Africa’s Rooftop — and Its Endless Plains

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"I thought I knew what wilderness looked like. But East Africa completely redefined that concept for me."

The Great Carbon Sink Next Door

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Local advantages of our forests include the facts that "we do not have significant land conversion to agriculture" and that Northwest "forests are growing well."

The Northwest Spotted-Owl Wars: No Happily Ever After

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Presidents like to sock it to the spotted owl and help out the timber industry while heading out the door. Latest chapter: Biden undoing a huge giveaway of lands to timber industries as Trump made his exit.

Atmospheric: It’s Like Being Hit by 25 Mississippi Rivers

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Only lately has attention been devoted to the long, narrow jets of air that carry huge amounts of water vapor from the tropics to the Earth’s continental and polar regions. They can run 250-350 miles wide and contain the flow of 25 Mississippi Rivers.

The Philosophical Gardener: Colorfully Contrary

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There are the many small observations of life retreating underground to roots and our own retreating with them.  Then there are the many chores of raking, cutting back, and clearing the abundance of fallen and rotting vegetation.

#Blah Blah Blah? Global Climate Conference on “Existential Threat” Ends with a Whimper

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None of the three criteria identified by the United Nations as measures of success for the global confab were achieved in full at the conference that ran two weeks and into overtime over the weekend.

Apocalypse Wow: How to Deal with Climate Depression

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Catastrophic or apocalyptic thinking poses its own dangers, undermining hope and action, as well as our capacity and willingness to invest in the future. That willingness to invest in a future, one that we shall not ourselves see or see only in part, seems to me an essential part of what it means to be human.

Hatcheries for Waning Orcas No Longer Works

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The lawsuit sees the state of Washington doubling down on an old panacea, more hatcheries, that hasn't worked to save the orcas in the past and won't work in the future.

Our National Parks are being Loved to Death

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The popularity explosion goes beyond national parks, however; witness the early October “golden week” in the Cascades and Rockies when needles on Lyall’s larches in the high country turn gold.  Long lines of cars are parked at the Biue Lake and Maple Pass Loop trailheads near Rainy Pass on the North Cascades Highway.

Risking Hanford (Like We Needed One More Thing to Worry About)

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It’s difficult to plumb the true depths of the hazards at Hanford. John Brodeur, an environmental engineer and geologist who worked at Hanford in the 1990s, wrote that the DOE’s leak-detection method is “not only flawed, but designed to avoid finding leaks.”

Leftward Ho! Washington Environmental Groups Make a Risky Political Bet

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Heads are shaking among longtime acquaintances in the environmental movement.  Its victories over the years have come not via bullhorns and woke-left Tweets -- rather, through inclusion and finding common ground.

What Puget Sound Pilots Want You to Know

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The bottom line is, if a ship is blowing its whistle at you, get out of the way. Make a clear course change; go astern of it.

How You Protect the Olympic Peninsula Wilderness

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About the only place you can still see “No Wild Olympics” signs are beside Trump for President yard signs on the south shore of Lake Quinault.  The south shore is a redoubt of property rights activists with a history of adversarial relations with the National Park Service.

Grrr: Attorney General Bob Ferguson Versus the Growlers

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As the AG took questions, Ferguson was interrupted by a sudden earsplitting roar. A Growler jet passed low overhead.  The jet circled south, made a pass over the Naval Outlying Landing Field, just south of Coupeville, and came around again.

EPA Betrays the Duwamish River (Again)

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In recent years – significantly during the Trump era of climate denial -- there has been pressure on the EPA to roll back cleanup requirements, allowing higher levels of PCBs and other chemicals in the Duwamish, the most polluted rifer in the nation.

What Would You Trade?

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I began to ask myself, just as an individual “thought experiment,”  what would I be willing to give up in order NOT to experience another heat dome? 

Biden’s EPA Finds a New Weapon in the War Against Alaska’s Pebble Mine

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving to permanently block the proposed Pebble Mine project, which would locate a mile-square copper and gold mine between two of the most productive river watersheds supporting the salmon fishery of Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

Climate Change Is Melting Permafrost on the Road to Denali

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Alaska is changing fast. All told, according to climate records kept by the Matanuska Experimental Farm near Anchorage, the average yearly temperature has jumped by 6.9 degrees during the past century.  The annual number of frost-free days measured at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport has grown by 17 days.

Walking On Sunshine

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It’s comforting to know my morning coffee is being brewed by sunlight. And I’ve become addicted to the app that tells me our excess rooftop electrons are flowing back to the Jefferson PUD, which promises to return the favor, watt for watt,  when the sun migrates south next winter.

The Melting Signs of Climate Change on Northwest Glaciers

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We are used to life in a region surrounded by envy. As such, we have underestimated the speed at which impacts of climate change would arrive.

The Centralia Model: How to Shut A Coal Plant Without Shutting Down its Community

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It’s too early to say what the grants’ overall impact has been on these counties. According to recipients, however, the investments have enabled the region to adapt.

A Puget Sound Tsunami: The Next One will be Catastrophic

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Geological evidence indicates that the Seattle Fault has slipped catastrophically 3,200 years ago, 1,700 years ago and 1,100 years ago.  This suggests a frequency of about once every 750 years so the 1,100 years separating us from the last big one would indicate we are overdue. 

Protection Island: One Small Fire, Thousands of Seabirds at Risk

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Biologists have barely begun to assess the damage from last week's fire, but the toll will eventually be measured in biological terms –- just another step backward in our collective effort to preserve the Puget Sound ecosystem.

Reckoning: Guemes Island Keeps Growing; The Water Supply Isn’t

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Freshwater access has been an issue for as long as humans have been living on the island. Guemes lacks lakes and year-round streams. It depends on groundwater stored in two natural aquifers, accessed by wells, for fresh water. 

What You Learn from 30 Years Tracking Seagulls on Protection Island

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Over those years, the genial, soft-spoken Michigan professor and researcher has spent two months each summer living in a rustic, three-room cabin on the island, observing the mating rituals, nesting, egg-laying, and the hatching and fledging of the glaucous winged gulls that breed there by the thousands.

Why the Snake River Dams Need to Go

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One thing is clear: we can and must make space for climate change if we hope to recover and protect our northwest salmon.

Biden Reverses Trump and Saves Old-Growth Trees in Alaska’s Vast Tongass Forest

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The environmental community has much to celebrate, having fought the clear cutting of old growth in the Tongas back to 1980 when Congress passed the Alaska Lands Act.

Who Owns the Oceans

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If our goal is to depend more on alternative energy, then promoting efforts for sustainable mining both on land and in the ocean is in our interest.

“The People That Live Under the Sea”: Lynda Mapes Chronicles the Orcas

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When people say to me, ‘They are just like us,’ the first thing that flashes through my mind is, don’t flatter yourself.”

Gift of the Pandemic: Return of Beavers and Other Shy Wildlife

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You don’t have to live in the suburbs to spot native beavers building dams and raising kits inside the city. There are sightings along creeks and trailways in large parks, and this is the best time of the year to spot mothers and their young.