Three Threats to the Oceans

The oceans cover two thirds of the surface of this planet. When we look at the state of the planet to see if it is prospering or declining it would be foolish not to look at the state of the oceans. Very few people actually live on the oceans but billions of people depend on them for food and for the regulation of the climate.

The oceans are in an unhealthy state. They suffer from three threats. They are being heated by the changing climate, they are being polluted as humanity dumps its waste in them, and they are being overfished.

The oceans have probably disguised the effects of climate change by absorbing heat. Eventually the heat absorbed will affect the ocean oscillations which will mean a change in our climate. For North West Europe, the biggest threat is that the Gulf Stream slows down or even stopped. Britain is on the same latitude as Labrador; will Britons have to cope with the winters that the inhabitants of Labrador now enjoy?

As the ocean warms so it becomes less alkaline and more acidic, and holds more carbon dioxide dissolved in it and less oxygen.

Pollution is the second threat; much of the ocean near centres of humanity’s activities suffer from fertiliser run off. This creates dead zones where fish do not live but where algae bloom. As humanity relentlessly increases its numbers and as pressure on food supplies increase, so will the ocean become more polluted.

The third problem is that of over-fishing; some progress has been made in recent years to limit over fishing, but not enough progress has been made to feel secure about the fish supplies of tomorrow.

It is easy to fall into a trap of future doom and gloom when writing about the environment; it is all a question of humanity balancing its present needs with its future requirements. So far humanity has falled very short of achieving anything like equilibrium in its balancing act; the likliehood is that humanity will fall, unless it can mend its ways.

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