I’m going with my wife and friends to a UCLA lecture later today entitled, Marine Protected Areas: Reasons for Hope. I was planning on writing a blog about the lecture when I got back, late Sunday, and posting it this morning.

But when I started imagining the upcoming lecture, all I could think of were a lot depressing statistics about the death of coral reefs, the shrinking fish populations world-wide, the levels of pollution in the sea, the vast areas of oceanic plastic debris, etc.

Pretty grim stuff. So, I found it hard to imagine what reasons for hope the lecture would present.

I realize my lack of “hope” pervades my vision of the future. My pessimistic view of the planet, especially from an environmental point of view, is pretty deep seated. I’ve been feeling bad about the nature of the world for a very long time indeed. Decades. Multiple decades, in fact.

Jeez. Not good.

The ocean swirls around the planet – waves, currents, tides, winds, La Nina, El Nino, rocking, rolling, rising, falling, endless constrained circles around the Earth.

And I realize there’s a stew of negativity circulating inside the globe of my head that is similarly under pressure from outside forces.

Or inside forces.

Truth is, unlike the real oceans that face real threats from multiple fronts, the ocean of junky thoughts in my cranium is of my own making and under my own power to change. Please excuse the pop psychology, but if that’s true (and I’m still equivacating by putting an “if” at the beginning of this sentence), then how come I’m still struggling to keep afloat? Can’t I still blame my parents for some of it?

I’m hoping the lecture on hope for the ocean will reveal something to me that I can apply to my own polluted head. I’ll let you know what I come up with.


So, I’m back home after the lecture. What did I learn? What hope is there for the oceans and the world at large?


That’s the answer this 77 year-old marine biologist, Sylvia Earle, suggested. She kept repeating that the hope she has for the future comes from the global environmental awareness that characterizes our current psyches. Don’t get me wrong, she says things in the ocean are terrible, all the stuff I said earlier is true, but in her mind, the enlightened youth still has time to stop the damage, not reverse all of it maybe, but at least begin the healing.

How much time do we have? It isn’t a lot.

“Ten years,” Ms. Earle said. “We’re at the tipping point. Ten years is all we’ve got. It’s now or never.”

So, I wouldn’t exactly call the lecture uplifting. It was more of a challenge, a call to action.

However, she said something else that I found fascinating. She said the average depth of the ocean is two miles, and almost all of oceanography looks only at the first couple thousand feet of those two miles. There’s thousands and thousands of feet of dark ocean water out there that we know next to nothing about.

I thought about my brain again, and wondered how much of it I actually knew. What’s lurking down there in the depths of my mind? Perhaps there’s something down there I could draw from the improve my own sense of optimism and hope.

I’m sure there must be thousands of thoughts in my head that I haven’t thought yet, thoughts that I’ll think tomorrow or the next day or the day after that.

I’m betting some of them are going to be pretty good ones. Hey, maybe even a great one or two. I’ve decided to be hopeful about that!



6 Responses to The Depths Of Hope

  1. Maxwell says:

    As you well know, I tend to see the glass as half empty. And I too am filled with despair regarding most of my fellow humans and their willful determination to destroy this unbelievably beautiful planet that we are lucky to call home for some 4 score and 10. They are unconscious to their surroundings other than to reap pleasure at whatever cost to satisfy their lust for fun and profit. It most likely will take an incident of biblical proportions in their face to bring them to their senses and begin to be responsible for the salvation of our little world. Global warming just might do the trick if we can get the naysayers on board. I suspect it is already past the point of no return, but the planet has survived many a traumatic event and rebounded in incredible ways. It has another 5 billion years or so to go and once humans have done themselves in it will survive even our most self destructive impulses. Cheers.

    • fz says:

      Only 5 billion years left? That reminds me of Woody Allen in Annie Hall, to paraphrase — “Life is brutish and full of sadness and agony, disappointment and failure…and so short!

      Thanks for commenting, Max.


  2. cynthia Maxwell says:

    Frank: As a long time environmental activist I too have efelt the depths of dispair. As you know I work closely with many profound environmentalist. Often I see the future as bleak, but then I look back on all that has been done. 3 women, Margo Feuer, Jill Swift, and Sue Nelson had a vision about the Santa Monica Mountains. this was in the late 60’s The strategizied, contacted , fought and never gave up. Now we have the Santa Monica Mts. National Recration Area. what would have happened if they hadn’t Hillsides and hillsides of homes. Margo hepled me with the Varney ranch which is now a bird sanctuary owned by NPS. I didn’t know what to do, did not even have a telephone. they were going to divide over a thousand acres into 10 acre sites. it took 7 years, but now it is saved. I could go on and on, king gillete ranch, ahmanson and more.

    Now i am helping my friend Suzanne goode with the restoration of the Malibu Lagoon. good hard science doing the right thing.

    Baby steps always, but steps never the less. It takes bravery, intelligence, big thinking, and hysterical optimism.


    • Anonymous says:


      A standing ovation and a bow to you. You’re an inspiration, and of course you’re right…individuals start the journey and make all the difference in the world!



  3. fz says:

    Hey Jane, thanks for commenting. I’m glad it sparked in you…

  4. Jane F says:

    I share your thoughts and feelings on this subject.

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