50th Anniversary of Earth Day (and 38th Anniversary of the Conch Republic)

by Bill Davis

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this Wednesday, 4/22, we're going to take a slightly different focus given we are beach and ocean oriented and the ocean makes up ~71% of the land mass of the earth's surface.  When the initial Earth Day kicked off in 1970, the ocean was not front and center, but that is changing in 2020.  While the UN Ocean Conference scheduled for Lisbon, Portugal in June has been postponed until 2021, we are still coming up on the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development from 2021 - 2030.  And that's a great thing given over the last several decades we have been severely stressing the ocean by treating it like a global garbage dump.

The picture used for this blog post is one I took on Sunday, 4/19, towards sunset at Sunset Beach, OR near PDX where I live.  I thought the symbolism of being near sunset was apropos given the current condition of the ocean.  Copious amounts of plastic waste have been getting dumped in the ocean for decades now, and don't think the US isn't responsible as plastic is our invention and we have been shipping our plastic waste to Asia, primarily China, for decades until China enacted it's National Sword policy at the start of 2018, so ocean plastics are a massive global problem.

Add in that climate change is de-oxygenating swaths of the ocean, and we, people, depend heavily on the ocean as the largest carbon sink on the planet, this is extremely problematic for the human race.  And as the ocean provides food for billions, over fishing adds more stress to the ocean and in some cases worse than climate change.  Hence why suggesting we are nearing sunset unless a major course correct happens soon which is where the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development comes in.  We have a decade to figure this out and while there's a window of opportunity, we'd better get on it asap.

While I wanted to close this blog post on a fun and happy note, for those not aware the day after Earth Day is Independence Day for the Conch Republic (aka Key West), unfortunately the 38th annual celebration has been postponed this year until the Friday after Thanksgiving, and goes through the following week, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Truly disappointing as I know everyone could use a good laugh right now, but at least on Thursday you can toast the micronation of the Conch Republic with a margarita while listening to some Jimmy Buffet.  I know it's not the same as being there, but at least we can use our imagination until things improve.