Welcome to World Ocean Radio.
I’m Peter Neill, Director of the World Ocean Observatory.
Our mission is to advocate for the ocean through information and educational service and we do so in myriad ways to include these radio features, aggregated video, a digital magazine, a virtual aquarium, a monthly newsletter, on-line exhibits, a sharing space for classrooms, a forum the best new voices with the best new ideas for ocean solutions, and relentless social media. The idea is to demonstrate the vast connection of the sea to every aspect of human endeavor, how the ocean nurtures us, and will provide for our future – if we will let it.
This requires constant and varied activity, lots of bits and pieces that taken together; content as wide, deep, and dynamic as the ocean itself.
Sometimes the subject seems so vast and varied that no amount of activity can do it justice and, as we see the constantly shifting shape of indifference, frustration abounds. Sometimes, then, it seems useful to review the challenges, the astonishing number of challenges, to the integrity and sustainability of this profound natural resource. Sometimes it serves to hear the names of our enemies read aloud:
Acid, carbon dioxide. toxic emissions, methane, oil, fertilizers, chemicals, organic pollutants, antibiotics, plastics, micro-beads, invasive species, noise, radioactivity, mining urban detritus, household garbage, construction debris, over- fishing, illegal fishing, abandoned fishing gear, human waste, impacts of coastal development, war – to name just a few in no particular order of impact and evil.
How does one even understand the full implication of all this aggressive destructive negativity aligned against a natural resource that is now clearly proving vulnerable to such assault, limiting its ability to dilute and absorb such behavior, indeed to maintain its resilience and capacity for renewal? We have done our worst to despoil the land; are we really prepared to destroy the global ocean and all its potential for sustaining us into the future?
Most days, I leap to engage those enemies as best I can, with the tools and resources available. Success can be measured, and is always inspiring – the sharing and connecting, the responding and engaging that can be counted and interpreted as progress. Through technology, I can reach thousands of strangers all across the world; I can see their names and photographs, hear their comments, and welcome their posting of our observations on to more family and friends, to new “Citizens of the Ocean.” But today, here in Downeast Maine there is a nor'easter storm in train, our small world shut out by white, the bay absented from sight by a wild weave of horizontal snow. Strangely it seems less frenetic than the usual pace, and the calm permits reflection, the quiet enables a return to the ideas and intentions that generated our commitment to the ocean some fifteen years ago. Forgive me this instance of public introspection when I ask myself: have we gotten anywhere at all?
Can the ocean feel? Certainly the ocean can show emotion – calm, anger, and on a day like today, as the contrast of snow and light makes it roiled, dark and brooding, a contained sorrow as if just now it knows the seriousness of the sickness within.
Most all of us have known a friend or family member with sickness suddenly revealed, and understand to some degree the pain, the fear, and the determination of those who insist to survive. I lost a friend recently to a fast debilitating disease, watched her fight back with a fearsome Yankee determination, and yet, at some critical point along the way saw her lose hold and fail. It still seems unfathomable to me that she is no longer vital and capable to provide such friendship and goodness.
But what can sorrow teach us?
That we might lose the ocean? We could -- part by part, a coastal area devoid of oxygen, a reef destroyed by acidification, a fish species taken beyond regeneration by over-harvest and consumption. We have evidence of such things, in some number, already. But this is real: our fresh water, food, energy, health, and security in the future will depend on a healthy ocean, thus we cannot despair lest we lose hold, succumb to our indifference and irresponsibility, and abandon our most important system for sustenance and survival.
What can sorrow teach us? That there is no time for sorrow.
When the weather clears we must look forward to see that we have, what we need, what we treasure, out there in that expanse of water and light. The mission waits. The sea connects all things.
We will discuss these issues, and more, in future editions of World Ocean Radio.
In this episode of World Ocean Radio, written during a blizzard raging off the Maine coast, host Peter Neill reflects on the vulnerability of the ocean and the implications of the aggressive destruction of natural resources. And he asks, “Are we really prepared to destroy the global ocean and all its potential for sustaining us into the future?”
About World Ocean Radio
Peter Neill, Director of the World Ocean Observatory and host of World Ocean Radio, provides coverage of a broad spectrum of ocean issues from science and education to advocacy and exemplary projects. World Ocean Radio, a project of the World Ocean Observatory, is a weekly series of five-minute audio essays available for syndicated use at no cost by college and community radio stations worldwide. A selection of episodes is now available in Portuguese, Spanish, French, Swahili, and Mandarin, enabling us to reach 75% of the world's population. For more information, visit WorldOceanObservatory.org/world-ocean-radio-global.
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