How can we Preserve and Protect our Oceans in the Age of Trump?

12/14/2017 08:05 pm ET Updated Dec 15, 2017
We must preserve our oceans.
Tam Warner Minton
We must preserve our oceans.

We live in a time when human activity has brought us to the brink of ecological disaster. As a scuba diver of over thirty years, I have seen the changes in our oceans, and the death of our coral reefs. Global warming is hitting the ocean hardest, because the ocean absorbs 93% of the heat in our atmosphere. Our oceans are under extreme pressure. Anyone who has read my blog, Travels with Tam, knows I go on citizen science dive trips often, assisting scientists in the field with their research into the ocean and our ocean giants. Ocean conservation is a paramount value in my life. At dinner one night recently, a man said to me, “Sharks are endangered? I didn’t know that.” How can anyone not know that? Only a three toed sloth hanging in the jungles of the Amazon wouldn’t know that! Is that really how little our society knows about what is going on with our planet? We must wake up, my friends.

The Obama Administration made great strides in stopping global warming by helping negotiate the Paris Climate Accords. This historic agreement is within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020, was signed by 196 countries with 169 countries a party to it. The Paris Climate Accord aims to respond to global climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius.

Now, I refuse to argue the merits of the scientific findings that the climate is warming because of human activity. It is accepted science, and those who question it are not credible. The burning of fossil fuels causes the atmosphere to warm. Period, end of story. We are saddled with an administration that does not “believe in” climate change. They either have no deductive reasoning ability, or they choose not to believe so they can assist businesses and industries in chasing the almighty dollar. It is criminal, in my view, to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, or to approve oil exploration in Bristol Bay, Alaska, or to roll back the Clean Power Act. Trump appointed an EPA chief who has absolutely no intention of protecting the environment, indeed, he seeks to directly harm it by getting rid of protections it took years to approve. The war on coal is over, said Scott Pruitt. No, Mr. Pruitt, the war on coal and all fossil fuels has just begun.

So, how can our planet survive Trump and the group of fossils he has appointed to tear apart our environmental protections? We simply do not have time to lose combating this global disaster. It is clearly irresponsible for a government in the 21st Century to disregard scientific findings accepted by the vast majority of the scientific community. Scott Pruitt just removed scientists from the independent scientific boards advising the EPA, using the story of Joshua in the Bible to justify his actions. I have no problem with individual religious beliefs, all people are entitled to believe whatever they want to in private. When it effects public policy, especially policy which effects the health of our citizens and environment, I have a problem. I do not want Scott Pruitt’s religious beliefs, or the greed of Trump’s cronies, to have any role in government policy. The Environmental Protection Agency has a mandate to protect human health and the environment, not to abuse it. All those who approved these horrible appointments to positions of scientific necessity are responsible to us, the citizens of this country, and must be voted out of office. It is now our responsibility to resist.

If you have not seen Chasing Coral, winner of the Sundance Film Festival and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature
Chasing Coral NetFlix Documentary
If you have not seen Chasing Coral, winner of the Sundance Film Festival and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary, I highly recommend you do. It is eye opening.

So how can we resist? Yes, we can protest, and protesting peacefully is honorable, but protesting alone will not change much. The only real weapon that we the people have, is our vote. We have one year until the 2018 midterm elections, and anyone who cares about the world their children and grandchildren will inherit, must vote climate deniers out of office. Climate Change is the defining challenge of our time. If we do not meet this challenge with resolve and strength, our planet will become inhospitable to human life. We will be a blip on the Earth’s timeline.

Did you know?
Chasing Coral, Netflix Documentary
Did you know?

We simply have to reach out and educate people about the ocean, and get them excited about it! And who better to become enthusiastic than kids? We need a generation who cares about the planet, and understands what is happening to it. I thought, if only I could introduce kids (and their parents and grandparents!) to the colors and creatures of our oceans! What better way to get people interested in the conservation of our ocean resources, perhaps to even inspire future scientists, than introducing them to the underwater world? I cannot take people to the ocean, but I can try to bring the ocean to people, to show them the value of our oceans and ocean animals. I wanted a project to do exactly that. My vision is a book series of photos and fun facts about different ocean animals including fish, crustaceans, eels, mollusks, stingrays, sharks….the possibilities are endless! The first book of that series was published during the summer. 10% will go to the Marine Megafauna Foundation to assist them in their ocean research. Co-founder Dr Andrea Marshall is a strong advocate of citizen science, and I have accompanied her on many expeditions to gather data. I invite you to look at a preview of ALL FISH FACES on Amazon! It is available in paperback, and kindle ebook. There are other books about our oceans and our environmental responsibilities as well, and I urge you to take a look at them. Each of us has to make an effort to stem the tide of climate denial, and to resist the current regime’s ignorant ideas about climate change. It is not too dramatic to say that our lives depend upon it.

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