With exactly 40 Earth Days in its wake, the US has come a long way on conservation awareness. But when we think about Earth and all that ails her, we’re still remarkably bad at paying attention to those big blue bits on the map – those bits which, we often seem to forget, make up almost three quarters of the globe. We’re dug into deforestation issues, we even care a lot about the quality of the air we breathe, but we’re still particularly lazy and negligent when it comes to the oceans.
So this Earth Day, TIME’s Bryan Walsh decided to make a case for the seas, not the land. He bemoans the fact that we can’t seem to gear up to take proper care of the parts of Earth we can’t see with our own eyes:
“Despite the fact that oceans make up nearly 70% of the planet and generate most of the oxygen we breathe, just a fraction of the total philanthropic money donated to green causes finds its way to safeguarding the seas. Today about 12% of the world’s land area is under some form of protection, be it a national park, monument or reserve. By contrast 0.8% of the world’s oceans are contained within what are called marine protected areas (MPAs), and just a tiny sliver of these areas fall under no-fishing zones.”
Oops. But there’s hope. Actually, there are “hope spots.” That’s what oceanographer Sylvia Earle is calling the large, hyper-threatened marine areas from Patagonia to Bermuda which her new (but already well funded, at $17 million) non-profit Mission Blue will aim to revive and protect. Her nickname among oceanographers, according to Walsh, is “Her Deepness,” so it sounds like she’s probably up to the epic task of adding momentum to today’s growing MPA trend.