Changing Planet

Activists, Scientists Speak Out For The Gulf, With Humor

By Rachel Kaufman

In Washington, D.C., for the TEDxOilSpill event, dozens of speakers are proposing solutions to the disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. Many more are showing us what we have to lose, and it’s a lot: animal habitats; endangered species; clean water; seafood to feed our nation and our economy; hundreds of thousands of people’s livelihoods.

Luckily the mood isn’t all doom and gloom. Some of the brightest minds have lightened the mood with a few well-placed quips.

Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and world-renowned oceanographer; “It’s great to be here in DC,” said Her Deepness, with an obvious chuckle. “Actually, I’d rather be diving. I’d rather be diving in the Gulf.” Is it that hot here in Washington?

John Francis, who took a seventeen year vow of silence and spent 22 years using no motorized transport, after he saw an oil spill in San Francisco: “[When I decided I wouldn’t ride in cars anymore,] the first thing I did was call my parents. ‘Mom, I’m not walking anymore because of oil spills,’ I said. My dad wanted to know why I didn’t decide that when I was sixteen.”

And Dave Gallo, an oceanographer at the Woods Hole Institution, on the lack of technology available: “This country’s got one submarine that can go to the ocean floor. One robot that can go to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. It’s like if your home was burning and you called the fire department and they said, ‘We’ll be right there, we just gotta build a fire truck and borrow a hose.'”

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn

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