Pollution. We all know what it is. We recycle, we buy fuel efficient cars, but do we really know how deep the problem goes? While pollution is probably not something that consumes your day-to-day thoughts--chances are you’re more concerned with happenings on dry land than oceanic environments because--the reality is that our oceans are in trouble.
Cue Emily Callahan and Amber Jackson. These two brave women with curiosities surrounding our carbon footprint decided that they were going to challenge policy and dedicate their careers to studying marine systems.
After meeting in graduate school in a diving program, Callahan and Jackson began researching old rig removal throughout their thesis project. At the time, there was momentum around Rigs-to-Reefs, a law passed in California in 2010 that, “provides an alternative to complete rig removal in which an oil company chooses to modify a platform so that it can continue to support marine life as an artificial reef.” The problem was that there were 27 offshore platforms off the coast of California and none had been converted, so was it actually viable? This question prompted them to push forward researching this topic and potentially influence change.
Emily and Amber describe themselves as environmental consultants. The pair now run a company called Latitudes that assesses offshore marine structures (think oil companies, art installations, or any organization that puts structures into the water) to understand their ecological values. They both emphasized that it’s “very impactful to remove these structures, so we figure out what would be the least impactful way to get them out.” Despite these realities, there’s not a singular culprit in this equation.
"Everyone causes pollution, we’re just as responsible for the oil platforms being there as the oil companies are.”
- Emily Callahan and Amber Jackson
Amidst Emily and Amber’s research, an ecologically-conscious California-native named Jaeson Plon met Amber’s mother while surfing at the beach. Stories were exchanged and eventually introductions were made between him, Emily and Amber. As it turns out, Plon is a surfer, ocean lover and an entrepreneur who co-founded a company called Sea Bottle that produces a natural hand wash, keeping the ocean’s health in mind.
“Thirty percent of plastic bottles end up in the ocean and harm marine life. I wanted to create a safe formula with sustainable packaging that wouldn't damage the environment. There’s a pump on the glass bottle that becomes sea glass then sand, and the pump is reusable so you can refill it.”
- Jaeson Plon
The congruencies between their missions were unavoidable and hinged on their shared passion for recycling, especially when it came to massive rigs, some of the size of the Empire State Building. According to Plon, the moment they’re planted on the ocean floor, marine life begins to flourish around them. Because he was so fascinated by how these two female scientists were turning a negative into a positive through their research, he decided to donate a percentage of every Sea Bottle sale to Emily and Amber’s efforts.
Even still, it’s an ongoing battle. In terms of challenges, the ocean-minded duo admitted that they are usually the only women in the room at conferences and are the youngest by 30 years. “A big challenge for us is that it’s very easy to be looked at as little girls and people don’t take you seriously," says Jackson. "They’ll say things like ‘the ladies of blue latitudes are here.’ So you need to present your information as a man would. Being a woman also has its advantages though. We seem to make more of an impact because people are more interested.”
The argument is always us against them and we hope that moving forward we can actually change that.” Emily acquiesced. We don’t want to promote off-shore drilling at all, we have to understand the reality of our situation and seek more renewables.”
With no pause in sight, this fiercely intelligent duo has seen a few examples of structures that have proven to be valuable, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico, and are planning a trip to Southeast Asia this spring to learn more about converted rigs around the globe.
"There are no good men out there," yet another woman my age declared. At 50, I was freshly divorced after two decades of marriage and motherhood. My unhappy marriage had shattered my faith in men and romantic relationships. Based on my ex-husband's opinion of my sexual appeal, I was afraid my naked body would cause future lovers to run screaming from the room. Rather gleefully, I announced to my girlfriends that I was done with men, and sex, forever.
For the first year, I got tangled in my sheets alone every night, overjoyed to have the bed and my body to myself. I felt liberated by divorce—free to be me, skip showering, and make dinner for one. But it bothered me when women decried the scarcity of men, because I'd known so many good ones—college boyfriends, my brother, my best friend from business school, etc. The first of many naked truths gradually crept up on me: I was not going to find my juju again through self-help and yoga. The feminist in me didn't want to admit it, but going for too long without men was akin to starvation.
