Petrels in Peril

I climb up to the island's higher crags and ridges to join Donna Patterson who is checking on her favorite birds. Giant petrels are large scavengers, about the size of bald eagle, that feed on dead seals, whales, penguins, squid, or just about any other creature that dies on Antarctica's Southern Ocean. This is why nineteenth-century sailors called them bone shakers. They also called them stinkers because, if challenged, they can spit a vile fishy stomach oil up to 6 feet. Patterson has another...

Fear of Flooding

It couldn't be happening in a worse place. The Pacific Northwest is already universally known for its rainy climate, and global warming will make winter rainfall heavier and more frequent. As mountain snow is pounded with heavy rain, it melts and unleashes torrents of water down mountainsides, into creeks, into rivers, and increasingly into homes built on floodplains. Already, Scott Weston sees signs of flooding trouble ahead. Weston, a young geoscientist at Madrone Environmental Services in...

Losing the Snowpack Losing Water

Warmth is good for the skipper, but it spells trouble for the region's white gold, as the mountain snowpack has been called, and for anyone dependent on the cool, clear water that rushes down glacier-fed streams in hot July and August. Global climate change threatens to eliminate half the Northwest's snowpack, according to one estimate. Glaciers are frozen freshwater reservoirs which release water during the drier summer months, Richard S. Williams, Jr., of the U.S. Geological Survey wrote in a...

Warm Weather Migrants

Lisa Crozier holds no doubt that warmer weather has led to her distinction of being the first person to discover a particular cold-sensitive butterfly the sachem skipper (Atalopedes campestris) in the semiarid desert city of Yakima, located east of the Cascade Mountains in south-central Washington. Hot, dry days and pleasantly cool nights mark the summers of Yakima, population 72,000, and its nearby wine country. While it is blessed with 300 days of sunshine, though, Yakima faces cold winters...

Profound Change

Marlin and melting glaciers are concrete signs that things are changing, but they are not the only harbingers of things to come in a region proud of its symbols glaciers, orcas, mountains cloaked in fir trees, and wild salmon. As writer Timothy Egan put it, The Pacific Northwest is simply this wherever the salmon can get to. Historically, salmon journeyed upstream from the Pacific Ocean into the bowels of the continent to spawn in rivers in Washington, Oregon, northern California, Idaho,...

Sally Deneen

It feels as if a giant meat locker has swung open, sending a cold, yet thin, wind blowing down South Cascade Glacier just outside North Cascades National Park in northern Washington. The sun glares. Everything is white. The expanse of snow acts like a big reflecting basin. Bob Krimmel, a scientist in a broad-brimmed hat and gloves, is initially winded by the altitude change, but spends much of the day trudging through brush to get to this spot the longest-studied glacier in the northern Cascade...

David Helvarg

I first heard about coral bleaching from Billy Causey, the manager of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. We were sitting in his office deep in a 67-acre hardwood hammock on Marathon Key. It is a place where ospreys, egrets, cormorants, fat black snakes, hermit crabs, parrot fish, even an old tropical fish collector like Billy can still find refuge from the Kmart mall sprawl out on Route 1. Thickset with iron-gray hair and sea-gray eyes, Causey, who moved to the Keys in 1973, sounds...

Rising Waters

Climate change appears to be making big-picture changes to transcontinental currents and the rocky interface of shore and ocean, but rising sea levels also combine with runaway development to devastate local environments. In the last remaining salt marshes ringing San Francisco Bay, a bird and a secretive mouse are steeling to fight their own battles with climate change. The problem there is not that the water is getting too warm, but that it is getting too high. As glaciers melt and oceans...

Breaking the Top of the Chain

But the most dramatic decline came to the sooty shearwater, a predatory seabird at the top of the marine food chain. In the 1960s and 1970s they were present in the tens of millions, McGowan says, the largest population of pelagic marine seabirds in the entire California Current. They dominated it. Millions and millions of them. The birds feed on juvenile fish and larger zooplankton. Researchers began looking at the birds regularly in 1987. By the 1990s, the population of sooty shearwaters like...

