This Friday (8th June) is World Oceans Day which brings people from around the planet together celebrate and honor the sea. I believe the sea is a fascinating place pivotal to maintaining a healthy planet, however sadly governments, individuals and companies around the world are ruthlessly exploiting it. For me the sea played integral part in the birth of my green conscience and me becoming the environmentalist I am today.
The story of birth of my green conscience goes like this. At the start of 2008 like many lucky young people in their early 20’s I left the comfort of my parents home to backpack around Australia and Asia. Having studied at university in London whilst living at home, it would be fair to say my life experience to this point fairly limited. So off I went with no real plan and like many people I spent my money quickly and perhaps didn’t do as many cultural activities as I initially anticipated doing when I set off. And so it goes.
Something I did discover during my time in Australia and Thailand was scuba diving. From the moment of my first dive on the Whitsundays islands the beauty of the coral reefs and the multicolored fish overwhelmed me. I was also overwhelmed by seasickness and spent much time at the end of the boat with the other ‘sickies’. When I got to Thailand I ended up doing my PADI diving license at a small diving school on Ko Tao. I was on my own with my instructor and got to really explore lots of amazing caves and corals, I remember being truly blown away by the beauty and bio diversity of the reefs.
A year later I found myself spending 3 weeks travelling Vietnam with friends, at this point I still had a HUGE carbon footprint. Since getting back from travelling a year earlier I had spent lots of time reading and watching countless documentaries about the environment. As part of our trip I planned to go diving and when we got to Nha Trang I did just that. Again I was overwhelmed not by the beautiful fish and wonderful caves but the masses of coral turned white. When the sea gets too warm the intracelluer endosymbionts know as zooxanthellae leave the coral and the alga that live in the coral reefs and give it life, get up and kind of say; “this sucks we are out of here”. The coral then dies and then the fish leave. What once was beautiful is no longer.
After the dive I remember feeling physically sick by what I had seen. And when we got back to the dive school I started quizzing the dive master about what had caused this. He told me about how due to climate change the sea temperature to rising every year. For me nothing was ever the same from that moment my green conscience was awoken.
Fast forward to 2012 and our oceans are in greater danger than ever before, lack of global action on tackling climate change, overfishing and hunting of apex predators means the future of our oceans are incredibly uncertain. With the Arctic ice melting the governments of Norway, Russia and the US are eyeing up fishing in the newly thawed out water in the Artic (I am not joking).
The organiser’s of World Oceans Day are asking people to make a pledge to help our oceans. So I have decided that after 20 months of not eating meat I am finally going to give up fish and go fully vegetarian. Check out how to make your own pledge by visiting http://worldoceansday.org/
My little drawing and this article was partly inspired by Canadian environmental artist Franke James and her book Bothered by my green conscience, I really can’t recommend it enough.