Protecting Our Unknown World
“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to the earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.” – Jacques-Yves Cousteau
World Oceans Day is a day we commit to a better year of protecting our big, blue, unknown world! It may strike you as odd that we have a day commemorating our Oceans. “Shouldn’t everyday be World Ocean Day?” you might ask. Spot on my friend! Spot on! Alas as humans we are all too skilled at forgetting what truly matters. With the official recognition of our Oceans every year in the early days of June, we can come together under one banner and recognize what it means to be a species entirely dependent on H2O.
Twenty-three years ago it was Canada that put forth the proposal for an officially recognized ‘World Oceans Day’ at the Earth Summit in Rio. It had been unofficially celebrated every June 8th since then, until its official adoption by the United Nations in 2008, a day of respect and gratitude for our Oceans that has been ratified and observed (we hope) by every UN member state. Since its official inception, it has been coordinated across borders by The Ocean Project, a US based organisation advancing our conservation efforts and education programs surrounding our vast oceans.
The Ocean Project, in their official mandate, has recognized the important of scientific education and conservation as well as the influence of public opinion, i.e. if we do not learn to love our oceans we will not learn to protect our oceans. Global warming is present and continuing, sea level rise is threatening to maintain its ascent and ocean acidification cannot go unchecked. Although this is a day of celebration, it should also be a day on honesty. If we are not honest with ourselves, and soon, we may very well one day return from whence we came.
Our innate attraction to water is inherent in all of us. Aesthetically that passion is difficult to explain, each person carrying his or her own interpretation. Its size terrifies yet amazes us, its depths allow us to defy gravity, its destructive nature humbles us, and its soothing calmness is undeniable. Sunset on a beach or at ‘the cabin on the lake’ tends to be a rather silent affair, as if the colors forming the reflection of the sky can better explain our emotions than words. Whether you’re a fisherman on the Atlantic, a scientist in the pacific or a captain in the Artic one fact remains the same; we need our Oceans, and we’re abusing them.
Biologically speaking our relationship with water is rather easy to put into words; the equation of two hydrogen and one oxygen is constant, fresh drinking water is a human right, an essential component of life on earth and almost 70% of our physical form. Salt water in our vast oceans covers almost the same percentage of our Earth’s surface and is lesser known to us than outer space. Indeed the oceans are a universe entirely their own. The salty seas play host to graceful giants, towering dense forests, mountain volcanoes, the meager and the massive. Of all the animals that use the resources the oceans have provided, it is abundantly clear that only one knowingly casts them aside as expendable.
While it should be rather obvious that every day should be World Ocean Day, let’s use this officially recognized date in June to put ourselves to the test. We at ACAP challenge you to consider your own personal relationship to water as well as the biological components of our oceans that are at risk. We challenge you to learn one new thing about our oceans today; the more we know about our natural world the more likely we are to foster an appreciation for it that leads to significant change!
FACT: “Under conditions expected in the 21st century, global warming and ocean acidification will compromise carbonate accretion, with corals becoming increasingly rare on reef systems. The result will be less diverse reef communities and carbonate reef structures that fail to be maintained.”
Hoegh-Guldber, O., et al. 2007. Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification. Science. Vol. 318. No. 5857. Pp, 1737-1742.