The following story is fictional and doesn’t represent actual people, or events.
Mr. Contrary was suing the EPA over its clean power plan before he took over to head the EPA. The lawsuit was still in process when he became the agency’s administrator. Now known as the controversial case of Contrary v. Contrary, you can’t say it was a hard earned victory as one side completely abandoned their argument. If you’re wondering who won, you need not do more than take a look around you.
I’ve never been so scared in my life. At least, not since the last time I wondered, “how’s that going to work out.” It wasn’t only the thick air or the inability to breathe. It’s wasn’t just all the dead fish and mammals washed ashore along the coast. I was never scared of being without work. Thousands of jobs were created to clean up the mess. I was just scared I would never escape it.
The sky seemed darker than usual that day I set out for Mexico. It wasn’t a storm rolling in, but the ever-thickening pollution that filled the air. I hadn’t seen the sun since I don’t know when, but looked forward to lying on a beach in Mexico to soak up some rays. I never considered it would be so tough to get in.
My passport was up to date, but the Mexican government wasn’t real keen on American tourists. The flights in LA were all grounded for a second day due to heavy smog, so I thought I’d drive. When I got to the border they turned me away. I got that they weren’t accepting my documentation, but didn’t understand why. I wondered if I would have had any issue getting through customs had my flight departed for Ixtapa.
I never wanted to travel to Mexico so bad until they told me I couldn’t. It’s not just our relationship with Mexico that’s been altered. The world has changed, but in terms of green energy we got left behind.
The numerous coal-burning factories were blamed for the smog. Government used to invest billions on clean energy, but we moved past that when we began deregulating the environmental laws. It’s kind of difficult to imagine how they expected each state to enforce it’s own environmental laws when pollution doesn’t know boundaries. Never in history have so many regulations disappeared. Big business also knows no boundaries.
I wondered how far we were rolling back federal regulations in terms of clean air and water. Not long after Mr. Contrary took over protecting the environment, a non-profit organization “Just Energy” began running a multitude of ads encouraging the use of fossil fuels, all while providing false information about the consequences. We didn’t know “Just Energy” was funded with by funds from “XTO Energy”, we thought there were regulations against such, but those laws were rolled back as well. If we knew their funding stemmed from “XTO Energy”, we would have known to dismiss the idea they were not harmful to the environment. We just believed there must be some substance to the advertisements when they were advertisements from “Just Energy.” It’s like being told the sky is red when your color blind. Every year the earth hits the highest temperature on record. Every year the claim is made, “The last time this happened was just last year.” Of course 97% of scientist could be wrong.
Before the new sheriff came to town, there were restrictions in place to protect the environment. Humans don’t act responsibly unless there’s a law telling us to do so, followed by hefty fines to penalize us when we’re caught. Mr. Contrary filed 14 lawsuits against the EPA before he took over. Being a man of such strong conviction, we knew he wouldn’t bring special interests to the position.
The senate hearing was interesting. Mr. Contrary was agitated with the questions on dark money and his personal beliefs. He demanded to know what his personal views on climate change had to do with running the EPA. The liberal senator doing the grilling scoffed that the nominee set to head the agency didn’t think his personal views were important for the role he was seeking. He was the only liberal that got to Mr. Contrary. It goes to show what little control liberals have these days. Mr. Contrary was sworn in a couple weeks later.
I’ve gotten a bit off track with what went politically wrong. I didn’t immediately accept the fact border control was denying my documentation. I ask if I should remove the anti-pollution mask, so they could see my face matched my passport. I didn’t get an answer just a gesture waiving me to turn around and head back where I’d come from.
My 5-week vacation was just beginning when I decided the weather was right for sailing and purchased a boat. I took an intermediate course on sailing, because I thought some might frown on me traveling alone if I’d taken a beginner course. Personal pride never allows safety to be a concern once I make a decision.
Fully stocked and feeling prepared, I figured my adventure would take about 10 to 14 days to arrive Z-town. I pointed my boat into the wind and hoisted my sails. With burning eyes and a dry cough, I departed the marina with a stream of dead fish behind me. I waived goodbye to the men with the fishing nets, reportedly they had already picked up 33 tons of dead fish. The clean up had been in process for days. The EPA hasn't yet found a way to get the red tides under control. Their struggles stem from their lack of authority.
The agency suffered a massive setback just prior to Mr. Contrary being sworn in as the agency administrator. The new administration taking government office froze all grants and enforced a media blackout within the first week of office. The EPA was on a tight budget before taking a $193 million dollar cut to their climate programs. Aside from the budget cuts, the EPA was also required to remove the informational page regarding climate change from their website. It can’t be real if no one’s informed about it.
Democrats boycotted Mr. Contrary, but republicans decided to bypass the requirements that 2 democrats were needed to push the nominee through for a full senate vote. Those who pushed the nominee through expected he would allow a minimum amount of damage, compared to the economy he could boost.
