World Oceans Day

Today is World Oceans Day — a day essentially as important as Earth Day, considering how much the ocean supports humanity and all other organisms on earth.

Oceanic and human life are both at great risk as the climate continues to change. Oceans cover 70% of the earth, absorb 93% of the heat from the sun and capture 30% of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Forty percent of the world’s population lives within 60 miles of the coast, and half a billion people rely on the ocean for their primary food intake. Taking all these statistics into account, it’s easy to see how human survival is directly correlated with oceanic survival.

We already have seen drastic changes in oceans’ water levels, pH and currents, all of which are huge components in sea life and human survival.

  • As water levels continue to rise, there will be more deadly storm surges and flooding. This has specific impacts on coastal states, but landlocked states also will be impacted when it comes to seafood consumption, agriculture production, population control issues and more.
  • The ocean’s pH already has changed from about 8.2 to now 8.1. This doesn’t seem like a huge decrease, but because it’s measured logarithmically, it is an enormous change. The ocean is nearly 25% more acidic now than it was before the Industrial Revolution. With this increase in acidity, some species are not able to survive, which throws off the entire ecosystem.
  • Ocean currents are starting to change in direction and size. This makes water from different regions mix together, affecting the temperature of the ocean and ultimately having significant impact on the weather.

The overwhelming amount of changes already occurring causes concern, but luckily there are many groups helping to bring attention to the issues in our oceans. Visit the World Oceans Day website to find resources on where to learn more. Also, check out Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson’s interview with Ezra Klein to learn more about the role of oceans in our lives and in the fight against climate change.

By helping protect the ocean, we also are helping protect the human population and our health.

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