A speech and book review by David Suzuki recently in Bellingham inspired me to write about a subject that is close to my heart: the earth’s ecological imbalance and the need to change the way we live.
Dr. Suzuki says all we need to stay alive is clean air and water, food and sun (photosynthesis is the miracle that we all take for granted, giving us oxygen and plants); take away any one and life ceases. These life support systems are all free, but are under siege.
The science is simple: too much CO2 released into the air after 200 years of extravagant fossil fuel use has caused the atmosphere to warm and become polluted. This is causing extreme worldwide weather havoc, death, destruction, disease, ocean acidification, species die-off, melting glaciers and ice caps that increase heat retention.
Human beings are the only one of millions of species with the intelligence and imagination to fix what has been done to the natural world. Because of ignorance and/or apathy plus explosive consumerism, we have significantly altered natural cycles and chemistry and are trapped in our own greenhouse. The start of modern economic growth began by overuse of finite resources, which took millions of years to develop. Example: it takes 500 years to replace 2.5 cm of topsoil.
I believe we must change our ethics and thereby our culture to avoid further dire consequences. In order to sustain 8 billion humans, we cannot continue the excessive mining of coal, oil and gas. We must enforce stringent limits while using and continuing to develop sustainable energy systems: wind, solar, geothermal, etc. Before industrialization, indigenous people inhabited the earth for thousands of years, never taking more than they could use. They knew inherently that the earth was their “mother” and understood the “web of life” was fragile and balanced. Chief Seattle said, “Everything is connected.”
Each person can do one thing towards change, and millions working together will make a difference. It is our moral responsibility to care for the earth: Vote and communicate with politicians who will support sustainable resources, rather than a private corporate bank account. We can vote with our money by what we refuse to buy. Collectively, we can overpower the political forces that insist on ravaging finite resources leaving a poison planet for future generations.
Last winter’s warm weather left mountain snowpack at only 16 percent of normal and Governor Inslee has declared a statewide drought emergency. The drought is causing hardships for farmers, inadequate conditions for fish reproduction and dangerous wildfire conditions. Droughts like this may become more common in the future due to climate change. We must make wise decisions now if we are to have sufficient clean water in the coming years for drinking, food production and fish reproduction (also food). The proposed GPT coal export terminal would misuse and abuse our fresh and salt water.
The proposed GPT coal export terminal would use up to 1.9 billion gallons of water annually – nearly as much water as the entire city of Ferndale uses annually. Providing water to GPT would not grow food, quench thirst or sustain life. The water would be sprayed on GPT’s 2.5 miles of six-story high, uncovered coal stockpiles to reduce the risk of the coal spontaneously combusting and the amount of escaping coal dust.
GPT’s water would be supplied by Public Utility District 1, which takes it from the Nooksack River. GPT’s water use would be heaviest during dry, hot months when the Nooksack is lowest and when families, farmers and fish also have the greatest need for water. It would be a perverse misuse of our increasingly scarce and precious clean water to permit GPT to spray nearly two billion gallons of it yearly on dirty, toxic coal piles.
GPT would abuse our life-sustaining fresh and sea water by polluting them with toxic coal dust. Coal dust escaping from GPT-destined rumbling coal trains and uncovered coal stockpiles at Cherry Point would contaminate streams, rivers, groundwater and the Salish Sea. GPT coal dust that spills or settles in the water at Cherry Point would be carried by tidal currents and deposited on Birch Bay beaches at the high tide line. When China burns coal, toxins are released into the air and carried across the Pacific where they then settle and contaminate our local waters yet again. Montana/Wyoming, please keep your dirty coal and we’ll keep our water clean.
Congratulations to the Whatcom County Council for its decision on June 23 to forge ahead with construction of a new county jail, despite attempts by Bellingham City Council to thwart this project that was initially approved by the voters years ago.
County council will propose a reasonable .02 percent sales tax increase to pay for the construction bond, while Bellingham City Council is demanding that the jail be financed with a property tax or some combination thereof. It isn’t surprising that Bellingham would place this burden primarily on the backs of home and business owners and is duplicitous in the sense that, as one might imagine, the jail inmate population does not primarily consist of property owners. The construction of an adequate jail facility is a benefit to all county residents and should be paid for by all.
Bellingham has also complicated the process by demands regarding mental health treatment, which should remain a separate issue from protecting citizens by keeping charged criminals from roaming this county due to inadequate space at the present jail. One might wonder if Bellingham is pandering to its burgeoning mental health provider cottage industry in Fairhaven?
With six other cities in Whatcom County approving the new jail funding proposal, maybe Bellingham officials should take a second look at the sales tax proposal or go it alone.
Patrick J. Guimond
On July 4, the non-profit Drayton Harbor Maritime (DHM), will sell all of their 10-foot Clancy sailboats, formerly in use at their Blaine Community Sailing School.
DHM operates the historic Plover Ferry and the Alaska Packers Association Cannery Museum on Semiahmoo spit. In addition, as featured in a previous issue of The Northern Light, DHM is rebuilding and launching the 108-year-old, 29-foot Diamond 59 Bristol Bay sailboat from the age of fishing boats with no engines. The new craft will join the Plover in telling the on-the-water story of Blaine’s fishing history.
100 percent of the money earned from the sale of the Clancy sailboats will go to the renovation of Diamond 59. Each boat is in sail-away condition and will sell for $250. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the boats can be seen and purchased on Marine Drive across the street from the Blaine Harbor Marina gate 2. For further information, please call Ron Snyder at 360/305-8231.
Recently, a state trooper in Lynden made the local news by assisting and then following an elderly woman on a motorized scooter to make sure she found her way home after she became confused. At the Alzheimer Society, we are so glad to hear stories like these with happy endings.
It is common for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia to wander without knowing how to get back home. With the goal of more happy endings like the one in Lynden, we are partnered with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Project Lifesaver program, using equipment provided by the Harborview Lions.
Bracelets containing a radio-tracking device can be used to locate a person in case of emergency. If your loved one would benefit from a bracelet, the Alzheimer Society can help you fill out the paperwork, fit the bracelet and change batteries as needed. If your loved one wanders, the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, using the radio-tracking device, can locate them.
In addition to Project Lifesaver bracelets, the Alzheimer Society offers support groups for those experiencing memory loss and their caregivers, as well as memory screenings. For more information, contact the Alzheimer Society at 360/671-3316, or visit our website at alzsociety.org.
Back in the 1960s, asylums were decommissioned with no real effort to train adequate numbers of mental health specialists to take up the slack. Now, in 44 American states including ours, “the biggest mental health institution is a prison,” and police spend much of their time dealing with the effects of untreated mental illness. We’re not unique. Across Europe, 40–70 percent of prison inmates are
These illnesses require far more than increased numbers of police officers. As health insurance begins to cover mental health care, we will need to hire more social workers and psychologists. Treatment and consultation rooms will be needed as well. Voting in our new 521-bed jail in November becomes an absolute imperative.
I have noticed in random groups recently that there is nothing unusual in someone dropping a negative or even a rude comment about conservative thought or media. Apparently it is assumed that everyone present agrees. Over a period of time, listening to these remarks, I may point out some discrepancy of fact. At which time the critic becomes outraged, sometimes even leaving the room in a huff.
The tiniest demur, and they are insulted. Yet it was OK to sneer and make one acid comment after the other about a conservative or a conservative idea. That some in positions of power can be so rude as to make faces or roll their eyes when someone they may not agree with speaks to them. Perhaps someone can explain this double standard to me.
Whatever happened to the concept of treating everyone as you would like to be treated?
I am surprised that one of our own government agencies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is considering halting the huge environmental review of the Gateway terminal at Cherry Point. The Lummi Nation wants to stop the review even though it’s almost complete, and kill the project. Evidently they have more power over what happens at Cherry Point than everyone else, and the Corps is listening to them, although the Lummi Nation still refuses to consider talking to the Gateway people.
So millions of dollars later, and no family jobs at Gateway if the Corps says no before even finishing their own scientific study of this project. What a great waste of money, time and hope. The government makes a “no decision” an “against decision.”
These jobs local families desperately need go away. Maybe the Corps will have the courage to finish what they started and do the right thing. Give Gateway a chance and base the decision on facts.