I recently finished reading Tim Ferris’s latest book, The 4-Hour Body. His previous novel, The Four Hour Workweek, proposed innovative and unconventional solutions for over-worked employees. His newest book, An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman, at first glance sounds gimmicky and sure to disappoint.
As I skeptically read The 4-Hour Body, I was pleasantly surprised to find a well structured novel founded in sound science. Obviously, many of the book’s section were not applicable to me (I’m not particularly interested in the chapter “From Geek to Freak: How to Gain 34 Pounds in 28 Days”). What stuck with me the most, though, was Ferris’s over-arcing message of taking charge of your personal health.
Ferris meticulously tracks his own blood sugar levels and insulin with an implanted device in his abdomen. And instead of waiting for a doctor to prescribe blood tests, Ferris regularly demands samples be drawn, as well as bone density scans and MRIs conducted.
While his forays are undoubtedly extreme and he does not claim you should be your own doctor, he does make the case for self-experimentation and taking your health into your own hands. Ferris outlines how to collect data points, inexpensively, track them on your own and implement minor changes to induce positive results. He argues for the value of self-experimentation to produce measurable improvements in your health and daily life.
Now, you may be wondering, “What does any of this have to do with marine and coral reef conservation?” Well, as I latched onto The 4-Hour Body’s idea of empowering people to be the advocates of their own health and experimenting for improvements, I wondered if we could apply these same ideas to ocean health.
Obviously, the ocean cannot step forward and demand that it be treated better or taken better care of. Nor can it be the advocate of its own health. It is the people most closely associated with the ocean, fisheries and scuba diving community that must bring marine conservation issues to the rest of the population’s attention.
There are people who do not depend directly on the ocean for a livelihood or resources. Without knowledge of the issues and how the preservation of fish populations and coral reefs affects them, these people cannot be advocates for ocean health.
I would ask, then, how do we impassion people to feel as strongly about ocean health as they do about their own health? What data, images or video can we put in front of people’s eyes to help them see how they are connected to the ocean? Would the people most closely linked with the ocean best spark the “blue revolution?” To whom should we demand better care for our oceans?
One thing we can all do is get out there and collect our own data, propose our own solutions and start experimenting for improved fisheries, better managed MPAs, increased coral reef health and overall ocean health. Yes, scientific integrity must be maintained during experiments, but I do not believe that conducting science need only be reserved for elite PhD graduates (Read the chapter Spotting Bad Science 101 in Ferris’s new book). Your data, pictures or videos shown to a wide audience may have a greater impact for change than a marine scientist’s obscure journal publication. It is it also up to the marine biologists and ocean scientists to be proactive at putting their research into the hands of policy makers and the public.
I think its time we take a page from Tim Ferris’s book. Just as we need to take responsibility for our own personal health care, we must also bring marine issues to the forefront of our political, economic and social systems. Will you step up?
Christine Beggs is the founder of Project Blue Hope, a site dedicated to spreading her wish for a “Future of Blue.” Currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Marine Conservation, Christine is passionate about communicating ocean sciences.