The billions of dollars saved when climate change funding was cut from federal spending ended up reinvested in oil spill response. The millions in oil spill response funding never addressed the risk that pipelines posed to our communities on land or in the sea. The mighty dollar doesn’t care that killer whales are on their way to extinction. Besides they put up a link on the EPA website regarding whale research and funding to make up for the damage.
I’m sorry for getting off track again, just can’t talk about one without the other. After I lost sight of land, I remembered to set up the autopilot. I jumped to my feet each time the alarm sounded, alerting me to other ships in my vicinity and slept in my life jacket just in case the boat decided at any point that I needed to get off. The autopilot was a much better helmsman than myself.
I contacted the harbormaster as I approached the first port of entry, Ensenada, requesting permission for “The Charlie” to enter their port. I was informed after advising of my country of citizenship, that they were declining my entry. Once again, I didn’t understand the reason I was being denied. I asked if I could just pay a fine to cover whatever the issue was. I think they were suggesting I return to California, but my lack of understanding heavy accents led me to travel further south instead.
I never understood what Ensenada had to offer anyways. I continued my journey onto Cabo. I was getting anxious to step off the sailboat and get back on land. Figured I would check out the Cabo Wabo Cantina once ashore, singing to the tune of Mas Tequila as neared the harbor. I reached out to the port captain once again, but in Cabo. My kind and respectful attitude upon requesting entry got me a kind and resounding “No.”
I wasn’t about to turn around. What’s that they say about customs? Something about when you get declined, try a different point entry. Damn it, all’s that meant was that I was onto Mazatlan. I thought they might cut me a break if I shared my hard luck story. Once I neared the harbor, I called out to port captain. My luck didn’t change any for the new port of call. His response was that they’re not a refuge harbor. It’s not as though I had been trying to escape a storm, I just wanted a holiday away from the states.
Not to mention that I’d nearly died twice in learning to adjust for the weather. I tried telling myself the breezy weather was pleasant and not at all fatiguing as I worked to shorten the sails. Every time I did it, I wished I’d done it sooner before it got too windy. Since the sails were new when I bought the boat, I’m sure it was my fault more so than the wind when I noticed the tears in them. I had the option to motor, but motoring alone brought a significant slowing to my pace.
I made one last attempt to come ashore at my planned destination after three failed attempts at previous ports of Mexico. Once I arrived Z-town, I thought I might have better luck claiming to be Canadian. My US passport made that thought void though. The gentlemen who declined me suggested I would have better luck visiting Costa Rica instead. My vacation was a bust. As bad decisions are quite natural for me, you may have expected I’d continue south. I couldn’t bear the idea of arriving Costa Rica only to be turned away. Besides, I wasn’t looking for a black sand beach.
I was never allowed to enjoy the beaches of Z-town. However, I did finally understand the reason behind the denials. Many lawsuits were brought against the American government as so many people had become sick from the environment. Mexico declining my entry was apparently due to fear they may catch some virus that American citizens were dying from. I had inquired about an emergency 72-hour stop to at least refuel and fix my sails, but was declined.
After being declined, I dropped anchor just outside of the port. I planned to at least fix my sails and get my bearings for the trip home. I applied some contact cement and double stick tape, and stitched it up twice as strong as it was to begin with. I raised my sails and began my journey home.
The itinerary I planned was meant more for an experienced sailor than a novice like myself. My first adventure at single-handed sailing ended differently than expected and without the beach excursions I’d hoped for. They had vamped up their entry requirements to the point it was best to just enjoy the view of their colorful ports from the water. It also made for the quickest round-trip excursion you’d ever heard of.
I was happy to see the large ships as I neared my port in Los Angeles. Told me I was almost home. Walking on land couldn’t come soon enough after 29 days at sea. With everything that went wrong, I wondered why I did it. Wondered what made me think that I’d be granted entry if I arrived Mexico by boat. Must’ve figured I'd arrive as a coast guard rescue, and they’d be forced to let me in. It wasn’t all bad though. Even without the beach excursions, the sights and sounds of the ocean were most relaxing. The awe of the enormous mammals breaching from the water. Those whooshes of the respiratory gases with each powerful exhale, when the whales were in a visible distance. The pods of dolphins that appeared as though they wanted to accompany me as far as my destination, but would always go their own way at some point. Just a few fragments from my trip. In the end though, I suppose I escaped that which I was trying to escape at least for a few weeks.
The point of no return hasn’t been reached yet, except for those species that we’ve already forced into extinction. As far as where we’re headed environmentally, lets hope someone detects our state of emergency before we go too far.
Science tells us that human activity is proven to impact global warming. History has shown us that dark money plays its part in corruption. Eight out of nine justices agree transparency permits for informed decisions from our electorate. Shouldn’t we question political ties to dark money when the head honcho is going against all that their agency represents?