Posted on April 25th, 2010 No comments
Get ready for a special CMBC event this coming Monday from 12-1:30. Matt Huelsenbeck, current CMBC MAS student, has organized a screening of Natural Resource Defense Council’s film “Acid Test: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification” to be followed by a Q&A session on ocean acidification with Scripps scientists and graduate students. Movie running time is just over 20 minutes.
No need to study. See you at “Acid Test” on Monday.
Posted on April 22nd, 2010 No comments
As a CMBC graduate, I’m surprised to find that I just can’t convince certain skeptics that Climate Change is real and caused by humans. If these skeptics are elderly motor-heads, any discussion of climate change becomes an attack on their way of life and love of cars. Although I can cite specific research like the Keeling Curve, or even speak of specific man-caused climate events like the Dust Bowl and Lanai’s first rain storm (because of the planting of thousands of Norfolk Pines), these claims seem to fall on deaf and sometimes steaming ears.
I’d like to start a discussion on what evidence has been successful in convincing the most skeptical people that climate change and carbon concentrations are a) increasing b) due to human activities and c) will have a catastrophic effect on our way of life if left unchecked.
Or in other words: How can I coax my dad’s car buddies into recycling?
Posted on April 22nd, 2010 No comments
Finally, it arrived! The new documentary “Oceans” of Disneynature. With the narration of Pierce Brosnan, filmmakers Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud dive into an ocean full of breathtaking images and conservation problems. “Human indifference is surely the oceans’ greatest threat,” quotes The New York Times’ review from the film’s narration.
See it this opening week (April 22-28) and Disneynature will donate $.20 of your ticket to The Nature Conservancy. Enjoy!
Posted on April 9th, 2010 No comments
Here at the CMBC, it’s easy for our focus on global problems and major marine issues to dominate what we discuss while neglecting to see the smaller picture that is often just outside our own office windows. That’s when and where community-based non-profits such as Santa Monica’s Heal the Bay take action to bring these local issues to back to our attention.
Currently plastic debris in our oceans is one of the emerging problems facing marine managers as studies and anecdotal observations are pointing towards major environmental impacts. Vast amounts of polystryrenes, plastics, and derelict fishing gear are being found in all the worlds oceans.
In the state of California, single-use plastic bags are recognized as one of the most common items making there way into our land fills and storm drains. They are also one of the easiest items for us to replace in our everyday lives. That’s why Heal the Bay is launching it’s “Trash your Friends” campaign. By encouraging citizens to sign an a prepared on-line letter, HTB hopes to persuade Governor Schwarzenegger to actively support AB 1998, a state house bill banning single -use plastic bags in California. It’s a classic example of thinking globally and acting locally and it’s about time.
Posted on April 8th, 2010 No comments
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) certainly need some actual “teeth” to regulate the killing of whales. But I can’t help but feel like we’re listening to Charlie Brown negotiate the rules of a football game with Lucy when we listen to IWC politics. “I don’t mind the dishonesty – half as much as I mind your opinion of me; you must think I’m stupid”, says Charlie Brown just before he gets duped… again!!
The dysfunctional nature of the IWC, the international body charged with ” safeguarding for future generations the great natural resources represented by the whale stocks” is not a new discussion, and may be the one issue on which both sides of the whaling debate can come together and raise a glass.This year’s annual meeting of the IWC, slated for next month in the Moroccan city of Agadir, will be particularly heated given these ongoing negotiations aimed at reform.
Is it a fool’s errand to negotiate a compromise with nations blatantly disregarding existing international agreements set in place to protect whales? These nations have elected instead to pursue unregulated and unsustainable exploitation of ocean natural resources despite international agreements, and despite the best biologists in the world strongly recommending otherwise.
Trying to reform a dysfunctional IWC is admirable. Closing loopholes like “scientific whaling” is admirable. Trying to reduce the total number of whales caught is admirable. But, in an America constantly polarized by political issues, one unifying moral and cultural characteristic of our society is that we no longer like to see whales and dolphins killed (hence the recent success of the film ‘The Cove’) except when human subsistence depends on it. Why would we want to send a delegation on our behalf to compromise, on an issue when our principles about this issue are so ubiquitously united?
Are we attempting to “safeguard… the whale stocks” as stated by the IWC’s mission or are we Charlie Brown about to get duped?
Posted on April 7th, 2010 No comments
On Saturday April 3rd the Chinese tanker Shen Neng 1 grounded on Douglas Shoals in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The area has shipping restrictions in order to protect the GBR- it is the world’s largest barrier reef and a World Heritage site. However, Douglas Shoals is part of a shortcut often used by shipping vessels. The Australian government responded quickly, sending out two tugboats to stabalize the Shen Neng 1 and prevent it from breaking apart, and deploying a boom to contain leaking oil. But it may take several weeks to dislodge and remove the ship, and in the meantime it is continuing to grind up and down the coral reef in ocean swells. The ship’s owner, Shenzhen Energy, a subsidiary of the Cosco Group that is China’s largest shipping operator, could be fined up to 1 million Australian dollars ($920,000) for straying from a designated shipping lane used by 6,000 cargo vessels each year.
Now, I could go on a very long diatribe about yet another reason to stop burning coal on an industrial scale for power, and how sad we should all be that Nemo and his home of cnidarian friends were crunched to death.
But then we’d just all feel depressed. Instead, I’ve tried to consider the positive aspects of this tragic and appalling event.
The Australian government has responded rapidly and effectively, setting precedent for other catastrophes in marine parks.
The ship’s owner will likely be held to a hefty fine, perhaps deterring the company from taking these shortcuts again.
Most importantly, this incident is leading to an increase in monitoring and patrolling of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which will hopefully prevent future ship traffic and groundings. Although the Shen Neng 1 crash is a disaster, it could have been much, much worse and further enforcement may prevent a truly terrible catastrophe.
Yes, my heart is still torn apart for the 400 species of coral, 200 species of birds, 30 species of marine mammals, and whopping 1500 species of fish that live on the Great Barrier Reef. But I feel a tiny bit better knowing that so many other people are equally distraught and using this event as a catalyst to improve the future.
Posted on April 2nd, 2010 No comments
Sorry for the two-day delay on posting this April 1 gem, guys. This post is in honor of CMBC’s Summer Martin, recently back from the Ice and hanging out with the (flying) penguins. Cheers!
Posted on April 1st, 2010 No comments
With the CITES COP completed in Doha, what new listings did we end up with? For the marine world: none. The major proposed marine organisms that came up– bluefin tuna, red and pink coral, and several shark proposals– all failed. So why can’t we figure out how to make some of these ocean icons as popular as elephants when it comes to conservation? I’m open to your ideas on that. Perhaps because these giants aren’t as visible as terrestrial animals? Because we love tuna (or rather “tunafish”) sandwiches? Because it’s fun to wear your love for the ocean around your neck? Because we’re afraid of them?
Phaedra’s last email from Doha read, “signing off ‘depressed in no-ha'”…*photo from the African Wildlife Foundation