Anyone heard this story before?
clever little comic in Prince George Free Press this week. Apparently, I’m not the only one with Enbridge marketing burnout… it’s everywhere, online, on CBC Radio One and Two… and it’s exhausting… and… well… laced with some pretty heavy BS-bitumen.
This 2nd is a small 6×6 piece that I did yesterday as a challenge from my significant other for an upcoming local art show that will be all 6×6 pieces…
Many of us may be familiar with the rather famous, former US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld-ism, from a From a Press Conference at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, June 6, 2002:
Now what is the message there? The message is that there are no “knowns.” There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know. So when we do the best we can and we pull all this information together, and we then say well that’s basically what we see as the situation, that is really only the known knowns and the known unknowns. And each year, we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns.
It sounds like a riddle.It isn’t a riddle. It is a very serious, important matter.
There’s another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something exists does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn’t exist. And yet almost always, when we make our threat assessments, when we look at the world, we end up basing it on the first two pieces of that puzzle, rather than all three.
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It’s a curious situation – forecasting salmon runs that is… This year on the Fraser River, fisheries scientists in all their wisdom and computer modeling (largely based on similar formats as economic modeling – and we know how ‘accurate’ those are…) – forecast in the pre-season a pink salmon return of just under 9 million humpies. [see below between blue lines and far right “run size forecasted pre-season” below “run size adopted in-season”]
The in-season run-size is now at 26 million.
That’s a huge miss between pre-season and in-season. Might there be a problem in the computer models and the numbers they are ‘kicking out’…?
If the situation was reversed, there would be rabid calls for judicial reviews and inquiries and so on. However, when we miss the mark on the ‘positive’ side of things… “oh, gee, wow, that’s a good thing!”
But is it? Does it still not prove the same thing – e.g., our modeling and equations are f’ed?
[a known known…?]
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Similar situation with Fraser sockeye – a story we are all to familiar with.
Pre-season predictions of almost 4.8 million Fraser sockeye.
In-season estimates now suggesting over 1 million less than that – at just over 3.7 million Fraser sockeye.
That’s a big miss. [another known known?…]
However, it gets worse…
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The various estimates of run-size are one thing – the actual successful upstream migration, reaching the spawning grounds (some of them over 1000 km upstream), and successfully spawning – is an entirely different story. Let alone… survival of eggs over the winter, then survival of the baby salmon, most of them 2 years in a freshwater lake avoiding trout, sturgeon, sculpin and all sorts of other predators.
Buried much deeper in the “Technical Reports” from the Pacific Salmon Commission is the more dire predictions of how many Fraser sockeye might actually make it upstream. Keep in mind this was one of the hottest years on record for water temperature on the Fraser River (many days around 22 degrees C water temp, and now running close to 18 degrees C, combined with lower flows than normal).
When this occurs – the fish experts fire up the computer models again to “kick out” some more numbers. This is the “Management Adjustment” (MA). This percentage is then taken off the in-season predicted run-size – all of which is based at the mouth of the Fraser. Essentially, this the percentage of the run that the “managers” figure will die en-route, largely due to high water temps.
Anything over 20 degree C is pretty deadly – how long could you swim upstream in water at 20 degrees C. ? (without eating…)
Thus as the numbers in the chart above – in red – show: on each of the four run-timing groups (e.g., Early Stuart, Early Summer, Summer, and Late Summer) over 2 million sockeye are estimated to die or disappear en-route.
Predictions suggest only 1,215,500 Fraser sockeye will actually reach the spawning grounds. This is 700,000 less than what the great computer models suggest should reach the spawning grounds (the second set of red numbers).
More troubling yet… there were almost 370,000 Fraser River sockeye caught in various fisheries (see below – each of the four columns are similar to above, they are the four run-timing groups of Fraser sockeye – the farthest right column is Fraser Pinks).
There is no pointing of fingers implied here – as that is a much deeper hundreds year old discussion. And, that without these sockeye in many communities, dire circumstances would be that much more dire. The point here is that this resembles a classic fisheries problem over the last 100 years or so: needs and fights over dwindling and dwindling populations.
[the known knowns…?] or [unknown knowns?] or [known unknowns?]
One of the most concerning set of numbers in all of this being the immensely dwindled “Summer” group of sockeye. Close to 680,000 sockeye short of spawning goals. This is a problem.
