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Ocean Optimism!

When we started Swimming Head, one of our main aims was to seek out meaningful stories containing some uplifting or positive element. From working in conservation, I know it’s easy to become bogged down after being bombarded with bad news stories. For me this constant barrage often leads to a sense of hopelessness leading to that feeling that nothing we do can will make a difference… however, my Dad was an eternal optimist and his phrase of “just do the bit you can do” has really stuck. So what can we do? I struggled with this until I realised, this isn’t a lone effort, there are millions of people working to make the world a better place and so maybe the focus should be on them and not the constant list of things that are going wrong! Maybe telling a few more positive stories, showing the graft and work going into building a better world would help, maybe exploring a few successful projects would be a good place to start.

In light of the current pandemic, good news is even harder to find. This is a difficult and devastating time, and no amount of good news will change that, but perhaps it will help the days to pass until we have positive things to report more broadly. Starting today we aim to bring a weekly blog post to highlight something interesting, new and positive from the natural world, we hope you enjoy it :)

Rolling waves on the north coast of Northern Ireland

Rolling waves on the north coast ©Lawrence Eagling

This month, a paper was published in Nature on ‘Rebuilding Marine Life’ which contained some true ocean optimism. After everything that has damaged our oceans (increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, deoxygenation, over-fishing, pollution etc.etc.), there is yet hope that we can turn the tide to rebuild healthy oceans. This of course is not suggesting a quick fix, however the authors stress that with enough resources designated to a recovery effort, we may be able to recover much of the abundance, structure and function of marine life by 2050. We need to balance the need for exploitation of the oceans, (such as food, jobs and clean energy) which is currently worth $1.5 trillion to the global economy, against the intrinsic value of marine ecosystems. It seems such a balance is possible if we are able to address key factors including protecting essential habitats, finding alternative livelihoods, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing bycatch. By identifying these factors and the potential roadblocks to recovery this paper stands as a call to arms with action plans proposed across key ecosystems.

Overall this paper highlights the fact that despite the many factors that have damaged our oceans, that ‘substantially rebuilding marine life within a human generation is largely achievable’ and represents ‘a doable Grand Challenge for humanity, an ethical obligation and a smart economic objective to achieve a sustainable future’. I cannot recommend reading this paper enough for a fantastic dose of ocean optimism and inspiration that although there is a lot of work to do, positive change is really possible!

Coral reef and mangrove tree - Creative Commons

If you’re in the mood for a bit more positivity, have a browse through some more good news stories that we found recently:

5% fall in carbon emissions due to decrease in demand for fossil fuels

Wildflower increase with decrease in mowing

First wild tapir born in Brazil for more than a century


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