Our Future is Tied to the Health of our Oceans
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Dr. Howard Dryden examines the importance of the oceans in regulating the climate, and how declining marine productivity is causing climate change.
Humanity is intrinsically connected to the survival and stability of all life in the oceans but especially the microscopic plankton and ocean drifters. The planet’s oceans provide most of our oxygen, remove carbon dioxide and are the primary mechanism that regulates the climate.
Every second breath that we take, comes from biomass living in our oceans, and without them humanity simply cannot survive. Quite simply, plankton is the foundation of our existence, and all life on Earth depends upon plankton.
However, for years we have considered that “the solution to pollution was dilution” and that the best place to dilute toxic waste was to dump it in the oceans. However, this phrase was coined before the industrial revolution of the 1950’s, before the production of plastic and a new types of chemicals that are toxic, persistent and don’t break down in the environment. And these persistent toxic chemicals don’t ever disappear, they keep coming back in the food that we eat, in our drinking water and air that we breath. Our oceans are dying as a result and the impact will be catastrophic.
Why the oceans are so important for humanity:
- Every second breath that we take, comes from plants living in our oceans
- Plankton provides more than 70% of our oxygen and removes most of our carbon dioxide
- The microscopic plants and animals, drifting throughout the oceans, use photosynthesis to generate oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere
- Rainforests, often called the lungs of the planet, are not as effective net exporters of oxygen and sequesters of carbon dioxide as the world’s wetlands or peat bogs but with these being limited the oceans are vital
- The oceans represent a huge carbon sink with more than sufficient capacity to use the carbon dioxide produced by man and restore the atmosphere
- It takes 10 to 20 years for plant biomass to double on land, it just takes 3 days for biomass to double in the oceans.
The crisis in our oceans:
- We have now lost more than 50% of all marine life and over the next 25 years it will be 75%
- Over the last 70 years we have been polluting the oceans with toxic forever chemicals and plastic
- More than 50% of the worlds coral reefs are now dead and will likely never recover
- 90% of coral reefs will be gone by 2030
- The mass of plankton in all the world’s oceans has dropped by 50% over the last 70 years
- The pH level in our oceans is dropping and when it drops below 7.95 most life forms will not be able to survive
- Over the next 25 years we will therefore lose most of the whales, seals, birds and the fish, and along with them a food supply for billions of people.
How we are killing our oceans:
- Toxic chemicals from sunscreens and other cosmetics are absorbed by micro-plastics which are eaten by coral and plankton which kills them – 1 bottle of sunscreen can kill over 140 billion microscopic animals and plants
- This death and reduction in plankton limits the sequestration of the carbon dioxide emitted by the burning of fossil fuels.
What we need to do:
- If we can take the brakes off the ecosystem by allowing the plankton to grow, then recovery could be really quick
- We need to prevent key chemicals from sunscreens and cosmetics containing Oxybenzone as well as all persistent organic pollutants such as fire retardant from reaching our oceans – by eliminating just Oxybenzone we may buy ourselves another 10-20 years to fix the oceanic problem.
Given the importance of the oceans in regulating the climate, it is not climate change impacting on marine productivity, it is declining marine productivity that is causing climate change.
The GOES Foundation is taking urgent action to lead the essential sea change needed to restore plankton levels and it is this action that can address ocean acidification and global warming. GOES is working worldwide to halt the poisoning of the oceans by advocating that we should all take a non-toxic approach to how we live: design out and ban all toxic chemicals, hazardous waste and plastics.
By preventing toxic chemicals entering the ecosystem, we can accelerate the recovery of the plankton, health of the oceans and start absorbing more carbon dioxide out from the atmosphere.
Clean Water Wave works to support the mission of the GOES Foundation to restore the health of our oceans. Our CAFE water filtration system can remove harmful toxins from waste water before it reaches our oceans.