The Summer group has historically comprised the largest portion of the Fraser sockeye populations… the numbers that make the overall Fraser sockeye populations still appear healthy. However, that grouping of populations is generally reliant on just a few specific populations returning to specific areas. This year a huge miss in predictions was the Quesnel run, as well as Chilko another historically larger run.
It was also a huge miss on Fraser Pinks, Skeena sockeye, and the list goes on… the known knowns that is.
Maybe time for a serious re-think (e.g., Think Salmon) of how we ‘manage’ these dwindling runs…? Factor in some known unknowns, and unknown unknowns…
Yesterday the Pacific Salmon Commission confirmed what many figured would probably be the case in the first place… the forecasts for Fraser Sockeye were blown… AGAIN.
Yet, the Dept. of Fisheries & Oceans and PSC will carry on about how predictions are a tough business, etc. etc. And that if we look closely at the end of the season that the returning numbers of Fraser sockeye to the mouth were actually in their 25% probability range.
Here’s the newly adopted in-season run predictions for Fraser sockeye from the PSC’s Friday news release:
The real blown part of the ‘forecast’ is in the Summer runs grouping – Again (the ‘groupings still a problem in themselves). Appears that things were missed by close to half (circled in dark blue near the middle of image). The overall result is a difference of pre-season prediction of close to 5 million (circled in orange) and a current in-season estimate of just over 2.6 million (circled in red). However, we still don’t have an in-season estimate on late summers, which are going to be hooped if river temps stay anywhere near where they are. Chances are good as the temps in the lower Fraser have been climbing steadily all week.
Here’s the PSC narrative on that:
The “management adjustment” is the WFU factor.
(We F’ed Up and now our ‘management’ kicks in – factor).
The best part of all this is the language that the PSC uses to try and explain themselves out of this:
Wasn’t this the year of the return of the 2009 Fraser sockeye run that was the lowest ever on record and was a completely blown forecast from 10 million predicted by the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans in the pre-season?
Wasn’t this the progeny of the 2009 run that motivated the unprecedented some-$26 million judicial inquiry – the Cohen Commission into declines of Fraser sockeye? (which remains unimplemented).
Not to mention that it seems fisheries managers are suffering from a classic philosophical problem – the problem of induction. Old English philosopher Bertrand Russell explained it well in the early 1900s – basically calling it the turkey problem.
See the turkey, a few days before Thanksgiving, sees the farmer walking across the farmyard carrying a unique glittering thing. The turkey figures, “oh whatever, our beloved farmer is just coming to feed us, like she has for the last 500 or so days.”
The turkey suffers from the classic problem of induction… because that day figuring all will be like history has suggested: e.g., farmer arrives, I get fed. Unfortunately, it has suffered from a classic error. As not long after this thought that its feeding time (again), like every day in turkey memory before that… it loses its head. And off to market and some happy family dinner table.
Russell used the example that classic human folly suggests we believe the sun will rise tomorrow just like it has for the last however long – yet… there is a chance that it won’t. But we continue to believe in the “historical time series”… That will do us little good the day that the sun does not rise in the way that it has for the last several millenniums. The Black Swan event, as some call it.
The problem with this thinking is that the historical time series is only part of reality – however fisheries managers put an immense amount of stock in it… and then get burned, like they are this year (again), and come out looking like turkeys, or at least being painted with that bad feather brush.
Time for things to change – as the Skeena and Fraser Rivers and many others… have been warning for quite some time.
Seems like another year of blown Fraser sockeye forecasts… maybe it’s not the runs that are ‘lower than expected’ and more that we can expect most forecasts to be higher than the runs expected?
News Release from the Pacific Salmon Commission today – below. Not only was the forecast wrong, the Fraser River is smoking hot – over 20 degrees Celsius (water temperature that is). With current weather forecasts and low flows, don’t imagine this will be getting any better any time soon.
And yet, the $26 million recommendations from Cohen Commission have disappeared like a PMO Chief of Staff…
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
The Fraser River Panel met Tuesday, August 6 to receive an update on the migration of Fraser River sockeye and pink salmon and review the status of migration conditions in the Fraser River watershed.
