Why I Hate Kayaks
April 21, 2009 2 Comments
The Wilmington Oil Field, which crosses the basin stretching from San Pedro, through Long Beach and Signal Hill, to Seal Beach (California), is the third largest oil deposit in the United States. A wonderful energy resource serving the United States which has provided more than 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil since 1932.
Shift to Colorado, Independence Day, 2008. I arrived at the Denver airport (landing through a brown cloud of smog that makes an autumn afternoon in Los Angeles look healthy), rented the cheapest vehicle I could get my hands on, and started the trip up I-70 to work near Vail for the coming week. Imagine my surprise to see a traffic jam that pretty much started in Denver, and went up the mountain as far as Breckenridge. Even more surprising, was the fact around 85% of the traffic jam consisted of SUVs and trucks, with at least 50% of those trucks sporting kayaks strapped to the roof.
Whales Near Seal Beach, California — Interesting idea – a state that prides itself on its relationship with nature, yet those who participate in nature, promote and evangelize nature, and promote the care and feeding of nature – appear at least to an outsider, as openly violating the laws of nature.
Shift to the period prior to the US general election. Battle cries of “drill baby drill” come from the conservatives. Open off-shore drilling, the ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), and increase production in other areas of the US. Reduce our dependence on Middle East and South American oil through increased production in the USA. Stop sending money to countries who may not like Americans very much.
On a superficial level, this is all good. On a national resource and environmental level, this may not be so good.
When we start talking about offshore drilling, we need to keep in mind we, as human beings, share the oceans with a lot of other animals and plant life. The planet depends on a very fragile eco-system to continue producing oxygen, food, and energy. Significant disruption to any geographic area has a ripple effect on how the eco-system operates.
In a city like Long Beach, the city leadership understands that we must find a balance between producing energy, and preserving the quality of life needed by both people and the environment. We must drill for oil, as our nation relies on oil for growth and survival. However oil, like fresh water and clean air, needs to be respected.
So Long Beach tries to gain the best from both worlds – producing energy, and ensuring a healthy relationship with the environment. A partnership between drilling, and living.
Long Beach Oil Drilling Island — However that has not always been the case. In the early part of the 20th century Long Beach and the Wilmington Oil Field attracted wildcatters, oil companies, and all others hoping to cash in on the financial frenzy driven by oil. In just the Long Beach – Signal Hill area, several thousand oil wells were drilled, with no regard to the environmental impact that would result from the production of oil. Of course the rest is history, and the Long Beach area is just now starting to recover from the toxic nightmare which followed the initial drilling.
Until recently, most thought the Wilmington Oil Field was just about tapped out. Now we know there is a lot more oil, we just need to be smarter in how we get to it for exploitation. In addition, we need to ensure the oil is used to meet the needs of not only California, but also as a strategic reserve for the United States.
Old Signal Hill Oil Field — Shift again back to Colorado in July 2008. We talk and talk about being environmentally smart. We talk about building new sources of renewable energy, high speed train lines, and hybrid vehicles that will use everything from natural gas to hydrogen fuels. Then we strap a kayak on our luxury SUV, fill the tank with the high octane gasoline needed to drive that big V8 engine, and head for the hills.
As a resident of Long Beach, I see this problem, and think that conservatives, liberals, pseudo-environmentalists, and media noise makers need to walk the talk. If you want to save the environment, and become energy independent, then maybe we need to find a way to strap that kayak on top of a Prius or other hybrid on the way up the mountain. Maybe we don’t need the monster truck to drive to a bar or diner in West Virginia – we can prove how tough we are by riding a horse.
I think I’d start liking kayaks again if I saw more people strap the kayak on the back of a hybrid next to a bicycle, then ride the bicycle down to the ocean or their nearest stream from a common parking lot, and put into the water. Until then, every time I need to take my rental sub-compact to a meeting not served by a metro or rail line, and see a traffic jam of kayakers driving pickup trucks and SUVs, I will be unhappy and angry. Like the whale in the picture above, I will wonder “what are you thinking?”
Long Beach Oil Refinery — I promote development and exploration or new forms of clean energy. I fully support becoming a “green” society. There is a balance we need to meet through creative and non-destructive use of natural sources of energy including wind, solar, hydrogen, and hydro power. We can all contribute, whether it is through better personal resource discipline, or by supporting people and organizations (such as the T. Boone Pickens Energy Plan) who are dedicated to helping solve this problem.
Kayaking is a heck of a lot of fun.