THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD OCEAN
Geography 2050 is a multi-year, strategic dialog about the vital trends reshaping the geography of our planet in the coming decades. Initially organized by the American Geographical Society (AGS) in 2014, the ongoing Geography 2050 dialogue convenes thought leaders from academia, government, industry, and the social sector to facilitate discussion of the major forces that will shape our planet’s future. The premise of this symposium is that the fate of our planet is linked to the fate of our oceans. The human imprint upon oceans began modestly with limited negative impacts upon marine ecosystems. Fishermen, traders, sailors, and explorers used the oceans to connect our planet, to control new territories and to extract vital resources. The oceans today are inspirations of human culture, engines of economic growth and trade, theaters of geostrategic maneuvering, wildernesses to explore, and sites of ecological exploitation, pollution and dumping. The vital trends that will reshape Earth in the coming decades will have a profound impact on our oceans. In fact, with sea level rise, the future boundaries between terrestrial and maritime areas will be in flux. Geography 2050: Future of the World Ocean focuses attention on the life that oceans contain, humanity’s growing reliance upon ocean resources and maritime networks, and how ecological degradation of oceans impact the terrestrial earth and all its inhabitants.
Human use of the oceans is slated to expand with the warming of the Arctic, a growing reliance on oceanic shipping lanes, expanded offshore energy and mineral exploitation, greater dumping of waste, and increasing illegal undocumented and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Along with the damage that comes with human activity there is opportunity; we have access to unprecedented stores of data from distributed in-situ and remote sensing networks, which when combined with the latest advances in geospatial science provide insight into ways to address many of the challenges facing the oceans today. Still, human action has foisted an unbelievable ecological burden on the oceans including ocean warming, ocean acidification, sea ice loss, sea level rise, mangrove degradation, coral reef loss, ocean plastics, noise pollution, and invasive species transported to vulnerable ecosystems all over the planet.
Considering the Future of the World Ocean is a multi-scalar effort, requiring local, national and multilateral approaches. This interdisciplinary symposium seeks to advance our understanding of oceans as critical to human livelihood and the overall sustainability of the planet. Join us in this seventh installment of the Geography2050 multi-year strategic dialog as we discuss the issues facing 70 percent of the Earth’s surface.