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Delusional Reality About West Coast Salmon

2008 July 11

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About the author: Dr. Robert Lackey is a senior scientist in EPA’s Office of Research and Development’s laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon. He has been involved professionally with West Coast salmon issues for 44 years and was awarded EPA’s highest award, the Gold Medal, for his salmon work.

Photo of Bob LackeyOne of my favorite fictional characters is detective extraordinaire Joe Friday. Joe demanded and provided “just the facts” as he sleuthed his way through the gossip and hearsay to winnow out the truth. Scientists responsible for informing the public and policy makers about ecological policy issues should attempt to do the same — just the facts — the straightforward, sometimes unpleasant realities.

A case in point: The 2008 collapse of salmon runs along the West Coast is being chronicled in major national newspapers, with headlines proclaiming “Disaster Strikes West Coast Fishermen,” “Worst Salmon Runs in History,” and “Agencies Baffled by Unexpected Salmon Collapse.”

Let’s apply Joe Friday’s “just the facts” approach to the wild salmon situation to see what society might expect in the future.

Fact 1: Wild salmon in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and southern British Columbia are in serious trouble. Most runs in the Western U.S. are at less than 10% of their pre-1850 levels. Over two dozen are listed as threatened or endangered, with many more likely to follow unless something changes.

Fact 2: Meager salmon runs along the West Coast are nothing new. The decline in wild salmon numbers (PDF) started with the California gold rush in 1848; causes include water pollution, habitat loss, over-fishing, dams, irrigation projects, predation, and competition with hatchery-produced salmon and non-native fish species.

Fact 3: If society wishes to change the future for wild salmon, something must be done about the unrelenting growth in the human population level along the West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia). By 2100, there could be 200 – 250 million people in the region: a quadrupling by the end of this century — barely 90 years from now.

Fact 4: If the human population levels increase as expected, options for restoring salmon runs to significant, sustainable levels are greatly limited. Consider the demand for houses, schools, stadiums (PDF), expressways, automobiles, malls, air conditioning, drinking water, consumer goods, golf courses, and sewer treatment plants. Society’s options for sustaining wild salmon in significant numbers would be just about non-existent.

Whatever policy makers propose to do about the 2008 collapse of West Coast salmon runs, these four facts cannot be ignored. Policy makers should demand from scientists realistic and honest assessments (PDF) of the current and future conditions for salmon.

Joe Friday was a tough, no-nonsense professional. Those of us who provide the public and policy makers with the best available information about salmon ought to follow his lead: “just the facts”.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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51 Responses leave one →
  1. Bill Kier permalink
    July 12, 2008

    Bob

    I lot of us who work at salmon conservation ( some even longer than you ! ) believe in an additional “fact” concerning the long-term prospects for Pacific salmon. And that is, if human population growth and agricultural expansion does, in fact, manage to extirpate salmon from our region then the “civilization” that we will have created will not be sustainable.

    The importance of Pacific salmon to us, simply stated, is that their life history requirements, if met, assure sustainable watersheds. Their extirpation, then, signals the creation of unsustainable watersheds, and, therefore, unsustainable human communities.

    Bill Kier

  2. Gordon Hartman permalink
    July 12, 2008

    Bob Lackey’s, come Joe Friday’s facts, are very much on the money. Even so, I hope it will be OK to go beyond current facts. In British Columbia, I now have concern over a combination of events that will affect the sustainability of salmon populations in the southern half of the province. Climate change plus associated mountain pine beetle infestaion increase and consequent vigorous salvage logging, have the potential to affect salmon production systems. Changing thermal and hydrological regimes, and increase in sediment transport within different parts of the Fraser River system will put salmon populations at risk. These elements may occur with different severity and compositional nature within different parts of the system. However, in total,
    they constitute a real threat to many sub-watersheds and salmon populations, some of which, are already under stress.
    I do not believe that there are any programs in research or management here that are commensurate with the scale of the potential impacts involved in these wholesale environmental changes.
    I have strayed from Joe Friday’s ‘just the facts’ to an attempt to identify critical processes that are occurring and to indicate where they may lead. Facts and foresight, the latter with reasonable foundation, are both critical elements of resource management.
    I have been in resource work, one way or another, for 55 years now. It may be the burden of an old person, that the further they can look back in life, the further they may try to look ahead.

  3. Hal Michael permalink
    July 13, 2008

    There are, I believe, two forms of delusion going on. The first is that managers won’t acknowledge the facts; somehow we will recover salmon and won’t need to consider the obstacles. Steelhead seem to present a different story. At least in Washington, there is a strong effort to downplay any admisson or consideration that runs formerly numbered in the tens of thousands, where there are now hundreds. Even with the majority of some watersheds being in protected areas the decision seems to be to simply stabilize populations. There is no consideration to even try to restore the runs. It is as if we have given up on changing current attitudes and practices.

  4. Bill S. permalink
    July 13, 2008

    Short of imposing child-per-family limits as is done in China and squeezing immigration with an iron fist, I don’t know what can be done to stem population growth. Those options are abhorrent to me and should be rejected by a true democracy. Even a voluntary system of limiting births per family results ultimately in a society with a disproportionately large aged population, another dangerous phenomenon we are observing abroad. Consider also that expanding populations will be forced into the desert areas of the southwest, which will place an even greater strain on water resources in areas that are simply not appropriate for dense populations. I wish I could do more than state the problems, as Dr. Robert Lackey has already done. Unlike after the Gold Rush days when the salmon did recover, what prospects for recovery are there now?

  5. David Sarvadi permalink
    July 14, 2008

    Well, since the author is one of those people adding to the burden, perhaps he could set an example by leaving the area and moving to a place less impacted by his existence. Or he could just eliminate the burden entirely.

    This is an example of cherry-picking “facts” to support a polotical agenda. Stop it. Now.

  6. Doug D permalink
    July 14, 2008

    Bill S seems to say that we are helpless in trying to manage our future. If we are truely unable to manage the pattern and pace of our future growth, it is not salmon that are doomed. It is us! It is naive and defeatist to say that the first and only possible step is manadated limits on the the size of individual families. Lets start instead with true commitments to sustainable communities and a sustainable economy.

  7. Christine M permalink
    July 14, 2008

    Bob is spot on. He finds the emperor with no clothes and says it. The over consumption of resources is increasing the effect of population growth. We as a society look at success with the size of car, houses, toys, etc. Our economic stimulus package says to go buy buy. When will we begin to understand the hidden costs of all of this? Water, habitat, global climate change. We can not have it all.

  8. James L. Buchal permalink
    July 14, 2008

    Unfortunately, Joe Friday probably wouldn’t have done such a good job getting “just the facts” if he were investigating misconduct in the LAPD. And that is sort of what we have here.

    The federal government (and others) decided to foster overfishing, run hatcheries, protect salmon predators, and introduce competing species. The result? Probably the same fish biomass in Western rivers as there ever was, just different species. We could grow different fish if we wanted to, but we don’t.

