Fear, anxiety, and hopelessness are growing to define the age of the anthropocene. Mired in climate change, the prospects of a future suitable for children and grandchildren to come seem bleak. What stands out among threats of change and collapse for many is the threat to the ocean. The ocean has absorbed an estimated 90% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, acting as a vast buffer for warming on land. Yet, this only intensifies the destruction posed to a global network of marine species and ecosystems struggling to survive in the changing climate.
While awareness about this dire situation is invaluable, a torrent of extinction, pollution, and despair promotes more apathy than action. Scientists Nancy Knowlton and Jeremy Jackson discovered this trend after years of “doomsday” lecturing. Fire and brimstone only bring an audience so far– optimism, however, gives the individual something to believe in. It is here that Knowlton and Jackson decided to create the Ocean Optimism movement.
Since 2014, the #OceanOptimism has been working to counter the depression from climate change and highlight the successes. Search the hashtag on Twitter and you will find a collection of news stories, personal thoughts, and wonderful photos encapsulating the victories within ocean conservation. Stories surrounding beach clean-ups, species rehabilitation and legislative wins all decorate this hashtag and bring a bit of optimism into the horror of climate change. Knowlton and Jackson did not create this tag to assure the world that everything is fine– because that is far from true. However, the tag is meant to ease the burning anxiety that proves counterproductive to behavioral changes. Because there is something to celebrate, it’s simply buried beneath the panic of climate change. Spread hope this holiday season, and keep trying to make this world one you are proud to pass on.