Today, March 22, 2011, is World Water Day, and I am headed to Waikiki not to go to the beach, not to surf the tail-end of a surprising south swell, not to shop at Ala Moana Shopping Center, not to go to dinner at Duke's. But to attend the 5th International Marine Debris Conference.
The pavement was wet when I left the house for the airport just before dawn, thanks to some overnight showers. I couldn't help but think it all appropriate: 1) World Water Day; 2) Marine Debris Conference; and 3) Rain. Water. Water. Water. Everywhere you look. Indeed, even inside each one of us, inside each and every individual cell.
According to Surfrider Foundation, "water is the foundation for all life on the planet. How we use it and manage water directly affects not only our oceans, but our whole world as well. Consider:
The average America home uses between 80-100 gallons of water just for indoor use.
Nearly one billion people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water.
Over 60% of the world's fresh water supply is used for agriculture.
Last year over 18,000 beaches across the United States were closed or posted as unhealthy due to bacterial contamination or sewage spills."
Let's shift to marine debris. According to the folks at the 5th International Marine Debris Conference, some 8 million items of marine litter enter the world's oceans and seas every day--and the vast majority comes from land not sea. "New research suggests that plastic broken down into small fragments in the ocean may absorb a range of toxic chemicals linked to cancer." We already know our wildlife gets entangled and ingests plastic killing thousands of marine mammals and seabirds on a regular basis.
Jean-Michel Cousteau spoke as the keynote presenter yesterday. Today, Senator Daniel Inouye will take the podium. There will be discussions on education, art, film, policy and, of course, science. I'll take good notes. I'll photograph. I'll use the Voice Memo app on my phone to record talks. And I'll tweet about it on Twitter. So, stay tuned. There will be in-depth blog posts forthcoming on marine debris--a world-wide concern for everyone, no matter if you live in land-locked Kansas or an island in the middle of the Pacific.