With so much out of sight and out of mind, we are still offered more reasons for hope.
In 2010, Sylvia Earle’s book The World is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s are One, was published by National Geographic, Washington. This outstanding American oceanographer has been working internationally to set up Marine Protected Areas – ‘hope spots’ – in our global ocean. She has not been alone. There are scientists now called ‘Ocean Elders’ working with her and the UN. She recognizes, while we designate the oceans the Pacific, the Atlantic or Indian, that they are one. and we are inevitably tied to them in so many ways. She is providing the evidence of what we have done and the knowledge to help us act in the positive way we need to act for our future. The health of our oceans as well as our land is vital for our own health. We seem to ignore this fact while we face the random, continuing attacks of this mutating corona virus. There will be no vaccine for climate change.
People on coastlines know it. South Pacific Nations know it. The First Nations of the Torres Strait Islands know it. The east coast of Australia is learning it. Fiji begged the Prime Minister of Australia to recognize we are facing a climate emergency. Our major political parties have not done so. Louisiana could become the first American State to have climate refugees.
Sylvia Earle, recipient of the International Lewis Thomas Award, is the narrator for our wonderful Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Australian Odyssey . The documentary describes what is happening along our east coast as the warming east ocean current, flowing south from the tropics – bringing rain to the Daintree forest – past the east coast of Tasmania, to the Southern Ocean, affects changes for our marine life and the vital sea grasses.
Sylvia Earle gives us her ‘Reasons for hope’ – Marine Protected Areas – ‘hope spots’. See pp 256 – 259 after we have acquired the knowledge she gives if we are to care and push for positive action. She gives us weblinks and names! One of her Ocean Elders is –
Graeme Kelleher AO, an Australian scientist,
Sylvia Earle says he is high on her list as a ‘science-based hero of ocean conservation.’ Formerly Head of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority for 25 year until 1996, ‘[He] has helped to guide a global initiative to consider what is needed to maintain the health of the ocean through a system of protected areas, and developed working groups in all of the world’s marine regions to identify priorities for the establishment and improved management of marine protected areas with particular emphasis on the protection of biodiversity.’ p 252 . This was 2010. She named Australia, New Zealand, America, Kiribati, South Africa and Indonesia as adding to marine protected areas between 2006 and 2009. But the area that remained protected was less than 1 percent of the world’s oceans. [In South Australia, we did save part of the Great Australian Bight from oil exploration, though not the breeding grounds for cuttlefish from commercial intrusion.] In the national sphere, since 2013 in Australia, Coalition governments have reduced areas set aside as marine sanctuaries. Preservation increases biodiversity. Industrialized fishing does to the ocean what logging does to the carbon sinks that are our old growth forests. Our Coalition backs commerce before care for our environment, just as it prefers to ensure profit for fossil fuel companies of coal and LNG that have effectively lobbied for our national Clean Energy Fund to be used for fossil fuels.
The majority knows we need to act now. Why don’t we all, as democracies, do so? Ask our Prime Minister who has gas and media men in his Office. Ask the outgoing President of USA.
In America, The Revelator, an initiative of the Center for Biological Diversity now is identifying 12 ways in which he is undermining the environmental protections that have been put in place over the last 100 years before he is forced to leave the White House. The article written by Tara Lohan was published December 14th 2020. Climate Change
12 Trump Attacks on the Environment Since the Election
In its final days, the administration is rushing to cement its destructive legacy with attacks on clean air, wildlife and public lands that could be difficult to undo.
In Canada, a valuable organisation is keeping watch .– Think about that oil pipeline, the Keystone Pipeline, as well as the impact of warming in the Arctic.
In Australia, Rebecca Giggs, a Western Australian author, has been published ten years on from Sylvia Earle’s proposal for increased Marine Protected Areas, the ‘hope spots’ that are her ‘Reasons for Hope’. We are offered more knowledge. Fathoms: The world in the whale has made us aware of our world in the whale, literally in one case. The irony of it. Found in the stomach of a beached whale in Spain is all the plastic of a green house. It has been too easy for too long for us to use our oceans as dumping grounds. In The Waste Makers, Vance Packard identified us in 1960. Now we face the power of fire. But we have not given thought to the increasing loss of bio-diversity in our lives by our cavalier treatment of the oceans.
Published by Scribe, 2020, a decade on from Sylvia Earle’s advocacy for oceanic ‘hope spots’, Anna Westbrook reviews Rebecca Giggs’ book, ‘Fathoms’ is a meticulously crafted opus, showing off Giggs’ bower-bird eye for glittery detail dredged from trenches of research, down every whorl and fossicked from the silt. . . . Carl Sagan, as Giggs mentions, included whale song on the Golden Record sent out into space with the Voyager in 1977. He called the record: ‘A love song, cast upon the vastness of the deep.’ Equally true of this inimitable book.’
Here is the hope I am adding to ‘Hope in Hell’. Nations need to establish more Marine Protected Areas – hope spots – for the future. 1% of the ocean protected is not enough. Many people, organisations, businesses, governments have what the UN now calls the ‘climate ambition’ to face what needs to be done by 2030 and 2050. More need to act.
Do we want to leave what David Attenborough calls a ‘dangerous legacy’ to the children of a climate catastrophe brought about by the absence of thoughtful transition?