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Ocean Literacy Principles

An ocean-literate person:

  • understands the science of the oceans
  • can communicate about the oceans, and
  • can make informed decisions about ocean policy

The concepts an ocean literate person should understand are organized into seven essential principles:

  1. Earth has one big ocean with many features.
  2. The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth.
  3. The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate.
  4. The ocean makes Earth habitable.
  5. The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.
  6. The ocean and humans are inextricably linked.
    • See Mythbusters: Environmental Edition
    • Myth: the biggest problem is pollution
    • Myth: we just have to do simple things
  7. The ocean is largely unexplored.

Mythbusters: Environmental Edition

Pollution Myth Reality
The main human impact on the ocean is pollution BUSTED! A number of different human impacts are included in my Save the Ocean Game Habitat loss, overfishing, ocean acidification .. the list goes on.
Most trash on the beach is due to offshore dumping BUSTED! Almost all the trash on the beach starts as litter on the beach. The largest volume is fishing line, and there are more individual cigarette butts than anything else. See my Us Vs Them webpage.
Trash disappears in the ocean, doesn't it? BUSTED! This trash sorting activity helps kids understand the lifetimes of marine debris. If Geoffrey Chaucer had left fishing line in the ocean, it would still be here today.
There's an island of trash as large as Texas in the ocean PLAUSIBLE - There is a vast amount of plastic debris in the ocean, covering an area larger than Texas. It is a serious problem. But it's more a soup than an island. See videos by Jean Michel Cousteau and Five Gyres.
Most oil in the ocean is due to spills BUSTED! Most oil comes from underwater seeps and runoff from land. See Us Vs Them
Oil spills are easy to clean up. BUSTED! I added a map of the Gulf of Mexico to a self contained oil spill kit.
Climate Change Myth Reality
Climate change is a hoax BUSTED! Here is some real climate science, an educational website and a partial list of educational resources.
Melting of the Arctic Sea Ice causes sea level rise BUSTED! Arctic ice is already in the ocean. This lesson plan and cut-and-paste worksheet should help.
Mile for mile, electric cars have a lower carbon footprint than traditional cars. PLAUSIBLE - it depends on where you live and changing technology. Printable discussion of electric cars
Myths Related to Scale Reality
Myth: toilets flush backwards in Australia BUSTED! The ocean is vastly larger than your plumbing; check out Bad Coriolis and Scientific American.
If everyone does one little thing, we can save the world. BUSTED! What matters is how big the changes are relative to the normal state. Some thoughts on Small Things
An easy way to help the enviornment is to stop drinking bottled water CONFIRMED! See The story of bottled water
The best way to save energy is to turn off lights and/or use fluorescent bulbs. BUSTED! Most of our home energy budget goes to heating and cooling.
The best way to save water is to turn off the tap while brushing our teeth BUSTED! Most of our home water use goes to landscaping. Replace your lawn with xeriscape!
We can use all the plastic we need, as long as we put disposable containers in the recycle bin. BUSTED! Putting it in the bin doesn't mean it gets turned into something new. Most types of plastic aren't recyclable in most towns. Recycling Plastic
It helps the planet to get a reusable shopping bag. PLAUSIBLE if you remember to use it
We use a lot less fuel if we drive 5-10 MPH slower. PLAUSIBLE but driving less is better. Share a ride, double your per-person gas mileage!
Cloth diapers require a lot less energy than disposable BUSTED! - unless you hand was your diapers in cold water, with no bleach and line dry. On the other hand, disposable do end up in landfill.
Save the world, become a vegetarian. PLAUSIBLE Eat healthy, eat low on the food chain, and reduce your water footprint - sounds pretty good.

Ocean And You, 2630 Carisbrook Dr, Oakland, CA, 94611
Cynthia@OceanAndYou.com 510-808-4075