It’s World Oceans Day June 8th. A Time To Answer The Conservation Call.
Our oceans have been sending out distress signals for decades but we’re just not listening. From Florida to Turkey to Japan, there are alarming signs that they aren’t just in trouble, but in dire straits. The call must be answered now. But before we get to what kind of action we must take, we need to understand exactly what type of emergency we’re facing. But brace yourself. It isn’t pretty.
SEA SNOT IN TURKEY'S SEA OF MARMARA
Yes, there is such a thing. And it's as gross as it sounds. It’s a thick, slimy layer of scum (yes, scum) that is spreading in Turkey’s Sea of Marmara. A threat that is growing rapidly and seriously threatening marine life, as well as the fishing industry in that region. What is it? Essentially, it is marine mucilage (ergo, snot) which is a result of climate change and increased ocean pollution. All of which are man-made. But wait, there’s more.
RED TIDES OF ALGAE FROM FERTILIZERS AND PESTICIDES
Just think about that for a moment. Tides that aren’t deep blue or emerald green but blood red. As if the remains of a massacre were regularly washing up on shore. Unfortunately, that is a pretty good description, as red tides are literally killing masses amounts of marine life. The red color isn’t actual blood, however, but a result of significantly increased algae that multiply in the wake of water runoff. Which is essentially poison being poured into the water.
Not surprisingly, poisoned water isn’t very good for humans, either. And red tides are being increasingly found all over the world, including off the coasts of Florida, California, and even the Gulf of Maine.
Sea snot. Red tides. What could possibly be worse? Believe it or not, a monstrosity so vast and wide that it is threatening to take over our seas. And it’s made-up of toxic items that you can find in your pantry right now.
THE PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH IS GROWING
Plastic. That’s right, good old plastic. The miracle invention of the 20th century has become the scourge of the 21st.
As promised, it has certainly turned out to be extremely convenient, and remarkably durable. The problem is, all of that durable convenience has to end up somewhere. Which has turned out to be in our oceans. A good portion of all plastic humans have discarded over the past 75 years has ended up floating in a watery grave. A particularly nasty collection is called The Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific rim that covers 1.6 million square kilometers. Another one called The Eastern Garbage Patch stretches from Japan to the Hawaiian Islands. These floating garbage cans include everything from water bottles, to toothbrushes to plastic bags. And they increase ten-fold each decade. Convenience has a cost. And our oceans are paying it.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP CLEAN-UP OUR OCEANS
Unfortunately, all of these horrific developments are a result of the same problem: bad or simply thoughtless human behavior. Fortunately, they can all be rectified by making informed personal choices, and advocating for better public policy. Here are the three most impactful things that you can do right now to help change the tide of history for our oceans, and ourselves:
- Reduce plastic in your life.When it comes to plastic, just say no. No to plastic grocery bags, plastic water bottles, plastic straws…forks…clothes hangers…laundry detergent bottles…just stop the madness of plastic without end. Think before buying. Stop buying plastic whenever possible. And recycle both in and out of the home. These three steps, taken by increasing numbers of people, are definitely having a real impact.
- Buy clothes from the brands that use eco-friendly and recycled materials. Look for clothing made from pesticide free fabrics like organic cotton, organic hemp, organic linen and recycled fabrics including recycled cotton, recycled polyester and recycled wool. And make sure these brands also follow Green Manufacturing protocols to produce the clothing items you buy.
- Vote green policy and water conservancy.Yup, you’re going to have to get political. Or at least vote like our ocean’s lives—and by extension ours—depend on it. Make voting for positive, impactful change a priority. Add every local, regional, state and national election on your calendar. And choose candidates who will make our future their priority.
- Support ocean conservancy efforts. Put your money where it will do the most good. One dollar given to the right group can really make a substantive impact. Do your research to find the one you trust the most. These organizations are really making a difference: Oceana, The Ocean Cleanup, and The Ocean Voyages All of these amazing non-profits are dedicated to cleaning up after our collective mess. And they are doing it smart and fast.
As life opens up and we get back to doing the things that make life worth living—such as going to the beach—remember that even though the ocean looks healthy, it’s not. The distress signals are everywhere. And it’s up to us to act.
This World Oceans Day make a plan, make the commitment, and start making a world of difference.