Happy Holidays from the Southern Fried Science Team!
Fog Horn (A Call to Action)
Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)
- Do-it-yourself science is taking off. A growing movement seeks to make the tools of science available to everyone (including you). I love that The Economist now has a “Punk Science” heading.
- Palau now requires all tourists to sign an environmental pledge when they enter the country. All flights in now feature this delightful short film.
Fog Horn (A Call to Action)
Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)
The 90’s were a big decade for the environmental movement. The media landscape was filled with environmentally-themed programming. Major laws in the US and internationally were passed to protect the planet. Formative events galvanized, diversified, and sometimes radicalized the conservation community. And, like many other of our generation, we came of age right in the middle of it.
Here are 25 signs that your laid the foundation for your environmental ethic squarely in the 1990’s. Happy Holidays from Southern Fried Science.
1. Captain Planet taught us that “The Power is Yours!”
You knew this would be on the list, so let’s get it out of the way. Moving on.
Lindsey Peavey is a PhD student in the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a marine ecologist whose research seeks to find a sustainable balance between human resource use and species conservation. You can follow her work on Twitter (@lepeavey) and her blog, turtlesinthedeep.org.
Last December, I sat down to enjoy a pizza pie and draft beer with my friend Neal, a 6-foot, 5-inch, 280-lb. (think offensive lineman), die-hard conservative republican. He was giddy with excitement to talk with me about one of his favorite TV shows, Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars.” Knowing that I’m a tree hugger by nature and a marine biologist by trade, he thought an hour of “Save the whales!” camaraderie was ahead. He was shocked when I let out a long sigh and confessed, “I’m not a fan of Whale Wars.”
Neal was completely deflated. He demanded to know why I didn’t like the show. Shouldn’t I, of all people, be Sea Shepherd’s No. 1 fan? I offered my gripes: It’s outrageously expensive to operate a vessel like Sea Shepherd’s SSS Steve Irwin in the extremely volatile and dangerous environment of intercepting Japanese whaling vessels in the Antarctic — on the order of tens of thousands of dollars a day. Although funds are available to support these operations, the return on investment is unclear. How many whales are actually being saved?
Every year, the number of non-governmental organizations (NGO’s for short) committed to reducing climate change, saving the ocean, developing alternative energy sources, cutting down plastic use, not cutting down forests, or myriad other worthy causes, grows. Many of these organizations are staffed by committed, hard-working environmentally minded advocates struggling to make a difference. But, with so many NGO’s out there, and more being founded, how are concerned citizens expected to know which NGO’s are effective, which best match their ideals, and, most important, which NGO’s are worthy of their donations (either of money of of volunteer time). To alleviate this problem, I’ve assembled a set of 5 relatively simple guidelines to help you evaluate and select a conservation NGO that fits your values and gets the job done.
1. Determine how well the NGO incorporates local and indigenous stakeholder groups into their programs.
I’ve started here because this is the most difficult to assess but, by far, the most important. The most successful NGO’s seek out local stakeholders for consultation. The very best include local stakeholders among their employees, at high management positions. The reasons for this should be obvious: local stakeholders are familiar with the political and social climate of the region in which they’re working. They have personal connections to key decision makers in the community. Stakeholders are more sympathetic to a conservation message when that message is being delivered by respected members of their community, rather than purely by outsiders. Without local support, many conservation initiatives are doomed to failure.
Palau’s new shark sanctuary covers 600,000 square kilometers of almost all open ocean, making patrolling for outlaws a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack. In addition, Palau is attempting to make its new sanctuary a model for marine conservation for other small island nations, many of which are more water than land. So the eyes of the Pacific, if not the world, are on Palau to set a model. And they’re going to need help – but the big question is from whom?
From the Guardian:
Japan has temporarily suspended its annual whale hunt in the Antarctic after anti-whaling activists obstructed its fleet’s mother ship.
Officials in Tokyo have conceded that this year’s mission, which had again been the target of international criticism, had not gone as well as hoped and the fleet may be called home early, according to reports.
Tatsuya Nakaoku, a fisheries agency official, said the decision was taken after the mother ship, the Nisshin Maru, was “harassed” by members of the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd.
“Putting a priority on safety, the fleet has halted scientific whaling for now,” he said. “We are currently considering what to do next.”
Obviously this blog has been no friend of Sea Shepherd, and we continue to remain skeptical. However, as I said in several years ago, “If they effectively end Mediterranean Tuna fishing, or whaling in the southern ocean, or sealing in Canada, or shark finning in the Galapagos, I’ll gladly admit I’m wrong. But nothing they’ve done in the last 32 years have convinced me that they will succeed.” Well, this would unquestionably count as a victory for the moment, so job well done. Whether this is a real, permanent solution or simply a blip in the political landscape will be revealed in time.
I still question the sustainability of a direct action campaign that requires the sheer amount of time and resources that the SSCS Antarctic whaling campaigns require, how this will play out in the Japanese media, and whether there are other pieces in play here, but for now, enjoy your victory Sea Shepherd, it’s been a long time coming.
Happy New Year to all our readers! 2010 was a big year for Southern Fried Science. We added a new blogger, moved to our own server, and launched The Gam. Along the way we’ve won a few awards, hosted the first Ocean of Pseudoscience week, cooked a whole pig, exposed some blatant greenwashing, challenged conventional wisdom, laid out the shark ultimatum, crunched the numbers on mercury (twice!), and had some fun along the way. After 365 days, Charlie completed his epic adventure, which spanned three continents and an ocean. I’d like to thank all our readers and commenters for participating last year, and I look forward to hearing from you in 2011.
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.
What are your predictions for 2011?
~Southern Fried Scientist
eBay has been running a contest called “My Nonprofit” for the last month. The three non-profit charities with the most votes will receive $15,000; $10,000; and $5,000 from eBay. Finalists include worthy charities such as the American Red Cross, Race for the Cure, and Doctors Without Borders. As of right now, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is winning. Yikes.
Please go to the contest website and vote…for someone other than Sea Shepherd. The contest closes on July 4th.
We sparked a good debate over the effectiveness of direct action conservation movements over at the post “Is Sea Shepherd really saving whales?” One of the most difficult questions raised was if Sea Shepherd wasn’t there, would the Japanese make their full quota? The data presented in that post was inconclusive, because the quota increase corresponded to the beginning of SSCS’s Southern Ocean campaign, so we have no time period in which the Japanese quota was increased while Sea Shepherd was absent.