The Beacon: Jon Frank's blog

Bachelet Announces Whale Sanctuary in Chile

Speaking before the Chilean Congress on Wednesday, President Michelle Bachelet announced plans to ban all whaling activity in Chilean waters. President Bachelet will try to have the new law in place before the International Whaling Commission meets in Santiago next month. According to the Environmental New Service, Centro de Conservación Cetacea, Centro Ecoceanos, and the National Confederation of Artisan Fishers (CONAPACH) were the loudest advocates for this measure, but Oceana participated too.

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A happy couple: green and blue

Lately, I've had the color green on my mind thanks to initiatives related to fundraising and sea turtles. Now, it's the passion project of a woman named Kristen Edwards that brings the emerald hue to mind.

Kristen recently launched a website called that looks to inspire and empower people to live in a more eco-friendly manner. Although I always like to tell people to "think blue," I'll admit Green United States is a more apt moniker than Blue United States (a future website for ocean-loving Dems maybe?). Right now, Oceana is featured as a "Green Champion" on Kristen's site and hopefully down the road we'll be able to partner for some excellent greenish-blue causes.

There are several reasons to check out the site, including news updates and the blog, but the first thing you should do is take the pledge to adhere to a cleaner, greener (think greenish-blue) lifestyle. I've taken the pledge and I hope you'll consider doing the same. Kristen hopes to get 1 million people to pledge by Earth Day 2009, so that leaves just about 51 weeks for the tally to BaLOOn.

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Earth Day is all about greenbacks

Environmental groups and corporations alike will spend parts of today stressing how "green" they are. At Oceana, we prefer to talk about how "blue" we are, but just for today I'd also like to focus on a little green - both financial and reptilian.

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You better Google me, baby

Google has given us interactive maps of the Earth, the refrain for Teyana Taylor's MTV jam "Google Me" and now, in honor of Earth Day next Tuesday, they are helping us raise money.

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Is carbon trade still a silver bullet?

wind farm

Recently, journalists at both ends of the political spectrum are taking the shine off of the global carbon trade market.

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Global Shipping Goes Sailing

In case you didn't know, part of Oceana's plan to tackle global warming is to urge tighter regulations on global shipping, which currently emits more greenhouse gases than global aviation, including 30 percent of the world's nitrous oxide.

Thanks to market forces--i.e. the $100 price tag on a barrel of oil--the shipping industry is starting to understand that if they reduce their oil use (and thus emissions) it can greatly buffer their shrinking profit margins.

Exhibit A was highlighted in yesterday's Wall Street Journal in an article about SkySails, which is just starting to outfit smaller vessels with giant, parachute-like canopies that fly 100 to 300 meters above the ship.  According to the article, one sail on a 10,000-ton cargo ship can reduce fuel consumption by 10 to 20 percent, saving nearly $2000/day in fuel.

Bill Gates would call what SkySails is doing "Creative Capitalism."  I know there is a lot of data to collect to see if this venture pans out, but I say it's about time.

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Rabies 5K and Knowing Your Charity

Last night, I again noticed fundraising playing an important theme in a TV show, this time on NBC's The Office.  I don't want to ruin the plotline so let me just say that during last night's season four premier, Michael (Steve Carrell) decides to start a fundraising 5K to find a cure for rabies (It was something like, the Michael Scott Dunder-Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Fun Run Race for the Cure).

The race ends up raising about $740 of Michael's own money, which he subsequently spends on a giant cardboard check (worth $200) and a stripper dressed as a nurse ($240) to give the remaining $300.

All this reminded me that figuring out where your donation dollars are being spent is an important aspect of fundraising. I remember numerous articles examined charitable fraud surrounding Hurricane Katrina, including this one from the Washington Post.

From my experience, I've learned the best way to make sure your donations are being spent appropriately is to check third-party charity evaluators, like Charity Navigator, or to take a look at the books yourself.

For our part, Oceana has a Four-Star rating from Charity Navigator, which is something no other ocean conservation group can claim.

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Oceana Gets a Shoutout (kind of)

On Sunday, Oceana received a subtle reference on HBO's hilarious show Curb Your Enthusiasm. Board member Ted Danson is a regular on the show and he appeared in this week's episode titled "The Anonymous Donor."

If you have a DVR or On Demand, check out the scene with Larry David, Ted and Sen. Barbara Boxer at the NRDC. If you can't watch it yourself, let me summarize:

LD and Ted are at the NRDC because Larry donated money for a new wing. (Ted donated too, but his was anonymous, which infuriates Larry because everyone still knows that Ted is "Anonymous" and because of that they see him as more noble). Larry goes up to Sen. Boxer to complain about the unwritten rules of dry cleaning when Ted walks up and Sen. Boxer starts gushing about him. She says Ted is a wonderful person and she admires the work he did with the "oceans foundation" 20 years ago and references the story about Ted's kids not being able to swim in the Bay. (Larry gets more upset and makes fun of Danson's motivation to save the ocean when his kids could have swam in his "400 foot pool").

If anyone can find a digital video of this clip, shoot me an email: [email protected].

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Northwest Passage is Heating Up

This morning's Wall Street Journal ran an article about an American pig farmer/yachtsman who successfully navigated the Northwest Passage in 45 days.  It's an achievement that not many people in history have done, but due to global warming, it's something that may no longer be an achievement.

By 2020, commercial ships could start operating in the channel, undeterred by the shifting ice packs that once made this one of the most treacherous waterways in the world.  Already, governments and business interests are lining up to tap this asset and though there's nothing inherently wrong with making use of this resource, it brings up several interesting questions:

-Won't increased traffic compound the problem of global warming by raising greenhouse emission levels in the Arctic?

-Will surrounding habitats be adversely affected by new commercial interests in the Arctic?

-Do stakeholders in future Arctic enterprises realize what's at stake?

-What if we become too reliant on the Northwest Passage, or even dependent on it?

There are no simple answers to these questions but Oceana is tackling the issue head-on using science and policy to inspire change.  For the moment, it's not a panacea, but it's a start.

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Congrats to ERCO in the Cheese State!

On the heels of a big announcement that ERCO Worldwide will upgrade to more environmentally friendly, mercury-free manufacturing technology at its facility in the Cheese State comes this great read by Forbes senior writer, Marc Gunther.

The piece features insight from our own big cheese, Andy Sharpless.

I applaud all the members of our Stop Seafood Contamination Campaign who made this happen. Well played!

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