Blue Notes 162
October 10, 2017
In This Issue:
The Ocean is in trouble is a familiar refrain. A year ago we seemed to be making some progress, but most of that is now being reversed. Denial of science and common sense solutions to existential threats like fossil fuel-fired climate disruption also put our lives and our future at risk. That is why I can’t understand people like EPA Chief Scott Pruitt or Governor Rick Scott of Florida who refuse to believe NOAA scientists when they tell them climate change is real and impacting extreme weather events such as hurricanes, droughts and wildfires but give full credence to these same NOAA scientists when they tell them that a massive hurricane that is heading west across the Atlantic will turn north in three days and so you should begin to evacuate people (credit to Dana Beach for this riddle). Science is not Sirius Radio where you only have to listen to the station that you prefer.
The lessons learned from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and Super-storm Sandy in 2005 and 2012 were reflected in the early disaster response to 2017’s historic hurricanes and rain bombs but petered out by the time Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were devastated by Maria. At that point, the U.S. government failed to respond at the right scale and we have been playing catch up ever since.
I have long argued we need to build up our ground forces of disaster warriors – the Coast Guard, FEMA, USFS firefighters, CDC Rapid Response Teams and other frontline operators while also establishing a Disaster Response Command as the Department of Defense’s tenth Unified Combatant Command, given this is where the security challenges are growing most rapidly on a hotter more crowded planet. Welcome to the Greenhouse century.
Also we need to rebuild our disaster zones with resiliency which would suggest Texas discover zoning – at least for its flood zones – and rather than sending thousands of diesel generators we should be shipping millions of solar panels into Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands so after the next storm you do not have island wide long-term power loss because you will have established a distributed localized grid. For more on this check out my Sept. 26 opinion piece that ran in ‘The Hill’ “We can do more for the first responders who risk everything.”
Blue Frontier first came out as a hardcover book in 2001. After two critically acclaimed paperback editions, we have now updated and re-released it as an ebook that you can download here.
All proceeds will be going to Blue Frontier’s activist work, which hopefully will Kindle your interest to read it.
While people have called it a classic text on the state of the ocean I prefer the Sacramento Bee’s review that said it “reads like a scientific detective novel.”
In that spirit here’s one of the sleazier excerpts from the Jersey shore I rediscovered in the chapter “Paradise with an Ocean View.”
“You might need somethin’ to hold on to, when all the answers they don’t amount to much.” Bruce Springsteen sings on the car’s CD player as I drive past cherry trees in bloom, old clapboard houses, and corner groceries, across railroad tracks and down to the beach in the Boss’s old hangout of Asbury Park, New Jersey. Since 1999 there’s been talk of revitalizing this area, but with its eroded tax base and absentee landlords, it looks more like the beachfront in Gaza, dominated by abandoned dance halls and a skeletal, unfinished high-rise. There are weedy lots, boarded-up stores, and streetlights left on in the middle of the day. Now construction crews have begun tearing down some of the older waterfront buildings to make way for high-density townhouses and condominiums.
But there is a long Jersey tradition of mixing concrete and corruption, and one of the key players in Asbury Park’s waterfront redevelopment–also a major contributor to the disgraced former Governor Jim McGreevey–pleads guilty in August 2004 to tax and other criminal charges.
Developer Charles Kushner has been implicated in a witness-tampering scheme, including allegations that he spent $25,000 to hire a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law (who was cooperating in a federal investigation of him) and then had the tryst videotaped. Meanwhile the governor, before resigning over an adulterous homosexual affair linked to allegations of blackmail and financial cronyism, signed a law making it easier for real-estate developers like Kushner to build along the Jersey shore by “fast-tracking” the environmental review process.”
Yes that Kushner – father of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner. A small irony, the federal prosecutor who jailed Jared’s father Charles and failed to get a cabinet appointment despite his canine-like loyalty to candidate Trump – is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Who says ocean and coastal politics aren’t interesting?
