I have the somewhat grouchy last words at the end of this article yesterday in the LA Times about tomorrow’s scheduled start of the controversial Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project. I’ve been asking for a year, “Where are the big guns?” This nation has environmental NGOs and foundations with the resources capable of communicating the bejesus out of this very justifiable and needed environmental project. Why aren’t they here helping?

MALIBU LAGOON RESTORATION PROJECT: What does it take for the large NGO’s and foundations to actually engage in powerful communications work as a means of avoiding local environmental conflict?



Last April, Sarah Hansen published a powerful and precise indictment of the current American environmental movement with her report for NRCP.

Here’s her most painful statement: “From 2000-2009, grantmakers provided $10 billion for environment and climate work, funding primarily topdown strategies; yet we have not seen a significant policy win since the 1980’s.”

That’s the sort of summary statement that supports all the written critiques of “the failed movement” like that of Schellenberger and Nordhaus and plenty of talks such as Peter Karieva’s recent presentation that ruffled normally-comfortable conservation feathers.



I’ll go further. These louts with these bloated budgets have also proven themselves prone to avoid controversy in general. There’s one “C.E.O.” whom I’ve heard speak explicitly of leading his organization to seek, “Winnable Battles,” — meaning sure victories that they can report to their donors as proof that they are “Winning!” even if it’s a campaign to pick up litter in the local dog park with no opponents. Seriously? What a gutless mindset. And the sort of thing I’ve found myself thinking over the past two years as I’ve observed and tried to help out a bit with this somewhat crazy (yet 100% symptomatic of our current society) controversy at the Malibu lagoon…

Where are the big folks?

You can see the article ends by pointing to this. There has been no clear concerted professional communications effort to help the local community understand why their lagoon does indeed need to be torn up for six months in order to make it function better. Which is similar to what happened with the issue of Marine Protected Areas on the California coast over the past decade. There was also no concerted professional communications effort to the fishermen and coastal residents to help them understand why there is a need to lose some of their favorite fishing grounds for a while in order to replenish fish populations.

What exists are tons of lawyers and lobbyists who know how to get laws passed in favor of the environmental goals, but no ability to translate any of the agenda in understanding for the average folks.

It’s very, very bad. Shame on you, large NGO’s and foundations with your staggering wealth and arrogance. I’m here on the ground watching it and you should not be proud of yourselves for this. You should be still celebrating the 1980 Alaska Lands Legislation Package, which as Sarah Hanson points out was your last major accomplishment. That’s it. More than 30 years ago now. Why do you keep patting yourselves on your backs?

Just back from 2 weeks in New Zealand and Australia (my first time back in 24 years!) where I had a great, great time at multiple venues including the excellent, “Collaborate, Innovate” conference in Adelaide.

PREACHING THE GOSPEL OF INNOVATION at “Collaborate, Innovate” in Adelaide, Australia.



For starters, the above line is a tribute to my excellent assistant/videographer/special effects editor Josh Forgy whose grandfather, Howell Forgy, 70 years ago, was the chaplain on board the U.S.S. New Orleans at Pearl Harbor and coined the famous expression, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,” in the midst of the bombing.

And speaking of which, this is a big week here as we’re doing our first test screening of my new documentary feature film about World War 2, but for now I’m recovering from a very busy two weeks in Australia, the highlight of which was the “Collaborate, Innovate” conference in Adelaide. Here are a few photos from my talk.

THINK VISUALLY.  I’ve used this slide in about a dozen talks in the U.S. without eliciting a response, but in Australia the audience laughed, apparently ignoring what I was saying (that I did my graduate field work at Lizard Island in the photo), and instead thought I was suggesting that Lizard Island is a branch campus of Harvard.
PREACHING FROM THE GUT.  In the photo, Arnold is wearing what in Australia is known as “budgie smugglers” (budgie being a parakeet).

I’d forgotten this one from the old days of field work on the Great Barrier Reef — once when I had to give a talk to the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, this was the only question he asked.

How boring does global warming have to get before Obama finally appoints a Federal Task Force on Boredom? We need a Boredom Czar. We’re destroying our planet with the force of a thousand Ambien factories.

HEADLINE: PENILE ABUSE PREFERABLE TO ARGUING ABOUT CLIMATE. In this Australian video, “I Can Change Your Mind on Climate Change,” British science journalist Ben Goldacre says in reference to the topic of global warming (at 48 minutes), “I would literally rather slam my cock in the door than to get involved with this.” Ouch. That’s how boring it can get.



I just keep saying this over and over and over again. Until I bore myself. Global warming/climate change is the most god awful boring topic to ever confront the human race. I knew it ten years ago when I first starting talking to professors about it and it’s far worse today.

If there’s any nation that might possibly rescue the topic from the garbage can of total tedium I’m willing to bet it would be Australia. Here’s a film that was recently produced there — titled, “I Can Change Your Mind on Climate Change,” I started out watching it thinking I could only take about five minutes of it, but actually ended up hanging in there for the whole ride. I have to say it’s enjoyable and relatively interesting.

They do a good job of casting the two stereotypes — the bleeding heart young woman versus the cranky/angry old man. Both are great. They have them visit “the usual suspects” including my buddy Marc Morano (who is in my movie “Sizzle“), Richard Lindzen, and Bjorn Lomborg. It’s a decent film that holds your interest and shows you how hopeless the whole predicament is at the moment.

in that moment


But this is really what I mean when I say that Australians have the ability to make this stuff at least somewhat unboring. I think I would vote this short piece, punking goofball climate skeptic Lord Monckton (which has almost a half million views) as the very best piece of media on the global warming controversy to date. It’s utterly brilliant. Way to take a buffoon and play to his vanity.

I’m headed to New Zealand then Australia, spending 3 days each in Sydney, Adelaide, and Canberra. The highlight of the trip will be the Collaborate Innovate conference in Adelaide where I’ll be giving a talk and running a workshop. It’s my first time back in Australia in 24 years and all kinds of hijinx are lined up. Really looking forward to it. Especially getting back to the old Australian sense of humor and cynicism. They have such a healthy outlook on life, know how to not take themselves too seriously and drink plenty of beer along the way. Great to be going back.