The ocean occupies about 70% of Earth’s surface and the processes that occur in the ocean make the Earth habitable. Thus, we need to be wise stewards of the ocean and strive to protect it. Scientists are not taught to be advocates, quite the opposite, scientists are taught to present the facts and leave the discussion of broader practical meaning to the policy experts.
In today’s world, however, I believe that scientists need to speak out and share their knowledge. There is hardly a part of the ocean, from the northernmost Arctic to the bottom of the Mariana Trench that has not been impacted by human activities. Human-induced stressors are pushing some ecosystems past the breaking point. It is critical that scientists share our knowledge, not just by teaching our classes at the University, but by giving talks to the public and by developing a more public profile to share important research results and experiences with the goal of promoting ocean literacy, stewardship and sustainability.
I have been involved in ocean advocacy since early in my career and I am a fully committed, engaged, and passionate ocean advocate. I encourage the students and post docs in my group to get involved in education and outreach activities so they can hone their communication skills and develop the ability to discuss even complex and controversial issues in a positive, productive way.
Your voice can make a difference too. Get involved!