Archive for May, 2014
IF COAL = CARBON, how do carbon emissions affect
RIVERS, WATERSHEDS and FRESHWATER SUPPLIES?
(Facts from THE UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS)
Air pollution: Burning coal creates smog, soot, acid rain, global warming and toxic air emissions. It is the single biggest air polluter in the U.S. and those airborne particulates fall onto land and into rivers.
Fuel supply: Mining, transporting and storing coal pollutes our land, water and air – and levels our mountains, the headwater sources of our rivers.
Water use: Coal plants consume billions of gallons of cooling water, heating and lowering river levels which then harms wildlife.
Wastes: Ash, sludge, toxic chemicals and wasted heat create environmental problems.
A typical coal-powered plant uses only 33-35% of the coal’s heat to produce electricity. The majority of coal’s heat is released into the air or absorbed by the cooling water which is returned to local rivers. Annual waste from a coal plant’s smokestack scrubbers includes an average of 125,000 tons of ash and 193,000 tons of sludge. Forty-two percent of U.S. coal combustion waste ponds and landfills are unlined, which makes them permeable.
When the waste toxins – arsenic, mercury, chromium and cadmium – contaminate drinking-water supplies, they can damage vital human organs and nervous systems. Ecosystems are also damaged by the disposal of coal-plant waste, sometimes severely or permanently.
SINCE U.S. COAL POWER PLANTS ARE DECLINING,
WHY REGULATE OR REDUCE THEIR EMISSIONS NOW?
• Although coal power only accounted for 49% of the U.S. electricity production in 2006, it represented 83% of CO2 emissions caused by electricity generation that year. (Wikipedia)
• In 2012, CO2 emissions from electric power were only 39% of all U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions; but coal generated 74% of that 39%, thus coal continues to be a significant polluter.
Jan 2014 Primary Energy Production by Source
measured in quadrillion Btu
(most recent figures from U.S. Energy Information Agency, p. 5)
Kuki Gallmann, the first Ambassador for Migratory Species, has staged many celebrations of World Migratory Bird Day at her home in Kenya. NWNL Director was proud to attend the first of these joyful events. This year Kuki Gallmann released a video to mark World Migratory Bird Day. Her words (transcribed below by NWNL) apply equally to birds, fish and all migratory species.
KUKI GALLMANN: Back in 2006, when all over the world, migratory birds were killed, being accused of spreading the deadly avian flu. And they became a symbol of disease and death. I was proud to host the first ever World Migratory Bird Day on the Great Rift Valley of Kenya along the migratory route. At that time, artists from all over the world came to celebrate the beauty and magic, the mystery and freedom of the migratory birds.
On this very day, we’re far and wide. We spread the message of the importance of preserving these bridges amongst continents. I’m proud to add my voice as the first Ambassador for Migratory Species to the ones of my colleagues and friends, to children, to teachers, to conservationists across the globe. It is a time in which we have lost the link.
I recently received a message from a neighbor who asked me, “Where are the birds gone that used to travel to our lakes and watercourses?” We have interrupted their routes. We have crisscrossed the skies with wires. We have threatened them by polluting the watercourses where they come after their long journeys.
We are killing the elephants – they’re also migratory. We are polluting the oceans. We have come to our senses before it is too late. At a time in which the world is divided, wars and many problems destroy peace on the planet. The migratory animals can be seen as ambassadors to peace. They don’t know about politics. They don’t know about religions. They don’t know about the small, short-time scheme of man. They’re a symbol of the superiority of nature over the menial things that destroy and pollute our own lives. I exhort the children particularly today, and my friends and colleagues across the Plant Earth to look again up at the sky at those amazing creatures flying over with endurance, with determination, guided by an ancient instinct stronger than we can explain and reestablish their evidence to respect and protect their habitat. All is connected.”
Thank you, Kuki, again for your eloquent and passionate support of migratory species.
Tomorrow is World Fish Migration Day (WFMD). The ancient migration story of fish ascending rivers from oceans to breed is miraculous. Such fish – called anadromous, from the Greek word “anadramein” meaning “running upward” – include salmon, steelhead, shad, sturgeon, lamprey in the Pacific Northwest; and shad, sturgeon, alewives and herring along the US East Coast.
Anadromous fish swim from the sea inland via open rivers to spawn in small headwater tributaries. In so doing, they bring with them marine nutrients that enrich riverine flora, fauna and forests. After their long journeys back to where they were born, the adult fish release their eggs in cool, forested waters and then die. Thus, some hail anadromous fish as the greatest parents of all, because the nutrients of their remains nourish the flies and insects that are eaten by newly-hatched smolt.
This month, our NWNL Snake River Expedition is documenting the dynamics of anadromous fish in the Pacific Northwest and the studies of local fish biologists, fishermen, watershed managers and the Nez Perce tribal nation. Today, NWNL joins them and the world in honoring the ecosystem services and sustenance values provided by anadromous fish.
*NWNL thoughts prior to World Fish Migration Day-5/24.*
Many are unaware of the exquisite sarabande of life personified by our migratory species: anadromous fish, birds, monarch butterflies, dragonflies and others.
Most migratory species are threatened in one form or another during their annual passages by manmade impediments. Today, on expedition along the Snake River, NWNL is following the struggle of the Columbia River migratory salmon, steelhead and lamprey to overcome dams, pollution, warmer streams and other challenges as they seek their traditional spawning grounds. Fish passages at dams and fish hatcheries have helped them avoid extinction, but more help is needed to bring back healthy numbers of salmon.
Wahkeena Creek cascades down rocky scrambles before a final steep plunge merges into the Columbia River downstream. Wahkeena is a Yakima Indian word meaning “most beautiful.”
The Columbia Snake River system is a vital transportation link for the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. The economies of these four states rely on the trade and commerce
that flows up and down the most important commercial waterway
of the Northwest.*
– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director
NWNL Expedition Photographers are zigzagging with the Snake River, focusing on infrastructure, watershed management, agriculture, biodiversity and impacts of climate and pollution on river health.
Check out more NWNL photos “Wetlands of the World”
– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director