An open letter from Alexandra Cousteau
The state of our oceans is a devastating reflection on our single use, throw away approach to modern life.
Not so long ago, the ocean was a place of unimaginable abundance and diversity. Colorful coral reefs abounded with life in the warm tropical waters of the equator while dense ocean forests provided habitat for a rich ecosystem in the colder waters of our northern and southern coast lines. Local fisherfolk could make their living by feeding their communities. Surfers enjoyed carving through pristine waves. And when sailors crossed the ocean, they reported seeing an abundance of whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, sea birds, and other marine life that would sometimes follow them for days.
Today, they report seeing plastic.
In the past 70 years, since Jacques-Yves Cousteau first donned his Aqualung to start exploring an unknown world, we have learned more about our ocean than ever before. From that knowledge, came understanding about the life giving benefits humans derive from this vast salty expanse of blue. The ocean has provided us with everything from food security, to treatments for cancer, to the oxygen we breathe, to the simple joy of discovery.
Yet we have simultaneously ravaged her depths, pushing countless species to the brink of extinction, eradicating kelp forests and coral reefs, spreading dead zones and industrial pollution, and providing an endless stream of plastic that marine creatures of all sizes are gagging on. We are too, with microplastics now present in the fish we eat and even in the sea salt we sprinkle on our food.
If current trends continue, the oceans in 2050 will be a tragically sad, dirty and empty place.
We have a different outcome in mind.
Exploration and scientific study have taught us that the oceans are remarkably resilient when we re-create the conditions that allow nature to flourish. We have the ability to reverse ocean acidification, regenerate dead zones, restore coastal kelp forests, and rebuild marine habitats.
Our global ocean offers perhaps the greatest opportunity to reverse the damage of years of insufficient environmental protections with benefits that extend to people and the planet. Ocean forestation at scale offers extraordinary potential for sequestering carbon dioxide, creating millions of new jobs in ocean farming, and restoring depleted fish stocks to the abundance we need to feed the world’s growing population.
We believe that we can do this by 2050, in the span of just one human generation.
It is possible to restore abundant, diverse, resilient oceans.
Can we, in good conscience, pass our children the responsibility of writing the obituary for the world’s oceans?
Fortunately, we don’t have to.
Setting a restoration agenda is the appropriate response to the current state of the oceans and the devastating prognosis of continuing “business as usual”. It offers us a new strategy and alternative measurement for success. Most importantly, this is a new paradigm for living on the planet that embraces a return to abundance.
The good news is that we know what to do.
Now is the time to act. Join us.