November 22, 2005

11/22 - The TBS "Earth to America" Special: knowing the value of "unfocused media"

Congratulations to Laurie David for Sunday night's 2 hour TBS Special, "Earth to America," that pulled together an amazing cast of comic performers to accomplish the specific goal of ... not much. But that's a sincere compliment.

It's called "unfocused media." Its what caused at least one major ocean conservation group to walk away from Shifting Baselines with disgust. And its something that is absolutely needed, so I mean it when I say the Earth to America event was excellent.

There is a large scale conditioning and suspicion that develops in the broad audience when every time you start to talk about the environment you want something out of them. People just get sick of your subject and come to associate you with either begging or guilt tripping. At the broadest of all levels, its good to give the audience an occasional break and reward them with something that isn't so heavy or overbearing.

That's what they did with Earth to America. And unfortunately there are some pea brains out there, like this reviewer for the Hollywood Reporter, who aren't aware of any larger horizons at which this sort of event plays out.

We've been through the same criticisms with our PSAs. You just have to know there is a need and benefit from this sort of broad media. And you know how you know this -- you feel it in your gut, which I'm guessing is the case for the Earth to America folks.

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Unfocused Media: if you think that every activity has to have an immediate goal, you're probably part of the problem today

Posted by Randy Olson at 08:26 AM

November 16, 2005

11/16 - Shifting Baselines in the Cayman Islands

Here's a nice essay on yet another place where folks run the risk of losing track of change, the Cayman Islands.

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Remembering a time in the Cayman Islands when blue iguanas were more abundant

Posted by Randy Olson at 12:07 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2005

11/11 - Congress Comes to its Senses: Offshore oil drilling issue dropped (for the time being)

A dumb idea at a dumb time meets with the proper fate.


Bad Idea #4377: we're runnning out of oil, let's go destroy our coastlines

Posted by Randy Olson at 12:07 PM | Comments (1)

November 10, 2005

11/10 - A Congresswoman Who Rocks: Linda T. Sanchez (D-Ca)

Check out this great letter we received yesterday from California Representative Linda Sanchez (her district includes part of Long Beach, but is mostly inland from there). I showed it to a friend who said, "Oh, another member of congress who wants to talk big about the environment," BUT then he actually began reading the letter and said, "Whoa, look at all this stuff she's been doing -- this person is for real!"

She was elected in 2002, then re-elected last fall. And look at what she talks about in her letter -- instead of just doing the usual political thing and pushing boring legislation along, she got in there on the federal transportation bill and steered it in the direction of innovative, environmentally friendly infrastructure. Let's hear it for innovation and inspiration. This letter goes into the SB Hall of Fame. We actually inspired someone important!

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Quick, somebody nominate this congresswoman for an environmental award!

Posted by Randy Olson at 01:04 AM | Comments (2365)

November 08, 2005

11/9 - HELLO ... pardon us while we REPEAT our mention of this GRIM OCEAN article

Sorry, but this is the bottom line. It's what we started this whole Shifting Baselines project for three years ago. Yes, we know that it upsets a lot of people to know the truth and to not have an instant "solution to the problem." But we still figure that the only thing worse is to not know the truth. Dr. Jeremy Jackson and I spent two hours on the phone this evening discussing this article and the brave work that WWF has been doing in stating the cold, hard truth of how badly we are losing the environmental struggle.

This article in the New Scientist says it all. In 2002 the officials at the big South Africa World Parks Congress boldly, optimistically, and pretty much blindly called for at least 20% of the world's oceans to be protected by 2012. Its now almost 3 years since then. The current estimate is that about 0.5% is protected. And according to the article the open ocean is virtually out of control with illegal fishing running rampant and nations making bold proclamations with no actions to accompany the words.

It's bad. I'm not sure how it gets solved, but I know it has to begin with everyone at least knowing the basic facts that are in this article. And I get so tired of telling people that the ocean's supply of fish is limited and having them say, "Really?" in disbelief. It's definitely bad.

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Between their State of the Planet Report for 2004 and these two recent ocean reports, WWF seems to be doing a really good job of stating the dire, plain truth about how bad things are looking for nature

Posted by Randy Olson at 11:56 PM | Comments (1617)

11/8 - Pacific Grim: Two depressing reports on the grim fate of the world's oceans

They're saying it, not me. Check out this article about two recent reports from WWF about the lawlessness and plundering still happening unabated in the world's oceans. It says ships are even being built specifically to evade regulations. It talks about a recent conference in which the reports made for "depressing listening." I hate to sound too much like my hero, Jeremy Jackson, but the outlook, according to this article, is pretty bleak.

Hard times for the high seas

Posted by Randy Olson at 02:25 AM

November 04, 2005

11/4 - Fiji Leads the Way: a major commitment to MPAs

Why not? You live in paradise. People come from all around the world to see your beautiful resources. Why not protect what you have. It's a simple concept. If only this mentality prevailed in the U.S. these days.


Fiji: Protecting (rather than paving) paradise

Posted by Randy Olson at 12:35 PM

November 03, 2005

11/4 - More Shifting Seafood Menu Studies

Now its on This says they have studied 10,000 menus. Wow. I wonder if any of them offered barnacles or sea squirts (as they do in South America).

Always on the menu: Giant barnacles with melted butter

Posted by Randy Olson at 12:36 PM

November 02, 2005

11/2 - Another Record Breaking Month at Shifting Baselines

Web traffic is approaching averaging 1500 visitors a day. And check out our profile in Orion on-line magazine (also, notice the cover article for Orion is by our #1 Enviro Hero & Rabble Rouser, Mark Dowie).

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Lots o' visitors

Posted by Randy Olson at 10:16 AM