Event Title

Safe operating space for humanity at a river basin scale

Streaming Media

Presentation Abstract

The planetary boundaries framework defined safe limits to human impacts on essential Earth-system processes. Subsequent assessments concluded impacts exceed most delineated boundaries. Environmental impacts in the Salish Sea region parallel global boundary exceedance. Societal responses have been insufficient to restore safety. One factor impeding effective action is differences in scale between planetary boundaries and national, regional, or local scales where many impacts and solutions originate. This presentation contributes toward a resolution by developing a regional scale framework and an approach to translate boundaries across scales. I developed a framework for the Nooksack River basin in the Salish Sea. The framework includes six state variables related to planetary scale analogues. Boundary translation can be achieved by aggregating hydrologic processes across scales. The recently published gw∂dzadad report, or Tribal Habitat Strategy, contains similar goals, indicator variables, and status assessments. The gw∂dzadad report also outlined scale translation by aggregating assessment results across basins. The region has exceeded five boundaries and approaches the sixth. Effects of existing and proposed policies will be to exceed boundaries further. Likely consequences include irreversible degradation in river functions, water shortages, impaired water quality, human health impacts, and salmon extinctions. In most cases, policy and enforcement mechanisms to restore conditions within regional boundaries are in place, but they have been ignored or misapplied. Initiatives with potential to restore safety are being pursued by Coast Salish peoples, who also are most directly affected by boundary transgression. By clearly delineating regional boundaries and identifying consequences of boundary transgression, this framework may complement Indigenous efforts with policy imperatives for other stakeholders in the region. Convergent results using a boundaries framework derived from Western science and gw∂dzadad derived from Traditional Knowledge strengthen confidence in both approaches and reinforce imperatives for action to restore the region to environmental safety.

Session Title

Puget Sound Vital Signs: progress and remedies, with opening remarks by Deborah Jensen

Conference Track

Ecosystem-Based Management, Science & Policy

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2020 : Online)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

2020_abstractID_3453

Start Date

21-4-2020 9:00 AM

End Date

22-4-2020 4:45 PM

Genre/Form

conference proceedings; presentations (communicative events)

Subjects – Topical (LCSH)

Natural resources--Co-management--Washington (State)--Nooksack River Watershed; Restoration ecology--Washington (State)--Nooksack River Watershed

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.); Nooksack River Watershed (Wash.)

Rights

Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

Type

Text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Apr 21st, 9:00 AM Apr 22nd, 4:45 PM

Safe operating space for humanity at a river basin scale

The planetary boundaries framework defined safe limits to human impacts on essential Earth-system processes. Subsequent assessments concluded impacts exceed most delineated boundaries. Environmental impacts in the Salish Sea region parallel global boundary exceedance. Societal responses have been insufficient to restore safety. One factor impeding effective action is differences in scale between planetary boundaries and national, regional, or local scales where many impacts and solutions originate. This presentation contributes toward a resolution by developing a regional scale framework and an approach to translate boundaries across scales. I developed a framework for the Nooksack River basin in the Salish Sea. The framework includes six state variables related to planetary scale analogues. Boundary translation can be achieved by aggregating hydrologic processes across scales. The recently published gw∂dzadad report, or Tribal Habitat Strategy, contains similar goals, indicator variables, and status assessments. The gw∂dzadad report also outlined scale translation by aggregating assessment results across basins. The region has exceeded five boundaries and approaches the sixth. Effects of existing and proposed policies will be to exceed boundaries further. Likely consequences include irreversible degradation in river functions, water shortages, impaired water quality, human health impacts, and salmon extinctions. In most cases, policy and enforcement mechanisms to restore conditions within regional boundaries are in place, but they have been ignored or misapplied. Initiatives with potential to restore safety are being pursued by Coast Salish peoples, who also are most directly affected by boundary transgression. By clearly delineating regional boundaries and identifying consequences of boundary transgression, this framework may complement Indigenous efforts with policy imperatives for other stakeholders in the region. Convergent results using a boundaries framework derived from Western science and gw∂dzadad derived from Traditional Knowledge strengthen confidence in both approaches and reinforce imperatives for action to restore the region to environmental safety.