What they’re into … with Mark Gibson (Breaching the Blue)

This is a series I’ve been featuring each Tuesday this summer to get a special sneak peek at the different personalities behind the scientists, activists, and educators (including bloggers) who play an integral role in the marine science conservation field. It’s essentially an extension of the overwhelmingly popular and well done Tumblr blog, This Is What A Scientist Looks Like, (BCS was featured in April!) which sets out to illustrate that scientists are not just crazy haired nerds in lab coats. I’ve sent a list of 15 random questions and asked that each person share at least their answers to 5 of them. Here’s what Mark Gibson had to say.

Mark at Ted Turner’s Flying D Ranch, a model ranch in terms of species conservation and land restoration.

Mark runs Breaching the Blue, a website on the “politics, economics, and human dimensions of the global ocean”.  He says you can think of it as a sort of ‘digital nerdery’ – a place and space to tinker with ideas on ocean conservation and politics. These days he spends a lot of time thinking on how we might rebuild fish stocks through innovations in fishing rights and reduce illegal fishing through the application of criminological theory.

He studied international affairs at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, DC, and tailored his coursework to look at marine policy.  He sees this as a perfect example of how you don’t need to go to a ‘blue’ school to do ocean work. In fact, the combination of a more traditional international security education with ocean affairs led to his tackling of a lot of interesting issues, from the political economy of MPA selection to the international law that would govern displaced island nations.

After graduating, Mark worked at Oceana and the Pew Environment Group.  This led him to some interesting work, from evaluating the damages to fishermen after the Deepwater Horizon Spill to a full-scale policy analysis of Europe’s deep-sea fishing. A major interest of his is helping the NGO world better use all the great economic data out there.  Why work so hard to make moral arguments when so much of the ocean could be protected on economic grounds alone?  He continues to work in ocean conservation in DC, but spares us the details to maintain his independence.

In the long term, Mark hopes to have his own consulting practice that would analyze the economics of fisheries crime and efficacy of enforcement activities.  The aim would be to offer a knowledge product that would a) increase the efficiency of enforcement efforts, b) increase the value of fishery access rights, and c) improve overall conservation. He’s now exploring how he might go about that.

Outside of oceans, Mark spends his spare time rock climbing, practicing pop psychology as a Myers-Briggs enthusiast, and promoting the slightly eccentric diet and lifestyle known as ‘Paleo’.

What is the last thing you bought that you shouldn’t have?
More books. I’ve committed myself to not expanding the Gibson library until the end of the summer.

What is your favorite fruit flavor?

What is your favorite Sunday breakfast?
Avocado and mushroom scramble with a grass-fed beef patty, fresh berries, and artisanal coffee.

What’s your favorite midnight snack?
Almond butter.

Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Morning person.

What is your favorite room in your home?
The basement.  I have a ‘Bat Cave’ with a small library and a large cache of climbing gear, diving equipment, and other outdoor paraphernalia.

Which sitcom character do you relate to?
I relate equally to Ron Swanson and Chris Traeger from Parks and Recreation. Go figure.

What is your favorite scent?
Fresh coconut.

What is your favorite sundae topping?
I don’t eat ice cream, but it would probably be dark chocolate or raspberries.

What is your favorite pastime?
Scuba diving.  The best job I ever had was as a divemaster in the Bay Islands.

What three things would you take with you to an island?
A sea kayak, a tent, and a bottle of hard cider.

How superstitious are you?
Not at all.

What is your favorite day of the week?

Are you a cat person, dog person, or neither?
Dog person.

If you were a geometric shape, what would you like to be?
An octagon.

What’s some other random favorite information about you?
Favorite blogs: Marginal Revolution and the Dan Ariely Blog.
Music: Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, and Steve Earle
Movies: The Life Aquatic, Moon, 3:30 to Yuma
What I’m reading: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Why People Obey the Law, Managing Small-Scale Fisheries: Alternative Directions and Methods, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, and The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communication

Thanks to Mark for participating in this questionnaire and I hope you’re finding time to get through that library. Check out the other great folks that contributed to the “What they’re into …” series this summer.

More on marine debris …

I suppose this post is inspired by my frequent visits to populated beaches and the marine debris I’ve been collecting with the help of anyone that asks what I am doing. I hate scare tactics, but pictures make a big impact when it comes to what happens with what we leave behind on the beach. The effects are long lasting and unfortunately out of sight. This is just a little reminder that I hope you share.

