Superhero movies are as popular as ever. But one need not don a cape or hone a superpower to save the planet. In fact, the planet can benefit greatly if enough ordinary citizens simply take up the fight to protect the planet.
Rising carbon levels in the atmosphere have destabilized ecosystems across the globe, and the world’s oceans are under attack. A 2014 report from the World Wildlife Fund noted that 39 percent of marine wildlife had disappeared in the 40 years preceding the report’s release. In addition, the WWF notes that 27 percent of the world’s coral reefs, which are home to one-fourth of all known marine fish species, have been lost. If the current rates of coral reef destruction continue, more than 60 percent of the reefs will be gone in the next three decades. And that depletion won’t just affect scuba divers impressed by the stunning beauty of coral reefs, as the WWF notes that coral reef fisheries across the globe account for billions of dollars of revenue each year.
Saving the world’s oceans and the marine life that call these oceans home may seem like a daunting task. However, ordinary citizens who may otherwise feel powerless in the face of climate change can do many things to help protect the world’s oceans.
1. Cut back on energy consumption.
Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are on the rise, and one source of that increase is the burning of fossil fuels to create heat and electricity. Automobiles also are responsible for the burning of fossil fuels. As carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise, so, too, do temperatures in the sea and sea levels. Rising sea temperatures and sea levels threaten the lives of many marine species. Men and women can reduce their daily energy consumption by taking public transportation to work, shutting lights off in their home when they leave a room and unplugging appliances when they aren’t using them. Such efforts are simple, but when practiced on a wide scale by millions of men and women across the globe, their impact can be profound.
2. Stop relying on plastic.
According to the Plastic Oceans® Foundation, more than eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans every year, and estimates suggest that roughly 50 percent of plastic is used just once and thrown away. The dumping of plastic into the ocean poses a serious threat to both marine life and human beings. Plastic Oceans notes that 70 percent of the oxygen humans breathe is produced by marine plants, which are under attack as more and more plastic finds its way into the world’s oceans. Men and women can do their part to cut back on the plastic finding its way into the oceans by relying more on reusable products, such as cloth grocery bags and reusable water bottles.
3. Get educated and spread the word.
One of the best ways to protect oceans today and in the future is to educate yourself and speak up about the problems facing marine life and their habitats. Though the problems facing the world’s oceans are daunting and numerous, and threaten the way humans live their lives, they are not irreversible. Learning about these problems through organizations such as Plastic Oceans and the WWF and encouraging young people, who will be forced to confront ocean pollution and its effects in the decades to come, to follow suit can create a healthier future for humans and marine life alike.
These are just three ways ordinary citizens can take action and start reversing the damage done to the world’s oceans over the last half century. More information can be found at www.wwf.panda.org and www.plasticoceans.org.