Publicizing the Pacific’s Plastic Garbage Patch 
by Art Goodtimes 
Feb 05, 2009 | 857 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

ROZ SAVAGE … My old St. Joseph’s Mountain View grammar school buddy and fellow paisano Ray DiFazio sent me an 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 she 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 (albeit at different tables ;-) and I marveled at how, when seen in person, this relatively tiny woman, who I might add looks terrific in a mini-skirt, 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!"


COUNTY LINES … I miss that old KOTO show. It gave county officials like myself a chance to update the community on county issues and field frank questions publicly on the air from citizens. That seemed like a great service to the community and I’m sorry KOTO axed it … I sometimes get to do an in-depth update here in my column (if there was room). Plus, with email running at 100+ a day and a 1400+ backlog on top of that – I could spend eight hours just at the county keyboard (with its “eeeee” that sticks or do sn’t r gist r) … But quickly. My second trip to Denver yielded a good meeting with the State Land Board (SLB) and Ritter’s Dept. of Natural Resources Director and old friend of San Miguel County Harris Sherman – they agreed to help us protect Gunnison Sage-Grouse habitat at Miramonte Lake near Norwood by converting their recently-purchased parcel of trust land near the Miramonte lake into their Conservation Trust program. Great news! … And we all agreed to explore ways to gain better notification of SLB actions among state and local stakeholders.


TRI-STATE’S NUCLA PLANT … I have this wild hair. And I’ve been voicing it at meetings, like the breakfast one for regional officials in Montrose with Rep. John Salazar … Why not get some stimulus 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 then 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 throughout the watershed opportunities for retraining and new jobs. Ecologically done thinning would help save the forests from stand-clearing fires, and protect homes in the wildland-urban interface (WUI). Less coal power generation would help Tri-State meet state mandates on conversion to alternative energy. And we all would breathe cleaner air in our watershed, free of mercury and radiation, and with a smaller carbon footprint.


POEMS MANGLED … Apologies if the poems in The Talking Gourd were a bit weird the last two weeks (some would say they’re always weird, LOL) … We seem to be having some layout problems again at the Watch … My poem from two weeks ago was somehow crossed with a poem from the æther and given a wrong title, and two lines added to the ending, making it completely incomprehensible … Post-Op is a poem about a recent heart scare I had. I failed a treadmill test in Telluride, and was sent to Montrose for a $7,000 angiogram, that showed there wasn’t a real problem with my heart, in spite of the treadmill. But, nevertheless, it was a warning … Although I’ve pulled them apart, the poem is actually two haiku (17 syllable stanzas) – part of a series I call Hai-unCouth … I’ve re-run the poem this week, and I’m hoping we get it right this time. Just like I hope my little heart scare will prompt me to continue a new exercise regime and a changed diet. A new year’s resolution all of you sixty-somethings might consider.

THE TALKING GOURD

Post-Op

Failed treadmill

serves as gross screen.

Angiogram tests

green.

“No obstructions!”

Guess

this heart’s flow

still good to go.

No reds.

No stops.

Just flashing

yellow.

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