Author Archives: eghitis

About eghitis

I am the Climate Change Scientist for the NWIFC and my role is to support the member tribes in identifying and responding to the impacts of climate change relative to treaty resources. My background is in geomorphology, specializing in the ways that physical processes interact with ecology. I studied geology as an undergraduate at the University of Washington, with an emphasis on fluvial geomorphology. My master’s degree is in Environmental Geomorphology from the University of Oxford, where I studied coastal hazards, sea level rise, and the links between tidal channel geomorphology and native vegetation colonization in a restored salt marsh. Since then. I have worked on the geomorphic assessment, prioritization, and design of process-based environmental restoration projects in fluvial, estuarine, and coastal settings. While the restoration of ecological function and structure is vital to the resilience of natural systems to disturbance, I believe that directly addressing climate change is critical to long-term environmental sustainability.

Oil Spill in Yakima River Tributary

About 1,500 gallons of used motor oil leaked from an aboveground storage tank into Sulphur Creek and the Yakima River March 1, 2015. Crews from Yakama Nation, EPA and Washington departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife are trying to contain the spilled oil with booms and  vacuums.

The spill happened in a region that according to Washington’s Department of Ecology is “home to hundreds of species of fish and wildlife,” including river otters, beavers, fish, muskrats, as well as wintering and migrating birds.

Read more from Climate Progress here.

State of the Union Addresses Climate Change

President Obama directly rebuked attempts to deny the existence of human-induced climate change in yesterday’s State of the Union address. Below are his full remarks on climate and energy issues, as released before the speech:

We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. And today, America is number one in oil and gas. America is number one in wind power. Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save $750 at the pump…

So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline. Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come…

And no challenge—no challenge—poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.

2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does—14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.

I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what—I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.

That’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it. That’s why we’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history. And that’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts. I am determined to make sure American leadership drives international action. In Beijing, we made an historic announcement—the United States will double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution, and China committed, for the first time, to limiting their emissions. And because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got.

Gov. Inslee Unveils Plan to Reduce GHG Emissions

Gov. Jay Inslee introduced his plan to bring Washington State into alignment with the goals for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that were set into state law in 2008. His proposal is to develop a system for cap-and-trade of GHG pollution that would be “the most comprehensive and probably the most progressive carbon-pollution regulation system anywhere in the world,” according to Alan Durning, executive director of the Sightline Institute, as quoted by the Seattle Times. Inslee’s plan would raise $947 million in 2017 and the money would be allocated to the following programs:

  • $400 million on transportation projects.
  • $380 million on education.
  • $163 million on tax rebates and other help for low-income communities.
  • $3.5 million on administering the program.

Read more from the Seattle Times here.

Native Communities, Crabapples, and Climate Change

pacificcrabapple_berryThe crabapple is harvested by 37 Native cultures from Alaska to Oregon and Victoria Wyllie de Echeverria, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oxford, has studied climate change on the Pacific Coast through changes to to the harvest and use of the fruit. She is now interviewing dozens of Alaska Native and Canadian First Nation elders to get a cultural and historical perspective on changes to the broader ecosystems. Read more here.

Solar Power is Booming

Check out this article in Mother Jones capacity-1-2 card-4-3for some very interesting facts about solar energy. For example, by 2016 solar power will be as cheap or cheaper than conventional electricity in every state except three. Also, in the past decade, the amount of solar power produced in the United States has increased by 139 times. But solar still only produces less than one half of 1 percent of the energy produced in the US, even though it could power the entire country 100 times over.

Lima, Peru Conference: First Steps for Climate Accord

Yesterday, the Twentieth Conference of the Parties (COP-20) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded. After 2 weeks of meetings, climate negotiators from 195 countries have crafted an agreement for all countries to develop plans for limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

The plans are due to the UN climate committee by October 1. At that point the UN will analyze the impact the plans have on slowing climate change. Negotiators will begin working on an introductory document to all the plans at meetings in early 2015 in Bonn, Germany, and Geneva, Switzerland. The document will be presented and (it is hoped) approved at the next Conference of the Parties in Paris.

You can read analyses of the meeting results at Mother Jones or from Robert N. Stavins, participant in the meetings and Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program.