Shifting Baselines

Randy Olson

They’re making progress. Check out the map. They’re halfway down Baja and a couple hundred miles out to sea. As you’re reading this right now, Dr. Marcus Ericksen and Joel Paschal are bobbing on the surface, eating their beans, corn and fish, and calling attention to the sad situation of plastics in the sea. It’s…

My phone rang at 8 this morning and the caller I.D. said, “Out of Area.” That was an understatement. It was Marcus Eriksen, calling on the satellite phone on board Junk Raft, from 5 miles south of Guadalupe Island, which is about halfway down the Baja Penninsula. We talked for about 15 minutes. They’re doing…

Last year Jeremy Jackson went to South Africa to collect a big prize at a conference. While there he met a young nature writer/photographer named Adam Welz. A few weeks ago Adam was ambling down the west coast of the U.S. and stopped by to visit for a day. In addition to breaking the news…

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…

Environmentalism needs what Dr. Marcus Eriksen is embarking upon this Sunday. When I first saw the photo of their raft, I balked. I thought to myself “Doesn’t that look a little risky?” and “What if the raft should be lost at sea?” So I sat down with him and asked ten simple questions addressing my…

Okay, I’m going to give this one last shot. Regardless of whether I know what I’m doing as a filmmaker, what I do know is that in the spring of 2006 I spent two weeks at the Tribeca Film Festvial meeting with theatrical and home DVD distributors along with my sales agent, Jeff “The Dude”…

For anyone who knows me, you know that’s the highest compliment I could ever pay a communicator. There are two fundamental errors to consider in the mass communication of science: errors of inaccuracy, and errors of boredom. It’s a lot like Type I and Type II errors in statistics. And just like with statistics, there’s…

This is such a great article. It’s about the gargantuan con job advertisers have pulled on the American public over the past four decades. For those of us who grew up in the sixties and drank water from supposedly dangerous public water fountains (like the author of the essay), it will remain forever baffling how…

Junk Raft Gearing up for Hawaii

A six-week drift to Hawaii will call attention to plastics in the sea Yesterday Dr. Marcus Eriksen, his expedition partner Joel Paschal, and their land-based support coordinator (and fiancee of Dr. Eriksen) Anna Cummins took the newly built “Junk Raft” on a trial run to Catalina and back. All systems are go, so they’re now…

How bad is the situation with plastics in the ocean? Bad enough that the staff of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation are building “Junkraft,” a raft made of 20,000 discarded plastic bottles for sailing the 2100 miles from California to Hawaii to call attention to it. I stopped by to check out the construction this…