Chicago ‘68 to Now
50 years ago this month I was a 17-year-old high school activist protesting the Vietnam War on the streets of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention and police riot. We were attacked because we opposed a war that saw over 3 million Vietnamese and more than 58,000 American troops killed while our leaders lied to us. Today I’m working at Blue Frontier to build a solution-oriented movement to protect and restore a healthy ocean, that crucible of life on our blue planet, while our leaders continue to lie to us.
Half way between then and now I was producing a TV documentary at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and spotted a banner carried by Buddhist monks leading a march of 30,000 determined protestors that read, ‘When the people lead – the leaders will follow.’ And that’s what I believe in.
We marched for the Ocean this June 9, in Chicago and Rio and D.C. and 100 other places from Florida to Tunisia to Indonesia. Now it’s time for those of us in the U.S. to vote for the Ocean this November 6.
Over the next 90 days I’ll be giving ‘Sea Party 2018’ talks and working with Blue Frontier Campaign and our many partners to educate voters and other citizens that it’s not too late to turn the tide and restore the blue in our red, white and blue. If you are interested in having a Sea Party 2018 talk in your city, town or congressional district feel free to contact us at email@example.com or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also here are some quick thoughts on the Ocean march, media and youth as produced by Wingspan Media.
Florida’s latest HAB Disaster
Here’s a stunning report from the Miami Herald on the massive marine wildlife die-offs and other damages linked to ongoing red and green tides – largely greed driven harmful algal blooms (HABs) now covering large stretches of Florida’s coastline.
Nutrient loading of Lake Okeechobee from Big Sugar and Citrus and cattle plus increased rainfall from climate change have forced the Army Corps to do releases of this polluted water to the coasts because of poor infrastructure (earth levees) that could otherwise cause massive flooding on the lake’s edge. So the nutrients feed the blooms that damage the coastal wildlife, ecosystems and economies.
So do aging wastewater systems strained by additional development and rainfall and rising seas. When I was there during the last blooms in 2016 people knew when they’d end – when the Corps ended the water releases.
People have demanded and proposed nutrient reduction action plans for big ag for years but Governor Rick Scott and his legislature not only have refused to act on these plans under lobbyist pressure, they’ve also passed preemption legislation that won’t allow local communities on the Indian River and elsewhere to democratically vote for nutrient reduction plans for lawns, golf courses, etc. So now that Florida is in an ongoing crisis impacting tourism, real estate prices, etc. – people are beginning to collaborate. Still, I can’t help but recall that I was in Florida on election night 2016 when people voted to drown themselves. Poor Florida.
More M4O News
As an addendum to Blue Notes #166 here are two more M4O photos of youth on the march from Cape Verde off the west coast of Africa to Belize in Central America provided by our friends and organizers at Maralliance.
And here’s an informative 5-minute video on Suriname and their World Oceans Day/March for the Ocean that took place June 9. They even had a whale similar to the one in D.C.
Trump and the Ocean
If you haven’t been following Blue Notes’ reports on the Trump administration and its impacts on our public seas, please read former Undersecretary of Commerce Linda Bilmes’ writing in the Boston Globe about Trump’s ‘War on Oceans’
Then for a good read check out the August issue of Seven Seas the online dive travel and conservation magazine which is celebrating its 40th issue. Including an article I wrote on how the administration is impacting travel and marine conservation in Cuba titled: ‘Coral, Cuba and Trump.’
Want to feel better? If you haven’t seen ‘Chasing Thunder’ the documentary about Sea Shepherd’s 10,000 mile pursuit of the Pirate Fishing vessel ‘Thunder’ and you’re in the SF Bay Area Thursday August 23 it’s a great salty adventure with a satisfying ending. Capt. Paul Watson and his chief officer will also be there to answer questions. For more go to: www.intloceanfilmfest.org
The Climate 1970-2100
Wildfires are burning across California (and much of the world) this summer amidst record-breaking heat. Meanwhile I took a weekend off to go bodysurfing in San Diego and the water was surprisingly warm. Now Scripps Institution of Oceanography reports it’s actually the warmest ocean water recorded in 100 years of record keeping. Given the threats posed by offshore drilling, coral bleaching, ocean acidification, plastic (petrochemical) pollution, rising seas and much more it seems pointless to discuss ocean conservation without addressing climate. The ocean is the driver of climate and weather but is also impacted by human caused climate change in very basic ways including temperature, chemistry, and salinity.
