Friday, October 08, 2010

Marine Reserves Just Might Be The Best Charity Going


There are a lot of problems in this world, and giving to charities is a potential way to fix some of these problems. Unfortunately, most of the solutions out there involve trade-offs and unforeseen negative consequences.

Just for some examples, giving aid to poor countries has a rather dismal long-term success rate. People become dependent, the charities give things the recipients don't really need, etc. My wife majored in International Development and Globalization, and concluded, like most of her peers, that foreign aid pretty much doesn't do any good.

Donating to medical research has the potential to extend human life, and relieve suffering. For people who think there are too many people on the planet, and that human life doesn't need to be any longer (I'm not one of these people, but I know people who think this), it's a dubious endeavor.

Improving the environment by reducing consumption is a great idea, but of course the drawback is that we have to reduce consumption, which is hard. We get less.

But I know of a cause that appears to have no bad side effects, and involves no trade-offs. It's a complete win: marine reserves, a place where you can't legally fish (the marine park is a related concept, where you also can't fish, but is open for tourism).

I'm getting most of my information about this from the TED talk below, which I highly recommend taking the 20 minutes to watch. Please watch it.

This is the most important talk to see, regarding how great marine reserves are (20 min):


If he's right, and I have not checked to make sure that he is (if you know anything more about it please comment), we have a solution that improves the health of the ocean and increases fishing yields. We get to eat more fish, and there are more fish in the ocean. It works like a bank account. We allow more principle, we live off more interest. In the past 50 years, we've eaten all of the principle, and the oceans are decimated.

I have not know of any organizations that are fighting to get marine reserves in place. If you hear of any, please let me know about them.

This talk is just for those with further interest. It's good, but not necessary. It shows some terrific photographs of the beauty of the ocean and the horror of the overfishing (20 min):


Pictured: Monodactylus argenteus school swims above dead corals near Madagascar.

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