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June 08, 2019 - The Vegan Authority

Our world oceans are under siege

Our world oceans are under siege
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"In the past 150 years, about half of all living coral has been lost. In the past four decades, plastic pollution in oceans has increased tenfold. A third of fish stocks are now overexploited. Dead zones – underwater deserts where life cannot survive because of a lack of oxygen – are growing rapidly in extent and number", the UN reports.

Yet it is our oceans and seas that connect and sustain us. That is the message of António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN). "They are home to vast biodiversity and are a vital defense against the global climate emergency." From a climate perspective, oceans absorb about 30 per cent of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.

World Oceans Day offers a renewed opportunity each year to celebrate our world's shared ocean and to recognize the crucial role the oceans play in our lives. The concept has been observed by the UN and the international community since its inception on June 8, 2009 after being first proposed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 per cent of the Earth’s water and are home to nearly 200,000 identified species, with the actual number estimated to be in the millions. Their temperature, chemistry, currents and life drive the global systems that make Earth habitable for mankind.

With the Anthropocene epoch, we have entered a new phase of planetary history. One foreboding for the planet and its oceans. Human activity is literally eroding our framework of existence, the earth - our natural world, its oceans and their life sustaining ecosystems at an unprecedented rate.

Here are a few facts about the staggering crisis facing our oceans today:

  • Plastic will outweigh fish by 2050 if we continue on our current track of disposing of marine litter in the ocean, predicts the World Economic Forum in a recent report. In fact, about 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, almost the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck into the ocean every minute.

  • Plastic debris in our oceans causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals, reported The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

  • Huge ocean garbage patches have been created as ocean currents and gyres collect the plastic and debris into one spot. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch between Hawaii and California is the biggest, estimated to contain almost 2 trillion pieces of plastic. It is currently about three times the size of France.

  • There are now close to 500 dead zones globally, covering a total area , equivalent to the surface of the United Kingdom, reports UNESCO. Dead zones are underwater deserts where life cannot survive because of a lack of oxygen.

  • Nearly all coral reefs worldwide will be threatened by 2050 as climate change leads to increasing acidification and rising ocean temperatures to unprecedented levels over the next 100 years. Nearly 25 percent of all marine life depends on these coral reefs for survival, reports the World Resources Institute (WRI).

  • Runoff from rivers and lakes of fertilizers, pesticides and antibiotics also pose a great risk as they end up into the ocean. Some of these have produced irreversible effects; for instance, affecting the reproductive process of different species.


Eco-enviro — Feature Articles

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