Commonwealth National Podcast

Ted Danson: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them (3/22/11)

Duration: 
1:02:59

Ted Danson: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them

Ted Danson, Actor; Environmentalist; Author, Oceana

In the mid-1980s, actor Ted Danson was walking along a Santa Monica beach when he noticed a sign: “Water polluted, no swimming.” "Trying to explain that to my kid was hard," he says. Already wealthy and famous from playing Sam Malone on “Cheers,” Danson decided then to use his celebrity to raise awareness about the plight of the world’s oceans. “It sunk in that there is a lot that has come before us, there is a lot that will come after us, and that this time were are here is not just about us. It’s about stewardship,” he says. At Climate One, Danson talks about his life in activism and the manifold threats to oceans, the subject of his new book, Oceana. “No one disagrees that we’re headed in the direction where we could conceivably commercially fish out our oceans – no more fish, jelly fish soup – if we do not stop fishing destructfully and wastefully,” he says. Danson shares a statistic that points to one culprit: rampant overfishing by big boats. Ninety percent of the world’s fishermen are small-scale operations, harvesting from the sea as they have for millennia, he says. These fishermen account for 10% of the global take. The other 90% is harvested by the remaining 10% of boats, commercial-scale trawlers, some with nets big enough to snare a 747. Once the nets are hauled up to the boat, “a third of what the world catches is thrown overboard dead or dying because it’s not the fish they’re after.” The situation is dire, but Danson cautions against despair. He published Oceana, he says, to leave those concerned about the oceans feeling hopeful and empowered to act. “When you show up en masse in an email, you literally change policy around the world,” he says. “And it’s the best feeling. To not be overwhelmed by headlines, and to know you are doing something about it. You will know, in your children or grandchildren’s lifetime whether you succeeded. And that’s cool. That’s exciting. That’s not overwhelming or depressing.”

This program was recorded in front of a live audience at the Commonwealth Club of California, San Francisco on March 22nd, 2011

Published in: