About Me

This blog is primarily geared toward staff at the zoos, aquariums, museums (ZAMs), and other conservation education organizations that are part of our growing global network. We aim to provide you with cutting edge, challenging, and creative information, ideas, and tools to become as effective as possible at communicating about and for conservation with your visitors and the public.

See our ongoing communications research, or join our growing network, at The Ocean Project's website.

December 23, 2008

Transcending religious differences for humanity and our shared world ocean

As The Ocean Project works with our Partners to connect more effectively with the public to build ocean literacy and create a culture of conservation – and especially at this time of the year when some of the world’s religions are celebrating important holidays – it seems appropriate to highlight the activities of an organization that is striving to help the world “cultivate a transformative ethical language to spark a sustainable ecological culture.”

Certainly some of our individual and collective efforts to help transform human consciousness and behavior for a more sustainable society and a healthy ocean planet could benefit by better taking into account people’s spiritual and religious beliefs and values.

For 10 years, the Forum on Religion and Ecology, based at Yale University, has been a leading interreligious network of its kind. Mary Evelyn Tucker, one of the Forum's founders, states: “The environmental crisis is the catalyst for religious traditions to awaken to their ecological roles, and an opportunity to transcend their differences. The common ground for all humanity is the Earth itself and a shared sense of the interdependence of all life.”

And as Gus Speth, Dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies says, “Our environmental discourse has thus far been dominated by lawyers, scientists, and economists. Now, we need to hear a lot more from the poets, preachers, philosophers, and psychologists.”

For a wealth of information on the religious traditions of the world and their ecological contributions, among many other things, check out FORE’s website .

Internet Overtakes Newspapers as News Source

In case you needed more convincing about the upward trend in use of the Internet for accessing information and the importance of having a compelling website, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reports today that the Internet has now surpassed all other media except television as a main source for national and international news.

Their survey finds that 40% of Americans are getting most of their news about national and international issues from the Internet. And for Americans younger than 30, six-in-ten (59%) say they get most of their news online, the same percentage as television.

Read the summary of findings with link to full report here.

December 18, 2008

Science team for Obama Administration strong one for conservation

The "Science Team" for the Obama Administration is shaping up to be one of the best ever.

In a very exciting development for ocean conservation. Dr. Jane Lubchenco will be the new leader of NOAA. She brings impeccable science credentials, policy smarts, and a passion for conservation advocacy.

The new science advisor to President Obama will be John Holdren, the director of the Woods Hole Research Center and a widely recognized expert on climate change and how to tackle this overarching for our planet.

Read the Washington Post for complete story.

December 10, 2008

Top science books for children and teens

Here are some great ideas for science books for children and teens that our Partners can stock in your retail stores, and for the public to purchase as gifts for friends and family. AAAS recently announced 19 finalists in the annual science book awards, which include science books for young children up to young adults.

Also, for some other "TOP" books, check out our recommended "Ocean Book of the Month." We have plenty of great books to feature in 09, and please let us know of your own suggestions!

December 3, 2008

Study IDs six different audiences for developing effective messaging on climate change

The Ocean Project continues to provide our Partners and other friends with ways to improve education and communication efforts for conservation action.

Newly released research on effective messaging to Americans regarding climate change actions finds six discrete audience segments - from strongly engaged to completely dismissive of climate change as a threat - with different concerns, needs, values, and motivations.

The research, by Anthony Leiserowitz, Ph.D., with the Yale Project on Climate Change, and Edward Maibach, MPH, Ph.D. and Connie Roser-Renouf, Ph.D., both from George Mason University, is based on telephone surveys done in the summer of 2007 involving 1,980 respondents.

The report suggests ways to carefully target each of these six different audiences, although the authors caution that much has happened since then and they are doing new research with findings expected in early 2009.

Read the rest of the summary at the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media.

Read the full 42-page PDF report.

November 26, 2008

Communicating Climate Change and the Ocean

Monterey Bay Aquarium is hosting a "Communicating Climate Change and the Oceans Summit" from December 1-3. In prep for this meeting, they've posted some very useful information on the Summit's website.

Among other resources, a Summary of U.S. Aquarium Research
contains much valuable info about what some of the participating institutions are doing, or planning, to address climate change and ocean health.

The site also includes a MBA Review of Public Opinion Surveys on Climate Change , completed this past summer.

In addition, The Ocean Project has recently completed our national public opinion survey, and at the Summit we will be presenting some of the findings regarding climate change and ocean health. The survey itself is huge, with 22,000 data points (American adults who participated in the survey) and much more analysis to be done. We will, however, be getting the findings out to our Partners and others in the ocean community in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned!

October 14, 2008

Interim Report of National Survey Findings Available

For those of you who were not able to make our session at the conference of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in September, we have posted on our website the presentation by Scott Corwon, with IMPACTS Research & Development. Scott is conducting the national research, and his presentation includes our survey findings to date (the information that he presented includes a sample population of 9,862 persons, approximately 53% of the eventual sample size).

When it is completed, our national survey will be the largest survey ever on any environmental issue. We plan to finish collecting the data in the next few weeks and will analyze the mountain of data during November and December. We expect to publicly release the full survey results early in 2009, although will make some of the findings available before then for our Partners. This survey is part of a three-year grant funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) within its Environmental Literacy Grants program.

Sushi Lovers Pocket Guide

Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, which The Ocean Project has helped promote with our Partners and the public since its inception in 1999, is coming out with a sushi guide on October 22. It will include a list of recommendations to help you select sushi made from seafood that’s caught or raised in ways that won’t hurt our ocean.

Order your sushi pocket guide now or visit the Seafood Watch website for more information.

Learn more about consuming consciously at the Seas the Day site!

October 9, 2008

The Impact of Science & Discovery Centres: A Review of Worldwide Studies

Ecsite-uk (affiliated with ECSITE, the European Collaborative of Science, Industry and Technology Exhibitions) recently published a review that summarizes and highlights recent research into the impact of science and technology museums, zoos, aquariums, and science centers, referred to in the report as “Science & Discovery Centres.”

Collectively, studies from around the world show that these informal education centers can:
• increase visitors’ knowledge and understanding of science;
• provide memorable learning experiences which can have a lasting impact on attitudes and behavior;
• have wide-ranging personal and social impacts and promote inter-generational learning;
• promote trust and understanding between the public and the scientific community;
• have an economic impact.
Read the full report.

Ecsite-uk also has another report that may be of interest to Partners: The Value of Science & Discovery Centres in the UK.

And in case you missed it last year...Why Zoos & Aquariums Matter: Assessing the Impact of a Visit to a Zoo or Aquarium, published in 2007 by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, is another valuable resource for Partners.

October 8, 2008

Supreme Court Hears Case on Navy Sonar and Whales

The US Supreme Court heard a case today in which the justices sounded closely split on whether environmental laws can be used to protect whales and other marine mammals from the Navy's use of sonar off the coast of Southern California. This is an issue that we have been making known to our network of Partners for the last few years , including last Janurary, and has important ramifications for marine mammals and other life in our world’s ocean.

This closely watched case, Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, has turned into a major dispute over whether judges, acting on a suit brought by environmentalists, have the power to stop the government from conducting a large-scale military exercise because it had not carried out an environmental impact statement. If a federal agency can sidestep conventional environmental protections by declaring an emergency, the Pentagon and potentially other federal agencies, may make such emergency declarations more common with repercussions farther reaching than sonar. The justices are likely to hand down a ruling in the case in a few months.

Read full article in the LA Times.

Cultivating the Green Consumer

Although the current situation with the economy certainly puts a new twist on consumers 'going green' a recent article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review referencing a 2007 McKinsey & Company global survey of 7,751 consumers in eight major economies reports that most consumers are concerned about the environmental and social impacts of the products they buy.

Consumers say they want to buy ecologically friendly products and reduce their impact on the environment. But when they get to the cash register, their Earth-minded sentiments die on the vine. Although individual quirks underlie some of this hypocrisy, businesses can do a lot more to help would-be green consumers turn their talk into walk. Read the full article...
While the situation referred to in the article, namely buying green products, is not completely analogous to the situation our Partners face, some may find it helpful to review what the authors list as the five barriers to going green as well as the five ways to break down those barriers. Clearly, for instance, consumers want to be green but are looking for leaders to show them the way. Our Partners are leaders in their communities and your visitors are increasingly looking to you to help them lead greener lives and take action to protect and conserve the world's ocean.

October 4, 2008

Congress Approves and President Signs Great Lakes Compact

In a big step forward, President Bush recently signed a joint resolution of Congress providing consent to the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, an interstate agreement based on the Great Lakes Annex Agreement signed by Ontario, Quebec and the eight Great Lakes states in 2005. The President’s action marks the final step in the Compact’s approval process, enabling these historic protections to become law in the United States, and is supported by many groups, including the Council of Great Lakes Governors.

The Compact provides a comprehensive management framework for achieving sustainable water use and resource protection and was the final step in a nearly decade-long quest to strengthen legal protections against diverting water from the system consisting of the five lakes, their connecting channels and the St. Lawrence River. The Compact doesn't specifically manage and regulate the Great Lakes so the next step is setting up programs to manage and conserve water, as the compact requires them to do within two years. It sets common standards but gives the states flexibility in meeting them by managing water the way they see fit.

This water system contains nearly 20% of the world's fresh surface water and supplies a combined population of roughly 40 million in Canada and the US. While the Compact bans diversions through pipelines and other means, a bottled water exemption remains which some groups feel would undermine the agreement’s ability to truly protect the Great Lakes.

September 28, 2008

The Green Museum: A Primer on Environmental Practice

As mentioned in previous issue of Blue Planet News to Use, Sarah Brophy and Elizabeth Wylie have authored a newly-published book, The Green Museum: A Primer on Environmental Practice, which is full of practical information and inspiration for our Partner ZAMs (zoos, aquariums, and museums).

Global climate conditions and other serious issues facing human society demand a strong response by institutions that are here for the long haul, as ZAMs are: to collect, conserve, and educate in perpetuity. Environmentally friendly practices are increasingly critical to the mission of our Partner ZAMs, and as learning institutions of all types, ZAMs are uniquely suited to modeling green behavior.

The Ocean Project continually challenges our Partners to become even stronger leaders for conservation and a sustainable society. We urge all Partners to remember to "walk the talk" or, maybe more appropriately, "run the talk" because time is short!

This handbook will help guide ZAM staff in incorporating green design into new construction and day-to-day operations. Sustainable practices can not only save on operating costs, but also make ZAMs attractive to new visitors and fundraising sources.

Get more information and order the book.

September 25, 2008

Leave No Child Inside

In what has turned out to be one of the best years in Congress for environmental education, on September 18, the US House of Representative overwhelmingly and with strong bi-partisan support, passed the No Child Left Inside Act, H.R. 3036. Sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes and others, the bill’s passage represents one of only a few times in 18 years that Congress voted on environmental education and the first time in 27 years that they voted for the US Department of Education to be involved in environmental education.

This legislation if enacted next year would strengthen environmental education experiences for schoolchildren both inside and outside of the nation's classrooms and includes funding for training and support of EE programs, help with creating EE standards, encouragement of experts to work in the classrooms, and creation of a grant program to help create and strengthen EE programs. In short, it will help make students more "environmentally literate."

We have been promoting this important issue with our Partners – working especially with the Campaign for Environmental Literacy and the No Child Left Inside Coalition, who with others, deserve great thanks for helping this happen!

Please send your Representative a quick thank you for their support, by clicking here.

Partners may also be interested in a recent Newsweek article, Getting an Early Start - Eco-education doesn't have to be expensive, by Daniel Stone. The article highlights several successful green school initiatives from outdoor classrooms to green facilities and curriculum that have improved the quality and experience of education for students.

August 7, 2008

PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and the Environment

Mark Baldassare, Dean Bonner, Jennifer Paluch, and Sonja Petek

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released its latest statewide survey on July 30. This is the 88th PPIC Statewide Survey and the eighth in the Californians and the Environment survey series, whose intent is to inform policymakers, encourage discussion, and raise public awareness about environment, education, and population issues. This survey was conducted with funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

The current survey focuses on the related issues of air quality, global warming, and energy and the environment because these are current topics of public policy discussion in local, state, and federal government. A 2006 PPIC survey conducted with funding from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation focused on the state's marine and coastal issues.

Some findings of the current survey:
  • Californians rank air pollution as the most important environmental issue facing the state. Fewer than one in four Californians are very satisfied (17%) with the air quality in their region but there exist big differences by regions and demographic groups, with blacks and Latinos (31% each) much more likely than whites (16%) or Asians (8%) to say air pollution is a very serious health threat.

  • Half of Californians (52%) say global warming is a very serious threat to the state's economy and quality of life, and more than six in 10 (64%) say its effects have already begun, a 7-point increase from 2005.

  • Eight in 10 (80%) believe steps should be taken right away, a percentage that has increased 7 points since 2003.

  • Californians report that they are changing their behavior: The number of workers who drive to work alone has dropped 11 points in five years (73% 2003, 62% 2008). Nearly seven in 10 residents (69%) report cutting back significantly on their driving, and nearly three in four (74%) are seriously considering a more fuel-efficient car the next time they buy a vehicle.

  • 51% of Californians favor more oil drilling off the coast - a 10-point increase since July 2007; but it also showed that 83 percent want more federal funding for wind, solar, and hydrogen technology (in a reality check for the climate change movement, numerous opinion polls since May are fueling politicians and candidates to push for more U.S. offshore oil drilling. But as John Wihbey writes, "with all polls, the framing is paramount and the media's interpretation crucial."

  • About half of Californians believe people will have to make major sacrifices to reduce global warming's impact.
Access the Full Report [PDF]. Access the Press Release [HTML]. Access other environmentally related surveys and reports at The Ocean Project's Resources for Partners pages.

August 6, 2008

New Approaches to Evaluation

Part of the process of continual improvement in communicating for conservation includes gathering baseline data and defining measurable objectives; effective implementation; and tracking progress toward conservation education and action goals. 

This month we are highlighting some important presentations, articles and resources from Good Measures: New Approaches to Evaluation, a conference held May 22, 2008 and sponsored by FSG Social Impact Advisors and Stanford Social Innovation Review.  You can learn about emerging approaches to evaluation, major trends in the field, case studies of successful efforts, listen to audio recordings, and access speakers' presentations. Session topics included: Moving from Insight to Action; Evaluation: New Ways of Working Together; Assessing Performance and Refining Strategy: The Foundation CEO Perspective - a talk by Carol Larson, president and CEO of The David and Lucile Packard Foundation; and Evaluation for Learning: Creating Cultures of Inquiry.

Access the conference resources.

Listen to an inspirational talk by the Packard Foundation's Carol Larson.

Download the PDF (3.67 MB) of Moving from Insight to Action.

West Coast Governors Launch Ocean Action Plan

The Governors of California, Oregon and Washington recently launched an historic action plan to address challenging ocean and coastal management issues along the West Coast. This significant step comes on the heels of another precedent-setting state-driven ocean conservation action, with the passage into law of the Massachusetts Ocean Act of 2008.

The West Coast Governors' Ocean Action Plan is the result of a 2006 agreement signed by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire. The regional agreement forged a long-term partnership to tackle obstacles facing the Pacific Ocean and its coastal communities.

The action plan commits the three states to seven priority areas related to ocean protection: ensuring clean coastal waters and beaches; protecting and restoring healthy ocean and coastal habitats; promoting the effective implementation of ecosystem-based management of ocean and coastal resources; reducing adverse impacts of offshore development; increasing ocean awareness and literacy among citizens; expanding ocean and coastal scientific information, research and monitoring; and fostering sustainable economic development throughout diverse coastal communities.

