Friday, June 08, 2007

World Oceans Day

I’m feeling a bit restless today, with a strange feeling of nervous excitement, as if I had something big planned for later today or the week-end. The truth is I have nothing planned for either. I’m beginning to suspect that my coffee this morning was particularly strong and that this is just a caffeine buzz. It’s making it difficult for me to concentrate on work (hence this post) but has put me in a strangely elated mood.

We are coming to the end of the World Environment Week. Today is World Oceans Day (unofficial, in that it is not recognised as such by the UN, but has been celebrated by various organisations and institutes around the world as such for 12 years). So here are some ocean-related thoughts.

Hundreds of thousands of plastic bags are floating around the world’s oceans. Not only are they ugly and extremely unpleasant when they wrap themselves around you whilst out swimming (you, not them), they also look a fair bit like jellyfish, with the unfortunate consequence that they a) give you a bit of a scare and b) get eaten by sea turtles, who love nothing more than a bit of jellyfish sushi. This obviously kills the turtle. Turtles are amongst the world’s most endangered wildlife and have enough to worry about, what with long-liners, drift-nets and turtle shell nick-knacks, without adding plastic bags into the equation. Another good reason to make an effort to replace them (plastic bags, not turtles) with baskets, string bags, re-usable shopping bags of whatever variety, pockets, rucksacks, saddlebags or whatever fashion statement you choose. Go on, it’s easy and it makes you feel virtuous. I’m feeling evangelical, as I have recently made an effort to stop accepting the many plastic bags proffered to me on a daily basis. I have bought two large baskets and two large re-usable plastic bags and am making good progress. Plastic bags here are particularly flimsy and often don’t even last until I get home, so there is no excuse. The Mozambicans think I’m slightly odd, but I’ve got used to that, as so did the Portuguese and the Ugandans before them.

Coral reefs are not only perhaps the most diverse ecosystems in the world, they also are an extremely effective defence for coastlines around the world. One of the most important factors that determined which places were wiped out by the SE Asian tsunami and which weren’t was the condition of their coral reefs. Coral is killed by global warming. Do your bit: change your light bulbs, experiment with not using your car when possible, insulate your loft, double-glaze your windows, consider food miles when shopping, turn down your heating 1 degree or do whatever else you find easy and cost-effective and actually meaningful.

Cod is delicious. It’s also going extinct. Choose another white fish instead. (One for me there, as I confess to occasionally eating bacalhau, Portuguese salt cod, wonderful stuff.)

OK, enough environmental proselytising for one post. I think I may celebrate today by sloping off a bit early and taking Joaquim and Sebastian to the beach to build sandcastles, eat ice-cream and appreciate the incredible good fortune we have to be living on the shores of the fantastically beautiful, warm, bio-diverse Mozambican Indian Ocean. Go on, hug a wave. Or a fish.

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