The International Programme on the State of the Oceans, an international panel of marine and climate scientists, released their report last week on global ocean health. If you’ve read about it, your head may be in your hands and your heart in your boots. If you haven’t…I will be as gentle about it as possible. I will summarize a bit below, but I encourage you to read not only the link above, but some of the journalism that has covered it so far.
In short, there are many independent stressors impacting our oceans right now…over-fishing, agricultural runoff, pollution from oil spills and toxic chemicals (flame retardants!), plastic particles, and climate change, to mention the big ones. When the panel of scientists looked at the cumulative impact of all the stressors, combined with data from changes already underway in the sea, and matching that with data from previous mass extinctions in the earth’s history, what we get is this:
If we (we as in the global community) do nothing, by 2050 our oceans, and all life that depends on them, will be dead. If we act now, we will probably still lose 2/3 of our coral reefs, which supports 25% of all marine life.
We hear horrible reports all the time, but this one has a big sucker punch because if the oceans die, so do we. As Dr. Alex Rogers, one of the prominent scientists on the panel, says,
“Any of you, wherever you are, whatever you are doing can pause now and connect directly with the ocean. Just breathe.
That breath came from the sea.”
It’s shocking and devastating and as my housemate said last night, “I read something about that, and then didn’t pursue it further…out of fear.”. I don’t want to scare you, I’m scared enough for both of us, and I am long past the point of the type of activism where I try to chop off your head and force my dogma down your throat. We’ve been here before and you’ve already heard me say it but it’s worth repeating. Love is the name of the game.
In light of all this, what can I do, what can you do, to uplift and inspire others?
The first thing I did yesterday may sound small, but according to the quaking in my shoes that was going on, it was Quite the Big Thing. I found several opinion blogs, one in my hometown, and I dared to comment. Most of the comments from others included debating and name calling and the second I thought about responding my heart rate went up and the adrenaline started pumping. Although I feel pissed as all hell quite often, I am also conflict avoidant, turning to stone with anger and grief whenever I try to address issues that I am passionate about. So yesterday I did something different.
I deeply listened to what others were trying to say, even though part of me thought they must be insane when they were dismissing the science behind climate change. Some of them made interesting points. So, I thanked them for the conversation and told them what part of their argument was thought provoking for me. If there was misinformation, I offered my understanding of either the article or the science behind it. And when there was name calling, I just didn’t bite.
I was in fight or flight the rest of the day, I got really worked up! It’s a small step, considering I was hiding safely behind my screen and had time to formulate my ideas. For me, it’s a step in the right direction. I don’t want to debate with people, I don’t want to try to win arguments, and I don’t want to prove someone else wrong. I want to connect. I want to have a conversation. We’ve all got to start talking, and we’ve got to start talking to our neighbors, especially those we don’t agree with. It’s the only way out of this mess.
My housemate Shannon (Hi!) and I have an artistic response underway that we hope to put into action in late summer. Beyond this, I would like to offer some ongoing help and information on this blog. I am thinking it would be helpful if I continued to do research on this, to discover where the most effective effort may be put. This means I will find out which organizations are engaged and which legislators need to be contacted. As I send out letters, I will post the text here that you may copy and send out as well. I will also be putting together a petition through Change.org, as soon as I figure out who we need to pester (with love!) the most.
By the time 2050 arrives, Fern will be older than I am now. Not only do I desperately love this earth and her blue heart, but I want my daughter to inherit her birthright. I want all of us to.
Breathe. Be well. And when you think of our oceans today, remember what it is you love about them, what captivated you as a child.
Here is the long version of the report put out by the IPSO.