Water is as vital as air for sustaining life on Earth, yet humanity has not proved a responsible steward of the world’s oceans. Pollution, over-exploitation of marine resources, and acidification brought about by carbon emissions have created a challenge that seems nearly impossible to surmount. However, saving the oceans has become a cause embraced by all countries around the world, and human concern, dedication, and enthusiasm are starting to deliver results, but credit should also be given to an ally long considered a contributing factor to the current crisis: technology. Much hope is pinnedon the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), and technological progress is already yielding solutions expected to give humanity a fighting chance against the threats oceans are facing, says Nevan Donahue, a top executive at Comedywire.com and a passionate marine conservation supporter.
Pollution is arguably the most acuteproblem for the waters of the world, adversely impacting aquatic life and the livelihood of more than 3 billion people, according to a United Nations report. With 8 million tons of trash dumped into oceans every year, there will be more plastic waste than fish (in terms of total weight) by 2050, as estimated by the World Economic Forum. Recycling can help cope with the pollution problem, but technology and science are being harnessed to create trulybiodegradable materials, and many projects are focused on finding a cost-effective way of transforming waste into fuel, Nevan Donahue notes. Additionally, organizations such as The Ocean Cleanup are using satellite imaging and machine learning to remove plastic trash from the worst-affected areas, estimating that 50% of the garbage could be collectedwithin five years.
In addition to pollution, acidification and overfishing are posing a severethreat to biodiversity and depleting ocean resources at an alarming rate. Protecting habitats and species is critical for the preservation of marineecosystems, James Nevan Donahue stresses, adding that technology can help restore the balance. Robots are already helping repair coral reefs, which house a quarter of all marine life, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Drones, satellites, and advanced sensors are monitoring areas at high risk, providing a wealth of data that is analyzed with the help of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to guide decisions and strategies. Meanwhile, the Internet of Things (IoT) is making it possible to deploy solutions that ensure the transparency and sustainability of fishing. Smart nets are reducing bycatch, thus reducing wasteful practices, while high-tech tagging provides invaluable data about movement and migration patterns. Tracking marine life and collecting information is critical for ocean conservation, but adequate action requires in-depthstudy of the data, which is where analytics and AI come into play. Blockchain, a technology utilizing cryptography, is also showing great promise as it can enhance traceability and promote compliance in the supply chain, ensuring transparency and accountability.
James Nevan Donahue is in charge of strategy and business development at Comedywire.com – a collective of comedic writers catering to the needs of marketers, brands, and individuals. Drawing on the creative power of more than 10,000 content producers, the online social comedy platform provides original ideas in real time, helping clients meet the specific demands of communication in the digital age. Nevan Donahue and his wife, Sarah Berner, are the founders of The Real Senior Prom – a service specialized in organizing dance parties at senior homes, centers, and residences. Outsideof his work responsibilities, he is a passionate supporter of environmental causes, most notably ocean conservation, and is a board member at the Blue Sphere Foundation.