Marine Conservation is Crucial for Saving our Planet — How Can You Help?

Oceans produce over 50% of the oxygen we breathe, contain more than 97% of the world’s water, provide at least a sixth of the animal protein people eat, and is the largest ecosystem on Earth. In order to thrive on Earth, we must protect and preserve the ecosystems in oceans and seas. I wanted to research and see if younger generations, college students to be specific, were aware of the importance of caring for our oceans and how much they were willing to do to help.

I chose to research this topic as a project for the IDEA certificate at Boise State University. The reason I chose this specific issue is because oceans have always fascinated me, and I wanted to see if I could personally make an impact on an issue that is so prevalent today.

I created a survey about the importance of marine conservation, and I used to to figure out the degree to which students care -

Here is the link to my survey if you would like to view my questions in greater detail: https://forms.gle/6BD3MijT4W7jTnma6

I created this survey to get general information about whether or not young generations are educated on this topic, and then once they know how important the issue is if they would be willing to take action. I received 84 responses within the few days I left it open. Although I received decently helpful responses which I will go over next, I feel like they would have been much more helpful for my research if I had developed stronger research questions. For example — instead of asking students are well educated on the topic I wish that I had been more specific about whether they had received education (if any), and left open ended questions that allowed me to see their points of view. Although I realized I could have crafted better questions for my research, it served as a great learning opportunity — that’s what college classes are all about, right?

Conclusions from the survey data

I created a few charts and graphs in order to better understand the data I was receiving

As I said, one of my first questions I asked was whether or not students felt like they had a good understanding of what marine conservation entails. Although we see commercials such as Dawn’s wildlife campaign where they cleaned animals from oil spills and people cleaning plastic from the oceans, ocean conservation doesn’t seem to be something that is often talked about. I created this first graph to show how little college students seemed to understand about what all goes in to conserving our oceans. I can’t say I was surprised to see that the majority answered with 3’s, 4’s and 5’s.

This second chart shows the products people use on a daily or weekly basis, all being things that have the ability to destroy our oceans and add to the large masses of landfill. Even with all of the talk around straws and plastic bottles almost half of the people I interviewed use them on a daily or weekly basis. With more education about the oceans and environment would this be the lower?

The last graphs I want to look at are responses surrounding if people believe they personally make negative impacts on the environment, and whether or not they believe they have the ability to make a positive impact. I found that these questions gave me some of my most interesting information from all of my data because the responses seemed to contradict. About 68% of respondents said that strongly or slightly agreed they that made negative impacts on the environment, while at the same time about 80% of respondents agreed that they could make positive impacts on the environment if they wanted to. This made me think that young people may just be educated enough on the issues to want to make a difference, but they still believe they are capable. Maybe if we could change this these numbers would look much different.

We have the information — what now?

I know that there are already many efforts out there based around saving our oceans, but we can’t stop here. Oceans cover 71% of the Earth and contain 99% of the living space on the planet. This shows how greatly affected we are by the oceans and the degree of importance of taking care of them. If we don’t take care of our planet, the future is going to struggle and it is already starting. They are being affected by many things like climate change, pollution, overfishing, and much more. With an increase in education on this important topic, people will have a much greater understanding of the issue and we can do more from here.

I see with this starting with more education being offered from elementary school to higher education. Although it may not be added into the course criteria, if a campaign was created to push teachers to make this more of a focus in the classroom, students would grow up with a better understanding of what should and shouldn’t be done when it comes to recycling, polluting, etc. Like the IDEA certificate was brought to Boise State, there could be a set of classes brought into schools where efforts such as ocean cleanups, ridding of plastic, creating more eco friendly ways to sell products, and more, were brought to students attention. Within these classes as well, there could be a social media competition going on where these classes would compete at schools across the nation to make a difference at their school. They would be posted on the social media accounts and praised for what they did with a prize at the end.

I see this starting off small, as it would take a lot of time to implement. As I said before though, the very first step is getting educated. Once people are reminded and taught what an important issue this truly is and how not taking care of our oceans could negatively affect them, their family, and friends, they may feel differently.

In conclusion —

As I said, a project this large is going to take people who care, time, and money. More data would have to be captured in the future based around what people would be most interested in, making sure we had teachers on board and people willing to pitch the idea to schools, and a team willing to run the campaign and social media. It may seem like a lot, but every idea has to start somewhere. I strongly believe that if we can get together enough people who care about such a large cause (after all, it does affect us all), that we could make a huge difference for the future. Conducting this research for this class has been a very eye opening and interesting process, and although I may not be acting to make these changes as of right now, I truly hope that myself or somebody in the future decide to implement these ideas in hopes for a greater future.