Marco Rubio’s not a scientist
Alabama and North Carolina mobilize Blue Vision 5 Update – Volunteers needed
The two top items I read this weekend on Blue Frontier’s daily Google Alert for the word “Ocean” were, “Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction” and “Frank Ocean Flexes his Falsetto Covering Aaliya’s ‘At Your Best.’” I’m not claiming that it’s just the media’s focus on celebrities and fear distracting us from understanding our relationship to our blue planet. We’re also breeding too fast for a sustainable species. In the blink of an eye in which I’ve lived my life the human population has more than doubled from 3 billion to over 7 billion most of whom burn wood, coal or oil. Another story not highlighted in most major news coverage last week was the NOAA announcement that 2014 was the hottest year in 135 years of record keeping. 9 of the 10 hottest years have occurred since 2000. But for most working people trying to make ends meet it’s hard to absorb more bad news about our blue planet without having a sense of being able to do something about it.
The only way to break the cycle of distraction and despair is to become self-aware participants in society like the more than 300,000 people who marched on the UN for climate action this past fall and the million plus who marched for free speech in Paris after the recent terrorist murders (democracy I’ve found is a precursor to almost all environmental reform). Go watch the movie ‘Selma’ to understand, as did Martin Luther King, that history is not made by “Great Men” but by popular social movements for economic justice, equity and the environment that men and women like ML King have helped organize and lead. Now it’s time for all of us who love the ocean to organize and build a stronger blue movement to restore our living seas and support those, both human and wild, who depend on them. The best available science tells us we don’t have much time.
The January 16 report that the New York Times headlined: “Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says,” was published in the peer-reviewed journal ‘Science,’ under the less eye-popping title: “Marine defaunation: Animal loss in the global ocean.” http://www.sciencemag.org/content/347/6219/1255641
Scientists using data from multiple sources concluded that while we’ve not driven as many marine species to extinction as we have on land where we’ve had more time and easier access to kill them, the threat is “increasing in pace and impact…Despite our late start, humans have already powerfully changed virtually all major marine ecosystems.” Along with overfishing they point to pollution and climate impacts such as warming and acidification. “If you cranked up the aquarium heater and dumped some acid in the water, our fish would not be very happy. In effect that’s what we’re doing to the oceans,” Dr. Malin Pinsky, one of the study’s lead authors, told the Times. The six authors of the report nonetheless believe we can still prevent the worst from happening but have to act now. “We have a couple of decades more than we thought we had (before concluding the study) said author and 2011 Peter Benchley science award winner Dr. Steve Palumbi. “So let’s please not waste it.”
Another report in the science journal ‘Nature’ tell us that to avoid the most catastrophic effects of fossil fuel fired climate disruption associated with a 2 degree Celsius warming, we need to leave a third of the world’s known petroleum reserves in the ground and under the seabed along with 80% of known coal reserves. The study’s title that reminds us why scientists are not like you and me: “The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2 (degrees) C.” http://bit.ly/1CmbAa4
Given this bottom line science how then can it make sense, as we approach the 5th anniversary of the catastrophic BP offshore oil blowout, that the Obama administration is preparing to file a 5-year drilling plan that will open up much of the populous Atlantic Seaboard along with the remote U.S. Arctic Ocean to new offshore drilling? The answer is it doesn’t. We’ve become just another petro-state like Russia, Iran and Iraq. The difference is in the U.S. we still have the right and patriotic duty to dissent and demand energy policies designed to promote our long-term survival. Which brings us to a third recent report from our colleagues at Oceana. It’s titled: Offshore Energy by the Numbers: An Economic Analysis of Offshore Drilling and Wind Energy in the Atlantic. http://oceana.org/en/news-media/publications/reports/offshore-energy-by-the-numbers
OK, that’s not ‘Headless Body in Topless Bar’ but at least it’s a study title that lets you know what it’s about. Using government and industry sources and crunching the numbers the Oceana report finds that offshore wind development would produce more energy and twice the number of jobs along the eastern seaboard as offshore oil drilling in the areas being looked at. Oh yeah, and it wouldn’t overheat the planet.
