Being the terrestrial animals that we are, it’s easy to forget that most of our planet is covered in water. 71% of the Earth is covered by the World Ocean — the gigantic body of water which we divide up into the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Arctic, the Indian, and the Souther Oceans.
The vastness of our planet’s oceans is why Carl Sagan called our home the pale blue dot, and not the pale green dot. We humans have only explored 5% of the World Ocean, but in that tiny fragment, we’ve identified over two hundred thousand distinct species.
The great oceans are the source of all life on Earth, and they play a crucial role in maintaining the biosphere.
- The oceans are integral to the regulation of our planet’s climate, effecting weather and temperature patterns all over the world. Oceans transfer heat from the tropics to the polar regions, while cooler water from the poles move back down towards the equator, linking all the world’s oceans.
- Evaporation from the ocean is a major part of the water cycle, providing for most of the world’s rainfall.
- Life began in the ocean 3 billion years ago. Today, much of the world’s biodiversity is found in the ocean, and many terrestrial animals (including humans) have evolved relying on ocean life.
Oceans in Peril
The oceans — the cradle of all life on Earth — are under threat. Climate change threatens to alter the ancient currents which regulate the Earth’s temperature. The accumulated carbon dioxide from our reckless burning of fossil fuels is being absorbed by our great ocean, and as a result the ocean is becoming increasingly acidic.
If that weren’t enough, the industrialization of fishing is destroying fish stocks around the world. This isn’t just a crisis for the ecosystem: it’s destroying ancient lifeways of people who have relied on small-scale fishing for centuries.
The oceans are being bombarded by our pollution. Ocean dwellers are being decimated by our industrial fishing fleets, and the ocean floor is being shredded by trawlers. The ocean is absorbing the worst effects of climate change.
Despite this, we tend not to think much of the oceans. It’s hard for us to understand that a trawler scraping the ocean floor is not much different than the clear cutting of a forest. The media very rarely pays much attention to the ruination of the oceans. But if we care about the health of our planet, or the well-being of its creatures, then we must save the oceans.
Click the tab to read more about the plight of the oceans, and visit our Ways to Help page for more information on how you can help inspire positive change.