Resource scarcity, pollution, overpopulation — we are at a point in the trajectory of civilization where we must either remain complacent and stick to our linear economic model, or we take action to enact change. But, as consumers, how do we know what information to trust and what to do with it? On the other side of the coin, how do researchers and activists make sure their work reaches enough people to make an impact and drive more change?
Marcus Eriksen, Co-Founder of The 5 Gyres Institute, joins us today to explore questions like these while also talking about the work he does and the incredible life experiences he has had that led him to it. 5 Gyres empowers action against the global health crisis of plastic pollution through science, art, education, and adventure. Marcus and 5 Gyres have done countless amazing things. Perhaps most notably, he conducted the research that led to the banning of microbeads in the U.S.
We kick the discussion off talking about this research and the hope it has given Marcus, and then hear his thoughts on how to be more skeptical consumers of information that can take action on what we learn. From there, we hear the incredible stories of Marcus’ childhood where his love of nature began, and the experiences he had as a marine that inspired him to join the movement to rid the world of plastic using science. Toward the end, we talk to Marcus about the need to collaborate and weave stories around scientific research because, if not, the lessons you have for the world might be forgotten, or worse, never even heard. For valuable insights on how to take action and join the movement for change, be sure to tune in at one of the below links:
Key Points From This Episode
How can we defend science?
- Understand the kind of scientists we want to listen to — hint: it’s usually not the ones who are paid by organizations to put out studies
- Pay attention to where you get information — look for the highest quality peer-reviewed journals, avoid secondary sources (someone else’s analysis of someone else’s report)
- Read abstracts. Ordinary people should be reading and familiarizing themselves with scientific resources to back their projects and claims
How to gather information like a scientist
Be highly skeptical, open-minded, and pragmatic (listen to all sides). Dig into how people got their information. “Tell me more” is a good way to have the speaker explore their positions.
The importance of the ABT communication method in getting your studies out there and motivating people to act
ABT is a communication tool that stands for “And, But, Therefore.” Many of the greatest speeches in the world include ABT. The basic framework is “Here’s facts A and B and C. But, if we don’t do something, X will happen. Therefore, do this.” It gives a very clear path from information to action.
Why we need to blend Art and Science
So many obscure journals and millions of publications each year get buried. In order for this information to be seen, the publicity approach to inform the public requires art. Plan how the story will be told. Through film? Images? Sculpture? This will connect people to the science and help them get on board.
“I feel this blip — the increase in use of single-use plastics is a temporary fear, but I see the post-pandemic world as a huge wakeup.” — @5gyres[0:03:03]
“Within less than three years we had a federal bill banning the use of microbeads in future products. It was such a success story. It showed that a coalition of the willing, it works.” — @5gyres[0:04:58]
“We have to get the politics out of media.” — @5gyres[0:16:43]
“I’ve had a few papers published where they get a few days of play and that’s it, they’re gone, and now I know you’ve got to build narrative around it.” — @5gyres[0:39:00]
Coming Up Next
Next week we’ll hear from Josh Balk, Vice President of the Humane Society of the United States and co-founder of the popular vegan brand, JUST. Besides this, Josh is responsible for leading the most successful legislative campaigns for farm animals in the US, and is one of the main reasons that cage-free chickens are becoming increasingly common. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss next week’s episode, and leave a rating to help us continue our growth.
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode
Benjamin Von Wong
Marcus Eriksen on LinkedIn
The 5 Gyres Institute
The Five Gyres Institute on Twitter
The Ocean Plastics Leadership Summit
Ocean Plastics Leadership Network
Procter & Gamble
Marine Pollution Bulletin
Guns, Germs, and Steel
Dave Ford on LinkedIn
Eisenhower’s Farewell Address
Captain Charles Moore
Don’t Be Such A Scientist
Martin Luther King
Break Free From Plastic
The Natural History Museum LA