Each action within the plan contains benchmarks and a timeframe for action. The governors have formally committed to report on the status of actions at the end of two years.

Read the full story and the action plan in its entirety.

Encourage Walk-ins to Your Facility with New Google Maps Feature

Adapted from story by Maura Judkis

US News and World Report - July 23, 2008

Just in time for the recent announcement of America's most and least walkable cities, Google has added a tool for finding walking directions to its maps. The Google Lat Long Blog details the latest improvements: Walking directions ignore whether or not streets are one-way, offering the fastest point from point A to point B.

The walking directions are still under development, however, so off-road features like pedestrian paths won't show up yet. Neither will shortcuts through traffic circles or parks. For cities where Google has mapped public transit directions, you'll now find walking directions automatically from the point where you'd exit the subway or bus stop.

We encourage ZAM Partners to post this new tool on your websites to encourage environmental sustainability!

Read the full story.

Find the best walking routes for yours visitors!

Good for the Environment = Good for Business

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), an Ocean Project Partner, has produced an inaugural review highlighting processes, products, and technologies that are making the biz world more eco-friendly. The first edition of the annual review highlights more than 20 processes, products and technologies that were chosen based on four criteria: good for business, good for the environment, ready to be implemented and innovative. EDF stayed away from concepts still in the research and development phase or anything that has been widely implemented and documented. We thought some of our Partners would find this report inspirational and useful in producing tangible business benefits from environmental efficiency.

Read the full GreenBiz story.

Read the full EDF report in PDF: Innovations Review 2008.

Latest from Washington, DC on Environmental Education

The Ocean Project continues to encourage our Partners and friends to take action on initiatives to help advance environmental education and literacy. The Campaign for Environmental Literacy, an Ocean Project Partner, has been instrumental in helping advocate for a number of EE initiatives. They report that the last 12 months have brought unprecedented attention to EE, thanks to the work of many of our Partners.

On July 31, Congress overwhelmingly passed all provisions of the Higher Education Sustainability Act (HESA). This is the first federal environmental education grant-making program authorized in 18 years.

One piece of legislation in particular that we continue to highlight for our Partners is the No Child Left Inside Act (HR 3036). Originally intended as an amendment to the No Child Left Behind Act, which is stuck in Congress, it has been modified and passed by the pertinent House Committee to re-authorize the long expired National Environmental Education Act of 1990 for one year. It is important to rally support for this bill as it comes to a full House vote in early September.

Partners and friends can help make this happen. You can learn more about this and other important EE bills, and how you can help, by going to Campaign for Environmental Literacy.

July 11, 2008

More pressure on global fish stocks as scientists warn of underreporting of catches

In a July 9th story, www.guardian.co.uk reports that fish catches in some of the poorest nations in the world have been grossly underestimated, scientists warned recently.

The implication is that global fish stocks, already widely acknowledged to be under heavy pressure, are in far more in danger than thought. The underreporting particularly threatens the hundreds of millions of poor people around the world who rely on fish for subsistence.

A reconstruction of actual catches in 20 places around the globe showed that fish landings that were not reported were at least as high as the declared catch, and sometimes more than 16 times higher.

"This is underreporting of such magnitude that it boggles the mind," said Professor Daniel Pauly, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The global database of world fish catches is maintained by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome. It is based on voluntary declaration, and often misses subsistence and recreational fishing.

The new study, presented to the 11th international coral reef symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was conducted by scientists from the Sea Around Us project, an international research group based at the University of British Columbia. They visited the locations, questioned local officials and made their own estimates of subsistence fishery calculations since 1950.

Continue reading the article on-line.

June 19, 2008

That Buzz in Your Ear May Be Green Noise

Alex Williams of the New York Times reports on the phenomenon of green noise - static caused by urgent, sometimes vexing or even contradictory information played at too high a volume for too long.

Two years after "An Inconvenient Truth" helped unleash a new tide of environmental activism, green noise pulses through the collective consciousness from all directions. The news media issues dire reports about disappearing polar bears; Web sites feature Brad Pitt arriving at a movie premiere in his hydrogen-powered BMW; bookstore shelves are piled high with titles like "50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth"; shops carry hemp-enriched shampoo and 100-percent organic cotton tampons.

An environmentally conscientious consumer is left to wonder: are low-energy compact fluorescent bulbs better than standard incandescents, even if they contain traces of mercury? Which salad is more earth-friendly, the one made with organic mixed greens trucked from thousands of miles away, or the one with lettuce raised on nearby industrial farms? Should they support nuclear power as a clean alternative to coal?

If even well-intentioned activists are feeling overwhelmed, the average S.U.V. driver must be tuning out. And some environmentalists fear that the public might begin to ignore their message before any meaningful change can be accomplished. For them, it's a time to reassess strategies and streamline their campaigns before it's too late.

Activists and nonprofits must shoulder their share of responsibility, too, for bombarding people with messages. "The groups that are trying to get them to change overwhelm them with information," said Diane Tompkins, a founder of the Curious Company, a market research firm based in San Francisco.

Read the full story.

For more interesting conversation on this topic, check out Dot Earth.

June 13, 2008

Tracking Ocean Legislation

E&E Daily reports that several major pieces of oceans legislation are on the move in Congress this year, ranging from coral reef protections to the Law of the Sea ratification measure, are unlikely to make it into law before 2009, senior congressional staff members and oceans advocates say. Ocean advocates assembled for "Capitol Hill Oceans Week" last week predicted that a shortened, crowded calendar in an election year may leave little room to bring many of their oceans bills to the finish line.

House and Senate staffers predicted some bills could move in the fall but that most of this year's work would be an effort to set things up for the next Congress and the new administration. "It is going to be very difficult to move legislation for the rest of the year, as we get into an election cycle, it is very difficult," said Senate Commerce Committee staff member Kristen Sarri. "A lot of it is laying the groundwork for the next Congress."

Ocean advocates said they would press for final passage for some of the bills as part of the flurry of bills that Congress is likely to take up in its closing weeks after the August break. But they acknowledged it may be an uphill climb for the rest of the year. "It's a presidential election year and we've got a shortened, and let's face it, highly politically charged calendar, so we have to have modest expectations," said Christopher Mann, senior environment officer for the Pew Charitable Trusts. "The clock runs out pretty quick," said House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans staff member Dave Jansen.

Lawmakers introduced a tidal wave of oceans initiatives over the past two years, spurred in part by recommendations from the Joint Oceans Commission Initiative and reports from its predecessors, the Pew Oceans Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.

Science Playing Limited Role in Stem Cell Debate

A upi.com story begins by suggesting that, when forming attitudes about embryonic stem cell research, people are influenced by a number of things. But understanding science plays a negligible role for many people.

“More knowledge is good - everybody is on the same page about that. But will that knowledge necessarily help build support for the science?” says Dietram Scheufele. “The data show that no, it doesn’t. It does for some groups, but definitely not for others.”

Along with Dominique Brossard and Shirley Ho, Scheufele used national public opinion research to analyze how public attitudes are formed about controversial scientific issues such as nanotechnology and stem cells. What they have found again and again is that knowledge is much less important than other factors, such as religious values or deference to scientific authority.

“Highly religious audiences are different from less religious audiences. They are looking for different things, bringing different things to the table,” explains Scheufele. “It is not about providing religious audiences with more scientific information. In fact, many of them are already highly informed about stem cell research, so more information makes little difference in terms of influencing public support. And that’s not good or bad. That’s just what the data show.”

On the other hand, a value system held by a much smaller portion of the American public works in just the opposite direction. The attitudes of individuals who are deferential to science - who tend to trust scientists and their work - are influenced by their level of scientific understanding.

This theme is similar in some ways to what The Ocean Project has found in the past on ocean public opinion research. Knowledge does not automatically equal changes in attitudes and behaviors/nor support for one's cause, clearly.