The 4th report from Friends of the Earth is titled: 2014 Cruise Ship Report Card. http://www.foe.org/cruise-report-cardNow I’d give that title an A. And while I’ve never myself partaken of a vacation cruise on a large floating petri dish, I’ve seen these floating behemoths pull in and overshadow small coastal ports like Juneau, Key West and Cozumel. In fact today’s giant cruise ships carrying thousands of passengers and crew very much reflect the original meaning of ‘Sky Scraper’ a tall ship that loomed over the port. This 5th FOE Cruise Ship Report Card is based on four environmental criteria applied to 16 major cruise lines and 167 of their ships. These criteria include: Sewage Treatment, Air Pollution Reduction, Water Quality Compliance and Transparency. The best, Disney (yup, surprised me too) scored a not-great C+ while Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises scored unimpressive Cs. Other well-known lines such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean scored garbage scow Ds. Less well-known floating derelict lines scored Fs including Costa, Crystal, MSC and P&O according to the report. This consumer report is very much in keeping with chapter 29 of my book ’50 Ways to Save the Ocean.’ “Sail on an Ocean-Friendly Cruise Ship” http://www.amazon.com/Ways-Ocean-Inner-Action-Guide/dp/1930722664
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is the new Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard. He is also the originator of the now standard Republican House and Senate response on climate change when asked about it, “Now I’m not a scientist but…” Actually Rubio originated this dodge in response to a reporter’s question not about climate disruption but whether he believed in evolution or biblical creation.
Now I’m not a lawyer but I suspect Rubio, who graduated from the University of Miami Law School, and who’s state is being regularly inundated by rising waters, may be smart enough to understand how greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere just fine but has chosen to parrot the wishes of his ultra-conservative funders at the Club for Growth and his Tea Party (not Sea Party) supporters. Of course Rubio could always surprise us and turn out to be a good steward of our public seas, climate and Coast Guard. But now I’m not an optimist.
The Sea Party Coalition “No Drilling, No Way!” will be in Raleigh North Carolina February 4 for a public meeting on offshore oil leasing. The meeting was announced by the State after the coalition earlier raised the alarm (two if by sea) exposing a closed-door meeting in November on offshore drilling. That meeting between North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, federal regulators from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and oil industry representatives excluded citizens and the press. This time concerned citizens will be there in force. For details contact us at email@example.com
In Alabama marine conservationists have formed the “Alabama Renewal Group,” to make sure coastal restoration funds generated by federal fines on BP and other companies responsible for the 2010 oil spill disaster are spent on actual coastal restoration. Some state leaders have been trying to earmark the funds for infrastructure arguing (with straight faces) that since humans are part of the ecosystem, a convention center could be considered coastal renewal. The ARG has set up their own criteria for proposed projects to assure they meet a triple bottom line of benefits for the environment, the economy and coastal communities. Members of the ARG include: Mobile Baykeeper, Ocean Conservancy, the Alabama Coastal Foundation, Oxfam America, the Conservation Alabama Foundation, the Gulf Restoration Network, The Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation and Birmingham Audubon.
Our spring mobilization in our nation’s capitol including the 5th Blue Vision Summit (BVS5), 5th Healthy Ocean Hill Day visits and 8th Peter Benchley Ocean Awards will take place May 11-14 in Washington DC. For the latest on ocean leaders attending, sponsors and registration check out the BVS5 pages at http://www.bluefront.org/blue_vision_blog/2015-summit/
We are looking for about 20 volunteers to help us with outreach and organizing leading up to the Summit and a host of support activities during the days of the summit (hint: this is a good way to attend without having to pay registration fees). If you’d like to volunteer please contact us with a short resume at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our outreach coordinator Kathleen Collins at 202-387-8030
We’re also still looking for a paid Hill Day Coordinator to work in D.C. Feb. – May. Hill experience preferred. Send resume and cover letter to email@example.com
In 2004 at our first Hill Day we met with 3 Senators, 12 House members and 29 House & Senate staff members to promote ocean and coastal protection. At our last one in 2013 our 21 state delegations met with 7 Senators, 16 House members and more than 65 staffers. If you’d be interested in helping to lead or organize a state delegation to meet with your elected representatives on May 13 please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you’re concerned about how to raise the funds to get to DC but know you need to be there check out Chris Palmer’s ideas on how to do it at: https://bluefront.org/chris-palmer-on-fundraising-4-blue-vision-summit/
This year’s Blue Vision Summit will also be proceeded by a Blue Mind Seminar May 10-11 and followed by Hands Across the Sand coastal actions on May 16.