I am a Californian now, but I was born a child of the desert. My parents raised me in Arizona, where my father worked as an archaeologist, and my mother took me to wander the scrubby ravines near our home. She saw beauty everywhere. As a small boy I just saw great opportunities for hide and seek.
Once a year, for our summer vacation, we would drive to the beach. I still remember the great anticipation I felt as our station wagon crested the last mild incline that would give us a view of the Pacific Ocean. It filled me with an awe I still feel today, and as an adult I’ve always lived a window away from its expanses.
But my appreciation for the ocean is complicated by the knowledge that we risk it every day for oil. Last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil disaster was a bellwether tragedy for the oceans. We know less about the deep sea than we do about the surface of Mars – just as we still don’t know the true cost of the worst oil disaster in U.S. history a year later.
I’ve been involved in ocean conservation for decades, and in that time, a lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same. Last year I decided it was time to write it all down before I get too old to tell the difference.
With the talented Michael D’Orso as my co-author, I wrote “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them,” and it hits the street on March 15. We set out to write a book that describes -- in an entertaining and informative way -- the most critical threats to the oceans, and how we can turn them around. I think we did a pretty darn good job, if I do say so myself. I thought you might like a preview.
The book opens with a chapter on the issue that propelled me into ocean conservation -- offshore drilling. I joined a local protest in the mid-1980s to oppose offshore oil drilling near my Southern California neighborhood. Fast forward to 2010, when I testified before Congress on the dangers of expanded offshore drilling. Like I said, things change, but they remain the same.