Friday, December 7, 2018

12/7 'Living Coral,' EPA water rule, warm globe, sage grouse, coal plants, saving whales, Fraser chinook, glass sponges, Bellingham waterfront, plastics

'Living Coral' [Pantone Color Institute]
A Royal Hue: 'Living Coral' Crowned Color Of The Year For 2019
As December draws its darkest hours ever longer, inching moment by moment toward the shortest day of the year — in the northern hemisphere, at least — the Pantone Color Institute is striking a defiant tone. The global experts in hue have crowned "living coral" as their annual color of the year for 2019. You can also call it by its official Pantone code, 16-1546 — though admittedly that doesn't have quite the same ring to it. It would also miss the point, in a way, since the institute selected the color for its "vibrant, yet mellow" life-affirming qualities — both our physical lives and those we lead online. "Representing the fusion of modern life, PANTONE Living Coral is a nurturing color that appears in our natural surroundings and at the same time, displays a lively presence within social media," the institute explained in a release Wednesday. Colin Dwyer reports. (NPR)

Trump Rule Would Limit E.P.A.’s Control Over Water Pollution
The Trump administration is expected to put forth a proposal on Tuesday that would significantly weaken a major Obama-era regulation on clean water, according to a talking points memo from the Environmental Protection Agency that was distributed to White House allies this week. The Obama rule was designed to limit pollution in about 60 percent of the nation’s bodies of water, protecting sources of drinking water for about a third of the United States. It extended existing federal authority to limit pollution in large bodies of water, like the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound, to smaller bodies that drain into them, such as tributaries, streams and wetlands. But it became a target for rural landowners, an important part of President Trump’s political base, since it could have restricted how much pollution from chemical fertilizers and pesticides could seep into water on their property. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

Global warming today mirrors conditions during Earth’s largest extinction event: UW study
More than two-thirds of life on earth died off some 252 million years ago, in the largest mass extinction event in Earth’s history. Researchers have long suspected that volcanic eruptions triggered “the Great Dying,” as the end of the Permian geologic period is sometimes called, but exactly how so many creatures died has been something of a mystery. Now scientists at the University of Washington and Stanford believe their models reveal how so many animals were killed, and they see frightening parallels in the path our planet is on today. Models of the effects of volcanic greenhouse-gas releases showed the earth warming dramatically and oxygen disappearing from its oceans, leaving many marine animals unable to breathe, according to a study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science. By the time temperatures peaked, about 80 percent of the oceans’ oxygen, on average, had been depleted. Most marine animals went extinct. Evan Bush reports. (Seattle Times)

Trump Plans Major Rollback of Sage Grouse Protections to Spur Oil Exploration
The Trump administration on Thursday published documents detailing its plan to roll back Obama-era protections for the vast habitat of the greater sage grouse, a chickenlike bird that roams across nearly 11 million acres in 10 oil-rich Western states. The earlier proposal to protect the bird, whose waning numbers have brought it close to endangerment, was put forth under the Interior Department in 2015 and set out to ban or sharply reduce oil and gas drilling in 10.7 million acres of its habitat. The Trump plan, by contrast, would limit the grouse’s protected habitat to just 1.8 million acres, essentially opening up nine million acres of land to drilling, mining and other development. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

E.P.A. Will Ease Path to New Coal Plants
The Trump administration is poised to roll back a significant climate change regulation on coal-fired power plants, making it easier to build new coal plants in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce the plan on Thursday, according to four people familiar with the administration’s proposal who were not authorized to speak about it publicly. The proposal will eliminate Obama-era restrictions on newly built coal plants that in effect required them to include systems to capture the carbon dioxide they produced — a technology that is still not in use on a commercial scale. The replacement measure eases those constraints, sending a powerful signal to the coal industry, as well as to other countries struggling with the political difficulties of addressing climate change, that the United States is trying to pave the way for coal-burning plants. Lisa Friedman reports. (NY Times)

