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Parley: For the Oceans at the United Nations


“If the oceans die, we die” Captain Paul Watson announced via skype from Lyon, France to a room full of creatives, scientists, business people, athletes, politicians, and students in the General Assembly of the United Nations. Captain Watson was brief in his delivery, his words heartbreaking.

Parley, the organization responsible for inviting these bright and progressive minds to the United Nations, is “the space where creators, thinkers and leaders come together to raise awareness for the beauty and fragility of our oceans and to collaborate on projects that conserve and protect them.” Last night was not a cheerful event, it was realistic and emotionally draining, especially for someone like myself who grew up, on and around the ocean. Filmmaker and activist Louis Psihoyo, Executive Director of the Oceanic Preservation Society and Academy Award winning documentary The Cove, reminded us that the ocean does not belong to us, much like Mother Earth, we belong to the ocean: “Everywhere there is life, there is a song. The planet is singing. We are killing these voices.” We are in a race against extinction and in denial of the health of our planet.

Dr. Iain Kerr, scientist and CEO of the Ocean Alliance, politely pointed out that the salinity in our tears is the same makeup as that of salt water in our oceans. He asked how can we reverse humanity’s apathy towards our destruction of the oceans? Humanity is the ocean, it is a part of us.

I refuse to drink out of plastic bottles and use plastic bags, but this is not enough. There needs to be a paradigm shift, a big vision of big data, harnessing our current resources with science, industries and politicians working together to make change. This is inspiring and all, but how can we as individuals help? Louie Psihoyos suggests adopting a more plant-based diet. Designer Ora Ito explained the theory of simplexicity: “The more simple you make an object, the more complicated it is. The less materials you have, the better the product is. Plastic is a valuable material, it is in the way that you use it.”

Eric Liedtke, of Adidas Group, delivered what he said was action, not only a plan. Using the 80 tons of plastic netting that Captain Siddharth Chakravarty retrieved from the ocean as trash and collaborating with chemist John Warner, Adidas presented a prototype of a shoe made from repurposed plastic that will be available to the public by spring 2016.

In the words of chemist John Warner, “plastic lives eternal lives, that is wreaking havoc.” Be mindful, be a part of the solution. If the oceans die, we die.

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