World Ocean Time

As we pass the solstice and calendar New Year, forgive me a few ruminations and questions...

With such passage, my thoughts looked to time, to the turning of a cycle, an interval against which to measure passage -- physically, psychologically, professionally, socially, financially, politically -- toward a variety of destinations. I got to thinking about "ocean time," the ocean as a dynamic system that contains within it cycles of growth, shifts in condition, and patterns of human behavior. I got to thinking about the ocean as a keeper of geological, climatological and social change that is as ancient as a techtonic shift, as unpredictable as the weather, and as immediate at today's breaking news. I thought to bracket increments, the interval, for example, between the tragic loss of ferry passengers yesterday in the Java Sea and the detritus of a Roman ship lost centuries ago and scattered on the floor of the Adriatic. I got to thinking about the ocean as a primordial clock, inexorably counting, tracking, marking time.

So what will it record this year? Will we see a vast shift in political understanding of and repsonsive action to the effect of climate change on the ocean, sea level rise, ocean warming and acidification? Will we invest significant financial resources in the research and development of technologies that will release the enormous capacity for energy production from ocean systems? Will we discover galvanic consensus on fisheries science, management, and governance that will not only support fishers but also the millions of individuals worldwide who depend on ocean products for protein and health? Will we focus on the polticial and economic structures required to address the tremendous disconnect in policy and action between terrestial development, fresh water supplies, sanitation, and the ocean? Will we realize that the goal of a sustainable ocean represents an extraordinary opportunity to modify patterns of use of environmental resources on land and sea, to mitigate past mistakes through therapeutic regeneration of coastal systems, and to relieve poverty and generate economic and social good through creative thinking and community development?

Is now the time?