This article is only for open minded readers who may not have the time to dig around the chaff to find the kernels. Use your time efficiently, go to the links and read/learn some more; make your own conclusions on where we should be spending our energy and especially scientific monies.
This is Just My Opinion:
Scientists should either stick to science and put it out into the world for others to use, or use it themselves, individually or collectively to help create solutions … but they should not leverage nor twist nor allude to feeble scientific connections for political purposes … What could I possibly be talking about?
Ever since the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline was approved, the tsunami of political BS has been piling up like flotsam on the west coast … from politicians who claim to be brave enough to risk jail time, backed up by the usual plethora of doomsayer organizations to the locals who have quite completely been hoodwinked to the point of it now simply being a belief … however blind … that the world will not survive this decision.
What bothers me the most is the scientists, presumably now that they have been un-gaged by the Liberal administration, have resorted to using their pent-up scientific energies to make up for lost ground and in doing so have jumped a few gaps of not only science but logic and sensibilities… what can I say, it’s the year of the TRUMP.
What started this for me was an article in the Peninsula News Review where the Raincoast Conservation Foundation was headlined … their website (raincoast.org) is an example of the inappropriate mix of political enthusiasm and science that I’m referring to … which becomes the well of misinformation and half truths that understandably, the local papers leverage but also the CBC, Guardian, Black Press go to grab ‘real scientific knowledge’ and end up just being an echo chamber … too bad … sensationalism sells … it’s the year of the TRUMP.
But back to the article, it starts with talking about some basic science … throwing numbered cards off of a boat and asking people to tell them where they wash up … a great idea, although it sounds like something a grade four class would be able to implement with their dad,s 16ft fishing boat with the Garmin from the car and be done every few weekends as a pleasant outing… not as it was, by a group of Biologists at significant expense, I’m sure. Here’s the website that they set up to document the found cards: salishseaspillmap.org
Apparently they have been doing this since late 2013, accumulating 8000 cards in 8 different drops with a total recovery of about 100 cards … call me a skeptic but that doesn’t seem like it will tell us much of anything, especially when if you look at the locations; they are often grouped together from a particular drop and a couple at least mysteriously have flown overland a few kilometers … I can’t wait to see how this ‘science’ gets spin-doctored. I’m sure that there are better tools to track tides, currents, wind effect, wave action etc. … try this one, the name even has school in it!
What are they actually trying to accomplish? Well a closer look at the Raincoast website once again shows that this is actually political commentary masquerading as scientific documentation … what a sham and a shame.
The article then continued to make a shallow connection to oil spills and quickly inserted the dreaded Exxon Valdez and the non recovery of ‘some whale’ populations, then isolating the Southern Resident Orcas as the species of most concern. This is great … all the normal trigger / talking points covered … but that wasn’t enough, it quickly dropped oil spills altogether and started on ‘underwater noise’ from the increased tanker traffic.
Although the science supposedly all points to a devastation of the Ora population, the worst they came up with was the Ora population hasn’t seen a period of significant growth for 40 years … man, that’s pretty bad.
Finally we get to the quote that caused me to say ‘now wait a friggin’ minute’ … That a two year underwater noise study found that from noise alone the Ora population would die off by 25% and had a 50% chance of extinction within 100 years … numbers all over the place. OK, OK … it is the year of TRUMP.
Now I needed some vessel traffic info so I could determine how many more vessels passing through the Salish sea we were actually talking about … turns out to be a 9% increase in overall traffic … with a 25% kill effect! Wow, isn’t science neat … I guess that it’s the tipping point theorem in action!
So I wondered if the fantastic science continued … I looked around the net to find this noise study referred to … found this study … which has an abundance of data alright but it’s all from two lookouts on San Juan Island watching to see how engine noise from boats was effecting the feeding of Orcas within view. The apparent interference was noted within three zones from the Orcas: 100m, 400m and 1000m. Guess what … at no time did tankers get mentioned nor enter any of these zones .. There was NO relativity to the noise from tankers.
