Ocean Optimism is on the rise, but we all have to do our part to help bring our oceans back to health. There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of our oceans: scrappy companies coming up with ocean saving innovations, local communities saving their oysters and the some forward thinking areas instigating prevention strategies; all of them offering us possible ways to save one of our most important resources, our oceans
When Earth’s population was much smaller, no one believed pollution would ever present a serious problem. It was once popularly believed that the oceans were far too big to pollute. Today, with around 7 billion people on the planet, it has become apparent that there are limits. Pollution is one of the signs that humans have exceeded those limits.
Recent studies indicate that at least 40 million pounds of plastic has accumulated and is floating in the North Pacific Ocean alone. And the ocean, making it more acidic, absorbs a large portion of global CO2 emissions. Plus there is the pollution caused by oil and gas drilling and run-off from many sources including, sewers, garbage and water treatment plants.
We’ve got issues with our seas, BUT recent efforts worldwide have created with any luck an on-going optimistic bubble of hope.
- Governor Gregoire of Washington state has made a significant commitment in the form of an Executive Order and allocating funds to ocean acidification priorities. And her panelists have detailed an action plan that allows for even more action to be taken today — action that can make a difference to businesses that earn a living from growing shellfish that we all enjoy. One in six oysters consumed in the United States comes from Willapa Bay, WA. Now it’s up to other states like Oregon, California and Maine to follow Washington’s excellent model for action.
- Cleaning the plastic out of the ocean: The Ocean Cleanup Array developed by Boyan Slat in 2012 when he was 17. This machine is highly scalable, captures plastics not sea life, and is energy passive (using existing energy created by wind and ocean currents). It has been tested and is scaling up for widespread ocean cleanup. The “Array” is very good at capturing large plastics in the ocean.
- Preventing more plastics from entering the ocean: solutions for this include better drainage control, coastal clean up days, the interception of plastics entering the ocean plus the most obvious one: discontinuing the usage of plastic in our everyday lives. The most effective way to stop plastic pollution in our oceans is to make sure it never reaches the water in the first place. We all need to do our fair share to stop plastic pollution: individuals need to recycle and never litter.
Pollution is certainly a big issue in our oceans but there is a rising of consciousness on the planet that offers a great deal of hope. More needs to be done, of course but the effort has begun in earnest. We need to promote an ocean ethic, which results from education, outreach and public input. Our lives as humans are highly dependent on the Seas’ health, so it behooves us to take notice and care before it is too late! The good news is that there are many individuals and groups around the world raising awareness and encouraging all of us to help slow and stop our tide of trash before it becomes marine debris.