I chose to do my I search paper on something that I have been very passionate about for most of my life: ocean conservation. This is a very hot topic in today’s society due to climate change and pollution affecting our earth and the creatures that live on it. I have always been fascinated by the ocean due to its vast variety of life and the fact that humans have only explored 5 percent of it. The ocean offers so many things to this earth such as: biodiversity, natural resources, transportation, climate/weather control, and much more.
Humans are slowly killing the ocean and the life inside it. I find this to be a very important topic because if the ocean is not being protected, it will slowly be destroyed and all the life inside will not survive. The effects of not protecting this world’s oceans could be detrimental to the Earth.
The ocean plays a vital role in this world for many different reasons.
One of the first things that the ocean offers is biodiversity. Coral reefs, estuaries, salt marshes, and seagrass beds are a few examples of ocean environments that support large numbers of several organisms and species. Biodiversity provides livestock to humans, and there would not be different species and vegetation without it. People all over the world, especially in developing countries, depend on the ocean for their main food source. If the ocean is not well kept, millions of people could be be losing their main food source, and this could result in a worsening case of world hunger.
One of the biggest things the ocean provides to this world is its natural resources. The continental shelves and ocean floor are where many important resources can be found, including oil and natural gas, which play a major role in meeting U.S. energy needs. Ocean waves can also be used to generate hydro power, which is renewable energy. Even ocean water is an important resource to help salt production. Not only are oceans a great provider of natural resources, but also for moving the materials we use. More than 95 percent of U.S. foreign trade passes through U.S. ports and harbors.
Without commercial ships and barges, transportation of goods from one place to the next would be drastically more difficult and expensive. The ocean also plays a huge role in climate and weather on land; the world’s oceans are crucial to heating the planet. Although land areas and the atmosphere absorb some heat from the sunlight, the majority is taken in by the oceans. The ocean helps distribute heat around the world. Ocean currents help regulate global climate, without currents the regional temperatures would be much more extreme; near the equator it would be extremely hot, at the poles it would be very frigid, and much less of Earth’s land would be habitable. Lastly, the ocean stimulates the world’s economy greatly. One of every six U.S. jobs is marine related and over half of the world’s population lives within 65 miles of a coastline. Real-estate, ocean-related jobs, recreation, and other services associated with the ocean generate 54 billion dollars in goods and services each year. The ocean plays a vital role in this world for humans and the earth itself which is why it is so important.
The ocean can no longer take the constant damage being done by the billions of people that live on this planet. Over several decades, the human race has overfished several species to near extinction and polluted them with carbon dioxide emissions, toxic chemicals, garbage, and plastic. Coral reefs, which are a habitat to a quarter of the ocean’s fish, have declined by 40 percent worldwide. There are many studies that show humans are irreparably damaging the oceans to a point that could cause major extinction problems. Global warming is also affecting the ocean greatly because as water temperatures start to rise, many fish will leave their normal habitat to find more comfortable ones, and some will inevitably fail in their new ones. Warmer temperatures are also greatly affecting coral reefs through a phenomenon called “bleaching.” Bleaching is a chemical process that drains the organism of their natural color and leads them to their death. Not only is this a problem because it is killing the coral reefs themselves, but it is taking away the habitat for any fish that use coral reefs as their homes. With oceans absorbing so much of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, the ocean has become 30 percent more acidic. This can cause limited growth in coral and reproductive disorders in fish.
Another big problem is the amount of plastic pollution in the ocean. Our oceans are estimated to contain over 5 trillion pieces of plastic. Plastic in the ocean can not only affect the fish, but also the health of humans. There are different types of ways that plastic can be dangerous to humans, but direct toxins can come from lead, cadmium, and mercury. Those toxins have been found in many fish in the ocean which is very dangerous for any humans that chose to eat seafood. Other toxins in plastics are directly linked to cancers, birth defects, immune system problems, and childhood developmental issues. Humans have reached the point that we will never be able to remove all the trash from the ocean. In an article by Chris Wilcox of Australia’s national science agency he states, “To clean less than 1 percent of the North Pacific it would take 68 ships, working 10-hour days, a whole year. A skimming operation of that scope would also suck up tons of marine creatures. And with global plastic production doubling every 10 years, there’s no way to keep up. It would be as if you were vacuuming your living room, and I’m standing at the doorway with a bag of dust and a fan.”
The last topic is the dangers of overfishing. Ever since fishing has become more industrialized in the past century, many species have been reduced up to 75 percent and some even getting close to 100 percent. With top predators being a target of fisheries, in the long run it could create a huge off-balance in the food chain for the marine ecosystem. With many fish being killed, they aren’t there to help do their part in their habitat. This has resulted in things such as an increased growth of algae and threats to the health of coral reefs. Several coastal communities all over the world depend on fish as their primary food source and source of protein. Overfishing threatens their long-term food security, especially in developing countries. As you can see, the ocean is being greatly damaged due to the human race. If there aren’t big steps made to help conserve the ocean, problems will only continue to grow and eventually become damaging to everyone in one way or another.
There are several things that people can to do help save the oceans. The first thing that everyone should do is be mindful of their carbon footprint. Reducing the effects on climate change could be one of the biggest ways people help our oceans. Some ways you could do this is by using your car less by carpooling, walking or biking places more, or simply buying a more efficient or even electric car. Another very simple way is by keeping more lights off and using your heat and air conditioning less. Some more dedicated ways you could help lower your carbon footprint is by reducing your trash output by being super good about recycling. People can go paperless and definitely pass on plastic, especially if it is one time use plastic. Many small acts combined by several people could have a huge impact on the world. A very big thing that people could do to help the oceans is to cut back on plastic use. Plastics that end up being in the ocean contribute to habitat destruction and entangle and kill thousands of marine animals every year.
To help limit your impact of plastic pollution, always carry a reusable water bottle with you, store food in reusable containers, always bring a reusable bag when shopping, and recycle anything that you can. People should make sure that they always take care of the beach. When you go to the beach always make sure you never leave any trash behind, and enjoy the wildlife without tampering with it by never removing any rocks or coral. By doing little things, such as never purchasing any items that exploit marine life, such as coral jewelry, tortoiseshell hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles), and shark products, can make a big impact in the long run. Next, you can make safe and sustainable seafood choices. Due to overfishing being such a drastic problem, try to all-together cut back on your seafood intake. But, if you do choose to eat seafood, when you go shopping for it, chose an option that is both healthy and sustainable. Lastly, one big thing you can do to help our oceans is by influencing a change in your community. For starters you can attend or organize beach cleanups. Also, research politicians before you vote for them about their stance on environmental concerns and beliefs. One of the most important things people can also to do help is educate people on what is really going on with our environment and oceans. Encourage others to help conserve our oceans with you, because one person can cause a chain reaction that results in one huge impact on this planet and our oceans.
As you can see, conserving our oceans is much more important than many people may find it to be. If you live on this planet, and decide to not take better care of our oceans, it will affect you one way or another. The ocean is the middle piece that connects everything in this world. From our food, our transportation, our energy sources, our resources, and even our weather, the ocean is the middle piece balancing everything out. Once the ocean is no longer healthy enough to keep this planet balanced, everything will start to fall apart. All the things we love that the ocean does for us will no longer be in affect.