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.