Many of us know that our oceans play a crucial role in the well being of our environment, and without them we couldn’t survive. However, many don’t know why that is and what exactly our oceans do for our environment and home.
About 97% of Earth’s water is oceans. Oceans provide many ecosystem services to many species across the globe. To begin, oceans provide many species with a food source. 3.5 billion people rely on the oceans for food, and that is just humans alone. This number doesn’t account for the numerous amounts of terrestrial and marine life that rely on the oceans for a meal. Large amounts of pollution in our oceans puts several people and species at risk. If marine life mistakes plastic for a food source, it harms them because they can’t digest or break down the plastics so it stays in their stomachs and results in starvation. Eating plastic that is sharp can also puncture the organs of marine life. In addition, if humans consume fish with microplastics in their systems, it can also be very harmful to the consumer.
Earth’s oceans are also major carbon sinks. Oceans absorb more carbon dioxide than they produce, making them very important to the environment and fighting climate change. Naturally, they would be able to control the levels of carbon dioxide, but with the rise of human-created greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sinks like the ocean cannot combat climate change alone. High levels of carbon dioxide in the ocean from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can lead to ocean acidification and ocean temperatures rising from greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Rising ocean temperatures result in rising sea levels, coral reef bleaching, migration of many species, and overall it affects the ocean’s ecosystems. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere result in a domino effect of the ecosystems that it will impact. Greenhouse gas emissions are a major issue and pose a huge threat to many species and ecosystems.
Earth’s weather is also affected by its oceans. A lot of solar radiation is absorbed by the ocean, storing solar radiation. The oceans also disperse heat around the globe. When water from the oceans evaporate, it increases the humidity and the heat of the surrounding area. In addition, weather patterns are also largely controlled by the ocean’s currents. The ocean’s currents work to bring warm water and precipitation to the Earth’s poles and cold water back to the Earth’s equators.
Earth’s oceans are beautiful and provide a habitat for many different species! The Earth’s oceans are a key part of the world with many ecosystem services. Without Earth’s oceans, life would be so different.
How To Help The Oceans:
- Choose reusable options when possible: this helps avoid the risk of plastic making its way to the oceans and harming sea life. Choosing reusable items also reduces your carbon footprint.
- Use strategies to reduce your carbon footprint: similar to the option above, there are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint. It can be as simple as walking instead driving,composting, and remembering to turn off the lights.
- Raise awareness about the importance of protecting our oceans: from educating friends and family to creating organizations dedicated to educating others, there are many ways to help teach others about the importance of Earth’s oceans.
- Eat seafood responsibly: overfishing has led many species to become endangered. Refer to Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to help when choosing seafood: https://www.seafoodwatch.org
- There are many ways to help the ocean from an individual level (ex. Using coral reef safe sunscreens) to creating more eco-friendly energy alternatives, products, changes, and educating others.
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