Recently Gov. Gregoire announced results of a study on ocean acidification and Washington state’s multi-million dollar shellfish industry. Ocean acidification is a major danger to the marine environment. Shellfish shells are composed mainly of calcium carbonate which dissolves (or does not form) in an acid environment. Ocean krill, at the bottom of the marine food chain, fail to hatch or do not mature as environmental acid level increases. Without krill, there will be no fish to support a fishing industry.
While the state can do much to reduce local sources of acidification, the fact is that atmospheric carbon dioxide is the largest contributor to acidification, and as long as the planet continues to spin in the same direction, the atmospheric carbon in the Pacific Ocean comes from points west of the U.S.
The largest contributor to atmospheric CO2 is burning fossil fuels, and the largest user of fossil fuels west of Washington is China. So why, in the name of a few local jobs, are we “scoping” the local environmental impact of long trains hauling coal in uncovered cars from leased public lands in Montana and Wyoming to be stored in open piles next to fragile marine environment until it can be shipped through narrow, heavily travelled, environmentally sensitive Juan de Fuca Straight, to be burned in coal fired power plants in China and South Korea, (remember the smog at the Beijing Olympics) so that the CO2 can travel in back across the Pacific to kill off more local industry and endanger future food resources for an ever expanding global population?
There’s an old saying that everybody is downstream from somebody. Unless we can learn to live without this planet, we need to start approaching environmental problems on a planet-wide basis, and not on the basis of local jobs.
Donna G. Davidson