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What Will You Do With Your Blue Marble?

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Do you know where to get the best local, sustainable seafood? Do you clean up plastic litter, even if it's not yours and no one is watching? Do you take reusable bags to the grocery store? In other words, do you live blue?

Well then, here's a marble.

If someone hands you a small blue marble don't be surprised. Here's what to do: give it away to someone who is also taking care of our little blue planet. Or give it to someone else along with a tip about how to live blue: where to get the best local organic food, how to avoid plastic waste, or which politicians and businesses are true blue.

Then pause for a moment and consider that tens of thousands of similar recycled-glass blue marbles are passing from hand to hand right now, making their way around the Earth, our big blue marble. If you get one, give one. And then, please share your story with all of us at BlueMarbles.org and inspire others to live blue. Next World Ocean Day, in June 2010, we'll check in on all the stories those blue marbles tell.

Blue Marble is the name given to the most replicated photo ever, it's the one made by Apollo 17 astronauts in 1972 as they pointed their Hasselblad camera back at an illuminated Earth. From up there we looked small, fragile, beautiful...and blue. Sort of like a blue marble.

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Understandably, the green patches of our planet get most of the eco-attention--albeit not nearly enough--while the blue expanses quietly take the hit. I've heard it said that less than 1% of eco-funding goes to caring for the blue world. But, the fact is we live on a blue planet, not a green one, or a brown one. Earth is mostly water, surrounded by a light blue or dark blue sky. Life came from the ocean, and most of our planet's life and habitable space is in the ocean. We know all too well that the ocean gives us our climate, the air we breathe, and food to eat.

But we've treated Big Blue like a giant dump. Our chemicals, exhaust, emissions and trash are blown away with the breeze or washed away with the tide. Invisible. Out of sight. Out of mind. Global warming, ocean acidification, toxic seafood and plastic-laden seas and beaches mean that dilution is no longer a viable solution to pollution.

But our hope isn't false or shallow. Soon, the health of the ocean, once the wallflower of the environmental movement, will move to center stage, and not a moment too soon.

Those in the know say that 2010 is going to be a big year for the blue parts of our planet. Beginning with World Ocean Day this June 8th (now recognized by the UN) a string of ocean events flows outward including the 100th anniversary of the birthday of Archie Carr, the father of sea turtle conservation, the premier of the IMAX film OCEAN, World Ocean Day 2010 and the anniversary of Jacques Cousteau's 100th birthday. Ocean explorer Dr. Sylvia Earle, aka "Her Deepness," has made a global network of marine protected areas her TED Prize wish. Our new administration put an ocean scientist Dr. Jane Lubchenco at the helm of NOAA and is poised to change climate change and energy policies at home and around the world for the better (to put it mildly).

The message is quite clear: we must do more for the ocean, we must do it better and we must do it now.

Your local "blue" organizations--the frontline warriors--need your help. These days "help" means money, so update your memberships at your favorite grassroots non-profit. While you're at it, renew your commitment to the national organizations like Ocean Champions, Ocean Conservancy and Oceana, the people who, day-in and day-out, lobby for and shape the plans and policies that will restore healthy oceans. Without our support these groups are not going to make it, which means neither will we.

If you're not convinced, just consider what our ocean would look like without the people who have fought for it through the years. More oil rigs, an extra few thousand tons of trash, lots more runoff, fewer fish, whales and turtles, lack of public access and poorer ocean illiteracy leap to mind.

But it's not all about what they do. It's also about each of us. Hit the beach, roll up your sleeves and volunteer to pick up that trash even when no one is watching, eat "blue" by making the most local and sustainable choices and shop "blue" by looking for reusables and biodegradables first.

We all owe these ocean saints a world of thanks. Maybe your neighbor, teacher, co-worker or partner is one of them. In fact, I'll bet you're one of them, too. If so, then one day, very soon, I hope someone puts a blue marble into your hand and says, "thank you."

And then, when that blue marble is yours, you'll know exactly what to do with it.

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