Today is World Oceans Day, a day when people around the globe come together to celebrate our ocean and take action to protect it. And with good cause. The ocean not only makes our world livable, it provides us with food, water, commerce, recreation, and medicine. The ocean has suffered some serious blows lately: 90% of the big fish in the sea are gone, the gyres are filled with more plastic than previously estimated, the Deepwater Horizon disaster dumped 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and coastal dead zones from agricultural runoff are worse than ever.
The ocean has definitely seen rough times lately, and World Oceans Day is a good opportunity to rally and start turning things around.
Most Americans would probably tell you that they support a healthy ocean—after all, the beach is one of our all-time favorite vacation spots. But how does the Nation as a whole feel about protecting the ocean? The Ocean Project’s ongoing survey of more than 30,000 Americans, both young and old confirm our gut feeling that Americans care about healthy oceans; and has further insight on what Americans think and feel about ocean conservation.
We don’t realize the ocean is in danger
Most Americans think that the ocean is healthy and “too vast” for individual action to have an impact. (The exception to this is in the wake of catastrophic events such as the Deep Water Horizon disaster – see below). In fact, the American public believes that ocean waters bordering the US are significantly less imperiled than are “foreign” waters.
We have short attention span
In the wake of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the American public was very concerned about the health of the ocean, believing it to be threatened. But in a few short months (by Aug 2010 – four months after initial explosion), the level of concern was on the decline. See The Ocean Project’s April 2011 blog post for more details.
We feel powerless to affect ocean & environmental issues
‘My actions have little impact on ocean health.’ is the general sentiment when respondents are asked ‘In your opinion, how much of an impact can individual people have on solving our environmental problems?’. Even more troubling: 40% responded ‘None” or – “Not very much.’
On the bright side, we’re the sort of people who care!
We think we’re green
In 2010, 22% considered themselves to be active in the environmental movement, and 57% said they were sympathetic but not active.
We’ll change our buying habits to protect ocean health
The American public expressed strong support for a willingness to change their seafood habits to protect and/or preserve an endangered species
The children are indeed our future
Young people were the most knowledgeable about environmental and ocean issues, and parents look to them for guidance when making green household decision-making. They also were overwhelmingly more likely to believe that the actions of individuals can make a difference.
It’s time to transform that concern and “green-friendliness” into action. Let us come together this June 8th and take action for our world ocean. There are hundreds of events being held all over the world, find one near you and celebrate with a purpose this World Oceans Day. Or organize an event yourself! Go to www.theoceanproject.org for ideas, free materials, and event listing.