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.

January 29, 2009

Jobs and the economy top priorities while environmental concerns slide

As one might have guessed, jobs and the economy are top of mind among Americans, according to the latest survey by Pew Research Center, and the environment and global climate change are lesser priorities at this point in time. Our Ocean Project survey findings are quite similar. In the Pew survey, climate concerns came in last among the 20 issues polled on, with only 30% of Americans saying that global warming is “a top priority,” compared with 35% in 2008. Over the past year protecting the environment fell the most precipitously of the 20 issues – just 41% rate this as a top priority today, down from 56% a year ago. Energy concerns ranked sixth in the poll — just behind education and social security — with 60% of voters endorsing it as a top priority. Get the full findings from Pew and get the New York Times' Andy Revkin's take on it.

Of course, for anyone concerned about the health of our world's ocean, we have our work cut out for us to make the ocean a priority as it's not on most people's radar screen. Linking ocean health with climate health - and making it relevant to people's lives - will be a major priority moving forward.

By the way, the World Ocean Day theme for 2009 is "one climate, one ocean, one future." Check it out - and get involved - at the WOD website.

January 19, 2009

Museums Can Help Invent a Better Future and Save the World

National Public Radio recently concluded a series entitled, "Museums In The 21st Century," exploring the history of the nation's museums and looking ahead to the future.

One of the more thought-provoking stories in this series, "Interactive Games Make Museums A Place To Play," highlighted the Center for the Future of Museums’ inaugural lecture by Dr. Jane McGonigal, a researcher and games designer with the Institute for the Future, who has been called the "guru of alternate reality games." She believes the ideas people imagine today are the keys to the planet's future — and that games have a way of pushing people to be creative problem solvers. McGonigal says museum-organized games can help invent the future and change the world, based on four elements that she claims we all need to make us happy:
1) Satisfying work to do;
2) The experience of being good at something;
3) Time spent with people we like; and
4) The chance to be a part of something bigger.
Indeed, Dr. McGonigal challenges the museum community:
“The fate of humanity hangs in the balance over whether we're going to get crowds to do anything useful or not.”

Listen to the 8-minute NPR story linked above and/or save the date: Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009, 1 p.m. EST when the Center for the Future of Museums will webcast a lecture by Dr. McGonigal on “Gaming the Future of Museums.” Participants are encouraged to put together group viewings, download the associated discussion guide and participate in online chats and activities associated with this free webcast. You can register (for free) here.

Of related interest, the Center for the Future of Museums recently released a new report: Museums & Society 2034: Trends and Potential Futures. Learn more and download a PDF of the paper here.

January 5, 2009

President Bush Creates new National Marine Monuments

President Bush created three new marine national monuments in the Pacific Ocean today, spanning 195,280 square miles. The decision to make the designations under the Antiquities Act, coming just two weeks before Bush leaves office, means that he will have protected more square miles of ocean than any person in history. In 2006 Bush created the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, an area of 138,000 square miles. Part of the new designation includes the deepest part of our planet: the nearly seven-mile-deep Mariana Trench (see image above courtesy of NOAA).

This plan had been criticized by Vice President Cheney and others as reported last month in the Washington Post.

Check out some of the underwater images from this amazing place.
Read more from the Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post.

In addition, on January 13, NOAA established eight marine protected areas in south Atlantic waters to protect spawning grounds and nursery areas for deep-water fish such as snappers and groupers. Read more at NOAA's site.