Tuesday, December 23, 2008
This week the San Juan Islands have "enjoyed" the rare essence of Christmas known and loved by young and old- snow. Winter on the islands tends to provide locals with a closure to the inherent cycle of beauty, a respite from the hustle and bustle of the summer months and the chance to recharge the battery pack that generates energy, fire, and stamina for the year to come. Winter can bring solitude but with it comes a sense of peace- and the beauty offered up by the quiet snowfall certainly adds to that allure!
The first now brushed the island on December 14th and it certainly has not let up since then. Snow kept many islanders hunkered down in warm homes over the weekend and the early part of this week, as storms continued to blanket the region. I do not have an accurate total of inches, but in our daily hikes it looks as thought the west side may have about 7 inches, and we're expecting more this evening. Now seven inches of snow in areas prepared for snow is "just another day." But we know that Island living adds a whole new meaning to such descriptors. Snowfall, icy conditions and lots of freezing cold winds have kept the islands shrouded in a beautiful but dangerous wintery wonderland. SEATAC and the eastern side of Washington took the brunt of the storm, but brunt also gets redefined when there are just a few plows on an island covered in snow. Add to the limited number of plows the tendency to stockpile the limited amount of sand we have here- and you begin to get the picture. Poor road crews- they could barely stay on the roads themselves to deliver the greatly needed traction!
Still, I just love this time of year. When we moved from Maryland back in 2005, we were told by the locals "that we never get snow on the Islands." Hmmm... In 2006, our second winter on the Island, we woke up to nearly 17 inches of "never" on our deck. We had not even brought a snow shovel for the move! Shortly thereafter, Mother Nature deposited another 9 inches- and so the stage was set- snow most certainly does fall on the Islands. And we learned, NEVER say NEVER. Another thing we've learned? Take it all in stride, welcome the respite and embrace the beauty of snow sitting on a beach brushed by waves.
Some pics from the week- pretty limited but driving has been questionable at best! Enjoy and happy holidays!!!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Click Here for a presentation from NOAA regarding the expected storm slated to hit Washington State this evening through Sunday.
*OBAMA NAMES HOLDREN AND LUBCHENCO TO SCIENCE POSTS*
Two IMPRESSIVE appointments set the stage for change in advocacy. This could be substantial!
WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama on Saturday named a Harvard physicist and a marine biologist to science posts, signaling a change from Bush administration policies on global warming that were criticized for putting politics over science.
Both John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco are leading experts on climate change who have advocated forceful government response. Holdren will become Obama's science adviser as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Lubchenco will lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees ocean and atmospheric studies and does much of the government's research on global warming.
Holdren also will direct the president's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. Joining him as co-chairs will be Nobel Prize-winning scientist Harold Varmus, a former director of the National Institutes of Health, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Eric Lander, a specialist in human genome research.
"From landing on the moon, to sequencing the human genome, to inventing the Internet, America has been the first to cross that new frontier because we had leaders who paved the way," Obama said in announcing his selections in his weekly radio address. "Leaders who not only invested in our scientists, but who respected the integrity of the scientific process." "Because the truth is that promoting science isn't just about providing resources — it's about protecting free and open inquiry. It's about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology," he said. "I could not have a better team to guide me in this work."
In their posts, the four scientists will confront challenges in global warming after years of inaction by the Bush administration, which opposed mandatory cuts of greenhouse gas pollution. Last year, former Surgeon General Richard Carmona testified to Congress that top Bush administration officials often dismissed global warming as a "liberal cause" and sought to play down public health reports out of political considerations.
Since 1993, summer Arctic sea ice has lost the equivalent of Alaska, California and Texas, and global warming is accelerating. The amount of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere has already pushed past the level some scientists say is safe.
Holdren, 64, is a former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington who has pushed for more urgent action on global warming. As Obama's top science adviser, he would manage about 40 Ph.D-level experts who help shape and communicate science and technology policy. Colleagues say the post is well-suited for Holdren, who at Harvard went from battling the spread of nuclear weapons to tackling the threat of global warming. He's an award-laden scientist comfortable in many different fields.
"Global warming is a misnomer. It implies something gradual, something uniform, something quite possibly benign, and what we're experiencing is none of those," Holdren said a year ago in a speech at Harvard. "There is already widespread harm ... occurring from climate change. This is not just a problem for our children and our grandchildren."
Lubchenco, an Oregon State University professor specializing in overfishing and climate change, will be the first woman to head NOAA. A member of the Pew Oceans Commission, Lubchenco has recommended steps to overcome crippling damage to the world's oceans from overfishing and pollution and has expressed optimism for change once President George W. Bush leaves office.
"The Bush administration has not been respectful of the science," she said earlier this year. "But I think that's not true of Republicans in general. I know it's not. I am very much looking forward to a new administration that does respect scientific information and that considers it very seriously in making environmental policies."
Varmus, who was a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for his research on the causes of cancer, served as National Institutes of Health director during the Clinton administration. A former medical professor at the University of California, San Francisco, he helped found the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention and chairs a scientific board at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Lander, who teaches at both MIT and Harvard, founded the Whitehead Institute-MIT Center for Genome Research in 1990, which became part of the Broad Institute in 2003. A leading researcher in the Human Genome Project, he and his colleagues are using the findings to explore the molecular mechanisms behind human disease.
