Oceans - They cover nearly 75% of the Earth's surface area and contain 97% of its water.
The oceans are vital to the survival of organic life, as we know it. Some of the essential functions of our oceans include: sequestering (removing) a third of the anthropogenic (of/having human origin) carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; regulating surface temperatures; producing roughly half the world's oxygen; contributing significantly to rainfall; and simply being the largest ecosystem on Earth. Also, nearly half of the world's population lives within the coastal zone. The oceans are Earth's life support system.
Although the nickname the "blue planet" originates from the color of our oceans, this name can also describe the current condition of our oceans.
Sadly, our oceans face major threats that include: physical and chemical effects related to global climate change; continued industrial and municipal pollution; ecosystem destruction, loss of biodiversity, and proliferation of deadzones; rapidly declining ocean fish stocks; and overharvesting of resources. These threats are so extensive that nearly half of the ocean has been severely affected- pollutants have been detected from as far as the ever-shrinking polar ice caps to the bottom of the Marianas Trench.
Adding to this crisis, is the general lack of action and accountability. Local, federal, and private entities have taken measures to protect our waterways, but the discharge of industrial, municipal, and agricultural contaminants persists globally. Although, the idealistic solution would be to change “human nature” to be geared more towards the “nature” aspect as opposed to the “human” component, there are small things that can be done to minimize the individual’s ecological footprint. Some of these include growing your own food, composting organic waste, being conscientious of manufacturing and material-sourcing practices used by companies and brands you choose to support, being responsible for the fate of waste you generate in and outside your home, consuming more locally produced goods, supporting marine protection areas, and simply being aware of the resources required to sustain your lifestyle.
Regardless of where you live, you depend on the ocean. With every breathe we take, with every drop we drink, the oceans connect us all - literally, metaphorically, metaphysically, geographically, etc. A healthier ocean means a healthier planet, and it is our duty to treat Earth as if it were our... home.