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.

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.