Listen to the Young on Oil Policy

As a board member of Get Out Oil! in 1969 through late 1970 and the executive director of the January 28 Committee — the group that organized the first-year commemoration of the start of the disastrous oil spill in the Santa Barbara Channel — perhaps some thoughts will be of interest.

While I moved my young family to the state of Washington in early 1971, I have followed the important achievements of the Community Environmental Council (CEC). It was established by many members of the January 28 Committee and has certainly influenced the environmental movement. With its emphasis on local actions and new policies, it has demonstrated the importance of personal lifestyle choices. I hope the CEC continues it amazing work.

As people reflect on the 50-year commemoration of the Santa Barbara Channel Oil Spill, I suggest we must consider new strategies to address the impacts of the oil industry and extractive hydrocarbon industries so negatively affecting human civilization. With the dramatic and demonstrated negative results of climate change facing the world, I suggest that we face a major crossroads in the history of the earth. At our 28 January 1970 conference, the “Santa Barbara Declaration of Environmental Rights” was presented and adopted by many people as a lifestyle choice. Additionally, Paul Ehrlich, author and Stanford University professor, highlighted the crisis of overpopulation. This overpopulation of the Earth of both humans and “pet animals” along with wild overconsumption of the Earth’s natural resources, including oil and other hydrocarbons, is rapidly expanding and has brought us far above the safe limits of carbon in the atmosphere and oceans.

As for bold public policy, I suggest we listen to young people. It is important that we encourage and support them in their focus on providing alternatives and solutions to the climate crisis. For example, the Sunrise Movement and its proposed Green New Deal. Throughout the world there are many younger people offering ideas and proposed solutions, including the new Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden, and Autumn Peltier, a 13-year-old Anishinaabe girl from Wikwemikong First Nation. There are hundreds of others, with some in Santa Barbara.

While I have many views on radical public policy actions needed to address the crossroads facing us, at age 76 I am focused on local and personal actions. So, I am increasing wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration on the 21-acre Beaver Creek Forest on which I have built a small footprint passive solar home.

Remember the old adage: Insanity is expecting different results while doing the same thing. Encourage our young people to approach this crisis differently!


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