Excerpts from a blog post written by Catherine Courtier from LoaTree, a Santa Barbara-based lifestyle company.
You know how a doctor judges your health. She takes your temp, looks in your ears, thumps your chest and gets you to say “ahhhhhh”. But how do you judge the health of something as vast as the world’s oceans? That’s a question Dr. Julia Stewart Lowndes and her colleagues at UCSB’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) here in Santa Barbara are trying to answer as part of the Ocean Health Index project. NCEAS, the first national synthesis center of its kind, is a research center of UCSB which has helped ecological science become more collaborative, open, integrative, relevant, and technologically informed. The center’s unique combination of scientists and authorities in various fields helps generate new ideas and opinions by looking at one issue through a multitude of lenses which “generates new scientific knowledge at a broad scale.”
The sheer amount and variety of information contained in the Ocean Health Index is mind-blowing. You can virtually do anything from check on the state of mangrove forests off the coast of Florida to look up the tourism and recreation off the southern coast of Africa. … Broadly speaking, OHI is an interactive tool for the global measurement of ocean and marine ecosystem health that uses a combination of environmental, economic, and social data. You can think of it as a quantifiable assessment of the capacity of our oceans to deliver benefits and resources sustainably. OHI simultaneously quantifies the benefits we reap from the ocean while also taking into consideration the price this exerts on the ecosystem itself.