Personal Impact Card Descriptions

Saving Water:
Saving water is important to the whole earth, not just the oceans. Only 1% of the water on the earth is fresh water that is safe for humans to drink, and this supply is declining. The EPA  the typical household uses approximately 260 gallons of water a day. Reducing this amount will help preserve our water supply and can also lower water bills for your family. Saving water helps to insure that we will have fresh water for many years to come. To find 100’s of ways to save water, visit:
The chemicals in certain types of sunscreen can wash off in the ocean and damage the coral reef. According to National Geographic, it has been estimated that between 4,000 and 6,000  metric tons of sunscreen gets washed off into the ocean every year. The chemicals cause coral bleaching and they are one of the main reasons that the coral is dying off. The chemical  benzophenone-2 can cause effects such as killing juvenile corals, bleaching colorful corals, and mutations among a variety of species of corals on the coral reefs. Other chemicals can cause the spreading of viruses in the coral reef. The four most common harmful chemicals are: paraben, cinnamate, benzophenone, and a camphor derivative. Make sure your sunscreen won’t hurt the ocean before your next trip to the beach. Sunscreens such as Badger and Aubrey, just to name a couple brands, are better alternatives that will help to keep the reefs alive for many years to come.
Cars create toxic emissions that pollute the air and the water. Toxins from cars can kill sea life, deplete the water, and cause harmful sedimentation. Cutting down on the use of cars will  decrease the amount of pollutants that go into the sea. Carpooling, walking, biking, and using public transportation (such as buses and trains) are all cleaner ways to get around.
Fast Foods:
Food production is one of the biggest uses of energy in the US, using 17% of the total energy supply (Pimentel 1990). In most cases, organically-grown, local, home-cooked food uses the  least energy to create the most nutritional energy, while fast food meals takes much more fossil fuel for the same calories. According to the study Energy Use in Organic Food Systems,  organically-grown vegetables use 30-50-% less energy than conventionally-produced food.  The extremely complex process for producing fast food consumes a lot of fossil fuel. In the  shipping process alone, the average food takes around 1,500 “food miles” from farm to plate, while local foods take only about 46, as concluded in an analysis lead by Rich Priorg in 2001.  Corn, for example, can be locally and organically grown without using any chemicals and can be sold with no packaging in the same area it was grown. Fast food-used corn is grown in factory
farms that use petroleum-based fertilizers, using fossil fuels, and then processed into other foods, using more fossil fuels. There, the corn products (Corn syrup, for example, is used in  sodas, salad dressings, buns, sauces, etc.) are packed in plastics and paper that contribute heavily to landfills and then shipped out to a restaurant. At the restaurant, they will be repackaged with paper & plastic eating utensils that, despite being recyclable, less than 35% are actually recycled, according to the Californians Against Waste Organization. Approximately  15% of the energy in the entire food system goes exclusively into packing (Pimentel 1990).  However, most corn is shipped to a meat plant and used to feed cattle. The cattle consume 25  times as much energy per calorie of food for people to consume than if the people just ate the corn directly (Energy Use in Organic Food Systems). Meat and dairy are the least efficient  natural producers of human energy. According to Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a meal his family ate at a fast food restaurant required at least 10 times as much fossil fuel energy as the food calories it produced. Clearly, that is not sustainable. However, eating food grown locally, without much transportation or processing, can give us more food calories than the energy used to grow the food. This is the model we must try to expand to save the coral reefs.
Sustainable Fishing:
Sustainable fishing is the practice of fishing in a way that does not decrease the average population of fish or damage the rest of the ecosystem. This can be by only catching overpopulated fish, catching fish only in certain times, and using especially selective fishing techniques to avoid catching anything other than the intended fish. Another potentially sustainable alternative is fish farms, but they have considerable issues, such as producing  carbon emissions, water pollution, and can cause habitat destruction. A considerably unsustainable practice is trawling, which dredges up the seafloor, indiscriminately catching massive amounts of fish and causing severe habitat destruction. Other  destructive fishing methods include blast fishing, where shoals of fish in reefs are bombed and their corpses are collected, and cyanide fishing, where clouds of cyanide or bleach are squirted  at fish to stun them, both of which are frequently practiced illegally. These are so collaterally destructive that authorities say they are the number one cause of coral reef degradation in  Indonesia and the Philippines.  If you eat seafood, some of the things that you can do to help with this is avoiding seafood from  Asia, which has the highest percentage of destructive and illegal fishing techniques, and only eating seafood that you’re sure is certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (
Recycling helps the environment by reducing the amount of waste in landfills. About 75% of waste could be recycled, but only about 30% is actually recycled. Instead of building up in junk  yards, items get transformed into new products. Anything from a bike made out of recycled aluminum to a leather iPad case made out of excess shoe leather counts as a recycled product.  Not only are new products created when items are recycled, but new job opportunities are created in the recycling and manufacturing industries.

