I had the privilege of meeting Lewis Pugh last week in Dubai, a pioneer swimmer who has swum across all five oceans, and is best known for being the first to do a long-distance swim across the North Pole (-1.7 Celsius). He has also swum in the glacial lakes of Mount Everest.
If that wasn’t hard enough, he does all his swims according to Channel Swimming Rules – i.e. just in a Speedo costume.
Formerly a maritime lawyer, he gave up this job to spread awareness of the effect of climate change and over-fishing on our oceans. By swimming in vulnerable ecosystems under extreme conditions, he draws attention to the state of our oceans, and advocates to protect them by creating Marine Protected Areas, similar to National Parks in the sea. His story is truly courageous and inspirational, I urge you to watch this talk.
The effect of our actions on our oceans is devastating: global warming is causing them to heat up and become acidic; the poles to melt; sea-levels to rise; and the bleaching of coral reefs. According to the FAO, over-fishing has already taken 90% of our big fish out of the sea; not long from now, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish.
Oceans cover over 70% of the surface of our planet, making them the largest ecosystems on Earth. According to the Marine Conservation Institute, they generate half of the oxygen we breathe; provide 1/6th of the animal protein we eat; and they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reducing the impact of climate change. They are the most promising source of new medicine to combat cancer, pain and bacterial diseases.
You don’t have to go to the extent of risking your life to make a change; there are other simpler ways to make your impact. Here’s a pretty good action list made by Nat Geo that is a good place to #startwithsomething. Also, in case you are a fish eater and are struggling to give it up (like us), here’s great guide to help you decide which fish is the most sustainable to eat.