The Biggest Threats to the Ocean and What We Can Do About Them
For a species that makes up less than 1% of the earth’s population, humans have done more harm than could have been imagined to our fellow creatures and the planet that accommodates us. From pollution to intensive and unethical animal farming, we are destroying everything that makes our lives possible, including, of course, water. All the threats facing our ocean are manmade, but so are the solutions. If we don’t start acting now, the damage will be irreparable.
So, what’s happening to our ocean and how can we make it stop?
As it turns out, there aren’t plenty of fish in the sea. We’ve been systematically depleting them. We started out fishing those that lived near the coastline until they were all gone, then we went further out into the ocean, and we’ve been going deeper and deeper every time we drain one part of the seas. And we’re doing it fast,faster than fish and other sea creatures can reproduce, and destroying species along the way. In 2015 alone, we extracted over 81 million tons of seafood!
What we can do about overfishing
In a perfect world, we would all switch to a vegetarian diet and let all animals live freely. But until that happens, you can do more research on the types of seafood that you eat; for example, click here to see Greenpeace’s list of fish that you should avoid.
You can also spread the word about the hazards of overfishing and/or donate to or join an organization that’s working to stop it.
Water pH is just as important to some sea life as it is to humans. For creatures like crabs and corals, a pH over 7 is crucial to their ability to grow shells or skeletons. But carbon dioxide emissions are making the oceans acidic; this is because our oceans absorb about 25% of CO2 and turn it into carbonic acid.
Warming and rising sea levels
Another consequence of excessive carbon dioxide and other toxic gas emissions is global warming, which is having massive effects on the oceans. Thanks to manmade global warming, water temperatures are increasing and ice caps are melting, both of which contribute to rising sea levels.
In addition to threatening the homes of people living on the coasts, rising water temperatures are killing coral reefs and affecting the lifestyle and breeding habits of several marine species.
What we can do about climate change
We all have the means to reduce our carbon footprint, but do you have the will?
Read about our top tips to lead a greener life here.
We’ve all seen the horrifying pictures of sea animals caught in plastic, and although the dangers of plastic pollution are very real, our actions to stop it are not. We’re still churning out 8 million metric tons of plastic waste every year. And sea animals don’t just get caught in them, they ingest them.
What we can do about plastic pollution
The short answer: stop using plastic! There are other alternatives to plastic bottles, plastic bags, and other plastic packaging, so let’s start using them.
You can also take an active role in cleaning up the beach nearest to you by volunteering in local environmental NGOs.
If this list wasn’t enough to motivate you, watch this video and take a look at all the beauty we could be losing.