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Hansen: Saving the earth from ourselves

April 24, 2013|By David Hansen

Most people will not admit this out loud, but we have made fun of Earth Day.

With its unrealistic solar ovens and organic patchouli oil, over the past 40 years it has grown into a bloated caricature of itself. And now in Laguna Beach we have added its nautical stepsister, Kelpfest.

But here's the thing: The eco-revelers are having the last laugh. Regular humans are finally paying attention and listening.

Perhaps we are feeling mortal. Perhaps the global headlines are starting to sink in. Perhaps we are believing the science.

The facts speak for themselves.

The growth of electric cars far surpasses any other type of vehicle. Sales of plug-in vehicles in the U.S. more than tripled in 2012, according to Forbes. All major car manufacturers (and many small ones) are trying to create the perfect electric mix of performance, price and battery life.

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Sometime very soon, we will all have electric cars; it will be a stigma not to. We will look back at car exhaust and wonder how we breathed it for so long.

In this new normal, the expectation will be on sustainable living. More than any other time in modern history, people are trying to reduce their carbon footprint — except perhaps in some parts of Oregon where they have already turned into actual green people because they've been doing it so long.

In Laguna Beach, we are trying, and that was evident over the weekend when the proud "tree huggers" erected their reusable booths and recyclable fliers. And, yes, there were organic cookies baking in the solar oven.

I never knew the local area had so many environmental groups: Laguna Bluebelt Coalition, Laguna Ocean Foundation, Get Inspired, My Water Pledge, South Coast Water District, South Laguna Civic Assn., Pacific Marine Mammal Center, Laguna Beach County Water District and many more.

For the Kelpfest groups, the outreach is still largely about education because, let's face it, most people still want to call it seaweed.

"The most important thing is to realize it's a habitat for marine life," said Jinger Wallace, a volunteer with the Laguna Bluebelt Coalition. "We need to look at it a little differently. We have to make room for marine life. We don't want just a barren landscape."

The biggest public relations issue about kelp is that it's not particularly user friendly. Laguna residents know all too well the negative impacts of rotting kelp on a beach: stench, flies and tourists running away like they've seen a sea monster.

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