Environmental Skeptics Are Overwhelmingly Politicized

Ben Block reports that a review of environmental skepticism literature from the past 30 years has found that the vast majority of skeptics, often identified as independent, are directly linked to politically oriented, conservative think tanks.

The study, published in this month's issue of Environmental
, analyzed books written between 1972 and 2005 that deny the urgency of environmental protection. The researchers found that more than 92 percent of the skeptical authors were in some way affiliated to conservative think tanks - non-profit research and advocacy organizations that promote core conservative ideals.

The authors say skeptics have every right to voice their opinion. But the statements of a few think tank-supported experts should not be regarded as equal to scientific findings that have been vetted through an intense peer-review process, they say. "We want to allow a cacophony of voices in public policy," Jacques said. "Where we get into problems is where we fail to evaluate the voices; we fail to evaluate the merit of the claim."

Read the full article at the Worldwatch Institute website.

What Condoms Have to Do with Climate Change

Bryan Walsh of Time Magazine reports:

As the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael Hayden should have some insight on the biggest threats facing the U.S. But when Hayden recently described what he saw as the most troublesome trend over the next several decades, it wasn't terrorism or climate change. It was overpopulation in the poorest parts of the world. "By mid-century, the best estimates point to a world population of more than 9 billion," Hayden said in a speech at Kansas State University. "Most of that growth will occur in countries least able to sustain it." The sheer increase in population, Hayden argued, could fuel instability and extremism, not to mention worsening climate change and making food and fuel all the more scarce. Population is the essential multiplier for any number of human ills.

Back in the 1970s, Hayden's argument wouldn't have been surprising. That era, which saw the birth of the modern environmental movement (the first Earth Day was observed in 1970), was obsessed with the idea of global limits, that without drastic intervention, we were doomed to overpopulation. Books like Paul Erhlich's The Population Bomb warned that the Earth was reaching the end of its carrying capacity, and that within decades, hundreds of millions of people would starve to death. The only way to avoid this Malthusian fate was rigid population control, which many environmentalists were in favor of.

Fast-forward 30 years, however, and the situation has changed. The mass famines that Erhlich and others prophesized never happened, and while population growth has continued — an estimated 6.8 billion people now live on Earth — and on the whole, the world is better off today than it has ever been. A Green Revolution helped a growing planet feed itself, while the forces of globalization helped lift hundreds of millions in the developing world out of poverty, even as population continued to rise. As the years passed, overpopulation has dropped from the vocabulary of most environmentalists, partially due to the controversies that surrounded state-mandated birth control in countries like China, with its one-child policy. Though simple arithmetic will tell you that the bigger the global population becomes, the harder it will be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, you rarely see the population connection made explicit in major environmental reports. "Environmentalists came to realize how complicated and sensitive this issue was," says Robert Engleman, vice-president for programs at the Worldwatch Institute, and the author of the new book More: Population, Nature and What Women Want. "People didn't want to tell their neighbors and friends how to have kids."

Read the full article on-line.

Investigate More, the book.

June 12, 2008

Leatherback Turtles in the News

The New York Times reports that for the first time since the 1930’s, federal biologists confirmed that a leatherback sea turtle has nested on a Texas beach, at the Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi.

Last Friday, staff conducting a beach patrol found turtle tracks and a few exposed eggs. They were thought at first to be those of a green turtle. But the eggs and the width of the tracks, more than six feet across, were later determined by a park biologist, Cynthia Rubio, to be from a leatherback. The giant, ancient, endangered turtles, some the size of a Smart Car, have until now only been known to nest in four spots in the United States – with about three dozen females a year laying eggs on beaches along the east coast of Florida and slightly larger nesting populations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There is evidence of nesting in North Carolina as well.

Wednesday also saw a champion in the “Great Turtle Race,” in which students and turtle fans tracked the meanderings of 11 radio-tagged leatherbacks in the Pacific Ocean. The first to reach the International Date Line was a turtle named Saphira II, sponsored by the Bullis Charter School of Los Altos, Calif.

The Census of Marine life reorts that following in the wake of a last year's Great Turtle Race success, the Great Turtle Race II: The Olympiad is being followed by school kids around the world. The race tracks eleven critically endangered Pacific leatherback turtles as they migrate from breeding grounds in Indonesia to foraging grounds out in the Pacific Ocean, or from the California coast to breeding sites in Indonesia.

Organized by TOPP, the Leatherback Trust, Drexel University, The Global Cause Foundation, and the Sea Turtle Restoration project and supported and sponsored by an international assemblage of conservation groups, public agencies, and educational institutions, the Great Turtle Race II aims to educate the public about the life cycle, migrations and ecology of the leatherback sea turtle, as well as efforts to conserve this 100 million year old species. To view the race, root on your favorite turtle, learn more about leatherbacks and conservation efforts, or get involved please visit: The Great Sea Turtle Race II.

June 11, 2008

Targeting Behavior Workshop

What is Targeting Behavior?

Conservation International’s Targeting Behavior methodology is a systematic approach to research and participatory planning that empowers people to identify targeted learning needs and develop practical and integrated solutions. Programs are designed to target key audiences who can leverage conservation action in priority areas across the globe, including communities, businesses, governments and the urban public. Targeting Behavior strategies combine the research methods and targeted messaging used by social marketing campaigns, the development of creative and experiential learning tools used by education and training programs, the use of mass communications to effectively reach many people, and the ability to influence policy and business practices through advocacy.

All in all pretty well aligned with the Ocean Project mission. As a result, The Ocean Project is pleased to announce that Conservation International will be teaching a short course, entitled Targeting Behavior: Designing Programs to Catalyze Conservation Action, at the Society for Conservation Biology’s Annual Meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee July 11-13, 2008. Further description and registration is available at SCB’s website.

World Ocean Day 2008

World Ocean Day passed with record high temperatures for June 8th in much of the northeast United States. Just another favor of Mother Nature to get us all to the ocean. Many organizations registered their event with the Ocean Project's World Ocean Day Event List service. Stories of fun times had continue to pour in from around the world. Check out these two event pictures from the USA and Costa Rica:

One of many captured moments of fun and frolic for the sake of the ocean sent from The Ocean Project's partners

The beach communities surrounding Playas del Coco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, collaborated to celebrate World Ocean Day 2008. Marine artist, Carlos Hiller, with the help of more than 70 local children (working through nonprofit children's association, Proyecto de Luz), created this beautiful community mural.

And, of course, start making plans for next year.

May 30, 2008

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick Signs Ocean Resources Bill

Concern over competing ocean uses is growing nationwide, and some states, including California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Florida, and North Carolina, have created ocean authorities or announced plans to better manage state waters.

Massachusetts has gone the furthest in creating a law - and an ambitious timeline to develop a plan for managing ocean resources.

"With this bill, Massachusetts has become a leader in ocean policy in this country," said Leon E. Panetta, former White House chief of staff and the chairman of the Pew Oceans Commission, a national group that has called for federal ocean management reform.

Read Beth Daley's Story in the Boston Globe,

May 29, 2008

Sharks Swim Closer to Extinction

BBC News reports that more than half of the world's ocean-going sharks are at risk of extinction, a new analysis concludes.

Specialists with IUCN (formerly the World Conservation Union) found that 11 species are on the high-risk list, with five more showing signs of decline.

Sharks are particularly affected by over-fishing as they reproduce slowly.

The scientists are calling for global catch limits, an end to the practice of removing fins, and measures to minimise incidental catches (bycatch).

Read the full story from BBC NEWS

Bush Eyes Unprecedented Conservation Program

John Neilsen reports that the Bush administration is considering launching one of the biggest conservation programs in U.S. history.

If implemented, President George W. Bush could, with the stroke of a pen, protect vast stretches of U.S. territorial waters from fishing, oil exploration and other forms of commercial development. The initiative could also create some of the largest marine reserves in the world — far larger than national parks like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.

The White House is thinking about taking "big steps, not small ones," says Jack Sobel, a senior scientist at the Washington-based Ocean Conservancy, an environmental group.

