The oceans need our protection. These blue bodies of water that cover seventy percent of our planet and sustain a world population approaching 7.5 billion must be protected. World Oceans Day is a United Nations recognized day of ocean celebration and citizen action held every June 8th.
The theme for 2017 is "Our Oceans, Our Future" and its mission is to increase appreciation of the ocean and encourage people to become engaged with this life sustaining resource by doing something to keep it healthy.
Coinciding with World Oceans Day, the United Nations is also hosting The Ocean Conference in New York, June 5-9, 2017. The Conference aims to be a game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity.
Despite issuing a proclamation recognizing June 2017 as “National Ocean Month” one week before World Oceans Day, the President of the United States of America exposed himself as an ocean foe and climate change denier in a disturbing public display of political masturbation. Speaking before an adoring audience of mostly wilted white men assembled in the White House Rose Garden; dinosaur-like relics of the fossil fuel industry they represent, Mr. Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.
The self-ingratiating speech that followed, confirmed (if any doubt remained) that Mr. Trump has no morality, let alone moral compass; lacks intellectual capacity and is every bit as dangerous to the survival of our democracy and the republic as climate change is to the survival of humankind and our planet.
The threat to our shared planet, its oceans and inhabitants is not just increasing CO2 emissions, warming temperatures, melting polar caps, rising sea levels, overfishing, ocean acidification, the proliferation of plastic pollution, or even offshore oil exploration; which employs the use of seismic air guns that blast the ocean with such intensity that it can injure or even kill marine life including cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and damage their ability to communicate.
The real threat comes from the erosion of global ideas and ideals, the betrayal of fragile alliances and the politicization of the environment by Mr. Trump, White House Strategist Steve Bannon, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the rest of their Republican ilk in Congress, like Senator James Inhofe who believe climate change is a hoax which can be explained by a snowball.
Throwing snowballs on the floor of the United States Senate is not becoming the dignity owed this paramount issue of our time. The very survival of life on this planet for all species – not just humans – deserves an honest discussion, not an alternate reality.
To achieve a sustainable co-existence, we (humans) must accept – by whatever measure of god you choose – that we are but one of an estimated 8.7 million different species of life inhabiting earth and therefore have a moral duty to act responsibly as stewards of the environment. We must embrace scientific fact and reject political rhetoric in all its thinly veiled forms.
In the past, I have spoken out against the war on our oceans and the truth of those convictions ring truer now than ever before. President Obama’s National Ocean Policy has been wiped from public sight, relegated to an archive for deletion rather than promoted for thoughtful implementation. It is on a legislative “hit list” of the Republican Freedom Caucus to revoke “Executive Order 13547 on Oceans, Coasts, and the Great Lakes protection, maintenance, and restoration efforts”. (See list Item No. 286.)
There are those in our society like Senator Mitch McConnell, Speaker Paul Ryan and Congressman Mark Meadows who desire to deny and dismantle all things championed by President Barack Obama, our nations’ first African-American President, for no other articulable reason but that he is black. It is an extreme statement, but these are extreme times and the eight years of blatant Republican obstructionism during the Obama Presidency bears out this truth.
The current administration’s efforts to undo of all that President Obama accomplished to protect our planet, especially the oceans, is both dangerous and wrong.
The issues facing our planet, particularly its oceans, are not black or white, nor are they liberal or conservative choices. Saving planet Earth is not an environment versus employment decision to be made by an ill-informed and unqualified apprentice in the White House. Saving our planet requires cooperation and vision of a future drawn from shared scientific innovation and technological revolution.
The Trump administration, however, believes otherwise. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, explain the Trump administration’s “America First” foreign policy as follows:
“. . . the world is not a “global community” but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.”
The abandonment of United States leadership on the environment is one of many alarming moral abdications under the current Trump administration. The environmental issues facing our Nation are not uniquely American. Rising temperatures and all that it brings; drought, famine and dying oceans are not confined to national borders.
The United States does not and cannot live in a protective bubble – we must not only accept that we are part of a global community, we must wholeheartedly engage in it at every opportunity as well.
It is becoming increasingly evident that “Make America Great Again” is not about United States sovereignty, it is about a man who thinks he is sovereign and wants to wear a crown. Politics aside, this is not a game; global warming is science not a set of rules that can be changed arbitrarily at the whim of one of the players. The ball you are playing with, Mr. Trump, is our planet - the only one we have. It is not your “ball” to walk away with and quit the game because you don’t like the score at halftime.
Visit our oceans and pledge to protect them. In doing so you will not only play an active role in protecting our future but the future of generations to come as well.
Author’s note: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author who is not associated with worldoceansday.org or the United Nations Ocean Conference.