While humans tend to stay on land for most of their lives, the reality is that oceans cover over 70% of the earth’s surface. Our oceans are so big and full of life that everything we’ve ever explored has only been about 5% of the total that’s out there. In summary, oceans are already amazing, and there is much more to uncover.
But the health of the earth’s oceans is declining. As the impacts of climate change increase, the majority of these are actually felt in the ocean. The huge area it covers absorbs too much of the heat that is sent our way, its waters are polluted by human waste and plastics, and it has been severely overfished. It’s absolutely essential we keep our oceans healthy, as the waters and marine ecosystems are essential to mitigating our warming climate.
Daniela Fernandez knew this and began to act when she was just 19. After forming the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, she has helped create solutions to heal the oceans, help others succeed in their sustainable ideas, and has been awarded several well-deserved awards. Let’s dive into the great work that Daniela has accomplished.
When the sun beams down to earth, most of the heat gets reflected back into space. The heat that is not reflected gets largely absorbed by the ocean because it encompasses so much of the planet’s surface. As more greenhouse gasses sit in our atmosphere and contain more heat, the ocean rises in temperature even more.
While warmer oceans may not seem like such a bad thing, the results are truly catastrophic. Warming oceans increase the rate of ice melting and raises sea levels, alters weather patterns and tropical storms, increase ocean acidity, and destroys ecosystems like coral reefs. We are already seeing unprecedented levels of coral bleaching, where coral turns bright white and often dies, and scientists estimate all coral is in danger of being destroyed.
Unfortunately, impacts on the ocean are not as obvious to humans because we can’t see it so quickly with our own eyes in our day-to-day experiences. However, this won’t be the case for long. As marine life dies, the future of our seafood supply will be in danger. Additionally, as sea levels rise, coastal cities will be more prone to flooding and eventually becoming completely submerged.
Enter the Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA), an organization dedicated to stopping the damage we are causing to the ocean and healing any damage that has already been done. By supporting young people in developing solutions that are innovative and promising, an entire ocean workforce is now working every day to fix this problem before it’s too late.
So far, the SOA has brought people together for programs including idea accelerators, leadership programs, and grants to get these ideas going as soon as possible. They have helped an astonishing 45 startups, given our 177 micro-grants, and been a part of 222 ocean solutions. All of this greatness stemmed from the mind of Daniela Fernandez, who has been determined to protect the oceans since she was 19 years old. Her work has been featured and given a plethora of awards and skyrocketed her to global recognition and speaking engagements that have moved and motivated millions to work on ocean solutions.
With a problem this big, there is no one-size-fits-all cure. According to the SOA, there are five main areas of ocean health impact to focus on: CO2 reduction, pollution reduction and a circular economy, ecosystem preservation, ocean research, and blue foods.
The 222 startups they have supported and collaborated with are working on solutions that span all five of these categories. From the beach shores to the deepest depths of the sea, Daniela is determined to return the ocean to its former glory. She has already doubled her initial goal and has no signs of stopping any time soon.
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