U.S. flag on the wreck of the Speigel Grove. Photo by Scott Hughes, via Wikimedia Commons
On Tuesday, after what seems like an eternity of campaigning, millions of Americans will head to the polls to vote for our next President. Voters will consider numerous important issues, such as the economy, national security, and the endorsement of Lindsay Lohan. Recent polling indicates that Americans are split, and the election is expected to be very close. On an issue near and dear to my heart, the conservation of the ocean and marine life, one candidate is by far the best choice. I endorse President Barack Obama for re-election.
After promising to “restore science to its rightful place” in his 2009 inauguration speech, there are indeed many successes in conservation and science that President Obama can boast of. He has invested unprecedented amounts of Federal money in alternative energy sources, which, despite the bankruptcy of a few companies, will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change and ocean acidification- as will increased fuel efficiency standards. Early action resulted in conservation of wilderness rivers and trails, and Federal Everglades restoration funding has increased. Restrictions on stem cell research were greatly reduced, and mercury pollution was restricted by the EPA. Race to the top programs have improved science and math education in several states.
On ocean issues, the Obama administration has been a leader domestically and internationally. For the first time, the United States has a National Ocean Policy, which aims to reduce conflicts between different ocean stakeholders. President Obama signed both the Shark Conservation Act and the Billfish Conservation Act, which, despite being imperfect, are strong legal tools to protect charismatic and ecologically important top predators- and numerous other successes in improving the management of U.S. shark fisheries are detailed here. The Obama administration has aggressively pursued fisheries conservation internationally, at CITES, regional fisheries management organization meetings, and the Convention on Migratory Species.
Continue reading Presidential Endorsement: On ocean conservation issues, the choice is clear. Obama 2012
In response to the partisan gridlock in Washington DC, a group called Americans Elect hopes to “open up the political process”. This organization, founded by heavy hitters from both parties, is using the internet to allow anyone registered to vote in the United States, regardless of political affiliation, to nominate candidates for President of the United States. An online convention in June, which every registered Americans Elect user can participate in, will determine the nominee. who will be on official ballots in every state alongside Barack Obama and the Republican nominee (probably Romney but we’ll see).
Additionally, any registered Americans Elect user can propose a question. The top questions, as voted on by all other Americans Elect users, will have to be answered by any potential candidate. These top questions, and the Americans Elect candidates’ responses to them, will undoubtedly attract national media coverage. Presently, most of the top questions are about the economy and foreign policy. None focus on the oceans.
I have submitted a series of marine conservation questions, and I need your help to get them enough votes to earn them “top question” status and get marine conservation into the national political conversation! If you are registered to vote in the United States, please consider registering for Americans Elect and voting for these questions.
Continue reading Get marine conservation into the national political conversation with Americans Elect!
Ted Danson (yes, that Ted Danson) isn’t your typical ocean activist. Though he is best known as the bartender on Cheers, he has been actively involved in marine conservation issues for more than 25 years. While living in California to work on Cheers, he took a walk on the beach with his daughters. When they came across a sign that read “water polluted, no swimming”, he didn’t know how to explain to his disappointed children what was wrong with the ocean. He decided to learn more, began to work with local scientists and conservationists, and eventually co-founded the American Oceans Campaign (one of the founding members of Oceana) Danson’s decades of knowledge of and passion for the oceans are clear in his new book, “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans And What We Can Do to Save Them”.
Continue reading Book Review: Saving the Oceans 101