June 8, 2012
Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic. These are what people perceive as the world’s oceans. In truth, there is only one, one fluid ocean with no breaks or physical boundaries. This is unlike any land mass, in that, what happens in one area of the ocean has the capacity to affect an area 2,000 miles away, leagues beneath the surface.
June 8 is World Oceans Day, meant to celebrate the body of water that links us all, educate the public on current issues affecting it and motivate them to action and conservation.
It is important to know what’s going on in the ocean so we can take more precise action to protect it, as it is human action that is responsible for its current condition.
Among all the ocean offers us, it also controls the weather. The entire climate, actually, which means more long-term effects and potential adverse impacts. According to research by the New England Aquarium (NEAQ), heat is released in the atmosphere based on the temperature of the water, which is all reliant on the ocean’s water mixing – steady mix, steady climate.
However, the ocean isn’t moving like it used to. Due to global warming’s melting of the polar ice caps and increased precipitation, fresh water could soon compose a layer of the ocean’s surface, NEAQ reports, that would affect a specific region where the ocean’s water mixes. If the ocean doesn’t mix properly, the climate can’t be regulated, leading to crop failure and ecosystem collapse.
Human action has further affected the ocean in its acidification. As more carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere, it enters the ocean as well, forming acid, said the NEAQ. This specifically affects coral reefs, as organisms that sustain corals abandon them, leading to their “bleaching,” and possible death. Coral reefs provide habitats, prevent shoreline erosion, boost the economy through tourism and serve as a medical resource. With their death, subsequent deaths of organisms or institutions are likely to occur.
Now more than ever, we need protect our ocean and understand each decision we make could affect its global network in some way. This year’s theme for World Oceans Day is “Youth: the Next Wave for Change”, as young people tend to be more conscious and driven to act in favor of this cause. No matter how old you are, make efforts to form a ripple, and with others you’ll create a wave.
To make a step toward conservation, calculate your carbon footprint, and see changes you can make to adjust its size.
For more information on World Oceans Day, visit theoceanproject.org.
– Liz Peters