If I had the time and energy I'd like to do some random polling of people on the street, asking them to, "List the top five crises of today." Let's see ... what do you think they would go with? Definitely terrorism and tsunami. Probably education. Probably gas prices. Maybe gay marriage (clearly an American identity crisis). What else? Definitely the AIDS crisis. The jobs crisis. The Janet Jackson breast crisis (seriously, its indicative of the moral values crisis).
After they got through about ten crises, most of which would probably be based on phrases they had heard repeatedly on the evening news, they would probably look at me and say, "okay, so what are you looking to hear?" And I'd say, "um ... the ocean crisis?" And they would say, "Huh?"
Yet, here, once again, is another OpEd published today in the San Jose Mercury that states, verbatim, "Our oceans are in crisis." This one is from Leon Panetta (head of the Pew Ocean Commission) and Andy Sharpless (head of Oceana). They're doing what they can. Its just sad. Either there is or there isn't an ocean crisis. If there is, there ought to be some sense of urgency being conveyed to the public through effective mass media (which means television). But there ain't.
I remember hearing from a number of major ocean conservation folks, three years ago when I first entered into this world, that they felt, "you shouldn't alarm the public about a problem that they can't do something themselves to solve." So much strange logic. And so few people in the public thinking the oceans are in crisis. And such a hard case to make when everyone going to the beach sees no evidence of it and finds plenty of fish in their stores. But that is what mass media is supposed to be for -- to help people see what is not
confronting them every day.
(and p.s. - I hate to be a skeptic, but are we really, really sure that North Atlantic right whales are in crisis? This OpEd opens by listing them as part of the evidence of the ocean crisis, but I remember 25 years ago teaching in Boston and lecturing on the fact that there were only a couple hundred of them left, which is still the size of the population, if not larger. I'm just asking, are we really, really sure that meets the definition of a crisis?)
Der crisis? Ya or nein?Posted by Randy Olson at January 12, 2005 05:21 PM