BFO 8: Our Ocean, Our Home: Featuring Ku’ulei Neher


Our planet is home to the most ecologically interesting organisms that we know of. Home to most of these incredible organisms is the vast ocean that covers 70% of the entire Earth’s surface and holds 1.3 billion cubic km of water (US Department of Commerce). With more than 80% of all species on Earth found in the ocean, our oceans are the largest space to be inhabited by organisms that are known in the entire universe (Gregory Stone). The abundant ecosystems that the oceans house are some of the main drivers in our planet’s self regulatory mechanisms. Our amazing oceans are the lifeline of the Earth, and play a huge role in regulating temperature, producing much of our oxygen, and as well as providing medicine and food for many past and present day societies. Our oceans are the center of productivity for our planet and many of our daily lives.


Many people have overlooked the amazing privilege of having access to our oceans. The ocean would survive without human life, but we would not survive without an ocean. As far as we know, Earth is the only planet that has a consistent body of water like our ocean. Our ocean distinguishes our planet immensely from the others in our solar system and makes Earth what we know today.


Since our livelihood on Earth depends on the oceans, it is critical to take action and be a compassionate resident on this planet. The first step in this process is understanding the amazing ecosystem services that the oceans provide for humans. Like previously stated, the oceans act as an incredible stabilizer for hundreds of different “departments” of our functioning planet. The unique services that the ocean provides in turn help other ecosystem processes flourish. The next step in being a proactive advocate for the oceans is starting with small changes in your everyday life. Understanding what is harmful to our planet and what is not is very valuable to stop utilizing products and services could be damaging to the ocean’s fragile system. Things like single use plastic, fast fashion, and excessive package delivery are a few of many negative products and services that all contribute to unfavorable ocean conditions.


Our oceans are amazing examples of how nature is able to self-regulate and provide many ecosystem services that we utilize for our lives to function. Our oceans set Earth apart from other planets and help to create the perfect environment for life to thrive. Without our oceans, the human race would not survive. It is important to remember how valuable and lucky we are to have the oceans as such a remarkable element to our planet. In order to protect the beauty and wonder of our Earth, we need to treat our oceans with care.


Just as the ocean regulates climate, our minds and thoughts control our bodies and impulses. By treating ourselves with care, we treat the ocean with care. Just like our oceans are able to self-regulate with the distribution of warm water to the polls, through currents, humans can self-regulate through breathing, positive affirmations, and journaling. A very effective technique I use when feeling out of balance is Accept Release Moveon (ARM). The acronym ARM literally corresponds to this technique. Accept going up your right arm, Release going across your chest, and Moveon going down your left arm. By practicing ARM when you are flustered or disappointed, it can help you self-regulate and become present again. Adding ARM to your toolkit is the next step to OHHH. Set your intention so that every time you practice a tool, you are growing and becoming a better version of yourself. By doing so, our planet will become a better version of itself, because we will treat it with respect, thoughtfulness, and awe.


Ku’ulei Neher is from Oahu, Hawai’i and is a rising sophomore at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and is studying Environmental Management and Protection with a minor in Entrepreneurship. Ku’ulei has been participating in environmental activism for over 5 years, with one of her biggest achievements being that she banned plastic water bottles from her K-12 school's cafeteria. Ku’ulei currently runs a Cal Poly Surfrider program called "Sororities for the Sea" to integrate sustainability into greek life across college campuses. In her free time, she loves to hike, surf, and be in the ocean.


Sources:


Stone, Gregory. “We Cannot Survive without Our Oceans. We Must Act to Save Them - Now.” World Economic Forum, 2016, www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/11/an-ocean-renaissance-is-key-to-our-survival/.

US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “How Much Water Is in the Ocean?” NOAA's National Ocean Service, 1 June 2013, oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/oceanwater.html.