Photo: The Plastiki Crew
In fact, I could easily and effortlessly keep on churning out staggering statistics and facts, all of which reinforce why our oceans are unique and priceless and why World Ocean Day—designated as June 8 of each year—is not only so important but must become more than just one day! However, what I can't keep on doing without feeling a heavy heart and a sense of despair, is to try to explain the reasons for our general disconnect from our oceans. Or why every year we allow toxins and waste weighing three times that of all fish caught to end up in our oceans. Or how during the ecological apocalypse unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico right in front of our very eyes, the initial commentary seemed to be more concerned about the price of BP stock, rather than articulating how the tragedy poses an existential threat to millions of marine animals—that is, if they are not already dead. Multiple ecosystems have been irreversibly devastated at the hands of a situation that could probably best be summed up with four words: greedy, stupid, egomaniacal and unnecessary.
Even more upsetting—and unnecessary—is the fact that there are millions of tiny oil spills that pollute our oceans every day. We allow more oil than was spilled into Prince William Sound by the Exxon Valdez to reach our oceans every year as a result of leaking automobiles, big industry run-off and other nonpoint sources.
The harm we commit against water doesn't stop there. I can't even comprehend how we continue to justify the slaughter and mutilation of millions of dolphins and marine mammals in tuna purse seine nets, or ignore the estimated 44,000 albatrosses that are killed each year by tuna long liners. A modern factory supertrawler can be longer than a football field and can drag a trawl net that could encircle more than a dozen Boeing 747 jumbo jets at its opening. These floating super-slaughter centers are capable of catching and processing up to 200 tons of fish a day.
What is it that possesses us to go to war with our oceans and, for that matter, with Mother Nature herself...and anything else that has to try and share this planet with us? Have we created a dangerous and false dichotomy of nature versus humanity—making nature just an external commodity that we can command, and must conquer? Or maybe we've had our foresight and common sense obscured by an addiction to consumption and growing faster, bigger and cheaper? Or could it possibly be that, as a species, we still believe in the endless horizon and a place called "away"?
Whatever the excuse or the reasoning, it needs to stop fast or it's going to stop our ability to survive even faster. This is why, more than ever, we need to get vocal every day. We need to give Mother Nature her voice back, give her a chance to breathe if we want to keep breathing.