Although the migration of Fraser sockeye through the marine approach routes to the Fraser River has increased in recent days, it is still considerably lower than expected. This is primarily due to the lower than expected migration of Summer-run through the marine approach routes to-date. At the meeting today, the Panel approved an increase in the run size estimate for Early Summer-run sockeye from 400,000 to 452,000 fish. Their 50% migration timing through Area 20 is estimated to be July 22, which is one day earlier than expected. Current assessments suggest that the abundance of Summer-run sockeye is either lower than forecast or their migration timing is much later than expected. An in-season assessment of Summer-run sockeye abundance should be available by later this week.
The proportion of Late-run sockeye migrating through the marine assessment areas has increased over recent days.
DNA analyses continue to indicate that Fraser River pink salmon currently comprise a small proportion of the pink salmon presently being harvested in marine area test fisheries, which is consistent with the later marine timing of Fraser pinks relative to Washington and Canada South Coast (non-Fraser) pink salmon stocks.
On August 5, the Fraser River water discharge at Hope was 3,150 cms, which is approximately 26% lower than average for this date. The temperature of the Fraser River at Qualark Creek on August 5 was 20.5 degrees C, which is 2.8 degrees C higher than average for this date. Sustained exposure of sockeye to Fraser River water temperatures in this range may cause high pre-spawning mortality.
Doesn’t sound or look or feel like things will be improving for Fraser sockeye any time soon. Good thing taxpayers flipped a $26 million bill for a thousands of hours of lawyers, ‘biologists’ and a judge’s time…
And those that care about salmon… most definitely do not want to hear about Fraser Chinook this year… (some of the worst numbers on record in ‘test fisheries’ and yet some sport fisheries remain open for them… go figure…)
Why is this not a major headline in Canada’s newspapers today?
This is fundamentally embarrassing to all Canadians.
And an absolute embarrassment to the federal government: current governing regime and opposition parties alike.
We are but an island surrounded by three coastlines – east, west, and north. We celebrate our coastlines, our oceans, our marine environment, our fisheries, and so on. Canada has the world’s longest coastline and a total of 7.1 million square kilometres of ocean.
Yet, as the Royal Society presents in their report just released:
Sustaining Canada’s Marine Biodiversity: Responding to the Challenges Posed by Climate Change, Fisheries, and Aquaculture
- …among industrialized fishing nations, the status of Canada’s marine fish stocks is among the worst in the world.
- Researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities constructed an Environmental Performance Index and used it to rank 163 countries on 25 performance indicators, for environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. In this analysis, Canada was ranked 125th of 127 countries in terms of fisheries conservation.
[If we ranked this low in hockey, what would be the National response?]
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Here are the “MAIN MESSAGES —SUSTAINING CANADIAN MARINE BIODIVERSITY” available in PDF from the website link above.
- Canada sees itself as a world leader in ocean management, but we have failed to meet most of our national and international commitments to protect marine biodiversity.
- Canada lags behind other modernized nations in almost every aspect of fisheries management. Despite pledges on conservation and sound policies, Fisheries and Oceans has generally done a poor job of managing fish stocks, planning for whole ecosystems and protecting marine biodiversity.
- The government should act to review and rewrite outdated statutes, take rapid action on national and international commitments, curtail the discretionary powers of the minister of Fisheries and Oceans and move to limit regulatory conflict in that department.
- Canada needs national operational objectives to protect and restore natural diversity and to rebuild depleted populations and species. Improving and protecting ocean health will restore the natural resilience of Canada’s marine ecosystems to adapt in response to the challenges posed by climate change and other human activities.
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Here are some ‘lowlights’ from the report:
After examining the evidence, we conclude Canada has made little substantive progress in meeting its commitments to sustain marine biodiversity. Although Canada has developed and signed on to sound policies and agreements, and heralded good ideas with strong rhetoric, comparatively little has actually been done, leaving many of our national and international obligations unfulfilled.
[hmmmm, does this sound like our/Canada’s approach to climate change?]
That can — and must — be changed, starting with the Oceans Act. This 1996 law was a landmark in the move toward managing the oceans from an ecosystem perspective, after decades of focusing on one species or habitat at a time, without regard to the intricacies of biodiversity. Unlike the Fisheries Act, it provided a clearly articulated legislative foundation for marine conservation (an objective no one would even have considered in 1868, when the Fisheries Act was written). It was followed by the Species at Risk Act (2002), which included a commitment to develop legislation for the protection of threatened species.
