Nobel laureate, poet, and perhaps the finest English-language writer of any generation, died this weekend. His poetry, particularly the epic poem Omeros, which draws upon the themes of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey to tell the story of colonization, imperialism, slavery, and humanity’;s relationship to the sea over more than 8000 lines.
S.764 is originally An Act to reauthorize and amend the National Sea Grant College Program Act, and for other purposes. This was the bill that authorized funding for the National SeaGrant program, one of the flagship marine science, conservation, and fisheries agencies in the United States. Funding for Sea Grant is a truly bipartisan issue. Both sides see the value in continuing this support for ocean issues. How bipartisan? In an era of increasingly schismatic politics, the SeaGrant reauthorization bill passed the senate with unanimous support.
If you wanted to read S.764 today, however, you would be met with this:
Resolved, That the bill from the Senate (S. 764) entitled “An Act to reauthorize and amend the National Sea Grant College Program Act, and for other purposes.”, do pass with the following Amendment: This Act may be cited as the “Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015”
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.
In the spirit of the pseudoscience of astrology here are our top ten predictions for 2011, based partially on informed guesswork and mostly on Yuengling.
Largely ignored by the mainstream media, the impact of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill will continue to be felt across the Gulf Coast. BP and NOAA will continue to make it difficult for scientists to get access to sediment cores. The first developmental effects of oil and dispersant exposure to fetuses and young children will be reported.
Science will be more frequently put on trial, as politicians attempt to supplant peer-review by suing climate scientists and challenging NSF and NIH grants. This approach will backfire as more Americans come to accept global climate change and a new generation of Monkey Trials makes a mockery of anti-science politicians. Both sides will frequently pat themselves on the back and declare victory.
The Southern Fried Scientist will start raising chickens, Bluegrass Blue Crab will start raising goats, WhySharksMatter will raise some sort of ruckus.
The economy will improve, just in time for everyone to start campaigning for the 2012 election. All sides will claim responsibility for the recovery and all side will blame the opposition for the collapse. Despite almost every politician claiming responsibility for a now successful economy, most Americans won’t notice any change.
Sea Shepherd will claim their best year ever in the Southern Ocean whale campaign, despite there being no significant difference in the average number of whales killed since 2005 – 450 (+ or – 50). Theatrics will ensue.
Several large mammal species will make a comeback, as populations begin to rebound after years of conservation initiatives.
As the world population continues to grow, people will slowly begin to realize that Malthus was wrong, and that in cases such as India, demographic momentum will have massive positive benefits for quality of life, food availability, and environmental consciousness.
Every piece of plastic you used last year will still exist this year.
Sales of hybrid and electric cars will reach an all time high. I will continue to drive the same truck I’ve driven for 10 years until it won’t run, then replace it with something used.
WhySharksMatter will finish his book – Why Sharks Matter: Using New Environmentalism to Show The Economic And Ecological Importance of Sharks, The Threats They Face, and How You Can Help. He will decide to use a shorter title.
I know many scientists who aren’t politically active because they feel that many political issues don’t apply to them. I strongly disagree. If the upcoming midterm elections proceed as pundits claim, it may have disastrous consequences for American science policy. We all have a stake in this.
Earlier this year, Andrew, Amy and I wrote a series of posts called “get to know your fry-entist” which expressed our views on science and advocacy. I was happy to see that last week’s Ecological Society of America meeting had an entire symposium dedicated to this important topic. It was entitled “above the din but in the fray”, and had an impressive list of speakers. I was particularly excited to see Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island’s presentation. Senator Whitehouse is a friend of marine conservation, and is in fact married to a marine biologist.
Sadly, I was not permitted to videotape the Senator’s stirring speech… but he was gracious enough to participate in a brief interview.
I would like to thank Senator Whitehouse for taking the time to meet with me (he was in the convention center for approximately 30 minutes, which included his 20 minute speech), as well as Katie from ESA and Lisa from the Environmental Defense Fund for putting me in touch with him.
We have been and continue to be critical of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Although their goals are admirable their methods are not only ineffective, but in some cases impair the achievement of those goals. With the premier of Whale Wars season 3 tomorrow evening, we’d like to take a moment to highlight the issues we’ve raised concerning the SSCS. Over the last two years we’ve written a number of post summarizing our problems with Sea Shepherd: