, 21 tweets, 9 min read Read on Twitter
Good morning #SciComm friends! It's Dr. David Shiffman @WhySharksMatter back again!

Today we're gonna talk about ocean science and conservation, and how #SciComm can help with both!
@WhySharksMatter I want to know what YOU know about the ocean.

Why is a healthy ocean important for humans?

What threats does the ocean face?

What science-based solutions to protect the ocean have you heard of?
@WhySharksMatter Thanks for a fun chat about what you know about ocean conservation, friends! I want to move on to some #SciComm mythbusting about the science behind protecting the ocean. There's so much wrong information out here that it can be very confusing for concerned citizens!
@WhySharksMatter First, I want to talk about plastic straw bans, an issue which involves both pseudoscience and bigotry.

(Check out my column in SCUBA diving magazine for an expansion of this argument) scubadiving.com/sunscreen-stra…
@WhySharksMatter True: plastic can hurt marine life if it makes it to the sea. You should probably consider trying to reduce how much single-use plastic you personally use, though any real lasting solution is gonna need to involve structural change at the regulatory and manufacturing level.
@WhySharksMatter False: "no one needs a plastic straw, so no one will be harmed if we ban them." Lots of people with a variety of medical conditions absolutely need a plastic straw! The substitutes just don't work for their needs
@WhySharksMatter Straws could have been used as a way for people to think about how they interact with plastic waste and the environment, as a prelude to calls for larger-scale change. This would actually be a good #SciComm strategy! But it's not when many anti-straw zealots do.
@WhySharksMatter Straws are not the only ocean plastic problem, and they're not the biggest, and they're not the easiest to fix. From a #SciComm perspective, I worry about the hyper-focus on them... and that's without getting into bigotry against the disabled community employed by many activists.
@WhySharksMatter The ocean plastic pollution crisis is fertile ground for anti-science behavior, which keeps ocean scientists who practice #SciComm quite busy, and keeps our local bartenders employed.
@WhySharksMatter That's right, we're gonna talk about the "Ocean Cleanup," the giant net designed to scoop plastic out of the water that failed (in exactly the ways that scientific experts, who were rudely ignored for years, predicted).
If someone said to you "I don't have any medical training or experience, but I alone have figured out how to cure all diseases," would you celebrate them, or be skeptical? With the Ocean Cleanup, many non-experts chose to celebrate the idea. Scientists were...concerned.
As designed, the Ocean Cleanup could not possibly achieve its stated goals. The physics of how large floating objects (the net) move relative to small floating objects (the trash) dictate this. (It failed, exactly how experts predicted it would)
I spent *YEARS* trying to find an ocean plastic pollution expert who thought spending tens of millions of dollars on a giant net to scoop plastic out of the ocean was a good idea. I couldn't find one. And I found many skeptics southernfriedscience.com/i-asked-15-oce…
You know what giant nets are great at catching? Wildlife. As designed, the Ocean Cleanup was much, much more likely to kill ocean animals than to save them. deepseanews.com/2014/07/the-oc… And it was also very likely to break in the force of waves...which the prototype did.
Worst of all, the Ocean Cleanup team not only ignored the concerns of experts, but actively, publicly insulted experts. Their legion of online fans threatened some of my colleagues, and harassed me, for raising concerns about whether this idea would do more harm than good.
Experts know what we need to do to solve the plastic pollution crisis, and not only is a giant net to scoop plastic out of the ocean not it, but such a solution takes time, resources, and attention away from solutions that work.
Sometimes when all the experts say that something is a bad idea, it's because it's a bad idea, not because they're jealous of your unique brilliance in solving a problem they've spent their lives on after thinking about it for a short amount of time.
A great deal of the time and energy of fact-based environmental non-profits, as well as scientific experts engaged in #SciComm , is spent correcting misinformation from uninformed, well-intentioned people trying to help. Trying to help is great. But isn't necessarily helping.
"At least they're TRYING to help" is nonsense, as is "at least they're DOING SOMETHING!" Doing something that makes the problem worse, or doesn't help but wastes limited resources, is worse than doing nothing.

Demonstrating this is a #SciComm challenge!
So yeah, the ocean faces many complex threats, the science needed to fix these problems is also complex, and #SciComm is needed! I spend a lot of time educating the public, and more than I like debunking nonsense from people trying to help.
Does anyone have any questions about any of the science or #SciComm issues I discussed this morning?
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