But neither has lived up to its promise…
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In ecosystem-based management, decisions must take into account the sustainability of ecosystem components and attributes. In several jurisdictions, policies and regulations now use this more comprehensive viewpoint.
Effective ecosystem-based management usually involves the “precautionary approach”, which stresses that the absence of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing decisions where there is a chance of serious or irreversible harm. They also set “reference” targets to warn when stocks are getting low and include plans for promoting recovery if a population drops too far.
In contrast to other developed fishing countries, Canada has not adopted the use of reference points. For example, 20 years after the collapse of Newfoundland’s northern cod (once one of the largest fish stocks in the world,) there is still no recovery target, let alone a timeline for rebuilding.
We think that is unacceptable.
One consequence of this lack of initiative is that, among industrialized fishing nations, the status of Canada’s marine fish stocks is among the worst in the world.
In fact, compared to other major fishing nations such as Australia and New Zealand, Canada is moving very slowly on incorporating ecosystem indicators into scientific guidance. Our policies for conservation of wild Pacific and Atlantic salmon, for example, recognize the need for consideration of ecosystem-level.
But they have yet to be implemented.
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Driving reform of the Fisheries Act will not be easy. There is no indication the health of the ocean is a great concern for the present government.
In the Speech From the Throne that opened Canada’s 41st Parliament on June 3, 2011, there was no reference to climate change, species recovery, fisheries rebuilding, or marine biodiversity. Neither the word ‘ocean’ nor ‘Arctic’ was mentioned in the throne speech.
The ‘sea’ was mentioned in the context of a government commitment to complete the Dempster Highway to connect Canada “by road from sea to sea to sea”. ‘Fishing’ was used only in the context of a government pledge to support it and other industries “as they innovate and grow”.
As well, the Fisheries Act delegates absolute discretion to the minister of Fisheries and Oceans [who in many cases couldn’t tell the difference between a northern pike and a pink salmon] to make decisions, with no formalized scientific guidelines or environmental framework for them.
That leaves important biodiversity issues open to dictates of passing political concerns and is completely at odds with the best practices of fisheries legislation that supports sustainability, such as in the US, Norway, and Australia.
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Further legislative measures that should be considered to adequately protect marine biodiversity include:
- Ending the inherent conflict within DFO to promote industry and economic activity on one hand and the conservation of fish and aquatic ecosystems on the other;
[hmmm, anyone who has read posts on this blog has heard this point before — if you have a federal Ministry with the word “Fisheries” in it… and its central mandate is “conservation”… then there is a problem]
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The preamble to the Oceans Act says Parliament wished “to reaffirm Canada’s role as a world leader in oceans and marine resources management.” This was a remarkable statement, given the Act was passed in 1996, a short four years after the collapse of the northern cod fishery.
That one example of resource mismanagement was not only the greatest numerical loss of a vertebrate in Canadian history, it resulted in the greatest single layoff in Canada when between 30-40,000 people lost their jobs. It also cost $2-3 billion in social and economic financial aid.
But rhetoric over substance too often characterizes the Government of Canada’s handling of its oceans and their marine biodiversity. In contrast to Canada’s self-proclaimed ocean leadership, analyses of Canada’s marine conservation and management initiatives are less than complimentary.
Researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities constructed an Environmental Performance Index and used it to rank 163 countries on 25 performance indicators, for environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. In this analysis, Canada was ranked 125th of 127 countries in terms of fisheries conservation.
Canada has consistently failed to meet targets and obligations to conserve biodiversity and promote sustainability. The government has the knowledge, expertise and even the policy and legislation it needs to correct that; but multiple factors have combined to slow the pace of statutory and policy implementation almost to a standstill.
Those factors, we believe, include the inherent conflict at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which has mandates both to promote industrial and economic activity and to conserve marine life and ocean health. The minister of Fisheries and Oceans has excessive discretionary power to dictate activities that should be directed by science and shaped by transparent social and political values.
Canada’s progress has been unduly slow in both an absolute sense (some commitments have still not been met almost two decades after they were agreed on) and comparatively — other western industrialized nations have made substantive progress in meeting, and often exceeding, their national and international commitments to sustain marine biodiversity.
