World Oceans Day

Matt Sowerby

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Today many organisations are posting about #BigGreenWeek, but before we join in highlighting some great work being done this week, we wanted to post about another celebration that took place over the weekend: #worldoceansday. After all, as American marine biologist Sylvia Earle put it, “No water, no life. No blue, no green.”

Pause, and take a deep breath.

Think about how, through phytoplankton, the ocean produces over 50% of the world’s oxygen and plays a crucial role in sequestering CO2.

Our every inhale is owed to the ocean.

Life began undersea, and the world below the surface still sustains the world above it today. Since at least the 1800s, people have journeyed to the seashore to get that sustenance and address their mental health. Maybe that is because the sea can act as a mirror for our own feelings — anger, tranquillity, sadness, and freedom. There is perhaps no better language for human emotion than the natural world.

Recent research published by AGU Advanced tells us that our oceans are facing a triple threat of extreme heat, oxygen loss and acidification due to the burning of fossil fuels. Human emotions — those that empower us to action and those that paralyse us — directly impact the behaviour of the sea. To use the title of Jonathan Safran Foer's amazing book, We Are the Weather.

In 2022, over 190 countries adopted a plan to protect 30% of Earth’s terrestrial, inland, coastal and marine areas by 2030. Still, the fight goes on: currently, only 3% of the global ocean is safeguarded by Marine Protected Areas. (reference)

While the statistics above indicate more progress needs to be made on a macro level, there are stories of hope in our own communities, local climate leaders continuing to spark conversation around ocean conservation. One of our own Board of Youth members, Leena Joshi, is one such local leader. She told us:

“For World Ocean Day, I held an event called ArtSea, which showcased the transformative power of art in influencing ocean conservation and climate advocacy. With each stroke of creativity, I am empowered to be an agent of change, seamlessly intertwining my love for art with my fervent dedication to combating climate challenges.” We read these actions and feel empowered too.

Celebrations like World Oceans Day are important for drawing attention to issues, but every day provides the opportunity to learn about, wonder at or fight to protect our natural world. Feeling empowered to join the fight to #saveouroceans? Here are a few campaigns we love:

  • Ocean Literacy @oceanliteracy_unescoioc

  • Ocean Rebellion @theoceanrebellion

  • Whale and Dolphin Conservation @whalesorg

  • Campaign for National Parks @campaign4parks