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This week we are having a look at how the situation is going with our beloved and frightening blue desert, with its life underground and the perfect disguise above. Yes, precisely: earth’s oceans and the “we did it again” saga, featuring chemicals and all sorts of trash, washed or blown into it. It seems that, throughout the years, our oceans have been the literal translation of “sweeping under the rug”, as it’s seen as the best shortcut due to its dimension.
It appears that the average thought is “It should be alright because it’s 361 million km2 in size, right… Right?”. Well, technically it would if we kept it medieval if you know what I mean, but we’ve had the industrial revolution back in the 1700s and it’s been going downhill ever since.
“Only we humans make waste that nature can’t digest.” - Charles Moore, Marine Researcher
Our growing economy has always had its costs on nature, but when it comes to marine pollution it’s even harder to grasp the total proportion of the damage. For instance, the increased concentration of chemicals from worldwide human activity, such as fertilisers used in farming, end up leaking into waterways that ultimately flow into the ocean. Many of the man-made pollutants that are released into it, not only kill species but also disrupt the ecosystems by literally creating dead zones where few marine organisms can live.
Marine pollution has many forms, one of them being light pollution. Of course, you wouldn’t be polluting by pointing a flashlight into the water. On the other hand, artificial light from urban cities, especially at night, can affect nearby underwater worlds such as reefs by disrupting the normal cues associated with circadian rhythms. This, in turn, affects the timing of migration, reproduction, and feeding.
Noise pollution is also troublesome since, in large bodies of water, sound waves can go on for miles/km unbothered. Our increased exploration of the seas does not help. The loud and persistent presence of human ships, sonar devices, and oil rigs disrupts natural noises in the marine environment. If some marine mammals like whales or dolphins could sue mankind, they would. And if the judge was mother nature, I don’t even want to think about it.
Can’t talk about pollution without plastic, am I right? The proud number 1 enemy of nature’s health and wellbeing. That never ending annoying congestion that keeps on escalating. At least it doesn’t discriminate, I’ll give it that. It’s everywhere, scheming and polluting. It could be (and certainly is) creeping into the oceans through run-off and even purposeful dumping. The visible amount of plastic pollution floating in the Pacific Ocean says it all, amounting to twice the size of the state of Texas (USA). Fish and marine mammals tend to accidentally consume plastic, even corals. In a sense, if the damage isn’t enough for them to end up washing up on shore, we are letting plastic become part of our food chain…
Toxic waste? I didn’t want to bring it up but it’s estimated that more than 180 million tons of it is dumped into oceans, rivers, and lakes each year! And that’s only in regards to mining corporations that have been doing it for decades.
It becomes clear that our once flourishing ocean ecosystem is now on the brink of collapse. But hold your thought! I know what you’re thinking. Let’s send it all to space! Great minds have considered that, but it turns out that endeavor would cost 33 quadrillion dollars per year.
“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.” - Jacques Yves Cousteau, Oceanographer
So, what’s being done about it?
That’s something you’ll not want to miss in the next article on the subject! I’m sure we all need some closure, at least I do. Stay tuned and we’ll see you next week!