Antidotes to Ignorance – Unleashing The Second Superpower


PREFACE: “…… the single most frightening and dangerous threat to the Ocean, the one that stands alone, yet is at the base of all the others, is ignorance.Dr. Sylvia Earle, Sea Change, Page 336.

LIGHTENING ROD: The Second Superpower by Harvard Professor Dr. James Moore. Linked to and allied with Friends and Allies identified in our Short List.

GOLDEST NUGGET?: From Bill Mott, The Ocean Project. Click here for the biggest gem of all!

WARNING FROM JOHN HIBBS: Unhappily, this (overly-long) submission ignores one of the most valuable pieces of advice I received in all my formal education years with: the Jesuits at St. Catherine’s; the University of Oregon (History); Golden Gate University (MBA), and from tough courses at the University of Mexico; London School of Economics; University of North Carolina. That advice, from a brilliant Russian history professor, was that he would flunk me unless I drastically cut the length of my submissions. I tried, he didn’t flunk me, and the rest is a good yarn for another day.

Now, in the Age of Twitter, I continue to ignore that advice. Sorry. Pithy, I am not.

THEREFORE: If you want the Short Version of this Plan, click here


Because the perils facing the Ocean – and therefore “the whole human race” – are “an existential threat” to the whole entire planet. Because knowledge of these risks is shared by millions of sailors, surfers, divers, marine animal lovers, scientists, fishermen and Healthy Ocean advocates worldwide. Because the prescriptions outlined are not in place – and they should be. Because each component is based on proven business principles: Ones that start by asking the hard questions then proceeding, cautiously, collaboratively, in ways that will gather buy-in from those with the resources, brain-power and will-power to make them work.

Ultimately, each component will be coupled to cold, carefully calculated metrics – benchmarks, schedules, pie-charts, costs, revenues, numbers, numbers, numbers. The Second Superpower may operate by way of The Cloud; but it will be measured by grounded facts.

Help Wanted: This submission is only a starting point……”intellectual cheese” designed to attract and engage entities already well established in the Ocean advocacy realm. We need their help to kick-start the Petition and Proclamation campaigns, the first step to engage The Second Superpower.

Central PremisesThat the biggest risk to the Ocean is ignorance; that the only antidote to ignorance is education; that the New Tools of e-learning, e-conference, and e-education, when fashioned along the lines of Dr. Mooree’s The Second Superpower, and then placed inside well-tested delivery and promotional vehicles, that all of these, together, provide optimum methods to slay the Ignorance Dragons.

Targets  & Goals: The chief target is those in Ocean Advocacy  who believe that by harvesting the networking power of the Lilliputians (aka Second Superpower) can change deeply embedded cultures of grave danger.  The end goals are to move from a culture of neglect and toxicity to one of sanctuary, conservation and protection; from ignorance and apathy to enlightenment and action. Not for the faint of heart.

The HowBy following examples of promotional campaigns that have worked brilliantly in the for-profit world; by putting education and enlightenment at the heart of the enterprise; by engaging those on The Short List for reasons of their own self-interest; by skillfully tapping resources from the sailing, diving, surfing, oceanography, education and Web technology communities; by pointing the bulk of our efforts to kids 14 and under.  And by leadership that is hard-wired to the concept of thinking inter-generationaly.

Hibbs ChestbeatDuring the last 20 years I have had a front row seat to the most innovative people in the e-learning, e-training, e-conference, and social networking world. They use the “New Tools” in remarkably novel ways to achieve jaw-dropping results. It has been a privilege to watch them, learn from them, be a wee part of their undertakings – from Prague to Perth, Alaska to Argentina, Cairo to Capetown. The great bulk of them are in the business of teaching English as a foreign language and the great bulk of those are foreigners working in difficult circumstances. What they do best is use the New Tools to knock down institutional barriers, excite the kids and open new horizons that were unimaginable just twenty years ago. What they do best is collaborate like crazy. What they embrace the most is each other.

The Jaw-Dropper: The Arab Spring & The Second Superpower: Proof of the power of jaw-dropping change is everywhere. But I say the very best evidence is The Arab Spring. (forecasted by Harvard’s Dr. James Moore ten years ago in his masterpiece – The Second Superpower.)

The Obvious:  At our collective fingertips is the reach, technology and educational force that is on high display in every nook and corner of the planet. Thread, needle, sewing machine, fabric, design and work force is at hand. What’s missing is a clear-cut call to action  – one that starts with an on-line Petition Drive organized by a commonly-held “Oceans” umbrella.

