South Sound Science: Curtis Tanner and question time

Curtis Tanner of Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project provided closing comments.  “My job is to summarize everything and rally the troops.”  Curtis provided a summary of today’s speakers, telling of lessons that he will take away, uplifting solutions, and many questions to consider. 

Sampling of questions:

This was in a panel format, and for the most part I was unable to tell who was speaking, so responses have been consolidated.  I also was unable to include all the questions and responses.

How should or could ports be involved in crafting solutions for South Sound restoration? 

There is the potential; Port of Seattle rephrased its objectives to include environmental priorities.  Shipping is related to the port’s activities, so they need to have a role, eg. oil spills.  Ports/shipping uses a lot of energy, so they are ripe for activity on this front. 

Ports are a peculiar agency under state law.  They need to reflect the public interest, but also they are an economic development agency and grow jobs.  There is constant tension between these two roles. 

Pete Swensson:  It is difficult to determine how much of our economy is due to the port.  The Port of Olympia is fairly small in the Pacific Northwest economy (especially compared to Port of Tacoma).

What’s the best way to balance monitoring  and research?

We often get asked what is the most important: monitoring, research, outreach, or restoration?  The answer: “Yes!” 

Betsy Peabody:  The question of ocean acifidication cannot be answered in a couple of years.  This is an area where we need to act even in the face of uncertainty.  We’re facing upwellings of water containing CO2 from 50 years ago.

To deal with climate change and sustainability issues, we need to make long-term predictions and modeling.  Monitoring can provoke process.  We monitor all the time without thinking about it, eg. census and land use.

Where do you see the role of education?

Citizen involved and engagement is a very important driver to getting stuff done.

On the individual level, we have the freedom to act quickly without restraints.  For example, water conservation.

Linda Hofstad:  Community engagement was essential to our project.  One-by-one we got people to do something.

Regulation vs. market-based system of change (incentives):

Linda Hofstad:  Having the Henderson Inlet program regulatory is eessential.  people are more willing to do the work if the rules apply to everyone  To level the playing field you need some regulation there, and then use incentives to make it easy and painless for residents.

to consider: If you have $2 million a year fo rthe next 10 years, how would you spend it in the South Puget Sound?

What should we advocate for?

  • good science
  • science education
  • energy and water conservation
  • linking actions to consequences
  • active accounting
  • teach people is it easy to act; our resources are finite
  • less sprawl, more compact development
  • more collaboration
  • talking with people who don’t already know science and these problems