This month’s column is by Bromsgrove Climate Action.
OCEANS produce 50 per cent of the oxygen we breathe and absorb over 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere.
Great ocean currents distribute the sun’s energy, driving our climate and weather systems.
Fisheries produce 25 per cent of the world’s protein, feeding billions of people.
Many medicinal products come from the oceans including drugs used to fight cancers and alzheimer’s.
Around 80 per cent of the world’s trade in products relies on seaborne freight.
Maritime industries employ millions of workers.
And the oceans provide recreational and tourist activities from boating and whale-watching to diving and surfing.
All life on Earth originated in the oceans and many people feel a deep connection with the sheer awe and wonder the oceans inspire.
That might be reason enough to take good care of our blue planet but we have more selfish reasons to be interested.
All life on Earth, including our own, depends on healthy oceans which – under our stewardship – are not in good health.
Our oceans face a perfect storm. Over-fishing and destructive techniques threaten fish stocks and habitats.
Climate change is causing more intense and frequent cyclones in the tropics while raising sea levels, destroying coastal habitats and livelihoods.
Warming oceans are killing coral reefs which cover only 0.5 per cent of the ocean floor but are home to 30 per cent of the world’s fish species. River pollution, especially agricultural fertiliser run-off, is creating vast deoxygenated dead zones at the mouths of the world’s great river systems.
Plastic pollution threatens ocean wildlife and poisons the foodchain, presenting long-term risks to human health.
Meanwhile fossil fuel extractors continue their search for more offshore resources to exploit, challenging fragile ecosystems.
Local diver Mick Marshall said: “I’ve been privileged to experience some amazing natural wonders under our seas.
“But I’ve also seen wanton destruction.
“Most people just don’t see what goes on beneath the surface.”
So the oceans need our help.
We need governments to declare more Marine Protected Areas around our shores and ensure restrictions are enforced, a ban on destructive and illegal fishing and an end to single-use plastics which find their way into our oceans.
We need to stop water companies pouring raw sewage into our rivers, farmers to find sustainable alternatives to intensive fertilisers and to stop fossil fuel extraction to limit rising temperatures and ocean acidification.
We need to do all this soon. If the oceans die, we die.
Bromsgrove Climate Action would love to people’s ideas. The group can be contacted via the ‘Bromsgrove Climate Action’ Facebook page.