Nobody Noticed

The findings at Hopkins were remarkable in themselves, but also significant because the changes had been under way for decades and no one noticed. The first sunburst anemones appeared in 1947. Seaweeds that once covered the rocks not just Gilman's Endocladia com-pletely disappeared. The astounding thing is that we didn't know it was going on, Baxter says with a growl. This is a marine biological station If not for Baxter's tenure and tenacity, the changes might still be going unnoticed. Those...

Orna Izakson

California's famous coast, the golden shore, the stuff of songs, stretches roughly 1,100 miles from the dry Mediterranean climes of the south to the lush rain forests of the north. In sunny San Diego, weather forecasts are notoriously boring according to legend, they are sometimes recorded days or more in advance. In the north, redwood and Douglas fir forests drink in the driving rain and tickle water out of the fog, seeing little sun for months out of the year. In between, plant and animal...

Ominous Increases

Global warming in Alaska is not uniform indeed, portions of the eastern Arctic are undergoing a slight cooling. But in the western Arctic, and particularly in Alaska and the Bering Sea region, the changes are pronounced. According to the Alaska Climate Research Center, annual average temperatures in Alaska increased by 2.69 F between 1971 and 2000 spring temperatures across the state during that period increased by 4.23 F and in Barrow on the northern Arctic coast by 6.97 . In Fairbanks,...

Seabirds in Peril

In 1997, conditions in the Bering Sea were unusually warm, windless, and cloud-free. Sea-surface temperatures were the highest ever recorded. And the ocean's top layer did not mix well with lower levels, leading to a rapid depletion of nutrients in the upper layers and the largest bloom of coccolithophore algae ever seen in the Bering Sea. That same summer, as many as 200,000 short-tailed shearwaters approximately i0 percent of the regional population of this seabird species died, apparently of...

Nice Weather for Mosquitoes

East of Cooper Island, in the Canadian province of Nunavut, a different species of guillemot is also showing the effects of climate change, in a most unexpected way. Since 1990, Anthony Gaston of the Canadian Wildlife Service and colleagues have been studying a breeding colony of Brunnich's guillemots on Nunavut's Coats Island. The guillemots have the particular misfortune to be located near an area of high mosquito abundance, and from 1997 to 1999, note the researchers, mosquito numbers were...

Starving Bears

A little more than a month after looking for black-headed budworm with Juday, cruising up the west coast of Alaska, and recording the testimonies of the residents of villages such as Little Diomede, I am standing on the deck of the icebreaker Arctic Sunrise, anchored just off Barrow on Alaska's north coast, and, with most of the ship's crew, watching a black dot in the distance swim slowly toward us. At first, we assume it is a seal on closer inspection, however, it reveals itself to be a polar...

Dying Forests

The Seward Highway is the main thoroughfare south from Anchorage. It runs down the Kenai Peninsula to the small, attractive fishing town of Seward, diverging en route into the Sterling Highway, which leads to the equally small, and perhaps even more stunning, fishing town of Homer. It is a devastatingly beautiful stretch of highway, alternately revealing stunning mountain vistas, the still waters of Cook Inlet, and long stretches of coniferous forest. A closer look at the trees that cover the...

Pollution Travels

And the soot may not remain in Asia, because pollution does not always stay put. Scientists say that the pollution cloud could travel around the world in less than a week, carried in the upper atmosphere. Atmospheric chemist David P. Parrish of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Aeronomy Lab in Boulder, Colorado, says recent research reveals a disturbing fact According to National Science Foundation-supported work in 2001, Asian soot particles are piggybacking on dust clouds...

The Asian Cloud

The global warming effects that are pushing Indian fishermen to the brink of starvation are part of a larger picture. American military pilots flying over the Indian Ocean from the U.S. Air Force base on Diego Garcia first detected the presence of a large, dense cloud of sooty pollution over Asia in the 1980s. Since then, it has regularly appeared in satellite photographs and been tracked by research ships. In 1999, a team of scientists funded by the National Science Foundation began a 25...

