The future of the ocean

What kind of future awaits our oceans, and why should we care?
25 July 2017

Interview with 

Jon Copley, University of Southampton


As we end our month of all things marine, we ask the final questions: what future awaits our oceans, and why should we care? Georgia Mills heard the last word from Southampton University's Jon Copley...

Jon - Our everyday lives are connected to the oceans in so many different ways. If you’re listening to this podcast elsewhere in the world, it’s actually coming to across a cable across the deep ocean. All of the internet, all of our intercontinental phone traffic uses the deep ocean. We use a lot of ocean resources, we can learn from the ingenuity of nature in the seas and, of course, our everyday lives are having increasing impact on the deep ocean as well.

Georgia - How is our ocean doing? How much should we be concerned about it?

Jon - Certainly the pressures from our activities on the oceans are increasing from pollution, from the waste that we generate, and our increasing use of resources. But there are also what I like to think of as islands of hope out there. There are examples of where our personal choices in our everyday lives have made a difference for the better.

In the UK, we’ve had the ban on plastic bags in shops and that’s substantially reduced the amount of litter on our beaches. This week in the UK, we’ve also heard there’s going to be a ban on microplastics in cosmetics and some sort of personal care products. So I think that as we become aware of how our lives are connected to the oceans and how a healthy ocean benefits us, then together we can choose the future we want for our blue planet.

Georgia - What are the biggest challenges ahead for the ocean? What is the future and what can people listening who love the ocean do at home to try and help?

Jon - I think we’re all becoming aware of the amount of plastic waste that we tend to generate. If we don’t pay attention to it in our everyday lives and an awful lot of that plastic ends up washed into rivers and so on and, eventually, in the oceans - billions of tons of it. Probably the lion’s share of it has been generated within the past decade or so.

Now people are starting to really wake up to this and we’re seeing some differences. We’re seeing pressure on manufacturers and that’s something that each of us can think about and that collectively will make a difference to the oceans for the future.


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