Why Saving the Ocean is Essential and a Look at a Teenager Who Plans to Clean Half the Pacific

Our oceans are the lifeblood of humanity and the Earth. They flow over nearly three-quarters of the planet, holding 97 percent of its water and producing over half of the oxygen in the atmosphere, as well as absorbing the most carbon from it.

Even if you live nowhere near an ocean, they still affect your life as well as the lives of everyone around you. The air you breathe, the water you drink, products that keep you warm and safe, all rely on the ocean – either coming from it or transported by it.

A 2011 report by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean revealed that if the current actions contributing to a multifaceted degradation of the world’s oceans aren’t curbed, a mass extinction unlike anything human history has ever seen is coming. It was the first of its kind to examine the combined impact of all ocean stressors such as pollution, warming, overfishing, acidification and hypoxia.

The scientific director of IPSO, Dr. Alex Rogers, said in a statement: “The findings are shocking. This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, our children’s and generations beyond that.”

It’s up to everyone to help save our oceans, but there is one 19-year-old who says he has plans to clean up half of the entire Pacific Ocean. It may sound overambitious, but he’s backed by 100 researchers, environmentals and communications professionals.

President and founder of the Ocean Cleanup, and creator of its technology, Boyan Slat, says he can accomplish his goal of cleaning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within ten years. He originally presented the idea at a TEDx talk in the Netherlands two years ago, and recently said he planned to attend the “Our Ocean” conference hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry on June 16-17, 2014.

Slat told Brandon Baker of EcoWatch that he came up with his concept while diving in Greece and seeing more plastic bags than fish. Since then, he developed a website that includes all of the technology’s specs, a feasibility study and a campaign to fund it. He says his team has embarked on three gyre expeditions within six months. A video outlining his mission, and how he hopes to accomplish it, can be seen here.

Although Slat is not without his critics, he has responded to them via a blog post at TheOceanCleanUp.com that complements an extensive report on feasibility, found here.

While you may not have a big idea like Slat to clean up half of the the Pacific, there are many simple things an individual can do to have a positive impact:

  • Use fewer plastic products. Carry a reusable water bottle, bring your own cloth bag or other type of reusable bag to the grocery store, and recycle whenever possible.
  • Limit energy consumption. Take every step you can to reduce your consumption of energy such as walking, biking, or using public transportation whenever possible, switching to fluorescent light bulbs and using a fan rather than air conditioning.
  • Clean up. Whenever you visit the beach, be sure to clean up after yourself and consider participating in local beach cleanups if you live near the ocean.
  • Vote for public officials that care about the ocean. Do your research and make an informed decision and then exercise your right to vote.
  • Avoid buying products that are made through unsustainable or environmentally harmful methods, such as jewelry made of coral or sea turtle shell, or cosmetics that contain shark squalene.

open seaKudos to Boyan Slat – the more each one of us can do to work toward savings our oceans, and all of our environment, the better off our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and future generations will be.

-The Alternative Daily


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