The Blue Ocean Institute at www.blueocean.org
World Wildlife Fund at worldwildlife.org
Sea Shepherd at www.seashepherd.org
Greenpeace at greenpeace.org
Ocean Conservancy at www.oceanconservancy.org
Friends of the Earth at foei.org
Global Coral Reef Alliance at www.globalcoral.org
With the beginning of a new year, it’s wise to set a course straight and true not only in our personal lives but in King Neptune’s realm as well. Remember, if you don’t set a goal and aim for it, at the end of the year you’re going to be no closer to it. With the problems that face the sea, we can’t afford to sit out one more year hoping things will get better.
Anyone in love with the sea or concerned about its health as well as those who work or play on it should keep a scrutinizing eye on the following issues:
… Coral bleaching. When coral becomes stressed either from water that’s too warm or from chemicals and sediments that don’t belong there, it turns white, a sure sign of a huge problem. If the problem doesn’t go away, the coral will die. That’s a huge problem. Coral beds are the nurseries for all kinds of fish. Kill off those on the lower chain, kill off those above it.
… Overfishing. This doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation. A lot of species of fish are being over fished all around the world. When they can’t rebound, they die off till extinction becomes a reality. For millions of people from a wide panorama of cultures, it means the difference between a sustainable living and a life of poverty. Overfishing has actually contributed to Somalian piracy; with other countries illegally fishing in local waters, options are limited for fishermen trying to feed their family.
… Excessive shark hunting. This includes finning, a process of removing the fins of a shark while it is still alive then throwing it back into the sea where it will die. Who cares about a few sharks? They deserve what they get when you consider the blood thirsty creatures they are as evidenced by JAWS. You should. To set the record straight, people are not on the main menu of sharks. They’re not even listed on the dessert menu. Sharks have a voracious appetite but it’s for fish. When sharks disappear from the ocean in great numbers, the rest of the oceanic environment is in deep trouble.
Millions of peoples are celebrating Hanukah, Christmas, and other holidays this time of year, the spirit of which is imbued with peace and harmony. The Paris Environmental talks concluded this past week, and the nations that attended did a wonderful thing. They gave a special present to the world. After two weeks, almost two hundred nations finally agreed on a strategy to help put our planet back on a safe environmental track.
It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always pretty. There was plenty of arguing, sulking, shouting, and finger pointing. But in the end, the nations who attended showed the world that despite differences on how to resolve the crisis eight billion people are facing, they were able to hammer out an agreement that involved a lot of compromise. It’s a lesson politicians in the United States could learn a lot from.
We’re far from living in a world that will soon be pollution free. The damage we have done so far will be felt for decades to come. If not one more pound of carbon dioxide is pumped into the atmosphere, the polar caps will continue to melt and the oceans rise, and many island communities will still be faced with the inevitable truth that they will eventually be displaced.
While it is non-binding, what the nations have agreed to among other things is put a cap on the emissions that affect rising temperatures worldwide. In short, the nations agreed to limit the global average mean temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The original target was two degrees. While that half degree may not sound like much, it has incredible consequences. A two degree rise would mean the obliteration of many island nations from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia to islands across the globe.
The higher target the nations were originally shooting for would have been comparable to putting out a house fire with a few buckets of water. We’re so deep in shit, (and my most sincere and deepest apology to anyone offended by the word, but there is no delicate way to sugarcoat this), everyone at the Paris conference pretty much realized for changes to have any real significance and to better protect island nations, the thermostat would literally have to be lowered.
Of course, there are many facets to this agreement with a lot of details to sort through. To complicate things, the expectations for developed nations are not the same as they are for developing nations. How could they be? It’s hard to be fair and just making all nations pay the same price when it’s the developed nations who for the most part caused the mess we’re in.
Continue reading →
Last week I recounted several of the things we have to be grateful for in the ocean and the maritime environment. While some may consider these accomplishments mere footnotes to be buried in a year of frantic activity, I urge you to regard them as important stepping stones to a better future not just for the ocean and the mariners who sail upon them, but for all of us. Why? Because the future of every soul on this planet depends on a healthy ocean and its fragile ecosystems.
With this in mind, I urge you to visit several of the sites below and learn more about the organizations that champion a better ocean. You don’t even have to join them though that would be better. At least by visiting them, you’ll learn a few things you can do to help make Mother Ocean a healthier and safer place for its children and the eight billion children of this planet.
… Greenpeace at www.greenpeace.org uses peaceful protests and communication to expose environmental problems and promote solutions.
