Coming Together To Protect The World's Oceans
Happy World Oceans Day!
Earth's oceans are pretty incredible. These water ecosystems contain a volume of roughly 252 billion billion gallons of water, cover 70% of the Earth's surface, and are home to 1 million species of animals! Not only that, but the oceans play a huge role in making life on land more enjoyable for us humans. Oceans work as climate regulators, provide rainwater for us to drink and water crops, and help regulate global warming, among other things.
Like we said: pretty incredible!
For World Oceans Day, we are not only celebrating all that the oceans do for us, but we are also raising awareness and helping to protect these incredible water worlds. 2020's World Oceans Day focuses on the 30x30 initiative, which is to safeguard at least 30% of the world's oceans by 2030 through the establishment of highly protected areas.
Wow! What an initiative! With your help, we can achieve the 30x30 goal and ensure that there is a healthy home for all on earth.
Why Do We Need To Protect The Oceans?
For most of history, the ocean was a largely unexplored and mysterious place. In recent decades, however, new technology has enabled human influence to spread to more areas and into deeper depths. As a result, even the remotest of ocean areas are under threat.
Now, we aren't saying that all humans are negatively affecting the oceans. On the contrary, we believe that the majority of the human race wants to take care of the planet on which we live and the animals that surround us. However, we may be harming the oceans in ways we aren't even aware of, and knowing about what is happening can help us each do our part to care for the oceans of the world.
Climate change is a natural phenomenon that results in a rising and falling of global temperature. While this is a natural occurrence, recent decades have led to a steady increase in temperature. A major contributor to this is an increase of carbon dioxide, other pollutants, and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These compounds absorb light and heat from the sun, trapping it and causing the planet to get hotter.
The ocean absorbs most of the excess heat that greenhouse gases trap in the atmosphere. In fact, the ocean absorbs about 90% of additional heat caused by global warming as well as about 30% of human emissions of carbon dioxide. As the oceans absorb more heat, water temperatures rise, which can lead to a variety of issues for both aquatic animals and humans, including:
- Increased growth rate of marine pathogens (diseases that fish can eat and then be transferred to humans).
- Changed weather patterns, which can lead to inconsistent rainfall. This can affect crop growth, shorten growing seasons, cause droughts, and result in increased food prices.
- Increased frequency and severity of tropical storms.
- Coral bleaching and death, affecting coral ecosystems.
- Irregular and altered distribution of marine animals. Changes in distribution means that the fish we eat can become more abundant in some parts of the world and less in others, affecting the fisheries.
- Loss of breeding grounds for marine animals.
- Ocean acidification. Carbon dioxide reacts with seawater to raise the water's acidity. With more CO2 in the atmosphere, the oceans are becoming more acidic. This reduces the amount of calcium carbonate that many plants and animals need to make shells, reefs, and exoskeletons, thus negatively affecting corals, mussels, barnacles, sea urchins, and more.
Fish has long been a staple food source for humans, and while fishing can help prevent fish populations from becoming too great, overfishing has become a huge issue in recent decades. When too many fish are removed from the ocean, there can be an imbalance in the natural food web, which can cause other species to go hungry or target new prey. This can put more vulnerable species, such as turtles and coral, more at risk.
Overfishing also poses a threat to human life. If we catch too much fish right now, there won't be enough to catch later. This can result in people losing their jobs, and with half of the world's population relying on fish as a major source of protein, many people may end up going hungry as well.
Even protected species, such as the bluefin tuna, Eastern Pacific leatherback turtle, and Maui dolphin, are being overfished. A large contributor to this is that we just don't have the manpower to regulate laws against plundering. However, as species become overfished, they risk extinction, and many species are nearly there.
This is probably the main issue that most of us are aware of when it comes to protecting our oceans. Each year, billions of pounds of pollutants enter the ocean. These pollutants include plastic, oil, and fertilizer, to name a few. Pollution can lead to a variety of issues in the ocean, including:
- Algal Blooms: An excessive spike in nitrogen and phosphorus (which can spike due to fertilizer entering the water) can spike algae growth, creating "red tides". These algal blooms produce toxic effects that can harm both marine and human life.
- Dead Zones: As algae growth increases due to excessive nutrients, they absorb more oxygen in the surrounding water. This leaves little oxygen left for marine animals. As a result, many of the animals either die or leave the area. One of the largest dead zones is in the Gulf of Mexico, covering 8,500 square miles.
- Plastic and Debris: Debris floating around in the oceans can be harmful to animal life as they ingest or become entangled in it. Not only that, but fish can ingest microplastics and heavy metals in the water that come from pollution, which can harm humans when we eat the fish.
