Like many of the messages at Monday's TEDxOilSpill conference, John Francis’s was one of hope. Francis, who hasn't used a motorized vehicle since the 1970s and undertook a 17-year vow of silence, gave one of the funniest and most moving talks of the day, underscoring the crucial role that listening plays in activism.
In the early 1970s, Francis stopped riding in vehicles after witnessing an oil spill in San Francisco Bay. He later decided to take a vow of silence, initially for just one day, "because," he said, "I was talking too much." It was more than 6,000 days later before he spoke again. During that time he went on a pilgrimage by foot across America on behalf of the environment and world peace.
Francis finally spoke at the Washington, DC celebration of the 20th anniversary of Earth Day in 1990 to “speak for the environment” and to thank the audience for their participation at the event.
At Monday's conference, he urged the audience to not just listen, but act. “We’re going to have to do something," he said. "This is our moment. We are going to have to change our lives. I’m inviting us to change our lifestyle. We have such responsibility and such power that we can really make a big difference.”
Here's a short video I took of Francis (he played banjo briefly before he spoke), and to learn more, you can watch his full TED talk from 2008.
On Sunday, amid performances by the Roots, Passion Pit and John Legend, Oceana spokeswimmer Aaron Peirsol spoke at the Earth Day Climate Rally on the National Mall here in Washington.
“Ocean acidification is a real threat, as is overfishing,” he told the crowd. “New drilling must be forestalled while other invaluable, sustainable alternatives such as wind energy adopted. Today, I'm helping here by speaking and partnering with the ocean conservation group Oceana.
Together, we created Race for the Oceans, an open water swimming event that raises money and awareness toward ocean conservation. We also created Racefortheoceans.org, an online forum for swimmers and conservationists alike.”
Happy Earth Day!
Since there’s so much going on today, here’s a list of things you can do right now to protect the blue marble we call home. Enjoy!
1. Support a ‘safe zone’ for Pacific leatherbacks.
Tell the government to expand critical habitat for endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles to more than 70,000 square miles off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California. Comments are due tomorrow, April 23, so please voice your support today.
2. Take action with Sigourney on ocean acidification.
You can take action too -- tell your representative to support a Congressional resolution that will support policies to study and address the effects of ocean acidification.
3. Stop expanded offshore drilling.
An oil rig about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana exploded Tuesday, in what could be one of the country’s deadliest offshore drilling accidents of the past 50 years. Seventeen people were injured in the blast.
Tell your senator today that you won’t stand for expanded offshore drilling.
4. Bid and text for the oceans.
Today is Christie’s Green Auction, which benefits Oceana, Conservation International, NRDC and Central Park Conservancy. Check out the online auction items, or for a cheaper option, you can text “GoGreen” to 20222 to make a $10 donation today.
Some sobering news for the oceans this Earth Day. A new congressionally requested study by the National Research Council concludes that “the chemistry of the ocean is changing at an unprecedented rate and magnitude due to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions” and that “the rate of change exceeds any known to have occurred for at least the past hundreds of thousands of years.”
The study finds that the oceans have absorbed about one-third of total carbon dioxide emissions over the past 200 years - which has made the oceans more acidic - and the acidity will continue to rise because CO2 emissions are rising too rapidly for the oceans to cope.
Ocean acidification, says the report, can disrupt important physiological processes in marine creatures, such as shell and skeleton building, internal fluid and tissue pH maintenance and carbon fixation in photosynthesis.
And while we don’t yet know the ultimate consequences for ecosystems, we do know that coral reefs, fisheries, protected species and other valuable natural resources are at risk.
The bottom line here is that ocean acidification will continue unless anthropogenic CO2 emissions are substantially curbed -- Take action today by telling your representative to support further research on ocean acidification.
Ellycia Harrould-Kolieb is a climate scientist at Oceana.
Well, I guess the theme of this week on the blog is winning, because I have another proud moment to announce today: The Daily Green has announced the winners of its 2010 Heart of Green Awards, and guess who’s on the list? The one and only Ted Danson.
The actor and Oceana board member is being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award; other awardees include chef Jamie Oliver and National Audubon Society's John Flicker.
The awards celebrate individuals “whose work inspires real people to go green," said Dan Shapley, editor of The Daily Green, who interviewed Ted about his work for the oceans. "This year’s honorees embody that mission by championing some of today’s most important causes, including ocean conservation, healthy seasonal eating, urban parks creation and climate change."
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Discovery’s Planet Green has announced 16 visionaries -- people with big ideas that are shaping our world. Joining the likes of Moby, Philippe Cousteau and Stephen Dubner on the list is our very own CEO, Andy Sharpless.
Here’s an excerpt of Planet Green’s interview with Andy:
What accomplishment of the environmental movement over the past 40 years stands out to you?
I remember the first Earth Day. I was a student in Philadelphia and I went to an Earth Day concert where I was in high school. It is absolutely the case in the 40 years since then, environmental legislation in the US -- pushed through by the environmental movement and its many supporters both in Congress and out in families of America -- cleaned up the air and cleaned up the water in meaningful ways especially in American cities like the one I grew up in. The air is safer to breath and the rivers and the lakes are cleaner for the people who use them, and swim in them, boat on them, and fish out of them and for the creatures that live in them.
As Kevin and Andy have told you, this Thursday, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Oceana will benefit from the first-ever Green Auction with Christie's, along with NRDC, Central Park Conservancy and Conservation International.
There are some spectacular items up for bid, including a private swim lesson with Oceana spokeswimmer Aaron Peirsol, a day on the set of “30 Rock” with Alec Baldwin, a walk-on role in HBO’s “Bored to Death”, and much more.
But we are also asking people to make another kind of bid this Earth Day -- a personal bid to change something in their lives to improve the health of the planet.
Not sure what I mean? Just watch the video PSA below to get some inspiration, and then tell us -- what's your bid?
Okay, so stop me if you've heard this one…
What happens when four top NGOs team up with a world renowned art dealer for Earth Day?
You get an unprecedented partnership that culminates in Christie’s First Annual Green Auction: A Bid to Save the Earth. Wait, did you think I was telling a joke?
Oceana, along with Natural Resources Defense Council, Conservation International and The Central Park Conservancy, NBC Universal, Barney’s of New York, Deutsche Bank and Target have been working to put together the April 22 auction that takes place at Christie’s in Rockefeller Center in New York as part of the 40th celebration of Earth Day.
Christie’s is waiving its usual fees, so every penny from the live auction and silent auction goes to the four charities. A ton, and I mean a ton, of amazing artwork and items are up for bid the night of the event, but you don’t have to be at the event to make a bid to save the earth.
Today the online silent auction launches and along with the artwork and items up for bid there are a boat-load (pun most definitely intended) of experiences on the block including swimming lessons with Oceana supporter and gold medalist Aaron Peirsol (with a $5,000 bid as of 10 a.m. this morning) and sailing lessons with Ocean Conservation Yacht Club Commodore Kristen “The America” Berry.
Here are a few of my personal favorites:
I’d like to give you a sneak peak at the first international green charity auction to be held on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, 2010.
Christie’s International has invited four leading nonprofits to be the beneficiaries of its first charity auction for conservation: Oceana, Conservation International, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Central Park Conservancy. Between us, we work on all seven continents – and, of course, the oceans in between.
A Bid to Save The Earth will include a live auction at Christie’s New York City space in Rockefeller Center as well as a silent auction conducted online at Charity Buzz. Every item up for bid is donated, and Christie’s is waiving all its usual fees to allow the maximum impact for the beneficiaries.