Nobel-prize winning author John Steinbeck recognized five decades ago the need to study and protect the world’s oceans. Steinbeck argued that investigation of Earth’s oceans was critical to the success of humanity and deserved the same funding and organization as space exploration. Steinbeck wrote, “We have not, as a nation and a world, been alert to the absolute necessity of going back to the sea for our survival.” He recognized the economic value and need for sustainability and knowledge of our vast oceans and all they contain.
Steinbeck shared his love for the sea in an open letter to the editor of Popular Science magazine in 1966 saying, “There is something for everyone in the sea—incredible beauty for the artist, the excitement and danger of exploration for the brave and restless, an open door for the ingenuity and inventiveness of the clever, a new world for the bored, food for the hungry, and incalculable material wealth for the acquisitive—and all of these in addition to the pure clean wonder of increasing knowledge.”
With three-fifths of the earth’s surface under the seas there is nothing simple about protecting them as a whole or about creating and protecting marine reserves. The value of these reserves was discussed in a New York Times, NYT article, Sustaining Resilience at Sea. The article covered a report by Nature Climate Change finding that the ability of ocean species to endure effects of global warming depends more on the overall health of ecosystems where the species live rather than on the individual species. Just a few months prior to the NYT article Pew Charitable Trusts announce a partnership with which it is seeking to establish a new benchmark for the protection of ocean ecosystems by creation of the first generation of great marine parks around the globe by 2022.
Organizations, universities and others have long since acted on Steinbeck’s vision of systematically studying the world’s oceans. Yet work needs to be done to expand on engaging public awareness and increasing public sentiment to protect world oceans. A fun and valuable way for individuals to become involved in efforts to save the world’s oceans, beaches and the sea life found there is to join in celebrating World Oceans Day coming up June 8th. Go to worldoceansday.org and see how you, your kids and your family can participate and raise awareness in your community for the condition of world oceans.