Event Card Descriptions

Overfishing is the process of fisheries taking more than a sustainable amount of fish, causing the number of fish to decrease over time, and it is causing the number of fish in the ocean to decrease at an alarming rate. Large companies use giant nets to catch fish faster than they can repopulate and they are becoming endangered. These methods are not sustainable. Buying fish from local fishermen or other sustainable fisheries will help keep the fish in the ocean. Currently 52% of fish stocks are fully exploited, and if any more of these fish are removed, it will no longer be sustainable. Another 17% are overexploited, and are at risk of becoming endangered. Seven percent of the species are depleted, and only 1% of the species are recovering from this
depletion ( If this rate continues, many species of fish will become extinct very quickly.

Costal Development:
Costal development is the development of marine areas such as mangroves and beaches tobuild hotels, restaurants, commercial beaches and other types of oceanic attractions in their places. Costal development is causing a wide variety of problems for many aspects of the marine ecosystem. Piers are being built on coral reefs, mangroves are being cleared for beaches, and turtles are mistaking human litter left on the newly cleared beaches for their food.  Visiting other vacation locations, such as eco-camps or other natural alternatives, instead of commercial beaches can help reduce the amount of marine areas that are cleared for this  purpose.

Sedimentation is the process of sediment, or particles, settling at the bottom of the ocean. Sediment flows into the ocean with runoff, which can harm marine life depending on where the  runoff comes from. If the runoff comes from a road or an area of construction, the sediment can pollute the water and kill aquatic life.

Marine Protected Areas:
Marine Protected Areas (or MPAs) are areas of beach or sea where there is restricted human activity. This is to protect the area from pollution and to protect the creatures from harm. This  can preserve the life and resources in the area. The MPAs may vary from completely restricting human activity, or only restricting certain activities. In the United States, there are over 1600 MPAs, making 41% of U.S waters protected.

Eco-camps are a sort of camp, where everything is done to try to have the least negative impact possible on the environment. Scientists studying the coral reefs will stay there to make use of  the natural environment, and vacationeers are welcome as well. They provide a much more environmental alternative to hotels.

Algae Takeover:
In the event of an algae takeover, the algae begins to cover all of the coral, which then prevents the coral from getting the sunlight it needs for photosynthesis. Without the necessary sunlight, they will slowly begin to die. These takeovers are becoming more common as overfishing is removing the fish that normally keep the algae population under control. The algae is also controlled by the long-spinned sea urchins in the Caribbean, which lost 93% of its population in the 1980’s due to disease, and they are still coming back. If these overfishing patterns continue, we will not only lose the fish species, but we will also lose the coral due to these algae takeovers.

Littering can eventually work its way to the ocean where it has a big impact. The garbage not only harms marine life by the animals mistaking it for food, but it can also trap and tangle  animals. In addition to not being good for animals, littering costs us millions of dollars. We spend money to cleanup beaches that are covered in trash so that people can still come and enjoy  nature.

Coral Bleaching:
Coral bleaching occurs when a coral becomes stressed, which can be a result of a change in temperature, nutrients, or light. Corals will lose their color by expelling their zooxanthellae when  they’re stressed. The zooxanthellae is very important because it helps the coral photosynthesize. Corals can survive for a few months without the zooxanthellae, but will die if they go for too long without enough of these helpful zooxanthellae cells.

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