Aug 24, 2020 /

Anti-racism is Basic and Necessary for Environmental Work: An Interview with Ngozi Chukwueke

My close friend from college, Kristy Drutman, started the blog and media platform, Brown Girl Green, to write about her experience working in the white-dominated U.S. environmental field and bring other BIPOC’s (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) voices to the forefront of the conversation. I connected with Ngozi Chukwueke, intern and content creator for Brown Girl Green, about her experience working on environmental issues and how crucial anti-racist work is to environmentalism. 

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Aug 20, 2020 /

Whose space? Our space

Editor’s Note: The Currents editorial board has been thinking a lot about the ways in which issues of race, gender, white supremacy, public health, and environmental justice are an integral part of marine and environmental affairs. We’ve been discussing ways to improve Currents’ content by incorporating equitable, anti-racist, and anti-colonial thinking in the way we choose topics and interview subjects, and in the way we write about them. 

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Jun 15, 2020 /

COVID-19, Racial Justice, and the Duwamish River: Interviews with Environmental Stewards

Woman in a kayak collecting a water sample

Since time immemorial, the Duwamish Tribe has lived in what is now the Seattle and greater King County area, enjoying a close relationship with the Duwamish River. White settlers forced the Tribe out of the area, banned Native people from entering the city, and made massive alterations to the river’s lower reaches, literally paving the way for settlement, intensive agriculture, and heavy industry. 

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Jun 8, 2020 /

Air pollution: Our lingering pandemic, but one we can control

While rising temperatures and increasing concentrations of greenhouse gasses tend to steal the thunder of atmospheric-related news, air pollution is another nefarious anthropogenic factor negatively affecting the human condition. The World Health Organization estimates air pollution kills 7 million people each year. 
Long before “climate change” was a thing, images reflecting the world’s great “industrial revolution” are dominated by smoke billowing from factories and darkened daylight skies over industrial cities. 

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Jun 1, 2020 /

Disaster Capitalism in the Wake of Coronavirus

One day in late March, while walking along the Burke Gilman trail, I encountered a man advertising chicken coop building services in order to “keep your family fed”.  At the start of the Stay-at Home order I also began to notice advertisements on Craigslist exploiting the fear surrounding food shortages and enthusiasm for greater self-sufficiency. These advertisements were for raised-bed boxes for “summer survival gardens” and small greenhouses to “get ready for the apocalypse”. 

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May 28, 2020 /

The Phoenix and the Boulder

Resilience, as defined by the Oxford online dictionary:

The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

There’s a lot of talk about resilience these days. A longtime buzzword in the environmental community, the term has taken on a life of its own and come to encapsulate everything from mental strength to rebounding ecosystems. 

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May 25, 2020 /

When the Details Matter: A Tale of I-976

There’s something subliminally beautiful about public transportation. The coordination of ferries, buses, light rails, and trains is like an unending orchestral score, with a grand conductor making sure all the instruments stay on beat and in tune. For most of us, the intention behind this coordination is beyond our daily thought. We don’t think about the multi-decadal planning behind effective public transit. 

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May 21, 2020 /

Fresh fish and a side of resilience: third generation seafood businesses in Seattle

100 Resilient Cities defines resilience as the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses or acute shocks they encounter.
Seafood restaurants, marinas, and maritime industry buildings occupy much of Seattle’s urban shoreline. In this story, we’ll leave the docks and travel inland to visit two seafood shops in my neighborhood, one very old and one new, to learn about how they’ve adapted to change. 

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May 18, 2020 /

“To me, plastic-free is impossible right now”: Perspectives from a plastic factory owner

Lau Dik San has been the owner of a plastic bag factory for more than twenty years. His factory, Hop Fat Plastic Bags Printing, is located in Tuen Mun, Hong Kong. The site has boxes of plastic bags stacked from floor to ceiling, and the tang of the polymers floats around, acrid and pungent. It would be an environmentalist’s nightmare. But to Dik San, the factory is both a family business and a site of creativity and memory. 

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May 14, 2020 /

From tree to forest: resilience in the face of climate change

Resilience according to the IPCC: The ability of a system and its component parts to anticipate, absorb, accommodate, or recover from the effects of a hazardous event in a timely and efficient manner, including through ensuring the preservation, restoration, or improvement of its essential basic structures and functions.