Toilet Dump or Bullion Lock Box? If we are to reduce the perils facing the Ocean, avoid going over the cliffs just ahead, nothing less than wise, distributed management of this Power can possibly change a worldwide culture of treating the ocean like a toilet when it should be protected like the bullion at Fort Knox.


The Ocean -- Toilet? Or Bullion At Fort Knox?

The Choice: Ocean Brown? Or Ocean Blue?

If we don’t change the culture, then color the Ocean Brown — and color human life as we now know it — color it GONE.

 Ignorance – “The gravest risk.”


On Page 336 of her Dr. Earle”s “landmark publication”, Sea Change, A Message of the Oceans, she writes:

What do I believe is the greatest threat to the oceans, and thus to human survival and well being? Is it the huge amount of trash, toxic chemicals, pesticides, grave threats and destruction to shoreline marshes, reefs, and sea grass meadows, oil spills, overfishing, predator species?”

These are all great problems.”.

“But the single most frightening and dangerous threat to the Ocean, the one that stands alone, yet is at the base of all the others, is ignorance.


The ONLY antidote to ignorance is education. 

What follows are tactics designed to slay the Ignorance Dragons, The short of is that

  • (a) we must use the whole array of (education) anti-toxins that are available, affordable and have an impact substantially greater than the cost of their deployment;
  • (b) that the best way to ensure wide distribution is to follow promotional models that have worked for others and can work just as well for us;
  • (c) that the best way to gain both political traction and a large, powerful grass roots network is by a combination of changing the optics and through year-in-year-out Petitions and Proclamations campaigns -  from Prague to Perth, Alaska to Argentina.

While this is a hard slog, none of it is terribly new or terribly novel. But it will only happen when there is buy-in by those already in the business of saving polar bears and sharks, penguins and star fish, coral reefs and pristine beaches; from those shooting undersea videos, writing books and doing scientific research; those taking kids to the beach and those we can recruit who love being in, or under, or on, or near the Ocean.

My contention is that the millions of sailors, surfers, swimmers, divers, and boat owners represent a tremendous resource “we” should – must – tap. I say that a reasonable percentage of these would volunteer modest amounts of time and/or money for programs that would help save what they  love deeply.

I say that these should be thought of as the “core” of  “The Ocean’s Second Superpower“. From the fruits of the Petition Drive, and the courting of those on the Short List, will come those who can help us distribute “our” logo (and tag line) for placement on surfboards, scuba tanks and wet suits; on jib, main, mizzen, mast, boom and back stay;  on outer wear and beach ware; on cups, mugs, hats, sweat shirts, swim fins, mask and snorkel; on yacht club dinnerware, and most particularly on sailing races here, there and everywhere – for those from eight and under to those competing for the America’s Cup.

This is a long slog. But do-able.

All of it has to be data-driven, using vehicles already well-tested, available and affordable.

Personal Note: This entire submission comes with a deep personal conviction that all of these efforts must be data driven; that appropriate metrics must be developed by asking very hard questions; that the remedies offered must come with sound histories and sound premises; that the best of these will almost certainly come from well-tested vehicles that have already proven their worth, their reliability, their use-ability. And – most important of all – their financial sustainability.


We are not in the business of inventing any new wheels! We are not in the business of paving any new roads. Our challenge is to use proven vehicles, proven navigation tools and well-traveled pathways.   If we stick to the knitting of what we do particularly well – most assuredly by way of Petitions, Proclamations and capable harvesting of its yield, then all of this is possible.


The Core Questions. (They are always the same)

Who exactly do we target? Who gets paramount attention? How do we reach? In what proportion? On what premises? How is “progress” measured? Monitored? Rewarded? How are our assumptions reflected in the budget? Who pays? Who manages the manpower both volunteer and those on the payroll? And what does that cost?And how is it measured?




By Far, The Most Bang For The Buck

I contend that these Campaigns should do for the Ocean what painting the Golden Gate does for San Francisco It’s a job that goes on 24/7/365, year-in and year-out. Part of it is grime removal and oil-can greasing. But a more important part is the work represents a continuing love affair with a gleaming, iconic edifice.

Casting a net for signatures to protect the Ocean should be as common as selling Girl Scout Cookies – and be just as profitable.

The ponds operated by those on the Short List are already heavily stocked with those we need to enlist. Neither the asking for the signature nor providing it is very hard.

Neither is the acquisition of Proclamations from mayors, governors and county supervisors . What politician, from small town mayor to big state governor doesn’t want to be spotlighted for protecting the Ocean?  The publicity from these Proclamations has huge impact; done wisely and well, the publicity alone is worth its weight in gold.

None of this is rocket science; not much of it is novel. Yes, like any political campaign, it’s a gazillion phone calls, emails and pointed door-knocking.  But it’s all  within “our” grasp – “all” we have to do is cast the nets and carefully mine that which comes into our boat.

 2. Changing The Optics

The short of this is I love the optics of Red Socks Day in New Zealand, organized by the Sir Peter Blake Trust. I also love, love, love the optics that come from World Ocean Day.

In a perfect world, “we” would highlight the Kings and Queens in the world of e-learning, e-training, e-conferences and e-education. People like Sir Ken Robinson and Sir John Daniel. They  should seen seated next to people like Ted Turner, Sylvia Earle and Richard Branston.

Let’s elevate, and spotlight, the role of those from the realm of education; make them part and parcel to the realm of Ocean Advocacy.  Let’s do it with the tools of e-learning and e-conference as on display here, and here, and here.


I have some bragging rights about this subject; and some scars to it. In the early 90′s, when just only a rare few knew what a browser was, much less something about blogging, webcasting, broad-band, or anything at all about Google, Skype, Facebook, My Space or Twitter, I was the “imagineer” to a 24 hour, 24 time zone event called Global Learn Day.

We featured Russians from outer space, mountain climbers from the Himalayas, scientists at the South Pole, climbers English teachers in New Guinea, Nigeria and Newfoundland. educators knighted by the Queen, innovators from Cairo to Capetown, Prague to Perth, Alaska to Argentina. We hooked them up by everything but two tin cans tied to a string: ham radio, ordinary telephone, chat room, and live streaming in real time. We opened in New Zealand, where the planet “begins the New Day”, We closed, 24 hours and 23 time zones later, on an speck of an atoll somewhere in the far Western Pacific. We did it all on a shoestring, 99.9% volunteers –all virtual; all the time. We did it for 14 years, and we all learned a lot.

The Point? What all this portended was the ability to acquire a world-class education and/or world-class training and/or participate in world-class conferences: affordably; reliably; anywhere and everywhere. The most important result? The ability to build world class networks that are both megaphone and muscle for Big Change.  What it yielded was a remarkable confluence of innovation, experiment, collaboration, volunteerism, regularity and accomplishment.


And so it should be for those in leadership positions for the preservation of the Ocean.

3(b) E-Learning + E-Conferences

Budgets, Scheduling, Timetables and Tasks

It is well beyond the scope of this post to “get in the weeds” for decisions about who? when? how? how much?

BUT – if “ignorance is the gravest risk” –and it is — and if e-conferences and e-learning are (easily) one of the most effective, affordable means to mitigate ignorance and knit the community together — and they are – then the question should be posed: What are “we” going to do to incorporate these into our strategic and tactical plans?

(More specifics follow)


 4. Optics- Iconic Image-A Smokey for the Oceans

Repeatedly, I have argued that the Ocean needs an iconic image that will do for the Oceans what Smokey the Bear has done for the forest. I consider that the creation of this is very nearly as important as the image finally selected. How do we engage Art Schools and Grade Schools, You Tube and Face Book, Coke and Pepsi, Webmaster, Blogmeister, Walt Disney and Hollywood?

Learn more here.

5. The Metrics of Impact

In all the investigation, research, reading and conversation I have undertaking on this (whole) subject, nothing has glittered more brightly, than work done under the direction of Bill Mott at The Oceans Project. What Bill has enabled is a metrics based, scholarly undertaking that measures the impact of “presentations” to children using a Facebook platform. PLEASE CLICK HERE LEARN MORE!!!

This has staggering implications!

 6. Logos and Distribution

When you live in the shadow of Nike, and daily walk past Knight Stadium, Knight Law School, Knight Business School, it’s hard to underestimate the power of the “Swoosh” and it’s tag line: “Just Do It.” From personal conversation with Phil Knight I know that for every dollar Nike spends to “protect” the Swoosh (from pirates, or “unauthorized use”, Nike spends many, many thousands for its distribution. Repeatedly, I have argued that an “Oceans Logo” – Mission Blue? – should have at is goal to appear on: scuba tanks surfboards; on mast, boom, main, jib, blooper, hull and winch; on yacht race scorecards and postings, from those competing in the ten and under to those in the America’s Cup or on Alone Around the World. The logo should be on sailing outer-wear, back-packs, school busses, life jackets and life rings and swim wear and beach ball, sand bucket, sun tan bottle, sun glasses, visor and chair; on yacht club front door, menu, calendar and every event from New Year to Christmas.

