FreeWord – Oceans
Hi folks. It’s FreeWord time!
Oceans are one of the most fascinating factors on our planet. Still, we’ve only explored just a tiny fraction of it, and many things are yet to be discovered, so take a deep breath as we’re about dive deep into the ocean!
We wouldn’t be here without the oceans. Approximately 3 to 4 billion years ago, they were the home of ancient algae formation – the first source of oxygen from which sprang life. It doesn’t come as a surprise why the earth is called the “Blue Planet” since the ocean is the dominant physical feature on our planet – covering more than 70% of the surface.
There are five major subdivisions of them: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Southern, and the Arctic Ocean. The boundaries between these areas have evolved over time for many historical, cultural, geographical, and scientific reasons. Seas are smaller bodies of salty water within the oceans and partially enclosed by land.
Map of the world’s oceans
Oceans are the lungs of the earth – producing approximately 70 percent of the oxygen supply in our planet’s atmosphere. Marine plants release oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis, specifically from phytoplankton, kelp, and algal plankton. One type of phytoplankton, Prochlorococcus, is estimated to be responsible for one-fifth of our planet’s oxygen supply alone.
Each year, billions of pounds of trash and other pollutants end up in the ocean. The majority of these pollutants come from activities on land, regardless of how far inland they may be. All streams flow to rivers and rivers lead to the seas – making oceans the endpoint of all of it.
The primary source of pollution is called nonpoint source pollution. It consists of many small sources, such as cars, boats, farms, etc. Another significant factor is point source pollution, which comes from a single source, like an oil or chemical spill.
This durable and very slowly degradable material has become one of the most significant pollutants. Plastic can persist in the environment for a millennium, destroying our oceans from the deepest depths to the coastlines, by endangering the whole marine ecosystem.
Every year, approximately 8 million metric tons of plastics end up in our oceans. This is on top of the already estimated 150 million metric tons that are currently circulating in our marine environment. The immense amount of debris have resulted in giant garbage patches, and there are now five of them floating around the world. The largest is called the Great Pacific garbage patch, which includes an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of trash and covers an area twice the size of Texas.
Melting Glaciers & Rising Sea Levels
Our oceans are the largest collectors of solar energy on this planet. The spread of greenhouse gases prevents the heat from going back to our planet’s atmosphere, and since all this energy has to go somewhere, it goes directly to the oceans.
As a result, ocean temperatures have risen rapidly in recent decades, and the impact on the Arctic is more severe than anywhere else on the planet. This causes ice loss near the poles of glaciers and ice sheets, which are considered to be one of the most significant contributions to global sea-level rise. Most of this damage is happening in Greenland, and it increases every decade.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a Global Warming of 1.5 ºC report last year. Long story short, we have 12 years to change our practices in order to meet the maximum 1.5 °C rise in global temperature.
Even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, and other extreme conditions. The impact on the oceans has already been severe – we have already lost half of the world’s coral reefs.
To save our oceans and the biodiversity, we must come to the point where recognizing ocean rights could help to encourage the behavioral changes needed to proactively support and implement policies that maintain ocean health and support all living creatures’ well-being at the same time.
Organizations like Earth Law Framework for Marine Protected Areas are one of the critical elements of this. It is now more important than ever to educate and raise awareness of our affairs and the importance of the ocean – to guarantee not only for humans but also for every other living species survival.
Picture credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinmgill/6478645561, https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1572629, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Niihau-Trash-Beach.jpg https://pixabay.com/photos/greenland-iceberg-fjord-sermilik-3925544/. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_level_rise