Is Sustainability Bugging You?

I was reading through the recent issue of Fly Fisherman, surprise, surprise, and I beside a great article written by a good friend, I can across a short article in their “Newscasts” section entitled “New” Insects.  It referred to an article in the journal of the American Entomology Society identifying 99 new insect species.  This is result of a research project undertaken by the Lake Champlain Research Institute in New York’s Adirondack Park.  The significance to sustainability comes under the heading biodiversity.

The new species, members of the mayfly, caddisfly, and stonefly families, are interesting because these insects are considered to be “the canary in the mine” or “indicators for ecosystem integrity.”  “Certain mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies are intolerant of pollution.”  Seeing these new species could be indicators that the ecosystem is either rebounding or holding its own against a barrage of environmental issues pressing in on the park.  Not the least of which is the increase in population and the need for more land, habitat destruction and global climate change.   It is also a study to establish a baseline so that in the future, effects of a storm like Tropical Storm Irene, or the effect of dredging of the Ausable River can be evaluated against that baseline.  According to Luke Myers, chief investigator, the “study validates the land-use protections that are in place for the Adirondack Park.”

On the fly fisherman side of it (I have to add that), the researchers said “the data could be used by expert fly fishers who rely on imitations of aquatic insects to catch trout.”  It means new fly patterns to tie.  Myers said “We’ve got a more complete understanding of the fly fishing menu, so to speak, and also the times of year that these insects are emerging in these streams.  We have good phrenology data from when these species emerge and how they emerge: If its synchronized or they spread out, if all the same species emerge over a long time in the summer months, and things like that.”  Yeah, a plethora of different flies to tie, and yeah for biodiversity.

Nature is amazing.  I remember one evening on Vermont’s Mettawee River, standing in a cloud of mayflies from the riffles at my feet.   It was truly an incredible experience, one that I hope continues into the future.


Sustainability and Our Ocean

Dave with striper on Great Bay

While Rich and I have a lot of passion around sustainability, project management, and sustainable project management, occasionally we diverge a little and talk about our obsessive side, our personal crusades.  Back in September, there was an EarthPM post about Omega 3 and menhaden.  By the way, that campaign was successful as the Atlantic Marine States Fisheries Commission (AMSFC) voted to reduce the catch of menhaden.

While related, this is different, and I thought we were done with this issue.  Apparently we are not.  In the 1970’s we almost lost one of our major fisheries resource, the striped bass.  I remember when there were a few really big fish being caught, and no small fish.  The years following those were the worst on record for striped bass fishing.  For all intents and purposes, striped bass disappeared.  Intensive fisheries management saved the striped bass fishery then,  Look out, deja vu, it is happening again, for some of the same reasons it happened before, over fishing.  In their infinite wisdom, some states refuse to acknowledge the striped bass as a gamefish.  That acknowledgement would go a long way to protecting this resources.  I am very proud of my adopted state, Maine, and the State of New Hampshire where I lived prior to moving to Maine.  Those states have adopted gamefish status for the stripers.  Massachusetts has not and I don’t understand why.

Southwick Associates, a company that compiles statistics for fish and wildlife issues, concludes that wild striped bass are worth 20-times more per pound as a gamefish as opposed to its commercial value in the market.  Doesn’t it make sense to declare the striper a gamefish and keep collecting that kind of revenue?  While I was on Cape Cod recently, I stopped at an outfitter whose business is based around the influx of striper fishermen.  Cape Cod has always been an ideal fishery for the stripers.  There is plenty of squid and other baits for the stripers to feed on and endless flats for the stripers to patrol for food.  Last year was one of the worst on record for stripers.  Fishing the usually productive flats was virtually non-existent.  A few fisher were caught offshore, but there was a marked decline in the stripers available along the shoreline.

I just can’t get my head around the commercial interests who are so short term oriented that they can’t see the forest for the trees.  This fishery is not sustainable abused this way!  Of course commercial interests put those short term gains in their pocket, but it certainly is not allowing future generations or for that matter, our generation, to continue to enjoy walking the beaches, fishing the rock piles, or searching the estuaries and oceans for stripers from boats or kayaks.  Isn’t that what sustainability is all about.  Oh, by the way, it makes “cents”, too.