What Is The 30x30 Initiative?
With human impact taking its toll on the oceans, these beautiful and diverse water worlds are under threat more than ever before. Many people have been working hard to protect the oceans, but we need more help. That is the goal of the 30x30 initiative.
The 30x30 initiative is advocating for the application of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that will help protect both habitats and species. By protecting these area from human influence, we can help rebuild biodiversity and ecosystems, and maintain or increase marine animal populations. The plants and animals that live in the ocean cannot fight for themselves; they need our help!
To sign the petition and make your voice heard, click here!
10 Ways You Can Help Protect The Oceans
With so much we need to do protect the oceans, you may be thinking, "What can I do? What impact will a single person have?" You can do so much! All efforts start with one person, and as we each do our part to help protect the oceans, we really can make a difference. You don't have to live near a beach or the water to have an impact. Just check out these 10 ways that you can help protect the oceans:
- Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: Increased energy use releases more carbon dioxide into the air as a result of burning fossil fuels, which can lead to ocean acidification and other issues. Try walking, biking, taking public transportation, or carpooling more. Turn off appliances when you're not using them, turn up the thermostat in the summer and down in the winter, and use high-efficiency appliances.
- Ditch Single-Use Plastics: We dump 8 million tons of plastic into the ocean each year, all of which can harm marine life. Replace single-use plastics with cloth grocery bags, reusable water bottles, metal straws, reusable plastic baggies, and more!
- Properly Dispose of Hazardous Materials: If hazardous materials aren't properly disposed, they will end up in the ocean, often as a result of runoff from a landfill. Make sure to take materials such as batteries, motor oil, paints, gasoline, aerosol cans, etc. to your local hazardous waste disposal center.
- Use Less Fertilizer: Fertilizers are packed with nutrients, which is great for our gardens, but when they run off into rivers that lead to the ocean, it leads to algal blooms and the resulting dead zones. Even if you are not close to a river or ocean, runoff can travel across the country before it ends up in the ocean.
- Pick Up Trash At The Beach: If you live near a beach, go participate in a beach cleanup! This is a great way to help prevent more plastics and pollutants form entering the oceans.
- Practice Safe Boating: For those who boat out in the ocean, take care about where you go. Anchor in sandy areas that are far from reefs and sea grasses. Be sure to also adhere to "no wake" areas.
- Join an Organization: There are many groups that are working hard to clean the oceans and keep them safe. By joining a group, you can support their efforts and help them have the means and manpower to get the job done.
- Buy Ocean-Friendly Products: Many companies use marine life in their products. This can range from seaweed, phytoplankton, or shark squalene in cosmetics to using turtle shell or coral in jewelry. Support only businesses that do not use marine life as part of their products, and who produce their products through sustainable and eco-friendly methods.
- Conserve Water: By using less water, you can decrease the amount of runoff from landfills, sewers, and other areas that carry harmful materials into the ocean.
- Spread the Word: Share your efforts with friends and family, and encourage them to participate with you! By spreading the word, we can spread awareness, increase our efforts, and make a bigger impact.
Doing Our Part: What RMO Is Doing TO Protect The Oceans
At Rocky Mountain Oils, we are proud to take extra measures to help protect the oceans and our earth as a whole. These are just some of the ways we strive to protect the oceans every day:
- Recycled and Recyclable Boxes: Each package you receive from RMO is made of recycled and recyclable cardboard. Recycling cardboard reduces the amount of greenhouse gases and fossil fuels that enter the atmosphere, ultimately supporting efforts to stop rising water temperatures.
- Algae Ink: Printing inks are full of harmful ingredients like heavy metals, toxic solvents, and petroleum products. These materials are not biodegradable, and they can damage marine life as the seep into water and make their way into the oceans. Algae ink is a natural, eco-friendly alternative that is 100% plant-based, biodegradable, and not harmful to the environment.
- Recycling: In addition to using recycled cardboard for our shipping boxes, we also strive to recycle as much as we can in the office. We started the industry's first glass recycling program to help reuse old and empty essential oil bottles. We also recycle plastics and other items around the office. Recycling plastics helps reduce the 300 million tons of new plastic that is made each year, ultimately reducing the amount of plastic overall that can end up in the oceans.
Our oceans are incredible! They provide homes for millions of species of animals and plants, and they make life on earth possible. But our oceans are in danger. By working together, we can see change happen and give our oceans the protection they need and the care they deserve!
Want to do some more research? Check out these sources: