Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pg. 69: "Blue Frontier"

David Helvarg is President of the Blue Frontier Campaign and author of three books, Blue Frontier--Dispatches from America's Ocean Wilderness, The War Against the Greens, and 50 Ways to Save the Ocean.

I asked David to apply the "page 69 test" to Blue Frontier.

Here is what he reported:
Page 69 of my newly revised Blue Frontier – Dispatches from America’s Ocean Wilderness catches me in the middle of a discussion of the Navy’s use of active sonar that can deafen and kill beaked whales, dolphins and other marine wildlife. Sound after all is the light of the sea, and echolocation is how much of the life on our blue marble planet communicates, feeds and breeds. Human generated noise from oil exploration, commercial shipping and military operations is having a disturbing impact on our saltwater frontier. This page also leads into my visit to the dolphin pens at the Navy’s sub base in San Diego and a history of how the Navy came to be the largest repository of captive marine mammals. If you’ve never heard of "swimmer nullification" or thought about how to weaponize Flipper you might want to read on.

Page 69 is part of a chapter titled "Oceanographers and Admirals" that looks at how the Navy impacted U.S. ocean science for the 50 years of the Cold War while also distracting it from the ecological collapse of our living seas.

In writing Blue Frontier I present what I think is a useful overview of America’s interwoven relationship to the seas around us, from the earliest native fishing settlements in North America to the devastated Gulf Coast I traveled in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It both documents the cascading series of ecological disasters confronting our public seas while also offering hope in the form of what I call a "seaweed" (marine grassroots) rebellion of concerned citizens who, getting so much from the sea are now willing to give something back.

Writing Blue Frontier also gave me an excuse to visit aircraft carriers, offshore oil rigs, an underwater lab, swim with sharks, go bodysurfing and otherwise get back to the source. I’m still hopeful enough about turning the tide that I even established the non-profit advocacy group Blue Frontier Campaign ( Plus turning my book into an organization seemed like a good example of recycling.
Many thanks to David for the input.

Click here to read an excerpt from Blue Frontier.

Praise for the first edition of Blue Frontier included:

"[Helvarg] takes us on the ultimate wave. . . . It's a fast, watery ride, and you're going to get wet before it's over."--Los Angeles Times Book Review

"A vivid tapestry of an America interwoven with the sea."--San Jose Mercury News

"An infuriating portrayal of mankind's most breathtaking crime, the destruction of the oceans that birthed our species."--Robert F. Kennedy Jr., president, Waterkeeper Alliance

On September 11, 2005, David published an Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times titled, "We Asked For It."

Earlier this month he appeared again in those pages with an argument for "how governments can prevent a complete wipeout of seafood species by curbing the number of fishing boats." See, "Too Few Fish in the Sea."

In 1999 David kept a week-long "electronic diary" (what they called a "blog" back then) for Slate about a trip to Antartica. Read it here.

Previous "page 69 tests":
Marina Warner, Phantasmagoria
Bill Crider, A Mammoth Murder
Robert W. Bennett, Taming the Electoral College
Nicholas Stern et al, Stern Review Report
Kerry Emanuel, Divine Wind
Adam Langer, The Washington Story
Michael Scott Moore, Too Much of Nothing
Frank Schaeffer, Baby Jack
Wyn Cooper, Postcards from the Interior
Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov
Maureen Ogle, Ambitious Brew
Cass Sunstein, Infotopia
Paul W. Kahn, Out of Eden
Paul Lewis, Cracking Up
Pagan Kennedy, Confessions of a Memory Eater
David Greenberg, Nixon's Shadow
Duane Swierczynski, The Wheelman
George Levine, Darwin Loves You
John Barlow, Intoxicated
Alicia Steimberg, The Rainforest
Alan Wolfe, Does American Democracy Still Work?
John Dickerson, On Her Trail
Marcus Sakey, The Blade Itself
Randy Boyagoda, Governor of the Northern Province
John Gittings, The Changing Face of China
Rachel Kadish, Tolstoy Lied
Eric Rauchway, Blessed Among Nations
Tim Brookes, Guitar and other books
Ruth Padel, Tigers in Red Weather
William Haywood Henderson, Augusta Locke
Jed Horne, Breach of Faith
Robert Greer, The Fourth Perspective
David Plotz, The Genius Factory
Michael Allen Dymmoch, White Tiger
Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Civilizing the Enemy
Tom Lutz, Doing Nothing
Libby Fischer Hellmann, A Shot To Die For
Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm
Bob Harris, Prisoner of Trebekistan
Elaine Flinn, Deadly Collection
Louise Welsh, The Bullet Trick
Gregg Hurwitz, Last Shot
Martha Powers, Death Angel
N.M. Kelby, Whale Season
Mario Acevedo, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
Dominic Smith, The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre
Simon Blackburn, Lust
Linda L. Richards, Calculated Loss
Kevin Guilfoile, Cast of Shadows
Ronlyn Domingue, The Mercy of Thin Air
Shari Caudron, Who Are You People?
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel
Steven Miles, Oath Betrayed
Alan Brown, Audrey Hepburn's Neck
Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale

--Marshal Zeringue