Have you ever been caught in a wave, holding breathe and board while being surrendered to the mercy of the mighty ocean? Holding on with the faith that the ocean will at some point spit you out again, like a foreign object, back to where it belonged?
The ocean is powerful, not only for surfing, and entertainment; we breath and eat the ocean, while she protects and cools the earth.
We breath the ocean. About 50 to 80% of the oxygen is produced by the oceans. Oxygen is produced as a side product of photosynthesis of marine plants such as phytoplankton, kelp, and algal plankton.
During this process these plants actually store carbon dioxide, hence taking it out of the atmosphere. So far, oceans have captured one third of all carbon dioxide produced since the 1970s. Carbon Dioxide is a powerful greenhouse gas that since the industrial revolution has spiked together with the spike of burning fossil fuels. Therefore, oceans have mitigated climate change tremendously over the past decades, and kept our planet liveable.
Besides breathing, we eat the ocean. Oceans are the food stock of the earth. About 3 billion people on earth depend on fishery for their protein sources. Moreover, Oceans have a marvellous rich, and even still partly unknown, biodiversity. There are estimated to live between 500,000 and 10 million different kind of marine species in the world’s oceans.
In addition, haven’t only kept the earth’s temperature down by storing carbon dioxide and hence mitigation the greenhouse gas effect. They store heath directly as well. It is estimated that oceans have stored about 80% of the earth’s heath. This is why coastal areas always have a less extreme temperature than their inland neighbours, cooler in summertime, warmer in wintertime. The ocean is an intellectual temperature system.
Unfortunately, the tremendous amount of carbon dioxide we are emitting since the industrial revolution – by burning fossil fuels – goes beyond the capacity of the oceans. Scientist warn that the carbon dioxide absorption of the oceans might reach a tipping point after which it will absorb less and hence temperatures on earth will increase.
Today the oceans already pay a high price for absorbing our manmade emissions. The oceans are becoming more and more acid. Acidification destroys skeletons of the reefs, which are the habitats of animals and plants alike. Hence, either they take them in their grave, either they force them to migrate to uncharted territory where they still might find their own graves. Marine animals and the very marine plants that produce oxygen will struggle for survival as well. As a result, there will be less oxygen in the oceans, which is necessary for marine animals and plants, and us to survive.
Add the direct effect of climate change: warming water, and we end up in a downward spiral. Warming water doesn’t only make it too hot for marine life to survive, warming water has a lower density and hence higher volume than cooler water. As a result, not only melting ice, but the direct warming of the oceans causes the sea levels to rise as well.
Climate change has pulled the trigger twice.
Another effect of warming water and air temperatures are estimated to intensify tropical storms and hurricanes. After these storms have originated above water, they are fuelled by water and air before they reach land. The higher the temperature of both, the higher the energy capacity, and hence the higher the intensity of the storm.
Eventually when these intensified storms arrive our coastal areas they are not stopped by the normal natural buffers – which are now destroyed by climate change and human activity – , the reef, mangroves and forests.
Climate change has released the beast, but humans have released climate change.
The deadly cocktail of increased water temperatures, increased acidification and decreased oxygenation comes at a high cost. Marine life will either die, either be forced to migrate. Migration might bring them to zones where they have not sufficient or suitable food, or give them another level in the food-chain. Both options might eventually still lead to their death.
If the oceans start to collapse, life on earth will collapse as well.
For the over 3 billion people who depend on its fish for food. For the 8 billion people who depend on the oxygen produced. For the 8 billion people who depend on its cooling capacities. For the 8 billion people who will face intensified storms and hurricanes. For every single one of us that relies on the ocean’s for air to breath and cooling.
The only way we can prevent to be surrendered to the mercy of the ocean, is by giving mercy to the ocean as well. Be aware of climate change and water contamination. Be conscious about fish consumption and fishery. Revalue the oceans when you go out, swim, dive, surf, and especially demand politicians and companies to take action to stop burning fossil fuels. If we don’t stop climate change, climate change will stop us.
The oceans are the first battle field. The oceans are the first domino. If they fall, all life on earth will fall with it.
This article is part of the series of Hope in Times of Corona. Read
- How this too shall pass
- how this times of self-isolation should not mean loneliness,
- how you can contribute to this battle,
- how gratitude lights up the dark,
- how united we will stand strong
- on the most util strategy in awake of a crisis
- how I got blown of my feet as well, but caught by many caring hands,
- how being calm can get us through the storm.
- about Love in Times of Corona
- how to discover your own talents
- why we need stories to hold on to
- how you can be creative and innovative.
- how to spend your mot valuable assets in times of Corona.
- how to listen to the sound of silence.
- How breath taking Corona really is.
- discover the other freedoms Corona has shown us,
- about the new-born freedom Corona gave us.
- about another way to exceed your personal bubble.
- about the position of nature in this entire story
- about nature bouncing back
- about the crucial choice between resilience and resistance
- about the game to play
- about star gazing in dark times
- About looking for Meaning
- About how Music Connects
- about what Easter and Corona have in Common
- About the Shark and the Turtle
- About the Irony of Distance
- Why to Hold on
- Fake News
- about The Big Unknown we live at
- about Feeling Alive
- About turning obstacles into opportunities
- about what the Birthday of my nephew learned me about life
- About where we should go from here?
- About coping with incertitude
- About the Great War and the Great Pandemic, and we should not forget
- about history’s most important message, echoed by corona
- How one country could rule them all
- About how to prevent the next Green Pandemic
- about how we are experiencing a new episode of our history books
- about when the poppy flowers
- about what’s in a number
- masks off, how a friend in need is a friend indeed
- What’s Next. after we flattened the curve?
- how will our personal story look like in a post-corona world?
- why we should never let a good crisis go too waste.
- How Spring can happen in Autumn
- How to unlock the lockdown
- Why education matters
- How we can give meaning to the meaningless deaths. (rethink health care)
- The remarkable marketability of health, or not?
- the remarkable rewards of health
- The queeste for global health care
- Health Heroes
- Pains and Gains
- Solidarity 3.0
- Work-Life Balance
- Home sweet home
- Real Connections
- Leadership 3.0
- gratitude 3.0
- Respect 3.0
- Humanity 3.0
- Change Management
- Economic Catharsis
- To consume or not to consume?
- Travel the world, travel your heart
- Barrels of Life
- People, no Number Management
- Back to the Office?
- Those jobs …
- Economic Growth or Green Growth
- Global trade, global fate
- Act local, think global
- A changed climate for Climate Change
- Love is in the Air
- From Fatamorgana to Oasis
- From Covid-19 to Forest Fire
- 5 Shades of Fossil Fuels
- Water, divide and unite
Or wait until tomorrow, when I’ll shine another light on yet another positive corner of this dark time.