    Then, instead of focusing on real, adverse effects from urbanization, particularly sewage plant releases, the federal government goes out and points fingers at private rural landowners and loggers, farmers, miners and others. After all, urban voters aren’t about to stop taking birth control and other pills when their leaders explain how the rural folk are really at fault. This despite competent studies showing essentially no relationship between logging, farming, etc. conducted under 1970s era rules and salmon populations, but powerful and significant adverse effects from urbanization.

    And now we come to the endgame: unable competently to discharge its job of protecting the environment with people, the federal government proposes to eliminate the people. It would sure be nice if the feds would do their job instead of promoting more federal controls.

  9. Eric Doyle permalink
    July 14, 2008

    Instead of making veiled personal attacks, perhaps the commentor could contribute to the discussion by identifying which facts he thinks are being “cherry picked”. The issues affecting Pacific salmon are not controversial, except perhaps in the minds of those that wish to manufacture their own “reality”.
    On the subject of political agendas, I would add that the anti-intellectual, anti-science efforts of the political right are a danger to our democracy.

  10. Bob Vadas, Jr. permalink
    July 14, 2008

    I believe that Bob Lackey is the messenger with bad news; why crucify him so unprofessionally? Accepting that there is a problem is the first step to solving it. Given recent terrorist threats and that the USA seems to be growing more from immigration than in situ birth rates, now would be a good time to cut down immigration rates to address both problems. To not to do will worsen urban sprawl in this country. We need a sustainable economy, which doesn’t mean an endless increase in human-population size at the expense of fish and wildlife. I consider my position to be practical, rather than bleeding-heart, liberal.

  11. Doug D permalink
    July 14, 2008

    David Sarvadi accuses Bob Lackey of “cherry picking” the facts. I actually thought Bob somewhat soft-pedaled the intentional blind eye that resource managers have turned to some of the realities driving the continued decline of Pacific salmon. For example, California now professes that it is “shocked, shocked” by the sharp down turn in Sacramento chinook. Yet, in the 10 plus years since the ESA listing of most Pacific salmon in California, the state and its resource management agencies have done little or nothing to slow or reverse the slide. I certainly don’t mean to imply the WA and OR have it licked, but they are at least acknowledging the problem and making some genuine efforts. You hardly have to “cherry-pick” to find endless examples out there that make Bob’s point.

  12. Bill S. permalink
    July 14, 2008

    I’m all for sustainability. It’s one of my favorite things. But there are some things that cannot be sustained. A west coast population three to four times its current number means more than just 250 million people. It means all the vehicles, housing, roads, utilities, commercial services, etc. that they will require. The fact is I would not have viewed the decline of the salmon in terms of human population growth. My first complaint would have been poor water management, such as water quality affected by industrial and municipal operations. It was Dr. Lackey who raised the population issue. And I believe this perspective is eminently valid.

  13. Briana Harris permalink
    July 14, 2008

    The real problem with what Dr. Lackey presents here is that societal priorities are not so easily changed. No neat, simple answers exist here as they do in some of the other issues being researched to help stem the tide of the extinction or virtual extinction of salmon. Oh, nutrient deficiencies are hurting salmon? Let’s throw some carcasses in the water. That type of problem is easily defined and highly quantifiable, which is just how most technocrats like things . . . but not at all similar to how human behavior is influenced. Fisheries biologists and other salmon professionals are disinclined to admit to this staggering problem because at the gut level, it feels like it renders the work they do unnecessary or unproductive. While in reality the deepening of our understanding is always useful, it can’t feel good to admit that a lot of what happens is out of the hands of the expert and in the hands of the average citizen.

    Several of the other posters here have it right: salmon aren’t just important in and of themselves, but also because they provide one crucial marker for how our ecosystem is working. If social priorities are what need to change to save them, then it makes the work of the salmon professional or technocrat all the more important but drastically changes the focus. The responsibility of the salmon professional becomes not just to research but to become advocates for the watershed systems and the ecosystem as a whole so that average Joe makes better decisions for everyone, including the salmon.

  14. Sharon W permalink
    July 14, 2008

    Accepting projections of future population growth without questioning them robs us of addressing one of the ultimate causes of the environmental degradation that so negatively affects the salmon runs. As intelligent, self-reflective beings, we should be able to see how increasing numbers of high consumers is not sustainable. The possible solutions aren’t just mandatory immigration controls or regulation of numbers of births. They can involve education and persuasion to change societal behavior, much like we have done in other areas, such as recycling.

  15. Paul Fishman permalink
    July 14, 2008

    I’ve always been in agreement with Bob’s views on PNW salmonids and human population, and I’ve also had my share of bashings for not drinking the cool aid and climbing on the bus. Below is something I recently pulled together after reading an excellent piece in the Oregonian about our unspoken rule to ignore human population growth in the PNW.

    I pulled up the Draft Lower Columbia Domain Recovery Plan – July 2007. To be honest, I have not been involved in this effort, and my intent is not to criticize it outright. My goal was to quickly find the sections of the document that deal with two drivers of salmonid recovery success: climate change, and human population growth. The results of my brief inquiry of this massive document were, to say the least, disappointing. This is a large effort that has been in-process for a long time, and it barely pays lip service to climate change and human population growth.

    Chapter 6. Future or Cumulative Limiting Factors and Threats

    my search terms: population; human population; climate

    results: 1, the following paragraph, highlighted in yellow, indicating the section is not yet written

    “Warming of the global Climate is unequivocal (ISAB 2007-2). Climate change, in concert with predicted increases in the human population and concurrent resource use are likely to have detrimental, if not precisely predictable, effects on future recovery of ESA listed Salmonids. This section will be developed to acknowledge the ecological and management complexity of these issues, note that Oregon has attempted to mitigate the potential effects of these adverse
    effects on recovery efforts and model the additional productivity and population abundance improvements that would be required to offset these adverse effects.”

    Search term: “global warming” no results
    Search term: “climate change” no results

    Chapter 7. Management Strategies and Actions

    Search term: human
    Results: 2; only the below is relevant

    “Managing for past, current and future adverse impacts of human activities throughout the life cycle are critical to achieving recovery goals. Development and implementation of management activities that lead to recovery will require sound integration of conservation biology principles and ecosystem management with today’s social, cultural, political and economic constraints. Meffe and Carrol (2002) identified some of the key principles that form the basis for sound salmon recovery efforts, including:
    1) Set aside or protect the highest quality habitat
    2 ) Do not let habitat conditions degrade further
    3) Maintain or restore critical ecological processes
    4) Develop goals and objectives based on deep understanding of ecological properties of the system
    5) Evolutionary processes must be conserved or restored
    6) Management must be adaptive and minimally intrusive.”

