Blue Ocean Strategy…
… it’s not only the title of an international best seller on ‘marketing’ by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne,… but it is also a responsibility we all own as residents of planet earth, to develop a strategy for the future health of our oceans. I was frightfully reminded of this at TED 2009, held for the first time in Long Beach. There were two invited speakers whose presentations were about the oceans. The first was Jake Eberts, producer, who talked about a film called simply Oceans, to be released by Disney Nature in 2010,… filmed by legendary Jacques Perrin (he also did Winged Migration, a wonderful account of migrating birds). The second was Sylvia Earle, oceanographer, who has spent her entire life exploring the deep oceans. Sylvia was in fact one of the three TED Prize winners. And it was her TED Prize ‘wish’ that came on the heels of another TED Prize winner, Jill Tarter, the astronomer. You could not have picked two topics more distant,… from the unknown heights of our universe’s cosmos, to the unknown depths of our planet’s oceans.
And as a result of the two talks back-to-back, I’m absolutely convinced I’m more interested in the oceans than the cosmos. I just can’t get excited about looking for something millions of miles away, when we don’t even understand what is but a few miles under the surface of the oceans. We’re not sure there is life outside of the earth’s atmosphere,… but we are darn sure there is life we have yet to discover here on our own planet. The oceans could well have more life forms yet to be identified than all those already identified, above or below the oceans. We just haven’t spent the time to search our very own planet,… which is why it seems so odd to me that we would look up (even though I love a beautiful amber sunset and a bright moon in a starlit sky as much as anyone), when we haven’t even yet looked down. Jill Tarter, who is very good don’t get me wrong, said that ‘if’ we are able to pick up an intelligible sound from sentient (capable of feeling and perception) beings elsewhere,… we would be hearing it tens of thousands of years after it was sent, since it would be coming from many light years away…!
Now wouldn’t that make for a great conversation…? Someone says “hi” thousands of years ago,… and you’re just now saying “hi” back, which they’ll hear thousands of years from now. Talk about a long-distance relationship…! But back to the oceans,… not only don’t we know what’s beyond where we can reasonably explore today,… but where we can get to, we’re destroying it. I’ve talked before how we have eaten most of the large fish in the ocean, and before they reached the age of reproduction. So when they’re gone, they’re gone. In addition to eating them all, we have tossed so much plastic into the ocean we are choking off their natural habitat and existence, literally. The fact is we do far more in the way of protecting land areas, than we do the ocean (where we only protect a fraction of a percent),… which doesn’t make any sense considering how much of the earth is covered with water. And that’s Sylvia Earle’s wish, expressed to the TED audience. She said, “I wish you would use all means at your disposal -- films! expeditions! the web! More! – to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, ‘hope spots’ large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.” Hope spots; I really like that. Our hope and wonder lies in the ability of the oceans to heal the damage we have inflicted on them, if we just leave them alone. A worthwhile strategy…?