SEA-STAINABILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY

Ella Gage, Opinion Editor

The sea: it’s what every single living species evolved from, the source of nearly 20% of the world’s food, the decided form of transportation for over 90% of the economy, the way millions of people make their living, and, perhaps most importantly, the home of an estimated 50-80% of all life on Earth. Not to fling too many numbers at you, but think about that last statistic, a prediction with a margin of error of 30%. Even with today’s science, there is still an overwhelmingly large amount that society has yet to learn about the mind-stretching, massive, mysterious force of nature that is the root of all living things on earth. The thing is, the sea is dying. And rapidly.

This is not going to be one of those articles that rambles on and on about how the sea is crashing to a tragic doom and the planet is drying up, and, oh yeah, I almost forgot, it’s all your fault because you use plastic straws. No, most of us have seen and heard that narrative of the state of the ocean too many times to count.

Here’s the problem with that version of the story: it’s basically saying the entire world is rapidly accelerating to its doom because of the impact of each individual. It’s claiming every person on earth has taken their own small and personal yet important part in bringing the world up to the brink of apocalypse due to a varied cornucopia of factors: overconsumption, pollution, rising carbon emissions, rising sea levels, global warming, overpopulation, over usage of non replenishable resources, etc, etc. 

It leaves you feeling distantly depressed and hopeless that you as an individual can’t make any radical change in your lifestyle and, alas, soon the lush Washington landscape is going to dry up into something vaguely resembling the Mojave. Perhaps California, if Mother Nature decides to be nice to us. 

Here we are, beating ourselves up over accidentally using a plastic straw every now and then, while large multinational corporations sit back and casually produce 71% of climate change. Specifically, 100 commercial energy companies produce this staggering 71% of global carbon emissions, according to a 2019 study by Natural Resources Defence Council. The ocean, commonly referred to as a “carbon sponge,” precariously maintains a global carbon balance by absorbing more than it releases. With the 30% of carbon emissions that isn’t released by corporations, the ocean would have a much easier time absorbing and maintaining the carbon in the atmosphere. Multinational corporations, however relevant they are to the economy, need to be regulated.

Someone here needs to take accountability. Consumers are becoming much more aware and responsible, but what about the government that allows this exorbitant pollution? Somehow, all the blame is put on the consumers for the declining state of the environment. Of course we need to assume responsibility for what we can control, those 100 multinational corporations are left virtually limitless, metaphorically holding the strength of the economy over the head of the government, who have difficulty regulating these commercial businesses. 

We need to change the narrative. They, the businesses are largely responsible for the damage being done. In an ideal world, this means they also have the money, resources, and connections to fix what they’ve done. 

 

Source: Natural Resources Defense Council, Seaspiracy