Politics & Policy

Save Nemo, Kids!

(Dreamstime)
The Council for Biological Diversity uses the famous movie to fight global warming.

Hey kids, remember that little clownfish from Finding Nemo? Well the big bad companies want him dead!

That is essentially the message that the leftist Center for Biological Diversity is spreading. In its campaign to protect coral reefs, the Center is using the popular Pixar movie to convince us all that the clownfish is in danger because global warming. In 2012, the Center filed a petition with the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect the clownfish and other coral-reef-dwelling species under the Endangered Species Act. In 2013, the Center filed a “notice of intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service for the agency’s failure to act on our petition,” according to their website.

However, as Time reported in 2012, this petition, and the ensuing notice of intent, is not based on actual evidence of a decline in the clownfish population. Instead, the Center is using the famous fish as a heartstrings-pulling stand-in to get you angry about global warming. “Finding Nemo is getting even more difficult—global warming and acidifying oceans are destroying the coral reefs the clownfish calls home,” Shaye Wolf, the climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity said in a recent press release. “Endangered Species Act protection and meaningful action to put the brakes on greenhouse gas pollution will help make sure these beautiful fish survive in the wild and not just in the movies.” 

“A whole generation of children knows the orange clownfish because of Finding Nemo,” Wolf tells National Review Online, “So I think it does provide a really good mascot . . .  to provide a wake-up call to people that these coral reef fish are in trouble.”

The Center cites ocean acidification and the “global marine aquarium trade” as two of the reasons as to why the clownfish may be endangered, although there is no definitive proof that they are. If the lovable little sea creature is endangered, though, promoting Finding Nemo won’t help the clownfish’s survival, as sales of the orange fish as pets spiked after the movie’s 2003 release, which is the fifth-highest-grossing animated film in the United States.

Despite all of the discussions about Nemo, the petition asks for the protection of 8 species of coral reef fish. The clownfish is the only one not found in U.S. waters. If accepted, the petition “would provide protection for the fish from any U.S. federal government activities or any sort of project that they might permit or authorize or fund. It gives a layer of protection from government activities that could harm the fish or its habitat,” Wolf told NRO.

Using a cute creature to combat global warming is not a unique move from the Left. In 2008, the polar bear was placed on the Endangered Species list, despite a “recent uptick in the animal’s population.” 

— Christine Sisto is an editorial associate at National Review Online.

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