News & Events Public education Speakers

24-Jan: Speaker series: Lines that don’t divide—telling tales about chemicals, animals, and people in the Salish Sea

Our 2015 Speaker Series commenced on January 24th with a presentation by Jay Taylor, Professor of History, Simon Fraser University.

Pollution in the Salish Sea

The practice of dumping waste into the Salish Sea has contaminated its ecosystem and imperiled human and non-human health. Thanks to a long history of washing and flushing toxins into the Sea, these substances have bio-accumulated across the ecosystem to the point that some salmon, seals, sea lions, and whales have become swimming toxic waste dumps. Worse still, persistent organic pollutants are now making their way back to their source. The ultimate consumers of human toxins are humans themselves, especially infants.

Dealing with the problem of pollution in the Salish Sea is particularly difficult because toxic substances migrate freely across the Canada-U.S. border, and decisions made on one side of the 49th parallel affect humans and animals on both sides of the line.

Jay provided a historical overview of the processes that have contributed pollutants to the Salish Sea, and discussed how the border has and has not divided the region chemically and politically.

Presentation slides

Jay kindly provided a copy of his slides for the presentation.

About our speaker

Joseph (Jay) E. Taylor III studied history at the University of Oregon and University of Washington, receiving his Ph.D. in 1996. He taught at Iowa State University from 1996 to 2003, and since then at Simon Fraser University. He specializes in environment history and western North American history, and he has written widely on the subjects of fishing, outdoor recreation, and conservation. His first book, Making Salmon: An Environmental History of the Northwest Fisheries Crisis (Seattle, 1999), won the George Perkins Marsh Prize for best book in environmental history and was named one of Choice&39;s top ten books in science and technology. His second book, Pilgrims of the Vertical: Yosemite Rock Climbers and Nature at Risk, won the National Book Outdoor Award for history and biography. He is currently writing a biography, tentatively titled Voice of the West, on a western US congressman who shaped federal conservation legislation in the first half of the twentieth century, and a book on the importance of historical perspective in environmental issues, titled Time and Nature.