Sounding Off: Rant misses the mark on columnist

It's to be expected that shots are fired at those who stand on soapboxes as Gustavo Grad has been doing in his twice-monthly eco-column "Verde Laguna."

But when the shots come from another passionate eco-activist like Roger Butow ["Use of 'bully pulpit' rankles," Coastline Pilot, Aug. 20], I'm confounded. It's a bit like one monk criticizing another monk for reciting an old prayer, instead of making up a new one.

As the timeless passage says: "There is nothing new under the sun. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again." Everyone awake and passionate about the state of our planetary life support system ought to keep shouting the same messages over and over until a critical mass of environmental-awareness and right action occurs.

Every eco-system on the planet is degrading toward critical care. Last week I picked up about 30 pieces of plastic trash in a five-block beach walk. Plastic straws, Styrofoam, mylar candy wrappers and toys don't biodegrade. Each piece could float out and be a deadly meal to a fish or ride the currents and join the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is growing daily.

Estimates are that it's now the size of the continental U.S. — the largest human creation ever made — albeit unintentional. The plastic (from petroleum) never breaks down completely, just into smaller pieces, which are then eaten by sealife and wind up in our tuna cans or sashimi — fitting karmic justice perhaps.

We're debating green building certifications vs. performance, forgetting that the 200-year-old San Juan Mission doesn't need air conditioning, solar panels or a plaque to be sustainable. It was oriented, designed and built to thrive before electric or gas lines existed. We're arguing over views vs. solar panels, oblivious that in five, 10 or at most 20 years, we won't have access to cheap oil to run our cars, manufacture disposables or truck in our produce.

The present fossil fuel, consumable age we're experiencing will be a blip on the radar screen of humanity's existence. There's a reason BP was drilling 40 miles offshore and a mile deep in the Gulf. We've sucked up and used all the easy-to-get petroleum. Wouldn't it be prudent for Laguna Beach to start now to take the steps necessary to insure we'll have resilience in a post petroleum, resource depleted world? It's not a matter of "if it will occur — but when."

We have a long way to go to set up ourselves and our heirs to thrive in a future without access to cheap gas and electricity. We still don't have safe bike lanes, recycled or reclaimed water infrastructure, transportation from town to train, or greenwaste recycling in town — to name a few.

Will the legacy of this generation of stewards of Laguna Beach be that we were so self-involved or righteous that we didn't join together and take the steps necessary to set up our children and grandchildren to thrive in the future we're heading into?

Liberal, conservative, independent, Christian, Muslim, atheist people and everyone in between all have to breathe oxygen rich air, eat safe food and drink clean water to live. We're all on the same team here in our secluded slice of paradise. Let's work on being team players that play to win. Our children and grandchildren's future will most probably depend on it.

Chris Prelitz lives in Laguna Beach and has a solar design and green building business, Prelitz + Partners.

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