Avatar Star Stands Up Against Ocean Acidification
Academy award nominated actress Sigourney Weaver, remembered by many fans as Dr. Grace Augustine in the film Avatar, has teamed with the National Resource Defense Council to raise awareness for a very serious problem facing the Earth:
Everybody talks about the effects of CO2 on the atmosphere, but most people don’t realize that a lot of the CO2 which starts in the air gets absorbed into the ocean. More than seventy-percent of the world’s surface is covered by oceans, it goes without saying that anything which affects them will have a tremendous impact on the planet as a whole. According to the NRDC, almost a quarter of all the planet’s CO2 ends up in the oceans, and people are only just starting to understand the impact it’s having on the environment.
Nearly seventy-percent of the earth’s species are found in the oceans, and more are still being discovered. In addition, as Ms. Weaver points out in her article, many people–whole villages, cities, and cultures–depend on the ocean for their livelihoods. All these species, and by extension, the humans who depend on them, rely on the Ocean’s delicate chemical mixture to support them. Disrupt the chemical mixture too much, and the results will be catastrophic to humans and sea creatures alike.
Currently, CO2 levels are greatly increasing the ocean’s acidity levels, and reducing the levels of carbonate in the water. Carbonate is a mineral used to create the shells and skeletons of many sea creatures–from tiny shell fish to massive coral reefs. Eventually the combination of weakening shells and increasing acidity in the water, will result in the eventual extinction of uncountable species–all of them vital parts of the food chain.
The good news is that this process can be altered, though it will take a lot of work, and a much better understanding of the problem and it’s repercussions. One of the biggest difficulties facing those who are trying to tackle this issue, is the sheer lack of public awareness. Everybody’s worried about ozone layers and such, but nobody seems to be looking to the oceans. That’s where Ms. Weaver comes in.
“In my life I draw inspiration from Grace. She was right in calling attention to the inextricable link between life and the environment, and to advocate for protecting the life force — the Hometree — of the Na’vi tribe. Back on planet Earth, we have our own life force — the oceans. Our oceans — which generate most of our oxygen, regulate our climate, and provide most of our population with sustenance — are essential to all life on earth.” ~Sigourney Weaver.
Speaking as an arch fangirl, it’s nice to know that fans aren’t the only ones inspired by fictitious characters. More importantly, it’s inspiring to see people like Ms. Weaver standing up for the planet, and bringing awareness to problems of such enormous magnitude.
Such awareness does not go unheeded, and a recent agreement was made between several countries to begin monitoring the ocean’s acidity levels. Sadly, though this is a great start, it isn’t the kind of speedy action that needs to be taken to rectify the situation. Still, it is to be hoped, that such an action will be forthcoming when the problem’s magnitude is better understood. In the meantime, however, it’s our job to educate people and help them understand the importance of our oceans, and the dangers facing them. Check out this video on the subject by the National Resource Defense Council: