October 9, 2014

To a packed hall in Austin, TX on Tuesday, Sylvia Earle delivered a passionate keynote speech entitled “Sustainable Seas: The Vision and the Reality.” The 60-minute talk elicited a standing ovation and questions from the audience asking “What can I do to help?” Dr. Earle addressed myriad issues involved in understanding and preventing ocean decline – from microbiology, to overfishing, to Exclusive Economic Zones – and encouraged all present to apportion some of their creative energy to building a solution, a way forward so that we can find a sustainable way to live on a planet that sustains us.

Her talk was preceded by this cinematic video created by Conservation International in which Harrison Ford plays the part of the ocean. It’s powerful and worth a watch: 

To begin her keynote, Dr. Earle offered a nuanced perspective on the words the Ocean utters in this compelling video. Mr. Ford roars that the ocean “doesn’t need us.” However, we humans have and do exercise immense destructive pressure on this vast ecosystem, so much so that the ocean does need us. The ocean and all of the critters in it need us to rethink the way we use this vital resource. Our choices matter. We should stop thinking of the ocean as an inexhaustible, free resource and instead embrace it as the blue battery that drives planetary biology and chemistry. Tragically, as Dr. Sylvia Earle has witnessed throughout her life on and underwater, we are seriously drawing down that battery to the point where we may not be able to charge it back up.

To this point, Dr. Earle remarked, “The next ten years are the most important of the next 10,000 years to preserve what’s left of the natural systems that sustain us.” She offered the hope that, armed with the amazing scientific advances seen over her lifetime, we can make a difference in the fight to reverse ocean decline. Get involved today.

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