Vaudeville comedian Eddie Cantor was right, more or less.
I have no biological children. My sons are not my children; they are my wife’s and her ex-husband’s. And I haven’t been very successful in getting them interested about the Earth that occupies most of my thinking, even though what happens to the Earth profoundly affects them and their loved ones. But I did help to found two organizations with extraordinary environmental benefits. One is the Marine Conservation Institute, of course. The other is SkyTruth, the subject of an amazing article in the July 31 Washington Post Magazine. Marine Conservation Insititute and SkyTruth are my real babies (of course, it takes a village to raise a child; they both have other parents!).
SkyTruth’s founder and President John Amos has all the makings of a star. The article on SkyTruth is amazing for bringing together 3 key elements that you want in any award-winning film star: 1) a really interesting person who’s a good-looking, living, heroic 21st Century example of innovation, technological know-how and willingness to take risks, a combination that all great movie heroes must have; 2) an ethical conservation message essential to our survival and our children’s survival, namely that we all have to live as if life on Earth matters, a message that appeals to several key demographics, and 3) a sticky, high “cool factor” thanks to their techno-cool message made cooler by the fact that SkyTruth is a nongovernmental organization. Government action is essential, but so much innovation and progress comes from nongovernmental nonprofit organizations such as SkyTruth.
As virtually all of SkyTruth’s major projects have shown, John’s insight—that if you can see it, you can change it—is really powerful. No less powerful to many people is seeing that one highly motivated, capable individual really can make a difference in today’s world. John left a consulting company that helped companies and countries find valuable things under the ground so he could use his special training and talent to help people trying to save their environment. John stuck with his idea, improving it year by year, for more than a decade. That’s a message I believe will stick with people today, especially because John has great pipes and delivers his content in a vibrant, compelling, cool new way. I had the pleasure of working with a fellow Brooklynite I met in 1984 or so, a brilliant planetologist from Cornell University named Carl Sagan, who did pretty well in the media, and delivered some powerful environmental messages. And he was a lot less cool than John is.
In other words, this Washington Post Magazine article and we, its readers, shows us a brilliant new star in the environmental movement. The light SkyTruth shines helps the world see differently. SkyTruthing will mobilize young, technologically smart people to do good things in many places. And if the Earth wins, people win.
SkyTruth has grown beyond just John, just as the Marine Conservation Institute has grown well past me. That’s what we, as parents, so passionately want to do for our babies, to prepare them for independence, for new adventures, yes? And if SkyTruth is what the world’s people need to know that it’s cool to go green, it’s a very good investment for people who want to make a difference.
I’m in. I’ve been a proud SkyTruth board member since John founded it. Of all the names he could have chosen for the organization, he honored me by choosing the name I suggested. That feels really good.
What’s better than seeing your baby grow up strong, smart and kind? For John and me, having no biological children, saving the Earth for our generation and generations to come would be a pretty good outcome.
Elliott Norse, Founder and Chief Scientist, Marine Conservation Institute