A new book about saving the seas
Earth Spirit: Saving Mother Ocean is my latest book published by Moon Books. It is a call to action to save the seas. It is not only about the plastic pollution, which is a bad enough problem, and the subject of my song Where Does All the Plastic Go? but my new book is also about all the other threats to the health of the ocean and the marine life in them.
It is an urgent call because, as Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd says: “If the ocean dies, we die.” According to science, the ocean is where all life originated and a healthy ocean is necessary for life on this planet to continue. This is why I use the term “Mother Ocean”. Mother Earth and Mother Nature are popular terms, but we need to recognise that the world of nature on this planet is sustained and maintained by our true mother: the ocean. Perhaps you are wondering how this can be, so let me explain.
The ocean is a “carbon sink”. In other words, like the forests on land, it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It keeps this gas within healthy limits — or, rather, it used to. Today the oceans are absorbing the excess carbon dioxide produced in the climate crisis and this is having devastating effects on marine organisms because it is causing the acidification of seawater. It is causing coral bleaching and the deaths of corals, it is harming countless shellfish and marine life that have shells and that cannot do well in an acidic environment.
I mentioned the forests, many of which have been destroyed either directly by loggers and developers building on the land or converting it to agricultural usage or indirectly by wildfires, which are becoming all too prevalent in many parts of the world.
Well, there are forests in the sea too: forests of kelp, a giant seaweed, and mangrove forests: specially adapted trees that grow on tropical coasts as a barrier between the sea and land. The mangroves create a habitat ideal for biodiversity and the countless species of marine and terrestrial species that depend on these trees.
Kelp forests and mangrove forests have been destroyed in so many places. As well as forests there are underwater meadows. Perhaps you are unaware of them, but there are seagrasses, which are green plants that grow on the bottom of the sea around coasts. These undersea meadows are vitally important as marine habitats and spawning grounds for many fish and other creatures. The seagrass meadows have been ruined and destroyed in many areas.
We need to save the forests and meadows in the sea as well as the ones on land.
Seeing how much plastic pollution there was in the environment was my call to action, years ago now, when I decided something I could personally do was to write a song about the subject.
I realised then that the rivers are one of the main ways the pollution reaches the sea. Not only plastic waste but large amounts of raw sewage, as well as slurry from chicken farms, is contaminating river waters on its way to the oceans. In the UK this has reached truly disgusting amounts, with large rivers like the Severn and Usk badly polluted this way. Raw sewage is also being increasingly discharged into the sea. Bathing is no longer a safe practice in many places around the coasts — in Whitstable and elsewhere, residents have had enough and are campaigning to get this stopped.
But getting back to my book, I take a detailed look at all the other threats to the health of the oceans. Overfishing is a serious problem worldwide, seabed mining, military testing and the use of sonar, as well as nuclear waste dumping are also taking a heavy toll, as is climate change. All these problems exist because for far too long, people have viewed the seas as boundless, big enough for us to dump all our rubbish in, no matter what it is, big enough for us to keep on taking fish from and anything else we want.
The oceans are not as big as humans have imagined. They have their limits, and we as a species have reached them and are exceeding them.
So we all need to take action in our lives in any way we can. Everybody can do something. There are 5Rs for dealing with plastic. They are: Reduce, Reuse, Refuse, Recycle and Rethink. We can all cut down on our use of the material, we can reuse plastic items we have, we can refuse plastic bags at the shops, we can recycle unwanted plastic, and we can rethink how we use it.
Reduction is so important and not only applies to our usage of plastic. We are caught up in a consumer culture that encourages us all to keep buying, but so much of what we are buying is from unsustainable resources. We need to reduce our consumption. Moving to a plant-based diet or vegan, if you go the whole way, is one way many of us can take action. Being vegan is a step that can be taken to cut down on the overfishing threat to the ocean. The fishing fleets are only out there because there is a market for what they catch. As usual, it is all about making money. I converted to veganism two years ago. Greta Thunberg is a vegan too and I include this information in my book, as an example of how she walks her talk.
I mentioned Captain Paul earlier in this article, and how I had begun my book with a quote from him, and now I am going to give the closing words to him too. I am honoured to have his endorsement.
He said: “Steve Andrews understands that the key to defending and protecting life and diversity in the ocean is to use what you are good at to find solutions to seemingly impossible problems. The strength of an eco-system depends upon diversity and interdependence. Therefore a successful movement is defined by diversity and interdependence within it. By harnessing our passions to the virtues of courage and imagination we can find impossible solutions to seemingly impossible problems. Saving Mother Ocean is inspiring, informative and a call to action by all of us to save the mother to all of us — the ocean.”
We’ve all seen the news of dead and dying whales, and the alarming amounts of plastic pollution washing up on beaches or floating on the tides. The oceans are in very great danger for many reasons, and it is not just plastic waste, which is bad enough. Overfishing, acidification, coral bleaching, nuclear waste, seabed mining, military testing, and climate change, are taking a very heavy toll on marine creatures of all types, from tiny plankton to the massive whales. The eponymous Dead Zones are aptly named. Many marine creatures are in danger of extinction.
Life on this planet depends on healthy oceans. We depend on healthy oceans. This book takes a look at the threats to marine life, and what is being done to save the seas. It is a call to action to save Mother Ocean.
The author explains how he became personally motivated to do what he could. As a singer and songwriter he wrote songs and came up with the idea for Ocean Aid concerts. Now he has written the book you are holding. He hopes to inspire you to think about what you can do. We all need to help save the seas.
Also known as The Green Bard, Bard of Ely, and Green Beard, Steve is an iconic figure who has featured in books, on radio and television, and also in film. He is, in his own right, a musician, a writer, a lifelong environmental activist, a sometime television presenter, a poet, a Britain’s Got Talent feature act, and a champion fighting against climate change, the destruction of trees, and plastic pollution. His power animal is the butterfly, several species of which Steve rears and nurtures in his spare time. Steve is based in the UK and Portugal, but has fans all over the world. https://www.bardofely.org/
BOOKS: Herbs of the Northern Shaman, Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets, Herbs of the Southern Shaman, Earth Spirit: Saving Mother Ocean (all by Moon Books)
PUBLICATIONS: Big Issue Cymru, SWND, Kindred Spirit, MyHerbs, Permaculture, Welsh Coastal Life, Celtic Life International, Mediterranean Gardening and Outdoor Living, Bee Culture The Magazine of American Beekeeping, National Federation of Occupational Pensioners, Prediction, and Living Tenerife magazines, Tenerife News, Tenerife Weekly and the Tenerife Sun newspapers, as well as the Huffington Post, Whitstable Views, Tripedia and Ancient Origins websites.
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