In his radio address, Obama said he planned early next year to more closely address the issue of engaging the nation's technology community to "harness technology and innovation to create jobs, enhance America's competitiveness and advance our national priorities."
"It's time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America's place as the world leader in science and technology," he said.
Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein and Matthew Daly contributed to this report.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Sound's future still murky
Development, growth, runoff threaten gains
By TOM PAULSON
Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, after digging up and studying some well-preserved muck tracking Puget Sound's water quality changes going back to the 19th century, report both good and bad news for the ongoing effort to clean up the region's ecologically wounded waterway.
The good news is that repeat sediment analyses performed by the researchers over the past quarter-century show that when major pollution regulations were passed decades ago, there were marked declines in contaminants such as arsenic, lead and copper from "point sources," such as the old Asarco Smelter in the Tacoma area.
"It demonstrates the positive impact these environmental regulations had on the overall water quality of Puget Sound," said Jill Brandenberger, a marine chemist at the national lab's marine sciences branch in Sequim who, with national lab colleague Eric Crecelius, conducted the study.
The bad news, Brandenberger said, is that the sediments indicate that these dramatic gains started to slow down in the late 1980s -- and, in some cases, appear to have even started to worsen -- the result of "nonpoint" pollution from the region's population growth, development and consequent increases in contaminated stormwater runoff.
"If we continue on with what we're doing now, it is likely Puget Sound will never recover," Brandenberger said.
Never is a lot farther off than 2020.
That's the target set by Gov. Chris Gregoire and a fairly new state agency called the Puget Sound Partnership for finally restoring the inland marine body to a healthier, near-natural ecological state. An official "action agenda" was released earlier this month, asking for an additional $199 million on top of the plan to spend $400 million over two years.
On the 197-page agenda for the Puget Sound cleanup are some 150 recommendations, including beefed-up enforcement of shoreline regulations, improved building requirements that reduce stormwater runoff, more protection of fish runs and natural shellfish beds, mitigation of wetland damage from development and other measures.
A draft of the agenda drew ire from some experts who felt it failed to suggest strong enough actions to reduce runoff.
"It's been a little bit of a confused situation," said David Dicks, executive director of the partnership. Dicks acknowledged that the draft plan neglected to emphasize the need to control runoff, but said most of the early critics have since agreed that the final version sufficiently addresses the problem.
"This study is consistent with our own findings and shows we've got to get after this now," Dicks said.
Regulating effluent from a smelter is a lot easier than controlling pollution that comes from homes, gardens, automobiles and innumerable other sources that the region's regular rainfall eventually carries into the Sound.
On three occasions over 23 years, national lab scientists collected 10-foot-long sediment cores from the seafloor in various locations deep beneath the surface of the Sound. These cores, collected in 1982, 1991 and 2005, contain within them the chemical history of the marine water going back more than 100 years. Every centimeter of sediment, the scientists said, is like a "rap sheet of toxins" going back in time.
The first hazardous metals showed up in the sediments about 1890, the study found, when metal smelting began near Tacoma. Lead and arsenic (byproducts of the smelter) concentrations began rising, slowed during the Great Depression when work slowed and picked up again in amounts during World War II. With the onset of clean water regulations and with the closure of the smelter, Brandenberger and Crecelius found, marine arsenic levels have now returned to pre-industrial levels.
"This shows Puget Sound has the ability to recover," Brandenberger said. Lead levels have also declined, she said, but not as much likely because of lead still being dumped into the Sound by other sources of contaminated runoff.
But another class of chemicals associated with gasoline combustion known as PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), Brandenberger said, is increasingly showing up in the sedimentary record. These byproducts of automobile use and other kinds of fuel combustion are entering the sound through runoff, she said.
The scientists say their findings strongly suggest that "new approaches to regulating nonpoint sources are necessary" if the Puget Sound cleanup is to have any hope of success.
P-I reporter Tom Paulson can be reached at 206-448-8318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Looking for unique wildlife photography and gifts from Friday Harbor to commemorate your visit to the San Juan Islands? Now you have a one stop shop for all your Friday Harbor gifts and unique clothing from the San Juan Islands!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRLog (Press Release) – Dec 01, 2008 – Located in the Pacific Northwest, the San Juan Islands offers beautiful views, stunning wildlife encounters and those ever sought after Orca Whale encounters. Now you can commemorate your visit to Friday Harbor and the San Juan Islands with the opening of a custom gift shop online for your convenience! Visit http:///www.zazzle.com/sandybuckley* for gifts featuring the local southern resident community of orca whales, wildlife posters, sports gear and more!
Every gift from the San Juan Islands is completely customizable and there are many sizes and styles to fit your needs? Looking for a great kayaking shirt? Custom wedding stamps? Orca whale collage posters? You need look no further than http:///www.zazzle.com/sandybuckley*. Great selections of wildlife photography from the San Juan Islands, gear and gifts for one and all! Sales happening all the time this holiday season- so check in now to see what's going on!