    Search terms: climate, global, warming
    Results: 1, table entry discussing flow management to compensate for climate cycles and global warming in the Columbia River estuary

    Right on Bob – and thanks.

  16. Bethany P permalink
    July 15, 2008

    I think it’s funny that the first thing some people jump to is limiting our human population. That will not solve any problems that are environmental. There is plenty of room and resources for the 6.5 billion people on earth to survive and more. Don’t get me started about resource distribution… Education is what is lacking. Zoning rules and city planning is lacking. Money to fund such projects as stream restoration and rejuvenation are lacking. People with the money that could create change don’t understand the environmental processes at work, and therefore, I believe they just don’t care. They’d rather spend their money on rejuvenating the economy. It costs a pretty penny to restore streams and protect them from sedimentation, cementation, heat, etc. caused by anthropogenic means. The questions is, what’s more important? Salmon? k-12 education? gas prices? the Seattle viaduct? How do we prioritize our spending? How do we properly educate our children and adults to understand the real scientific truth that we know?

    How do we educate each other in a non-attacking way? If you start out by attacking people who identify with the conservative political side, they won’t listen to you, no matter how loud you yell. I think people in general, no matter their political/religious/etc affiliation, would vote to protect our environment if they understood the science behind our fight to “save the salmon”–among other key species we love so much to stay among us on the West Coast and beyond. But because so many people aren’t as science-inclined as we are, other important social things are winning the bucks.

    For my non-science-educated relatives, I’ve made little educational care packages to fight back against the weird email forwards that say things like “global climate change is just a government conspiracy”. Yes, my aunt sent me that and really believed it. It’s scary what a lack of education will enable people to believe.

  17. Bob Vadas, Jr. permalink
    July 15, 2008

    My original criticism was of David Sarvadi’s overly defensive response, a sign of problem denial. Now let me respond to Bethany P. I agree that education is an important issue for promoting environmental protection, but proliferation of impervious surfaces with urban sprawl and car travel aren’t easily stopped without reducing the human population. The problem manifests itself across biological scales, too; a big reason that obesity is sweeping our nation is because people drive too much, which all contributes greatly to global warming, acid rain, etc. Moreover, every time you jam on your car brakes, heavy metals leak out that can get into water bodies. Education can help this problem, but ultimately, reduction of immigration rates is needed for ethical population control, which may seem politically conservative but really isn’t if you want to protect the environment in bipartisan fashion. A good recent documentary to watch is “The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of The American Dream” (see http://www.endofsuburbia.com). The trouble is, people don’t think outside the box enough, particularly because political parties tend to polarize and brainwash people into questionable agendas because their favorite party believes in it.

  18. Peter Salonius permalink
    July 16, 2008

    Bethany P. says ” There is plenty of room and resources for the 6.5 billion people on earth to survive and more. ”

    Given the fact that mostof the present 6.5 billion depend on
    cultivation agriculture for their sustinence -AND-

    Given the fact that cultivation agriculture has been degrading
    arable soil mass (by erosion) and plant nutrients (by leaching
    into ground water and the ocean) at rates FAR above natural
    replacement rate -AND-

    Given the fact that agricultural productivity has been maintained
    and increased with fossil fuel dependent fertilizers -AND-

    Given the fact that we are clearly moving towards depletion of
    non renewable geological (fossil and nuclear) energy sources –

    THERE IS NO WAY THAT ” There is plenty of room and resources for
    the 6.5 billion people on earth to survive and more. ”

    In fact to achieve long term sustainability, the global human
    population will either be decreased to a fraction of its present levels

    BY PLANNING –

    or by GEOLOGICALLY IMPOSED RESOURCE SCARCITY

    during the next couple of centuries so that unsustainable cultivation agriculture can be abandoned as a food production technology /// to
    be replaced by a return to gleaning sustinence from restored
    complex, self-managed, diverse ecosystems populated by DEEP ROOTED forest and prairie species assemblages.

    Peter Salonius
    Research Scientist
    Natural Resources Canada
    Fredericton, New Brunswick
    CADADA E3B 5P7

    email psaloniu@nrcan.gc.ca

  19. Stuart Hurlbert permalink
    July 16, 2008

    Very interesting timing, this!

    Just yesterday, I gave a lecture at the University of California, San Diego titled, “Immigration, Population Growth and the Environment.”

    Two case studies are presented briefly were the Salton Sea (where I and my students have done limnological research the last 20 years) and the Columbia River (where I have been a member of the CRB Independent Scientific Advisory Board for three years).

    My messages were mostly critical and depressing. But towards the end I did have one slide titled “Ray of Hope” – where I applauded Lackey, Lach and Duncan and a few of the other authors in “Salmon 2100″ as among the few truly “honest brokers” in the scientific community, the scarce-as-hens-teeth “Joe Friday” challengers of the spin, political correctness, and censorship that pervades the scientific community, environmental organizations, government agencies, mainline media, and legislatures, when it comes to population issues.

    Here’s my version of “Salmon 2100″ for the Salton Sea: http://www.sci.sdsu.edu/salton/H2OSSPopGrowthCongr.html

    Yes, yes, I know, I’m not quite the gentleman that Lackey is.

    Will come back later, with comments on salmon and the Northwest…..

  20. mvg permalink
    July 17, 2008

    Why is population control abhorrent? One does not need to imagine cruel government measures in order to contemplate population control. Controlling immigration is not an evil. In California, all of the gains of enlightened personal behavior (choice based family limits) that should have led to a stable population have been destroyed by immigration. Expecting people to stay in their own country does not strike me as abhorrent at all, unless you have some idea that the US is the only place where people can live.

  21. Kat permalink
    July 17, 2008

    It is all about controlling ourselves, and frankly we are all just too fat and happy to do so. Everybody makes choices. Some of us even choose to be delusional. The fish (and other natural wonders) end up the losers to our “me first” philosophies. Who is surpised?

  22. Derek Poon permalink
    July 17, 2008

    Joe Friday would have enjoyed the Oregon Salmon 2100 (subject of this blog) conference where President Bush’s administration requested time to address Dr. Lackey’s Salmon 2100 book. President Bush’s representative stated the following.

    ” . . . as cogent a situation analysis as I’ve seen pulled together into one package.”
    James L. Connaughton
    Chairman, Council on Environmental Quality
    January 25, 2006
    Speech presented at the Salmon 2100 Conference
    Portland, Oregon

    The observations presented by various contributors are true enough – growth and develop can and do lead to environmental degradation. Available resources and sustainability will always be hotly debated, but technology is available to significantly reduce adverse ecological impacts, but is not used because many feel economically threatened by growth management. There is no panacea to this complex issue, but a proactive incentives program of money, regulatory flexibility, and recognition could turn economic threats to hope. This idea is not new; consult John Lombard’s new book (http://www.savingpugetsound.com/home.htm)

  23. Mike Gearheard permalink
    July 17, 2008

    Lackey makes me squirm, but you can’t fault his logic. We lost this battle in most of Northern Europe and in New England; what’s to stop us from losing it again in the great Pacific Northwest? Our hope this time is that maybe we can learn from the past. Experts like Lichatowich and Montgomery can provide some guidelines. We need to protect and restore the rivers or sections of rivers that are most important, we need to nurture the salmon ‘strongholds’ that still exist. It is the century of dam removal, and we are seeing habitats restored across the Northwest. So there is some reason for measured optimism.

