talk on YouTube by Guy Ryder, director general of the International Labour Organization and chairman of UN-Water.

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Amusing Monday: Eco-Comedy competition includes sharp parodies

Entries in this year’s Eco-Comedy Video Competition seem to reflect an anxiety over what will happen to the environment under President Trump’s administration — although the winning video was among a few finalists that stayed clear of an overt political message.

This is the eighth annual competition sponsored by the Center for Environmental Filmmaking and The Nature Conservancy. A total of 48 videos were submitted with this year’s theme: “Conservation and Environmental Protection.”

To qualify, the original videos, three minutes or less, must be humorous, communicate a clear message and appeal to a broad audience. A panel of five judges chose the finalists and grand prize winner, who will be honored in a ceremony next week at American University in Washington, D.C.

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More coho salmon are expected, but fishing will remain limited this year

Total returns of coho salmon to Puget Sound this year are expected to be significantly higher than last year, and that should help smooth negotiations between state and tribal salmon managers working to establish this year’s fishing seasons.

But critically low runs of coho to the Skagit and Stillaguamish rivers in Northern Puget Sound could limit fishing opportunities in other areas, as managers try to reduce fishing pressure on coho making their way back to those rivers.

In any case, both state and tribal managers say they are confident that they can avoid the kind of deadlock over coho they found themselves in last year, when a failure to reach agreement delayed sport fishing seasons and threatened to cancel them altogether. See reporter Tristan Baurick’s stories in the Kitsap Sun, May 4 and May 28.

“We’re in a much better situation than we were last year,” Ryan Lothrop, a salmon manager with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, told a large gathering of sport and commercial fishermen yesterday in Olympia.

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