I didn't want another husband. But I needed men, a lot of them.
The universe signaled its approval by sending Mr. Blue Eyes to me at an airport. He was 29 and perhaps the sexiest man I'd ever kissed. Being with him convinced me, pretty decisively, that men were going to heal me, even though men had destroyed me many times before. I became the female incarnation of a divorced, clichéd older man: I bought a sports car, revamped my wardrobe, and took younger lovers. "I want five boyfriends," I told my best friend KC after that first tryst ended. "Sweet, cute, smart, nice. Enough that I won't get too attached to one." My message from the frontlines of divorce at 50 is that to restore your confidence as a woman, especially in the wake of a crushing breakup, try dating outside your comfort zone, expanding your dating pool to include partners you might never have considered before. It may not be the recipe for a lasting union, but in terms of rebuilding your self-esteem, it can work wonders.
The first thing I noticed—and liked—about dating younger men is that they didn't want to marry me or make babies with me. And I didn't want that either. Frankly, I didn't even want them to spend the night. Since I'd been 11, I'd been taught to seek out and value men who wanted commitment. To my surprise, I found it refreshing, even more authentic, to be valued not for my potential as a mate, but instead for my body, intelligence, life-experience and sexuality.
And the sex! I quickly realized that—warning, blanket stereotype coming—men under 40 are more straightforward and adventurous than older men, maybe since they were raised with the Internet. You hear so often about the scourge of crude, sexist online pornography; and I agree that the depersonalization of women as sexual playthings is deeply destructive to all genders. However, from sexting to foreplay, I found younger men uniquely enthusiastic about getting naked and enjoying sex. Every younger man found my most erotic zones faster than any man my age ever had, with a lack of hesitation men over 50 seemed unable to fathom.
Also, about my big fear of getting naked in front of a younger man? Completely unfounded. I started to shake when Airport Boy took off my sundress in our hotel room. Had he ever seen a woman my age nude? How could I stand to be skin-to-skin with a body far more perfect than mine? I had given birth to eight-pound, full-fucking-term babies. I'd nursed them, too, and at times by breasts looked (from my view at least) like wet paper towels. "You have a spectacular body," he told me instead, running his hand over the cellulite on my stomach that I despised. That night I learned that younger men who seek older women accept our physical flaws—they don't expect perfection in someone 20 years their senior. These men taught me to see my body through a positive, decidedly male lens, to focus on the pretty parts (and we all have them) rather than the flaws that we all have too, whether you're 19, 29 or 59.
I even found the pillow talk lighter, easier and more intellectually stimulating, because a younger man's world view differs so vastly from the pressures of my 20-something kids, annual colonoscopies, 401K balance and mortgage payments. They have simple financial problems, like "Can I borrow a few quarters for the parking meter outside?" or "Do you have any advice on consolidating my student loans?"
Everything feels simpler with younger men. Men under 40 seem less threatened by assertive women; they grew up with them. They like cheap beer instead of expensive wine. They don't snore (as much). Leftovers a 55-year-old would scoff at look good to them. Their erections NEVER last more than four hours. Their hard-ons end the old-fashioned way and 45 minutes later they are ready for more.
But what I enjoy most about younger men is not the sex, or the cliché that they make me feel young again—because they don't. Younger men make me feel old, and to my delight, I like that. I feel valuable around younger men, precisely because I am wiser and more experienced in life, love and between the sheets.
I know I'll never end up with one for good. The naked truth is we don't have enough in common to last. One recently put it exactly right when he told me, "I love this, but there's always gonna be a glass ceiling between us." That lack of permanence, the improbability of commitment and "forever," doesn't mean I can't pick up a tip or two about self-esteem, and enjoy the magic of human connection with younger men. And vice versa. The experience can enrich us both, making us better partners for people our own ages down the road.
*My viewpoint is from the perspective of a heterosexual woman, because I am one. But change the gender identification and/or sexual orientation to whatever works for you and let me know if the same advice holds true. Thank you.