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GREEN JUNCTION: LISTEN TO DR. SYLVIA EARLE BY JULIE PELLER PH.D
For years, I have admired and listened to the wisdom of Dr. Sylvia Earle, a world-renowned marine biologist, and oceanographer who still works as a National Geographic Explorer. Although now 87, she continues to speak publicly about her concerns for the Earth and its oceans from an incredible wealth of experience and knowledge. One of her numerous accomplishments was in 1979 when she made the first untethered walk on the seafloor at a lower depth than any living human being before. She then wrote about her adventure in her 1980 book, Exploring the Deep Frontier.
For years, Dr. Earle’s message has been, “The earth is in serious trouble, and we know what to do.” She wants others to consider important information: “The Earth’s climate and the oceans are coupled as tightly as anything possibly could be. We have to take care of our home, and our home is mostly blue. But, we have used the oceans as a garbage dump; we must look at the ocean with a different attitude.” According to one estimate (UNESCO), around 10 million tons of plastic garbage are released into the ocean yearly.
From the knowledge gained from ocean expeditions, Dr. Earle explains that “most of life on earth lives in the dark; the greatest diversity and abundance of life is below where sunlight shines.” She further explains that “the ocean is not just a source of products and food, but the ocean keeps us alive.” In her documentary Mission Blue, released in 2014, she warns us from her 60 years of exploration that “the ocean is dying.”
Dr. Earle currently is president and chair of Mission Blue, an organization that “inspires action to explore and protect the ocean.” (https://missionblue.org/about/ ) How many people understand the severe threats to Earth’s oceans, land, and atmosphere and have made adjustments to reduce their personal impact? Over 8 billion people share this beautiful planet.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou
Julie Peller, Ph.D., is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ). Julie has been writing a weekly column for the past ~6 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), and student and citizen participation in environmental work.