Today marks day two of the the 3 day conservation, sustainability, and technology conference SXSW Eco set at the AT&T Conference Center in Austin, Texas. While I was a bit confused as to why Chevrolet, a major car producer was the major sponsor of this event (and subsequently did NOT make plans to attend their hosted breakfast this morning) I warmed to the idea when I read into their background and how they created an Environmental Label and standard for cars that includes an end of life-cycle plan (try getting most producers to take on that responsibility).
Yesterday was an interesting day. From meeting Philippe Cousteau and learning about his three pillars of conservation success to racing to the "Hacking the Ocean's Food Supply Chain: Technology, Transparency and Seafood" with enough time to question their assertions that "...fish populations are resilient, most will come back after being left alone for a few years; there is hope for these species if we are responsible" and that "...eating small seafood is a good idea, sardines and anchovies are super high in omega-3s and very low in contaminants."
While these statements on their face value are, in a sense, true they ignore the fact that taking away the food sources of the larger species adds stress to the species that eat them and things like krill and small fish are ALREADY being over fished. These statements also ignore the fact that American lack of consumption on larger species will not lead to the reduction we all hope for, that it is a GLOBAL problem.
I was able to race in at the last minute and ask the panelists if they had a chance to look at the Ocean Health Index. Apparently none of them had had the chance to see this informative and beautiful bit of information.
The panelists were interesting, kind and informative and it was a special pleasure meeting Maria Finn, author of the upcoming Ted book "The Whole Fish: How Adventurous Eating Can Improve Your Sex Life and Help Save the Ocean." Very curious to read that.
The actual setup of the events kind of confuses me. Most of the "micro sessions are set as 15 minute conversations and this set up is a bit frustrating. Just when you start to get into the talk and want to learn more, it ends. Leaves me hungry for much more.
The night ended with an impromptu meet up of SXSW Eco attendees at Scholz, a local bar in Austin with an amazing political background, to watch the first presidential debate. Since its founding in 1866, Scholz has been home to all of the State Capitol's legislative after work drinks or in session sneak aways. People from both parties have gathered there through its histories to debate, discuss and drink each other silly.
I won't go into the debate too much because my focus here is SXSW Eco, but the report that came out recently from CNN saying that 67% of Americans believe that Romney won the debate made me do a double take - were they watching the same debate? Sure Obama was slipping here and there but what can you do when your opponent is flat out lying and back tracking on months of campaigning. Ugh, I hate lies.
Keep watch for coverage of a few more key panels and discussions as they happen on the twitter feed @akornblatt and on here. Maybe we can make some suggestions to get more Ocean related panels in on the future... Hint Hint...