A rainbow visible from the deck of the Plastiki.
Photo: Luca Babini
How can we regain some harmony among all this ecological madness? Luckily, there seems to be, for want of a better word, a sea change happening. We have visionaries and ocean pioneers like Sylvia Earle and her Mission Blue campaign and Enric Sala of the National Geographic-backed Ocean Now campaign—both of which are fighting back on behalf of our oceans and its inhabitants.

But what if we were to take awareness one stage further? What if the United Nations created a legal framework that actually offered nature some real protection? What if we made the mass destruction of ecosystems an international crime against peace—similar to genocide and crimes against humanity—to be tried at the International Criminal Court? Imagine the profound effect it would have on big industries blamed for widespread damage to the environment.

This radical idea is the brainchild of British environmental lawyer Polly Higgins. Her vision uses a simple equation: Extraction leads to ecocide which leads to resource depletion which leads to conflict. However, it wouldn't stop there: Ecocide would include damage done to any species. Under an ecocide law, you would see prosecutions against individuals rather than just the companies. In turn, you then might just see traditional energy companies having to become largely clean-energy companies, or extractive mining groups would have to either be scaled back massively or stopped. Chemicals that contaminate soil and water and kill wildlife would also have to be abandoned. And large-scale deforestation would not be possible at all.

The potential impact of this could be more than monumental. Especially as it's these types of visionary projects that keep me positive, inspired and driven that we are soon not only going to see an increase in awareness bubbling to the forefront of the collective consciousness, but also to see some really exciting real-world solutions and legislation coming online. Ultimately, this can only help build toward a happier and healthier ocean, nature, planet and humanity.

British explorer David de Rothschild is the expedition leader of the Plastiki—a transoceanic sailboat made of 12,500 recycled plastic bottles. Learn more at ThePlastiki.org and make a Plastiki pledge at MyPlastiki.com.

Are you concerned for our oceans? Share your comments below.

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