A spokesman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality confirmed that the administration is considering the initiative but declined to discuss details, saying they are still under review.

Read the details at NPR.

May 6, 2008

Hope Comes in Popular Volunteer Movements

More than 50 000 volunteers came out on May 4th to participate in the big clean-up day in Estonia – organized by the civic initiative called Let's Do It! 2008 started by Estonian tech millionaires – founder of Skype, Ahti Heinla and founder of Microlink, Rainer Nõlvak.

More than 3% of Estonian population of 1.3 million were out to clean the forest, roadsides and other public areas from illegal waste. More than 40 waste management companies supported the initiative with necessary containers and garbage transportation vehicles.

Volunteers had mapped over 10 656 garbage dumping sites all over the country by the beginning of April. Yesterday 207 temporary collecting stations were put up to gather the waste collected by the volunteers. From there the garbage is moved into 17 waste management stations. The initiative aims to recycle up to 80% of the collected waste, making it first massive recycling project in Estonia. The usual amount of garbage recycled in Estonia is 10%, so this is eight times more than the average.

This is the biggest civic initiative since the singing revolution in Estonia. In addition to the 50 000 participants on 3rd of May, there
has been a lot of related civic action in recent weeks, influenced by the large media campaign going on all over Estonia during the last month.

6000 tons of illegal waste has already been registered to been collected during the initiative, more specific numbers are yet to come in the following weeks.

See the story in ENN

Whale sightings off Chile raise hope

The Los Angeles Times reports that in recent years, researchers combing remote crannies of Chile's elongated coast have confirmed the presence of two seasonally resident populations of whales, including 100 to 150 humpbacks in the glacier-rimmed Strait of Magellan.

Farther to the north, closer to the seas once frequented by Mocha Dick, they've tracked several hundred blue whales, believed to be Earth's largest animal, at 100 feet long and more than 100 tons -- bigger than any dinosaur. A separate population of blue whales feeds off the central California coast between June and October.

"The likelihood is that they were not completely hunted out, and these are remnant populations," says Bruce Mate, who heads the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University and who worked to tag Chilean blue whales and track them via satellite. "It just wasn't commercially viable to hunt till the very last whale."

The bleached bones of butchered whales, sea lions, elephant seals and other ocean mammals still litter some Patagonian beaches like driftwood. Forest and surf have reclaimed whaling stations such as the long-abandoned plant at Eagles' Bay (Bahia de los Aguilas), not far from Cape Froward, the southernmost point on the South American mainland.

Though encouraged, conservationists say it's too early to celebrate the comeback of a creature pursued to the verge of extinction. Oil from sperm and right whales hunted off Chile's coast was once a prized staple, a globalized commodity with parallels to today's petroleum.

Read the complete story.

Warmer waters creating 'underwater deserts'

Lauren Morello, a ClimateWire reporter, reports that rising temperatures are expanding oxygen-starved areas in the world's oceans, a trend that could eventually threaten fisheries and coastal economies, according to new research.

Over the last 50 years, low-oxygen zones in the equatorial Pacific and tropical Atlantic oceans - "underwater deserts" that support little marine life - have grown as water temperatures have risen, finds a study published today in the journal Science.

That could eventually shift habitats and migration patterns for marine life, including tuna, swordfish and other important commercially fished species that cannot survive in low-oxygen zones.

The new study, based on data collected in tropical waters since 1960, confirms predictions from several climate models, said Gregory Johnson, an author of the study and an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

One reason the low-oxygen areas are growing may be the simple fact that as water warms, it loses its ability to absorb oxygen from the atmosphere. But Johnson and his colleagues believe that in this case, the main factor at work is changes in ocean circulation patterns.

The full report entitled Expanding Oxygen-Minimum Zones in the Tropical Oceans is available in volume 320 no. 5876 of Science, pages 655 - 658, by Lothar Stramma, Gregory C. Johnson, Janet Sprintall, and Volker Mohrholz.

DOI: 10.1126/science.1153847

Zoos and Aquariums Committing to Conservation

January 23-26, 2009
Houston, Texas

The Houston Zoo will host the next bi-annual Zoos and Aquariums Committing to Conservation (ZACC) Conference in January 2009. Those who have attended past conferences can attest to the incredible enthusiasm and opportunities for conservation partnerships that such events have produced, and ZACC 2009 will be no exception. Two years ago the conference had close to 250 registrants representing more than two dozen countries, so expect that the upcoming event will set new records.

Each conference presentation is 20 minutes in length, with approximately five minutes allotted for questions and answers afterwards. The conference organizers are looking for presentations that highlight new initiatives and establish opportunities for collaborations between zoos and aquariums, field biologists, governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. The conference promotes the basic premise that each and every one of us has a role to play in the effort to safeguard Earth's threatened biological diversity.

US Ordered to Act on Polar Bear

World BBC reports that a judge has told the US government to decide within weeks whether to list polar bears as an endangered species. The decision was hailed by conservation groups which have been hounding the government on the issue for years.

The federal judge rejected the Bush administration's pleas for a further delay, and ordered it to make and implement its decision by 15 May. A listing could restrict oil and gas exploration in the US Arctic, and lead to curbs on greenhouse gas emissions.

Read the full article.

April 30, 2008

Monterey Bay Aquarium Partners with Aramark to Develop Sustainable Seafood Practices to Protect the World's Ocean

Increasing Awareness when Purchasing Sustainable Seafood is an Integral Part of Aramark's Ongoing Commitment to the Environment. A world leader in professional services, Aramark has made a commitment to help preserve the world's oceans and fisheries through a new partnership with Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program.

The Aquarium will help Aramark develop practices to guide the supply, purchase and consumption of sustainable seafood for as many as 180,000 employees in the U.S. and potentially tens of millions of consumers in businesses, universities, schools, sports and entertainment facilities, parks and other locations Aramark operates. Read the details on the Aramark website.

April 29, 2008

The Ocean Project Receives NOAA Grant

The Ocean Project was recently awarded a three-year grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of its Environmental Literacy Grants program. The goal of this grant is to significantly increase the effectiveness of our Partners and others in the wider conservation community to bring about real behavior change in their millions of visitors and members. This research project will allow us to better understand how Americans think about the ocean, conservation, and sustainability, and how to better connect with the public to create measurable, lasting change. Essentially, we will learn how our Partner network and the wider conservation community can connect more effectively with the American public in order to build environmental literacy, and create a culture of conservation.

More details in our newsletter from last October.

April 23, 2008

New Environmentally Sound Childrens Clothes

The Ocean Project is proud to support gloucester oneseas as an on-line children`s clothes store for the environmentally-minded. As they say:

"gloucester oneseas is a line of children’s clothing that not only expresses our love for the sea and its creatures, but also supports its conservation."

April 22, 2008

Stichin` Fish - Now That`s a Blog

Happy Earth Day from The Ocean Project!

Check out Stichin` Fish as an example of a well-done community blog with an active goal. Halifax`s Ecology Action Centre is behind using the blogosphere to help the Marine Issues Committee Craft a Gorgeous North Atlantic Seafloor in time for World Ocean Day on June 8th.

April 21, 2008

Why Bother On the Eve of Earth Day

Why Bother?

Over thirty years ago Wendell Berry, the Kentucky farmer and writer, put forward a blunt analysis of us human beings when he argued that the environmental crisis of the 1970s was at its heart a crisis of character and would have to be addressed first at home. He was impatient with people who wrote checks to environmental organizations while thoughtlessly squandering fossil fuel in their everyday lives — the 1970s equivalent of people buying carbon offsets to atone for their Tahoes and Durangos today.

Michael Pollan's thought-provoking article in the New York Times reviews Berry's thinking in the light of the global climate crisis of our era
and let's us know that what each of us does (or doesn't do) really does
matter - quite the appropriate read on the eve of Earth Day.

As always, remember to Seas the Day!