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Fundamentally embarrassing and disgraceful. Yet saying so with current governing regime will get one labelled a ‘renegade’ or ‘treasoner’ or whatever other empty rhetoric that the Reform Party, err wait, I mean the Conservative party has to offer.
Yet, this is not at the hands of one political party… everyone one of the four main Parties that have been active over the last couple of decades bears a responsibility.
Hopefully Justice Cohen is reading this and takes a good stab at the issue in this disgraceful situation being afflicted upon Fraser sockeye — and Pacific wild salmon in general on Canada’s left coast.
And media response to this report so far… about all I’ve see is the Vancouver Sun:
Canada is failing miserably at protecting its rich marine biodiversity from the looming threat of climate change, an expert-panel report for the Royal Society of Canada concluded Thursday.
“Canada has made little substantive progress in fulfilling national and international commitments to sustain marine biodiversity,” the panel report found.
The report noted that the Fisheries Act is beset with regulatory conflicts in terms of protecting and exploiting fish stocks, and the minister of fisheries and oceans wields too much discretionary power.
The report also says the Species at Risk Act has proven ineffective at protecting and recovering marine species at risk, and a promised national marine protected areas network “remains unfilled.”
The application of a “precautionary” management approach with harvest-control rules and recovery plans remains “absent for most fisheries,” the report added.
Panel chairman Jeff Hutchings, a biology professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said the federal government’s lack of action at protecting marine biodiversity is “extremely disappointing and dismaying,” a concern that also applies to management of high-profile Atlantic cod stocks.
“Anybody can see, and anybody can assuredly be bloody angry, that 20 years after the collapse of the northern cod fishery we don’t have a target for recovery,” he told a Vancouver news conference. “How is that possibly consistent with responsible management of our oceans?”
Canada has the world’s longest coastline and a total of 7.1 million square kilometres of ocean — in the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic — amounting to a global stewardship responsibility, the report found.
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Are we going to stand for this?
How does this make any sense #2?
National Energy Board hearings into the proposed Enbridge Northern Gate/Exit-way Pipeline continue today in Smithers, BC.
One has to wonder if President of this proposed Enbridge project — John Carruthers — is carrying on today in Smithers, like he did in Kitimat about the incredibly elaborate statistical calculations done by Enbridge around tanker accidents. He was touting a number on the radio the other day of odds of: 1 in 15,000 years.
Wonder what the odds were of this?:
Or the good ‘ol Queen of the North sinking not far from where oil super tankers would run…
No matter how elaborate the “guarantees” get from Enbridge and proponents; there is no way to calculate human error accurately.
Is it really worth it? Exporting all those jobs to Asia, exporting energy resources that we may very well need ourselves? (as we already import 55% of what we use in Canada)
It makes no sense, and hence why the opposition grows — including major trade unions, municipalities, and so on… (all those “radicals” as Mr. Harper and his buddies like to call them)…
Human errors is a heck-uv-a-thing…
With interventions this week by the Harper Government into the National Energy Board’s hearings into the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline — it becomes clearer that Mr. Harper, and some of his buddies, might be little more than paranoid little boys — as well as complete hypocrites.
(or working the gears of a marketing machine — remember: marketing is everything and everything is marketing)
The federal Natural Resource Minister came out this past week suggesting that U.S. money flowing into Canadian enviro (and other) groups would not be tolerated and a threat to Canadian sovereignty, bla, bla, bla…
The current Conservative government also basically suggested that the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline would go through regardless; that it would be constructed; and that raw bitumen from Canada’s tar sands would be exported to Asia —
particularly China… which, curiously has invested some $15-20 Billion in the tar sands in recent times as well as significant Chinese interests and $ billions into Enbridge and this proposal.
Without even commenting on the absolute absurdity of making comments such as these at the beginning of a multi-year process of hearing what people have to say about the “proposed” pipeline…
Wondering where the apparent threats to sovereignty may actually be coming from?
And, as the illustration above portrays, WHY?
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Why are we looking to export raw bitumen to Asia when we already import over 55% of the oil consumed in Canada. That means that Canadians are paying for refined oil products to come to Canada from places like Venezuela, Algeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Norway, etc. (and yet these “ethical oil” bubbleheads keep singing their tune)
Crazier yet, over 65% of the oil produced in Canada gets shipped-exported south to the U.S. through some 15,000 km of pipeline.
