It all started 28 years ago.
Rutherford Seydel was in a meeting with Jacques Cousteau and his father-in-law, Ted Turner.
"Cousteau said that within 200 years, the world would be wiped out," said Seydel.
The comment disturbed Seydel enough to cause him to change his entire lifestyle to one that was more environmentally sensible. He built the first LEED certified house in the Southeast. He began driving an electric car, carbon offsetting his travel, and even adopted a plant-based diet.
Still, he was never entirely sure what Cousteau had meant. Until one day in 2017, everything clicked.
He was at Sundance Film Festival, attending the premiere of Chasing Coral, when the narrator said something that hit Seydel like a brick wall.
“He said, the ocean produces half of the oxygen we breathe.”
If the ocean’s produce half of the oxygen we breathe, and they’re constantly undermined by climate change and manmade contamination; how does this affect our oxygen supply?
Seydel had never heard anyone ever express the connection between oceans and oxygen, with any depth or urgency. The connection actually went against everything he’d been taught in school which suggested that oxygen, instead, came from trees.
He began discussing his “aha moment” with colleagues and friends, all of whom were equally as surprised at the revelation. He knew had to do something about it.
"I started to look for an organization that was singularly focused on oceanic oxygen," said Seydel. He searched high-and-low, but could never find the appropriate outlet. Luckily, sometimes “desperation creates inspiration,” Seydel said, and soon after, he founded the Oxygen Project.
The Oxygen Project’s goal is to spread awareness on phytoplankton, the microscopic organisms in our waterways that produce 50% of the oxygen we breathe. Seydel hopes The Oxygen Project will inspire tens of millions of people to take action together to sustain our planet's ecosystem.