Can the world's oceans become a country with citizens, ambassadors, and passports? That's the thinking behind the TerraMar Project, which aims to raise awareness of how important our oceans are, and ultimately to help combat the serious threats the oceans face. TerraMar wants to reframe international waters, which are under no nation's jurisdiction, as a country that we are all citizens of by default.To that end, their website offers free passports to anyone who wants to get involved - their first goal is to get one million people signed up as citizens.
Our oceans produce between 50 and 85 percent of the oxygen we breathe. They contain 97 percent of the world's water. And they cover 71 percent of the Earth - in fact, a better name for our planet might be "Water".
The centrality of our oceans to life on Earth is what drives the founders of TerraMar. Click on the image below to visit and sign up if you're interested:
The site only launched a few days ago, but there are big plans in the works. As well as offering official citizenship to TerraMar (the name means "earth-ocean"), the Project is also planning to develop a comprehensive database of all ocean wildlife, and then allow individuals to become Ambassadors for the species of their choice (imagine, for instance, a kid in school going to show and tell and explaining they're the "Ambassador for Cuttlefish", or a friend handing you a business card with "Representative of the Killer Whales" written on it).
TerraMar also plans to introduce an interactive map that will allow people to track oil spills, the places where NGOs are working on ocean-related projects, the movements of whales, and various other oceanographic goings-on. The current site also features 'The Daily Catch', a roundup of the most important ocean-related news of the day as well as discussions with ship captains and marine experts about what's happening in the water.
The founders of the TerraMar Project believe that by using the power of social media, they can give voice to the 71 percent of the planet that does not have a representative to speak for it. They've already got some exciting people working with them: Studio Number One - the agency of Shepard Fairey, the designer who created the iconic Barack Obama 'Hope' poster - designed the TerraMar Project's logo. To learn more about their mission and who's involved, you can visit their site right here, and you can also follow them on Twitter at @TerramarProject and check out their Facebook page for an in-depth timeline of ocean change.
And to understand the basics of why the high seas belong to all of us, you can check out this document (created ahead of the recent Rio+20 global conference), explaining the Public Trust Doctrine (PTD), a mandate that compels governments to "manage common natural resources in the sole interest of their citizens".
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