Even crazier… we are largely locked into this through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)… once the taps are on, you can’t turn them off.
(so really Mr. Harper where are the boogey men, the threats to Canadian sovereignty…?
oh right… maybe in your Conservative predecessors that signed off on NAFTA… hmmmm)
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And now, Harper and Enbridge and others (e.g. BC’s current government) want to ship the unrefined, unprocessed raw bitumen across western Alberta, through the Rockies, through north-eastern, north-central, and northwestern BC, to Kitimat on the BC coast to be loaded onto over 200 supertankers a year and then ply BC’s coastal waters, the North Pacific, over to Asia.
If the tar sands are going to continue to operate — then why don’t we look after our own oil needs first?
Without even commenting on all the other threats posed by this project… How about a National Energy Plan (even Alberta’s current premier is suggesting the same) — before exporting one of the most valuable resources on the planet? (and risking some 1000+ rivers and streams in BC and Alberta and BC’s north coast)
And exporting jobs — isn’t everything about these right-leaning regimes about jobs, jobs, jobs…?
How does this make any sense?
Interesting article at the Co.Exist blog [“World changing ideas and innovation” is their tagline] part of the magazine: Fast Company.
The U.S. could switch to to 100% renewable energy tomorrow, but it wouldn’t make a huge difference in the grand scheme of coal consumption. An animated map from the U.S. Energy Information Administration reveals just how fast Asia’s coal consumption is growing–and specifically, how China’s growing coal use threatens to double CO2 pollution levels compared to the U.S. over the next 15 years.
In 1982, Asia’s coal consumption was on par with the U.S. Fast-forward 20 years, though, and demand has grown over 400%.
This growth in Asia’s coal use isn’t spread equally among all the countries. North Korea, South Korea, and Southeast Asia consume very little; even India doesn’t consume nearly as much as China. This shouldn’t be surprising. China’s economy is growing so fast that it has no choice but to suck up more energy resources. And while the country is a leader in renewable energy installations, it’s also a rapidly growing coal consumer…
China’s insatiable coal appetite could jack up the price of coal so much that many seemingly pricey renewables look more attractive. But if that happens, it only means that China is using an even more outsized amount of coal.
So if there’s any hope of staving off severe climate change, China has to be at the center of the process. Otherwise, we’re (mostly) wasting our time.
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As much as “Harper’s” Canada took an unpopular position at the recent climate change talks… maybe they aren’t really that far off the mark?
Not that I support the idea that ‘if other big polluters are going to keep polluting, then we’ll just keep polluting’ — in other words: if China doesn’t curb coal burning then we’ll continue to rip up the sub-arctic boreal forest tar sands.
Looking at these numbers for coal burning — one of the worst greenhouse gas emitters — makes much of the climate change talks seem akin to talking about quitting smoking while you’re mouth is over your tail pipe sucking on the exhaust of your car…
Add in that British Columbia’s government is hot to trot on opening more coal mines — to supply those Chinese numbers.
See no evil, hear no evil…
How’s that ever-growing cliche go…?
something like: “think globally, act locally”
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Don’t matter how much habitat preservation/restoration/rehabilitation goes on for wildlife that depends on glacial fed streams… it those streams stop being “glacially-fed”… then ‘houston… we have a problem…’
However, as a high-end investment advisor told me at a recent talk when I asked him about their Canadian resource extraction companies heavy portfolio and things such as pipelines and Canadian tar sands operations… “technology will fix everything.” He then proceeded to tell me about CO2 sequestration projects (e.g. pumping it back into the ground) and… well… he didn’t have anything after that.
Nice fellow… but misguided maybe? Or, simply following the herd?
His big shtick was: “if there’s anything I can leave you with, think of the 4,000,000 Chinese people that move from the country to the city every year… as they move to the city, their lifestyle will change and their demands for resources will increase.”
Sure sounds like a great investment strategy for my apparent pension plan… but then what’s the world going to do as the huge percentage of the world’s population that lives on coastlines has to mitigate a global disaster as sea levels rise…? (and water supplies dry up…)
Anyone wondering why the world’s insurance businesses are in a major tizzy about climate change and the potential mass impacts as the climate quickly warms?
Here’s a quote from a report easily found online:
Mainstream insurers have increasingly come to see climate change as a material risk to their business. The worldwide economic losses from weather-related natural disasters were about $130 billion in 2008 ($44 billion insured), and the losses have been rising more quickly than population or inflation.
