David Helvarg

David Helvarg is an author and president of the Blue Frontier Campaign, a marine conservation group. His last book, Rescue Warriors: The U.S. Coast Guard, America's Forgotten Heroes has just been released in paperback. His new book is Saved by the Sea: A Love Story with Fish.

The fading blue in our red, white, and blue

Was this election good for the fish?

There's not much humor to be found when you look at the likely effect of the election on the oceans.

Rain or slime

Will hurricanes rain down oil on the Gulf of Mexico?

An oily mess on the Gulf coast.Photo: David HelvargBy the end of the summer, it could be raining oil along the Gulf of Mexico.  Hurricane Alex is the first of a series of 14 named storms predicted for the 2010 hurricane season. The Gulf is warmer than it’s been since before 2005 when unusually warm water super-charged Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and also led to massive coral bleaching and die-offs across the Caribbean. Even as it makes landfall 600 miles from the main oil slicks, the waves and winds generated by Alex have forced skimming operations to be cancelled and …

Misty oil-colored memories

Remembering my last oil spill

It’s been three years since a container ship, the COSCO Busan, spilled 53,500 gallons of bunker fuel into San Francisco Bay, just after my return home to live on the bay by the sea that I love. Remnant oil still sometimes surfaces after it rains and the bay’s herring fishery has yet to recover.  Ten years ago, during a visit to a BP deep-drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico, I asked the drill boss what would happen if there were a spill a mile or two down. “Guess we’ll find out when it happens,” was his response. Now we …

Wise Guys

An excerpt from The War Against the Greens takes a hard look at the Wise Use movement

In 1988, the Wise Use movement was founded out of fear that George Bush Sr. was going to live up to his campaign pledge to be "the environmental president." This cabal of anti-environmental activists, organized by federally subsidized industries dependent on public lands, issued a natal document, the Wise Use Agenda. It called for, among other things: drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, logging Alaska's Tongass National Forest, opening wilderness to energy development, gutting the Endangered Species Act, and privatizing national parks. Today, the reactionary Wise Use Agenda has become the environmental policy of the administration of George Bush Jr.

Is the U.S. prepared for a major oil spill in its waters?

In the wake of November’s massive oil spill off the coast of Spain that continues to despoil hundreds of miles of undeveloped shoreline, disrupt vast fisheries, and jeopardize the livelihoods of the people who depend on them, the European Union has begun to crack down on old, poorly maintained, single-hulled tankers like the sunken “Prestige.” Meanwhile, what is the U.S. doing to protect its waters? A volunteer holds an oil-soaked bird on the Spanish coast. Photo: Greenpeace Spain. The U.S. Coast Guard claims that ships like the “Prestige” would probably not even be allowed to operate in American waters — …

Everything's changed, including zero-down financing

Hey fellow Americans, now that bio-terrorism, federalized airport security, and military star-chambers are becoming a reality, what do you plan to do? Me, I’m going to Disneyland. Okay, maybe not Disneyland, but I have been to New York, Montana, and Oregon recently — and by plane. I’m also thinking about buying a new computer. I just don’t think that makes me a patriot. Which is why I wish the White House, Congress, and the media would stop flacking for the financial sector in the name of patriotism. In peace or in war, the real solution to overcapacity is not maxing …

Mississippi Delta Blues

An excerpt from Blue Frontier

Predictable but unreported impacts from this spring's flooding on the Mississippi River will be an expanded dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, more southern beach closures, and more dying coral in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Industrious endeavors in the former Soviet empire

America’s market-based solutions to environmental problems tend to look a lot like something you might have seen in an old Soviet propaganda film. Real Soviet propaganda. Take emissions trading. Under this system, I, an evil capitalist, sell you, another evil capitalist, the right to spew tons of air pollution, which I can do because I’ve produced less than the legal limit of allowable sulfur dioxide or other filthy emissions. After you pay me for these surplus dirty air credits, you have the right to give emphysema to the children of my maid, who live downwind from you. Recently, however, I …

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