The Los Angeles Times editorialized today that mutts should be given a chance at a pilot Santa Monica dog beach. Last week I spoke with editorial writer Carla Hall for 45 minutes on why the dog beach would be a bad idea for public health protection, environmental compliance, and the preservation of endangered and threatened wildlife. Unfortunately, her mind seemed clearly made up. Even suggestions for Hall to hang out at our local dog park for a few hours fell on deaf ears.
Clearly, science and credible opponents (state parks, lifeguards, NRDC and others) didn’t tip the scales for her. Idyllic visions of Fido frolicking in the surf were too compelling.
I can’t say I was surprised by today’s piece. But in light of all the facts, I had hoped she might support a recommendation for an enclosed dog beach away from endangered wildlife and away from the intertidal zone. But she stuck to her original position.
But there’s something more disturbing than the L.A. Times taking a position in favor of dog beaches despite environmental and public health concerns. What’s troubling is its failure to adequately cover more important environmental issues in the editorial or news sections.
The gutting of the environmental section has been a major letdown, especially on climate and air issues. There is no analysis of the performance of the EPA, NOAA or Fish and Wildlife under the Obama administration. Where are the articles on the lack of impact or reform after the Deepwater Horizon disaster? And where is the analysis of the inability of Congress or the state legislature to pass far reaching environmental legislation during the recession? AB 32, California’s groundbreaking climate bill legislation, could never pass in this legislature, and this Congress is the most anti-environmental one in my lifetime. Where are the editorials on these issues?
The irony of the dog beach piece running today is that Santa Monica College held a forum last night on a draft Sustainability Bill of Rights. The hall was filled with about 150 people, who held a consensus position that government and existing laws are not protecting our environmental rights, let alone the rights of nature.
The audience seemed genuinely concerned and eager to change the paradigm of environmental protection in order to better protect public health and the environment. Comments and questions brought up were not self-serving or NIMBY in nature. People focused on broad, fundamental rights: clean water, air and land; manageable food policies; sustainable energy and solid waste management.
Thankfully, protecting an individual’s rights to do what they want at the expense of the health of others or the harassment of endangered species was not addressed by the panelists or the audience. Woof.