Shifting Baselines

I put together this short video of yesterday’s departure of Junk Raft. An amazing fellow showed up for the festivities–Redondo Beach resident Don McFarland who in 1958 sailed a similar sized raft along the same course from LA to Hawaii with three other men. Two of them were mormons and did it to prove their idea that Hawaii could have been colonized from America. He said anthropologists at the Bishop Museum had recently said there was simply no way indigenous people from North America could have crossed the distance. It took them 69 days at sea, but they proved them wrong (and he said the anthropologists were really pissed at them for doing it).

You can see a little bit of Don in this video and he mentioned a sad shifting baseline example–that they saw no plastic trash during their journey 50 years ago. I’m sure trash in the ocean wasn’t even on their minds. It just wasn’t an issue back then. But it certainly is now and these guys are committed to giving it a higher profile. You can follow their journey at their blog.


“The human face of plastic pollution in the sea”: what it’s all about

Comments

  1. #1 SteamGeek
    June 3, 2008

    Great post, thank you.

  2. #2 goatberg
    June 3, 2008

    Good stuff, and such an excellent project.

    I wonder if you’ve come across vbs.tv and their web series about the garbage island in the Pacific gyre? It’s Vice Magazine’s video site, and it’s actually got a whole lot of valuable indepedent journalism (if you don’t mind the informal and sometimes irreverant style). The garbage island series, though, is an excellent companion to the Junk Raft blog and is well worth watching. Part 1 here: http://www.vbs.tv/video.php?id=1485308505

    Thanks for the post.

  3. #3 Randy Olson
    June 3, 2008

    Whoa. Goatberg, you just made an instant VBS fan out of me. What a great project with a great attitude. And yes, that was Captain Charles Moore and his boat Alguita in their segments — the same group that Marcus Eriksen is part of with the plastic raft project. Charles spoke on Sunday just before the raft headed out. He also came to our Hollywood Ocean Night event 4 years ago and tried to tell people about the plastics problem back then but mostly got blank stares. I think he’s finally making some major headway on the issue. It’s great to watch them succeed.

    And the videos on VBS are excellent. Thomas Morton is a star!

  4. #4 Randy Olson
    June 3, 2008

    And by the way — that VBS website — those are the sort of cool, hip, smart BUT also substantive filmmakers that are the sort I was talking about a couple weeks ago in our discussions of communicating evolution. You want to improve the mass communication of evolution, go find filmmakers like that and just say to them, “what can we do to get you involved with reporting on the attacks on evolution … or global warming … or immunization science … ” or any of the other very important issues that the clunky traditional media simply is unable to convey effectively. THAT is one very productive direction to go.

  5. #5 Tatil
    December 17, 2009

    Am I the only one that doesnt know what the “DI” is? Could someone elaborate, I feel like I should know, but I dont

  6. #6 image hosting
    January 19, 2010

    Charles spoke on Sunday just before the raft headed out. He also came to our Hollywood Ocean Night event 4 years ago and tried to tell people about the plastics problem back then but mostly got blank stares. I think he’s finally making some major headway on the issue. It’s great to watch them succeed.

  7. #7 guzel sozler
    August 6, 2010

    Charles spoke on Sunday just before the raft headed out. He also came to our Hollywood Ocean Night event 4 years ago and tried to tell people about the plastics problem back then but mostly got blank stares. I think he’s finally making some major headway on the issue. It’s great to watch them succeed.