Let’s Fix the Ocean

Now that you have had some time to digest the TMDL’s in Lake Whatcom.  Let’s fix the Pacific Ocean.

I was invited to attend a speaker event on March 28th put on by Whatcom Water Shed Information Network .

The Ocean Acidification Forum put on by three members of the state’s blue ribbon panel on ocean acidification established by then Governor Christine Gregoire.  The first presenter. Dr. Brady Olson,  WWU faculty, walked us through the science.  The ocean is not acidifying as you might believe from their Forum’s name.  The PH of the ocean appears to be moving from a base towards neutral or  in a very loose sense moving towards the acidic side of the PH spectrum.  He stressed this is a very new science,  the tools they use are very new, this involves chemistry and biology and even evolution. YouTube video; Understanding PH

Useful information gained: Shellfish population around the Pacific Rim are only 1-4% of the previous levels.

The main causation of this problem according to the speaker is; Global Warming

The next speaker, Brad Warren, from Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.  He spoke on what they are doing locally in hatcheries, and with new projects like subsidized biodigesters.  He talked about what people are doing in other parts of the world to help the shellfish and how some of those projects could work in our area.

Useful Information gained: Hatcheries work for the short-term, there are  projects here and  worldwide that hold promise.

The main problem according the speaker:  Coal Trains

The last speaker, Betsy Peabody, Founder of Puget Sound Restoration, made a lightning charge through threats and remedies. Remedies were  new septic tanks or no septic tanks, berms around agricultural lands, biodigestors,  no pets, rooftop gardens, storm water containment  and absolutely no fossil fuel anything, And oh yes, this is a new science and they need more money to fund what they are doing.

Useful information gained: These are really expensive solutions being proposed.

The main problem according to this speaker: people doing anything

Each of these speakers had overlapping  information.  The presentation was long so there was limited time for audience questions, however, the audience did have questions:

From the audience  another professor challenged the science used to blame global warming.
From the audience a gentleman questioned, had they tested any other areas beyond the two mentioned in the presentation?
From the audience a lady questioned, Were Pacific Oysters (a non native species)  causing the loss of native species?
From the audience Had they studied the plasticization in the ocean?
From the audience a young man questioned,   How much changing septic tanks was going to contribute to solving the overall problem?
From the audience  I questioned,  Since the solutions they were suggesting were very expensive, had they studied where are we going to get the money for it  costs and where we  should spend the money in order to get the greatest return?  (Bang for the Buck  I said)

To my question came the proud pristine response, “Our panel did not consider either politics or economics.”


Well, they did warn us in the first part of the presentation that this was a fledgling effort.   It is my experience that if you want  to run your ship aground quickly then move full steam ahead without a chart of the political and economic shoals in front of you.

Consider the following thought from Edward J. Erler, Professor of Political Science at California State University, San Bernardino,  “The administrative state, of course, always seeks to extend its reach and magnify its power.   This is an intrinsic feature of a system where administration and regulation replace politics as the ordinary means of making policy.  If there are to be limits to the reach of the burgeoning administrative state, they will be political limits imposed by the people in the ordinary course of partisan politics.

So this is a cautionary tale to all you taxpaying property owners in Whatcom County.  The TMDL issue in Lake Whatcom is merely a motor boat speeding towards you, the Blue Ribbon Panel is an ocean liner headed your way with a fledgling captain steering and no chart of the shoals.  The Department of Ecology (an administrative entity) has already started implementing rules and regulations  that have shut down farms and demanded more expensive septic systems be purchased.

This is not the way to fix an ocean. 

In the private sector we do not have the luxury of existing without considering both the political and economic implications of both science and administrative policy.  We need to be the people who in the ordinary course of partisan politics impose political limits.   Or else we will spend a lot of money and save nary a shellfish.

~ Lorraine Newman

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