If Jimmy Carter’s energy policy had been continued we’d already be over 50 percent fossil free in the U.S. and leading the global energy transition. But when Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980 one of the first things he did was remove solar panels from the White House roof to symbolize rejection of environmental progress that until then had been a bipartisan commitment. If we’d acted on climate change between 1970 and 2000 we’d probably be far enough into the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy so that we would face a still dangerous but not catastrophic future. The New York Times has a whole new special report that lists this critical lost opportunity as having taken place between 1979-1989. Check it out.
The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio may have been the last chance of that era to take meaningful action but 107 heads of state punted under pressure from the United States, Saudi Arabia and other fossil fuel supporters who didn’t want any concrete action.
The period we’re now living in – say 2000 to 2020 might be considered the Ah-Ha phase of the Greenhouse Century, when we recognize that the global climate regime has changed and is headed in a cataclysmic new direction in terms of mass extinctions, extreme weather, hurricanes, wildfires, heat waves, flash floods and drought, as well as huge and unacceptable economic costs and countless lost lives.
Our failure to act soon enough is directly attributable to a successful billion dollar plus lobbying and disinformation campaign to stop climate action carried out by the fossil fuel industry, the largest industrial combine in human history. I started writing about the environmental backlash in my 1994 book, ‘The War Against the Greens,’ and predicted it would only get worse as climate became central to our future security.
The next phase, say 2020 through the end of the century will hopefully become a transition time combining adaptation, eco-intervention/restoration and survival triage. We could see the kind of rapid shift off of carbon fuels in the mid 21st century that the 19th century witnessed in the shift from whale oil to rock oil or petroleum, but taking place amidst devastating impacts from climate disruption and uncontrolled feedback loops. These could include massive releases of additional greenhouse gasses from methane leaking off melting tundra and taiga and carbon emissions from burning wildfires, storm damaged cities, etc. This will mean continued extreme imbalance in natural systems such as weather patterns that were relatively stable during the last 10,000 years that marked the rise of human civilization.
The options left to us today are to promote the best available solutions to minimize the damage already inflicted by investing in global reforestation (including mangrove forests), coral restoration and kelp promotion for food and carbon sequestration, also new agricultural models for terrestrial food and fuel production that benefit living soils and sequester carbon along with carbon negative urban planning including super-green architecture.
Also it would be good to empower more women not only for reasons of equity but because it is the one proven effective means of reducing population growth without the kind of coercion China’s one child policy required (it’s also worth remembering that had that failed experiment not taken place there’d be a billion more humans on the planet today).
So am I hopeful or pessimistic? Doesn’t matter. The future remains speculative until we’re living it. All I know for certain is if we don’t try to make change for the better it won’t happen.
A final word from a real change maker.
Blue Frontier’s Margo Pellegrino has done a lot of long-distance paddling in her one-woman outrigger canoe on behalf of the ocean, clean water and to help publicize the efforts of local seaweed rebels. She’s paddled from Miami to Maine, Seattle to San Diego, New York to New Orleans (via inland waters) and much more.
Her most recent paddle was 18-days from AC-DC, Atlantic City to Washington D.C. for our M4O armada and March for the Ocean where she was an opening speaker. So let’s hear from Margo again:
“The march was huge and awesome and it will only grow. We are a force, and the more folks who love the ocean realize what they have to lose, the more they will come out and march. Here in this country, the PEOPLE truly DO have the POWER. As long as we don’t allow nefarious forces to divide us, we will be alright.
So let’s keep marching and fighting y’all. It might be inconvenient to get to all these marches, make all these phone calls to our electeds. It’s annoying to write letters to our editors and sometimes risk the scorn we get for being “the squeaky wheels” in our communities, but there is too much to lose by sitting on the sidelines. Our kids, our ocean, our planet are very much worth fighting for, however we can. The ‘Heirs to Our Ocean’ impressed us all. THIS is why we march and why we won’t stop-our love for our kids and our ocean on which we all depend for life -that is our motivation. And we will not stop until the threats to our ocean and to humanity do. Paddles up and forward ho!”
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