The Climate Summit

For much of India, the heat is already on. In late 2002, New Delhi hosted a United Nations conference on climate change, attracting bureaucrats and political leaders from around the world. Left out of the air-conditioned event, however, were the voices of average Indians already affected by global warming. Those people were heard at an altogether different but simultaneous forum, the Climate Justice Summit, organized by the Indian Climate Justice Forum. It is the poor and the marginalized who...

Changing Island

Junior Prosper teaches geography in a secondary school. He also does volunteer work for the island's Environmental Awareness Group. On a Sunday morning, with his wife and daughter in the back of his jeep, Prosper is taking me to parts of Antigua that I might not otherwise see. The island is only 9 miles long by 12 miles wide, 108 square miles in all. Of its 73,000 population, some 30,000 people live in the capital of St. John's. But we are bound for the hinterlands, past Dark Wood Beach and...

The Big Makeover

Sandy Hook's quiet Fort Hancock looks like the one place northern New Jersey's developers forgot, but appearances are deceiving plans are well under way to turn time-forgotten Fort Hancock from a quiet corner into a bustling conference center. The developers, Sandy Hook Partners, share rent-free office space at Fort Hancock with the Jersey Shore Partnership, which is perhaps the biggest civic booster for beach replenishment. James Wassel, president of the Partners and of the larger Wassel...

Greater New York Urban Anxiety Jim Motavalli with Sherry Barnes

From a sea kayak floating off Pier 40 in lower Manhattan, you get a whole new perspective on New York City. The bustling metropolis falls away, and you are alone except for the sporadic barge traffic and the incongruity of students walking the high wire as part of a trapeze school in the Hudson River Park just beyond the seawall. If the Hudson rises, it is most immediately noticeable to people like Randall Henriksen, who has led sea-kayaking expeditions here since 1994. From his perch in the...

Endnotes

The firsthand observations and direct quotations in this chapter are by and large based on the author's 6-week visit to China in the winter of 1996 to 1997. For a more detailed account of this journey, and the related environmental questions examined, as well as the documentary sources for other factual points made in this chapter, please see the author's book Earth Odyssey Around the World in Search of Our Environmental Future (New York Broadway Books, 1999). Additional research and reporting...

Jim Motavalli

The Indian coastal city of Mumbai, formerly Bombay, is home to India's vibrant film industry (Bollywood) and probably boasts more cell phones per capita than any other city on the subcontinent. But it is also home to one of Asia's largest slums. Half of Mumbai's population lacks running water or electricity, and the smoke from hundreds of thousands of open cooking fires joins with the sooty smoke from two-stroke auto rickshaws, belching taxis, diesel buses, and coal-fired power plants in a...

Shifting Sand

With no access to the municipal beach and no parking even if there was, Unger sits in his van and points to the surf as it crashes on the beach. We've already lost 30 feet of beach since they replenished this stretch a few years ago. It's something that we'll have to keep doing, and it's galling that for the most part it benefits only a few wealthy property owners. But dire predictions that all the replenished sand would be washed out to sea within 2 or 3 years have not yet been borne out. It's...

Sinking Fiji

From Sydney, I catch a flight to Nadi on Fiji's main island of Viti Levu. There I catch a second cross-island flight aboard a Twin-Otter prop plane. There are six of us taking the night flight, including two ladies in saris, as we fly over mountaintop clouds illuminated by star-spangled southern constellations. In 1874, the kingdom of Fiji, known for its fierce cannibal warriors, became a British Crown colony. The following year a measles epidemic killed a quarter of the native Fijians....

Their Hands Are Tied

Inside the Ministry of Planning in the Antiguan capital of St. John's, Daven Joseph leans across his desk and talks of the need to train our people in coastal zone management and development. Removal of beach sand has been restricted but, he adds, It is not enforced properly because we don't have the capacity to patrol the beaches. There has been, he admits, no effort to replant mangroves, but I think that can be one of the more significant programs. At another cramped office not far from the...

Of Climate Change

With contributions from Sally Deneen, Ross Gelbspan, David Helvarg, Mark Hertsgaard, Orna Izakson, Kieran Mulvaney, Dick Russell, and Colin Woodard Published in 2004 by Routledge 29 West 35th Street New York, NY 10001 www.routledge-ny.com Published in Great Britain by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane London EC4P 4EE www.routledge.co.uk Copyright 2004 by E The Environmental Magazine Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group. This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library,...