A 2007 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of 100 insurance industry representatives from 21 countries indicates climate change is the number-four issue (out of 33); natural disasters ranks number two. The majority of the other issues are arguably compounded by climate change.
The following year, Ernst & Young surveyed more than 70 insurance industry analysts around the world to determine the top-10 risks facing the industry. Climate change was rated number one and most of the remaining 10 topics (e.g. catastrophe events and regulatory intervention) are also compounded by climate change. [you know… like the magic of compound interest]
The investigators note that ‘‘it was surprising that this risk, which is typically viewed as a long-term issue, would be identified as the greatest strategic threat for the insurance industry’’.
[Global Review of Insurance Industry Responses to Climate Change_2009 The Geneva Papers, 2009, 34 (323-359). The International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics]
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Apologies for the dark, smokestack-emitting, coal-burning, coal mining holiday message — however maybe in 2012 there will be some more of that other cliche: ‘waking up and smelling the coffee…’
A curious find at the local university library this week: “Salmonid Ecosystems of the North Pacific“.
It was compiled in 1980.
In the preface, it suggests:
Some stocks of salmonids have been fished heavily since before the turn of the century, and most have been heavily fished since the 1930s. Freshwater spawning and nursery habitats have also been degraded by land and water use activities. Most natural populations have declined from the combined effects of overfishing and environmental damage.
The preface also discusses the explosion at that time of artificial propagation, such as salmon enhancement (e.g. hatcheries) and massive ‘salmon ranching’ programs in Asia and Alaska. The big question on the books for this symposium was the impact of these efforts on the North Pacific.
Essentially: did pumping out a pile of artificially propagated salmon have a negative impact out in the ocean? Or, was the continued practice going to have a negative impact?
Kind of like asking if you drop an ice cube in a swimming pool whether it changes the temperature…
Or whether farting in a gymnasium changes the inside air temperature…
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The first paper is by Dr. Randall Peterman, a common presence still to this day in salmon discussion in B.C and in the now wrapping up Cohen Commission into Fraser sockeye declines.
In the intro to his paper, Peterman suggests:
The catch of salmon (Onchoryncus spp.) in both British Columbia and all Pacific rim countries has dropped 50 percent in the last forty years.
And so salmon species were absolutely hammered by human fisheries from the late 1800s through the early 1900s coupled with… what might be called rather lax environmental standards…
Under the guidance of government ministries, we continued on this path in B.C.:
Every year, year after year, take anywhere between 60 – 80% of what was the estimated run size. All in a practice of Maximum Sustainable Yield. A fine practice largely supported by fisheries scientists everywhere.
Even with esteemed scientists such as Dr. Peterman (prob. pretty young in that day) suggesting: “hey look we’re already seeing a 50% drop in the catch rates…”
It has to be continually pointed out… this is 60 – 80% of the run taken in domestic fisheries. This does not account for the high seas.
The Magnuson-Stevens act which granted Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of 200 miles offshore to coastal nations didn’t kick in until 1976. That means that until that time there were any number of international and domestic fishing boats plying the North Pacific for fish.
Remember the term “curtains of death” … these referred to drift nets that could be as long as 40 km and caught everything in their path. These weren’t banned until the 1980s by the United Nations.
And yet, even a Vancouver Sun article in 2008 discusses the challenges in still catching offenders using outlawed drift nets.
From May to October, surveillance planes from Canada, Japan, Russia and the U.S. search that immense body of water for illegal drift nets.
Drift-net boat crews put out the banned nets at dusk and pull them in after dawn, to try to avoid being seen from the eyes in the sky above them.
The nets – some as long as 40 kilometres – are an efficient but indiscriminate way to remove target and non-target fish during those six months, when the North Pacific’s frigid waters are warmest and fish populations peak.
Depleted stocks of salmon in North America and Asia aren’t the only victims…
Yeah… this a bit more like trying to measure the impact of an ice cube dropped in your hot tub…
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The 1980s book, has an article that provides a slight glimpse into the impacts of high seas fisheries in the middle part of the last century.
As the caption suggests: this is the catch of sockeye salmon by commercial fisheries of the then-USSR, Japan, U.S., and Canada from the 1920s through the 1970s.
