Sylvia Earle says Save and Restore the "Blue Heart" of the Planet.
We now know there are five gyres in our oceans. Fortunately, there are individuals, non-profit organizations and companies doing something about it. However, the root of the problem is how waste is managed, as well as the lack of education for the world’s coastal population. Should education come from activists, scientists or governments?
You have to love something before you are moved to save it. We need people from all backgrounds and professions to raise awareness and inspire empathy about plastic pollution – and even greater threats like climate change, ocean acidification and overfishing – among their communities. Researchers need to speak out about their findings; activists need to spread the word about them; policy makers need to hear from voters and corporations that saving the ocean is a priority, and they need to work with scientists to act on those demands in effective ways. The only difference that has been made ever in the world, for good or for not so good, always starts with just one person. But it will take a coalition of researchers, indigenous communities, students, engineers, explorers, artists, teachers and advocates to use their unique skills and new technologies to appeal to our global society and change our relationship to the ocean for good.
As a researcher and an explorer, what is your biggest dream?
The impact that humans have had on our planet since I was a child is greater than during all preceding human history put together. For one thing, there are more of us. When I arrived, there were two billion people and now there are seven billion; and the planet has not gotten any larger. The pressure that we are putting on the land, the air, the water, and the wildlife that keep us alive has been stressed significantly. And as a witness to the changes, I feel compelled to share the view – especially what’s happened to the sea. We’ve got to somehow stabilize our connection to nature so that 50 years from now, 500 years, 5,000 years from now there will still be a wild system to sustain us. My biggest dream is for everyone to use all means at their disposal to spark a movement to create a global network of marine protected areas – “Hope
Spots” – large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet. That’s why I founded Mission Blue. By designating Hope Spots around the world, we are highlighting places in the ocean in need of special protection with the goal of safeguarding at least 20% of the ocean by 2020. Currently less than three percent of the ocean is protected in any way, and 99% is open to commercial fishing. I also personally dream of seeing the designs for little submersibles developed by a company that I founded, Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (DOER Marine), become a reality.
Only about 10 percent of the ocean has been seen, let alone explored. DOER’s three-person Explorer sub will provide access in depths to 1000 meters. The 11,000-meter Deep Search vehicle, with a glass personnel sphere, will be able to explore the full range of depth with unprecedented visibility – and capability. Remotely operated vehicles, instruments and underwater “drones” are essential tools for exploring, understanding and caring for the ocean, but there is no substitute for being there.
What would you like to say to our readers, and how can they get involved?
Look in the mirror, consider your talents, and think about how you might use them to make a difference. Some have artistic skills, others are good with numbers or have a way with
words. Everyone has power to make a difference as an individual – or by joining the company of others who share a common goal. The key is in knowing that what you do matters, including doing nothing!
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