What this study was actually designed and useful for is to determine how close all these ‘whale watching boats’ can get to the Orcas before they interfere with their feeding … so a study to quantify the effect of tourist activities on feeding Orca populations is a great idea and good science if it is used appropriately.
Extending the study results to include all noise and in particular Tanker noise is not good science … it’s not even science … it does leverage common sense that there is bound to be an increase in background noise within a certain vicinity but there is no quantitative empirical evidence. So now we have scientists doing what scientists should never do … starting with an innuendo answer that is casually offered and subsequently perceived as a proven theory … sorry, that’s not how science works.
You might think that this article is about dissing these brainwashed biologists … but how is that productive? It makes much more sense to give some constructive criticism and some direction for all this misdirected energy.
At this point let’s be realistic and consider that the oil tankers WILL BE passing through the Salish Sea, like it or not. What do we need to know ? … let’s research the hell out of that.
If it’s the underwater noise that is of concern, then let’s model the noise level in the 3D environment that is the Salish Sea. How much noise is there surrounding an Aframax Vessel 245m long at different distances from the hull (both horizontal and vertical) and in all the cardinal directions relative to the hull length and at different speeds … now that could be used to model actual noise levels anywhere and anytime. Comparing this to real world background and anthropic noise would allow real time calculations of Orca feeding interference.
Common sense tells me that if noise buildup is really going to be a significant problem, slow the vessels down, keep them from meeting in the critical areas where the noise will be amplified, make them move through the critical areas mostly when you know when the Orcas are not feeding, like the middle of the night … you know sensible, simple things.
So now, more things that are not rocket science but common knowledge or at least easily obtained knowledge: Since the sinking of the Exxon Valdez, tankers without a full double hull have been banned from entering any North American Port … so for Pete’s sake, quit using the Valdez to instantly create buzz!
Local specialised and knowledgeable Port Pilots and ultimately, tugs are employed in all ports to direct vessels in tight quarters. The Port of Vancouver only allows up to the Aframax Tanker size which is 245m … the largest plying the waters of the world are ULCC at 415m … add relativity to your conversations.
Do you want to get a better idea as to the vessel traffic in the Salish Sea and see how few are actually tankers? ,,, or how many are actually US bound and not bound for Vancouver at all? Or just gain some easy understanding of the scale of the present traffic in the Salish Sea? Use this free to use link: marinetraffic.com Oil/Chemical Tankers are the red ones.
Do you want to read the DFO report on underwater noise that glues together all the available science as of today and should have been the referenced information for all these sensational articles? … DFO report … it’s only 13 pages so you should be able to concentrate that long … and concludes that the correct science has NOT BEEN DONE … go do the science, or present the the collective science properly then you (and we) won’t have to live on BS, innuendo science nor feel that we have to create nor listen to politically divisive theoretical experts who are doing their science and dedicated field work more harm than good. Help reduce the harm, potential harm or perceived harm … stating that the sky is falling over and over is getting mighty close to satisfying the ‘never cry wolf’ story where you will simply be ignored.
I understand that there is concern about the chemical makeup of the products that might possibly be spilled … and all I hear from the non O&G scientists is how horrible this is or will be. If you are truly a guardian of the planet as you wish us to believe, than put your shoulder into the science required to find the solutions … patent it so you can be both a savior and wealthy too … or would that automatically be considered blood money?
Give us all a break … either you are part of the solution, or you are part of the problem.
I’m not a scientist. I do not employ any scientists. I’m a techie; a McGyver. I built a small team that create solutions, navigational solutions. Some solutions are for a handful … some are for everyone. Together we are world class and the best, actually only, producers of O&G mapping for navigational purposes within the Canadian landscape that makes it available on almost any operating system platform for not only our own software but for others to leverage as well. Our slogan: Use PatchMap or GET LOST !