Jellyfish soup. That's about all our vast oceans will serve up, if we don't do something to stop the twin pressures of overfishing which has depleted 90% of the big fish and resulted in declining catches since 1988 and acidification, which results from fossil fuel-burning carbon emissions and is slowly eroding the tiny creatures at the bottom of the food chain.
It's the kind of pronouncement you might expect from a scientist at a seminar... not Sam Malone. But, over breakfast at New York's '21' Club, it was in fact the affable self-effacing actor Ted Danson delivering the news. "Reduce your carbon footprint," he said. "Not for Al, but for me."
Danson, whose activism is well-known to The Daily Green's audience after winning our 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award, is trying to reach a new audience with his first book, named after the world's biggest ocean conservation organization, Oceana, which he helped found.
Oceana, he says, reads like his career as an activist, which often finds him standing on stage introducing heavyweights of ocean conservation. He's hoping his celebrity status inspires people to open the book, where they'll find not only his personal story, but a chorus of scientists who explain "our endangered oceans and what we can do to save them," to steal the words of the book's subtitle.
The book itself would feel as at home on a shelf in a serious library as on a coffee table. It's full of stunning and startling photos, informative graphics and factoids, sidebars by experts and friends like Ed Begley Jr., and actionable tips. Together, they keep the book from sinking under the weight of its subject, which is dead serious.
Danson, who has witnessed unprecedented ocean degradation in his lifetime, but also many triumphs like the protection of vast stretches of ocean marine reserves never sounds a note of pessimism. "My new happy thought," he says, as his audience already starts to giggle, "is that we're going to die anyway." (The audience's collective laugh takes a nervous turn.) "Why not have fun," he says, reeling them back in. "Why not have fun solving these problems?"
With a crowd of business suits (Citi co-sponsored the event, and its executive and clients largely filled the room), it was encouraging to hear Danson's message get through. When he informed the audience that it takes more than three pounds of wild-caught fish to produce one pound of farmed salmon, gasps were audible. "Be brave," he said. Ask for wild-caught salmon. "Be a better consumer." From their reaction, it seems many will.
Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and what We Can Do to Save Them, $18 at amazon.com
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