“Rachel Carson was one person battling formidable odds who made a tremendous difference in our world. We are in her footsteps,” said Shaw, whose decades of research and advocacy as a marine toxicologist provide her with a unique perspective on the close connection between ocean health and human health. “Each of us can and must contribute our best effort now for the oceans. Toxic chemicals do not belong in our oceans. They do not belong in the bodies of marine mammals or our bodies. It will take courage and sacrifice, but together, we can build on her strength, and we can get there.”
These are among several points Shaw will address to more than 300 people in a 15-minute talk in the afternoon session “EXPOSING THREATS” when she takes the stage in Boulder, Colo. on Oct. 21, 2012. She will join more than 20 other internationally renowned ocean heroes at Making WAVES 2012, an annual event hosted by the Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO) on Oct. 20 and 21 in Boulder. Now in its second year, the event brings together prominent ocean scientists, activists, educators, youth and artists to give talks focused on building awareness of critical ocean conservation issues and creating a community of engaged ocean advocates. Other notable speakers at the event will be keynote speaker Jean-Michel Cousteau, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols and Jim Toomey.
“Most of our planet’s toxic pollutants ultimately wind up in our oceans, which have a finite capacity to absorb them, and this accumulation of toxics as a result of human activities will have a lasting impact on our food supply and ultimately our health,” said Shaw.
She added: “Now that we realize the extent of the problem, real solutions are absolutely critical to ensure the survival of our oceans for the current and future generations.”
One solution Shaw will discuss is MERI’s Stop Toxic Ocean Pollution (STOP) campaign. The STOP campaign will harness research, education and advocacy to engage positive solutions to the ocean crisis at every level, from igniting consumer actions to promoting toxics legislation. The campaign’s priority concerns are: 1) toxic chemicals polluting the oceans and harming marine life and humans, 2) plastic and microplastic pollution in coastal and marine waters, 3) chemical dispersants used in offshore oil spill response, and 4) shipping effluent and commercial shipping pollution.
Additionally, Shaw will voice her support for the Safe Chemicals Act to reform the Toxic Substances and Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). In July, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Safe Chemicals Act, and the legislation will next move to the Senate floor.
“People are constantly asking what they can do to help make a difference, both to minimize their environmental footprint and improve their own wellbeing,” Shaw said. “My answer is this: Be an informed consumer and understand as much as possible about the contents of the products you purchase. Find substitutes wherever possible for furniture and household products that contain harmful chemicals. Engage in the political process to support the passage of TSCA reform, and elect candidates who take the issue of chemical exposure and environmental health seriously.”
The Making WAVES Ocean Symposium, during which speakers will give talks, will be held on Oct. 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Wolf Law Building at the University of Colorado Boulder.
The weekend event will also feature an exclusive showing of films provided by the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival. The selection of films will be shown at the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder on Oct. 20. There will be a family matinee and an ocean issues showing in the afternoon, followed by an evening reception and program.
About Dr. Susan Shaw
A marine toxicologist, explorer, author, and passionate ocean advocate, Susan Shaw is widely known for her pioneering research on the toxic legacy of man-made chemicals in the ocean environment. She is credited as the first scientist to show that flame retardant chemicals used in consumer products have contaminated marine mammals and commercially important fish stocks in the northwest Atlantic.
On March 17, 2012, Dr. Shaw received the Explorers Club Citation of Merit Award for “extraordinary feats of exploration and research” and her leadership role in ocean conservation before more than 1,000 people at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City. She gave a lecture the next day at the Explorers Club, titled “The Vostok Dilemma: Time Capsule or Ocean Tipping Point?”, discussing topics such as unsafe offshore drilling at the poles, the impacts of the BP oil spill, and other key issues facing the world's oceans. Shaw chairs The Explorers Club State of the Oceans Forums highlighting solutions to the crisis facing the world’s oceans.
An outspoken and influential voice on ocean pollution, Shaw dove in the Gulf of Mexico oil slick in May 2010 and has informed the national debate on the hazards of chemical dispersants. She currently leads an investigation on the effects of oil and chemical dispersants in the Gulf ecosystem and serves on the U.S. Department of Interior’s Strategic Sciences Working Group, a team of scientists charged with assessing consequences of the oil spill and recommending policy actions. She appears in several documentary films on the Gulf disaster including Animal Planet’s Black Tide: Voices of the Gulf and Green Planet’s The Big Fix, the Official Selection documentary at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
A Fulbright Scholar with dual degrees from Columbia University in film and public health/ environmental health sciences, Shaw published Overexposure, the first book on the health hazards of photographic chemicals, in 1983 with Ansel Adams. She is the director and founder of the Marine Environmental Research Institute (http://www.meriresearch.org) and Professor at The School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, State University of New York, Albany.
The recipient of numerous awards, Dr. Shaw is a Fellow of the Explorers Club, a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, and was named Gulf of Maine “Visionary”
In 2011 Shaw received the Society of Women Geographers’