    Can our society learn to live in greater and sustainable harmony with our natural world, or are we locked in the historic and unsustainable paradigm of trying to bend nature to our will? That is the essential question. That is the challenge Bob puts before us.

  24. Bill S. permalink
    July 17, 2008

    When I think how this country welcomed my grandparents 100 years ago and how as a result I am sitting in my own home in an affluent suburb, safe, well-fed, drinking clean water and breathing (relatively) clean air, and how this opportunity is being denied or will be denied to so many others no less deserving or hopeful than my grandparents…well, it is abhorrent and hypocritical too. I was thinking about the views expressed above that staggering increases in population can be absorbed if sustainability is practiced. I suppose, in theory, California can accommodate three times its population. Japan with slightly less land area than California supports more than three times the population. But I don’t know how it’s possible, at least in terms of water resources, when billions of gallons of water are pumped into sprawling golf courses and swimming pools and vast acreages of domestic gardens in arid regions and even deserts. And in terms of stemming immigration, sure, it might work. Let’s try this: have all the folks enjoying luxuriant life styles put away their golf clubs and bathing suits and move out of their McMansions and gated pleasure domes and start spraying pesticides in the Central Valley and knocking shingles off roofs in 95 degree weather. It’s simple, take the jobs away, and the immigrants will stop coming.

  25. Bob Hooton permalink
    July 18, 2008

    At the risk of stating the obvious one wonders how difficult it can be for people to accept the strong inverse relationship between the number or wild salmonids and the number of people surrounding them. The same simple concept can be applied to grizzly bears, wolves and any number of other species that once graced our now heavily populated Pacific states and southern British Columbia. For those who might think denial is something exclusive to the Pacific Northwest be assured the dinosaurs are every bit as frequent north of the 49th. It seems no amount of experience and communication is enough to avoid the same irreversible alteration of fish and wildlife habitat in places and among people we thought knew better.

  26. Emma Dozier permalink
    July 18, 2008

    The ironic thing is that my friends who have moved to the West Coast (mostly LA or San Diego) do so mainly because they say people there lead a more environmentally-conscious lifestyle. I just visited and my hostess was an extreme vegetarian who owns a Honda Civic hybird, but bikes more than she drives that. On the other hand, in her home-grown (I like to think of it as a Victory, but it’s really just a Local-vore) garden, she is forced to water it like crazy – in the desert, like Dr. Lackey said!

    If people keep moving to the West Coast to be more environmental, and in doing so they’re hurting the environment…(I don’t even know how to end this non-sentence. But it’s bad. And ironic. Can we solve it?).

  27. Hal Michael permalink
    July 19, 2008

    One of the messages from The Salmon 2100 project, and many of the comments here, is that we know what to do. We know what salmon, grizzlies, and other reources need to survive and thrive. We know what people need for food, shelter, and so on. It is not a case of not knowing what to do. The issue is that we, as a society, won’t decide what to do.

    But it is further exacerbated by the fact that the solution to saving salmon (or other resources, or humans) ultimately involves the whole world. Whether it is climate change, immigration, conversion of raiforests, etc., the problems can’t be solved in a vacuum.

  28. Bob Vadas, Jr. permalink
    July 21, 2008

    I’d like to respond to the two comments of Bill S. It’s true that America can take pride in being a melting pot, particularly our willingness to accept political refugees that have been treated badly elsewhere. Indeed, my own family escaped communism in eastern Europe. But even a melting pot has its limits, and not to respect those limits is ultimately unethical. If America doesn’t limit immigration, it’s sending the world the message that it’s OK to not be sustainable. And using Japan as an example of sustainability doesn’t make sense, given that it has to import a lot of commodities. What we really need is for America to be more self-sustaining, to close the loop rather than to keep importing commodities from China and outsourcing jobs to India. The old expression “buy American” needs to be reinvoked, NAFTA needs to reformed or repealed, multinational corporations should be made illegal, and we need to have more choices to buy local and organic products. It’s a bit ironic to buy a hybrid car that’s been made overseas, but fortunately that’s starting to change.

  29. Stuart Hurlbert permalink
    July 27, 2008

    Here are some excerpts from the Preface to a volume I have just finished editing of scientific articles on the Salton Sea. If you think the facts presented are important and if you – like most of the public – have been unaware of them, you might wonder where the mainline media, environmental organizations, govt agencies, and scientific community have been…….

    “Specifically, water supplies that will be politically available for the Salton Sea will depend in part on whether by 2050, California’s present population of ~38,050,000 (California Department of Finance estimate for 1 January 2008) grows to ~47,860,000 – or whether it grows to ~82,180,000. Which scenario develops depends largely on what the U.S. does with respect to immigration legislation and enforcement (Martin and Fogel 2006). The first of these estimates assumes that, starting now, illegal immigration is mostly halted and rates of legal foreign immigration are balanced with emigration. Under this scenario, the U.S. would be at or very close to population stabilization by 2050, with a population only ~26 percent larger than our present one. The Salton Sea might have a chance.

    “The second of these estimates, representing a population ~116 percent larger than our present one and still rapidly growing, is the predicted outcome of legislation such as U.S. Senate Bill 2611 (Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006) (Martin and Fogel 2006). That bill, passed by a large majority [90% of Democrats and 42% of Republicans] of the Senate in May 2006 but rejected by the U.S. House of Representatives, would have given legal resident status to most illegal aliens in the U.S. and also roughly tripled annual de facto legal immigration quotas. For the U.S. as a whole it would have given us an estimated population in 2050 of 500,180,000. Between now and then the U.S. population would thus grow at an average of ~1.9 percent per year, double our current rate of ~1.0 percent per year. If that environmentally disastrous scenario were ever to transpire, then our efforts on behalf of the Salton Sea may indeed have been wasted. California and much of the rest of the U.S. would be well on the road to achieving a degree of environmental degradation like that already typifying most of the settled parts of the Old World.

