Updated: Jul 16, 2020
Did you know that the ocean is a larger carbon sink that the rainforests of the world? More than 70% of CO2 emissions will be sequestered within the ocean through sedimentation on the seafloor. Just like forests, the ocean produces oxygen from photosynthesis. In the oceans this happens within tiny marine plants such as phytoplankton, kelp, and algae. The ocean takes in CO2 and produces O2. This is a critical complement to human existence: humans inhale O2 and exhale CO2. We are designed to be in symbiosis with nature - every second breath we take is from the ocean - yet we have gotten out of sync.
Despite the ocean’s importance to human survival, we are harming the very thing that
gives us life. Climate change that fuels deoxygenation and ocean acidification pose a serious threat to ocean and human health. By 2050, we will have more plastic than fish in our ocean. The state of our ocean is rapidly declining, yet we cannot survive without it. Fortunately, this global pause during Covid-19 has given the ocean a breather, allowing fish populations to restock and marine plants to replenish. However, much more action and collaboration are needed to reverse the point of no return for our ocean by 2030.
I believe that our generation can reverse the point of no return of our ocean by 2030, a point where the harmful effects on our oceans are irreversible, and boost ocean health while improving the well-being of ourselves and our communities. By sharing knowledge, driving action, and empowering our voices, we have a shot at saving the very thing that provides us with AIR.
Parley for the Oceans is an organization that is empowering young people and driving change. By taking care of ourselves, getting outside, and reducing our carbon emissions, we have initiated a path to boosting wellness. Over the next 8 weeks, we will focus on how simple changes in your life can have lasting impact on yourself, others and the ocean.
Sitting on a large boulder, having finished a 25-mile bike journey, enjoying the beauty of the rushing water in Great Falls Park, Virginia, my friend Luke says, "It's like I have infinite boxes to check and as soon as one is checked another appears.” He paused and looked over at me. “How do I control my mind and not have it control my life?”
I looked at him as kayakers came rushing down the falls. We watched them and I paused to reflect on his question, one that I had once asked. “What you do and who you are two separate things.”
By now, the kayakers had navigated down the apex of the falls and cried out in joy as they entered the slower current downstream. “Put your worries in a box... you can come back to them later. We’re the only ones that can change our mindsets and that's a strong power to have.”
In deep thought as a grey heron flew across the river, Luke said, “My mind feels like it’s bursting with thoughts. How do I change this?”
“Look man, your mind doesn’t have to be a rushing waterfall, it can also be a calm flowing river, with the right tools. Doing and being coexist. You aren’t defined by how many of those boxes you check off. You’re defined by who you are, and it starts by accepting yourself.”
There is so much wisdom within us and around the ocean. In a world that is changing rapidly, filled with uncertainty and ways to lose the joy within us, it is easy to lose our way. Natural things can help anchor us and equip ourselves with a compass to navigate the uncertain seas of life. By taking care of the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our community we have more energy to take care of the ocean. We can feel grateful for the oceans ability to control tides, weather, oxygen, and provide food and medicine. Let’s do our part to give back and develop the symbiotic relationship each one of us has the opportunity to do with our ocean and mother nature.
Every second breath we take is a result of the ocean converting carbon to oxygen, as marine greens absorb carbon produced by humans and transform it into a breathable element. The wonderful cooling ability of the ocean is similar to that of four deep breathes. The breath is a gateway to slowing the waterfall of thoughts that are rushing through your mind. By inhaling for four seconds, exhaling for four seconds, and repeating that four times, we can calm down and feel the powerful magic that the ocean has graciously given to us. Who knew it only takes 32 seconds to become calm, more relaxed, and feel into the power of our ocean? So, take a deep breath… and another… and another… and another… and begin to dream about how you can be an Ocean Guardian. Always remember that Ocean Health <=> Human Health (OH<=>HH) spelling OHHH, a word that evokes the natural wonder of our water bodies.