The oceans are quickly dying and we aren't doing a thing about it
The story behind the month’s long disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 isn’t really the missing plane. It is the vast amounts of garbage and ocean pollution that has been found instead. While I sympathize with the families of those aboard the missing jetliner, what is happening in our oceans is far more important and getting little coverage.
Our oceans cover approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface and contains 97% of the Earth’s water. With those kind of numbers, you’d think it would be hard for us humans to pose a threat to it. Well, humans are capable of anything when we put our destructive minds to it.
While the media has under reported the threat of climate change, it has completely ignored the state of our oceans. From oil spills to plastic bags to random sea junk, our oceans may soon resemble some of our dead lakes. The situation is more desperate than you think.
Most people think oil spills do the most harm to our waters. It certainly does damage to be sure, however plastic is far worse than oil. There is currently seven million tonnes of plastic floating around in our oceans.
Your may have heard of the Pacific and Atlantic garbage patches. They are not large trash islands in the middle of the ocean as some believe. They are more like galaxies of garbage, populated by millions of smaller trash islands that may be hidden underwater or spread out over many miles.
These garbage patches are made up of mostly plastic. Unfortunately, plastic breaks down into smaller particles (or micro-plastics) and is then consumed by marine life. This is what makes plastic so bad and difficult to clean up.
A lot of it can’t be seen, and therefore the size of these patches are almost impossible to estimate. I’ve heard they are as little as the size of Texas (if you can call that small) or as big as the continental United States. I imagine the truth lies somewhere in between.
Plastic uses up only 8% of the world’s oil supply, but we use it now more than ever. In fact, we’ve produced more plastic in the last ten years than the previous hundred years combined. Our addiction to plastic isn’t going away anytime soon and because plastic is not biodegradable, it is not going away either.
According to Captain Paul Watson, the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, if we don’t change our ways, all the world’s fisheries will collapse by 2048. He also believes that all our coral reefs may be gone by as early as 2025. Pretty scary.
Global warming or climate change is playing a part too. As the oceans get warmer, fish relocate to cooler waters. In other words, they are migrating toward the poles. What has been left behind is an unprecedented worldwide explosion in Jelly Fish.
Watson says you can tell what shape a body of water is in by the number of Jelly Fish. It is the only marine animal that prefers warm water. Jelly fish have been known to destroy entire fisheries, clog up large coastal structures, and wreak havoc on our beaches.
The question I have to ask is what can we do about all the pollution in our oceans? Tackling global warming is technically easier and we can’t even manage that. With global warming, each country should be responsible for their own greenhouse gas emissions, but who is responsible for the pollution in our oceans? They are considered international waters, so everyone or no one?
Call me pessimistic, but cleaning up the oceans would take time, cost money and require the cooperation of most of the world’s nations. Humans only commit to these things if there is a war or a jetliner goes missing.
“We have to save our oceans to preserve our own selves. If the oceans die, we die.” – Paul Watson