April 3, 2008

New York Times Offers Special Section on Green Business

Mind Your Business

The Sierra Club is embarking on its first product endorsement, putting its logo on Clorox's new Green Works cleaning products. A handful of ambitious businesses are aiming to bypass carbon neutrality and move straight on into carbon negativity. These and more stories popped up in The New York Times' "Business of Green" section last week, which covered the green-biz gamut, from companies trying to manufacture safer chemicals, to financial techniques helping to grow the solar sector, to shareholders unconvinced that going green means making green. Also considered: The rise of green-collar jobs and the growth of academic programs focused at moving students into them.

More logo placement details from the Sierra Club.

March 31, 2008

International Youth Coastal Conference - Oct 19-22

Check out the International Youth Coastal Conference that will be held later this year in Townsville, Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Reef HQ) and Townsville City Council are hosting activities for the youth conference and the conference presents an opportunity for students from around the world to network and discuss coastal protection etc. IOI centres may wish to be represented. IOI centres could promote the conference and see if opportunities exist to support student delegates to attend the conference. Please contact Fred.Nucifora@gbrmpa.gov.au and Adrian.Turnbull@townsville.qld.gov.au for more info on the conference activities.

Townsville will also host the International Pacific Marine Educators Conference which will precede the Youth conference.

March 21, 2008

Pangea Day Comes To You May 10th

What Is Pangea Day?
From the Pangea Day Website:

Pangea Day taps the power of film to strengthen tolerance and compassion while uniting millions of people to build a better future. In a world where people are often divided by borders, difference, and conflict, it's easy to lose sight of what we all have in common. Pangea Day seeks to overcome that - to help people see themselves in others - through the power of film.

On May 10, 2008 - Pangea Day - sites in Cairo, Kigali, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro will be linked live to produce a program of powerful films, visionary speakers, and uplifting music. The program will be broadcast live to the world through the Internet, television, digital cinemas, and mobile phones.

Of course, movies alone can't change the world. But the people who watch them can. So following May 10, 2008, Pangea Day organizers will facilitate community-building activities around the world by connecting inspired viewers with numerous organizations which are already doing groundbreaking work.

Watch the Pangea Day trailer.

March 20, 2008

Granddad turns 75!

Granddad, an Australian lungfish who has lived at Chicago's John G. Shedd Aquarium for 75 years, the longest-living fish in any aquarium in the world.

"He was here when Model Ts were pulling up to the Shedd," said Roger Germann, Shedd's director of public relations. "Granddad bridges so many generation gaps."

At 4 feet long and 25 pounds, Granddad is the color of a faded brown blanket, with charcoal age spots dotting his back. He was named by a Shedd volunteer years ago, and has gone on to become one of the aquarium's most popular residents.

"Hey! See the one with the spots -- he's been here since 1933!" a Shedd visitor shouts to a companion, while dumping half of his popcorn bag on the floor in excitement.

"I love Granddad -- he's so cool," coos a teenaged girl, pressing her nose to the tank.

Read the whole story (with picture) in the on-line Daily Herald.

Lights Out for March 29th Earth Hour

On March 29, cities all over the world will turn off their lights for one hour - Earth Hour - from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. local time. This initiative sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is intended to raise awareness about energy consumption and climate change. The first Earth Hour took place in 2007 in Sydney and for 2008 has been expanded to an international event. Thus far, 25 cities worldwide have signed on.

It's simple and free to join this global movement. Simply register at the Earth Hour (http://www.earthhour.org/) web site, where you'll find information and resources about how you and your institution can participate. Regardless whether or not your city is joining this movement, you can still play a role by encouraging others in your community to get involved.

March 18, 2008

Upcoming Watershed Conferences of Interest

Watershed awareness continues heading towards a vision the National Leadership Forum Report from 1999 suggests visualization can help promote. Upcoming conferences at which to investigate current trends include:

Leave Zero Representing New Wave of Conscious Consumption

Leave Zero, a new on-line retail outlet, was inspired by the spirit of people who strive to make the most of every moment; people who 'give it all' to better themselves and help others; people who do this while respecting the Earth and future generations and have fun doing it!

Leave Zero donates 25% of all profits to organizations that help less fortunate children and restore the environment. Leave Zero has targeted The Ocean Project as one of the organizations that benefits the Earth and future generations.

Mapping North American Environmental Issues

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation works with key mapping agency partners in Canada, Mexico, and the United States to promote understanding of significant continental-scale environmental issues through the North American Environmental Atlas.

Available map layers include renewable energy capacity, priority conservation areas, and other environmental themes. The CEC is also exploring innovative mapping techniques for these map layers, including the industrial pollutant mapping tool recently released for use with Google Earth. Certain printed maps are available by request. For example, a wall map of the major hydrological drainage basins, or watersheds, of North America is now offered. See the CEC Atlas website for more details.

March 13, 2008

2007 U.S. Ocean Policy Report Card Released

The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative released its third annual U.S. Ocean Policy Report Card on February 27, 2008. The report card assesses the nation’s progress in 2007 toward implementing the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission, as well as the actions described in the Administration's U.S. Ocean Action Plan. The objective of the U.S. Ocean Policy Report Card is to inform policy makers and the public of the critical challenges facing our oceans, while identifying the many opportunities that are ripe for action. The 2007 U.S. Ocean Policy Report Card concludes that while state and regional initiatives continue to move forward on ocean governance reform, the lack of significant progress at the federal level to commit adequate funding and affect meaningful ocean policy reform hinders national improvement. See the full report card.

March 12, 2008

Public sends mixed signals on energy policy according to new poll

(03/10/2008) Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

At a time of rising energy prices, the public continues to be conflicted in its overall approach toward energy and the environment according to the latest nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Feb. 20-24 among 1,508 adults.

A majority of Americans say that developing new sources of energy, rather than protecting the environment, is the more important priority for the country. However, when asked specifically about energy policy priorities, 55% favor more conservation and regulation of energy, compared with 35% who support expanded energy exploration.

As in recent years, specific policies that address both energy and the environment draw overwhelming support. Nine-in-ten Americans favor requiring better auto fuel efficiency standards, while substantial majorities also support increased federal funding for alternative energy (81%) and mass transportation (72%).

By contrast, there is greater division over other energy policies. A majority (57%) favors increased federal funding on ethanol research, but support has fallen over the past two years (from 67% in February 2006). The public continues to be almost evenly split over the idea of promoting more nuclear power (48% oppose vs. 44% favor). And a majority (53%) opposes giving tax cuts to energy companies to do more oil exploration.

With gas prices already high and expected to increase, the public overwhelmingly rejects boosting gas taxes to encourage carpooling and energy conservation. By greater than three-to-one (75% to 22%), Americans oppose raising gas taxes.

There are continued public divisions over drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Currently, 50% oppose drilling in the Alaska refuge while 42% are in favor. As recently as September of 2005, 50% of Americans favored allowing drilling in ANWR, while 42% were opposed.

Read the full story

March 6, 2008

Ready to Lead?
Next Generation Speak Out

A National Study Produced in Partnership by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Meyer Foundation and Idealist.org suggests that a skilled, committed, and diverse pool of next generation leaders would like to be nonprofit executive directors in the future. However, the new national survey of nearly 6,000 next generation leaders also finds that there are significant barriers: work-life balance, insufficient life-long earning potential, lack of mentorship and overwhelming fundraising responsibilities which may prevent many younger nonprofit staff from becoming executives.

The survey, Ready to Lead? Next Generation Leaders Speak Out, is the largest national survey to date of emerging nonprofit leaders and was produced by the Meyer Foundation in partnership with CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, The Annie E. Casey Foundation and Idealist.org. According to the Urban Institute, there are currently more than 850,000 registered public charities in the United States. Read more.

Or read the survey report as a PDF document.

