We are clearly in the Age of Man’s Influence on the Planet. I have heard much discussion of the Age of Man since the atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen (Nobel Prize Winner), made Eugene F. Stoermer’s term anthropocene popular.
The last time I flew over the Western US, I couldn’t help but notice how riverbeds, lakes and reservoir’s appeared shadows of their former selves.
EDF author, Kate Zerrenner states, “…roughly 90% of the energy we use today comes from nuclear or fossil fuel power plants, which require 190 billion gallons of water per day, or 39% of all U.S. freshwater withdrawals (water “withdrawal” indicates the water withdrawn from ground level water sources; not to be confused with “consumption,” which indicates the amount of water lost to evaporation.)”
The more we consume energy, the more water is withdrawn. And clearly that makes the case for wind and solar energy transitioning.
Man has depleted aquafirs, overfished our lakes, rivers and oceans, and created at least 5 plastic gyres (some as large as 270,000 sq. miles). The USGS says that 97.5% of the earth”s water is unusable, and is present in our ocean’s. Of the 2.5% freshwater remaining, 68.7% remains in glaciers and ice-caps, and we know those are melting rapidly. As we approach World Oceans Day on June 8th, this year’s theme is Healthy oceans, healthy planet. Let’s examine how our human created carbon dioxide emissions effect our oceans. We’ve all heard that warming of the oceans results in melting glacial ice, rising sea levels, heavy rain in some areas, and drought in others.
According to marine biologists, “Almost half of all the carbon dioxide emitted since industrialization has been absorbed by the ocean. When carbon dioxide reacts with water, it forms carbonic acid, and releases more hydrogen ions into the sea, lowering pH and causing “acidification” of the ocean. Further, these hydrogen ions quickly bind with carbonate ions. This deprives animals like hard corals and certain mollusks and plankton of the raw material for their calcium carbonate shells and skeletons. This may ultimately cause the world’s oceans to become corrosive to such animals, and coral reefs to dissolve.” Environment 360
A healthy ocean contributes to a healthy climate, and a healthy climate is crucial for our ocean life.
5 easy ways to celebrate World Oceans Day (June 8, 2015) while making a difference:
- Donate to a favorite Ocean Advocacy Group (We recommend Oceana, Conservation International, Save Our Seas, or Project Kaisei)
- Learn more about local marine life by visiting an ocean observatory, zoo, or aquarium, NOAA office ( WOD events at the New England Aquarium, or Marine Science Sunday)
- Read your children or family an inspired ocean-related story from the library, web and bookstore or see an ocean movie. (Amazon, films linked below)
- Sign up to clean up.
- Take the Better Bag Challenge, find out more here.
Our oceans will benefit from our efforts to reduce carbon emissions. How can we do this?
- Reducing meat and fish consumption.
- Eating more locally and sustainably grown food.
- Reduce our use of plastics and consumption in general.
- Transition your energy to renewables (Solar, Wind, Water harvesting, Methanol)
The Deep Dive:
It’s Time Our Policies Reflect The Fact That Energy And Water Are Fundamentally Intertwined, 7/20/13 article from the Energy Defense Fund A few TED Talks on ocean sustainability:
- Sylvia Earle’s, 18 min. TED Prize “Ask” video on Protect Our Oceans
- Greg Stone: Saving the ocean one island at a time
- Jackie Savitz: Save the oceans, feed the world
- Will Steffen, The Anthropocene
What Would Happen If Sharks Disappeared?, 2 min. Youtube video
Project Kaisei, marine debris awareness non-profit
Turn the Tide for Our Ocean, 4 min. Youtube Rio+20 UN film on ocean sustainability
Oceans Trailer, 3 min. Youtube video
San Francisco students created Digital Ocean, 30 min. Youtube video
The Cove Movie website, http://www.thecovemovie.com/
How to Save a Dying Ocean, 6 min. Youtube video