Philly, it’s time to get enthusiastic about ditching those bags of plastic

It’s no secret that I am not a fan of single use plastic bags (Check out this series about the majestic plastic bag from last summer) and I support any campaign requesting city officials to review a ban on plastic bag. This is especially true when the city of focus is Philadelphia, PA. I might be more of DCist lately, but my heart and soul are from Philly (Go Phils!). My parents are from the area and I still have plenty of family that I do not see enough in the area, not to mention I was raised in south Jersey. The way I always differentiate south and north Jersey for people that wonder why I make such a distinction is that when you say ‘the city’ in south Jersey you are referring to Philly and if you say ‘the city’ in north Jersey you are referring to NYC.

In any event, I actively volunteered with DC Surfrider as they worked vigorously to pass the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009 which set up a 5 cent cost for all single use plastic bags and know that this type of change in a city has an impact on local streets, sidewalks, and waterways. The goal here is simple, if you live in or care about the beautification of Philadelphia, please sign this petition to bring attention to the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, therefore initiating a vote in City Council. For more information please visit Green Philly Blog.

Los Angeles has officially banned plastic bags, joining cities Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Toronto & many more. Philadelphia voted and rejected a plastic bag ban in June 2009. We need to bring the ban back to our city of brotherly love.

Please feel free to share this message and if you’re on Twitter use #BanPhillyBags to add to the conversation.
Here is another great infographic on the subject “How Convenience is Killing Our Planet” from the folks at ArteIdeas.

What they’re into … with Miriam Goldstein (Deep Sea News)

This is a series I am featuring each Tuesday this summer to get a special sneak peek at the many different of personalities behind the scientists, activists, and educators (including bloggers) who play an integral role in the marine science conservation field of today and tomorrow. It’s essentially an extension of the overwhelmingly popular and well done Tumblr blog, This Is What A Scientist Looks Like, (BCS was featured in April!) which sets out to illustrate that scientists are not just crazy haired nerds in lab coats. I’ve sent a list of 15 random questions and asked that each person share at least their answers to 5 of them. This week features my favorite commentator over at Deep Sea News, Miriam Goldstein.

Miriam is a Ph.D. student studying Biological Oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. For her thesis work, she is researching the impact of plastic debris on zooplankton communities and invasive species transport in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. She is the principal investigator on the SEAPLEX cruise, which explored plastic debris in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre in August 2009. Miriam is an active science popularizer and educator, and has appeared on CNN, CBS, NPR Science Friday, and PRI’s The World, among many other media outlets. Her popular writing has appeared in Slate Magazine and Open Laboratory, and she currently writes for the web’s leading marine science blog, Deep Sea News. Miriam has been a Fellow in the NSF Marine Biodiversity and Conservation IGERT program and the NSF GK-12 teaching program. She holds an M.S. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a B.S. in Biology from Brown University. Before coming to Scripps, she worked as a construction project manager in New York City, an outdoor educator in New Hampshire, and an environmental consultant in Boston. Miriam is originally from Manchester, NH.

What is your favorite fruit flavor?
I don’t really like fruit flavored things that aren’t fruit, but I LOVE berries. One of the best things about living in southern California is all the strawberries, especially in February! But my very favorites are raspberries and blueberries.

What is your favorite Sunday breakfast?
That’s really hard since brunch is my favorite meal. I’d say it’s a tie between my own homemade popovers with maple butter (I like to bake) and my husband’s chilaquiles (a spicy mix of fried corn tortillas, eggs, and onions). {Scroll down for the chilaquiles recipe}

Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Definitely a night owl, which is sort of unfortunate since marine biology is organized around a lot of early mornings. I still do my best to never start work before 9:30 or 10 AM, since I don’t really wake up fully until then.

Which sitcom character do you relate to?
I’m a huge nerd and I love kickass female characters. So one of my favorite shows is Buffy the Vampire Slayer (though I’m really more of a Willow than a Buffy). I also love Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica and Zoe from Firefly. Veronica Mars is probably my favorite TV character closest to being a scientist, since she’s a detective.

What is your favorite pastime?
I like to waste time on the internet, bake, and backpack. My favorite thing to bake is pie, any kind of pie, though my husband’s favorite is my apple cranberry crisp. We’ve been backpacking the John Muir trail in the Sierras for the past few summers – last summer we did an 100-mile hike from Bishop to Mt. Whitney, most of which was above 10,000 feet. Standing on top of Mt. Whitney was pretty amazing – it’s so high that if we were in an airplane, we’d be able to use our electronic devices!

