Janine Mendes-Franco reminds us that today is World Oceans Day and that the climate crisis is affecting the good health and sustainability of our oceans. Read full article, with descriptions of the beaches of Trinidad & Tobago, and a spectacular photo gallery at Global Voices.
World Oceans Day, officially designated by the United Nations (UN) in 2008 and celebrated annually on June 8, seeks to raise global awareness of oceans’ importance to both marine and human life, thereby striving to better protect them within the framework of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Goal Number 14 focuses on the conservation and sustainable use of our oceans, seas and marine resources, since they “[drive] global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind”:
Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea.
This vital SDG reflects the fact that the majority of the earth consists of water; humans wouldn’t be able to survive without it. This is especially true for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like the Caribbean which are, more often that not, the first to be affected by climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, a fiercer annual Atlantic hurricane season, coral bleaching, coastal water pollution, overfishing, and the heating up of seawater which has caused an overabundance of sargassum. Such ecological imbalances are also adversely affecting Caribbean fisheries, while some regional governments’ sacrificing of fragile coastline ecosystems for economic gain exacerbates the problem.
Regional environmental activists and leaders know exactly what the challenges are, but perhaps on this year’s World Oceans Day, where the goal is revitalisation of our oceans, we need to be reminded of their purpose and beauty before we truly understand the importance of the collective action required to successfully defend them.
The oceans surrounding the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, to the south of the Caribbean archipelago, is a perfect example of all the ways in which the sea is meaningful — and crucial — to our very existence. [. . .]
Oceans play an integral role in physical and mental health. When Trinidad and Tobago’s beaches were closed for months at a time as part of the country’s COVID-19 restrictions, there were many petitions asking that they be reopened so that surfers could get in some exercise, residents who live in oceanside villages (like Toco, on the north-east coast) could get their children outdoors, and hikers (like the ones who religiously climb the Tracking Station trail in Chaguaramas on the north-west of the island) could connect with nature, which has been proven to be a source of relaxation and revitalisation. [. . .]
[. . .] There is no doubt that the climate crisis is affecting the good health and sustainability of our oceans. Post COP-26, unless global governments commit to “1.5 to stay alive,” sea level rise will continue to impact coastal communities, there will be continued acidification of our waters, and Caribbean coral reefs and mangrove forests will continue to wither. To have any hope of our oceans looking and functioning as they once did, collective action is critical, not just for sustainability, but for survival.
Read full article and see photos at https://globalvoices.org/2022/06/08/world-oceans-day-in-photos-from-trinidad-tobago/
[Shown above: Sunset over the Caribbean Sea, ‘Down de Islands,’ Trinidad. Photo by Janine Mendes-Franco.]