April 29, 2005

2/29 - Donna Frye's Battle Against "the shifting baseline of corruption in San Diego City Hall"

She's in our new Surfrider Slide Show, "Shifting Baselines in the Surf," (which will be released on May 22). Last Sunday night we had a little sneak preview of the slide show at a reception at Scripps Birch Aquarium. She showed up. When it was over, on her way out, she grabbed me and said, "I think it's time I started talking about the shifting baseline of corruption in San Diego City Hall."

And the next morning the San Diego Mayor, Dick Murphy announced his surprise resignation, after having been chosen by Time Magazine the previous week as one of the nation's three most corrupt mayors.

Check out this wonderful excerpt from an LA Times article on it all:

Councilman Scott Peters said: "San Diego is like a child of the Depression — cheap, scared and risk-averse."
Donna and friends.jpg
Donna Frye: Now center stage, as it should be

Posted by Randy Olson at 02:38 AM

April 28, 2005

4/28 - Hyper-Polarization: California Fishing People Declare Their Loyalties

Check this out -- a series of letters in the LA Times in response to last week's article by Gary Polakovic in which (big surprise!) the fishermen say there's lots o'fish, and the environmentalists say the fish be gone. Could the situation be any more clearly polarized?


Posted by Randy Olson at 06:13 PM

4-28 The Disillusioned Words of a California Recreational Fisherman

Keeping in mind that I am but the messenger here ... since the January explosion of the Tiny Fish PSA in the Central California coast region I have conducted a large amount of individual communication with about a dozen fishermen in that region. Here's an excerpt from an e-mail this morning from one of the best and most impartial of them (i.e. he supports the idea of MPAs if well thought out) which gives insight in the sad state of things:

I walked into this MLPA issue with my eyes wide open. I had heard a
lot of negative things from fishermen regarding the environmental
community but I still felt that it was more of a communication issue.
My feeling now is that I was a naive fool for ever considering that to
be the case. The writing is on the wall that there is a clear drive by
a select few to stop fishing. It is unfortunate because I really
thought that if the two sides ever could come together they would be
impossible to stop. Recreational fishing is not the enemy yet we are
being vilified even more so than the worst of the worst industrial
fisheries. When was the last time you heard NRDC scream about bottom
trawling or the nearshore "live fish" market? I am hopeful that
Oceana will be that reasonable voice although I am skeptical. Its
unfortunate that these groups (really a few individuals) have been
able to garner so much influence in the scientific community and are
now attempting to buy the policy making authority in California.

Again, no need to attack me. I'm just trying to provide some insights into the inner sentiments of the fishing community and convey a clear picture of how things are, which is not the happy partnership between fishermen and environmentalists that is sometimes projected by a few.

Posted by Randy Olson at 09:50 AM

4/28 - Catfeeeesh Tale

From The  Sunday WichitaEagle Newspaper: A  resident in the area saw a ball bouncing around kind of strange in a nearby  pond and went to investigate. It turned out to be a flathead catfish who had  obviously tried to swallow a child's basketball which became stuck in its  mouth.    
The fish  was totally exhausted from trying to dive, but unable to because the ball would always  bring him back up to the surface. The resident tried numerous times to get the ball out, but was  unsuccessful. He finally had his wife cut the ball in order to deflate it  and release the hungry catfish.
Bob the catfish thought he had a career in the NBA, but swam off dejected when his slam dunk effort had to be surgically removed

Posted by Randy Olson at 02:11 AM

April 26, 2005

4/26 - Jeremy Jackson Profile in NY Times!!!

The good, the bad, and the mention of our retarded Jackson Five photoshop creation (see below on April 8), it's all there in the Cornelia Dean NY Times profile of the good Doctor Jackson. Its a pretty accurate picture of the man -- huge ego, domineering personality, brilliant speaker, very, very solid and highly respected scientist.

BUT there is one unfortunate quote of Ira Rubinoff claiming Jeremy is "intolerant of colleagues who don't see things the way he does." That is simply incorrect.

What he definitely is, is always desperately in pursuit of people who don't agree with him so he can have a good, well-humored argument. But to use the term "intolerant" (which in this day and age is most commonly used in discussions of racism or supremacy, i.e. the Museum of Intolerance) is very unfair and again, simply wrong.
Three years of working with him and I'm still his biggest fan

Posted by Randy Olson at 12:58 PM

April 19, 2005

4/19 - HIS WORDS (not mine): LA Times writer says "No Big Fish in California"

Sorry California fishermen, I'm just posting 'em as I see 'em. I'm only the messenger. You'll probably want to write to Gary Polakavic at the LA Times if you don't agree with his observations. Here's how he starts: "My first trip deep-sea fishing off Southern California was so disappointing that I quit early — the only time that has ever happened."

On a more ocean conservation-related note, WHY, oh why, is this writer calling the lack of big fish off California a "dirty little secret," and what does that tell us about how effectively the ocean conservation movement has managed to communicate a simple problem to the mass audience? Its the same problem that caused none of the California tv stations to know our Tiny Fish PSA was controversial.


The Good Old Days: Author Zane Grey with swordfish caught of Catalina

Posted by Randy Olson at 06:46 PM

4/19 - New SB Slide Show w/Surfrider to Screen at Inspiration Film Festival on Sunday

I guess that confirms it. Our new slide show is officially "inspiring," which must be why the judges chose it to show at the first annual Inspiration Film Festival. It will play right before what looks to be an excellent new independent feature film, "Loggerheads." And don't tell anyone this, but its still not even finished -- awaiting the final music score and Flash programming, which will be complete by May 22, the date when it will be officially released and posted on our website. Then everyone can feel inspired. Yea!
ins film fest jpeg.jpg
"Shifting Baselines in the Surf" will screen on Sunday night

Posted by Randy Olson at 09:43 AM

April 18, 2005

4/ 18 - Mark Dowie Week in L.A.

Please tell everyone you know in L.A. to join us on Wednesday afternoon, 4:30, at USC for the big Mark Dowie event (the announcement is further down this page). Probably won't have any blog posts this week as its going to be very busy.
Former Mother Jones editor and Pulitzer Prize nominated author Mark Dowie

Posted by Randy Olson at 01:47 AM

April 15, 2005

4/15 - Testing of 8 NYC Restaurants: "Wild Salmon" is actually farmed for all but one

This is a wonderful article for all salmon fans. When they tested "wild salmon" from 8 restaurants in New York, only one turned out to be genuinely wild. They are able to tell this by testing the astaxanthin pigment which makes salmon pink. Farm raised salmon have to be fed an artificial form of astaxanthin which is distinguishable from the natural form.


Just to be clear, this is NOT a wild caught salmon.

Posted by Randy Olson at 05:42 PM

4/15 - Better than a Liger: It's a "wholpin"

What do you get when a whale and a dolphin mate?
wholpin jpeg.jpg
A whale of a hybrid

Posted by Randy Olson at 10:00 AM | Comments (1)

April 14, 2005

4/14 - Hooray for Spam!

The bastards. They did it. They won. The spam load on our Comments sections has become overwhelming, so we've finally decided to close all the comments other than the last few. But please feel free to e-mail me any time at info@shiftingbaselines.org with any comments you want posted and we'll do our best.

Posted by Randy Olson at 01:45 PM

4/13 - "Farming the Seas" Documentary to Air on PBS Over Next Couple Weeks

From Habitat Media, the producers of "Empty Oceans, Empty Nets," now comes "Farming the Seas." Here's their press release, and here are some of the scheduled air dates:

SEATTLE on KCTS-9 Saturday April 16TH at 11pm
PHILADELPHIA on WHYY-12 Sunday April 17th at 6pm
NEW JERSEY on all NJN stations Monday April 18th at 9pm
AUSTIN on KLRU-18 on Monday April 18th at 9pm
MIAMI on WPBT-67 Tuesday April 19th at 11pm
SAN FRANCISCO on KQED-9 Thursday April 21st at 9pm
BOSTON on WGBH-2 EARTH DAY Friday April 22nd at 10pm
SOUTH CAROLINA on all ETV stations Sunday April 24th at 5pm
ATLANTA on WGTV-8 Sunday April 24th at 3pm
HOUSTON on KUHT-8 Wedneday April 27th at 10pm
Draining the shrimp pond

Posted by Randy Olson at 10:43 AM

April 12, 2005

4/12 - Why We Don't Want to Slaughter Sharks

It defies the common sense of the uneducated masses. Sharks eat humans, we should get rid of them. Making the case to defend them seems as hopeless as making the case to protect an endangered species of mosquito. But here's a newly published study (with one of the authors being long time SB fan Enric Sala of Scripps) that presents a model for a Caribbean marine ecosystem showing what happens when you remove the sharks. It's not good.
Your friend, the shark

Posted by Randy Olson at 10:30 AM

April 11, 2005

4/11 - Its Grunion Time Again in Socal!

Like annual clockwork, it's time for the little fishies to come ashore and lay their eggs.

scrumping grunions.jpg

Scrumping grunions!

Posted by Randy Olson at 01:59 AM

4/11 - Calling All Reef Fish

Pretty simple concept. Australian fish ecologists made fake reefs, some with submersible speakers emitting the sound of a natural reef, others without. The reefs with speakers got more fish. And not surprisingly, a third set of reefs with the sound of a frying pan attracted no fish.