This is the “reported” catch of those fisheries.
And yup, that’s over 40 million sockeye caught on the high years.
Now of course, the offended fisheries scientist will probably jump in here and say, but those were mostly Alaskan sockeye…
I’m guessing the research wasn’t all that advanced to tell us exactly where the fish came from. I’m also guessing that maybe Cold War relations didn’t really facilitate American scientists or observers on Soviet fishing boats…
It also needs to be pointed out that this is the “reported catch” of salmon in fisheries that reported them… what about the other high seas and domestic fisheries that don’t and didn’t need to report salmon by-catch?
By-catch being the fish thrown overboard dead and squashed and unwanted. When one is targeting Gulf of Alaska pollock they don’t want dirty salmon polluting their catch…
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Sadly… there is next to no mention of this issue in Cohen Commission material — but for five clauses in one of the twenty-one Policy and Practice Reports.
With reference to the North Pacific Anadromous Stocks Convention, which did not come into force until 1993 and only includes (as quoted in the Cohen Policy report):
The parties are Canada, the US, Japan, South Korea, and Russia. China participates informally in this convention, but is not a party to it.
The high seas are essentially considered “common” property, which means you gotta boat, you go fishing… and considering the Vancouver Sun article from 2008 suggesting that high seas illegal drift net fisheries were still a problem…
And maybe I’ll just make casual mention of the fact (from the Cohen policy report):
The primary purpose of the North Pacific Anadromous Stocks Convention is to prohibit targeted fishing of anadromous fish stocks outside of the parties’ EEZs.
Yeah… I’ve heard a few folks use that excuse: “…but… i wasn’t ‘targeting’ them…it was an accident”
The convention delimits a zone, called the Convention Area, within which this prohibition applies. Under the treaty, only incidental catch of anadromous species is permitted within the Convention Area, and any incidental catches must not be retained, except for scientific research
Great… more by-catch thrown overboard.
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But there is more…
The convention creates the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission. The goal of the Commission is to promote the conservation of anadromous species in the North Pacific and the enforcement of the convention. While it does not play a fisheries management role, the Commission is mandated to determine scientific research projects, conservation measures and enforcement issues. Parties also commit to promote cooperative scientific research in the North Pacific.
In other words… no teeth… this is just about marketing… er… umm… I mean “promotion”.
It’s akin to the idea of governments promoting the idea of personal savings as a good idea… but knowing just as good ol’ Dubya Bush said after 9/11… everyone needs to be good Americans and get out there and shop…
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This type of “policy” language is where many problems lie.
Seems many folks figure because we write something down on paper and say “this is the regulation/policy/law” that that then becomes actually enforced, enforceable, and makes any difference whatsoever.
Like the bike helmet law in BC…
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And more unfortunate… it seems that the Cohen Commission into Fraser Sockeye (aka. “the commission to end all salmon commissions”) largely limited itself to only looking as far back as about 1990 when it comes to Fraser sockeye.
That’s only about 4 or 5 life cycles for a Fraser sockeye. (what if we did fruit fly research that way… “hey folks, we’re only going to look at a 40 to 50 day period…”
And sadly, the story written for Fraser sockeye declines had some significant plot developments at the turn of the century through to the 1980s.
A good hundred years of profit and plunder… and blunder…
A similar storyline as almost every fish stock around the world subject to industrial fisheries… and industrial fisheries science and industrial society politics.
Sadly, much of the science simply justifies the fisheries.
As well as, simply supporting more writing of policies and procedures and best practices and benchmarks and strategic plans and… and… and…
And yet on the ground… or in the water for that sake… the small coastal communities and people that live in them bear the brunt of the burden.
The brunt of the burden when the fisheries starting getting cut back… and even more brunt of the burden when fisheries all but disappear, because now it’s time for conservation…
And when the discussion starts about “what to do…?” they’re told to sit quietly at home, or in the back corner, and let the “experts” figure it out for them…. and then read the thousands of pages of documentation that tells them why the experts are right… (just like they were last time…last decade… and the decade before that…)
Maybe it’s time for a change on how things are done.
More Citizen’s Assemblies… less expert forums, and policy and practice reports, and technical reports, and expert testimony, and bumpf-filled excuses and justifications…
Don’t get me wrong, the experts play a part… it’s just that they probably shouldn’t write the story.