Are you a cat person, dog person, or neither?
Both! I love dogs, but I travel too much to have one. I have two cats, one skinny and one…not so skinny. It’s a constant battle to keep the fat cat at an acceptable level of fatness. (She shared a picture of them here too!)

If you were a geometric shape, what would you like to be?
A dodecahedron so I could have the coolest name.

What’s some other random favorite information about yourself?
My new favorite thing is Spotify, the music service. I’ve become a little obsessed with making themed Spotify mixes. You can check them out here: http://sharemyplaylists.com/members/miriamgoldstein/playlists.

I am honored that Miriam shared some insight into her day-to-day life and I definitely agree that being a dodecahedron is the way to go as far as shapes. Be sure to check last week’s featured ocean conservationist David Helvarg, Executive Director of Blue Frontier, and check back next Tuesday for a guy who loves his job so much that Fridays and Mondays are meaningless. Now that’s the way to live!

Chilaquiles recipe
Serves two people, scales linearly. The better the tortillas, the better the dish. Fresh salsa will be better, too (from the refrigerator aisle, or homemade, if you have the energy). This recipe will be mildly spicy. There are lots of way to give it more kick, but my preferred is to add a habanero to the jalapenos.

1 medium onion, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped into 1″ pieces. Not too small.
4 eggs
8 high quality corn tortillas, sliced into 1″ x 3″ strips (approx.)
salsa (at room temperature)
cheddar cheese (for grating)
half avocado, chopped (optional)
vegetable oil

Tools: Skillet or frying pan, knife and cutting board for chopping, two dinner plates, 1 medium mixing bowl, and 1 small mixing bowl.

1) Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a skillet at medium, enough to coat pan and then some.
2) Put onions into pan and sautee. After a  minute, add peppers. Saute both until soft.
3) Put onions and peppers into small bowl and set aside.
4) Add oil to pan until it’s 1/2″ deep, and heat oil on medium high. When you put a piece of tortilla in, it should sizzle. If it doesn’t, oil isn’t hot enough.
5) Put in tortillas and fry. Push them around until they start to get crunchy. Tortillas will cook unevenly, which is fine. Remove when you have reached preferred level of crunchiness. We like them with some bend left in them.
6) Remove tortillas to bowl with paper towel in it. Pour off oil in pan until there’s enough left to  coat the pan.
7) Put half of tortillas and half of onion-pepper mixture back into pan. Push around until everything is warm again.
8) Crack two eggs over tortilla-onion mixture. Scramble quickly so eggs will cook into mixture.
9) When eggs are cooked, pile onto empty plate.
10) IMMEDIATELY grate cheddar over mixture, enough to make a thin layer over the center of the mixture. Add more if you like more, less if you like less. Cheddar shreds will melt over hot mixture.
11) Repeat steps 7-10 for each person.

Add avocado chunks, if you have them. Put a few tablespoons of salsa on top of each plate. Put the salsa on the table, in case diners prefer more. Eat promptly.

The Majestic Plastic Bag – Part IV

Thin plastic shopping bags

This just in! Another fine addition to The Majestic Plastic Bag conservation series. A reusable plastic bag company, ChicoBag Company, announced recently that they are being sued by three of the nation’s largest disposable plastic bag manufacturers. Those companies are claiming that a link on the ChicoBag Company website educating citizens about the long term implications of disposable plastic bags to the environment is causing “irreparably harmed” their business.

Some of the statements that the disposable plastic bag companies have issue with are:

  • “A reusable bag needs only to be used eleven times to have a lower environmental impact than using eleven disposable bags.” Source: EPA
  • “Only one percent of plastic bags are recycled.” Source: EPA
  • “Somewhere between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year.” Source: National Geographic
  • “The world’s largest landfill can be found floating between Hawaii and San Francisco. Wind and sea currents carry marine debris from all over the world to what is now known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This ‘landfill’ is estimated to be twice the size of Texas and thousands of pounds of our discarded trash, mostly plastics.” Source: National Geographic
  • “Each year hundreds of thousands of sea birds and marine life die from ingestible plastics mistaken for food.” Source: L.A. Times

We’ll keep you updated on how this plays out via our Twitter feed.

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