March 2009

Publicizing the Pacific's plastic garbage patch

By Art Goodtimes

ROZ SAVAGE … My old St. Joseph’s Mountain View grammar school buddy Ray DiFazio sent me a e-mail (with photos!) of this amazing woman. Some of you extreme sports mountain men & mamas may be acquainted (bring her to Mountainfilm!). If not, here’s his account … “Many of you have heard me talk about Roz Savage, the extraordinary woman who rowed (yes, rowed) from San Francisco to Waikiki in 99 days last summer. Recently Roz spoke at the Presidio Yacht Club in Sausalito (the very place from which she embarked on her remarkable “voyage”). I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with her. . . I marveled at how this relatively tiny woman was able to complete such an ambitious undertaking … Roz's 24-foot rowboat was specially designed for rowing the oceans. Her voyage was completely solo and without support. It has been estimated that at her goal of 10,000 a day, she completed almost a million strokes during the voyage. Her mission was to raise the public's awareness of the crisis arising from the enormous amount of plastic and other debris being dumped into our oceans every day. Some of you are aware that there is a patch of garbage in the Pacific Ocean the size of Texas. Plastic bottles & bags comprise a surprisingly large percentage of this “North Pacific Garbage Patch.” The plastic breaks down, over time, into very small floating particles. These particles then enter the food chain where those at the top (guess who?) ingest them, and the toxins they produce. By the time they get to us, they are in greatly concentrated form. This not only presents a very real danger to us, but, if things don't change, to our children and even more so to their children … As she neared Hawaii, Roz encountered some environmental scientists who completed a similar voyage. These scientists dragged a skimmer behind their boat to collect whatever was floating on the surface. Even at the latitudes near Hawaii, the material they collected was comprised not only of phyto-plankton and other life forms (natural), but even more so of tiny pieces of plastic (patently unnatural). At the time, they were thousands of miles from the "Garbage Patch.” Roz uses the analogy that just one stroke of her oars will not get her very far, but a million strokes got her all the way to Hawaii. By the same token, if each of us does our small part to keep our empty plastic bags and bottles from entering the environment (by recycling, for example) we collectively can have a tremendous impact … This year, Roz will set out from Hawaii on May 15, to row (hopefully) to Samoa. Her message, this time, will be to raise awareness of global warming. …”



It´s called a social networking phenomenon,
this desire to paste our faces
in cyberspace in the hope somebody finds us.

And here in the broader galaxy we plant
the ones we love in plots of earth
marked by numeric profiles

or we push them into the sun
hoping to disperse their energy
to the widest possible audience, praying

they´ll contact the webmaster
directly instead of being forced to point
and click for an eternity.

David Feela
Arriola, Colo.

DOLORES RIVER GROUP … In examining alternatives to Wild and Scenic designation for the Dolores, one of the issues that came up was the issue of dueling science. One presenter insisted on saying he’d kept dueling science out of the report he’d prepared. He kept going on and on about dueling science … Finally, a scientist with an enviro group took issue. What do you mean, no dueling science? The scientific method is all about putting out an idea, a hypothesis. Then having others test the same experiment and see if the results could be replicated. And often scientists will challenge each other, until the truth would finally emerge … No dueling science? Then there’s probably no true scie n c e involved.

TRI-STATE’S NUCLA PLANT … I have this wild hair. And I’ve been voicing it at meetings … Why not get some s t i m u l u s money out here to the west end of Montrose and San Miguel counties and start thinning over-dense pine and aspen forests, as well as selected stands of dead and dying beetlekill? We could chip the trees on site, and haul them to Tri-State’s Nucla power plant, which is capable of being converted from coal to bio-fuels. With a small subsidy we could off-set the cheaper cost of coal for Tri- State. Bio-fuels would give out-of-work construction folks opportunities for new jobs. Thinning would help save the forests from stand-clearing fires. Less coal-power generation would help Tri- State meet state mandates on conversion to alternative energy. And we all would breath cleaner air in our watershed, and with a smaller carbon footprint.

CLUB 15? … I appreciated Ouraybased David Mullings' recent Brand X editorial supporting the Grand Junctionbased booster organization for oil & gas interests (oh, yes, and some Western Slope issues too) and urging Ouray County to continue bankrolling this exclusive business club. But I'm a little surprised Mullings is so sure this group is a good fit for Ouray County, after conferring only with the group's director, Reeves Brown. I don't recall M u l l i n g s attending club meetings in the 10 years I was associated with the group. Nor do I believe the Ouray or Ridgway papers are paid members of this group … What Mullings did do was neglect to inform citizens that not only San Miguel County, but San Juan, Gunnison, Eagle and Archuleta counties have all dropped out of the club this year … I wonder, is an industry organization rejected by so many counties for its corporate bias really deserving of taxpayer funds in these economic times? Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.