An international youth conference in Saint John got a grim look on how the impact humans have had on ocean environment.

Elizabeth May of the Sierra Club of Canada told the gathering about the collapse of the Northern Cod stock and the near-extinction of the North Atlantic Right whale. As people pollute, over-fishing and contribute to global warming, May says we are playing Russian Roulette with life on earth.

"We're not just talking about warmer summers, milder winters. We're talking about fundamentally destabilizing an atmospheric system that took 3.8 billion years to get just right to support life on this earth. And that's something that I don't think people really understand and I don't think our politicians understand that we're taking a chance on survival."

Young people agree

Her message got across to those at the meeting.

"I think everyone has to do their own little part and eventually things will start to happen and things will start to improve," says Rebecca Goostrey. "But it's going take a lot of time and effort from each person."

Eric Arseneault agrees.

"We manage by crisis management," he says. "Something bad has to happen before everybody realizes, 'oh there's a problem?'. So you know that's the way it works."

Not too late, if gov'ts act

Still, it's not all doom and gloom for Elizabeth May. She believes the environment can become healthy again, but only if we stop the abuse.

"I find encouragement from the environment itself, and I also find encouragement from the increasing numbers, particularly of young people, who are very committed to change."

In the end, however, May says it will be up to governments to introduce tough anti-pollution laws, and they'll do so only if people demand it.