Volcanoes, Earthquakes Shatter the Northwest

At least two Cascade volcanoes will erupt, with at least one of them producing significant destruction in its vicinity with significant economic impact. Because of improved monitoring and understanding of volcanic processes and a pro-active emergency management community, loss of life will be minimal. On the other hand, land-use planning efforts will have mostly failed and there will be very large losses of homes and businesses due to the pressure of development to expand into dangerous areas.

During the same period, there will be three damaging earthquakes, one of which will be quite significant, causing many deaths and widespread destruction. Because earthquake prediction science will have made some progress, the later of these earthquakes will have some warning ahead of time. Earthquake prediction capabilities will still lag significantly behind the equivalent capabilities of weather prediction.

An earthquake warning system will be built and connected to critical facilities, such that as soon as an earthquake starts, warnings will be sent out allowing anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute to prepare for the arrival of strong shaking. This system will work well in the expected earthquakes for systems which can respond quickly (power plants, high-speed trains, other mechanical systems), but there will continue to be a problem with educating the public to respond quickly and properly to such warnings because they only occur every few decades. --Geophysics Research Professor Steve Malone

Humans: The Most Serious Threat to Life on Earth

Two trends make the future less rosy than the past: more consumption of resources and more people. ... The question is whether people, societies, and government can move toward sustainability. This will require adopting two principles. The first is the "responsibility principle" which is that the rights to use environmental resources carry attendant responsibilities to use them sustainably. The second, the "precautionary principle" states that in the face of uncertainty concerning environmental resources and impacts--err on the side of caution.

Knowing the principles is the first step, but implementing them through education is what must be done. Education can modify our biological behaviors and control greed but the question is whether social evolution can move the human race to live within biological as well as social limits. For example, parenting is still the only job that does not require any qualifications or any test of ability or means. How un-thinking can we be? We need to evolve socially so that all children are wanted and all parents are adequate providers and educators. Without social evolution, disease, war, and famine will continue to control human destiny in much of the world. My hope is that social evolution may have progressed enough in the next 90 years that humans do not breed too much, use too much, degrade earth's life support system or kill other species.--Zoology Professor P. Dee Boersma

Not Enough Fish to Go Around

In 90 years, the non-Indian commercial salmon fisheries in Washington and Oregon will be gone. The political power of recreational fishers and the treaty rights of the Indians spell the inevitable end of the traditional commercial salmon industry. Recreational salmon fishers will be fishing almost exclusively hook-and-release--there simply won't be enough fish to go around. The tribal fisheries will have abandoned gill netting and replaced it by much more selective fishing methods such as lift nets, fish wheels or modified purse-seining. Most of the hatcheries around the state will be abandoned, victims of their economic inefficiency, continued budget cuts, and concern about wild fish.

The commercial marine fisheries will be almost unrecognizable. In order to obtain the approval of powerful Alaskan politicians, much of the ownership of the right to catch fish will be granted to coastal communities, who will, in turn, lease their catching rights to large corporations. The owner-operator will be almost extinct as a fishing institution, replaced by vessels owned by large companies. The traditional, small-scale fishers will survive primarily in the invertebrate fisheries such as clams and abalone.

Biologically stocks will continue to rise and fall with environmental conditions, but the marine fisheries will generally be healthy, with numerous small and a few large marine reserves set aside as parks and spawning refuges. Despite considerable political effort, the habitat base for salmon will continue to decline as the growing human population competes with fish for water, stream frontage and land use. Efforts to save habitat will be reasonably successful in forest watersheds, where changes in forest practice will improve conditions for salmon, but in suburban and urban areas these attempts will be much less successful.--Fisheries Professor Ray Hilborn

Genetic Research Results in 'Designer' Trees

Three dedicated categories of forest land will emerge:

1) Lands reserved primarily for the intensive production of wood products; forest farming if you will. 2) Lands that will provide both forest products and environmental and amenity benefits in some combination. 3) Lands that are reserved and managed only for their environmental and amenity benefits.

Whatever the ultimate balance in these categories of forest lands, the following will occur:

1) Fast growth, short rotation, disease- and insect-resistant forests with desired wood properties will be developed through molecular genetics research. The environmental community will have reservations and appropriate worries about these "designer" trees and forests, but the perceived benefits will be judged to outweigh the risks.

2) We will build housing of equal or greater strength than now but with less wood and wood of lower quality. For example, new products will be available that combine wood with other materials such as plastics. The recycling and reuse ethic will be commonplace with an almost instinctive acceptance.

3) Advanced technology and research will also help forest stewards manage and protect environmental and amenity values of forests in a more informed and effective way. The dynamics of all biota will be better understood including, for example, soil insects and arthropods, migratory birds, the needs of anadromous fish and threatened plants even of the most insignificant stature. All will be much easier to monitor and provide for.--Forest Resources Dean David Thorud

Forestry: Increased Demand Met with Increased Productivity

Progress in the field of forestry over the next 90 years will be dominated by two themes; an increasing reliance on renewable resources by a growing world population and an unlimited, universal access to information. Advances in molecular biology will vastly expand our capability to "grow" fiber and forests, increasing productivity within a shrinking resource base allocated to production for human consumption. Plant life in general and the animals that depend upon them will flourish as global warming increased over the next 90 years, augmenting the man-made increases in productivity.

The simultaneous growing demand and responding productivity will allow a multitude of choices to be made by societies and communities around the world. Universal access to information and a diverse, democratic opinion-sharing capability will create access to forest management policies at global and community scales. Communities of interests and communities of place will interact to create an infinite variety of policies, reflecting diverse values regarding forest management. This may manifest itself in a variety of forms. There will be the capability to globally centralize forest policy with human use of forests controlled by a mega-policy network, literally defining the relationship between mankind and our forest environment. Alternately, decentralization of forest use decisions might allow people's relationship with forest to be individual in nature. Perhaps a combination of the two models will evolve.

Progress in the field of forestry over the next 90 years will be more social, political and cultural than technical. Increasing human demand for renewable resources will be met by increasing productivity and availability.--Olympic Natural Resources Center Director John M. Calhoun.

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