… Coral Reef Alliance at http://coral.org/ promotes the health of coral reefs around the globe.
… Cousteau Society at http://www.cousteau.org/ is all about helping people understand and care for seas and rivers worldwide.
… Marine Conservation Institute at http://www.marine-conservation.org targets key ecosystems around the world and advocates for them.
… Wild Oceans at http://wildoceans.org seeks to curb overfishing and restore depleted fish populations. If you’re a weekend fisherman, you owe them a lot.
… SeaKeepers at http://www.seakeepers.org energizes the yachting community to protect the world’s oceans. Their motto is: “Research, Educate, Protect, and Restore.”
… The Ocean Project at http://theoceanproject.org partners with aquariums, zoos, and museums to promote ocean conservation.
… Waterkeeper Alliance at http://waterkeeper.org helps protect rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways worldwide. Like to swim in clean water? Check them out.
Does it make you sick to see the oceans becoming sicker and the creatures of the deep more abused and pushed closer to extinction? Want to help right the wrongs you constantly read about? It seems impossible not to pick up a newspaper or magazine without coming across at least one or two environmental groups working hard to fix some problem.
Some are like an uncle we love but rarely see. We know them. We know they do good, but somehow we just never get in touch with them. Some groups are like the new neighbor down the street who we never get around to meet.
We’ll here’s your chance to not only get in touch with that uncle who does a lot of good, or meet that new neighbor but partner with them in a real and lasting way.
Opportunities abound to join environmental groups on the forefront of making a difference. Because the list is so vast, I’m going to concentrate just on maritime organizations. Blame it on the pirate in me! Aarrrghh!
Before introducing you to them, I want to explain these groups fall primarily into two types. Those that have members who are activists along with those who support them through money or time or by raising awareness of important issues.
The other type of group is made chiefly of activists who literally put their butts on the line. Close to the action, they often place themselves in harm’s way. Those who support them can be thought of as followers or supporters and do so with money.
Of course, some groups are hybrids of the two, but whatever group you are attracted to, I encourage you to learn as much as you can about them before committing time or money to them. All contribute to the ocean and its children in some way. A smaller group doesn’t imply the value of its work is any less noble.
You’re going to have a lot of fun this weekend. Two important dates coincide on Saturday September 19th : Talk Like A Pirate Day and the 30th Annual International Coastal Cleanup. If you work it right, you’re going to have a blast swinging your cutlass with one hand and cleaning up the beaches with the other. And in the offing you’ll make new friends.
The Ocean Conservancy is one of the driving forces behind the event that not only beautifies beaches and rivers all around the world but serves a very real and practical purpose… removing dangerous trash before it washes into the ocean and gets ingested by birds, turtles, and other marine life.
The Ocean Conservancy, one of several environmental groups at the forefront of the battle to save our oceans, estimates that since International Coastal Cleanup began thirty years ago that 200 million pounds of trash have been removed from beaches, bays, and rivers.
I URGE you to join a group near you and give back to Mother Nature some of the love she has given you. You don’t have to spend all day on the beach or bay picking up garbage. Most cleanups last only three hours. If all you can afford is an hour, go for it. All those hours add up as does the garbage that we won’t have to worry about… garbage that is likely to end up in the stomachs and digestive tracts of many of those beautiful creatures of the deep.
If you don’t think that you’ll make much difference I urge you to google Turtle Hospitals. There’s quite a few around. Pick one and see what incredible patients they treat who have gotten into terrible situations because they mistook dangerous garbage for food. If you can prevent one seabird, one turtle, one manatee, one fish from an unnatural and hideous death, you will have done a remarkable thing not unlike a miracle.
So go ahead. Talk Like A Pirate, mate, and have fun cleaning up wherever you live. When you drop into bed Saturday night, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve been a special angel to some of those beautiful creatures of the deep. Have a good weekend and smooth sailing into next week. Leave a comment here, and let me know how you made out.
Want more info on South Carolina’s BeachSweep/River Sweep? Organized by the SC Sea Grant Consortium and the SC Dept. of Natural Resources, these folks have been organizing beach sweeps since 1988. Contact http://www.scseagrant.org/.
Check out http://www.oceanconservancy.org/ to learn more about the great work these people do. The Hidden Harbor Turtle Hospital in Marathon Key, Florida is a perfect example of the kind of work being done to assist sick and injured turtles. Visit them at: http://www.turtlehospital.org/