The No. 1 environmental threat facing humans is microbes. Almost every hair on your head, stomach, liver, gallbladder, and gut is invaded by about 100,000 microbes.
Soon, the No. 1 threat facing wild animals—in the Pacific Northwest and the American West—is radiation.
Much of Washington and Oregon is scarred by the radioactive fallout from the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The thousands of tons of nuclear waste that were stockpiled on the shores of the Columbia River, the world’s second-longest river, were dumped into the ocean as the tsunami breached the cooling systems at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi reactor.
In the Pacific Northwest, contaminated fish, shellfish, and mushrooms are too numerous to count. The agency that handles radiation control for the US government states that 11 fishermen have died.
Some wildlife populations are thriving: There is abundant gray whale and sea lion migration to sea, brown pelican returning to Arctic ice where they had gone extinct, and bald eagles and jays.
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