From the department of life

Phytoplankton bloom around the Chatham Islands, New Zealand. Source: NASA's Earth Observatory. Click on the image to keep reading from the space agency about how the region's massive phytoplankton blooms sustain valuable fish.

Plastic product placement on ABC

Product placement: A "brain surgeon" with her almost constant companion, a plastic single use water bottle, in ABC's Private Practice. Source: ABC

Want to pollute this coastline? Call the scriptwriters.

Click on the cover for more on "Bottled & Sold"

There are various ways to advertise on network television, but only product placement inoculates the message against the fast forward button. In the case of ABC’s Private Practice, a medical drama set in Santa Monica, California, a sales pitch for bottled water was even written into the script recently. A character who we are to accept as an Ivy League-trained brain surgeon was given a speil about  how ready access to bottled water untroubled by guilt about the bottle’s persistence in the environment for 1,000 years was what she loved about the show’s ocean-side clinic. With this insouciance for hire, ABC managed the ultimate perversion. No, not asking us

In praise of Mark Gold

Few of us come so near greatness as to be crushed by a defeat. This week, after 22 years with Heal the Bay, the man synonymous in Los Angeles with the health of our ocean and beaches was crushed. Moreover, he was flattened while the nation was watching. Until the wee hours of August 31st, it seemed as if Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay, had led California, and hence the country, in a ban of the single-use plastic bags handed out in stores. Then the state senate rejected the ban, 21-14.

On the morning of September 1st, as news organizations reported how plastics industry lobbyists stopped the first bag ban in the nation, Gold’s blog “Spouting Off” was surprisingly empty. Over at Heal the Bay, the Action Alert asking Californians to call their senators to support AB 1998 still sat on the website.

Where was Mark? Aside

Let them eat plastic

It only looks like a jelly fish. A sea turtle eats a plastic bag. Source: Heal the Bay. Click on the image to be taken to Heal the Bay.

A “closely watched, first-in-the-nation ban on plastic grocery bags was defeated Tuesday night,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “That measure, AB 1998, passed the Assembly in June and had the support of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but faced a withering and well-financed advertising and lobbying campaign from the plastic bag manufacturing industry.” To keep reading, click here or, for the AP account, here. “Opposition arguments last night were straight out of Lewis Carroll,” writes a disgusted Heal the Bay president and bill co-sponsor Mark Gold in Spouting Off. To read in the Sacramento Bee how the American Chemistry Council, whose members include Exxon, Dow and plastic bag manufacturers, “unleashed a flurry of fresh donations to politicians and

Ban the bag

California could become the first state in the country to ban plastic shopping bags. A bill to do just that is being amended to gain support from legislators, writes Ed Joyce of San Diego’s KPBS. The legislation would require reusable cloth bags and prohibit grocery, liquor and convenience stores from handing out plastic bags. Click here to keep reading.

Chance of Rain adds: For the history of Assembly Bill 1998 , which has been returned to a state senate committee for tweaking, click here. For the Heal the Bay Action Alert and how to encourage your senator to support the bill, click here. For arguments on behalf of the bill from sponsor Assemblywoman Julia Brownley and three beautiful actresses, click here. For information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, here and for the UC Davis Marine Debris Project, here

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