“How do you tell people that they have to go hungry to regenerate the ocean?”
It is one of the reflections that took place around the round table on the health of the oceans and the human impact on it. The round table was held on the occasion of World Oceans Day and was organized by the Master of Scientific, Medical and Environmental Communication of the Barcelona School of Management of the Pompeu Fabra University (BSM-UPF) and the Center for Science Studies, Communication and Society, also from UPF, with the support of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT). The phrase was spoken by Mónica Montory, researcher at the Concepción University (Chile) and was accompanied by Josep Mª Gili, professor at the CSIC Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC); Rosa Mª Tristán, journalist specialized in the environment; and Joaquín Tintoré, director of the Coastal Observation and Prediction System of the Balearic Islands.
The experts debated about the current health of marine waters, the problems that their pollution can cause both to the ecosystem and to humans, and possible solutions. Joaquín Tintoré assured that “the oceans have a great capacity for recovery”, but for this we must stop mistreating them and Josep Mª Gili added that “the ocean needs us to let it heal, or even help it to“. For the ICM professor, the symptoms of the ocean would be comparable to those of a virus in a human, except that, in this situation, he says, the virus is humans.
Monica Montory agreed with Gili in his comparison: “We are a virus, and it is associated with technology.” The reasons for this are that many advances in our quality of life end up becoming waste in the sea, like sunscreen. But this involves problems, he says. And it is sometimes not easy to balance economic needs with environmental ones.
For Rosa Mª Tristán, it is very important to know how to convey to the population the relationship between the loss of biodiversity and the impact it has on the human species: “There are no watertight departments on planet Earth.” And this is precisely where the key role of the scientist comes in: “we cannot wait for the administrations to give us solutions,” said Josep Mª Gili, “scientists have to get out of the laboratory and work more with people”, because “major health problems for us they respond to very big environmental problems ”.
In concluding, the four speakers agreed that the current health crisis derived from Covid-19 may be an opportunity to bring science closer to citizens. For Tintoré it is “a great opportunity to put the role of science back on the table and on a day like today, the day of ocean health, to value the role of the ocean as an essential element of the well-being of citizens and their quality of life”.
You can retrieve the video of the round table (in Spanish) on our YouTube channel.
Este blog cuenta con la colaboración de la Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología – Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación