By Ann Schnitz, Environmental Toxicologist at Baldwin Consulting Group
Risk assessment, whether it be ecological or human health, considers the impacts of toxic constituents on people and the environment. It evaluates which receptors are affected via the potential pathway(s) of exposure – either inhalation, ingestion or direct contact (i.e., dermal) – and using quantitative and qualitative methods, determines the magnitude of response(s). Classically, risk assessment was developed to support Superfund and similar cleanup programs by creating a hierarchy of need. Those sites demonstrating the highest probability of risk were slated for cleanup first, and so on.
By Michael Levkowitz, Assistant Coastal Planner, Washington State Department of Ecology
I know that human actions are the primary driver of climate change. I am about as confident in the fact that humans are causing climate change as I am in the fact that smoking increases cancer risk (which is, incidentally, a good way to explain the scientific consensus in human-caused climate change). To put it another way, I have no doubt in the fact that humans have caused and are continuing to cause climate change. My guess is that if you are reading this, you’re in the same boat. What remains is an open question to me: When is it necessary for us to mention this fact?
By Doug Peters, Watershed Planner, Washington State Department of Commerce
There is growing awareness of the potential risks associated with another Cascadia subduction zone seismic event. We expect large-scale destruction of existing infrastructure, which will not only be very disruptive to human society, it will present new opportunities to reconfigure our current shoreline infrastructure to reduce impacts to habitat forming ecosystem processes. There are numerous habitat problems caused by our current shoreline infrastructure. These include shoreline armoring, which can destroy beach structure and eliminate areas for forage fish spawning and predator evasion; railroads and roads that both block sediment supply from feeder bluffs but that also get blocked from regular landslides; docks and piers that block sunlight and increase predation impacts on smaller fish; and stormwater outfalls delivering pollutants to the nearshore.
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