What Should We Do With the Blue?

Photo by Andrew Howley
The otherworldly and yet supremely Earthly blue of the Pacific Ocean is unforgettable. It beckons us to appreciate it, be good to it, and break the surface and explore it. (Photo by Andrew Howley)

44 years ago today, human beings set foot on the moon. It was the result of nearly a decade of intense research, development, and experimentation, and as John F. Kennedy had forseen, it was not easy– it was hard. But it was done.

Nearly half a century later, we have not sent manned vehicles beyond the moon, and as NG Explorer Dr. Robert Ballard is quick to point out, we now know more about the surface of the moon than we know about the bottom of the ocean. But that could be about to change.

This weekend NOAA and the Aquarium of the Pacific are hosting “Ocean Exploration 2020:  A National Forum,” aimed at creating a clear plan for ocean exploration projects. From the official NOAA website for the event:

“This is the first-ever such event and is a unique opportunity to help shape national ocean exploration in the coming decade.  

“The first two days of Ocean Exploration 2020 are invitation-only events that will bring together the most important ocean exploration stakeholders from academia, foundations, government agencies, and the private sector.  We will also be collecting input from the online community and encourage virtual participation throughout the event.

“The program is designed to encourage participants to be thoughtful and creative in deciding what our nation’s ocean exploration program should be and a strategy for getting there. 

“On the final day of Ocean Exploration 2020, everyone is encouraged to come to the Aquarium of the Pacific for a day celebrating ocean exploration. Guests will have the opportunity to meet and hear from historical and modern-day ocean explorers, see demonstrations of remotely operated vehicles under water, and watch live video feeds from three deep-sea exploration vessels. NOAA, NASA, and other agencies and organizations engaged in ocean exploration will feature educational booths at this event. Kid’s activities, including guest appearances by the Octonauts, will be included throughout the day.”

The 1960s were an age of incredible technological achievement, and rich scientific inspiration for young and old alike. The 2010s could be similar, if through the work of the explorers, researchers, technicians, politicians, and the public, the Ocean Exploration 2020 forum produces a clear vision with concrete goals and systems for the countless people and organizations working in the ocean to work together.

Participate via Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram by using #OE2020.

Tune in to some talks, catch the Google+ Hangout, and be a part of a bright blue future.

NEXT: See the #OE2020 Schedule of Events


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Meet the Author
Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of nationalgeographic.com for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.