    “Immigration legislation of this sort is not some past danger or distant theoretical prospect. All three of the current U.S. presidential candidates – U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama – voted for SB2611. During their current campaigns each has promised to champion such legislation once again if elected. Both of California’s Senators – Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein – also voted for SB2611. …

    “These issues and social and political dynamics are not unique to the Salton Sea, and we should learn from other situations and minimize reinventing of the wheel. In that regard, every Salton Sea technocrat and decisionmaker should purchase and read Salmon 2100: The Future of Wild Pacific Salmon (Lackey et al. 2006)……

    “Perhaps those of us in Southern California, Arizona and Mexico concerned with the Salton Sea, the Colorado River, its delta, and other threatened aquatic ecosystems in our region should aspire to compilation of a similar volume titled Waters Southwest 2100… Our brothers and sisters in the Pacific Northwest are ahead of us at the moment, though not by too much: 7 of the 8 U.S. Senators from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana also voted for SB2611. No one should be under the delusion that ‘green’ politics rule in the Northwest any more than they do in the Southwest.”

  30. Hal Michael permalink
    July 29, 2008

    Stuart suggests that we need a Waters SW 2100. I have heard requests for a Salmon 2100 North to address the Northern BC/Yukon/Alaska problems. But, in the January 25, 2006 meeting in Portland that Derek talked about it needs to be remembered that the invited PNW salmon recovery leaders were asked to respond to the challenge and thesis in Salmon 2100. With one exception, none of them would do that. We can present the information but the folks in charge aren’t willing to engage in any sort of meaningful debate. The real challenge is to get a (civil) dialogue going. Not only on slamon, but water, land, energy, food, populations. In short, the future.

  31. Stuart Hurlbert permalink
    July 29, 2008

    This comment reflects a widespread ‘book burning’ mentality that simply opposes any open discussion of impacts of immigration rates and population growth on the environment.

    No serious or thoughtful proposition is offered. Just “Stop it. Now.”

    Better “cherry picked facts” (which ones?) rather than no facts at all!

  32. Stuart Hurlbert permalink
    July 29, 2008

    Bill S. makes it seem as if only draconian solutions are available for the U.S. population problem.

    If we get to 1 billion people – or even half that – we indeed are likely to have less democracy and more poverty and our govt might indeed decide to implement a one child per family policy.

    But in the meantime, how about trying this: double the deduction per child on our tax returns – but give NO deduction for children after the first two. Very pro-family, very pro-population stabilization.

    Bill S. is unclear why reducing immigration rates (“with an iron fist”, no less!) is “abhorrent” to him and “should be rejected by a true democracy.” Immigration restriction is indeed essential to the survival of any democratic state, most especially that small fraction of nations that people want to migrate to.

    Some folks on this thread may remember Garrett Hardin. Here’s what he said in an essay about ten years ago:

    “Never globalize a problem if it can possibly be solved locally. …”

    “We will make no progress with population problems, which are a root cause of both hunger and poverty, until we deglobalize them. Populations, like potholes, are produced locally…”

    “We are not faced with a single global population problem but, rather, with about 180 separate national population problems.”

    “All population controls must be applied locally; local governments are the agents best prepared to choose local means.”

    “Means must fit local traditions. For one nation to attempt to impose its ethical principles on another is to violate national sovereignty and endanger international peace.”

    “The only legitimate demand that nations can make on one another is this: “Don’t try to solve your population problem by exporting your excess people to us.” ”

    – Garret Hardin, UCSB Professor of Biology
    There Is No Global Population Problem, The Humanist, July/August 1989

  33. Stuart Hurlbert permalink
    July 29, 2008

    This famous presentation by Gaylord Nelson, Founder of Earth Day, and Roy Beck, head of NumbersUSA is a bit out of date (things are worse now), but still the best and clearest presentation on the threat of current excessive immigration levels for the U.S.

    As a potential contributor to salmon preservation and recovery, it is worth the 100 best scientific, habitat restoration, and management projects now in progress for salmon of the Pacific Northwest. So if you are a salmonophile, send NumbersUSA a donation!

    http://www.numbersusa.com/content/resources/video/recommended/an-environmental-choice.html

  34. Fabian Alvarado permalink
    August 14, 2008

    James, I miss your refreshing clarity.

    Dr. Lackey and others have astutely gone beyond simplistic notions of overpopulation and scapegoats such as immigration to specify the actual impacts. Yet, perhaps the operative problem can be boiled down to a basic human plight endemic to environmental politics. Hypocrisy, denial, and ignorance cause people to promote and support environmental agendas that ignore the actual impacts. This is undoubtedly because they and their constituents/donors are collectively the source of those impacts. Clearly, it is easier and more profitable to wage war on politically disenfranchised rural industries than it is to tell the people actually consuming most of the resources to go without their cheap electricity, fine dining, redwood decks, green lawns, bananas for breakfast, etc. It is ironic that the unsustainable lifestyles of many of our most celebrated urban environmental warriors depend on the very rural residents they seek to blame for all our real and imagined ecological woes.

    I should note that I count myself among those living unsustainably. I can think of very few people in this country that can claim otherwise. However, I do not pretend I am saving the world by destroying the livelihoods of others. There is simply too much of this going on at the policy level when it comes to West Coast salmon. Do not underestimate the rural-urban disconnect. While it can do wonders to assuage the conscience of your average suburban consumer, it is the single greatest obstacle to effective and just environmental policy.

  35. Stuart Hurlbert permalink
    August 16, 2008

    This is a request to Fabian for clarity and less innuendo.

    “politically disenfranchised rural industries”? “destroying the livelihoods of others”? In the Northwest, the main rural industries would be, I imagine, forestry, agriculture, livestock and mining. How have they been disenfranchised? My impression is that they run the show!

    Who are the betes noires “destroying the livelihoods of others”? No one on this thread.

    Lackey’s “astuteness” (and courage) lies not in that he has gone beyond “overpopulation and scapegoats such as immigration,” but in that he (and a few other authors in Salmon 2100) has dared to mention them and make clear they are not “scapegoats” but fundamental considerations for the future of salmon or any other major environmental issue.

    Can you name ONE “urban environmental warrior” who blames “all our real….ecological woes” on “rural residents”? That is just irresponsible blather.

    All cities – and their urbanite residents, warriors or not – import almost all their resources from rural environments and export most or all of their solid wastes to other rural environments or to the ocean. This is a worldwide pattern. As population grows in the Northwest, it is one of the factors that will further imperil salmon.

    Overconsumption is a minor issue compared to overpopulation. The objective should not to be to maximize the density of the human population, and to then make sure – via Big Brother controls – that everybody is equally poor. See the essay by Hanauer at: http://www.sci.sdsu.edu/salton/NPG%20ForumOverpop.html

    The first requirement for “effective and just environmental policy” over the medium- and long-term is to stabilize and then reduce the size of the human population. That is also the road to greater social and economic justice. And you start with your own country before you start getting bossy and paternalistic with the rest of the world.

