Who doesn’t love the ocean? This beautiful and mysterious element spans the globe, connecting all countries and all people. Humans have many reasons to show the ocean some love by protecting its ecosystems and preserving its valuable resources.
See for yourself:
1. IT PROVIDES US WITH FOOD.
Global fish consumption has skyrocketed over the past decades. On average, a person eats four times as much fish today than in 1950. In fact, fish and seafood are the main source of protein for four out of ten people in the world. That’s why we have to make sure our ocean stays healthy, and fisheries are managed responsibly.
2. IT PROTECTS US FROM CLIMATE CHANGE.
The ocean plays an important role in regulating our planet’s weather and climate. It absorbs, stores and slowly releases large quantities of heat reaching us from the sun. Ocean currents help to distribute this heat around the world and thereby shape the climate of different continents. In addition, the ocean absorb nearly one-third of the carbon dioxide emissions we produce, which serves as a buffer for climate change impacts. However, increasing carbon dioxide emissions pose a threat to our ocean. Find out why.
3. IT GIVES US JOBS.
Our ocean contributes around US $3 trillion per year to the global economy. From fishing, to shipping, to tourism – the ocean and its vast ecosystem provides an income for every tenth person in the world. Surging pollution of marine habitats by humans does not only spoil beautiful shorelines and underwater scenery for tourists, but also causes significant harm to many marine species.
4. IT GENERATES THE AIR WE BREATHE.
In fact, over half of the oxygen that we breathe originates from the ocean. Small marine plants like phytoplankton produce oxygen that enters our atmosphere. Protecting marine habitats where these plants grow is therefore extremely important for life on land as well.
5. IT’S HOME TO SOME OF THE MOST MAGNIFICENT CREATURES.
Our ocean is life. Literally. Over 4 billion years ago, the first-ever life forms developed in the ocean. By now, over 200,000 distinct species have been identified, but we’re far from done exploring. Researchers discover new marine species on a daily basis. However, despite the vast biodiversity underwater, only a little over 5% of the ocean is protected. See why this is a problem.
6. IT FACILITATES TRANSPORTATION.
The ocean is basically like a huge highway that we use to ship goods all across the world. Did you know that approximately 90% of world trade is carried out by sea? The food you eat and the clothes you wear most likely have traveled a long way to get to you. The increase in sea traffic, however, has brought some unwanted consequences like invasive species. Learn more about this issue here.
7. IT GIVES US FRESH WATER TO DRINK.
Through the cycle of evaporation, the ocean regulates our fresh water supply. When water evaporates from the ocean surface, it rises into the atmosphere as vapor. Upon colliding with colder air, the water vapor forms clouds and rain, which then provides us with irrigation and drinking water.
8. IT SHAPES AND INSPIRES OUR CULTURES AND TRADITIONS.
Growing up by the ocean has a profound impact on peoples’ lives. It often defines what you eat, where you work, and how you spend your free time. Without a healthy ocean, many traditions of peoples around the world will be lost forever. That’s why we teamed up with Australian singer-songwriter and ocean-lover Cody Simpson to spread the word about the current state of our ocean.
In order to bring our ocean back to health, we all need to work together. That’s why the Ocean Conference is so important. Taking place from 5 to 9 June 2017 in New York, this historic event will set out a concrete plan to restore our ocean to health so that it can continue to sustain all life.
Learn how you, as an individual, can contribute to saving our ocean here.
Learn more about our work here.
By: Mirja Neumann
This story was originally published by UNDP.