Global warming worries | Letter

The daily barrage of bad global environmental news can make disheartening reading. At every latitude in our planet, the Anthropocene age is leaving a trail of destruction. The Arctic ice is melting at an accelerated rate; rain forests spanning the equator are disappearing to make way for crops and cattle; and some penguin colonies in Antarctica are experiencing reproductive collapse. Worldwide, many important species of plants and animals face the possibility of extinction in our children’s lifetime.

Faced with such grim news and prognostications, the environmentally concerned citizen can be forgiven for throwing up her hands in a sense of desperation that there is nothing that a single individual can do to reverse the trend of environmental carnage. But inaction or denial only hasten the changes that none of us wish to see. A more constructive response is expressed in the aphorism attributed to environmentalist David Brower: “Think globally, act locally,” because the world is, in effect, a connected network of interdependent local communities.

For those of us who love the San Juan Islands, one of the best opportunities to act locally is to join the concerned community of people at Friends of the San Juans. Friends is led by a group of professionals who bring science, advocacy, education and clear-eyed stewardship to the task of protecting the islands for future generations. Friends were part of the effort to declare the Southern resident killer whales an endangered species, and it has partnered with area tribes to plan a sustainable future for the Salish Sea. Friends has worked to restore shorelines for salmon and forage fish and to encourage safer practices and oil spill prevention for commercial shipping. Most importantly, Friends has a 40-year track record of translating policy into action that benefits our community.

Learn how to get involved at

Peter Cavanagh

Lopez Island