As you celebrate Earth Day, don’t forget that over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is under the ocean—it makes up 99 percent of the living space on our planet, and is home to half of all species on Earth! More than 2.6 billion people depend on the ocean as their primary source for protein.
Even if your home is landlocked and you don’t eat fish, the ocean is a key part of your life. Did you know that half of all the oxygen in the atmosphere comes from the ocean? The ocean is so important to us; please join me in celebrating it today. And share the ocean love by sending an Earth Day ecard to your friends!
With serious threats from plastic pollution to ocean acidification facing this vital resource, Earth Day is also a great time to take action to protect the ocean!
Last month, I was invited to speak at the Camden Conference in Maine. This conference brings experts from a number of disciplines together with policymakers, industry leaders and college students to discuss some of the biggest issues facing our world today. This year’s theme was “The Global Politics of Food and Water,” and I spoke about how the ocean sits at the nexus of these issues.
Right now, the ocean is in a period of uncertainty. Climate change and a growing population are changing the chemistry of the ocean and the life that calls it home. But instead of viewing the ocean’s changes in a negative light, I think we have an incredible opportunity to become better problem-solvers. We can break free from old resource management models to find new solutions for our changing ocean. We can effectively address these new complexities; it’s not too late.
The White House released President Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2015 today. The proposal appears to be good news for the ocean and a great first step toward strong funding for ocean-health programs next year.
Of course, the budget documents that the administration released today are only part of the picture. They detail the big-picture, top-level budget numbers with only a small number of details, and individual program budgets won’t be released until later.
So what can we tell from what has been released so far? Last year, we focused on some key questions to help decide how the ocean is faring in the federal budget process. In particular, we asked whether the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) top-line budget number is sufficient, and whether there was appropriate balance between NOAA’s “wet” ocean and “dry” non-ocean missions.
Two and half years ago, genetically engineered salmon exploded on the national stage. April marked another big milestone in the ensuing debate about whether genetically engineered animals will be allowed in the U.S. food supply. This isn’t some esoteric, pointy-headed debate. It really is about the future of food and what you feed your family. And as an ocean conservation organization, we are especially concerned about the consequences for the future of seafood, wild fish and healthy oceans.
The Food and Drug Administration’s final comment period has now closed on the agency’s draft decision to approve an engineered variant of farmed Atlantic salmon. We hope you let your voice heard by submitting comments to the agency.
Ocean Conservancy’s Dennis Takahashi-Kelso and Board Member Philippe Cousteau tour Bay Jimmy, LA. and the surrounding marsh affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
This post originally appeared on CNN.com from Ocean Conservancy Board Member Philippe Cousteau. Explorer, social entrepreneur and environmental advocate, Philippe Cousteau is a special correspondent for CNN International. He is also the co-founder and president of the leading environmental education nonprofit EarthEcho International.
My grandfather Jacques Cousteau and my father Philippe dedicated their lives to revealing the ocean’s wonders and helping us understand our connection to this vast expanse of water. Their work inspired generations and filled people with awe.
Times have changed and so have circumstances and perceptions about the ocean. In recent years, the focus has been on the very serious challenges the ocean faces and the impact these challenges are already having on our daily lives.
For us landlubbers, it is obvious that place matters. My home town in central California is a pretty different place than say, Washington DC, where I often travel to advocate on behalf of ocean conservation. The weather is different, the food is different, and the culture – not to mention the politics – is certainly different.
It turns out that place really matters in the ocean too, especially as it relates to ocean acidification. Never heard of ocean acidification? Check out some of my earlier posts to learn more about the basics. But what we learned from scientists last week is that the chemical characteristics of the ocean vary greatly from place to place, and as a result some areas may be especially sensitive to increases in carbon dioxide and other drivers of acidification. A team of oceanographers led by Dr. Aleck Wang sampled seawater from Texas to New Hampshire and measured the total amount of carbon in the water as well as what scientists call “alkalinity.” The ratio of alkalinity to total carbon is a measure of the buffering capacity of the ocean, or in layman’s terms, the ocean’s ability to resist acidification. What the scientists found was that the Gulf of Maine is much more susceptible to acidification than the Gulf of Mexico or the southeastern coast. Continue reading »
How do scientists choose their life’s work? For avid surfer Nick Mallos, a love of the ocean made marine biology an easy choice. But it was a black-and-white bird with a 6-foot wingspan that inspired him to focus his research on marine debris and clean up as many beaches as he can.
Nick first encountered the Laysan albatross during a grad school research trip to Midway Atoll in the North Pacific. With over 450,000 nesting pairs, Midway Atoll is home to the largest Laysan population in the world. The birds cover the 2.4 square-mile area, nesting in every available nook, from abandoned WWII gun turrets to grassy cracks in the pavement.
But once you look beyond those birds, “you realize there’s this scattering of plastic over the entire island,” Nick says. “It’s impossible to not see plastic – it’s just everywhere. The most perverse part of it is that it’s most heavily concentrated around every nest.”