Sunday, October 2, 2011


The Ocean is the single biggest feature of our planet.

From one million miles away we resemble a small blue marble, from one billion miles a pale blue dot.
The Ocean covers more than 70% of the Earth's surface, holds more than 80% of its biodiversity and 90% of its habitat.

Phytoplankton in the Ocean provide more than half of our oxygen and provides the basis of the primary protein for more than a billion people.

More than half a billion people, mostly artisanal fishers, owe their livelihoods to the seafood industry.
Humans have derived unmeasurable inspiration, joy, recreation and relaxation from the Ocean for millennia.

But WE have treated the Ocean poorly, and it's decline in recent decades has been catastrophic for our planet and its people.

WE have put too much into the Ocean, in the form of oil, sewage, fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics, plastic pollution, noise and increasing levels of CO2.

WE have taken too much out of the Ocean by subsidizing and encouraging inefficient and destructive overfishing, bottom trawling, long-lining, purse seining, dynamite fishing, irresponsible aquaculture and illegal hunting.

WE have destroyed the edge of the ocean--places like wetlands, kelp forests, mangrove forests, river deltas, coral reefs and seagrass beds--where diversity and abundance once thrived, now turned into dead zones growing in size and number.

As a result of OUR behavior, the wildest animals and most remote beaches on the planet carry plastic in them, coral reefs are on the verge of disappearing, shark populations have been decimated, the ocean is warming and becoming more acidic and fisheries are predicted to collapse globally.

This situation will only continue to spiral downward, unless we listen, learn and change.

To slow, stop and then reverse this trend will take immediate, widespread and drastic actions, not isolated, small and incremental adjustments.

The control large corporations have over our political processes must be severed, bold legislation enacted and new behavior patterns widely adopted.

We need an Ocean Revolution.

The passionate individuals, organizations, expertise and solutions needed to do this exist around the world.

What is needed is a massive boost in personal and political will alongside strong actions and louder voices.

It is OUR coast and OUR Ocean.

The time is now to Occupy The Ocean.

[This is a living document: repost this anywhere you like, personalizing and adding to it as you will, in support of your good work for the Ocean]

Sunday, October 10, 2010

We're All EcoDaredevils Now: 2010 EcoDaredevil Awards Announced on 10.10.10

For Immediate Release

10 October 2010


Matt Vincent
Clark Fork Watershed Education Program (CFWEP)
1300 West Park Street, Butte, MT 59701 (406) 496-4897; (406) 491-0922

Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D.
California Academy of Sciences +
POB 324, Davenport, CA 95017 (831.239.4877)

We're All EcoDaredevils Now

We are pleased to announce the 2010 EcoDaredevil Award recipients, Jerry Moran, Leilani Münter and Tyler Hess (bios follow).

WHAT: 2010 EcoDaredevil Awards

WHEN: The 2010 EcoDaredevil Awardees are announced online on 10.10.10 at 10:10:10 am PST, coinciding with the Global Work Party when "people will be doing very practical things on 10/10/10," according to founder Bill McKibben, "but they will also be sending a pointed political message: 'We're getting to work, what about you?'"


The three 2010 EcoDaredevil Awardees are:

Photographer Jerry Moran, a fine art, music and architectural photographer from New Orleans. When the BP Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in April, he turned his camera to the coast, the animals and the people impacted by and working on the response. With his camera and generous spirit, he connected people with an ecological tragedy we won't soon forget. Jerry has put himself in harms way physically, emotionally and financially while making his images widely available. "Some pictures are very, very painful to look at. [The birds] look like dead angels in the sand."

Activist, educator and racecar driver Leilani Münter is well known for speaking out about environmental issues. On her blog Carbon Free Girl she documents her efforts to become carbon neutral and discusses environmental issues and clean energy. Leilani was named by Discovery Channel's Planet Green Network as the #1 Eco Athlete. Leilani was one of the first celebrity activists to visit the BP Oil Spill, she arrived in Venice, Louisiana on May 2, ten days after the Deepwater Horizon sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, the same day President Barack Obama arrived. She spent a week at the spill, documenting her experience there. On July 13, 2010, Leilani returned and toured the oil-stained areas of Louisiana devastated by the BP Oil Spill as part of a Sierra Club sponsored event involving 10 current and former athletes. "Just because you're green, doesn't mean you can't be fast."

