James Pinsky: We need to protect our oceans

James Pinsky

School’s out! Next stop, the beach!

Good idea. After all, most beach bums will profess the ocean is good for your soul – dude.

They’d be right, too; and, while there’s a good chance the surf, sand, eye candy and aquatic frolic are what inspired such a copper-toned confession, there’s a lot more to like about the beach and it’s star attraction, the ocean, than the vitamin D-fueled good time it can give you, especially if you’re a fan of breathing.

Did you know, ocean plants make half our oxygen and that ocean water worldwide has absorbed nearly half of human-created carbon dioxide?

“The oceans are performing a great service to humankind by removing this carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” said Christopher Sabine, a geophysicist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle, Washington , in a 2004 article for National Geographic News.

Oceans matter. Not just for bikinis, suntans, volleyball and surfing, but because these salty, wet resources are major players in us being around in the first place. Some friend, huh? Our oceans do much more than just make the whole breathing thing easier for us. Oceans feed us, give us energy, weather, and help make our medicines, employ us, move us around, and of course entertain us. In short, oceans, which by the way account for 97 percent of all of our planet’s water, ought to be more than just our friend, but our BFFs. Like totally.

President Obama thinks oceans are important too. In fact, on May 31, 2016, he proclaimed June as National Oceans Month and urged us to take much better care of our BFFs by calling upon us to take action to protect, conserve, and restore our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes.

“This month, let us continue the work of ensuring the well-being of these grand bodies of water and the communities that depend on them,” said Obama.  “As we celebrate the immense beauty and power of our oceans, we are reminded of our shared responsibility to protect them — now and for generations to come.”

So, how can we help our oceans way out here in the Shenandoah Valley?

Well, there’s a lot we can do because anything we do to our local environment eventually helps or hurts all environments including our oceans. On this note, we need not swim farther than Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (www.dcr.virginia.gov) for suggestions toward five basic ways we can help our environment with sound conservation-minded decisions:

  • Food choices: What you eat and where it comes from has a significant impact on natural resources and Virginia’s economy.
  • Home choices: Where you live and what type of home you live in can have far reaching impacts on your lifestyle and Virginia’s environment.
  • Transportation choices: What you drive and how far you commute affects the air you breathe.
  • Purchasing choices: What you purchase and how long you use it directly impacts Virginia’s landfills and space needed for waste.
  • Community choices: How you get involved in your community and local decision-making can help preserve and protect Virginia’s natural resources.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation’s suggestions serve as a great beachhead toward establishing good conservation habits, which not only help protect, conserve and restore our great oceans, but also keep our local rivers, lakes, creeks, streams, and ponds clean as well. For more information about ways you can help protect, conserve, and restore our local fresh water supply visit us at www.lfswcd.org.

James Pinsky is the education and information coordinator for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District.  Contact him at 540.465.2424, ext. 104, or james.pinsky@lfswcd.org.