I am often asked and even questioned by my friends and family back in Bristol, UK (you know who you are…) “Why on earth are you battling this uphill struggle?” Someone has even said which was very kind, “You are an educated guy, surely you know you are not going to change the world or make any real difference?” Maybe true… but here is how I look at it …
It’s about everyone pulling their weight. Sure, some celebrity driving a Toyota Prius isn’t going to reduce carbon emissions on a dramatic scale but surely people can see that if everyone in the States for instance was driving a Hybrid car, the carbon emissions would be lower! Actually this isn’t the greatest of examples as the majority of electricity is produced using fossil fuels but I hope you see my point.
So why Marine Conservation? There are many serious issues in the world today that affect millions of people on all sorts of different levels. Hunger, disease, war, persecution, poverty and even large scale natural disasters. Regardless of the serious plight of one person against another in any part of the world, there is one thing that all of mankind can safely say they share in common, and it’s not that we all go to toilet at least once a day! Yes, we all rely on the Earth we live on for our sustained existence. It’s a bit of a bummer but if we don’t look after the place we live on then we are in for a bit a tough ride.
The point is we are all dependent on our planet which differs to the other planets out there in our solar system in one major way. We have a hell of a lot of water, about 70% to be more accurate. The very land we live on, tropical rainforests, even tundra, are all important places habitats that we terrestrial species are very familiar with and have relied on for a long time. We know a lot about it and therefore we see the importance of preserving it. However, that other 70% is kinda important too.
If we manage to trash the seas through various methods and degrees of damage we are in for a hell of a bumpy time. The marine environment (including the coastlines) is responsible for absorbing more than half of the carbon in our atmosphere. Don’t just take my word for it:
Out of all the biological carbon captured in the world, over half (55%) is captured by marine living organisms. Some marine habitats are particularly good at this job. Mangroves, seagrass and saltmarshes might only cover 0.5% of the sea bed but account for more than 50% of all carbon storage in ocean sediments. (Nellemann et al., 2009)
It is also estimated from Woodroffe C.D. (2002) that “as of 2002, over half of the world’s population was estimated to being living within 60km of the coastal shoreline.’ This means as a race we are highly dependent upon our coasts for our livelihoods.
So I figure that this resource is of critical importance to our survival, plus I think it’s pretty awesome too ... sure one person bringing their own plastic bag to the supermarket doesn’t change a lot, but if we all did it …
I’ll end this little (ahem) blog with a well known story someone who is quite close to me, who has a big day coming up, (!) told me when I was much younger than I am now. It’s about two people walking on the beach when they come across thousands of Starfish washed up on the shore due to some reason, (I predicted from a large storm surge!). One of them picks up a Starfish and throws it back into the sea. The other person says “What you doing that for. You’re not going to make a difference, there are thousands” To which the other person replies …
“It does to him!”