When my sister turned around and said “if we continue polluting our oceans at the current rate, in my lifetime I will see the worlds aquatic space become uninhabitable for marine life” I nearly fell on the floor. I didn’t believe her, how can this be the case? Was she kidding? I know the effects of climate change are increasing, but I look out at the ocean every day and it seemed to be doing pretty okay to me.
But then I listened, and I did some research, she was pretty bang on the mark. We have reached a point where the human population is exploiting a vast majority of our natural resources that at some point soon, surely something big has got to give.
It got me thinking, do others know this? Are people aware? How are they being educated?
There are situations close to home that I’m sure you’re up to date with, the Great Barrier Reef is deteriorating before our eyes, mining makes up a huge portion of our economic stream and deforestation is on the rise. But what about the other impacts that result from our lack of environmental awareness in day-to-day life?
The use of take away coffee cups and our extreme reliance on plastic packaging are starting to take a toll on the state of our oceans. The New Plastics Economy identified by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish and they present a compelling case to reduce our plastic consumption. In addition, industrial and unsustainable fishing practices have resulted in a complete overfishing of our oceans and caused an extreme disruption to other marine life. Seriously people do we really love seafood that fucking much we need to clear the ocean of it?
Understanding the Data
Gaining cut through in the information stream can be difficult for researchers given digital platforms are often overloaded with false, inaccurate or just too much information. It also doesn’t help that many of our politicians are still in denial on the existence and effects of climate change. And then you have the fact that most of us can’t translate scientific data into everyday language.
Getting the information out there is one thing, having audiences absorb it and act on it is another. If you look at both ends of the education scale, there is heavy academic literature supported by a lot of in-depth research, and there are publications and documentaries which have been streamlined to appeal to the everyday Joe.
The feature length documentary Blue explores the effect of industrialisation in our oceans and how our marine world is at serious risk of mass extinction. It sheds a realistic view on alarming findings from the Living Blue Planet Report which found in the last 40 years we have lost half of all marine life. No wonder I never see those beautiful whales cruising past every year.
Now if you too just died a little inside, there is plenty you can do to improve your knowledge in the environmental space. Incorporating credible information streams into your media channels is a great way to build up a foundation of knowledge in understanding how to care for the environment. Pages such as National Geographic, Science Mag and I fucking love science do a great job of engaging audiences and encouraging an interest in environmental matters.
If Netflix is your thing not to worry, there are HEAPS of great documentaries to choose from, or why not flick through a few TED talks and learn about sustainable aquaculture, the value of nature or the possibility of greening our deserts to reverse climate change.
A Familiar Face
One legend who has mastered the art of communicating to the masses is Sir David Attenborough, a naturalist who pioneered the way we learn about the environment.
For over 60 years David Attenborough has taken us on an educational journey through his wildlife filmmaking and shined a light on how human society is negatively impacting the survival of our natural world.
“The future of life on earth depends on our ability to take action. Many individuals are doing what they can, but real success can only come if there’s a change in our societies and our economics and in our politics. I’ve been lucky in my lifetime to see some of the greatest spectacles that the natural world has to offer. Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy, inhabitable by all species.”
– State of the Planet, 2000
At 91 years of age he is one of the most recognised voices in broadcasting history and has taught millions of people across the globe. You could almost say he is solely responsible for teaching us about the curious wonders of our earth. However as much as we would like to deny it, he is edging closer to that time where he will no longer have the ability to play a role in influencing generations to treasure our environment (cue tears).
Other voices have come and gone, but somehow David Attenborough manages to grasp our attention and facilitate an emotional connection where we become invested in the natural wonders he shares with us. We can only hope other leaders of the environmental community have a similar effect in educating future generations on the risks our environment faces.
Until that sad time comes, let’s take a moment to appreciate that time he couldn’t get a word in over in over this chatty bird!
Everybody plays a role in protecting our environment; actively engaging with the information that’s out there is an important step to ensure the longevity of our ecosystems. We cannot let our fascination with finding life on another planet prevent us from taking care of the one we currently call home.