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Visionary Study Shows How 30% of World's Oceans Could Be Made Sanctuaries by 2030

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Visionary Study Shows How 30% of World's Oceans Could Be Made Sanctuaries by 2030
Ghost fishing nets in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Justin Hofman / Greenpeace

By Julia Conley

The climate action group Greenpeace released a report Thursday which lays out a plan for how world leaders can protect more than 30 percent of the world's oceans in the next decade — as world governments meet at United Nations to create a historic Global Oceans Treaty aimed at strictly regulating activities which have damaged marine life.


In the report — 30x30: A Blueprint for Ocean Protection — researchers from the Universities of York and Oxford divided the world's oceans into 25,000 62-square mile sections, mapping out a network of "ocean sanctuaries" which could be created to help recover lost biodiversity.

"The findings in this report show that it is entirely feasible to design an ecologically representative, planet-wide network of high seas protected areas to address the crisis facing our oceans and enable their recovery," reads the report. "The need is immediate and the means readily available. All that is required is the political will."

The sanctuaries, which Greenpeace says could be established by 2030, would protect species from the damages of overfishing, fossil fuel drilling projects and pollution.

"The '30x30' report puts forward a credible design for a global network of marine protected areas in the high seas based on knowledge accumulated over years by marine ecologists on the distribution of species, including those threatened with extinction, habitats known to be hotspots of biodiversity and unique ecosystems," said Alex Rogers, a professor at Oxford who co-authored the report.

Greenpeace published an interactive map as a companion to the study, showing how little ocean life is currently protected compared with the wide swaths of ocean that could be protected with its proposed network of protected areas.

Current protected area of world's oceans.

Greenpeace

Projected protection zones in world's oceans by 2030.

Greenpeace

Oceans cover 70 percent of the planet's living space and include 89 million square miles which are completely unprotected because they lie outside of national borders — currently, just two percent of the world's oceans are protected. Greenpeace's plan to establish conservation zones in 30 to 50 percent of the oceans would help ocean ecosystems recover from decades of worsening plastic pollution, overfishing, fossil fuel drilling and acidification brought on by increased carbon in the world's atmosphere.

"The speed at which the high seas have been depleted of some of their most spectacular and iconic wildlife has taken the world by surprise," said Callum Roberts, a marine conservation biologist at the University of York. "Extraordinary losses of seabirds, turtles, sharks, and marine mammals reveal a broken governance system that governments at the United Nations must urgently fix."

The study took into account the socio-economic impact the sanctuaries would have on global fishing industries, showing that "networks representative of biodiversity can be built with limited economic impact."

As delegations gathered in New York to discuss a treaty aimed at protecting oceans, Greenpeace urged world leaders to consider the groundbreaking 30x30 study as a guide for how to ensure a healthy future for marine life as well as the entire planet.

"The negotiations taking place here at the UN are crucial because, if they get it right, governments around the world could secure a Global Ocean Treaty by 2020 which has the teeth to realize a network of ocean sanctuaries, off-limits from harmful human activities," said Dr. Sandra Schoettner of Greenpeace. "This would give wildlife and habitats space not only to recover, but to flourish. Our oceans are in crisis, but all we need is the political will to protect them before it's too late."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

Former U.S. Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz listens during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

By Jake Johnson

Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.

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Climate change can evoke intense feelings, but a conversational approach can help. Reed Kaestner / Getty Images

Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.

"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.

She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.

"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.

She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.

This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.

"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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