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How to protect the oceans - Sylvia Earle


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Legendary ocean researcher Sylvia Earle shares astonishing images of the ocean — and shocking stats about its rapid decline — as she makes her TED Prize wish: that we will join her in protecting the vital blue heart of the planet.

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Sylvia Earle is a leading ocean scientist and advocate. She has continued Rachel Carson’s legacy as a leading woman in marine biology and written numerous books including The World in Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One and Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans. Sylvia makes it clear that as humans it is hard for us to value the ocean, even though we are fully dependent on it.

Part of this ignorance stems from our illusion that the ocean is a boundless resource, because of its mind-boggling scale and significance relative to us. Another reason is our monetary mindset. Our current system is only capable of valuing things that have a price tag. Environmental or ecological economics has been proposed as a solution and calculates price tags for various ecosystem services, such as food and medical diversity, carbon dioxide removal and coastal protection. This way a financial value of 24 trillion dollars can be assigned to the ocean. Usually this is just done to translate nature’s value into monetary terms, but some propose integration of environmental into traditional economics. The downside in our capitalist economy is that whenever ecosystem services are actually paid for, the investment is expected to increase capital. Nature cannot be expected to fit into our narrowminded capitalist system, we must expand our mindset.

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