I had an awesome weekend at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC. For anyone who hasn’t been to the festival, you must go! It’s the largest book festival in the U.S., maybe even the world (but don’t quote me on that), and it’s FREE! The only thing you have to pay for is parking, which is 10 dollars. The next one will be the last weekend of April in 2012.
There are panel discussions featuring authors on every topic imaginable. This year the highlight for me was having the chance to hear Ted Danson speak about his new book “Oceana.” While Danson is best known for his role on Cheers, he is also an ocean advocate. He launched the American Oceans Campaign in 1987, which eventually became Oceana in 2001. For more details on what inspired Danson to help save our oceans, visit his page on the Oceana website.
The talk started with a laugh when M.G. Lord introduced him with a quote from the Cheers pilot, “the magnificent pagan beast.” But it quickly turned more serious as the conversation shifted to how Danson got involved in ocean issues and what drives him.
Here are some of the sobering facts and/or statistics he mentioned:
- Unless, we change our ways, we could fish out our oceans within a generation. As in the most recent generation alive right now, people who are kids today, may not see fish in a future tomorrow.
- 90 percent of the big game fish and sharks are gone.
- The global fish catch has gone up every year since 1988.
- One-third of the fish caught is bycatch, which is thrown overboard dead or dying.
- Ocean acidification is not cyclical, it’s a fact and it’s happening.
- 25 percent of the fish sold or served in restaurants isn’t what it says, this is a newer problem called fish fraud.
- 1 out of every 6 women of child bearing age has too much mercury in her system to have a child without the risk of neurological problems.
- Killer whales that have washed up onshore have so much mercury and chemicals in their system they could be classified as toxic waste dumps.
He emphasized that despite all the grim news, his book is filled with hope and solutions, including concrete actions you can take to help save the oceans. So get in on the action, buy the book Oceana. Read it. And make a donation to an ocean organization.
Danson said that out of all the money going to environmental causes, only one percent is going to marine / ocean related organizations and issues. So donate to Oceana, feel good, and make a difference. If you are low on the cash flow, then sign up to be one of their Wave Makers and become a grassroots activist. And of course, don’t forget to vote.