Student activist Tyler Hess of DePauw University, a leader in the efforts to bring sustainability to his university. This includes a successful ban on the sale of plastic bottled water on campus, one of the first to do so in the nation. Tyler points out that his efforts have grown beyond the university, “A few people have contacted me to say that their families have banned bottled water after hearing about this." Not everyone agrees with his efforts, but Tyler is an EcoDaredevil who holds his ground and as he's a Sophomore there's plenty of time for more progress on campus and beyond.

The first annual EcoDaredevil Award was presented on Earth Day 2008 by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols to Duke University doctoral student Elliott Hazen. An honorary award was also presented to Krysten Knievel, granddaughter of Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel in recognition of Evel's inspiration for the EcoDaredevil Award. Mr. Hazen was one of the co-founders of GreenWave, a student-led sustainability movement at the Duke Marine Lab. He also instituted a Green by Design class at the Marine Lab bringing in all sorts of experts from business, fisheries etc. to come and share visionary ideas about sustainability.

The 2009 award honored two EcoDaredevils from the legendary Evel Knievel's home state of Montana, with a presentation on the campus of Montana Tech University coinciding with World Water Monitoring Day, an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies.

Bios of 2009 EcoDaredevil Awardees:

Kathryn (Katie) Makarowski, an aquatic biologist, sustainability advocate and a recent graduate of the University of Montana’s Masters of Science in Environmental Studies program. Her advisors and peers describe her as innovative, courageous, determined and exceptionally effective in her work to sustain and restore our nation’s rivers, watersheds and fresh water ecosystems. One recommender commented that “Katie used a combination of politeness, persuasion and persistence” to get the job done on behalf of Montana’s environmental future. See Katie in action here:

Kathleen Kennedy of Big Sky High School in Missoula, MT, an educator through and through, loved by students and teachers alike. In her Wildlife Biology class she challenges students to think beyond the textbooks and critically consider the environmental costs associated with the status quo. For her efforts raising awareness of important and contentious environmental issues, in particular, screening the award-winning short documentary “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard (viewed more than 7 million times online), she received many bitter personal attacks, felt abandoned and betrayed by the school system and considered quitting teaching. The debate and associated controversy reached the NY Times and filled many pages in local newspapers. But Kathleen, to the delight of many, recommitted herself to teaching. In the face of great adversity, Kathleen stood her ground and emerged as a stronger and better teacher. The kind of teacher that will lead the next generation into a more sustainable future. Read more about Kathleen's efforts here:

The award winners are chosen by a selection committee of nationally and regionally recognized environmental scientists/ activists.


OpEd: We're All EcoDaredevils Now

On October 17, 1938 Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel was born in Butte, Montana.

Following his sophomore year in high school he got a job in Anaconda's copper mines as a diamond drill operator then as driver of a large earth mover. As the legend goes, Knievel was fired when he did a motorcycle-type wheelie on the earth mover and drove it into Butte's main power line, leaving the city without electricity for several hours.

After stints in rodeo, ski jumping, the army, semi-pro hockey, back-country guiding and insurance sales he settled into a career as a professional Daredevil.

Hundreds of jumps and dozens of spectacular crashes later, on February 28, 1971 he set a new world record by jumping 19 cars with his Harley-Davidson XR-750.

Such is the colorful mix of reality and legend spanning Knievel's life. He took his place in history as rock star, action hero, athlete and folk legend all in one. His death-defying jumps awed millions around the world.

But back in 1961, before he achieved worldwide fame, Knievel hitchhiked with the rack of a bull elk from Montana to our nation’s capital to protest the culling of elk in Yellowstone. The Kennedy administration responded and countless elk were saved.

While no one would argue Knievel's conservationist credentials, his fearlessness, grit and persistence were world class.

In the face of new, daunting challenges, his response was all action, full-speed, non-stop.

Today, we face ever more serious crises—loss of biodiversity, contaminated rivers and lakes, a warming planet, collapsing fisheries, looming food and water shortages, and a growing population that bodes for more of the same. Left to the status quo, scientists forecast a “2050 Scenario” in which our planet is hotter, dirtier, and overcrowded with nine billion people who are left to wage wars for what little remains.

Jumping this eco-chasm will be the greatest challenge we have ever faced. It will require revolutionary changes in society and technology.

