Thursday, April 22, 2010

Don't forget about the ocean on Earth Day!

Today is Earth Day, and the news will be full of stories about the state of the planet, the 40th anniversary of the celebration, and the actions citizens can take to protect the environment. But too often, we forget about the fact that this is an ocean planet, with far more water than dry land. So it's quite timely that Disney decided to release its new documentary Oceans today. If you see it opening weekend, they'll make a donation to The Nature Conservancy to help preserve coral reefs. I hope that this documentary is as successful as their previous film Earth and that it motivates people to think about the ocean whenever they think about the environment. But what really matters is translating that desire to protect all the beautiful and amazing creatures you see in these kinds of documentaries. While I support people taking personal responsibility, most of the bad actors ruining our oceans aren't average citizens. It's the government regulators who bow to political pressure to keep fish catches higher than the populations can support. It's the fishing and shipping operators who fight regulations to protect ocean species and prevent pollution. It's the farmers who lobby to avoid following laws designed to limit runoff into marine environments. If you watch the film, or even the clip below, and think that the ocean deserves better, make sure you let your congressional or parliamentary representative know that you want ocean resources protected. It may cost some people money - or even their jobs. But it's time we stopped acting as if the short term gain of a few outweighs the long term interests of the whole planet in maintaining healthy oceans.

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