Friday, February 6, 2009

Reports from Lone Cone Country

by Art Goodtimes

Publicizing the Pacific’s plastic garbage patch

ROZ SAVAGE … My old St. Joseph’s Mountain View grammar school buddy and fellow paisano Ray DiFazio sent me a email (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 embarked on her remarkable ‘voyage’). I was fortunate enough to have a nice conversation with her during which she was as gracious and upbeat as I had suspected, from listening to her pod casts as she was en route to Hawaii.

We then had dinner together and I marveled at how, when seen in person, this relatively tiny woman was able to complete such an ambitious undertaking … Roz's 24' 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 underlying mission was to raise the public's awareness of the crisis arising from the enormous amount of plastic and other debris that is 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’, as it is called. 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 (but that's a whole other story). 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, in San Francisco Bay, 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 positive 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. Later, Roz plans to row from Samoa to Australia with yet another message. When she completes that, she will be the only woman to ever row across the Pacific Ocean … As she was leaving the yacht club, I offered to walk her to her car. She flashed that engaging smile of hers and said, ‘I just rowed to Hawaii, I think I can find my car!’”
Read about the recent discoveries about plastics in the ocean here.

Check out this video blog entry from Roz's trip:



Here's a quick primer on the North Pacific Garbage Patch:




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Deep Ecologist Passes


ARNE NAESS … A Norwegian philosopher who took his values and principles beyond the classroom, he won fame as part of a protest against the flooding of Mardalsfossen waterfall in the '70s, where protesters chained themselves to the dam site … He is considered the founder and coiner of the term "Deep Ecology," and he was good friends with my teacher, the late Dolores LaChapelle of Silverton … Norwegian Sjur Paulsen’s movie Loop, which featured Naess in its final scenes, played at the 2007 Mountainfilm festival in Telluride … Naess died earlier this month at 96, although he was playing his piano up until last year.

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THE TALKING GOURD

Smoke

death’s incense’s
lush & baroque

while life blazes
spare & elliptical
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