Earth Month: US Department of State — Marine Pollution

This US Department of State video on Marine Pollution does a fine job of articulating the problem – with some key exceptions - but leaves many questions unanswered in terms of how people can help.

Screened October 2018 | 100 general population brains | Cross-screen | Toronto, Canada | General Content Benchmarks

Screened October 2018 | 100 general population brains | Cross-screen | Toronto, Canada | General Content Benchmarks

What engages?

[1:30-1:35; 1:39-1:41; 1:49-1:54]

  • The music changes, and text on screen reads: “It covers almost ¾ of our planet and we depend on it for life” with images of oceans transitioning to a fisherman in a boat

  • Text on screen: “How can we clean up our waste?”

  • Text on screen: “Become part of the solution” with a urland American flag

What fails to engage?

[0:09-0:15; 0:42-0:49; 1:02-1:20]

  • Farms appears as text on screen, with imagery of heavy machinery and live chickens packed together, following a quote on screen from Captain Charles Moore “Only we humans make waste that nature can’t digest”

  • Text on screen: “Giant garbage patches threaten not only wildlife” with images of garbage floating and a cross section of a duck with garbage inside of it.

  • Text on screen: “Nutrient runoff overloads ecosystems, depleting oxygen and creating dead zones where life cannot survive” with an image of farm machinery in a field transitioning to satellite images of coastline, and then dead fish and sea creatures underwater.

Additional thoughts:

  • In Canada, few people these days have much exposure to farm life, so it’s perhaps little surprise that the moments containing imagery and descriptions of farm life fail to resonate. An extension of this is the concept of ‘nutrient runoff’; this also fails to meaningfully engage, suggesting a level of complexity requiring its own explanation and context. Would more exposure to farm living improve our understanding of the downstream impacts of modern farming, and improve the decisions we make about what we eat and where we source it from? 

  • A moment (0:50-1:00) that elicits sustained above average Connection relates to how marine pollution impacts human health and safety, and how unrecycled plastics account for 60% of all marine debris, providing clues for how we can communicate the urgency of climate action.


For more information on how to reach and interpret these analyses, click here.