Blue Notes #146 – May 17, 2016
By David Helvarg
This Friday and Saturday mark the 9th annual Peter Benchley Ocean Awards and Weekend public forum, dialogues and film-fest at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Asilomar beachfront Conference Center. This will follow three days of Wallace J. Nichols Blue Mind 6 gathering also at Asilomar. For details on the Awards Weekend go to: peterbenchleyoceanawards.org
If you’re not on the cliffs with us on Saturday May 21 you should be at your local beach holding hands for a worthy cause – the health of our public seas during HANDS ACROSS THE SAND. This is an annual event that began 6 years ago during BP’s deadly Deep Water Horizon blowout and months long eco-disaster in 2010. It continues every May 21 with citizens joining hands at scores of local beaches around the U.S. and around the world including Algeria, India, Australia and New Zealand to raise awareness of the dangers of offshore oil and other dirty fossil fuels. It calls for a speedy transition to affordable clean energy to restore and protect our home planet including the 71 percent of it that’s saltwater. If you love the sea see what’s up near you this Saturday at www.handsacrossthesand.com
As Rachel Maddow said on her MSNBC show, “They should have listened to the hippies” (anti-oil protestors). In the wake of a year of kayaktivists, sea partiers and others demanding no new drilling in the Arctic, Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico we have seen a number of victories including President Obama’s withdrawal of his own plan to open up the Southeast Atlantic to new offshore oil leases in the face of a mobilized citizenry.
In the Arctic Ocean the oil industry is now pre-surrendering, walking away from $2.5 billion of drilling rights they’d paid for. Documents obtained by Oceana indicate that the oil companies, pounded by record low oil prices, have abandoned hundreds of leases covering 2.2 million acres rather than pay to keep them in play. Shell Oil, which spent $7 billion and had several major accidents before hitting a dry hole in the Chukchi Sea last year, plans to give up all but one of its leases in the Arctic. That’s good news given its failures to date. Just last week, Shell was responsible for a spill of over 100,000 gallons in the much more manageable waters of the Gulf of Mexico where BP still failed to manage their major Deep Water disaster 6 years ago that they’ve since been found criminally responsible for.
Ocean advocates are now suggesting this would be a great time for the Obama administration, as part of its environmental and climate legacy, to put the U.S. part of the Arctic Ocean permanently off-limits to any fossil fuel extraction. Speaking of slicks…
It’s not just sunscreen. Around 93% of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is now experiencing some degree of warm water bleaching as the result of the longest and most extensive global coral bleaching event in history, an event I first reported on in the LA Times last fall. Because of this, we really need to start thinking about triage, what we can save of the world’s tropical reefs and how we can save them. Hint – big no-take Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) or “Hope Spots” help as it has already been demonstrated that healthy reefs not impacted by pollution and overfishing resist and recover from bleaching events more rapidly than heavily impacted reefs. For a great graphic on coral reefs check out Fix.com’s ‘Understanding and Protecting our Coral Ecosystems.
Our coalition against offshore oil was a great launch pad to try and make awareness of the risks to our public seas and what we can do to restore them part of the debate during the 2016 election. Right now Blue Frontier has also launched an ocean leadership letter to the candidates with four action areas they can take responsibility for. In the spring of 2017 we’ll hold our movement’s 6th Blue Vision Summit in Washington D.C. to let the new president and Congress know what kind of ocean leadership agenda we expect them to carry out and also to represent the millions of citizens who want to see good leadership for our ocean, coasts and the economies and communities that are supported by healthy living seas.
So while we are not now nor have we ever been a formal political party, we can still make a good argument for why people should wear Sea Party Tee-shirts and keep the ocean close to their hearts and always on their lips because…
Sea Party 2016 – Because no wind spill ever destroyed a beach or a bayou
Sea Party 2016 – For the other 71 percent that’s salty
Sea Party 2016 – Because the ocean is on a bad acid trip
Sea Party 2016 – Because plastic is even more toxic than Congress
Sea Party 2016 – For gnarly waves and clean energy
Sea Party 2016 – We don’t take donations from SeaWorld
Sea Party 2016 – Life’s a beach but we can’t afford to coast
Sea Party 2016 – Because fish can’t vote
Sea Party 2016 – I surf and I vote
Sea Party 2016 – I dive and I vote
Sea Party 2016 – I paddle and I vote
Sea Party 2016 – I float and I vote
Sea Party 2016 – Stop abusing Mother Ocean
Sea Party 2016 – Restore the blue in our red, white and blue
If you’d like your own Sea Party Tee Shirt and also a chance to support Blue Frontier for just $20 go here.
For $30 or more we’ll send you a Sea Party Tee plus a copy of our book “50 Ways to Save the Ocean,” illustrated by Sherman’s Lagoon cartoonist Jim Toomey. Click here to donate.