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This One’s for the Landlubbers

By Cameron Brown on February 19, 2015 in Board Shorts with 0 Comments

Mother Nature graces Southern California winters with an unfair amount of seventy degree and sunny days. In the mornings when I walk past my neighbor’s house en route to work, he’ll joke with me from his front porch, “Another shitty day out.” It gets me every time.

Today was one of those days, and two friends and I decided to go for a beach cruise. When we crossed the border from Manhattan into Hermosa Beach, we started noticing that nearly every house along the bike path had signs displaying how residents were voting on the upcoming, highly controversial, Measure O.

According to ballotpedia.org:

If approved, this measure would authorize an oil drilling and production project agreement between the city and the E&B Natural Resources Management Corporation, providing for an exemption to the city’s ban on oil and gas drilling.

We passed sign after sign, the majority supporting “Vote No on Measure O,” but also a fair few supporting a “Yes” vote, and so we naturally started talking about this.

At first glance, off of instinct even, I was against Measure O. If I lived in Hermosa Beach, I would certainly vote No on O, but in that moment I knew (and admitted) that I had no knowledge as to why. I honestly knew nothing about the process or dangers of oil drilling. All I knew was that there have been spills in the past and that ocean environmentalists are often against it.

My friend Ryan brought up a point. He said, “A lot of people have opinions on this issue, without having any reasons as to why.” And sure, this applies to just about everything going on in the world, but I absolutely agreed with him.

Although I stayed rather quiet in the conversation (I’ve been making a conscious effort not to pretend like I know more about certain topics than I actually do), I fell right into the category of people he was referring to.

The first thing I did when I got home from our ride was spend about an hour reading up on Measure O and the processes of oil drilling. I’m far from an expert on the subject, but I’m no longer completely ignorant about the issue, either. I’ll get to the basics of what I found out in a minute. First, I want to talk about something else that Ryan mentioned during our conversation.

He admitted that he would keep an open mind on the subject. He was willing to hear from people on either side of the issue, which to me is a hugely positive attribute. However, he continued to explain that he didn’t plan on reading up on it or making much effort to learn about it. I’m pretty sure he used the world “lazy,” too.

The reason I bring this up is not to bag on Ryan. The guy has a heart of gold. I bring this up because this mentality strikes me as being all too common.

On the one hand, if the vote goes in favor of Hermosa Beach’s supporters it will bring potentially hundreds of millions of dollars to the city, and what city doesn’t want that?

On the other hand, according to the environmental impact report (potentially due to geological hazards, mechanical failure, structural failure, corrosion, or human error during operations), “An oil spill along the coastline could affect beach areas, leading to beach closures and boating restrictions in contaminated areas during and potentially after cleanup.”

The chances of an oil spill occurring are quite small, but they would nonetheless be present at all times.

The truth is, if I step outside my own world view (one that’s deeply connected to the ocean), it’s not surprising that most people who don’t regularly interact with the ocean care little about issues like these. Out of sight, out of mind, I get that. I don’t agree with it, but I get it.

Justin Chisholm put it perfectly in an article on the pollution of our oceans last month…

For the majority of landlubbers, the fact that the world’s oceans are clogging up with the detritus of a rampant consumer society can easily be ignored. For most, the watery expanses beyond our coastlines might just as well be another planet.

To all the landlubbers out there, you know that questionable saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”? Well, science says that logic doesn’t apply to our oceans. What happens in our oceans affects us here on land as well.

Let’s think about the bigger picture here, the one broader than the next decade or two. Where is this oil going to end up, what will it ultimately be used for, and what will be the positive and negative impacts of it’s use?

And finally, at what point does making decisions with the environment in mind take precedence over making money?

{Featured Image by Brad Jacobson}

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