On a transatlantic flight this spring, I met a climate modeler at the back of the plane as we peered out of a tiny window to look at the ice breaking up over Hudson Bay, a phenomenon that NASA’s Earth Observatory says now happens two weeks earlier than it did in 1988. We talked about our careers; he was a climate scientist looking to retire soon, having spent his entire career using data to model current and future impacts of climate change, and I was weeks away from my attaining my master’s degree in marine affairs and just starting my career, hoping to continue the fight against climate change on a wider political stage.Read more
So I heard you’ve been talking trash. #Trashtag, that is. In the past few months, posting pictures of litter cleanups has swept across Reddit, Twitter, and Instagram. The trend consists of posting before-and-after pictures of outdoor areas that people have cleared of garbage. All around the world, places like parks, beaches, and rivers are getting a facelift as bags of trash are hauled away and social media users post another selfie on their accounts.Read more
Most of us in the Puget Sound area are aware that the iconic Southern Resident Orcas and the food chain that supports them are exposed to toxic contaminants, habitat loss, hydropower dams, vessel strikes, noise pollution, ocean acidification, climate change, and overharvesting of Chinook salmon – their primary source of food. But there may be another threat lurking in our waters that is relatively unnoticed: invasive zooplankton.Read more
This past winter, a severe cold wave caused by a weakened jet stream around the Arctic polar vortex triggered the coldest Arctic outbreak in the United States in over two decades. Low temperatures shattered records: more than 340 daily low temperatures were broken across the Midwest alone, hospitals reported hundreds of cases of frostbite and hypothermia, residents of Minnesota were shocked to discover that their toilet bowls were freezing over, and cities scrambled to prepare shelters for those who were not fortunate enough to live in a warm house.Read more
I think about, learn about, and talk about the impacts of climate change day in and day out. When I flip on the TV or read the news at the end of a long day of climate-focused class and work, there it is again. The inescapable dark cloud of our climate reality is ever-present, and it’s time to admit: some days it weighs me down.Read more
A few months ago, I received a proud text from my mom that she and my aunt had both refused straws at dinner. Like the other 34 million of us, they had seen the video of a turtle having a straw removed from his nose and were moved to action. Following the video and a celebrity-backed #stopsucking social media campaign, policy-makers and companies like Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Alaska Airlines initiated plans to phase out straws and other single use plastics.Read more
Close your eyes and imagine a pristine region of a mountain range with snow-capped peaks, glacier fields, precipitous cliffs, dense forests, and rolling hills blanketed in beautiful flora. In your vision of this pristine region, are humans a part of the natural environment or are they a separate entity? Perhaps this mountain range is the Pyrenees Mountain Range, extending almost 500 kilometers from the Bay of Biscay on the Atlantic Ocean to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, forming a natural border between Spain and France with the microstate of Andorra sandwiched in the middle.Read more
Technology could be blamed for many of the environmental problems we face today. It’s no coincidence that unprecedented increases in greenhouse gases began around the time of the Industrial Revolution. So what role does technology now play in solving those problems? As it becomes an increasingly large part of our everyday lives, it’s no surprise that technology is also becoming a more central part of the way we try to solve some of our planet’s biggest environmental challenges.Read more
Making travel plans for the summer? You’re not alone: according to the World Bank, a staggering 1.3 billion people traveled internationally as tourists in 2017, and reports estimate that number will continue to grow. There’s no question that we are adventuring more than we ever have, and modern technology continues to make it easier and more affordable to tackle our travel bucket lists.Read more
What makes an environmentalist? Awareness? Recycling? Voting? As the environmental movement has evolved and become popularized over the past decades the boundaries have blurred, making it increasingly difficult to define what or who is and is not considered a part of the movement.
There are countless ways now to engage and to exercise your claim as a champion of the environment: going vegan or vegetarian, traveling less, refusing a bag, shopping at thrift stores, taking the bus or biking instead of driving, and so on.
When you think about conservation projects, what is the one thing they seem to lack more than anything else? The answer is often resources – capital, human, or both. A recent study looked into the management practices of 433 marine protected areas (MPAs) across the world (Figure 1). The study observed that around 65% of these MPAs were suffering from inadequate budgets and 91% were suffering from a lack of qualified staff to conduct key management duties.Read more
We talk a lot about “conservation management”. What are the best ways to protect orcas? How should salmon stocks be managed for sustainability? Where is the best place to put a protected area? While the focus of conservation questions like these are to conserve some sort of natural resource, so it might seem like natural science is the best way to inform this management.Read more
In honor of World Book Day (April 23rd), the Currents staff wanted to put together a list of some of their favorite marine and environmental books. See below for your next great read!
A Fish Caught in Time: the Search for the Coelacanth by Samantha Weinberg (1999)
Non-Fiction – Coelacanths, History, Politics
The coelacanth was once thought to exist only as fossil specimens—no living specimens had been reported.
Seattle’s Duwamish River estuary has something new afloat along the shorelines. If you have the chance to visit the river this spring, you might see several structures holding large, square mats of wood straw, biodegradable foam, and other natural materials tethered to piles near the river’s edge. You might also see me or other team members perched on the wooden frames, counting fish, measuring plants, and sampling water quality.Read more
According to the United States current president, air and water are at a “record clean.” I’m not entirely sure what records he’s referring to, but he isn’t wrong that air and water have gotten cleaner in his lifetime, thanks to environmental laws. Modern environmental law is entering its fifth decade, and is to thank for providing the nation with clean air and water and stopping species from going extinct.Read more
By Angela Cruz
Species loss, arctic ice loss, sea level rise: measuring any difference over time requires a starting point for reference. This reference point is typically referred to as a baseline. Baseline data measure things such as the population size of a fishery, sea level, or average size of harvested fish, at a specific moment in time. Using a baseline from a certain year affects how we perceive–or fail to perceive–change in real time and in our everyday lives.
By Karin Otsuka
The early emergence of environmentalism in the United States was spurred by varying perceptions of conservation and preservation, such as maintaining wilderness for leisurely activities, sustaining natural resources for future generations, or preserving a pristine environment free of human presence. However, from the 1960s, increasing levels of pollution and cases of social issues associated with environmental degradation gave rise to the modern conservation movement.
By Jessica Knoth
I smiled as I clicked the checkout button and got the notification that my bracelet would be arriving soon. It was a simple design of braided coral-colored threads woven through clear plastic beads and neatly tied. I liked the look of it but I had not spent $20 + shipping of my grad student budget on a bracelet for no reason – this one was special.
Every Thursday through April and May, Currents is covering the past, present, and future of the conservation movement in the U.S. and beyond. This is the first article in the series, so stay tuned in the coming weeks for more!
By Dave Berndtson
For many, the birth of the movement to protect or sustainably interact with the natural world in the United States evokes images of leaders like Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir taking in the beauty of Yosemite from a mountaintop, or reflection of the exaltation of nature and simple living in Henry David Thoreau’s transcendentalist writings in Walden.
Stop collaborate and listen, sea-ice loss is real, it’s not an invention
By Samantha Farquhar and Katy Dalton
By as early as 2040, we may experience an ice-free Arctic summer. This news shook the scientific community, as the rate of ice loss was far worse than previously projected.
Why is this a big deal? Sea ice is the foundation of the entire Arctic ecosystem; understanding and conserving the Arctic and the animals and people it supports requires understanding sea ice.