March 4, 2008

Massive database of species goes online

From grist.org:

That's Life
An online Encyclopedia of Life that aims to eventually describe every living organism on the planet has unveiled its first detailed pages. Read up on the 24 species that have entries complete with text, pictures, and video, or sift through 30,000 others with preliminary information. Those involved with the encyclopedia, which got its start from a 2003 paper written by famed biologist E.O. Wilson, hope it will help researchers assess climate-change impacts, endangered species, and the spread of invasive species, as well as simply raise awareness of biodiversity. If the project doesn't collapse under its own ambition, like similar endeavors that have gone before, compilers hope the remaining 1.77 million pages will be up by 2017. Of course, the work won't stop then: Scientists estimate that known organisms comprise only one-tenth of actual species on earth.

February 27, 2008

Save Trees By Reducing Junk Mail

Did you know that the average American adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail per year? All this adds up to more than 100 million trees cut each year, plus 28 billion gallons of water, and enough energy to power 2.8 million cars. Enough already!

41pounds.org makes it easy for you to do your part. Help stop your junk mail and catalogs and keep trees in the forests doing what they do best: providing clean air for us to breathe, taking in C02 to keep our planet cooler, and keeping watersheds and, ultimately, the ocean healthy.

Sign up to slim down by 41 pounds today, and in the process you can also choose to have $15 of the paid amount go to helping The Ocean Project continue to do our work with and for you and our other Partners!

February 25, 2008

Warmer World May Mean Less Fish

Read how Global Warming adds to pollution and over-harvesting impacts on the world's key fishing grounds: "In Dead Water" by the UNEP.

Or read the summary provided here:

MONACO/NAIROBI, 22 February 2008 - Climate change is emerging as the latest threat to the world's dwindling fish stocks a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) suggests.

At least three quarters of the globe's key fishing grounds may become seriously impacted by changes in circulation as a result of the ocean's natural pumping systems fading and falling they suggest.

These natural pumps, dotted at sites across the world including the Arctic and the Mediterranean, bring nutrients to fisheries and keep them healthy by flushing out wastes and pollution.

The impacts of rising emissions on the marine world are unlikely to end there. Higher sea surface temperatures over the coming decades threaten to bleach and kill up to 80 per cent of the globe's coral reefs-major tourist attractions, natural sea defences and also nurseries for fish.

Meanwhile there is growing concern that carbon dioxide emissions will increase the acidity of seas and oceans. This in turn may impact calcium and shell-forming marine life including corals but also tiny ones such as planktonic organisms at the base of the food chain.

The findings come in a new rapid response report entitled "In Dead Water" which has for the first time mapped the multiple impacts of pollution; alien infestations; over-exploitation and climate change on the seas and oceans.

"The worst concentration of cumulative impacts of climate change with existing pressures of over-harvest, bottom trawling, invasive species infestations, coastal development and pollution appear to be concentrated in 10-15 per cent of the oceans," says the report.

This 10-15 per cent of the oceans is far higher than had previously been supposed and is "concurrent with today's most important fishing grounds" including the estimated 7.5 per cent deemed to be the most economically valuable fishing areas of the world, it adds.

The report, the work of UNEP scientists in collaboration with universities and institutes in Europe and the United States, was launched today during UNEP's Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum taking place in Monaco.

It is the largest gathering of environment ministers since the climate convention conference in Indonesia just over two months ago where governments agreed the Bali Road Map aimed at delivering a deep and decisive climate regime for post 2012.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said:" The theme of the Governing Council is 'Mobilizing Finance for the Climate Challenge for trillions of dollars can flow into climate-friendly energies and technologies if government's can provide the right kind of enabling market mechanisms and fiscal incentives".

"It is sometimes important to remind ourselves why we need to accelerate these transformations towards a Green Economy. In Dead Water has uniquely mapped the impact of several damaging and persistent stresses on fisheries. It also lays on top of these the likely impacts of climate change from dramatic alternations in ocean circulation affecting perhaps a three quarter of key fishing grounds up to the emerging concern of ocean acidification," said Mr Steiner.

"Climate change threatens coastal infrastructure, food and water supplies and the health of people across the world. It is clear from this report and others that it will add significantly to pressures on fish stocks. This is as much a development and economic issue as it is an environmental one. Millions of people including many in developing countries derive their livelihoods from fishing while around 2.6 billion people get their protein from seafood," he said.

The report comes in wake of findings issued last week by a team led by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis which estimates that over 40 per cent of the world's oceans have been heavily impacted by humans and that only four per cent remain relatively pristine.

It also comes amid concern that sea bird chicks in the North Sea may be being choked after being fed on a diet of snake pipefish-a very bony species. Over the past five years snake pipefish numbers have boomed a meeting of the Zoological Society in London was told last week.

One reason for their sharp increase in numbers might be changes in ocean currents bringing the fish into North Sea waters, the experts suggest.

The new UNEP report has been compiled by researchers including ones at UNEP's GRID Arendal centre; UNEP's World Conservation Monitoring Centre and UNEP's Division of Early Warning and Assessment.

It draws on a wide range of new and emerging science including the latest assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-the 2,000 plus panel of scientists established by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organisation.

Other contributions have come from organizations and institutions including the University of Plymouth; the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research; the University of British Columbia; the Institute of Zoology; Princeton University; the University of Barcelona and the Sustainable Europe Research Institute.

In Dead Water Key Findings

- Half the world's catch is caught along Continental shelves in an area of less than 7.5 per cent of the globe's seas and oceans.

- An area of 10-15 per cent of the world's seas and oceans cover most of the commercial fishing grounds.

- 80 per cent to 100 per cent of the world's coral reefs may suffer annual bleaching events by 2080 under global warming scenarios.

- Those at particular risk are in the Western Pacific; the Indian Ocean; the Persian Gulf; the Middle East and in the Caribbean

- Over 90 per cent of the world's temperate and tropical coasts will be heavily impacted by 2050. Over 80 per cent of marine pollution comes from the land. Marine areas at particular risk of increased pollution are Southeast and East Asia.

- Increasing concentrations of C02 in the atmosphere are likely to be mirrored by increasing acidification of the marine environment.

- Increasing acidification may reduce the availability of calcium carbonates in sea water, including a key one known as aragonite which is used by a variety of organisms for shell-building.

- Cold-water and deep water corals could be affected by acidification by 2050 and shell-building organisms throughout the Southern Ocean and into the sub-Arctic Pacific Ocean by 2100.

- Climate change may slow down the ocean thermohaline circulation and thus the continental shelf "flushing and cleaning" mechanisms, known as dense shelf water cascading,over the next 100 years. These processes are crucial to water quality and nutrient cycling and deep water production in at least 75 per cent of the world's major fishing grounds.

- Dead zones, area of de-oxygenated water, are increasing as a result of pollution from urban and agriculture areas. There are an estimated 200 temporary or permanent 'dead zones' up from around 150 in 2003.

- Up to 80 per cent of the world's primary fish catch species are exploited beyond or close to their harvesting capacity. Advances in technology, alongside subsidies, means the world's fishing capacity is 2.5 times bigger that that needed to sustainably harvest fisheries.

- Bottom trawling is among the most damaging and unsustainable fishing practices at the scales often seen today

- Alien invasive species, which can out-compete and dislodge native ones, are increasingly associated with the polluted, overharvested and damaged fishing grounds. The report shows that the concentration of 'aliens' matches with some precision the world's major shipping routes.

Christian Nellemann, who headed up the rapid response team that compiled the report, said: "We are already seeing evidence from a number of studies that increasing sea temperatures are causing changes in the distribution of marine life".

Some of these changes are being found from the Continuous Plankton Recorder survey of the Northeast Atlantic.

Warmer water copepod species or crustaceans have moved northward by around 1,000km during the later half of the 20th century with the patterns continuing into the 21st century.

"Further evidence of this warming signal is seen in the appearance of a Pacific planktonic plant in the Northwest Atlantic for this first time in 800,000 years by transfer across the top of Canada due to the rapid melting of the Arctic in 1998," said Dr. Nellemann. "We are getting more and more alarming signals of dramatic changes in the oceans. It is like turning a big tanker around. Our ability to change course and reduce emissions in the near future will be paramount to success".