Bah, humbug (fish)

Posted by Randy Olson at 01:56 AM

April 08, 2005

4/8 - The Jackson Five

It's Friday. We earned this.
Jackson 5 Rushmore.jpg
Jesse, Michael, Jeremy, Andrew and Shoeless Joe

Posted by Randy Olson at 02:07 PM | Comments (1)

4/8 - The Coral Reef Debate: Palumbi endorses the Pandolfi et al. Science article

There's a long standing problem among coral reef ecologists. Some don't want to draw any conclusions until the data are very, very convincing. Others feel there will be no coral reefs left if we wait for that point. This was clear way back 15 years ago when the data showed a series of coral reef bleaching events that matched the years of warmest temperatures in the 1980's. Some scientists immediately jumped onto this pattern saying it was proof that warm water causes coral bleaching. Others criticized them for being too hasty. But now, 15 years later, its clear that those folks who jumped to conclusions quickly were ... right.

And yet, even though there is pretty clear consensus that warm water causes bleaching, there's still a lack of consensus on what's killing coral reefs. In this short article in Nature, our buddy Steve Palumbi (SB Photo Contest judge last summer) reaches back 100 years to the postulates that Koch developed to assess what causes someone to be sick, suggesting that the same rules might be appropriate for evaluating coral reef problems today.
Coral Today jpeg.jpg
Can we treat coral reef decline like it was a bacterial infection of the oceans?

Posted by Randy Olson at 12:45 AM

April 06, 2005

4/6 - Thirty Years of Bogusness? California Coastal Commission is challenged in Supreme Court

Thirty years of doing their best to protect California's inundated coastline produces lots of enemies, most of whom are laying in wait as the California Supreme Court gets ready to hear a challenge to the entire legitimacy of the California Coastal Commission. Personally, I put my stock in California's hippest environmental lawyer who says in the San Diego Tribune:

"The appointment process and that balance is at the heart of the Commission's integrity and their ability to withstand the intense lobbying for coastal development," said Mark Massara, the Sierra Club's director of coastal programs. "We are unwilling to give any one person in state government the ability to control and manipulate the process – The stakes are too high."


CCC: California's Coolest Counsellor, Mark Massara of Sierra Club

Posted by Randy Olson at 03:55 AM

April 05, 2005

4/5 - The Coral Reef Slippery Slope to Slime Paper: What's not to like?

Certain coral reef scientists are quite irate at the moment. No doubt about it. Definitely in Florida, maybe in Hawai'i, too. And yet I don't see how you could not like a paper that simply calls attention to the sad state of decline of American (i.e. Floridian) coral reefs and urges increased efforts in addressing all sources of coral reef stress. Maybe somebody wants to explain to me what's not to like in this article? Here is the article itself. Download file
slippery graph.jpg
A simple sample from the slippery slope statement.

Posted by Randy Olson at 01:50 AM

April 04, 2005

4/4 - "The Slippery Slope": Science Essay Shakes Up Florida Keys Coral Reefs Issues

SB Co-founder Dr. Jeremy Jackson was the second author, of eleven co-authors, of an essay last week (March 18) in Science seeking to call more attention to the decline of Florida's coral reefs by presenting the simple statement of the situation: "Florida's reefs are well over halfway towards ecological extinction ... Large predatory fishes continue to decrease, reefs are increasingly dominated by seaweed and alarming diseases have emerged." This is all consistent with our lenticular coral reef images. But a number of scientists are hard at work on letters to the editor of Science to voice their objection to what they see as over-simplifications, misplaced priorities and
misstatements of fact in the essay. Stay tuned.


Florida Coral Reefs: Check 'em out while they last.

Posted by Randy Olson at 02:48 AM

April 03, 2005

4/3 - EDITORIAL: Communicating Environmentalism: Sad, sad, sad ...

The nice thing about "Enviro Bitch and Mope Fest 2005" (i.e. all the enviro critiques since November) is that I no longer have to say much, other than point to the essays being written that match my complaints of the past two years. On Friday The Grist published an article that just illustrates the sad, sad, sad state of environmental communication -- adrift in a sea of crisis.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the article, plus a good article in last week's New Yorker on advertising.
Expert advice from George Lakoff: Next time don't hire me, I'm too busy for you guys.

Posted by Randy Olson at 12:36 PM

April 02, 2005

4/2 - Big Jump in SB Website Traffic for March: Another record month

Keeps getting busier, getting very close to averaging 1000 visitors/day with at least 500 a day visiting the SB Blog, though at least a quarter of the traffic is spam (ugh). And our total all-time visitors (for the two years we've been up) just exceeded a quarter of a million, with total "hits" (for whatever that's worth) passing 25 million.

March web traffic.jpg
Onward and upward

Posted by Randy Olson at 08:33 AM