Monday 8 June is World Oceans Day, and this year’s theme is “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean”! Here are five reasons that protecting the oceans is necessary for a healthy planet and healthy people, plus three extremely easy ways you can help, today…
Have you noticed the weather changing? Hotter summers? Wetter winters? So have climatologists…
Oceans are a ‘carbon sink’. Amazingly, oceans lap-up about a third of atmospheric CO2, whilst absorbing 90% of the additional heat caused by global warming. It takes nearly a century for this carbon to be recycled, and until then, it makes the oceans acidic. Climate change is harming the delicate ecosystems, the oceans overall ability to absorb more carbon, and the regulation of the global climate. If the ocean is not protected, we better get ready for more extreme weather!
Worldwide, billions of people depend on the ocean for food. 16% of all animal protein consumed globally comes from sea-life, and if managed responsibly, this sustainable protein source is remarkably greener than a reliance on beef. Beyond fish, marine invertebrates are the course of anti-biotic and anti-cancer substances, and even peanut butter and soymilk rely on oceanic ingredients.
By 2030, over 40 million people will work in ocean-based industries. The vast majority of these will be in fishing and tourism. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned that if unsustainable practices continue, 3-billion people in developing countries could lose their livelihoods due to the centrality of the ocean to everybody’s lives. Whether you want to enjoy the beach, watch the BBC’s Blue Planet, or not experience total collapse of the global economy, you need to help protect the oceans.
Planet Earth is a planet of oceans. They cover 70% of the surface of Earth and average a depth of 3.7km. Home to 80% of all biodiversity, marine biologists estimate that between 50% and 91% of species are yet to be identified. By damaging the oceans, we are losing life yet to be discovered. From bioluminescent flashlight fish living in low-oxygen environments, to giant tube worms living in the extreme heats of geothermal vents feeding off chemicals – we have so much to learn from the oceans.
Research could lead to medical advances, energy production, or even how to survive in space; but time is running out.
Oxygen and water
Do you like breathing oxygen? How about drinking water? If you don’t think you could live without them, then you should start protecting the oceans! Tiny but numerous, phytoplankton produce at least 50% of the oxygen on Planet Earth. If the forests are the world’s lungs, then the ocean is its blood. Converting over 10 gigatonnes of CO2 into breathable air, the oceans keep all life alive. If you remember the water-cycle from school, then you’ll know the importance of the ocean for providing clean, fresh water to the atmosphere, ready to rain down into our rivers and springs. The oceans could not be more important.
They are our home
Life itself started in the oceans. Since that first cell split into two, the ocean has provided us with all our needs. Swapping fins for legs and gills for lungs did not cut the cord between us and our past. As far as we know, Planet Earth is the only rock to that is home to life. We have mapped more of the surface of Mars than the Ocean floor. Our planet is unique, and the only reason we can think, love, or swim, is because of the oceans.
In years to come, when future generations look at photos of extinct Blue Whales, Sea Turtles, Coral Reefs and Sea Lions, they will wonder why we let them die out. The best time to take action to save the oceans was a few years ago. The second-best time is now! The oceans need our protection. If you don’t act, who will?
THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO…TODAY
These little acts may seem small, but together, we can make a difference.
1.We have all watched documentaries and read statistics about how the meat industry is destroying the Planet and our bodies, and how becoming vegan will save the world. If none of that has convinced you, how about taking the small step of switching your meat for responsibly sourced fish? Reducing carbon emissions whilst investing in an eco-friendly, local fishing industry is a small step you can make, whilst trying some delicious new dishes.
2. Plastic islands are forming in the sea, turtles are choking on micro-plastics and coastlines across the world looking like landfill sites. A fun day out (which you can pat yourself on the back for) is plogging. Picking litter whilst you jog is becoming a trend around the world. Or, if there is an especially plasticky patch of beach, try searching #trashtag for some inspiration!
3.This October, the UN meets in Copenhagen for the Convention on Biodiversity COP15 Summit. Activists and ocean-lovers across the world are calling for an agreement to protect at least 30% of the planets land and ocean by 2030. You can help by reading more about 30×30, and signing the petition here!
By Matt Thomson