Dear Readers: As an environmental health professional, people may automatically assume that I am part of the “pro-seal” crowd who are delighted by Monday’s action of Federal Court Judge William Hayes. On June 1, Hayes ruled to keep a temporary restraining order in place, protecting the seals at the La Jolla Children’s Pool. This reversed a recent California Superior Court ruling that gave the city of San Diego two weeks to devise a plan to disperse harbor seals from the area.
These people would be wrong.
Over the years, my thoughts on the seals’ presence at the Children’s Pool has mirrored my growing anger at the “do-gooder”, anti-humanity, liberty-crushing environmental activists who have used a combination of emotionalism, poor science, and political gamesmanship to redesign regulations and control businesses to meet their distorted worldviews. An action item for the grassroots “Tea Party” movement is to address the disparity in activism, so that the needs of all citizens can be addressed in a manner that is friendly to businesses, the people that depend upon these businesses for their livelihoods, and the environment. For example, the Southern California Tax Revolt Coaltion, LLC (of which I am a founding member), held a highly visible protest against Democrat Henry Waxman’s oppressive “American Clean Energy Security Act of 2009″ (ACES, aka “Cap-and-Trade). The proposed legislation is based on poor science, as evidence shows that the rise and fall in global temperatures is dependent primarily on solar activity. [Note: I am one of the 31,000 earth scientists who signed the Petition Project stating that there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate].
In regards to the Children’s Pool seals, my awareness of the issues related to them stems from taking my friends and family for walks along La Jolla Cove. In the late 1990’s, we would stop to see the new colony of seals. It seems that before 1994, the water quality in the Children’s Pool met safe standards for swimming except on rare occasion; however, after that time, the quality deteriorated. In 1997, the San Diego City Manager issued a report confirming that troublesome bacterial contamination was the result of “a seal excrement overload for Children’s Pool,” rendering it unfit for human use. Therefore, the seals essentially pooped their way to a new home, displacing the children from the area provided to them as a gift from Ellen Browning Scripps as part of her 1931 legacy. In that year, the then Governor of California signed Statute No. 937, which granted to “the city of San Diego, ….in and to all that portion of the tide and submerged lands bordering upon and situated below the ordinary high water mark of the Pacific ocean… That said lands shall be devoted, exclusively to public park, bathing pool for children”.
I must admit, in the late 1990’s, I enjoyed strolling with my family out to the Cove to see the seals. It was interesting to see marine mammals up-close. However, the charm wore off as the area became a staging ground for mammal-philes and I became aware of counter-arguments against having the seals remain at the pool.
Two specific incidents were galling to me as American and a San Diegan, and weighed heavily in my opinion on this matter. The first happened this December. Two friends from Egypt, staying at a nearby bed-and-breakfast, were strolling by the Children’s Pool. They were asked to sign the petition to keep the seals there and did so happily. I met with them for breakfast afterward, and they told me of the petition. I became quite upset – not with my friends, but with the seal activists. My Egyptian pals were NEVER told of the counter-arguments, nor was their citizenship status ever requested. Why should foreigners have a say in this matter? The second is more recent: Shortly after midnight on May 9, a seal activist was taken into custody and charged with assault and battery. It seems that as a man and his daughter were walking in that area, the activist (Marjane Aalam) pulled the girl’s hair and threw sand in the father’s face. This is precisely the combination of environmental arrogance and disdain for fellow humans that has given me a dim view of having the seals remain.
I was watching the city councilmember for the district, Sherri Lightner, during a recent Channel 10 newscast explain that she wanted to apply the law. Even though she was surrounded by a crowd of hostile, pro-seal activists, she bravely stood her ground. I applaud her for that, and commend her for being one of the few politicians to show some backbone when facing these environmentalists. Though it seems that the federal ruling may put the seal-removal proposal on the back-burner, it is encouraging to know that someone is looking out for the interests of the citizens. Personally, I like her idea of a “dog beach” and hope she is given the opportunity to implement it.
What are the arguments for returning the Children’s Pool back to the children of San Diego? Firstly, there is the 1931 statute and the legacy, which I think San Diego, California and the United States of America should honor. Secondly, as a mother, I can attest to the fact that having a child wander down a beach, and be lost (even for a few moments), is chilling. The Children’s Pool is an enclosed area, and helps families with young children by providing some natural containment. Furthermore, the Children’s Pool offers an area protected from large waves and strong currents, which is not the case for most of the local beaches. Thirdly, and perhaps the one least often cited: Sharks like seals, too. One point the mammal-phile activists routinely neglect to mention about their seal pals is that they attract sharks. It seems that surfers on boards look like seals to hungry sharks, increasing the risk of attack on all local swimmers if sharks get used to looking in that area for food. My neighbors may recall the 2008 shark attack that took the life of David Martin, a 66-year-old retired veterinarian, who was swimming with a group around 14 miles north of San Diego. Though the risk of such an attack may be extremely low, I don’t want to increase it. I use the neighboring beach of La Jolla shores frequently, so the fate of the Children’s Pool directly impacts the safety of me and my family. Just to highlight the real risk, here is a picture of a shark-bitten seal taken at the Children’s Pool in 2005:
The pro-seal crowd will say the humans can use all the other beaches. I say that the seals can do the same, as they hardly fall into the category of “endangered species.” The pro-seal crowd will say that we are lucky to be able to see seals in an urban environment. I say that we can do so at Sea World and zoos. As an American and San Diegan, I wish to be able to use the natural resources in a responsible way to enjoy liberty AND nature – this is not mutually exclusive. While I may weigh what the local businesses and hotels have to say with high regard (i.e., more people watch the seals, which attracts more clientele), hair-pulling environmental activism is something I hold in contempt. Unless I hear more rational arguments otherwise, I say return the La Jolla Children’s Pool to our children.
I will end this post by a favorite CS Lewis quote, which goes to the heart of my current view of environmental activists: “Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
UPDATE: The Friends of the La Jolla Chidren’s Pool makes an interesting case, which I had not heard before investigating this piece: The seal colony at Children’s Pool was artificially created to build a tourist attraction. It required a collusion between the City, Hubbs Sea World Research Center and the National Marine Fisheries Service, over a decade of secret exploitation of the nature of harbor seals intended to be released “to the wild” after capture and care. For further information, click on their link HERE.
MUT’s Money Links: Big Hollywood’s Pam Meister notes that Global Warming Activist Laurie David is fined for Wetlands Violations. The environmental extremist hair-puller may want to consider her anti-humanity hypocrisy and the media should consider her actions when assessing the climate of hate.