Today Guest Uses 'Avatar' To Guilt Viewers About Their Over-consumption

Thanks to James Cameron's "Avatar," environmentalists have a whole new way to preach to audiences about their over consumption. Invited on Wednesday's Today show to showcase endangered species, Sea World and Busch Garden's animal ambassador Julie Scardina played on the guilt of viewers as she asked the Today cast if they had seen Avatar and warned them: "You know our world is as amazing and incredible and unique as Pandora and yet a lot of people don't realize it's being destroyed in the same way." As Scardina played with a gibbon NBC's Ann Curry prompted Scardina: "Why is this gibbon's habitat so endangered?" which allowed Scardina to rail against logging, development and "consumption" in general.

The following exchange was aired on the April 7 Today show:

MATT LAUER: We're back at 8:45am with Today's Call of the Wild. This morning protecting endangered animals. The Sea World and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund works to preserve habitats and help save many species from extinction. Julie Scardina is Sea World and Busch Gardens' ambassador or animal ambassador. So Julie good to see you.

JULIE SCARDINA, SEA WORLD AND BUSCH GARDENS: Good morning you guys.

LAUER: Nice to- and you are holding an animal that you described as one of the most incredible on the planet.

SCARDINA: It really is. I mean this little guy is one of the most acrobatic. Now this, this little guy is only eight months old so.

AL ROKER: He's just a baby. 

SCARDINA: He's just, he's just hanging out with us. But these are one of the most acrobatic animals in the forest. 200 feet up!

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Is he a gibbon?

SCARDINA: That's right. There are about 15 species of gibbons and unfortunately all of them are endangered. You know if you guys saw the movie Avatar?

VIEIRA: Yeah.

SCARDINA: You know our world is as amazing and incredible and unique as Pandora and yet a lot of people don't realize it's being destroyed in the same way.

ANN CURRY: Why is gibbons habitat, why is this gibbon's habitat so endangered?

SCARDINA: Well you know only 10 percent of it remains because of conversion to oil palm, conversion to well logging basically for, for wood. There's also development. There's a lot more people on the planet. Competition for resources. So-

VIEIRA: Are they captured also for exotic pets?

SCARDINA: Yes. They absolutely are.

VIEIRA: That's awful.

SCARDINA: So, you know it's, it's, just there are things people can do when they, when they travel or even at home to make sure that we do preserve by not buying exotic hardwoods-

VIEIRA: Exactly.

SCARDINA: -and things like that.

LAUER: Yeah.

SCARDINA: But all over the world there's just, there's a lot of stuff happening. Thirty percent of amphibians are, are endangered.

CURRY: Palm oil production is a major factor.

LAUER: He is really cool.

SCARDINA: Fifty percent of all primates are endangered or threatened with extinction.

VIEIRA: Oh my gosh!

ROKER: Wow!

...

LAUER: And people need to get involved. That's your message.

SCARDINA: That's, that's exactly right. Pay attention. Do the small things. Even the little things. Make sure that we reduce our consumption. Make sure that we're paying attention and saying, "You know do I really need this or can I share these resources with other critters?"

CURRY: Use less.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.