business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Sacramento Bee has a story about an unexpected impact - at least to me - of climate change, and one that could definitely affect the food supply:

“It might be the most gruesome element of the drought conditions that have gripped the West in recent years: salmon being cooked to death by the thousands in rivers that have become overheated as water flows dwindle.”

Read that again: Salmon are being cooked to death by rivers that have become overheated.

The good news - and it isn’t much - is that US District Judge Ricardo Martinez has ruled that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “must develop a plan to keep water temperatures low in the Columbia River and its main tributary, the Snake, to protect multiple varieties of salmon and steelhead that are covered by the Endangered Species Act.”

The ruling, however, only affects the Pacific Northwest.

The story notes that “drought-like conditions persist: The federal government’s U.S. Drought Monitor says 48 percent of California is in moderate to severe drought, along with 39 percent of Washington and 36 percent of Idaho. Just a month ago, the U.S. Commerce Department issued a disaster declaration for commercial salmon fishing on the West Coast, making communities that depend on those fisheries eligible for financial assistance.”

But, that doesn’t mean that things are necessarily going to get better. The Bee writes that it is a “tense time” for those in the fishing business, as “environmentalists and state officials throughout the West are trying to grasp the implications of a memorandum President Donald Trump signed last week to streamline environmental regulations in order to increase water deliveries to farms and cities in the region.”

One of the things the story makes clear is that solving the problem is no simple matter … but that doesn’t change that actual fish are being cooked to death in the rivers that are supposed to be nurturing them.

Which seems unacceptable. Deserving of serious attention by regulators. And certainly an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: