“The ocean is the cornerstone of earth’s life support system….It’s the blue heart of the planet–we should take care of our heart”–Sylvia Earle.
Too often, a solution to the climate crisis seems unattainable. There are countless issues regarding climate change, but one of the most pressing is the way in which we are destroying our oceans. Over the course of D-term, I took marine biology, and learned of all the ways in which we harm our oceans, from plastic and oil pollution to overfishing. Climate change is a tremendous issue that few acknowledge the severity of, and even fewer are prepared to address. Doing so requires an arsenal of tools rather than a single silver bullet. Thousands of intellects around the world are searching for solutions, but there is no ‘quick fix.’ Most critically, real change necessitates a shift in human behaviour; we must mitigate our civilization’s present consumption, as it is in no way sustainable.
I wish to explore one aspect of the climate crisis that we can tackle immediately: our oceans.
The ocean is the most powerful thing on our planet—it is our planet’s life support system. Every second breath you take comes from the ocean. The ocean regulates the climate, absorbs carbon and creates clouds that bring us fresh water and rain. Over one billion people rely daily on the ocean as their source of food, and countless others depend on it for their livelihoods: Two in six jobs depend on the ocean. Without the ocean, there would be no life. As Sylvia Earle said in The World is Blue: How Our Fate and The Oceans Are One, “the single non-negotiable thing life requires is water.” Water is what differentiates our planet from the others. It may look unchanged on the surface but the truth is that human actions have already killed countless ecosystems, and we are in the process of killing others.
Astonishingly, Homo Sapiens have been on this planet for over 200,000 years, yet throughout the past 150 years—a mere blink of the eye—we have destroyed 50% of coral reefs, 90% of the blue tuna population, 90% of sharks, and much more. This is not sustainable and the next generation will suffer greatly at our hands. The human population is rising rapidly and billions rely on the ocean for food every day. We need to create protected zones in the ocean. We are currently killing fish before they reach the age of maturity which means they cannot reproduce, leading to a decline in population. By protecting reefs, we are allowing fish to repopulate. So many more benefits come with ocean protection laws.
Project Zero is a not-for-profit organization that is tackling this issue head on. Ithas set out to secure a global network of the ocean sanctuaries to provide resilience to the devastating effects of the climate crisis. Currently, Project Zero has created 10 ocean sanctuaries in locations ranging from Sri Lanka to the East Antarctic. These marine protected areas allow ecosystems to regenerate and provide a safe haven for marine life. “Like national parks in the water, each ocean sanctuary is a place where no one can drill, mine, fish or pollute to allow the ocean [to] regain its power and mitigate the effects of climate change. In an explosion of biodiversity, fishes and invertebrates in ocean sanctuaries reproduce and grow to full size; this biodiversity is critical to the carbon cycle.” This critically important initiative deserves support and must be helped to grow.
As an Ambassador of Project Zero, I want to encourage each and every one of you to look into possibly supporting this wonderful organization or organizations like it. You could get involved and spread the word, or you could sign a petition for Green New World on the Project Zero website (www.weareprojectzero.com). As Sylvia Earle wisely said, “Many of us ask what I, as one person can do. But history shows us that everything good and bad starts because somebody does or does not do something.” Just do it. Help turn the tide on the climate crisis.