World Oceans Day was first held after the Ocean Institute of Canada and the International Centre for Ocean Development introduced the idea at the 1992 Earth Summit. Oceans account for more than two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, but they’ve become polluted due to plastic and ocean spills. This major issue has been brought into the limelight every June 8 since 1992 in an attempt to educate people about the importance of taking preventative measures to protect our oceans.
To put the massive scope of the world’s oceans into perspective, they cover approximately 225 million square miles and have a mass volume of 829.5 million cubic miles. When you compare this to the United States, which is only 3.79 million square miles, it becomes easy to understand why humans still haven’t explored a staggering 95 percent of Earth’s ocean water, according to Newsweek.
Time reported in 2015 that humans produce 275 million metric tons of plastic waste annually, of which 8 million metric tons end up in one of the oceans. Even worse, these numbers are projected to increase 10-times by 2025.
Another major problem being experienced by all oceans due to pollution is a rapid change in acidity. Oceans have spent the past hundreds of millions of years sitting comfortably at an 8.2 pH level. The rise of industrial revolution has taken the natural process of incremental pH shifts and amped it into overdrive. Now, the acid level of the world’s oceans is 8.1 pH. This may not seem like much, but it happened in 200 years instead of the typical tens of thousands of years. As Newsweek pointed out, this is especially disturbing because it’s harming marine life in numerous ways that will ultimately lead to several species going extinct.
How You Can Help
Oceans are plagued by many issues that are linked to pollution and climate change. This is what’s killing off coral reefs, and it’s also causing the icecaps to melt. The good news is that all is not lost yet. There are still plenty of steps we can all take to help give our oceans, and future generations, a fighting chance at long-term survival.
Reducing plastic usage and overall waste is one of the best ways that you can help. Many areas are taking steps to assist people with this process by eliminating plastic bag usage. Unfortunately, not every state is interested in following this course of action. Michigan even passed a law that makes it illegal for any city to enact a ban on plastic shopping bags, according to the Washington Post.
Everyone has the right to bring their own reusable bags to the store, though. By saying no to plastic and always recycling or upcycling as much of your waste as possible, you can help reduce environmental catastrophes, such as the 600,000 square mile Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as reported by Fox News.
Per ocean advocacy group Oceana, some of the other most important ways to help include voting responsibly, eating only sustainably sourced seafood, reducing fertilizer usage, always properly disposing of hazardous materials, avoiding products that aren’t ocean-friendly and picking up litter on and near beaches.
If everyone committed to making even just one of these changes, the positive impact would make every ocean healthier. World Oceans Day only comes one per year, but making a few lifestyle changes now could eventually make this awareness event much less necessary.