Dystopia meets impossible wonder in the world’s oceans


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Too big to police, and under no clear international authority, the high seas constitute perhaps the wildest and least understood frontier on the planet.

Invisible to most of us landlubbers, the diversity of characters offshore is a marvel. The goal of The Outlaw Ocean Podcast series has been to chronicle this gritty place populated by traffickers and smugglers, pirates and mercenaries, wreck thieves and repo men, vigilante conservationists and elusive poachers, seabound abortion providers, clandestine oil dumpers, shackled slaves and cast-adrift stowaways.



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Impunity is the norm not just because of a lack of enforcement but also due to the cast of players out there who, with questionable credentials and motives, are left to take up the slack when governments do little to protect.


Mostly, the podcast series explored the dark underbelly of this offshore world, where the worst instincts of our human species thrived and flourished. But we also witnessed unparalleled beauty and true spectacle.



We met bizarre, sometimes heroic actors in a setting that drowned the senses, a place of brighter sun, louder waves, and stronger wind than we previously knew to exist, as if we had been parachuted into one of those fanciful maps the medieval cartographers dreamed up.


One particular afternoon comes to mind. I stood on the front deck of a ship in the South Atlantic Ocean. Under an apricot sunset, I watched a winged fish fly through the air for hundreds of feet. Moments later, several birds dove into the ocean and swam deep underwater equally as far. That night was cloudless, and with flatness all around me, not a visual obstruction anywhere, the sky was as big as it ever gets. At night, shooting stars left white slashes like chalk lines on a blackboard. The most dazzling streaks, though, were not in the sky but underwater. As fish darted through certain areas, the sea was slashed with glowing blue lines, the result of a mesmerizing defense mechanism of biolumi- nescent plankton that allows them to produce light.


What grabbed me that day was how much of this place is magically upside down: fish in the air, birds underwater, white streaks above us, blue below. Part of its beauty is its exotic unpredictability. The wonder of it all is magnetic, and each time I returned to land, I felt an intense longing for this place, homesick for a location, not my home, despite the suffering I’d seen there.


And yet, many of the environmental and human rights abuses at sea are distinctively urgent, sometimes with life-or-death stakes, a fact that brings not just a distinct gravity to the podcast reporting, but also a journalistic challenge: How can we render these stories with more emotional valence and impact than feasible using words and traditional storytelling tactics? This is why we resorted to pushing the content through other mediums like music, murals, animation, and podcast.


In this final episode of the podcast series, we reflect on nearly a decade of reporting on the high seas and explore the primordial lure of the ocean for the human species. We discuss the importance of investigative reporting in a time of clickbait journalism and immersive storytelling in our era of information overload. I offer a more personal and behind-the-scenes account of reporting trips mostly done at sea – and how this experience can affect a person, for better and worse.


Lastly, I suggest that if the Outlaw Ocean is to offer any insights on human nature, it tells us about the thin line between civilization and the lack of it – and why better and more governance is essential to the future of our species and the planet. Listen here:


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This article originally appeared on TheOutlawOcean.com


 and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

These 6 easy lifestyle changes can help the environment


Sometimes, it feels as if there’s not much we as individuals can do to help with the climate crisis. It’s as though our actions feel like drops in the bucket compared to the overwhelming threat of climate change. But according to a new study, our actions can make an enormous difference in reducing emissions and staving off the worst effects of climate change.




The study found that making “The JUMP” — a new movement to prompt relatively wealthy people to commit to making these six changes within 10 years — could be responsible for a fourth of the reductions in emissions necessary to achieve a global heating limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius, reported The Guardian.


“This ends once and for all the debate about whether citizens can have a role in protecting our earth. We don’t have time to wait for one group to act, we need ‘all action from all actors now,’” said co-founder of The JUMP Tom Bailey, as The Guardian reported.


Nastco / istockphoto


The study, published on Monday and conducted by scholars from Leeds University in the U.K., found that there are six specific lifestyle changes that the people and governments of rich countries can commit to that have the potential to greatly reduce the overconsumption that is a huge contributor to the climate crisis.


The research was analyzed by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which evaluates the effects of people’s consumption in 97 of the leading cities of the world, as well as experts from the design and engineering firm Arup.




According to WION, the lifestyle changes — which The JUMP encourages people to sign up for and implement for one, three or six months and to enact as much as they can even if it’s not 100 percent successful — include:

  1. Eating a mostly plant-based diet, with no waste and healthy portions
  2. Buying no more than three new items of clothing per year
  3. Taking at most one short-haul flight every three years and one long-haul flight every eight years
  4. Keeping electrical products for a minimum of seven years
  5. Getting rid of personal motor vehicles or using the one you have for longer
  6. Making at least one life shift to impact the overall system, such as switching to green energy or changing your pension supplier




“This is not just new information, or a normal behavior change ‘campaign,’ but a fun movement that is working to go way beyond the usual ‘greenie’ suspects,” Bailey said, as reported by The Guardian. “A movement that is able to engage all types of people… engaging and being led by communities of color and the economically excluded.”


Examination of the data concluded that the six steps have the potential to reduce global emissions by 25 to 27 percent.




Ben Smith, leader of the analysis and director of climate change at Arup, said that it was important for everyone in all parts of society to do something, and individual action was one of the simplest places to start.


“Our research shows that all of us, from politicians, city and business leaders to individual citizens, have important roles to play. And it is clear there’s lots that we can do as individuals, and that this is one of the easiest and quickest places to start,” Smith said, as The Guardian reported.


sarayut / istockphoto


The implementation of some of the changes may be difficult for people who live in places where public transportation is inaccessible, for instance, and alternatives to individual vehicles will depend upon changes to the overall system.


According to Bailey, in the recent past it was widely believed in climate circles that the actions of individuals didn’t have as much of an effect on climate change as governments and corporations, and that the only recourse was to collectively call for systematic change by these groups.




“The research is clear that governments and the private sector have the largest role to play but it is also equally clear from our analysis that individuals and communities can make a huge difference,” Bailey said, as The Guardian reported.


Taking part in The JUMP doesn’t have to mean carrying out all of the pledges perfectly; simply “making a start” can have a significant effect, said Bailey.


“This isn’t going back to the stone age; it’s just finding a balance. Less consuming in relatively rich western countries can mean more creativity, comedy, connection … Live for joy, not for stuff,” Bailey said, as reported by The Guardian.

This article originally appeared on Ecowatch.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


Halfpoint / istockphoto





Featured Image Credit: Ales_Utovko/iStock.