Accentuate the Positive
“We are really helping the ocean when we use renewable energy.”
Which statement (both are true) motivates you more to care about ocean health?
Each week we (1000) volunteers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium are given a “Quick Tip” as part of our pre-shift update (along with what new fish are on exhibit and how many school kids will be visiting that day.) Quick Tips are designed to improve the guest experience (make eye contact, what to do when a child is lost, etc.)
This past week the Quick Tip was “Accentuate the Positive.” Don’t say – You can’t come in this door. Say – Let me help you find the entrance. Yes is better than no.
Likewise we are taught to use positive conservation messages: We can really make a big difference in ocean health by driving less and buying sustainable seafood. Rather than negative doom and gloom ones: Millions of sea birds die every year from ingesting plastics. Even if that fact is sadly true, “conservation psychology” says people are more motivated to change by statements of hope than threat.
But sometimes it is hard to accentuate the positive. Even Julie Packard, the Aquarium’s Executive Director, used words like “dismayed” and “setback” “affects our survival” last week in her statement responding to the March 28 executive order signed by President Donald Trump rolling back U.S. policies to combat global climate change.
The Aquarium has in recent years become more outspoken and active in political issues that affect ocean health, such as its bold and successful support of the California plastic bag ban last election. I appreciate that change.
In our same volunteer update last week we were also read Julie’s full statement. But we were warned that some guests might disagree with it, and if so, we shouldn’t argue with them, but just refer them to the Aquarium PR department.
I said, “I thought we were supposed to be leading with the positive. How about saying: Our director’s bold statement reflects our mission, to promote ocean conservation. Thanks for coming to the Aquarium so we can continue this lifesaving work.”
Here’s Julie’s statement. I, for one, feel positive about it.
“Monterey Bay Aquarium is dismayed by the actions included in the executive order U.S. President Donald Trump signed today. The order represents a setback in U.S. leadership on climate change, the greatest environmental challenge of our time. Climate change and ocean acidification affect ocean health—and our own survival—in profound ways.
“The executive order rolls back existing federal policies that are critical to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, promoting clean-energy solutions and protecting our ocean, the heart of the planet’s climate system. Now is the time to speed up, not reverse, the progress we’ve made in these areas.
“Monterey Bay Aquarium will continue to advocate for science-based public policies to reduce the emission of heat-trapping gases and promote U.S. leadership in addressing the grave threats to society posed by climate change. We urge the U.S. to honor its commitments under the Paris Agreement.
“We are proud of the significant steps the State of California is taking to accelerate climate solutions and grow a clean-energy economy. We will continue to work with leaders in California, and other states and nations, to advance global climate action that is grounded in science.”
Our Blue Theology Mission Station encourages youth groups and adult pilgrims to promote ocean conservation in all settings, from their local churches to their food and energy choices, to the voting booth. God loves the ocean, and wants us to love it a bit more. Be in touch. Bluetheology.com