As I said, this struggle is well documented.  For further reading, see George Reiger’s Striper Chronicles and Dick Russell’s Striper Wars.  Here is an important video that also helps to put the issue in perspective.  Seveeal of my friends an aquaintances appear on this video like Lou Tabory, who I’ve know for about 20 years and Coop Gilkes.  A quick story about Coop.  I had the opportunity to fish Martha’s Vineyard (almost cost me my marriage, but that’s how the fishing obseesion can affect your life, another story).  The stripers were keying on a particular fly that Coop ties.  I stopped at his shop and he was out of that fly.  He went in the back and tied two for me.  This was the first time I had stopped in his shop so I wasn’t a regular.  But he did it anyway.  That’s just the way most members of this fly fishing faternity are.  The head cement was still wet when he gave me the flies.  Those produced most of the fish I caught during that time on the Vineyard.

Anyway, here is the video.  I hope it inspires you to contact ASMFC or the Massachusetts congressional representatives to voice your opinion on making the striper a gamefish.  We certainly won’t lose a food sources as stripers are particularly suited for aquaculture.  Unlike salmon who have to re raised in saltwater pens, therefore have a chance to compete with wild stock, stripers are raised in freshwater.  In addition, when pond raised, there is little change of the heavy metal concentrations that affect wild stock.  Please do your part.

Stripers as Gamefish


The Sky is Falling – May be time to heed the warnings

We’ve tend to stay neutral when it comes to the global climate change debate, although we have tried to arm you with the information we believed you, as project managers, need to make sure you can take advantage of any projects that may arise as a result of any mitigation strategies.  Today, we heard about a couple of disturbing reports due out over the next several months.  Their titles were pretty ominous so we decided to dig a little deeper.

Take a look at some of these headlines and reports to be released and see if you don’t agree that they are unnerving;


NOAA: Past Decade Warmest on Record According to Scientists in 48 Countries 

Earth has been growing warmer for more than 50 years.

And this one a report that is indicative of what is to come.

The Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.

The title says that those extreme events we have been experiencing, a major snow storm in the northeast in October 2011 for instance, are going to continue and we need a risk mitigation process to address them.  Further, we will need to “adapt” to these changes.

Another report coming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC);

Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation

And finally, an interview from a scientist who has not only been one of the questioners of global climate change, but also his study was partially funded by an organization made up of climate change skeptics.  Dr. Richard Muller, professor of physics from the University of California, Berkeley, and founder of the Berkley Earth Surface Temperature Foundation, undertook an independent two year study of global climate change.

It was not that he himself was a sceptic, he just didn’t believe the likes of Tom Friedman and Al Gore because Dr. Muller believes their contentions were not truly science based.  Here is part of the interview between Dr. Muller and Eleanor Hall with Bronwyn Herbert from the Australian Broadcast Network (ABC).  You can hear the entire interview here.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Richard Muller says he wasn’t convinced the earth was warming, and set out two years ago to find out if mainstream climate scientists were wrong.

RICHARD MULLER: Sceptics had raised legitimate questions. Many of the thermometers were of very poor quality and poorly placed. There were  djustments being made to discontinuities in the data. There was perhaps undue influence from warming of cities, which was warm, but that’s not global warming.

BRONWYN HERBERT: He says he was particularly surprised that his results so closely correlated with previously published data from other teams in the US and the UK.

RICHARD MULLER: Somewhat to my amazement, none of the effects changed the answer. We wound up getting the same answer that the other groups had previously gotten for the amount of warming. It’s about 0.9 degrees Celsius over the last 50 years. The poor temperature quality data, even though it was at bad locations, the change in temperature I recorded was accurate. The urban heat island, just not that much area of the earth is urban. The temperature adjustments that people made, well those adjustments were made with more care than we could know, and in the end the adjustments didn’t bias the data. We picked five times as many stations as they did. Their selection of stations was sufficiently representative that it didn’t change the answer. So, in the end, the amount of global warming is what they said it was.

BRONWYN HERBERT: So do you now believe that global warming on earth is occurring?

RICHARD MULLER: Oh yes. I certainly believe that now.

And finally, from a report Agence France-Presse (AFP) states that a draft UN report three years in the making concludes that man-made climate change has boosted the frequency or intensity of heat waves, wildfires, floods and cyclones and that such disasters are likely to increase in the future.

“The document being discussed by the world’s Nobel-winning panel of climate scientists says the severity of the impacts vary, and some regions are more vulnerable than others. Hundreds of scientists working under the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) will vet the phonebook-sized draft at a meeting in Kampala of the 194-nation body later this month.

“This is the largest effort that has even been made to assess how extremes are changing,” said Neville Nicholls, a professor at Monash University in  Melbourne, Australia, and a coordinating lead author of one of the review’s key chapters. Mindful of an outcry by climate skeptics over flaws in an earlier IPCC text, those working on the document stress that the level of “confidence” in the findings depends on the quantity and quality of data available.

But the overall picture that emerges is one of enhanced volatility and frequency of dangerous weather, leading in turn to a sharply increased risk for large swathes of humanity in coming decades.”

“Its publication coincides with a series of natural catastrophes around the world that have boosted the need to determine whether such events are freaks of the weather or part of a long-term shift in climate. In 2010, record temperatures fuelled devastating forest fires across Siberia, while parts of Pakistan and India reeled from unprecedented flooding. This year, the United States has suffered from a record number of billion-dollar disasters ranging from flooding in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to Hurricane Irene to the ongoing Texas drought. Large swathes of China are suffering from intense drought as well, even as central America and Thailand count their dead from recent diluvian rains.

Most of these events match predicted impacts of manmade global warming, which has raised temperatures, increased the amount of water in the atmosphere and warmed ocean surface temperatures — all drivers of extreme weather.

– It is “virtually certain” — 99-100% sure — that the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes will increase over the 21st century on a global scale;

– It is “very likely” (90-100% certainty) that the length, frequency and/or intensity of warm spells, including heat waves, will continue to increase over most land areas;

– Peak temperatures are “likely” (66-100% certainty) to increase — compared to the late 20th century — up to 3.0 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050, and 5.0 C (9.0 F) by 2100;

– Heavy rain and snowfall is likely to increase over the next century over many regions, especially in the tropics and at high latitudes;

– At the same time, droughts will likely intensify in other areas, notably the Mediterranean region, central Europe, North America, northeastern Brazil and southern Africa.” © 2011 AFP

Yosemite 121 Years Old

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that there is more to life than just work, work, work.  In 1890, Yosemite National Park was created.  It’s not that a beautiful place did not exist prior to 1890, it did as shown in the 1878 watercolor of the Digger Indians by Constance Frederica Gordon-Cumming en, Indian Life at Mirror Lake.  National parks are great stress relievers.  No matter what your preference, camping, fishing, hiking, birding, photography and more, you can do any or all of it in the myriad of state and national parks scattered across our country.

Although, we certainly can’t get away from projects no matter where we go.  Not only is the designating of a state, local or national park a project, especially for those directly involved in a project like Yosemite, like Galen Clark and John Muir, or the president at the time Benjamin Harrison, but it will create more projects.  Fast forward to present day and the jobs initiative.  While we have not read all of the text of the proposed jobs initiatives, we haven’t seen anything on improving the infrastructure of our national parks.  While it may be that it is buried in there someplace, it probably isn’t.  Maybe it is because it only affects a specific, and small, group of people who use the parks.  We have a feeling that the number may be larger than we think.  According to the latest (2010) figures, more than 281,300,000 people visited our national parks.  Just like this website, however, they may not be all “unique” visits.  But still, 281+ million people per year is nothing to sneeze at, since the total population of the US in 2009 was approximately 307 million people.

But let’s not lose sight of the real issue here.  The question is, if there were infrastructure projects instituted as part of a jobs initiative, what is the economic, social and environmental ripple effects.  Just to give one example:  how many people would be employed during the infrastructure improvement?  If there are improvements, how many additional people would use the facilities?  How many people depend on the visitors themselves; e.g. restaurants, camping/rv suppliers and hotels surrounding the parks?  What are the effects on the environment?  Most importantly to us, these projects will need to be managed.  The different projects will lie along the green spectrum, from green by definition to green in general.

Let’s keep an eye on any jobs initiatives.  They will create projects!