EarthSourceMedia Reports for September 18th, 2009
~Forcing the Task Force~
Having arrived a day early, I found myself first staring at a blazing San Francisco sunset and then awakening the next morning to a multitude of hungry fisherman hauling poor shark after shark out of the bay and slamming them unceremoniously to the asphalt pavement that was Pier 28. I wrestled with the notion of running over and tossing them back into the life-giving waters, but knew it was no use. I turned away, feeling like a friend was dying in the street- and I guess he was.
In Deep Water
Most people will tell you they know the oceans are in deep water. Some will say we need more studies. Of course, the people who say more studies are usually the people who actually do those studies for a living and even when they do them, they always conclude by saying, “The results of our study show ‘more studies needed’!”
As he fends off hecklers and nuts with automatic weapons who stand outside his speeches, President Obama has finally gotten around to creating and mobilizing his ‘Inter-Agency Ocean Policy Task Force’, whose job it is to listen to the scientists, experts and public, and use that input to formulate an all-encompassing plan to do no less than save the ocean.
The first meeting of the IOPTF was held in San Francisco yesterday at the Hyatt Embarcadero, same place the California Coastal Commission voted to deny San Diego another sewage ‘waiver’ last month, and yes, I was there. Waivers of the Federal Clean Water Act, like the one San Diego uses to dump filthy human sewage into the ocean, are part of a pattern of reckless behavior that has led to oceans in crisis.
And of course, the corruption runs deep too; instead of cleaning up the sewage, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has re-submitted another waiver application, and the Coastal Commission will hear it -yet again- on October 7th, at Carlsbad California City Council chambers. And yes, I will again be there! But surely, I digress…
Zipping up and down the State of California in our ‘Scacciabong’ (RV), we made sure to attend this historic meeting as well as the Ocean Protection Council meeting held just prior. Inside, the task force listened as elected officials spoke of ocean protection, scientists and biostitutes spoke of new things to study, and environmentalists from far-flung places detailed their struggles. But many of the standing-room only crowd were ordinary citizens, some young, some old, but none of them were really buying into what amounted to a bill of goods being sold there at the Embarcadero Hyatt.
Like the taxis waiting along the curb out front of the palacial diggs, somewhere out in the shadows, toxic polluters, long liners, shark finners, dolphin killers, Navy sonar whale-ear blasters, they were all lined up out there too, waiting for the lip service to be over. Waiting for the media lights to point back at the latest abduction, school murder or winner of American Idol, so they could resume their predation on our green and yet very blue planet and ocean.
The real hope, I knew was outside the building, where a mob-scene of colorful aquatic costumes swam the streets of San Francisco, now leaping clear of the waves, now duck-diving ‘neath a passing MUNI Bus or Trolly. Winding my camera and nursing a coffee, I jogged out into the city air, where hope wore the costume of a Sockeye Salmon and tomorrow held a surfboard emblazoned with the words: HEALTHY OCEAN=HEALTHY SURFERS. I gathered 30 or so of the different species into a school and snapped the above photo, one that I knew would reflect the desperate mood of a meloncholy ocean, gasping for breath.
And of all the messages given and taken from the first listening-session of President Obama’s Inter Agency Ocean Policy Task Force, perhaps the most simple and straight forward was the one I gave on the 5:00 evening news, to KTVU Health and Science Editor John Fowler: “What’s the message of all this?”, he queried, to which I replied, “That the ocean is not a cheap dumping ground for the detritus of society. That it should no longer be viewed as a resource, but as a source”.
Of course, none of those in charge would agree, and there lies our dilema- the only way any of them will do anything is with the permission of those who suck the life out of our ocean like dark eyed vampires on the pale throat of a victorian princess. But I knew something they all didn’t, and as we drove the many miles back home to California’s rugged if over-fished Central Coast: all the excuses and compromise and politicking in the world simply don’t matter to a dying Earth. And those warriors, those vikings, those soldiers, those youthful, resourceful, ever-hopeful ocean activists out there in their colorful protest costumes, they aren’t here to buy a bridge. They’re here to build one to the future.
Tags: interagency ocean policy task force, president obama, ocean protection council, pollution, san diego, sewage waiver, joey racano, surfrider, epa, activist, activism, san francisco, california, vampires, natural resources, surfers, surfboards, deep water, environment