Sylvia Earle is a marine biologist. That’s someone who studies life in the ocean. Earle is also one of the ocean’s biggest defenders. Here, she answers questions about threats to the oceans and what we can do to protect them.
Why is the ocean so important?
The ocean is where the action is. It’s where 95% of the biosphere is.
What is the biggest threat to the oceans right now?
Deep-sea mining. This takes minerals from the sea to make batteries for electric vehicles. But these deep-sea systems are full of life.
What can we do for the oceans?
We’ve got to get over this idea that ocean wildlife is needed for our food security. We are now beginning to understand the high cost [to the environment] of eating fish.
What about coral reefs?
Half of the world’s coral reefs are gone. (See “Heating Up.”) The good news? We’ve still got half of them left. We can reverse much of the harm we have done. We have the knowledge to do so.
How worried should we be about climate change?
It’s only hopeless when you give up. Change happens because of people who team up to inspire others.
What’s next for you?
I want to expand access to the ocean. Teachers and kids should be able to explore it. They could dive down safely in submersibles . When they come back, they can spread the word about how glorious life is down below.
Corals are tiny animals that form a reef. This picture shows bleached coral. Coral turns white when it’s unhealthy. Coral bleaching is caused by a warming ocean.
What is causing the planet to heat up? Greenhouse gases. One of these gases is carbon dioxide. The gases come from using fuels such as coal, gasoline, and oil.