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Daily Pilot

Steinberg: Wyland does best to help improve environment

By Leigh Steinberg

10:00 PM PDT, November 3, 2012

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I have been crusading for years to enlist sports in the battle to combat climate change.

Our Sporting Green Alliance takes sustainable technology in water, wind, solar, recycling and resurfacing and asks stadiums, arenas and practice fields at the professional, collegiate and high school level to incorporate it into their venues. The goal is to drop carbon emissions and energy costs and turn these venues into energy providers selling generated energy back to the larger power grid.

Another goal is to transform these locations into educational platforms so that the millions of fans who attend games can see a waterless urinal or solar panel and think about how to integrate these practices into their own homes and business – thus using sports to trigger attitudinal change. Teams can create green "content" – Saturday morning cartoon shows with sports heroes fighting for the environment and comic books similarly themed.

The everyday sports woven into the culture of our coastal communities involve the ocean. We swim, body surf, surf, boat, jet-ski, fish and find a variety of recreations from our proximity to the sea. But all these activities are threatened.

The sad truth is that our oceans and the water that drains into them have become polluted. Although the earth is two thirds ocean, mankind has treated it like a garbage dump and source of drainage for a variety of toxic materials. A variety of enlightened activists from the Surfrider Foundation to Save Our Oceans have done excellent work to reverse this trend, but the challenge is overwhelming.

One local citizen has found a unique way to make a major impact on the problem of polluted oceans, waterways and the species that live in them – the world renowned artist and humanitarian Wyland.

I have bought Wyland's art over the years and it is a source of pleasure. His art and murals have sold millions all around the world. 19 years ago he decided to tackle the water issue by training and exposing younger generations to the problem, and teaching them creative ways to deal with it. The Wyland Foundation has dedicated to promoting, protecting and preserving the world's ocean, waterways and marine life. It encourages environmental awareness through educational program, public arts projects, and community events. These activities have been brought to over a million kids in all 50 states and around the world. They have been held from the lawn of the White House to the United Nations headquarters.

Wyland designed a Clean Water Mobile Center with a theater and interactive investigation stations which travels the country and allows kids a hands-on experience. It created an Earth Month Hero Program, which gave cash awards to 30 teachers in Los Angeles and Orange County who designed creative environmental educational efforts. It sponsored a Mayor's Challenge which had cities compete to see which municipality could save the most water, reduce the most carbon emissions and save the most trash from landfills.

If music and love are universal languages, so is art. Wyland has been called the "Michelangelo of Marine Life" for his stunning creations. They are a natural draw for children. As he says, "If we want to protect the environment today, you can talk to the adults, but if we want to protect it for the future, we must get the kids involved."

The 19th annual Wyland Foundation Celebration is being held Nov. 12, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point.

There will be art, exhibits, Wyland and fun galore. Three-time world boxing champion Sugar Shane Mosley is expected to appear.

Though I am hardly worthy, Wyland is presenting your author with the Ambassador to the World Award. If you want to have a joyful and educational Sunday in the sun and support the oceans and children's environmental education, contact the Wyland Foundation quickly because there are only a few invitations left.

We don't want to be the first generation in the history of this country to hand down a degraded quality of life to our children.

LEIGH STEINBERG is a renowned sports agent, author, advocate, speaker and humanitarian. His column appears weekly. Follow Leigh on Twitter @steinbergsports or blog.steinbergsports.com.