May 11, 2012

Occupy the Ocean. ~ Wallace J. Nichols, PhD

The ocean is the single biggest feature of our planet.

From one million miles away we resemble a small blue marble; from one billion miles a pale blue dot.

The ocean covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface and holds more than 80% of its biodiversity and 90% of its habitat.

Phytoplankton in the ocean provide more than half of our oxygen and provide the basis of the primary protein for more than a billion people.

More than half a billion people, mostly artisanal fishers, owe their livelihoods to the seafood industry.

Humans have derived immeasurable inspiration, joy, recreation and relaxation from the ocean for millennia.

But we have treated the ocean poorly, and its decline in recent decades has been catastrophic for our planet and its people.

We have put too much into the ocean, in the form of oil, sewage, fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics, plastic pollution, noise and increasing levels of carbon dioxide.

We have taken too much out of the ocean by subsidizing and encouraging inefficient and destructive overfishing, bottom trawling, long-lining, purse seining, dynamite fishing, irresponsible aquaculture and illegal hunting.

We have destroyed the edge of the ocean—places like wetlands, kelp forests, mangrove forests, river deltas, coral reefs and seagrass beds—where diversity and abundance once thrived, now turned into dead zones growing in size and number.

As a result of our behavior, the wildest animals and most remote beaches on the planet carry plastic in them. Coral reefs are on the verge of disappearing. Shark populations have been decimated. The ocean is warming and becoming more acidic, and fisheries are predicted to collapse globally.

This situation will only continue to spiral downward, unless we listen, learn and change.

To slow, stop and then reverse this trend will take immediate, widespread and drastic actions; not isolated, small and incremental adjustments.

The control large corporations have over our political processes must be severed, bold legislation enacted and new behavior patterns widely adopted.

We need an ocean revolution.

The passionate individuals, organizations, expertise and solutions needed to do this exist around the world.

What is needed is a massive boost in personal and political will alongside strong actions and louder voices.

Push for legislation that safeguards the sea, innovations that rethink wasteful energy and products, and actions that lead to restoration of what is broken.

It is our coast and our ocean.

The time is now to occupy the ocean.

 Dr. Wallace “J.” Nichols is a scientist, activist, community organizer, author and dad who works to inspire a deeper connection with nature. A Research Associate at California Academy of Sciences, J. is also founder/co-director of OceanRevolution.org, an international network of young ocean advocates, and LiVBLUE.org, a global campaign to reconnect us to our water planet.

He has authored and co-authored more than 50 scientific papers and reports and his work has been broadcast on NPR, BBC, PBS, National Geographic and Animal Planet and featured in Time, Newsweek, GQ, Outside Magazine, Fast Company, Scientific American and New Scientist, among others.

Lately he is working on BlueMarbles.org and BLUEMiND: The Mind + Ocean Initiative, merging the fields of cognitive science and ocean exploration. He blogs at wallacejnichols.org.

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Editors: Lynn Hasselberger/Lara Chassin

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