  36. Bob Vadas, Jr. permalink
    September 4, 2008

    I wish to reply to Fabian Alvarado beyond Stuart Hurlbert’s helpful reply. Having lived in both rural and urban environments, I know that urbanites can more easily use foot, bicycle, car-pooling, and bus transportation to reduce their ecological footprints. But people from both environments can certainly reduce their ecological impacts in various other ways (many of which my family implements). Nevertheless, immigration in the USA, and overpopulation in the world in general, is the overarching problem that many people (including many scientists) can’t admit to because of their sociocultural and religious biases (cf. http://www.beesource.com/pov/wenner/oikos94.htm). An alcoholic won’t recover until (s)he admits to having a problem, and similarly Pacific salmon will continue to decline unless our overpopulation problem is recognized and acted upon. Indeed, I’ve undertaken an as-yet unpublished multivariate study of California’s salmon and other sensitive fishes and amphibians in coastal streams, which showed statistically significant relations between their population viability and biodiversity (cf. http://www.fort.usgs.gov/conferences/ifimconf/program.asp).

  37. Mike McGinnis permalink
    September 11, 2008

    It is also important to note that 30 years of watershed-based planning and conservation in the Pacific Northwest, including northern California, by non-governmental organizations was undermined by federal government action that increased water allocations to industrialized farming operations, for example, and who failed to take into consideration (or follow the recent recommendations by the Pew Ocean Commission or the US Ocean Commission Reports) that there are multiple impacts (or drivers) from anthropogenic climate change.

    Ironically, the same federal agencies point to the decline in primary and secondary levels of ecological productivity of the marine environmental of the NE Pacific (e.g., the ocean-climate regime) as one primary cause for the decline of wild salmon. Yet, this same decline in coastal marine productivity is driven by anthropogenic climate disturbance.

    While Dr. Lackey points to the problem future wild salmon face, I still find it amazing that in the urbanized coastal-riverine environments of the west coast (e.g., port cities), there remain a few remnant populations of salmon who have survived the radical degradation of their watersheds by industrialization, deforestation, over-fishing, pollution, hatchery technology, and energy/water use — all anthropogenic stressors that have led to the decline of salmon. There is little hope for salmon in the age of the anthropocene.

  38. Gary Sharp permalink
    September 11, 2008

    I met Dr. Lackey over a decade ago – in my travels about the USA – while working on the Program Development Plans for the seven NOAA/NMFS Regional Fisheries Bodies. It was clear to me that Lackey and I were in close agreement about what the real issues were. Seven Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management Plans were generated by local experts, and submitted to the Washington DC HQ – using an underlying fundamental document that I generated with the help of John Everrett and Churchill Grimes, and a few other NMFS staff in 1988 –

    Thirty years later – we are still waiting for these changes in policy and methodologies –

    And, as a long-term International fisheries science person – I have convened many Workshops and Expert Consultations – thousands of pages edited/produced their Proceedings -The end result was that in 2003 I created a generic document via FAO Reports series – Future Climate Change and Regional Fisheries: A Collaborative Analysis

    page 53 – last paragraph –
    “Perspectives on what is truly controllable needs to be revised, and recognize that ocean ecosystems begin on the highest mountains. Waterways and all downstream and coastal water quality are very much at the heart of the dilemma. High latitude dynamics and
    related ecological processes have been somewhat underemphasized, since most humans are averse to such extreme environments. If that should change, or our impacts in these regions become greater, it is clear that there will be dire consequences for those ecosystems, as well,
    as the species involved are truly specialized, and quite responsive to minor changes. They and all species need options even more than humans do, the most highly adaptable predators on
    Earth. In this respect, Earth’s services to mankind are tightly linked to maintaining any and all options for the many species that comprise the many dynamic, interactive ecosystems that either cope with natural dynamics, or expire – the ultimate lesson from Nature.”

    These last few lines pretty much parallel what Lackey has written about the west coast salmon situation – Too many People is the fundamental issue – and things are getting worse – rapidly.

    Denial is not a river in Egypt!

  39. Gary Thomas permalink
    September 12, 2008

    When managers commercially harvest a stock of fish without knowing their abundance they periodically over fish the stock by mistake. This is exactly what happens when managers use erroneous predictions from preseason forecast models to estimate the size of the salmon (and other fish) stocks returning each year. Where I have compared preseason predictions to precise measures, they have been shown to be offs by several factors on abundance. Furthermore, the predictions often fail to agree with the change in direction of the stock size. After the overfishing damage is done management will attempt to restore the stock by stopping all forms of commerce, while blaming the collapse on everything except their practices. The West coast salmon managers failed to implement inseason management practices that would have conserved the salmon spawning stocks. If and when management begins to conserve the spawning stocks of salmon in the PNW rivers, it will be appropriate to discuss other limitations to the production of salmon stocks. As usual, there are numerous experts of a through z, with no perspective or priorities.

  40. Dave Cannon permalink
    September 17, 2008

    This is a response to many of these recent posts, as well as Rocky Barker’s column in the Idaho Statesman (http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2008/09/08/rockybarker/how_much_priority_saving_wild_salmon) in which he states, “I have my own problems with Lackey’s message. I am by nature an optimist and have a hard time accepting that we cannot fix something if we set our minds to it. But Lackey said he and his team of scientists were neither pessimistic nor optimistic.”
    The salmon problem is in fact a people problem. Rapidly increasing human population in areas critical to salmon survival will no doubt heighten environmental concerns (e. g., water quantity and quality, air quality, need for more resources such as gravel/timber, etc.). But the biggest obstacle to salmon viability is the public’s attitudes; there is no hope for wild salmon stocks unless people develop what Aldo Leopold called the “ecological conscience.”
    My concern with the future of fishes of the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere comes from a long career spent with three institutions sworn to care for fishes and other natural resources. I worked for the Forest Service during the late seventies through the early nineties. For half of that time I was an engineering technician—for the latter half a fisheries biologist. Being a multiple use agency, I’ll assume that many of my concerns with that agency’s actions are pretty obvious to most of you contributing to these posts, so I won’t go into details.