To succeed, we must be brave, creative and outspoken. We must undertake the audacious, the impossible and the dangerous. We must risk our financial, social, and physical comfort. We must state the heretical, radical truths about our present situation. We must not be dissuaded, cajoled or convinced that our greenest dreams cannot become reality.

In other words, we must become EcoDaredevils.

Changing light bulbs, inflating tires, eating organic and toting reusable bags are each important gestures. But it’s going to take action far more thrilling to make it over this canyon. But, we must do something for the planet—something that invites personal risk.

It's not enough to leave the solutions to our most pressing environmental problems in the hands of the professionals, the experts or the government. That strategy will surely continue to fail.

The lack of adequate response to this deepening crisis means that we are all EcoDaredevils now. Like it or not.

They say that Evel Knievel broke every bone in his body at one time or another. But, he kept on jumping. His steely will kept driving him back to the bike and up the ramp.

This week in Butte, Montana we'll honor two exemplary EcoDaredevils for their work, persistence, and commitment to protecting our planet in the face of personal and professional risk.

Inspired by the spirit of Evel Knievel, motivated by our global ecological crisis and called to action by future generations. We are all EcoDaredevils now. Strap on your helmet, let's ride.

Wallace "J." Nichols is a scientist, activist, community organizer, author, and dad. Blog:


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What Would Jacques do? One hundred years of oil

By Wallace J. Nichols, Sarah Kornfeld, Jake Dunagan and Stuart Candy

Jacques Yves Cousteau spent halcyon days gliding above and beneath the ocean. He lived among the largest mammals and sea drift. He was the master educator and voice for the sea. And so, on this, the 100th anniversary of his birth, it is a sorry state of affairs that we cannot celebrate the legacy of his ocean life, but instead it is the centennial of our own legacy with oil, plastic and associated toxins we must confront. One hundred years ago, 1910, the fossil-fuel-based plastics industry was born, as was Cousteau, and thus began the first plastic century.

Plastic is made from oil and gas, plain and simple, yet we do not think of oil or plastic pollution when we think of Cousteau. We think mostly of how he inspired wonder in us. We wondered at life aboard the Calypso with its salty crew. And, this wonder for the sea has engendered generations of people to become oceanographers, biologists, divers and simple lovers of the sea. But, if we do not make the serious connection -- now -- between the legacy of Cousteau and our legacy with petroleum we will sully the memory of the man.

Yet, the memory of the ocean was hardly what Cousteau was all about: he was really about the future of the ocean. He was always looking ahead -- not behind. He wanted people to have knowledge so that they could have foresight. His great genius was not that he made you want to go swimming today; it was that he inspired you to want to know deeply and explore constantly the ocean in the immediate future, and always.

"If we were logical, the future would be bleak, indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work," he said.

Right now, however, we have our thinking backwards; we are watching a reckless and inane "clean up" of the Gulf of Mexico play out in slow motion. What can we imagine he would say right now? Would we listen? Would we nod our heads with a sense of security that the great man was leading us, teaching us, telling us how to get out of this mess? What would he do? Would we join him?

Who knows, but a good guess is that that great lover of the sea, and great pragmatist for the environment might be furious. Enraged. Heartbroken. One can imagine at the same time, the man rallying us to demand substantial legislative changes, responsible action from the oil industry, and a global systemic shift away from oil/plastic/toxins because our very lives depend on it. His line in the sand would be deep and long.

But, he's not here, is he? Yet, his 100th birthday is right before us. His legacy of an ocean is literally mired in the slick dependence we have on oil. So, let's make the list that a pragmatic leader like Cousteau might offer.

Let's do this:

1. Tell someone each day what our Ocean Planet, our one and only blue marble, means to you. Describe how you love it, why you want to see it and hear it. Love is stronger than apathy, and your vision for the future of what you love can impact people. Use all of the media at your disposal to share your oceanophilia, get in on rallies, letter writing and vote for the ocean.

2. Stop pouring toxins, any toxins, into the drains around you, onto your food, into your tank or into your body: you can show BP what responsibility looks like -- what you don't pour down the drain won't get to the ocean. "Think tank," you might say. Think about what goes in it and what comes out.

3. Remember that great people leave Earth, but plastic never does. Reject straws, coffee lids, forks, or anything plastic you use once then throw away. First off, they are made of oil and gas and can make you sick. Second, when they end up in the ocean they make the ocean sick. Try as best you can to free your home, school and business of single-use disposable plastics.

