News / Africa

    Oceans Get a Health Check

    Scientists call oceans the world's most important resource. (Conservation International)
    Scientists call oceans the world's most important resource. (Conservation International)
    Joe DeCapua
    A new system has been developed to assess the health of the world’s oceans. Scientists say it will change the way we think about oceans and how they affect our lives. It’s called the Ocean Health Index and it’s going to tell us if anything’s wrong with the oceans and what can be done about it.



    “The Ocean Health Index is the first global, totally scientific and transparent measure of ocean health that we’ve ever had. It’s meant to guide policymakers and the public to the underlying importance that oceans are the life support systems of the Earth and that we’d better take care of them if we are to survive on this planet,” said Greg Stone, executive vice-president and chief ocean scientist for Conservation International and vice-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Oceans.

    Stone spoke to VOA from the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, where 16 island nation leaders are meeting to find a common agenda for caring for the ocean. He described oceans as the world’s most important resource.

    Liberian fishing boat. (Conservation International)Liberian fishing boat. (Conservation International)
    x
    Liberian fishing boat. (Conservation International)
    Liberian fishing boat. (Conservation International)


    “You can’t manage anything that you can’t measure. So like any good portfolio investments, if you want to make sure you’re prospering and you’re taking care of your investments – and believe me, the health of our planet is no greater investment that there could be – you need a metric in order to measure it and see that we have a sustainable relationship with this resource on an ongoing basis,” he said.

    The Ocean Health Index, Stone said, will help end a lot of ignorance and confusion.

    “You may have heard from one source or another that, oh, hey, the oceans are in trouble and you say – why are they in trouble? And then somebody says, well, the coral reefs are dying. And then the next day someone will tell you that the tuna fish are all gone or the haddock are all gone or the halibut are all gone. And you say, OK, I hear that. And then someone else will say the oceans are turning acidic, which they are. It’s been a very confusing landscape of information,” he said.

    Whether you live along a U.S. coastline or in the middle of Africa, Stone said, you should care about what happens to the oceans.

    “Most of the oxygen that you breathe comes from the ocean. The oceans are the primary climate adaptation system. They absorb carbon. Hey, listen, if you want to know what the Earth would be like without an ocean you’ve got plenty of examples in our solar system. All those hot, dusty, dry, cold inhospitable places are basically that way because they do not have a liquid ocean to provide all these benefits, including food. One out of four people on the planet get their daily source of protein from the ocean,” he said.

    The Ocean Health Index is made up of about 200 separate indicators. Once a year scientists will use it to announce whether the oceans passed their physical.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora