by Demetrious Robe, Miss Earth Jamaica Water
Interconnectivity and internationalization are not the only things that bring us together as Earth's inhabitants. We share more in common than often acknowledged, but we are inclined to identify and call out differences. There is, however, one entity that we have always shared and always will, and that is the ocean. The lands that we dwell on may not be connected, but our oceans are. Though separated by continents, we are made a solid whole by the blue ecosystems of life and endurance. June 8, annually, is dedicated to our oceans. On this day, we ought to slow down, reflect and appreciate the perenniality of life that our oceans have brought us, especially if ever we have not given it much thought for the remaining 364 days of the year. We must introspect upon the depletion we are strangulating their life with - from plastic to oil - the debilitating package is one of utmost screeching greed.
Why do we celebrate World Ocean Day?
Where did that whiff of fresh air you just breathed come from? It did not come from only our plants. Thanks to the ocean, oxygen is met half-half. These miracles of life produce 50% of the Earth's oxygen. Additionally, it is the world's largest ecosystem. Marine Bio estimates that up to 50-80% of the Earth's life form is found below the ocean's surface, with it comprising more than 99% of the world's inhabitable space.
The ocean is our source of life, supporting both the sustenance of human life and the life of every other organism on the Earth. Some studies assert that life indeed began in the ocean approximately 4 billion years ago. The ocean has supported all life forms for billions of years, supporting around 230,000 (known) marine species and billions of unclassified ones. If we take care of our oceans, which starts with how we approach the sustainability of life on land, our oceans will continue to be that ubiquitous gift to humanity, the kingdom Plantae, and the kingdom Animalia.
How does the ocean connect us?
Our ocean not only sustains life, but it also connects us. When we visit the beach and enter the sea, though thousands of kilometers apart, we enter the same body of water. The beauty about this is that the ocean is not like a lake or a pond that is enclosed. It is not like a fresh river that might disappear underground or add to the sea once it reaches the shore. The ocean is a continuous body of saltwater, engulfing continents, spanning over plates, regions, and territories, covering most of the Earth's surface. The sea will always be a mystery, which is the beauty about it, and will continue to connect us.
One of the ways that the ocean connects us is through advocacy and awareness initiatives. It is commendable and incites hope for the future that worldwide, it is acknowledged that environmental awareness and protection play a critical role in the sustenance of life and the advancement of our economy. World leaders have agreed to the safety of the Earth from degradation by championing sustainable practices, which include the management of natural resources and urging climate action to support the needs of the present and future generations. This, however, is not enough. Plastic pollution owing, most importantly, to lack of proper waste management strategies, has caused and continues to cause tremendous harm across the global waters. While the waters support economies that inflict ruin upon their ecosystems, next to zero impact has been promulgated by the governments. At this juncture, with a significant rise in plastic production, we must raise our voices, fight for the rights of the seas, and try our best to qualitatively conserve these pools of biodiversity.
The Vision 2030 agenda records 30 targets that the United Nations Environment Programme is actioning, with Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) geared towards Life Below Water. This goal is directly related to protecting our marine ecosystems and supporting the sustenance of marine biodiversity.
It is a well known, in fact, a hot topic that our Earth, oceans, and ecosystems are at risk of complete depletion and extinction due to climate change. The sea plays a significant role in almost every natural process of the Earth. Therefore, we should strive to stay connected through it by playing our part in its protection to reduce the effects of climate change through sustainable practices.
How can you support?
Our world ocean requires our support. The billions of marine plants and animals depend on us, as we all share the same Earth and breathe the same oxygen. The future generation is also depending on us. The ocean serves many purposes, such as providing food, medicine, gems, a home, a medium for transportation, recreation, serving as a blanket to protect us from harmful elements, and regulating the weather and climate. The beauty in all of this is that we can all contribute to this cause of appreciating and protecting the ocean wherever we are. Giving up plastic, moving towards sustainable substances in all aspects of industrial and domestic usage, is the pledge we must take.
Remember, there is only one Earth and only one world ocean. Let's protect the ocean. The future is depending on us.