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Are California's Starving Sea Lions Latest Victims of Climate Catastrophe?


Are California's Starving Sea Lions Latest Victims of Climate Catastrophe?

Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

Unusually warm waters off the California coast are causing the highest number of sea lion pup strandings over the past decade, scientists say, raising concerns about the long-term effects of climate change and rising ocean temperatures on the species' survival.

According to the New York Times, which reported on the sad phenomenon on Thursday:


This is the kind of tragedy that should be used to motivate political pressure. Sea lion children, like most mammalian children, are winsomely innocent. It’d be hard for most people to look at their photos and turn away.


While sea lion populations may be stressed by climate variation, this is not a political nor a moral issue.

“Children” are the offspring of humans, not sea lions. “Children” are doing just fine, thanks to the excess of human societies.

If we are to deal with the real consequences of climate variation, we must understand the problem rationally.


I live in Santa Barbara, where this is happening. Right now sea surface temperatures are up to 6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal in the channel. What will also happen to the Southern California fishery is a massive kelp die off soon because winter temperatures have been too high for kelp forest reproduction. Our ocean here, contrary to some popular belief, is actually barely (not even) subtropical-the current is normally cold. When this happened in the 1980s it took years for the commercial fisheries to recover. It stands to reason all animal and plant life is having tremendous problems right now here, yet most people are unaware. The lack of environmental awareness the region is known for since the 1969 oil spill here seems somewhat lost, many of the younger people don’t know much of anything compared to my generation (age 56). Very saddening, they seem highly wrapped up in their consumerist lives, encouraged by the last few decades of mindless consumption. It is terrible.


There are no “radically high” radiation levels on the waters of the US west coast. The radiation levels in Pacific Ocean water on the US Coast has been indistinguishable from normal background levels. Yes, a precise gamma spectroscopic analysis can detect tiny amounts of Cs137 traceable to Fukushima in fish and presumably the Sea Lions. Everybody and everything alive since 1945 has tiny laboratory measurable amounts of radionuclides traceable to from Trinity, Hiroshima, and onward - but the radiation itself is within the normal range of variability of the background. Just becasue something is laboratory measurable does not mean it has any health significance. You need to worry a lot more about the completely natural aflatoxins (most carcinogenic substance known) that are present in peanut and corn products, or the completely natural radon seeping though your house’s floor.


Since you are the one making the extraordinary assertion, it is you who should be presenting the data.


As an East Coaster, what I’ve always been intrigued at is the way Pacific coast water - from Seattle to San Diego, stays the same, too-cold-to-swim temperature north to south and year round.

In contrast, Atlantic coast water ranges from just above freezing in winter, to as warm as 65F at Cape Cod/80F at Cape Hatteras in summer. Right now, becasue of the very cold winter to the north, there is drift-ice floating down the coast and covering the beaches as far south as Delaware and Maryland - but by July, it will be fine warm water for swimming.


The real problem is unlimited economic growth resulting in too many humans consuming resources faster than they are naturally replenished, and producing waste faster than it is naturally assimilated.

Continuous growth in a world of finite resources is the philosophy of the cancer cell.

Things that can’t go on forever, don’t


Well, sadly, affluent humans seem to be moved far more by images of suffering furry creatures than suffering humans - especially when the humans skin is dark-colored.


Wow… you’re weird… Human children are doing just fine you say… wow…


What to hell is going on here… what is the difference … human children or sea lion pups… because each one of them has to have a living planet… Get real people…


I agree with…some of your post… but, when you mention that wood fuel burning is part of the problem… I’d like to remind you/people that … if we did not have modern industrial society… would wood burning have brought us to this point now… I doubt it very much… would it have an impact on the environment/atmosphere? Yes, it would… but, it would have been much slower than our fossil fuels society … we are quick to make wood burning a problem, a cause of our climate problem… it’s funny… if we had stayed with wood burning we would not have had the population problem we have now… and climate would not be changing anywhere near as fast… yes, we would have taken down a lot of forest… but., how many forest did we take down, to build buildings… make parking lots… cities… etc… because of fossil fuels we have taken down many more forest than if we had just been using wood to cook with and heat with…
We take down forests for roads… for agriculture… etc… this is really a non discussion…


Pretty on target observation, although it is very complex south of Point Conception.


Yunzer wrote:

'‘There are no “radically high” radiation levels on the waters of the US west coast. The radiation levels in Pacific Ocean water on the US Coast has been indistinguishable from normal background levels. Yes, a precise gamma spectroscopic analysis can detect tiny amounts of Cs137 traceable to Fukushima in fish and presumably the Sea Lions…’

No, all fish and sea lions contain Cs-137 (and also Cs-134). But absolutely none can be traced to Fukushima. Gamma spectrometers don’t read out country of origin. I do wish that news reports would stop quoting NOAA’S Ken Bruesseler, who certainly should know better than to let himself be quoted as he does.


There has been a persistent high pressure ridge from Alaskan seas to the California Pacific. Why does the pressure stay so high, so long. Because the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Alaska are getting hotter all of a sudden. The warmer ocean surface temp heats the air and the heat energy becomes a high pressure zone for as long as the ocean heat lasts. You, yeah you, look up maps of ocean currents, they are beautifully complex.
The oceans of the world have already been absorbing massive amounts of heat since we put enough carbon into the atmosphere over a century ago to hold on to more heat from the sun than we shed into space. If it wasn’t for the oceans capacity to hold so much heat (water holds 800 times more heat than air) then the world we all live in today would already be ravaged by such dramatic upheaval that you wouldn’t recognize your own neighborhood. You better get ready for it though, it’s coming.


Really, they’re all dying. You only see the massive die-offs, not the disappearance of the very last one. If you take an extremely long-range look at the world, they’re all going extinct, Noah. However, there’s a way to keep them from going extinct, Noah.


Perhaps if the affluent humans realized that affluent humans are being killed off like flies, they’d respond. Breast cancer in particular is particularly endemic in places such as Cape Cod, Marin County and the Newton/Wellesley area in suburban Boston.

The entire Roman upper class slowly died off because they were using a new, superior consumer product – lead-bottomed cooking pots.


Thank you…


This scientifically illiterate message got three up-votes? Commondreams, your forum is being vote-stuffed!


What is needed is a model for a steady state economy in which all have access to sufficient resources, resources are not used faster than they are naturally, and wastes are not produced faster than they are naturally assimilated.

Absent such a model, human civilization will continue to decline and collapse, including the haves and have nots.

No one is lecturing the poor. This applies to everyone, regardless of economic status. It’s think or thwim for everyone.