Heather Spence, Marine Biologist
Orchestrating Coastal Marine Ecology Investigation and Outreach

Heather Spence, Marine Biologist

2016 – Futuristic hope

Worried about the state of our global ecosystem? Already 2016 is off to a good start with 5 forward-looking, inspiring events that took place in DC. They provide a hopeful glimpse at what’s to come in the not-so-distant future:

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Feb 5 @ Inter-American Development Bank (IDB): “Colombia 2030: A Sustainable and Peaceful Future”

This morning the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, beautifully described his vision for prioritizing education to reach ambitious yet possible goals

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Feb 4 @ Inter-American Development Bank (IDB): “It’s disruption time! How the collaborative economy is transforming world economies”

Robin Chase, Founder of ZipCar, and Luis Alberto Moreno, IDB President, discussed how ‘excess capacity’ – e.g., cars sitting unused – means opportunity for business and sustainability. Why should people invest in having only one job, when having several jobs provides more job satisfaction, diversity and security? If you think this is abstract futuristic talk, you should have heard the IDB employee’s enthusiasm. There will still be roles for institutions, but they will play adapted roles.

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Feb 4 @ Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences: “Social media tour of Sentient Chamber”

Hosted by Alana Quinn of CPNAS, Philip Beesley led a tour of his art installation “Sentient Chamber” which explores human-nature interactions with whispers, subtlety and mesmerizing fractals that draw you in to their enveloping tentacles and visions of a more gentle future.

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Feb 4 @ Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences: “Ideation, Translation, and Realization: DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER)”

What is creativity? How do we use it to promote a sustainable future? Rich discussion included recognition of a need to provide opportunities for slow, complex, fragile, inter-disciplinary explorations, both in school and in the workplace

Presenters: Kimberly Suda-Blake (Senior Program Director, National Academies Keck Futures Initiative); David A. Edwards (Founder and Director, Le Laboratoire); Richard N. Foster (Co-Chair, Presidents’ Circle of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine); Patricia Olynyk (Director, Graduate School of Art, Washington University); Philip Beesley (Director, Living Architecter Systems Group); JD Talasek (Director, Cultural Programs, National Academy of Sciences)

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Jan 29 @ Georgetown University/ Indigenous Delegation “The Invisible Killer – Radioactive Pollution in Unsuspected Places”

Even Snowzilla couldn’t get this group down. Native American and #CleanUpTheMines representatives gathered to raise awareness about thousands of hazardous abandoned uranium mines throughout the United States and promote a stronger bonds between human groups and with nature

 

For more pictures: https://www.instagram.com/heathers2pence/ 

 

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Whale Shark Citizen Science

Below is a picture I took today off Isla Mujeres, Mexico, of the dorsal fin of a whale shark that was damaged by a boat propeller. Unfortunately, whale sharks get hit and hurt (sometimes fatally) by people in boats. Indeed, people being reckless or simply unaware can cause damage. To protect whale sharks, people will have to be the solution. Researchers are asking everyone who sees a whale shark to help. Individual fish can be identified by scars or by the unique pattern of spots behind their gills.  You can find out how to help researchers track whale sharks by going to the ECOCEAN website.

What we don’t understand about whale sharks would fill the oceans. Learning more about whale sharks will help us to coexist with them.

whale shark damaged fin

whale shark damaged fin

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Visit Cancun!

How can you help Cancun and its natural resources?  Go on vacation!!!  What with the media buzz on drug traffic and swine flu and the global economy, tourists have been avoiding Cancun. I’ve been there, though, and I can tell you that I didn’t have any problems at all. I’d still be there if I didn’t have these conferences. The big problem is actually the resulting economic downturn. People are losing their jobs, drastic measures are being taken, and the beaches are empty.  So go for it, there are deals, it is a great time to visit Cancun. Let me know and I’ll suggest places and people to visit. And send us pictures!  :)

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This Saturday – Earth Hour 2009

Remember to turn your lights off this Saturday, from 8:30-9:30pm, your time, wherever you are in the world. This is a demonstration of our need to come up with solutions and ways to save energy, our natural resources, and the one and only planet that is our home. For more information about the hour and activities around the world, you can check out the earth hour website.

This is also an opportunity to enjoy the natural light of the earth, you might be surprised. Take the time to go outside and star and moon gaze. To participate in star counting research and other earth hour activities, and to learn more about light pollution, you can check out the website for the International Dark Sky Association.

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Marriage and the Environment

Stay married and help the environment.

Talk about a win-win situation!  An Australian lawmaker proposes that once divorced, the former couple leads a more wasteful lifestyle. 

 :) makes sense.

Article here.

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Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right

Despite pressures to introduce invasive species ON PURPOSE as a “solution” to environmental problems – scientists and conservation groups are making a clear case for, instead, supporting the natural environment and the native species.

Check out:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/Chesapeake_Bay/Foundation/prweb1471534.htm

And post or send me your comments on this issue

(also discussed in the Stay Tuned Network)

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Solar Power!

This is from the Swiss Embassy —

Riding on Sunshine

Swiss schoolteacher Louis Palmer and his SolarTaxi are driving around the world on a mission—to show the world that solar energy technologies are feasible and ripe for development. The SolarTaxi, built in cooperation with four Swiss universities, is fueled entirely by the sun. By the time he finishes his trip in December 2008, Palmer will have driven through five continents, over 40 countries and over 33,000 miles without spending a penny on gasoline.

Palmer arrived on the East Coast of the United States last month and held several events under the banner of ThinkSwiss-Brainstorm the Future to promote alternative energy together with the Swiss Embassy in Washington, D.C., The Consulate General in New York, and swissnex Boston. Palmer presented his car to students and staff at such prestigious universities as Georgetown, New York University, and Harvard, among others. He also gave test rides to Washington, D.C. government officials and drove UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to work in Manhattan on his morning commute.

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Coastal Harmony – check this out!

http://www.mnh.si.edu/exhibits/ocean%5Fhall/reef_interactive/reef_interactive.html  
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Organic

Why organic? Basically, why not? Why pay money for artificial fertilizers and pest controls when nature provides more effective ways to do the same thing? Age-old methods are winning back farmers and gardeners because they cost less and they do more! As insects become resistant to pesticides, soils get depleted by petroleum-based fertilizers, and people realize we are poisoning our world and ourselves, healthy alternative growing strategies are proving their time-honored effectiveness. Techniques such as rotating crops and composting to keep soil nutrients in balance, interplanting flowers with vegetables to control insects, mulching and planting natural ground covers to control weeds – these are smart ways for all of us to grow healthy, and minimize pollution of our environment and ourselves.

For more info check out:

http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Organic/

http://www.wasatchgardens.org/beingorganic.html

http://organicschoolproject.org/grow/garden-resources.htm

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Trash or Treasure?

Selling seashells by the seashore is actually not such a great idea. Why? because 1) often the shells being sold were taken with live animals inside, 2) empty shells are important future homes for animals like hermit crabs; 3) some shells are from endangered species, 4) the usual “if you take it, it wont be there for the next person to see…,” 5) in some places it is illegal, 6) the remains of shells and corals and other organisms disintegrate to form the fine sand that forms beaches, and 7) selling them encourages the idea of touching and taking from the environment.

An alternative is making crafts from trash – bags from plastic labels, purses out of can flippy things – basically, reusing whatever is available. The materials are free, instead of harming the environment you are helping it, and – tourists will be happy to support a sustainable practice over a damaging one, and probably pay more for the item.

Programs to teach craft-making with trash are already being conducted, such as by the group Amigos de Isla Contoy.

http://www.islacontoy.org/

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