For the next three weeks, environmental ills surrounding the Santa Barbara Channel will bubble to the surface.
The Continuing Education Division of Santa Barbara City College has called upon three specialists to answer the public’s concerns over the deterioration of local coastal waters with a three-part lecture series. The series – titled “The Ocean in Trouble: Where Do We Go From Here?” and co-sponsored by the Community Environmental Council (CEC) and Heal the Ocean – will examine the increasing onshore waste that is drained or dumped into the Santa Barbara Channel.
The lecture series will feature Hillary Hauser, executive director of Heal the Ocean, Lawrence Laurent, executive director of the CEC and UCSB environmental studies Professor Dr. Michael McGinnis. Hauser will present the first lecture downtown on Monday. The series will continue Jan. 29 with Laurent, and conclude Feb. 5 with McGinnis.
Kristine Power, SBCC Environmental Education Programs coordinator, said the series is part of an ongoing education program focusing on topics geared toward community interest.
“We’re going to talk about how these issues affect [the public],” Power said. “Hillary Hauser will give an overview of what’s going on, Lawrence Laurent is going to talk about how our communities are growing and Dr. Michael McGinnis will talk about the importance of the watershed connection.”
Jill Carolson, Creek Watchers Program coordinator for the CEC, said the council is concerned with watershed issues in Santa Barbara and speakers will address these concerns with the intention of educating the public.
“This fits in with our goals because our concerns are that we believe the solution to the watershed problem is a community-based solution, and it requires by-in-by everyone in the community,” she said.
Hauser will open the series with a lecture on the effects of ocean dumping. “I will talk on how the ocean has changed, the types of dumping we’re doing in it, and how everything in the sea operates on a signaling mechanism as delicate as that in the human brain,” she said. “Everything floats in the [planktonic] current and has to know where to settle down to grow. When we dump, we block that signaling and even fresh water interferes, but we can upgrade what we’re putting in there.”
Hauser said she has had much involvement in ocean-related matters, from writing and researching to community service. Her work has appeared in publications such as Skin Diver Magazine, the Surface Journal and the Santa Barbara News Press.
“I’ve been writing about the ocean for over 30 years; I write about ocean adventure,” she said. “The problem [is] deterioration of the ocean – people think it’s always been this way, but it hasn’t. All the dumping and dredging has brought the sea down, so we ask, ‘Is the ocean in trouble?’ Yes, the ocean is in trouble.”
The three seminars, which are expected to draw audiences of approximately 150 people each, will be taped and shown at a later date, said Lisa Sorensen, assistant public information specialist in Continuing Education at SBCC.
“‘Smart Growth,’ ‘Healthy Communities’ and ‘Making the Watershed Connection’ are all part of the environmental education program, and they’re going to be shot by someone and later shown on public access television, Channel 17,” she said.
The lecture series starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Tannahill Auditorium at the Alice F. Schott Center, located on 310 West Padre Street.