In honor of UN World Oceans Day (8 June), and in collaboration with Oceanic Global, we are excited to launch our new SDG 14 hub, dedicated to life below water. This day is about celebrating the ocean and its importance to the planet and our lives, while raising awareness about the many threats it faces.
We had the chance to speak to a few of the experts who will be featured at the first-ever virtual United Nations World Oceans Day event. Here, renowned environmentalist and Co-Founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, shares his thoughts on addressing the SDGs, public engagement, and how researchers can have an impact beyond their scholarly circle.
There are so many threats to the ocean, but of course the deepest are the rapid heating and the rapid acidification of ocean waters. On present trends, we can expect a dramatic intensification of the 'marine heat waves' we already see, and with them an effective end to coral reefs and other ecosystems, with attendant misery for the people they depend on.
Well, we do our best among other things to respond to SDG13, with its emphasis on climate change. We think the key to progress is breaking the political power of the fossil fuel industry, so that's what we've set out to do, with massive global campaigns like fossil fuel divestment.
In the case of climate, the measurements that matter most are the ones about carbon concentrations in the atmosphere – and they're still going up sharply.
I think that unless we build big movements our chances of overcoming vested interest are small. But we are building those movements - I hope in time!
I think some mix of realistic fear and realistic hope really help. My most memorable day was probably 350.org's first global day of action in 2009, when we managed to have 5,200 simultaneous demonstrations in 181 countries. It was amazing to see how many people in how many places really cared.
Remember that you are citizens as well as scientists – bring your concerns out into public. And wear a white lab coat when you do!
We're working at stopthemoneypipeline.com, a broad coalition trying to keep big banks and asset managers and insurance companies from continuing to fund the fossil fuel industry.
All our interviews reflect the views and opinions of the interviewees.
About Bill McKibben (Co-Founder, 350.org)