The link between healthy and productive fishing grounds and ocean circulation or 'dense shelf water cascading' is in some ways only now emerging.

Three years ago the Hotspot Ecosystem Research on the Margins of European Seas of which UNEP is part, documented such a phenomenon in the Gulf of Lions in the north-western Mediterranean.

A quantity of water equal to two years-worth of the river discharge from all rivers flowing into the Mediterranean is, in four months, transported from the Gulf of Lions to the deep Western Mediterranean via the Cap de Creyus canyon.

It has a critical impact on the population of the heavily harvested deep sea shrimp Aristeus antennatus, the crevette rouge, by bringing food that in turn triggers a sharp increase in young shrimp resulting in plentiful catches three to five years after the 'cascading' event.

"Imagine what will happen if climate change slows down or stops these natural food transport and "flushing" effects in waters that are often already polluted, heavily fished, damaged and stressed", said Dr. Nellemann. "We are gambling with our food supply".

Stefan Hain of UNEP's World Conservation Monitoring Centre, said it was critical that existing stresses were also addressed too in order to conserve fish stocks and coral reefs in a climate constrained world.

He said there was growing evidence that coral reefs recover from bleaching better in cleaner, less polluted waters.

Dr Hain cited monitoring of corals around the main Seychelles island of Mahé which were among corals world-wide that suffered from the high sea surface temperatures of the late 1990s. Here coral reefs recovery rates have varied between five to 70 per cent.

"Coral reefs recovering faster are generally those living in Marine Protected Areas and coastal waters where the levels of pollution, dredging and other kinds of human-induced disturbance are considered low," he said.

February 19, 2008

Hot Global Warming Blog

By all means, do contribute to the discussion...

The topic of Februrary 18th's DOT Earth Blog by Andy Revkin of the NY Times is "Global heating, Atmosphere Cancer, pollution Death. What's in a Name?" In this blog, Revkin discusses the different political impacts of how we talk about global warming. This blog is probably one of the most widely read and influential ones on the topic of global warming and has led to the NY Times including more social science analyses in its environmental coverage.

February 12, 2008

Losing Touch with Nature: A New Study

Nature recreation worldwide — from camping, hunting and fishing to park visitation — has declined sharply since the 1980s, and the negative consequences for nature and conservation could soon be profound, says this new study sponsored by The Nature Conservancy.

The study examines data from the United States, Japan and Spain on everything from backpacking to duck hunting. It builds upon earlier Conservancy-funded studies by Oliver Pergams of the University of Illinois-Chicago and Patricia Zaradic of the Environmental Leadership Program that correlated a decline in visits to U.S. National Parks with an increase in television, video game and Internet use.

Nature.org talked with Pergams and Zaradic about their latest study — and whether their findings mean that people no longer care about nature.

Human Behavior and Attitudes Effect our Environmental Future

New, important commentary on our changing attitudes.

The importance of human behavior and attitudes to our environmental future is not a new idea. It is this connection between human decisions and environmental outcomes that spurred Paul Ehrlich and Donald Kennedy to call in 2005 for a global assessment of human behaviors. What is less clear is how human environmental attitudes get shaped, and what causes those attitudes to change through time. One hypothesis is that the environmental choices humans make depend to a great measure on the connection between humans and nature, and on a broad human appreciation of nature’s constraints and workings. While attention to the human connection with nature might seem remote from the more immediate peril of a bulldozer, there is no doubt that investment in and protection of the environment will require human choices, and some changes in human behavior. Just as we track trends in species loss and forest cover as key environmental indicators, we need to pay attention to trends in human behaviors and attitudes as the ultimate drivers of global change.

Check out this relevant PDF (28 KB) document.

February 7, 2008

State of the Ocean's Animals March 21 at 10PM on PBS

JOURNEY TO PLANET EARTH: The State of the Ocean’s Animals will be rebroadcast on the PBS national schedule on Friday, March 21, at 10 pm. Originally broadcast in March of 2007, the one-hour program was PBS's highest rated show of the week.

Hosted by Academy Award winner Matt Damon, The State of the Ocean's Animals investigates why nearly half the world's marine animals may face extinction over the next twenty-five years. Locations: California, New England, Florida, Japan, China, Senegal, and the Antarctic.

A Film By Marilyn & Hal Weiner

A Screenscope Production

Major funding for Journey To Planet Earth was provided by the National Science Foundation. Additional funding was provided by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

The Greener Good: The Enviro-Active Museum

Check out The Greener Good: The Enviro-Active Museum as an example of sustainability focus in a public venue. As their Website states:

As environmental sustainability goes mainstream, many museums are finding they have an expanded role in educating on environmental issues; in turn, these museums realize benefits as they engage the public and attract support. Where once it was primarily science and children’s museums that made the public connection between interpretation and community action, now history and art museums and others, small and large, are finding that sustainability is an issue that connects their missions to local, regional and global communities in new ways.

Authors Sarah Brophy and Elizabeth Wylie are co-authors of a forthcoming book, The Green Museum: A Primer on Environmental Practice, due out this summer from AltaMira Press.

Interesting Ideas for a Warmer Planet

Marketplace reports on the efforts of engineers, scientists and governments to prepare for living with the consequences of global warming. Not too early to start considering Plan B?

Idealist.org Creating a Powerful Social Network of Creative Environment Friendly People

For example, idealist.org today highlights the development of a New York City Water Trail with recreational map for city citizens to get more familiar with their coastline. If only every community supported blue trails for connection to water that connects to the ocean.

FOCUS the nation on Global Warming Solutions

The FOCUS the Nation organization continues to impress with its outreach. Today they show a Google map of the 1,600 institutions participating in this evening's National Teach-In Day. Care to participate in that? Just tune into Earth Day Television in the US on Wednesday, January 30th, at 8pm on the east coast and 5pm on the west coast. Get your Adobe Flash 9 player embedded in your browser for access to live broadcasts and archive video.

Smart Chart 3.0 is Here

Smart Chart has released a new version of their planning tool that makes it even easier to craft winning communications plans for non-profit organizations.

The Non-Profit Congress is Online

Check out The Non-Profit Congress Web presence and promote a place where we all can empower individuals and nonprofits to act collectively for positive change.

The Story of Stuff

Annie Leonard is a friend and colleague whose work is doing for waste what Al Gore has helped do for climate change. She's made a splash with her latest video, The Story of Stuff.

60 Seconds to Save the Earth

The Alliance for Climate Protection and Current TV are proud to announce that the winners of their 60 Seconds to Save the Earth Ecospot Contest. The grand prize winning elephants make pretty great messengers, eh? Forward this on to friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors so they, too, can step into Dave's streetscape.

Ocean Adventures to Provide Strong Content in 2008

The Ocean Adventures website promotes and informs us about a great upcoming season of ocean-related viewing.

Chinese International Aquarium Congress Worth Publicizing

The Ocean Project will place the IAC 2008 logo on the homepage of The Ocean Project website and hyperlink to the IAC 2008 official website between 1 Jan 2008 and 31 Oct 2008. In return, the IAC 2008 site will link back to a TOP logo.

Lovelock Has Earned the Right...

... to have his perspective considered by us all.

Latest in Home Power Use Management

Seems like Energy Star guidelines continue to be useful for anyone trying to do the right thing at home with power consumption.

The Nonpoint Pollution Battle Continues

The Nonpoint Source (NPS) Outreach Toolbox is intended for use by state and local agencies and other organizations interested in educating the public on nonpoint source pollution or stormwater runoff. The Toolbox is a pretty neat little page/site with the lighting up tool box that contains a variety of resources to help develop an effective and targeted outreach campaign.

The Toolbox gets refined through actively surveying citizens about their understanding and actions regarding NPS.

We All Travel

As we all travel the globe trying to promote ocean-awareness and conservation, we should walk the talk. As you continue to make your 2008 travel plans, consider a Green Map as your guide.