The time is now for us, the lovers of the sea. We cannot wait for a great tide to take the oil, and our need for it, away to a magical place. And, we can't wait for the memory of great people to inspire us to change. We must honor their memory by doing something great ourselves.

Each of us must be Cousteau -- we must embody his legacy with a vision for the future: one that includes a world with a healthy, thriving sea. We must embody his memory -- a person who wanted a healthy, thriving future for the planet.

Ask yourself, "What would Jacques do?" Act as he would. Because we are all ocean activists now.

Wallace J. Nichols, Sarah Kornfeld, Jake Dunagan, and Stuart Candy, are a hybrid art- science-futures collaboration. Their installation Plastic Century is an interactive installation created for the California Academy of Sciences that explores the relationship between plastic, people, and the environment over the 100 years since the birth of Jacques Cousteau. The installation will be at the California Academy of Sciences June 3rd and June 10th. The Plastic Century Team is currently in residency at the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA), in San Francisco.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Evel's Son Will Attempt Wembly Jump

BBC News: Evel Knievel's son to recreate double-decker bus stunt

The son of stuntman Evel Knievel plans to complete a double-decker bus jump that nearly ended his father's career.

Robbie Knievel, 47, will try to jump over 16 buses at Wembley, west London, in May - riding a classic Harley Davidson XR-750 machine.

Evel Knievel broke his pelvis during his 1975 bid to jump over 13 buses.

"Although my dad's jump ended with broken bones and a lot of pain, I'm confident he'll be smiling down on this one," Mr Knievel said.

"Daredevils are a dying breed. I'm proud to have been raised by one and to be one myself."

His father attempted the stunt in front of an audience of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium, on 25 May 1975.

But his rear wheel clipped the last bus in the row and he somersaulted onto the ramp with the bike crashing down on top of him.

A concussed Knievel announced his retirement over the stadium's PA system.

Nevertheless he returned five months later, successfully clearing 14 buses in Ohio and setting a new world record.

The senior daredevil, who made 300 jumps before retiring in 1980, died aged 69 in November 2007.

His son gained fame in 1989 when he successfully jumped 150ft (45m) over the fountains at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.

He has completed more than 350 professional jumps, including 20 world records.

Mr Knievel said he was "looking forward" to making the attempt to clear the jump that thwarted his father.

"I can never fill the shoes of my father because he was the greatest stunt guy in the world - the greatest daredevil," he said.

"Whether I make or miss it, at least I gave it a shot."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Catching Up with EcoDaredevil Award Winner Kathleen Kennedy

Catching Up with EcoDaredevil Award Winner Kathleen Kennedy

Kathleen Kennedy is one of two 2009 winners of the EcoDaredevil award, which honors those who are taking risks to promote conservation and environmental sustainability. Kathleen, a Missoula high school biology teacher, was admonished by her own school board for showing "The Story of Stuff," a popular film about the environmental costs of rampant consumerism, but Kathleen persisted. Kathleen took time away from her busy teaching schedule to provide the following update on life since receiving the EcoDaredevil award in September.

Photo above: Kathleen's EcoDaredevil award helmet, complete with a signature from singer Eddie Vedder.

Receiving an EcoDaredevil award has been a really fun and inspiring experience. Thinking about Evel Knievel trying stunts and then dusting himself off and trying again when things didn’t go as planned reminds me of the resilience that I have had to bring forth since my ordeal began. Comparing myself to Evel of course also makes me laugh—something I didn’t do much last year!

The award has given me a light-hearted way to discuss controversy and polarization with my students. Ironically, the controversy about the
Story of Stuff as an educational video reached a new level just shortly after the EcoDaredevil awards ceremony. After being informed by one of his “watchdogs”, Glenn Beck of Fox News discussed the film and its use in classrooms on his program and incited his viewers to complain to their school boards. The Story of Stuff blog was filled with outrageous reactions. Having Glenn Beck challenge the Story of Stuff is yet another validation of the film’s important message and renews my resolve to ensure that students are given opportunities for critical thinking in my classroom.

