Cynthia Cudaback
Oceanographer & Marine Educator
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Bootkext Philosophy Global Issues, Personal Action Regional Issues, Community Action

I. How are humans and the Ocean Connected?

The oceans and humans are inextricably interconnected (COSEE, 2005; Essential Principle 6). I like to teach this principle using inquiry guided learning, and have provided some exercises below. However, it also helps to organize our understanding of EP6 using different types of connection.

A: All water cycles through the ocean

  1. Most rain is formed of water that evaporated from the ocean
    • The rain that waters your lawn or a farmers field comes from the ocean
  2. All water leads to the ocean
    • Waters from fields, gardens and cities goes into streams, rivers and the ocean.
    • Water carries fertilizer, pesticides and motor oil into the ocean.
    • Most ocean pollution is due to runoff from land.
  3. Individual actions can help protect the ocean from runoff
    • Buy organic to reduce pesticide use
    • Recycle used motor oil
    • Do not leave pet feces on the street or beach
    • Tell a friend

B: The atmosphere and climate are linked with the ocean

  1. The ocean governs weather and climate
    • The existence of the ocean keeps earth from getting too hot or too cold
    • Hurricanes are formed in the ocean
  2. Use of fossil fuels causes global warming
    • Greenhouse gases trap heat on earth
    • CO2 concentrations are significantly higher than ever before
    • Warming causes ice melt and sea level rise
    • Warm ocean water spawns hurricanes
  3. Individual actions can help mitigate global warming
    • Carpool, take the bus, ride your bike or walk
    • Turn of lights or replace bulbs with compact fluorescents
    • Set your thermostat a few degrees cooler in winter, warmer in summer
    • Tell a friend

C: Human life and ocean life are interdependent

  1. Ocean life provides valuable resources
    • Fisheries and foods
    • Medicines and chemicals
    • Most of the worlds oxygen is formed by phytoplankton
  2. Fishing and other uses of ocean life can damage the environment
    • The worlds' fishing fleet is twice as large as can be sustained
    • Overfishing destabilizes food webs
    • Bottom fishing destroys coral reefs & other important habitats
  3. Individual actions can reduce our ecological impact
    • Get a pocket card listing smart seafood choices
    • Tell a friend

D: Coasts are a unique place, both beautiful and fragile

  1. Most people live in coastal areas
    • Opportunities for recreation and transportation
    • Moderate climate and weather
    • Vulnerable to hurricanes and tsunamis
  2. Coastal development disturbs the environment
    • Loss of important coastal and estuarine nurserey habitats
    • Increased pollution from sewage, runoff and beach litter
    • Construction exacerbates beach erosion
  3. Individual actions can mitigate the impact of coastal development
    • Camp at the beach or rent a smaller beach house
    • Always leave the beach cleaner than when you arrived
    • Watch the news for changing laws about coastal development in your state
    • Write to your congressional representative

E: The ocean inspires human intellect and spirit, and humans can be informed stewards of the ocean

  1. The ocean is inspiring
    • Personal experience of the ocean is profoundly moving and inspiring.
    • The ocean inspires world cultures
    • The ocean fascinates scientists
  2. Humans can protect the ocean through education and policy-maiking
    • Policy: global, regional and local levels
    • enforcable regulations laws & accords for environmental sustainability
    • mass education: formal, informal and media
    • show the relevance of ocean to individual lives
    • provide tools for decision making
    • conservation activities, service learning, stewardship

II. What Can I Do?

My research has shown that undergraduates are generally concerned about the well-being of the ocean, and that the level of concern is not substantially increased by participation in my college level courses. However, students' sense of personal responsibility for the ocean increases, as does their confidence that they understand the issues that affect the ocean. Here are links to some of the class exercises I use to help students learn about human impacts on the ocean.

Gathering, Oganizing and Assimilating Information

Using Simple Calculations to Understand Complicated Problems