7. Signature Events -

Nothing concentrates the mind like a hanging.” (Samuel Johnson). “Nothing concentrates the mind like an Signature Event.” (John Hibbs)

My efforts to “juice” World Ocean Day together with Capital Hill Ocean Week with America’s Cup competition, with the Sylvia Earle Alliance, with a Signature Event on either Larry Ellison or Larry Page’s multi-million dollar cruisers (in San Francisco) did not gain enough traction to make them happen – this year.

Learn more here about the “bones” of this event.

(Like Operation Market Garden in WW2, this may have been “a Bridge Too Far.)

What is not “too far” is an event configured around Steve Hargadan’s Global Education Conference, in November 2012. What is also not too far is to consider the possibility of a webcast following the “route” of Global Learn Day but with participation by way of those already committed to World Ocean Day, June 8.

In any event, VERY LARGE events, focused on education and advocacy – obviously to include TED – should be part and parcel to a “War on Ignorance.”

Learn more here about being part of a 5 day world class learning event.

8. The Role of Dr. Sylvia Earle

I will not come within “a long country mile” of suggesting “the role” of Dr. Earle. (Even the dumbest, youngest priest dares not to tell the Pope how to run the Mass.)

But I will add my own observations and tender, very lightly, two suggestions.

Here’s the observation. My very personal observation and conclusion is that Dr. Earle is to Saving the Ocean what Dr. Martin King was (is) to Civil Rights. This whole Oceans undertaking is a Movement –that should go on, will go on, long, long after she or I taken our place in by Dad called “The Marble Orchard”. Her books, her presence in Davos, Singapore, at TED presentations, and at high level conferences all over the globe are testimony to that. The SEA Alliance brings together people, resources, stature, knowledge, experiences of the rarest kind. The chief challenge is how to manage the operation with the same level of brilliance that Dr. Earle brings to it. Should any of the “Points” outlined above be something that I could help with, I hope we can meet for “Next Step” discussions.

Now, the two suggestions:

a) Somehow, someway, I would like to help SEA bring into its “Alliance” the history, adventure, accomplishments of Sir Peter Blake and the work of the Sir Peter Blake Trust. I call this “Taking Sir Peter Blake Global” possibly in an “alliance with Ted Turner.

b) The value of books already published by Dr. Earle could, I say, could be “re-tooled” into “a fiction, non-fiction” book co-authored by someone of the talent and stature of John Vaillant. Not convinced? Read The Golden Spruce After that, then read The Tiger.


Inspiration from: Dr. Sylvia Earle, Author, Oceanographer, Research Scientist, TED Prize Winner, Founder of The Sylvia Earle Alliance


Directors of the Sir Peter Blake Trust in New Zealand, Bill Mott, Mover & Shaker behind World Ocean Day, Laura Cassiani and many of those “leading the charge” at many of those listed here

Particularly important Mention for Contributions in the E-Conference, E-Leaning Community : Vance Stevens and all the Webheads; Blaine Berger, Adrian Hoad Riddick, Nathan Lowell, Dr. James Moore, David Wortley, Annette Stock, Steve Hargadon, Sir John Daniel, Sir Ken Robinson.

And to Christina Clark, for web design, to Sandy Hibbs for putting up with me all these years; and most especially to Bevan Waite (who worked with unflagging determination on graphics development.)

About hibbs

Avid sailor, History graduate, University of Oregon. MBA graduate, Golden Gate University, San Francisco. Course work University of Mexico; London School of Economics; University of North Carolina. Green Beret, US Army 1964-66. Business career: imports & exports including 11 year stint in Asia with Getz Corporation, America's largest trading company. After Getz, Hibbs started United Amusements and grew it to the largest importer/distributor of coin-operated software in North America. From the early 1990's Hibbs passion turned to the extraordinary changes in the e-learning, e-conference arena. Bragging rights? - Imagineer, chief cook and bottle-washer to Global Learn Day, a 24 hour, 24 time zone event that featured exceptional innovation in education & technology, world-wide. Now, an evangelist for an Ocean Blue. Lives in Eugene, Oregon, home of the Ducks & Tracktown USA (former 3 hr 7 min marathoner - ages ago!)
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