On a funny note, I brought my EcoDaredevil helmet with me to Pearl Jam’s concert near Portland, OR in September with the plan to have the band’s bassist, Montana native Jeff Ament, with whom I had shared my story, sign it. To my surprise the entire band signed the helmet. I got to have a nice chat with Jeff before the show that included me giving him his own EcoDaredevil sticker! Interestingly, Eddie Vedder signed “with Love & Respect” and drew a picture of a wave, which makes me wonder if he is aware of the Great Turning (visit for more info).

Photo above: Kathleen with Pearl Jam bassist and Montana native Jeff Ament, an EcoDaredevil supporter.

My school year is going really well so far and I think this award allowed me to put things in perspective and go forth! Thanks for recognizing the role that educators have in helping us jump the chasm to sustainability.

For more information on the EcoDaredevil award, visit For more on the Story of Stuff, visit

-Kathleen Kennedy

The Clark Fork Watershed Education Project (CFWEP) uses outdoor activities and local experts to teach about the effects of settlement and industry on the Upper Clark Fork basin, and to give students and educators the scientific background to quantify the health of our watershed. Our philosophy is that place-based, hands-on, field and classroom activities instill in participants a clearer grasp of fundamental concepts and methods as well as creating a sense of watershed stewardship.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

‘Ecodaredevils' Award honors those who stand up for environment

By Nick Gevock of The Montana Standard - 09/19/2009

Kathleen Kennedy was admonished by her own school board for showing "The Story of Stuff," a film about the environmental costs of rampant consumerism, but the biology teacher persisted.

The teacher from Big Sky High School in Missoula held firm and showed the film, saying it delivered an important message and cited its examples with good sources.

"As a teacher of high school students, I have to do something to get their attention," Kennedy said Friday at Montana Tech. "This (film) does a great job of putting things we buy in the context of a greater system." Such resolve is exactly what J. Nichols, a sea turtle researcher and conservationist, had in mind last year when he helped found the "ecodaredevil" awards. Nichols on Friday presented this year's awards to Kennedy and Katie Makarowski, an aquatic biologist working to conserve and restore rivers and streams.

Nichols was among the first researchers to prove that sea turtles migrate from the coast off of Japan to the west coasts of North and South America. He has authored dozens of scientific papers and book chapters and for years has worked on sea turtle and ocean conservation and restoration. His work has taken him to Mexico, Indonesia and along the West Coast, among other places.

Nichols said his inspiration for the award was his childhood heroes — Jacque Cousteau and Evel Knievel. While the two seem an odd mix, Cousteau spurred Nichols' interest in the oceans and inspired him to earn a doctorate degree in wildlife ecology and evolutionary biology.

Yet Knievel, it's little known, was a conservationist as well. He once hitchhiked with a bull elk rack from Montana to Washington, D.C., to draw attention to the culling of elk in Yellowstone National Park, an act that got him a meeting with officials.

"Would anybody classify Evel as an environmentalist and a conservationist — absolutely not," said Matt Vincent, director of the Butte-based Clark Fork Watershed Education Program and an Ecodaredevil award sponsor.

Nichols said growing up he emulated Knievel. He and his friends were always taking jumps on their bicycles and mimicking other stunts from the famous daredevil.

But he took a lot of lessons from Knievel beyond trying dangerous feats. Most of all, Nichols took away that everybody fails at times.

That's not a reason to quit, he said. In fact, he said every successful person has failed and yet learned from it to achieve great things. Nichols said that's a lesson people working to protect the environment need to take from conservationists such as Kennedy, Makarowski, one that Knievel always illustrated throughout his career.

"You undoubtedly will experience that burning, biting feeling that Evel Knievel did when he didn't land the jump, seeing places where you loved to spend time destroyed," he said. "But if you don't get back up, then we all lose, the planet loses." Reporter Nick Gevock may be reached at

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

CBS News: EcoDaredevil Awards to be presented in Butte

Two Montana women are being honored with an award that recognizes ingenuity and courage in the area of environmental action and science.

The EcoDaredevil Award was founded by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols and inspired by Butte native Evel Knievel. This year the award will be presented in the Copper Lounge of the Student Union Building at Montana Tech at noon on Friday, Sept. 18.

Katie Makarowski, an aquatic biologist, sustainability advocate and a recent graduate of the University of Montana's Masters of Science in Environmental Studies program, and Kathleen Kennedy, a teacher at Big Sky High School in Missoula, will be honored at the event.

Read more HERE