Again, to download a copy of Blue Frontier click here
Wendy Benchley and I founded the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards on the idea that individuals across every field of marine endeavor were providing solutions to the challenges faced by our ocean, coasts, and wildlife—and that they needed to be acknowledged and honored. During its ten years, the “Benchleys” grew to be recognized as the Academy Awards of the Ocean and were celebrated in fitting and elegant venues including the Carnegie Institution, California Academy of Sciences, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. They also helped foster cross-discipline collaboration, linking top policymakers, scientists, grassroots activists and others while also inspiring a new generation of ocean leaders including winners of the Christopher Benchley Youth Award.
Over the past decade, the Awards have recognized seventy-seven extraordinary ocean conservation champions. Unfortunately, we have reached a point where we can no longer sustain the Benchley Awards at the level they have achieved. I’m confident the awards, our winners, and supporters will leave a legacy that will continue to grow solutions faster than the problems we continue to confront. The alternative is unthinkable given, as a famed author and marine conservationist Peter Benchley once pointed out, “Without the oceans, there would be no life on Earth.”
Wendy and I will, of course, continue to stay active. One thing we plan to do for sure is:
We need to make the cause of a Healthy Ocean and Blue Economy that we have lobbied, organized and networked for into a larger citizens movement for change. World Oceans Day, Friday, June 8, 2018, can set the stage for a massive March For The Ocean on Saturday, June 9, 2018. This will take place in Washington D.C. and across the country, with simultaneous marches, flotillas, and celebrations.
Through the coalition that’s now building we aim to organize a March (actually many marches, rallies, paddle-outs, dive-ins etc.) that will have tens to hundreds to hundreds of thousands of participants, good media coverage, a large social media presence and a lasting impact.
The day after the March – along with feelings of blue pride – we should have a better-informed public ready to act at the local, state, tribal and national level to promote solutions and ‘vote the coast and ocean’ in the next election.
This Can Happen Through Several Steps:
– We have gotten initial sign-on for the March from over 40 organizations. We need you to commit your organization to the March – Go to firstname.lastname@example.org until the M4O (March for the Ocean) Coalition has a website and other social media up and running – hopefully, that will happen by the end of this week.
– It has an initial Steering Committee and will soon have a Media Collective to help assure coverage both nationally and in local media markets
– We have a list of high-profile ocean advocates including celebrities, musicians, athletes and advocates – who we need to endorse and participate in this March. We’ll need you to help us reach out and engage with many of them.
– We also need to start reaching out to organizations across the spectrum of society to guarantee the most diverse and youthful organizing effort the ocean community has ever put on and to guarantee we have large numbers of people in the streets and in and on the water
- We can leverage novelty and celebration – the use of boats, kayaks, dolphin costumes, sand castles, youth arts, a 91-foot floating Blue Whale – plus every participant needs to ‘Wear Blue for the Ocean’ to generate excitement and media coverage while also creating a Festival of Life and Ocean Love.
- At the same time we’ll be demanding an end to offshore oil drilling and spilling, oil refinery, plastic and other runoff pollution impacting our public waterways, public health and the sea and an end to policies that put our coasts, lakes, rivers and people at risk from rising seas, intensified storms and historic flooding.
- We need to honor our citizens of the sea – whales, dolphins, turtles, sharks, goliath groupers and other of our fellow travelers on this salty blue swimming pool of a planet as well as those who earn their livelihoods from the sea, our mariners, sailors, fishers, stevedores and professional surfers (I can dream, can’t I?).
More than just what we are against we’ll have to communicate in all our M4O outreach efforts a message of inclusion love and wonder. We march for the Ocean today so we can work, protect, restore and explore it tomorrow. Inside our blue minds, we protect what we love!
Suggested slogans include: The Ocean is Rising and So Are We, Vote the Coast and Ocean, Whose Seas? Our Seas! Restore the Blue in our Red, White and Blue.
For more information please email email@example.com.