Cynthia Cudaback, PhD
Ocean And You

Home Science Education Policy

"Us" Vs "Them"

It is tempting to blame "them" for large scale environmental problems such as pollution, global warming and the destruction of species and ecosystems. But, ultimately, there is no "they". All humans are damaging the environment, and we all must work together to save it. In order to work together, we must understand the magnitude of impact a particular action might have. For example, is ocean pollution is due to large events, like oil spills at sea, or due to the accumulated impact of small events, like oil that washes off the streets into storm drains?

Assignment 1: Answer the following questions for each of the pictures below; links to the original web pages are given below each picture.

  • Consider the source of the information. Do you think this source is reliable, or has an axe to grind?
  • Try to figure out where you fit into each picture. To which source of beach trash, oil pollution or CO2 do your actions contribute?
  • List some specific things you could do to reduce these impacts. How much difference would it make if everyone did these things?
  • What industries or government agencies contribute to this environmental problem? How could you affect the decisions made by those entities?

Beach Trash Sources
Ocean Conservancy
Oil Pollution Sources
Ocean Planet
CO2 Sources

Small individual actions can make a big difference

Assignment 2: Using the links below, as well as anything you remember from class, make a list of 5 or 6 things you personally could do to help the ocean. Make some estimate of how likely you are to actually do these things, and write down some reasons that you would or would not do them. You will not be graded on your environmental ethics. This exercise is for honest self assessment.