    But it was my stint with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that clarified what the fish are actually up against. One has to look no further than one of the gems of the Service, the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, Wyoming. The elk on the refuge are allowed to over-browse the riparian vegetation, essentially eliminating the willows along Flat Creek. This is one of the clearest examples I have encountered of favoring one species at the expense of all others…definitely not ecosystem management. Aquatic species are in greater trouble than their terrestrial counterparts largely because they are out of sight, therefore out of mind. Humans, and institutions, do treat them differently!
    More recently, some of the native organizations in Alaska – and I worked for one as a biologist – have solidified my pessimistic (time will tell if it’s realistic) view that fishes, even in the healthiest habitats, are in for serious trouble. Large-scale mining is presently a highly controversial topic in Alaska, where some of “the world’s largest” mines are proposed in the headwaters of some of the world’s most productive waters.
    I’ve seen an attitudinal change of 180 degrees with some of the local people. Not long ago they were strongly opposed to ocean commercial fisheries that were harvesting an unknown amount of their subsistence salmon as bycatch. In essence they were saying that nothing is more important than their subsistence way of life. But now many of those same people are supporting large-scale mines, including mixing zones, which will surely reduce water quality. In a recent paid advertisement following the defeat of a divisive anti-mining proposition, local native people appeared with the statement, “Clean water, fish and prosperity – we can have it all”.
    Putting this in the policy realm, I could begrudgingly accept people’s decisions to proceed with the mining or other potentially harmful economic growth activities, as long as they’re fully informed about the pros and cons of the issues.
    But one quote comes to mind here, made by M.C. James at a fisheries conference in 1937. He said, “That part of the industry dependent on the Columbia River salmon run has expressed alarm at the possibility of disastrous effects upon the fish through the erection of the tremendous dams at Grand Coulee and Bonneville…Aside from the fish ladders and elevators contemplated, there is a program for artificial propagation set up which may be put into effect if the fish passing devices fail to meet expectations. No possibilities, either biological or engineering, have been overlooked in devising a means to assure perpetuation of the Columbia River salmon”.
    So those who, like Rocky Barker, are by nature optimists (and I used to be one of them, at least before becoming a fisheries biologist) will put their faith in pundits like Mr. James…almost every time. In the meantime, the reality of the Columbia River, with its severely reduced salmon and lamprey populations, acts as a lasting rebuke to his misguided optimism.

  41. George permalink
    October 7, 2008

    Increased population will always be a degrading catalyst on the environment. May be people over salmon as sad as that is. Perhaps projected river corridors would help?

  42. Alex permalink
    January 27, 2009

    Your article is brilliant. I think George has a point. Projected river corridors may help. How knows.

    Alex

  43. Bob Vadas, Jr. permalink
    February 4, 2009

    Dave Cannon cites a good web site, on which Bob Lackey continues to assert that scientists shouldn’t be advocates for environmental management, notably for the climate-change issue. But given that denial of global warming has become pretty ridiculous by those of the conservative persuasion (see the blogs in http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/19/flawed-science-advice-for-obama & http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008661205_trees23m0.html), I believe that informed advocacy by scientists is needed to keep ignorance and deception from disrupting environmental management and evolutionary education as have became pathologic problems during G.W. Bush’s administration. Agency scientists are paid by taxpayers to provide technical assistance and advice to citizen groups, within the limits of political constraints. And as citizens, scientists should express their views in layperson outlets like newspapers. As my sister once sagaciously noted, the job of environmental scientists and environmentalists is to help slow down the destruction of the earth through management and educational efforts, perhaps allowing time for cultural and/or genetic evolution of humans to occur so that we come to better protect our planet. Notably, scientists didn’t speak up during the Third Reich of Germany, which contributed to the severity of the Holocaust.

  44. Anonymous permalink
    February 18, 2009

    Bob Vadas Jr. and others have referred to “denial of global warming “, and ” Bob Lackey continues to assert that scientists shouldn’t be advocates for environmental management”

    There is a titanic struggle going on to avoid billions of dollars going into an issue that has little scientific basis – AND – to avoid heroic and very dangerous climate modifying schemes such as seeding the oceans with iron salts to increase the photosynthetic removal of atmospheric CO2 by phytoplankton etc, etc, etc.

    Some of us are seriously trying to have the human race change its behaviour for THE RIGHT REASONS.

    Science will loose its credibility if the public finds they have been lied to — even if the lies were designed to produce laudable changes in behaviour.

    I am pasting (below) some material that you may find interesting starting with a serial email I have sent to various recipients:

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    TO: VARIOUS RECIPIENTS

    I started writing to cabinet ministers in the Canadian government federal government (my employer) with proposals for Carbon Taxes in the late 1990s.

    I appealed to scientists to lobby their governments for sane population policies in an article in the December issue of Conservation Biology, 1999.

    I posted a proposal for international global carbon taxation in the October 2003 issue of the ASPO Newsletter.

    However I have been reading science papers for years that that slowly made me conclude that greenhouse gases do not drive the Earth’s climate – and – that the draconian and dangerous proposals for climate mitigation —- (dust injections into the atmosphere, seeding the oceans with iron salts to enhance the photosynthesis of phytoplankton etc.) —- were environmental stage management that was predicated on the erroneous acceptance of the IPCC/Kyoto dogma.

    I believe we can agree that we have seen unquestionably rising levels of greenhouse gas as a result of human fossil fuel burning and deforestation —

    — however the evidence for increased global temperature being caused by rising levels of greenhouse gases appears to be non-existent and a fabrication of the IPCC and its (Mann’s) now infamous ‘Hockey Stick Graph’.

    Please let me know by return email if you think the material I sent to Aubrey Meyer (below) has any omissions or problems that you feel I have not recognised.

    Thanks in advance

    Peter Salonius

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    —–Original Message—–

    From: Salonius, Peter

    Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2009 22:25

    To: aubrey@gci.org.uk

    Subject: CO2 rises / climate cools

    Hello Aubrey Meyer, Global Commons Institute

    I have faithfully read your voluminous electronic postings about Contraction and Convergence for years — so I hope you will do me the honour of reading some short postings of mine that suggest the science relating human generated green house gases to climate oscillations needs serious re-examination.

    And Aubrey, if that re-examination demonstrates that the IPCC has become a science ‘cult’ that is impervious to considering new data that supports an opposing hypothesis — then your Contraction and Convergence initiative may have to adopt another ‘raison d’être’ such as geological (fossil and nuclear) energy depletion (same policies regarding the use of energy —— different reasons).

    I hope that recent evidence showing that tropospheric temperatures have been trending downward during the last decade will stimulate your interest about climate change which Al Gore and much of the global science community have accepted (with inadequate questioning) to be caused by human activity.

    VERBIAGE THAT WAS PUBLISHED WITH THE GRAPH (showing the disconnect between CO2 increase and climate) THAT I CAN NOT SHOW ON THIS WEBSITE, STATED:

    The science of climate change is complex. Unfortunately, politics and the media has affected the science. Climate research institutions know that they must present scary climate forecasts to receive continued funding – no crisis means no funding. The media presents stories of climate disaster to sell their products. Scientific research that suggests climate change is mostly natural does not receive much if any media coverage. These factors have caused the general public to be seriously misled on climate issues resulting in wasteful expenditures of billions of dollars in an ineffective attempt to control climate. The following document offers a very thorough and accessable summary of current climate science, CLICK ON:

    http://www.friendsofscience.org/

    —– and then go to OUR POSITION and click on the ESSAY where any confidence you have had in the IPCC/Kyoto and the Michael Mann ‘hockey stick graph’ scare-mongering will evaporate pretty quickly.

    The opening graph graph at:

    http://www.friendsofscience.org/

    shows the temperature changes of the lower troposphere from the surface up to about 8 km as determined from the average of two analyses of satellite data. The best fit line from January 2002 to December 2008 indicates a decline of 0.27 Celsius/decade. Surface temperature data is contaminated by the effects of urban development. The Sun’s activity, which was increasing through most of the 20th century, has recently become quiet, causing a change of trend. The green line shows the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, as measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. The ripple effect in the CO2 curve is due to the seasonal changes in biomass.