There is a tree a few yards away from my house that stands proud above the rooftops, powerlines, and fragmented urban life below. 

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May 11, 2020 /

Consensus or Contentious? How scientists come to an agreement…or don’t

Teacher looking at laptop

‘97% of climate scientists agree that humans are the cause of global warming.’ This statistic, that at first seemed to be the definitive proof the world needed to take climate action, has done little to end social and political division on the matter. In fact, it’s become void of meaning for me after hearing it repeatedly in every environmental course I’ve ever taken or taught. 

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May 7, 2020 /

Nationalism “quite resilient” in pandemic

Marco Rubio defines resilience as “the defining trait of an American…[how] we persevere through difficult circumstances and arrive triumphant on the other side.” In this feature piece, Sallie challenges this definition and shows that resilience cannot be synonymous with nationalism.
In an April 20th op-ed for the New York Times entitled, “We Need a More Resilient American Economy,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) defined resilience for the U.S. 

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May 4, 2020 /

Musings of then and now: Reflecting on a moving society

It may be because I am in the midst of editing my thesis and months away from graduation that I am finding myself frequently reminiscing on my upbringing and the environments that I have inhabited. The nature of my thesis itself has called for a reflection of the past, present, and future state of Miyako, an island on which I spent two years of my childhood. 

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Apr 27, 2020 /

Music Muted on Climate Concerns

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”
-Victor Hugo
Music always helps me in times of loneliness. In the midst of my pre-teen angst, I would listen to my dad’s “Pure 80’s” CD on my walkman during lunch and jam to the Eurythmics. When I spent six weeks working on an oceanographic research vessel in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I became an Alabama Shakes connoisseur. 

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Apr 20, 2020 /

To All the Earth Days I’ve Loved Before: One Grad Student’s Reflection

When I think about Earth Day, I think about myself in middle school, full of angst and preteen crises. During that time The Walt Disney Company launched a campaign called “Friends for Change: Project Green.” Lauded as an environmental platform for children, it starred fan favorite Disney Channel personalities in commercials and media campaigns, and featured informational articles about problems facing the planet. 

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Apr 13, 2020 /

Cooking with SMEA

Social distancing is hard, and it’s sometimes easy to feel isolated. For many of us, we’ve been turning to cooking and baking comfort foods to feel more connected to friends and family, both near and far. This week on Currents, we share with you some recipes from around the world from our students, staff and faculty. Most are vegetarian, some are vegan, and some gluten free. 

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Apr 6, 2020 /

She Speaks for the Whales – An Interview with Jenna Harlacher

Microplastics are a hot topic right now in the world of marine science. So hot, that even popular news and consumers have picked up on it. While some of us panic over our own consumption of microplastics, others are looking at the impact of microplastics in the environment. SMEA’s very own Jenna Harlacher is part of the latter group. When she’s not analyzing marine mammal acoustic data with NOAA AFSC (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center), she’s in the lab looking for microplastics in orca poop. 

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Mar 16, 2020 /

To Sustainability and Beyond!

It seems like every week a new company or CEO announces big plans to fight climate change. Only time will tell which plans will lead to impactful action, but in the absence of Federal government legislation, it’s hard to argue against private action. Billionaires and big tech aren’t the only groups calling for sweeping changes, though. University students across the country are pressing their institutions to fight for the planet too! 

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Mar 9, 2020 /

Fighting with fire

Small fern sprouting up from the ground.

This isn’t a story about how the United States government destroyed pristine, untouched landscapes with their destructive policies (untouched, no, but a lot of destroying was done), or decimated Indigenous populations, or how climate change and wildfires are coming to get us. This is a story of strength, resilience, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK).
Wildfires are not a new phenomenon. 

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Mar 2, 2020 /

Sustwainability is What Bwings Us Togethew Today…or was it mawwiage?

Two hikers each wearing a backpack and holding hands as they walk are walking away from the photographer. The inclined trail is muddy and rocky, with ferns, shrubs, and large evergreen trees on either side. The sun is beaming through the trees obscuring some of the image.

I didn’t sleep at all that night, maybe in protest of having to wake up at 5:00am the next morning. After my parents and I bundled up in several layers, we were off at 5:30am to pick up two more victims (my lovely friends) for our early morning excursion. With the five of us snug in my petite Scion iA, we set course for Seattle, for the 7th Annual Dress Dash hosted by Brides for a Cause. 

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