Articles You Might Have Missed

Around the world people are taking the initiative to mitigate climate change. Here are some good news briefs compiled by the Climate Issue group of the LWV of Bellingham/Whatcom.

Wind, Solar Help Texas Meet Record Power Demand During Heat Wave 

The Texas power grid was able to meet record demand thanks in large part to an abundant supply of wind and solar power. Results are not surprising considering the rapid increase in renewable energy capacity in the state. Texas is the country’s leader in wind power and is on track to become the leader in solar.

Two Washington Towns Recognize the Rights of Orcas

Gig Harbor, Washington, became the second city in the Pacific Northwest region to proclaim that southern resident orca whales have legal rights. A week earlier, Port Townsend, Washington, made the same proclamation, marking the first time a U.S. city council has made such a recognition.

“The rights of the southern resident orcas include, but are not limited to, the right to life, autonomy, culture, free and safe passage, adequate food supply from naturally occurring sources, and freedom from conditions causing physical, emotional or mental harm, including a habitat degraded by noise, pollution and contamination,” both towns’ nonbinding proclamations say.

Issuance of the document represents the latest development in the “rights of nature movement” which recognizes that nature and all of its constituent parts — including wild animals, mountains, forests and rivers — possess inherent legal rights similar to humans.

Inside Climate News: Climate News<> 6/24/2023

Sea Otters Save Kelp Beds

At 24 years old, Rosa is the oldest sea otter at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. She was orphaned as a pup, but, as she grew, she “mothered other pups enabling the species in the Aquarium at least to thrive.”

Historically, between 150,000 and 300,000 sea otters once occupied the coast along the North Pacific Rim from northern Japan in the northwestern Pacific to Baja California, Mexico, in the eastern Pacific. Otters have the densest fur of any animal on earth, with up to a million hairs per square inch. But, what helps them survive in cold water was the cause of their near-extinction at the beginning of the last century. “A hundred years ago, 99 percent of sea otters were killed for their coat.”

Since otters became a protected species under the Endangered Species Act in 1977, northern sea otters have rebounded to about 100,000 otters in North America, mainly in Southeast Alaska and British Columbia, Canada. But, the smaller southern sea otters still occupy only 13 percent of their historic range, with a population of an estimated 3,000 currently living on California’s central coast, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Their numbers once dropped as low as about 50 otters, and the experts at the Monterey Bay Aquarium have played a key role in rescuing pups.

Recently finished feasibility studies show that it is not only possible to restore otters to their historic habitat, but that it would yield enormous benefits as well as unique challenges. Without a healthy otter population to keep them in check, the number of sea urchins — the otters’ favorite food — ballooned, in some coastal parts of California, by 10,000 percent. The purple urchins, sometimes labeled “sea zombies,” have mowed down entire kelp forests in Northern California.

“If a kelp forest grows well, and half the carbon it absorbs is sequestered in the deep sea, it’d be the equivalent of canceling the emissions from 5 million automobiles.” Thus, an army of sea otters would immediately help fight climate change and likely improve water quality.

One aspect that makes sea otter reintroduction more challenging than other species is that they are extremely attached to their home turf. “We see some juvenile males venture up and down the coast, which is important for genetic diversity, but most if not all adult females, once they reach their reproductive age, stay in a stretch of coastline of between five and 15 miles at most.

The Elakha Alliance, which was founded by the late David Hatch, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, is working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, tribes, shark specialists, environmental groups and fishery advocates along the coast to develop a reintroduction plan that considers all involved parties.

“The Cascading Effects of Bringing Back Sea Otters” by Michaela Haas — Reasons To Be Cheerful (, June 29, 2023

Our Plastic Oceans

Can our oceans be cleansed of plastic swimming in their waves?

Did you know since the 1950s, the world has produced an estimated 18.3 trillion pounds of plastic? Less than 9 percent has been recycled and a whopping 79 percent is scumming up our environment, especially our oceans.

4ocean is the global expert in reducing this scourge in our oceans. Last year they officially recovered over 30 million pounds of plastic from over 12 locations. 

Plastic isn’t just an unsightly nuisance in the ocean — it impacts food security. Seafood is the primary food for more than 3 billion people and provides income for more than a billion. Cleaning up that plastic waste is as essential to stopping global warming, as is shutting down fossil fuel plants. We have all seen pictures of the sea’s inhabitants tangled in a web. Imagine trillions of animals tangled in a web of plastic  bottle holders, old torn fishing nets and shopping bags.

Alex Schulze, 4ocean CEO and cofounder says, “We’ve built an entire business for the sole purpose of cleaning the ocean. With hundreds of local captains and crew members recovering trash from our oceans and coastlines seven days a week, and the support of millions of people doing their part to prevent plastic pollution, I’m sure our work will have a lasting impact.”

The 4ocean TrashTracker, a proprietary database used to document the company’s recovered materials from recovery through their entire supply chain, was independently audited and verified by GreenCircle Certified, an internationally recognized third-party certification entity whose thorough evaluation process provides independent verification that sustainability claims related to an organization’s products and operations are honest, valid, and verified. The ocean has found a good friend.

Goodnewsletter<> Vol. 31  

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