The ocean is intrinsically woven into every one of our lives and many people (including me) maintain a love affair with it. Whether this is for sport, work or any other numerous number of things, we find ourselves very much drawn to it. It seemingly calms the soul and provides a place of peace for many, as well as a place of inspiration. It has shaped many of the historical and culture.
al events, not just in our lifetime, but since the dawn of civilisation and probably further. As well as inspiring artists through to engineers with its beauty and complexity. Yet despite this, we seem to be shunning protection of the ocean as a secondary issue not worthy of our time. Many people simply don’t see the connection between their lives and the ocean and the impact they have. However, we all have an impact, mainly in the everyday goods that we buy. Around 90% of world trade is conducted via the sea and in the UK around 90% of our imports come via the sea. The impact this has on the environment is huge with disruption to local habitats for the creation of larger and larger dock, as well as the pollution created by these super tankers. In addition, the oil tanker disasters throughout the past 50 years are clear enough problems in itself. So if you are buying any goods that are imported chances are you are having an impact on our oceans.
However it’s not just the fact we have an impact on the ocean that should inspire us to defend it. We also rely on it to live our everyday lives, and without it, we would not live the lives we do. From the small things such as superglue that is water resistant, which was inspired by mussels attached to the ocean floor, to the larger more important things like antibiotic resistance. Algae is potentially the key to solving our impending antibiotic resistance crisis. The relevance and importance of this is put sharply in perspective, considering an extra 10 million people worldwide could die from antibiotic resistance in the future.
However, if we look deeper we find the ocean is even more intimately involved in each of our lives. Microplastics is a word you are probably hearing more and more often as of late, they are effectively pieces of plastics that are under 5mm in length and they are becoming more and more prevalent in our oceans. The plastic that we have been dumping in our oceans for years and years have now broken down into these microplastics and been consumed by much of the wildlife present within the oceans. Of course, for many of us, seafood in some shape or form is a part of our diet. This is leading many to consume microplastics as part of there diet. Currently, an avid mussel eater can consumer around 11,000 pieces of microplastic a year and then there is sea salt where a kg can contain 600 microplastics, I could go on but the list is too long. However, the link between us and the ocean doesn’t stop there. The ocean actually produces around 70% of the oxygen in the atmosphere, mostly by phytoplankton, kelp or algal plankton.
The ocean is therefore vital to life, your life, my life and to maintain the society we live in. It feels a tad stupid to sit back on our sofas and chairs and just continue to act as though it’s not our business. Admittedly here in Britain and the rest of the western world, we seem to have picked up a knack for ignoring issues that are very relevant to our lives. I mean, holding problems at arms length as much as possible is almost a celebrated skill. However, I think it’s time to start acknowledging that the ocean is every single persons responsibility. We must step up, or the consequences could be catastrophic.
By Samuel Hall