Australias Coral Crisis

I did not see some of the worst bleaching effects in the Keys, but 8 months later I get an opportunity to investigate coral bleaching and its links to climate change as part of a magazine assignment in Australia and Fiji. It will turn out to be a challenging job full of too much travel, miscommunications, political conflict, a dive in which my air cuts off, and another in which I cut my hand on coral, resulting in the need for hand surgery. Still, given my paradise-rich itinerary, I receive...

Colin Woodard

When the Dutch want to spend a summer's day by the sea, not a few drive up to the quiet village of Petten, perched on Holland's North Sea coast. Some stay in tidy cottages huddled within earshot of the roaring surf others smell the sea air or watch seabirds from their hotel balconies or the windows of the handful of shops and restaurants near the hamlet's main intersection. But from town, nobody can get so much as a glimpse of the nearby sea. As far as the eye can see, Petten's ocean view is...

Whither the Wild Salmon

As bad as this less-snow more-rain trend may be for people, it already poses problems for a beloved regional symbol wild salmon. Climate change, according to a report by Canada's David Suzuki Foundation, is seen as one of the causes of a dramatic drop in Pacific salmon populations along the west coast of North America. Kim Hyatt speaks matter-of-factly. For more than 25 years, he has made it his life's work to understand the sockeye salmon of Canada's Pacific region, particularly the Okanagan...

Author Biographies

Sherry Barnes currently lives on Galankin Island near Sitka, Alaska. A graduate of Prescott College in Arizona and a former intern for E The Environmental Magazine, she has produced radio series for National Public Radio in Alaska, and is currently working at a faculty support center for the University of Alaska Southeast. Gary Braasch is a nature photo journalist who covers environmental issues for magazines worldwide. He was named Outstanding Nature Photographer in 2003 by the North American...

Barbuda Half an Island

The isle of Barbuda is 27 miles north of Antigua. There is evidence the two were joined in recent geological times, but today in some ways Barbuda could be on a different planet. Although about two-thirds the size of its sister island, Barbuda has a mere fourteen hundred inhabitants, most of whom live in the town of Codrington. The town is named after Christopher Codrington, a colonial governor of the Leewards who once signed a 200-year lease with the British government for Barbuda with the...

Dick Russell

Antigua is too beautiful. Sometimes the beauty of it seems unreal. Sometimes the beauty of it seems as if it were stage sets for a play, for no real sunset could look like that no real seawater could strike that many shades of blue at once. . . . No real sand on any real shore is that fine or that white in some places or that pink in other places . . . . Fifteen years after those words were written, I am standing on the shoreline at Runaway Bay. It is mid-January, the...

Kieran Mulvaney

We squint through the fog, trying to make out the shape we know we should be able to see by now. The charts say it is there, and the radar shows it clearly, but to our eyes there still is no sign of the island that lies just 2 miles ahead. Then, slowly, the mist parts, and our blindness gives way to incredulity. It seems almost impossibly barren, a boulder-strewn piece of rock in the middle of freezing, gray ocean, with a ramshackle collection of huts and houses standing defiantly at its base....

China The Cost of Coal Mark Hertsgaard

My first morning in China, I was unexpectedly stricken with a fear known to all working journalists Did I come all this way in search of a nonexistent story Back in the United States, I had heard over and over again that China had the worst air pollution in the world, thanks to its overwhelming reliance on coal to fuel an economy that, throughout the 1990s, was growing by an average of 8 percent a year. All this coal burning was not only fouling China's skies, I'd been told, it had also made...

The Mangroves Are Gone

The ideal vantage point for exploring what is happening to Antigua is from the sea. On a Friday morning, along with a half dozen other visitors, I embarked on Eli's Eco Tour, a day-long voyage around the island from the Caribbean Sea on the west side to the Atlantic Ocean on the east. It is skippered by 30-year-old Eli Fuller on his 34-foot, center-console motorboat, the Isis. Fuller was born and raised on Antigua. His grandfather, who arrived in 1941 as America's vice-consul, stayed on to open...