Federal whale-saving efforts threaten Vancouver Island livelihoods, say group
Federal government efforts to save threatened southern resident killer whales could endanger the survival of communities on Vancouver Island whose economies depend on sport fishing and tourism revenues, a coalition of tourism, business and recreational fishing groups said Thursday. About two dozen leaders gathered at a popular sport fishing marina near Victoria to warn the federal government almost 10,000 jobs are at stake as well as the futures of several cities, towns and villages on the Island that base their incomes on fishing and tourism. The coalition calls itself Thriving Orcas, Thriving Communities and said the federal government has extended a 5,000 square kilometre critical habitat zone off the southwest coast of Vancouver Island that could result in fishing closures to protect the whales, whose population stands at 74. Dirk Meissner reports. (Canadian Press)

Fraser River chinook critical to orcas are in steep decline, new research shows
Fraser River chinook, one of the most important food sources for southern resident killer whales, are in steep decline and should be listed for protection as an endangered species, a Canadian independent science committee has announced. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, an independent advisory board to the Canadian federal government, issued a grim list of species at risk of extinction this month. Among the animals are some of the most beloved in Canada, from its biggest bear, the polar bear, to its biggest salmon — chinook. The decline of chinook in the Fraser and its largest tributary, the Thompson River, over just three generations is so steep some runs are at historic lows, others have dwindled to just a few hundred fish, and others cratered by more than 50 percent. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Monique Keiran: Glass sponges are worthy candidates for protection
A friend tells me that, back in the 1970s, he used to dive in Saanich Inlet to visit a local reef. He says it was spectacular. It included strange, pillowy sponges and a community of shrimps, crabs, fish and other critters. But, he says, the reef vanished decades ago. With the critters gone and any remains buried under 40 years of sediment, it would be difficult to determine if the reef had been one of B.C.’s now-iconic glass-sponge reefs. With hard tissues made of tiny shards of silicate minerals — glass — the sponges are extremely fragile. A crab pot dragged across a reef, for example, can shatter the sponges into smithereens. Equipment from a bottom trawler can plow swathes through them. Long thought to be extinct, living glass-sponge reefs were discovered in the deep waters of Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound in the late 1980s. Scientists have since located glass-sponge reefs in shallower waters in Howe Sound, off Tsawwassen and Parksville, and off Bowen, Mayne, Galiano and Gabriola islands, and in Chatham Sound near Prince Rupert. Similar reefs have also been found in Alaska’s Lynn Canal and off Washington state. Monique Keiran writes. (Times Colonist)

After 12 years of more talk than action, work on Bellingham's central waterfront is finally underway
AT ONE OF the many new local brewpubs — locals stopped counting after the first dozen — wisecracking skeptics up in the Fourth Corner might be tempted to write off the spendy, long-delayed Bellingham waterfront redevelopment project as a cruel joke, sprung on graying-hippie local residents by fleeing captains of industry: “Want your precious natural waterfront, free of our toxins (and jobs), to remake on your own terms, in your own greenie image? Knock yourselves out, kids.” Most of the redevelopment work is still in the works, but even now, residents actually can access Bellingham Bay. Ron Judd writes. (Seattle Times)

If you like to watch: Plastic Free Salish Sea
Carl Davis's new video about what it takes to make the Salish Sea plastic free. Produced for the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee. (20:37)  See also: The Riddle of the Roaming Plastics  It is one of the modern world’s biggest mysteries—99 percent of the plastics that enter the ocean are missing. Matthew Halliday reports. (Hakai Magazine)


Now, your weekend tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  259 AM PST Fri Dec 7 2018   
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
  
TODAY
 E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 6 ft  at 15 seconds. 
TONIGHT
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell  4 ft at 15 seconds. Rain after midnight. 
SAT
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft  at 14 seconds. A slight chance of rain in the afternoon. 
SAT NIGHT
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell  4 ft at 10 seconds. 
SUN
 E wind 10 to 20 kt becoming SE to 10 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less in the afternoon.  W swell 8 ft at 12 seconds.


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