My approach to climate change and the topics surrounding it has often been a pessimistic one, often followed by the sentiment that we’re too far gone and that not enough people care.
In the words of Robert Swan, a polar explorer and environmentalist, “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
When it comes to climate change, the ocean is a factor that is largely overlooked. It’s the big blue, a tumultuous body that, to date, we’ve explored less than five percent of. It is an environment that we largely take from, without realizing that our influence on the ecosystems masked by waves and tides. As noted by NOAA, “The ocean is the lifeblood of Earth, covering more than 70 percent of the planet's surface, driving weather, regulating temperature, and ultimately supporting all living organisms.”
Even through I’m just scratching the surface, the news recently regarding the protection of the ocean has been promising… so consider this an optimistic post.
The first week of September, Hawaii was host to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress. Members voted on September 9, to support increasing the portion of the ocean that is highly protected to 30 percent in order to conserve biodiversity.
Currently only two percent of oceans are officially protected (Here's a fun map of current conservation areas globally).
As noted by the Pew Charitable Trust, “The passing of this motion is a milestone for marine conservation and underscores the need to create more marine protected areas around the world to combat increasing threats from overfishing, marine debris, pollution, and other human activities.”
Pew notes that the increase to 30 percent would not only support fisheries, and conserve biodiversity, but would also help bolster the ocean’s resilience to climate change.
Although this is a step forward, the treaty (Motion 53) could soonest be adopted by 2020, but only if governments stay on track.
Guy Dinmore of the New Scientist, covered the meeting, and noted the possibility that the passing of such a motion is possibly only a symbolic gesture. IUCN resolutions do not carry the weight of law, but the “congress [is] an important platform for creating and implementing international treaties and domestic legislation.”
“The high seas have outstanding value on the global scale, yet they have little protection,” Dan Laffoley, principal advisor on marine science and conservation for the IUCN, was quoted by Dinmore. “These areas are exposed to threats such as pollution and overfishing. It is therefore crucial to mobilize the international community to ensure their long-term conservation.”
This is an important step in the conservation community, but as with most good ideas bureaucracy is the biggest hurdle. My next post will take on a bit more U.S. specific focus, given that the Our Ocean conference concludes in Washington today.
Just paying more attention to this beat I’ve realized the wealth of information this topic possesses as well as how many people actually care and work for change.
Photo by the Bureau of Land Management
Chronicling my journalistic endeavors.
All ocean conservation/biodiversity posts are my own original thoughts. All other posts are my work for other publications.