Monday, June 9, 2014

Reflections on World Oceans Day 2014

Monday June 8th is World Oceans Day, the 2013/2014 two-year theme is “Together we have the power to protect the ocean!” On this day people are celebrating the importance of our oceans, they are raising awareness and acting to protect them.

The importance of our oceans to the health of the planet cannot be overstated. The oceans cover 70 percent of the Earth. They are not only essential sources of food they are crucial to life on our entire planet. Most people do not realize that less than five percent of our oceans have been explored. So, there is much that we have yet to learn.

On this day we are all called to reflect on our relationship with the seas. We need to appreciate the forces that threaten them and we need to work together to advance solutions.

There are a number of ways that we desecrate our oceans. Four of the most noxious things that humans do to destroy our seas involve overfishing, toxins, plastics, and emissions. We over-fish a wide range of aquatic species, we dump toxic effluents, and we have deposited vast amounts of plastics into our oceans. Perhaps the most egregious threats our oceans face come from climate change. We continue to spew ever increasing amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which has the dually destructive impacts of warming the oceans and ocean acidification.

The oceans absorb one-quarter of the atmosphere's carbon dioxide, this has changed the chemistry of sea water which has wide ranging effects on the entire aquatic ecosystem and shellfish in particular. The situation is dire and some believe that the mass extinction of life in our oceans has already begun.

However, there is still reason to hope that we can scale back our destructive ways and do more to protect our oceans.

To see what people are doing on this day to raise awareness and protect our oceans click here.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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