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The Importance of Ocean Health


Whither Go the Oceans, Go We

Oceans cover 72 percent of the world's surface. As humankind developed, we didn't use the oceans much at first. We hunted and gathered, farmed and ranched, and only the societies that existed right next to the ocean experienced the ocean's bounty.

Over time, that changed. We began whaling, which decimated a few critical species; we developed trawling, which didn't discriminate between fishes we wanted and fishes we didn't and destroyed both with equal efficacy; we destroyed habitat for anadromous fishes such as salmon, which upset entire ecosystems; we set in process ocean acidification, which threatened the ability of shellfish to build their shells; and probably worst of all, we developed factory fishing, which, to date, has removed about 90 percent of the large fish from the sea.

To date, we have not effectively cared about what that has done and will do to our civilization's ability to survive and thrive in the future. It's been a big-time blind spot, to say the least. So, presented for your consideration are a number of resources that will enable you to understand the really profound challenges that we face.

Suggested Resources

The oceans are warming as the rest of the planet warms.

This presentation from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources explains in extensive detail what ocean warming means in real terms--including impacts on species, impact on commerce, impact on weather, and impact on health.

The oceans are acidifying.

This federal program comprehensively covers the research being done to fully understand the issues, and clearly explains the impacts that the changes in the oceans will have on you and yours.

Understanding the importance and system impacts of our treatment of the oceans to date.

The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea effectively illustrates how we CANNOT ignore our oceans any longer, and that for our own survival, we MUST treat oceans as our partners in life if we want our species to survive.

This is Only a Starting Point

Like it or not, and whether or not you live in Miami or Chicago, you will have to pay more attention to our oceans in the future. Whether the ocean contributes to your weather, your livelihood, or your beloved sushi, there is no escaping the fact that we are dependent on a healthy ocean environment. We haven't paid enough attention to that in the past. The time when we can continue to ignore the oceans is past.

Randall Cuthbert Dr. Randall Cuthbert is a retired APUS Professor of Emergency & Disaster Management. He has also worked as a Red Cross Shelter Supervisor, and spent a 20-year career as a US Air Force Civil Engineer Officer. His blogging interests include: protecting & enhancing the EDM profession in the areas of integrity, honorable public service, and social justice; education regarding the 'big picture' role of EDM in our society; educating our professionals and neighbors with regard to the greatest threat to our civilization--climate change; and in general terms, creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.