A previous post about two months ago, in a roundabout way, cited a row along LA County's shoreline over Malibu Lagoon. The affair samples types of human reasoning as employed in issues arising from science. State authorities, backed by numerous studies and with endorsement of major environmental and conservation groups, have been held up from rebuilding the wetland by a vehement band of locals convinced that the scientific arguments for the project are hooey and lies and, some say, maybe a coverup for a secret development plot. This is the second restoration of the lagoon - the first nearly 30 years ago to let waters back in by removing landfill and sports fields that had been put over it.
The argument pivots on whether the lagoon is now silting up and ecologically heading for the bio-productive but undesirable state most would call a stinking pool of algae, its O2 so low most other organisms will be in deep trouble. That is what state officials and eco-certified outside analysts argue. Opponents in the Save Malibu Lagoon camp that includes some on the city council, some surfers, and a few celebrities say it is quite healthy for birds and other bioiversity just as it is and is improving so nature should be kept in charge without help from bulldozers. Plus, say opponents, the nearby wave break prized by surfers might be wrecked by alteration of the lagoon's water flow. The two sides agree publicly on one thing: It's a lagoon now and must stay that way. How? There's the rub.
Well, the project has officially begun. There were some placards in opposition but, so far, no riots or sit-ins under the blades of earthmoving equipment. Local media have followed things:
- LATimes - Tony Barboza: Controversial Malibu Lagoon project to begin Friday ; Good background summary. But the project didn't begin Friday. It waited till Monday.Here is this week's follow, Restoration work begins on quiet note;
- Malibu Patch - Jessica E. Davis: Final Lagoon Dewatering Plan Submitted to Coastal Commission ; Davis is an editor at this community supported hyperlocal site. She's covered the issue heavily - listed here. A visit to the effort to capture and relocate wildlife prior to the work's start catches the eye there: Critter Roundup Begins at Lagoon and includes a reader's-comment from a top local activist that illustrates the emotions of the issue;
- KPCC (public radio) Molly Peterson: As tension escalates over Malibu Lagoon, UCLA scientist explains why he believes this restoration will help;
In the background is chatter and head-shaking from some quarters, including the notion that a recent hot-topic in the solon set - Type 1 intuitive thinking for emergencies and Type 2 ruminative reflection for getting things right via systematic thought - has been vividly in play as the clash unfolded. Cheat sheet reminder: those thinking tactics have been laid out recently by psychologist Daniel Kahneman, as capsulized in this book review by Freeman Dyson. Never mind that Dyson is a climate contrarian who, some might say (me too), is not doing a lot of Type 2 thinking when climate change is the topic.
The Type 1-Type 2 lens for viewing public controversy is reflected by blogposts from a local film maker, science man, and supporter of the restoration, Randy Olson (short bio), author of the "Don't Be Such a Scientist" book. Here are two - one on the latest news from the lagoon, the other on Type 1 thinking and the need to take it into account if one is otherwise expecting Type 2 argument to carry the day.
- The Benshi blog (May 31) Malibu Lagoon: Where are the (controvery-averse) large environmental NGO's and Foundations? ;
- The Benshi blog (June 4) Nobel vs. South Park: Who knows more about broad communication?;
Grist for the Mill:
- Charlie Petit