Oceans of Opportunity

fiscal embarassment

'A New Life in the Sea' by Michael LombardiHere we are, New Year’s eve, staring the at the blank promise of a bright and prosperous 2013 right in the face.

Today’s political antics regarding the looming ‘fiscal cliff’ are yet another stark reminder of our nation’s state of affairs. It seems that the issues are mounting – a housing market bubble, debt ceiling issues, fiscal cliffs, and even the price of milk. We just can’t get it right. Couple all this with the very real burdens of global climate change (warming), and we’re right up $#!T’s creek.

Among the detrimental fiscal issues we faced over the last year or so were an axed National Undersea Research Program budget, and severely limited Ocean Exploration budget. These were barely rounding errors amidst the multi-billion dollar mismanaged national budget, but for one reason or another, the programs were not successful in being lobbied for for continued federal support.

And now here we are…

No federal support, and with taxes ready to skyrocket, private sector philanthropy is likely to take a hit as well.

Where do we go from here? I’ve been of the opinion, and do firmly believe that to make ocean issues the priority that they should be, we need to craft a strategic plan that calls for basic research ‘investment that’ can become self-sustained through carefully crafted business relationships to create enterprising solutions to our ocean concerns and interests. We need productive programs, not consumptive ones.

In all areas, be it the sciences, social programs, and so on – yes, it is fair to ask for federal investment and subsidy, but not handouts. This is one area where we are all somewhat to blame – the assumption that the gravy would always be there for the taking. No one can complain on budgets being eliminated for programs that just don’t produce in a manner that contributes back to the global cycle.

On the immediate issues – the feds do indeed have to absorb the blame. It is frankly grotesque for so many successful business people, now hailing as politicians, to not effectively manage our country. The actual problems have presented themselves with ample time, and projections pre-dating even that. So, what;s the problem?

I find myself watching the news and seeing alot of ignorant and aloof positions on our economy, flawed polls and data, and a governance that is all too far removed from the heart of our country. We need serious and immediate change, and in a HUGE way.

The upside? As we consider rebuilding a national strategy for exploring and setting policy for our oceans, we have a blank slate. Its a new frontier, with the very real potential to dwarf all of human civilization as we know it here on terra firma. The important thing is to pay attention and learn from our mistakes. It may very well be that picking up and rebuilding an ‘Aquatic America’ is the next best evolutionary step for humankind.

I’m ready to take that plunge.

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