March 30, 2006

3/30 - We're Number Three!: Kiribati creates ENORMOUS M.P.A. in mid-Pacific

Conservation International and the New England Aquarium lead the way in helping create the third largest marine protected area on the planet, surpassed only by Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. It's a big step forward in trying to make the 0.5% protection of the world's oceans look something more like the 12% of the land that is protected.


0.5% down, 19.5% to go (by 2020)

Posted by Randy Olson at 06:28 AM

March 19, 2006

3/20 - "Flock of Dodos": what, when and why a movie?

I just finished watching the "60 Minutes" segment on James Hansen and the White House control of global warming science. This is a big and very real problem. You can read about it last week in The New Yorker -- Michael Specter has an article titled, "Political Science: The White House vs. the Laboratory", and of course you could have read about it in 2004 in Chris Mooney's book, "The Republican War on Science". Societies have always engaged in "revisionist history," now there seems to be a new trend of "revisionist science."

Over the past year I've written and directed a documentary feature, "Flock of Dodos: the evolution-intelligent design circus," that is a small slice of this story. I focused on the specific case of the attack on evolution and the proposed alternative of intelligent design. But my "essay" (which is pretty much what the film is) arises from 30 years of thinking, observing, and gathering thoughts. A year ago right now, as a result of my three years of working with ocean conservation, I had accumulated a number of frustrations with the environmental world's lack of understanding of mass communication, and their lack of interest in innovation. When I took a close look at the intelligent design issue (after reading David Orr's excellent article, "Unintelligent Design," in the New Yorker last May) I felt the communications defeats being experienced by the evolutionists were in part a manifestation of this same lack of appreciation of mass communication.

The film is lots of fun as I take a fairly light hearted look at the evolution/I.D. issue, but at its core, its also part of the very serious issue of the attack on mainstream science, and the slowness with which the science establishment seems to be responding. We are now fortunate -- the film's been selected for the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival which will be rocking good time for us, but I hope a little bit of the serious message will filter out as well.

And an interesting tidbit that I have now noticed about the film. I just returned from my 9th advance screening (KC, Harvard, Stony Brook, Cornell, Yale, Rice, LSU, FSU, KSU) over the past six weeks. All of the screenings have been perfect and I've gotten to the point where I know when to expect every single audience laugh in the film and how large each one will be. But there's one laugh that wasn't intended. Towards the end of the film I ask, as narrator, "Who will be the voice of evolution in the future?" and I answer it with two questions, "Will it be academic scientists who are handicapped by their blind obsession with the truth? Or will it be public relations firms who know the importance of telling simple, clean stories, not constrained by the truth?"

I wrote that text in seriousness, but every audience laughs at the line, "handicapped by their blind obsession with the truth" and I don't blame them. It's a bit surreal what's going on. It's a real problem we're facing and it's a byproduct of the information era. If you find the subject interesting, you should read Alexander Stille's "The Future of the Past," which is on our Top Ten Books List from a couple years ago.

And come to the premiere on April 30. Details for buying tickets are on the Tribeca website. It sounds pretty tough to get tickets (they only give me 5 per screening), but I think if you have an American Express card you stand a better chance. Also, you can keep an eye on our dodos website for updates.


Hope to see you there!

Posted by Randy Olson at 11:46 PM

March 09, 2006

3/9 - Trawling Taboo: NOAA protects 150,000 square miles of west coast fish habitat

Despite an 8 year campaign by the oil industry to designate 13 oil rigs as fish habitat (HAPC's -- Habitats of Particular Concern), the efforts of the Ocean Conservancy and their colleagues have prevailed.

NOAA jpeg.jpg
Ocean Protection 101: How to rebuild fish stocks

Posted by Randy Olson at 03:16 AM

March 02, 2006

3/2 - FRIDAY NIGHT WITH DR. JEREMY JACKSON: Watch him live on the WEB!!!

Planning to spend Friday night cleaning out your cat litter box? Wishing there was something better to watch than old episodes of The Golden Girls? In the mood to see a pony-tailed sexy sexagenarian who looks like Mick Jagger's older brother? Then tune into the LIVE WEBCAST of Dr. Jeremy Jackson at the University of Texas (7:00 CST) as he weaves his tale of the Brave New Oceans that lay in our future.

Jackson 5 Rushmore.jpg
Jackson 5.0: Which of these Jacksons would you most like to see in a LIVE WEBCAST this Friday night at 7:00 CST?

Posted by Randy Olson at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2006

3/2 - In a Squeaker: It's sea turtle protection, 2200, turtle killing, 1

Lest there be any doubt, the ratio of letters submitted to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council regarding their proposed expansion of drift gillnets and longline fishing were 2200 AGAINST for every 1 FOR.


For every 2200 people out there not wanting to see this image, there's one person who probably just thinks it's the cost of fishing these days

Posted by Randy Olson at 10:24 PM | Comments (0)