So, why are our worlds’ oceans so important? Covering 71% of the earth’s surface, our waters are not only extremely vast, they are also vastly important, and they have a huge influence on how humans, animals and ecosystems function. So let’s take a closer look at the top 5 reasons why our oceans are so important and why we need to protect them.
The Air We Breathe
Our oceans make up 95% of all space available to life and are home to a marine microalgae called Phytoplankton - a key component of our oceans ecosystem - and these little things are more important than you may think. They are responsible for producing a whopping 50% of the earth’s oxygen! That makes them the world’s largest producers of oxygen; an incredible feat for a microalgae. Similar to land plants, Phytoplankton contain chlorophyll to capture sunlight, and using photosynthesis, convert it into the energy they need to function, subsequently producing oxygen as a by-product.
However, with the rising sea temperatures and changing PH levels, Phytoplankton is at risk of being harmed, and as you can see, we simply cannot live without them. So protecting and preserving our waters, keeping them safe and well looked after is imperative to the future of our planet and indeed, the human race.
The World's Largest Carbon Store
Whilst generating oxygen for us to breathe is already mega cool, Phytoplankton in our oceans also consume carbon dioxide; transferring around 10 gigatonnes of carbon from the atmosphere into the depths of the ocean every year.
Our oceans are responsible for absorbing approximately 30% of all carbon emissions produced by human activity and 83% of the global carbon cycle is circulated through marine waters, making the ocean the world’s largest carbon store. Holding over 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere, oceans are without a doubt one of the most important, influential entities on Earth that are certainly doing their part to mitigate climate change. However, the ocean cannot do it on it’s own, we need to take responsibility and do all we can to reduce our carbon footprints and help to protect and preserve our natural carbon stores and the marine life that enables oceans to be the carbon sinks they are.
Regulates Weather Patterns
We all know the devastating impact that climate change is having on the planet, but did you know that our oceans play a pivotal role in regulating our climate?
The ocean absorbs over 90% of the heat produced by the sun and additional heat that is created due to trapped greenhouse gases. The ocean’s currents then transport that heat around the world, North and South away from the equator and towards the poles, consequently regulating the climate, moderating surface temperature and driving weather patterns. Some water currents are directly responsible for specific weather climates, and without them parts of the world, including the UK, could be considerably colder.
Unfortunately, our oceans cannot continue to store the ever increasing heat and energy generated by increased carbon emissions, and it will reach breaking point. If that happens, we are likely to see more extreme weather conditions, rising sea levels, changes in ocean currents and rising sea temperatures. It has never been more important to reduce our carbon emissions to help protect our waters, and the time for action certainly is now.
Home To The Most Diverse Range Of Species
Scientists estimate that over 2 million species live in our oceans and marine environments, however due to the vastness of the world’s water, the exact number is not known. Over 90% of species in the ocean still await description and there could still be millions of species that have not yet been discovered; the world’s water truly is full of a wonderfully diverse range of living things. From coral reef ecosystems, marine mammals and turtles, to fish, algae and other organisms, the diversity of the ocean is as vast as it’s size. So it’s important to protect our oceans, not only from climate change and global warming, but also from direct human impact such as oil spills, overfishing and shoreline development; all of which are threatening our oceans and marine life on a daily basis.
The biodiversity of the ocean gives so much to humans, from the oxygen we breathe to the food we eat, so protecting and preserving the habitat of marine life should be high on our agenda.
Home To Ingredients For Medicines
Not only are the oceans home to the most diverse range of species, the marine environment also houses hundreds of thousands of compounds that can be used to create medicinal products that help fight a wide range of diseases and illnesses.
Over 10,000 compounds have been extracted from oceans which have subsequently been used in biomedical research, and used to create medicines and treatments for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and arthritis.
So it’s clear to see that our oceans play a pivotal role in how our entire earth functions, and without them not only would climate change be far, far worse than it currently is, we would not have the oxygen we need to survive, or the medicines we require to fight disease. Our world’s waters are incredibly important, and as I’m sure you now know, it’s time we all take responsibility for protecting them. Small changes can make a world of difference, and reducing your carbon emissions can go a long way when it comes to preserving our waters, so find out more about how you can reduce your carbon footprint here.
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References & Sources
 - World Economic Forum 'Here are 5 reasons why the ocean is so important'
 - Marine Conservation 'Why protect the ocean?'
 - WWF 'How climate change relates to oceans'
 - National Ocean Service 'Why should we care about the ocean?'