Our Hot Mess: Nemo needs help
I won’t sugarcoat it. Our oceans are in jeopardy because of human-caused issues like ocean acidification, warming, and pollution. And if the oceans give way, we are in trouble.
They provide 99% of the living space on Earth for organisms, and without this living area, five phyla classifications would not exist. The ocean’s marveling biodiversity is vital in maintaining the productivity and functionality of ecosystems. And yes, even though we walk on land, that includes us. One of the most important functions of the marine ecosystems is producing plant biomass for the basic food sources in the entire ocean. Ultimately, that becomes food for us higher up in the food chain. It is now estimated that 3 billion people in the world rely on seafood as their primary source of protein.
|A reef in Fiji|
Photo courtesy of the Coral Reef Alliance
Marine biodiversity also helps to filter the polluted water, protect shorelines from eroding and flooding, and keep our oceans beautiful.
Consideration of the economic dependence on oceans must be thought of as well. One of every six jobs in the States is marine-related. And In 2011, the ocean economy added $282 billion to the U.S. GDP and provided more than 2.8 million jobs. These jobs and GDP depend on the safety of the shores: healthy marine habitats - reefs, mangroves, wetlands, barrier islands - protect our coastal communities from the detrimental impacts of storms. Basically, our economy is reliant upon the welfare of the oceans.
|Photo courtesy of AquariumDomain.com|
Not only is our money reliant on the oceans, but also our bodies are! And if that’s not a compelling argument for ocean protection and sustainability, I don’t know what is. The oceans act as major players in the air we breathe, the plants and algae giving us approximately half of the oxygen in the atmosphere. And on top of that, they absorb nearly one-third of manmade carbon dioxide emissions while regulating weather and keeping us clean. What, keeping us clean? Yes! There are plenty of ocean ingredients in your shower and medicine cabinet, namely in shampoos, cosmetics, and drugs. A few of these drugs help fight arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer's, heart disease, viruses, and other disorders.
Simply put, I cannot stress how important the health of our marine ecosystems is. Many of us view the oceans simply as playgrounds for sun-kissed sports and all-inclusive cruises. Some of us depend on the oceans directly for money or food. Regardless, they are shared resources worth protecting. The human-inflicted issues of ocean acidification, overfishing, pollution, and many more are negatively impacting these resources, straining the capacities of our oceans. This opens up a new topic of discussion for the Our Hot Mess table. Stay tuned for how we are hurting and how we can help the ocean systems like we are supposed to do.
--Elke Arnesen, LSNews.org Columnist