Advocating for Action in Ocean Research

Mar 8, 2018 10:15 AM ET
Blog

Written by David A. Golden
Eastman Senior Vice President, Cheif Legal & Sustainability Officer, and Corporate Secretary

There is a good chance that weather is the most popular topic of conversation on Earth.  And it’s telling that so few of those conversations mention the ocean even though the ocean is the fundamental driver of weather. 

Why?  In many cases, we simply don’t process the complexity of how the ocean relates to our everyday life. It’s human nature that unless we live near a coastline or visit a beach, we don’t think about the ocean even though it comprises 70% of our planet. 

We don’t give thought to the fact that the ocean contains 97% of the Earth’s water or that, as an ecosystem service, the ocean produces well over half of the world’s oxygen and has absorbed 90% of the heat reaching our planet since the 1950s. We don’t think about the fact that 40% of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometers of a coastline and that the number is rising—further exposing populations to extreme weather events.  It’s easy to overlook the fact that 80% of the protein needed to sustain our world comes from the ocean. We simply don’t know what we don’t know.  But, why don’t we know? 

Ocean science is challenging.  The STEM pipeline in many countries is leaking.  Government funding of ocean science is far surpassed by the need.  The gap between underfunded ocean science and education and the overtaxed resources expected to deliver solutions to a demanding planet is not exactly sustainable. The world is facing enormous challenges, and to solve those challenges we must better understand them and focus on solutions through education and innovation.

Innovation is particularly powerful when it is done in collaboration with world-class partners – both public and private.  As a global company, Eastman is trying to do its part by facilitating communications that translate the importance of the ocean and its relevance to our daily lives, including: 

  • active public/private partnership with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)– including funding innovative technologies with the potential to accelerate ocean research
  • membership in the Consortium for Ocean Leadership
  • multi-year supporting partner of The World Ocean Summit
  • multi-year supporting partner of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl
  • development of a unique educational curriculum for an ocean processes capstone course at the high school level.

At Eastman, we understand the ocean is fundamental to our climate, atmospheric, weather, food, energy and water systems.  There is no place on the globe where the ocean doesn’t matter.  We must take these interrelationships into consideration and relentlessly pursue innovative solutions to some of the enormous challenges our world is facing. 

As a global advanced materials and specialty additives company, we can leverage unique perspectives and materials solutions to facilitate the right partnerships, right projects and the right timing. 

True innovation occurs while having open dialog, asking the right questions and challenging technologies and material capabilities. Once the discussion begins, so does the learning.  People become open to new ideas and opportunities for innovation. No idea is impossible if the right partners are at the table. And, we need more partners at the table—especially those that historically might not have felt particularly connected to the ocean when talking about the weather.

In addition to continued collaboration with WHOI and others, the Eastman Foundation is also joining forces with forward-thinking businesses, industry groups, scientists, governments and ocean advocates to support the blue-economy at the 2018 World Ocean Summit. Hosted by The Economist, the World Ocean Summit convenes nearly 400 global leaders to discuss innovative approaches and engage in collaborative action to mitigate how our changing planet affects ocean life and water systems.

We are passionate about driving positive change and collaborating to find global solutions. We believe the philosophy that small hinges can swing big doors, and we are excited to partner and advocate for catalytic and transformative action in ocean research.