Climate change and runoff threaten Oregon’s iconic coast

Recently, I was prompted to list the three things that matter to me more than anything in my life. My list? Family, the Pacific Northwest, and the ocean. I count my blessings on the first two. I’m lucky to live in a beautiful corner of the world and be close to my family. But as a lifelong advocate for the ocean, I’m alarmed at the rate of change being observed.

Record toxic algal blooms, starving sea lions, displaced marine mammals, an endangered oyster industry—these are just a few on a long list of scary warning signs. The ocean is demanding our attention. Oregon has implemented some innovative policies that are doing their share to protect our one-of-a-kind coastline; our marine reserve system and the beach bill come to mind. But serious human-caused threats to our iconic shores loom large. Two of the biggest ocean threats here in Oregon (where we don’t have offshore drilling, thankfully) are climate change and runoff.

Three studies were recently published that point to the seriousness of these threats.

A paper in the journal of Oceanography looked at indicators that predict ocean pH levels. The model predicted that ocean acidification (a side effect of climate change) will lead to conditions harmful to shell-building animals in the Pacific-Arctic region (this region shares migratory populations with the ocean offshore the Pacific Northwest) in 15 years. If the predictions are true, shells may begin to dissolve. The study is discussed in the Nature World News: “This will not only negatively affect shell-building organisms but also the fish that depend on these types of species for food.” The results of losing nearly an entire trophic level of a marine ecosystem? Let’s not find out by continuing to delay climate action.

A study published in Nature yesterday reported that when it comes to the carbon cycle, the ocean may have a much larger role than terrestrial ecosystems in the future. As our climate changes, carbon feedback from the ocean may exceed that of the land. Why care? The ocean is an important carbon sink. This study points at reduced carbon uptake by the ocean over time, which may impact the rate of climate change.

The third study looks at coastal sediment—caused by runoff from development and agriculture—clogging the gills of young fish. Runoff and stormwater washes pollution, contaminants and sediment into our waterways and coastlines—oil, pesticides, herbicides, hazardous materials, eroded soil and more. Although this study looked at clownfish, the implications are global. This worries me because Oregon is a hotbed for rockfish diversity. I would hate to see any further collapse of our fishing industries or a loss of iconic northwest species. Using green development and sustainable agriculture practices can mitigate the threat of polluting runoff for Oregon.

Bottom line? Oregon must act on climate and continue to adopt practices that protect clean water. It’s not just iconic species being threatened by inaction—jobs, communities and a way of life are also at risk. Learn more about the impact of OEC’s programs in protecting our coasts and how you can get involved: climate policy, greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural and stormwater runoff.

Michelle McGrath, OEC

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Water News Policy Featured Air Quality Climate Protection Transportation Solutions OEC News/Updates/Events Water Action Living Green Toxics-Free Environments OEC Membership
Sort by

Oregon Lawmakers Take Action Against White House Attacks on Environmental Policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 15, 2019 PORTLAND, OR – The Environmental Protection Act (HB 2250) has passed the Senate and is headed to the desk of Gov. Kate Brown. HB 2250 ensures that Oregon’s s
May 15, 2019, 8:24 am
kristas

0

U.S. Supreme Court passes on hearing oil industry challenge against Oregon’s clean-fuels momentum

The Clean Fuels Standard continues immense success, to remain for decades FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 13, 2019
May 14, 2019, 12:30 am
tonyh

0

Oregon World Water Day 2019!

Millions of Oregonians depend on clean and abundant water for their livelihood, hobbies and health. Countless species
February 26, 2019, 11:17 pm
stacey

0

Oregon Environmental Council: Andrea Durbin to transition to City of Portland leadership

After 12 years with OEC, Durbin will head the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability FOR
February 22, 2019, 5:32 pm
admin

0

Stepping Up Efforts to Reduce Plastic Pollution in Oregon

By Belinda McFadgen, OEC Volunteer. “Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our oceans and rivers and threaten wildlife for centuries.” That’s how our friends at Environment Oregon describe the problem of pollution from straws, bags, take-out containers and other single-use plastics. And now, after 14 commu
February 19, 2019, 2:07 pm
admin

0

New report: Oregon fails on diesel

This month, Oregon’s cross-agency team of experts made it very clear: None of our current efforts to reduce diesel pollution have worked, or will work, to meet our state’s goals for protecting human and environmental health. “Diesel emissions impacts to human health and the environment are not being adequately addressed by the DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality] or through Toxics Reduction Strategy planning.” This matter-of-fact statement, and details about Orego
January 30, 2019, 6:21 pm
jenc

0

Oregon’s Future Depends on You!

Did you know that Oregon Environmental Council launched its biggest and boldest fundraising campaign in 2017 to accelerate our progress to protect clean air, clean water and act on climate change? Our goal is to raise $15 million over three years and thanks to our foundation partners and generous
January 28, 2019, 8:39 pm
admin

0

22 milestones for Oregon in 2018

Oregon Environmental Council has a bold agenda for 2019, but before we jump ahead we pause to reflect and to express our gratitude to the extraordinary community partners, civic leaders, board members and donors who stood up for a better Oregon for all. We celebrate and share these important milestones in creating a healthier environment for all Oregonians.January: Home Energy Score ordinance takes effect.
December 20, 2018, 9:37 pm
admin

0

Oregon Values Held Strong on the 2018 Ballot

Oregon Environmental Council staff and board are feeling both grateful and energized to see how Oregonians voted on critical ballot measures in the 2018 midterm election. With 69.06% of eligible voters turning out across the state, Oregonians stood by healthy and
November 13, 2018, 7:52 pm
morgang

0

Oregonians attend DEQ hearing to speak against EPA rollbacks

Dozens of concerned Oregonians left messages of opposition to proposals that would reverse environmental standards that protect our climate from greenhouse gases and communities from harmful air pollution during a public gathering in Portland. Organized by the
October 24, 2018, 4:33 pm
tonyh

0


No Replies to "Climate change and runoff threaten Oregon's iconic coast"


    Got something to say?

    Some html is OK