    Peter Salonius

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    On the subject of global population history and future prospects,
    I offer a ‘somewhat well referenced article, posted on THEOILDRUM, October 20, 2008, that suggests the economic and population growth, facilitated by the shift from hunter gathering to farming, has been responsible for the environmental destruction that has been escalating for the last 10,000 years. I think you will agree that IF my thesis, which is the culmination of my ~ 42 year investigation into the relationship between humans and their supporting ecosystems, is correct — then the ‘population bomb’-that continues to make natural resource/biodiversity management problematic-exploded a long, long time ago see:

    ‘Agriculture: Unsustainable Resource Depletion Began 10,000 Years Ago’ at;

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4628

    My ‘guesstimate’ for sustainable human numbers in the 100s of millions, if true, suggests that the present global population has so far overshot the carrying capacity of its supporting ecosystems that most analyses of the relationship of excessive human numbers to SPECIFIC ASPECTS of environmental damage are simply indulgent academic exercises.

    There are more people on the planet (and have been for millennia) than it can sustainably support.

    Many of us have concluded that even TWO CHILD FAMILIES — that would only slowly stabilize the human population — are not an adequate response to this problem; we require the adoption of NO or ONE CHILD PER FAMILY behavior to orchestrate the Rapid Population DECLINE that is necessary now.

    Peter Salonius

    Research Scientist, Canadian Wood Fibre Centre

    Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service

    Government of Canada
    P. O. Box 4000, 1350 Regent Street South,
    Fredericton, New Brunswick, E3B 5P7, Canada
    Tel.:(506) 452-3548, Fax: (506) 452-3525
    Email: psaloniu@nrcan.gc.ca

    http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/directory/psaloniu

  45. Peter Salonius permalink
    February 18, 2009

    On the subject of population pressure on salmon and other natural resources, I offer a ‘somewhat well referenced article, posted on THEOILDRUM, October 20, 2008, that suggests the economic and population growth, facilitated by the shift from hunter gathering to farming, has been responsible for the environmental destruction that has been escalating for the last 10,000 years. I think you will agree that IF my thesis, which is the culmination of my ~ 42 year investigation into the relationship between humans and their supporting ecosystems, is correct — then the ‘population bomb’-that continues to make natural resource/biodiversity management problematic-exploded a long, long time ago, see:

    ‘Agriculture: Unsustainable Resource Depletion Began 10,000 Years Ago’ at:

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4628

    My ‘guesstimate’ for sustainable human numbers in the 100s of millions, if true, suggests that the present global population has so far overshot the carrying capacity of its supporting ecosystems that most analyses of the relationship of excessive human numbers to SPECIFIC ASPECTS of environmental damage are simply indulgent academic exercises.

    There are more people on the planet (and have been for millennia) than it can sustainably support.

    Many of us have concluded that even TWO CHILD FAMILIES — that would only slowly stabilize the human population — are not an adequate response to this problem; we require the adoption of NO or ONE CHILD PER FAMILY behavior to orchestrate the Rapid Population DECLINE that is necessary now.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Bob Vadas, Jr. wrote, February 4th that: “Dave Cannon cites a good web site, on which Bob Lackey continues to assert that scientists shouldn’t be advocates for environmental management, notably for the climate-change issue.”

    I started writing to cabinet ministers in the Canadian government federal government (my employer) with proposals for Carbon Taxes in the late 1990s.

    I posted a proposal for international global carbon taxation in the October 2003 issue of the ASPO Newsletter.

    However I have been reading science papers for years that that slowly made me conclude that greenhouse gases do not drive the Earth’s climate – and – that the draconian and dangerous proposals for climate mitigation —- (dust injections into the atmosphere, seeding the oceans with iron salts to enhance the photosynthesis of phytoplankton etc.) —- were environmental stage management that was predicated on the erroneous acceptance of the IPCC/Kyoto dogma.

    I believe we can agree that we have seen unquestionably rising levels of greenhouse gas as a result of human fossil fuel burning and deforestation —

    — however there is a titanic struggle going on to avoid billions of dollars going into an issue that has little scientific basis – AND – to avoid heroic and very dangerous climate modifying schemes.

    Many scientists have not caught up with the latest criticisms of the entire ‘Anthropogenic Climate Warming’ position and the science that makes a mockery of the IPCC/Kyoto/Michael Mann/Al Gore ‘supposed international consensus’ about the fact that human activity is driving global climate change.

    I suggest going to: http://www.friendsofscience.org/

    —– and then go to OUR POSITION and click on the ESSAY about ‘up to date’ climate science, where any confidence in the IPCC/Kyoto and the Michael Mann ‘hockey stick graph’ scare-mongering will evaporate pretty quickly.

    We should be seriously trying to have the human race change its behaviour for THE RIGHT REASONS, however science will loose its credibility if the public finds they have been lied to — even if the lies were designed to produce laudable changes in behaviour.

    Please let me know by return email if this material has any omissions or problems that you feel I have not recognised.

    Peter Salonius

    Research Scientist, Canadian Wood Fibre Centre

    Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service

    Government of Canada
    P. O. Box 4000, 1350 Regent Street South,
    Fredericton, New Brunswick, E3B 5P7, Canada
    Tel.:(506) 452-3548, Fax: (506) 452-3525
    Email: psaloniu@nrcan.gc.ca

    http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/directory/psaloniu

  46. Bob Vadas, Jr. permalink
    March 6, 2009

    I wish to reply to Peter Salonius’ recent and somewhat verbose discourse on the problems of human-population growth, for which I wholeheartedly agree (see http://www.hcn.org/issues/41.4/how-low-will-it-go). Such growth is a big reason that greenhouse gases have expanded greatly in our atmosphere. Although I agree that scientists sometimes shoot for “sexy” hypotheses (e.g., overstating ocean fisheries-depletion problems) to get funding and publish in scientific journals like ‘Science’ and ‘Nature’, I’d also contend that agency scientists (e.g., those in the forestry field) have a lot to lose if global warming is for real. For analogous reasons, the Canadian government allowed overfishing of Atlantic cod and the devastating damming (with anadromous-fish impacts) in the Nechako River of the Fraser River basin, BC. Now that the USA has a new, more-environmental president, I certainly hope that Canada’s Prime Minister (Stephen Harper) will join us in modern, environmental thinking.

  47. gerald permalink
    May 26, 2011

    Government should have more awareness towards R&D especially to private sector. They need help from the government.

  48. shoenya permalink
    May 26, 2011

    Nice blog you have! keep up the good work =)

  49. Denise permalink
    February 19, 2012

    You share valuable! I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts and time into the stuff you post!! Thumbs up.

    Regards
    Denise Wallas

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