What is Ocean Optimism?
Ocean Optimism is a collaborative marine conservation movement.
We focus on solutions rather than problems,
and on connections rather than differences.
We recognise and respect the many challenges facing our oceans, yet too often “doom and gloom” stories are the only kind of ocean news we hear.
The evidence suggests that if we do not balance the bad news with good, and the problems with solutions, we will not motivate people to act.
The way we communicate about the environment is so
negative and overwhelming
that we are fueling a culture of hopelessness that
threatens to seal the planet’s fate.
In class you said you ask yourself time and time again, is it worth it? You’re studying all this environmental science and policy, you know you’ll get a decent job with the degree, but is there anything anyone can really do to “save the planet” given the enormity of the challenge? In reality, aren’t we doomed?Thomas Princen
We have media ratings to protect children from sex or violence in movies, but we think nothing of inviting a scientist into a second grade classroom and telling the kids the planet is ruined. A quarter of (Australian) children are so troubled about the state of the world that they honestly believe it will come to an end before they get older.
Dear optimistic future self,
You probably don’t even exist… but I owe it to Elin K to give you a chance. I am so down I failed at writing a letter about hope. Every time I started, my attempts at the positive soon appeared trite and were overwhelmed by the immense shadow of doom and gloom.
What year is it for you? I reckon something like 2024. Ten years might be enough. Maybe by then you’ve overcome my preoccupation with the broken and ugly, with the ironies of environmental history, with trying to understand the worst in humanity.
I may be, in fact, anti-hope. A few months ago I gave a talk and an audience member said, “After hearing you speak I want to slit my wrists.” Do you remember that? Proof, Elin K would say, of everything she had warned us about! Perhaps.
And yet there are many good news stories, and many
dedicated researchers, organisations and individuals
working towards solutions for our oceans.
The mission of Ocean Optimism is to create a new narrative of hope for our oceans,
and in doing so to help us move towards a sustainable future for our seas.
We will do this by forging connections between diverse individuals and organisations,
to facilitate innovative marine projects and
encourage collaboration between change-makers.
We aim to support young scientists
in moving beyond documenting decline,
and towards celebrating success.
And we aim to motivate individuals and communities
to take action to safeguard our oceans.
Since it’s inception in 2014, the hashtag, #OceanOptimism,
has reached over 74 million Twitter users,
inspiring an international outpouring of
marine conservation success stories.