How do oceans play an important role in ecology?

Oceans cover more than two-thirds of Earth. Understandably, they play a vital role in keeping all life forms going. World Oceans Day (June 8) just went by, reminding us that an important natural resource is in need of our urgent support.

The importance of ocean

Initially, our ancestors were nomads, moving from one place to another. However, they eventually started settling in one place invariably around waterbodies such as rivers, lakes, oceans, etc. For thousands of years, oceans have been the backbone of human survival. But for even longer, they have been inevitable for all life forms, from the tiniest to the largest. All living beings, even those on land, are directly or indirectly dependent on the ocean for their very existence.

We all breathe easy because all oceans together produce at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen. Due to their sheer size, oceans distribute heat from the Equator to the Poles, regulating the world’s climate. Without this, different regions will constantly experience only extreme weather. Marine life is a good source of food for both humans and animals the world over. In addition, some also have medicinal properties. Oceans are also crucial for global economy since they help in transport and tourism.

What is ailing them?

Oceans face several threats today. Thanks to global warming, our oceans are warming too. This affects marine life since many cannot survive warmer waters. When a few species struggle, they can affect others that are dependent on these species, and this can result in ecosystem collapse. Further, warming waters can increase sea levels, resulting in natural disasters. Human activities such as overfishing, plastics, polluted wastewater discharged into the oceans, etc. affect the natural balance in a marine ecosystem.

According to the U.N., “With 90% of big fish populations depleted, and 50% of coral reefs destroyed, we are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished.” The U.N. calls for us to work together in such a way that we not just take less from the oceans but help these natural resources flourish.

The theme for 2023

The theme this year is “Planet Ocean: tides are changing”. The United Nations will work with people from different walks of life – from policy-makers, indigenous leaders, and scientists to private sector executives, citizens, and youth activists to turn the spotlight on oceans.

What is the 30 X 30 target?

At the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, more commonly COP27, held in Egypt last November, as many as 112 nations took an important pledge. They promised to take steps for protecting at least 30% of Earth’s land and ocean by 2030 to help curtail biodiversity loss and climate change.

Did you know?

  • The ocean is key to our economy with an estimated 40 million people being employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.
  • Oceans absorb about 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.

Picture Credit : Google 

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