Environmentalism, more than being ‘hip’

I agree with Arnold York (Opinion, May 11) that there is a logical inconsistency regarding those who call themselves “environmentalists” but drive around in three-ton SUVs that get the gas mileage of 1970s-era “land yachts” and under law may produce three times the pollutants per mile driven when compared to passenger cars.

But I disagree with York that concerning ourselves with the survival of species and coastal destruction wrought by aggressive seawall building is merely a matter of being “hip.”

Particularly disingenuous is the idea that the human race is “winning” because it is greatly accelerating the rate of species extinction via careless consumption and rabid overdevelopment. Indeed, our very survival depends on the diversity of species around us.

Short-sighted countries and corporations are mowing down the rain forest and potentially causing the extinction of that yet-unknown tree or shrub that has the key to curing cancer, arthritis or Alzheimer’s disease. If too many links in the food chain disappear, we’re likely to disappear as well.

Why would anyone think we’re “winning” by hastening either of those outcomes?

Arguing that there are 34 million Californians jockeying for space does not justify allowing coastal dwellers to build outsize fortifications for their outsize houses. Considering an oceanfront single-family residence anywhere in the Golden State sells for about $1 million and up, the impacted portion of the population is minuscule. But that tiny percentage of us who benefit from seawalls or rock revetments do so to the detriment of the remainder of the population, because such structures distort the ocean’s forces and can destroy the beach either near the home or downcoast.

Now, I know this isn’t a politically correct notion in some parts of Malibu, but the beaches under state law are public to the mean high tide line. Most seawalls and revetments have the effect of destroying the beach in front of the residence they purportedly protect, thus denying the public its asset. And, because they can cause downcoast erosion or “scouring,” seawalls cause damage to state or county beaches that serve the bulk of the public.

In any case, as long as we’re talking about consistency with Darwin’s law, why should anyone question the concept that the sea ultimately will take out any structure put in its way? If you want your home to be “permanent,” don’t stick it in the ocean’s path.

Chris Ford

Former editior, The Malibu Times

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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