Here are 5 reasons why the ocean is so important

fish yellow

(Craig Lovelidge, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sean Fleming, Senior Writer, Formative Content


Unless you’ve been making a superhuman effort to avoid the news recently, you’ll know that the ocean is vital to life on Earth. But why, exactly, is this the case?

Here are five reasons why we need to safeguard its future.

1. It helps us breathe

Phytoplankton – tiny plant-like organisms that live in the sea – are responsible for at least 50% of the oxygen on Earth.

Just like land-based plants, they contain chlorophyll to capture sunlight and use photosynthesis to convert it into the energy they need, producing oxygen as a byproduct. They also consume carbon dioxide, transferring about 10 gigatonnes of carbon from the atmosphere deep into the ocean each year.

2. It helps regulate the climate

The ocean absorbs huge amounts of heat from the sun. “More than 90% of the warming that has happened on Earth over the past 50 years has occurred in the ocean,” according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

That heat tends to be at its most intense nearer the equator, with the water nearest the surface warming the most. Sea currents then transport that heat around the world; north and south, towards the poles. As some of the sea water evaporates it becomes denser and heavier, due to its relatively higher salt content. That causes it to sink, taking some of the warm water deeper.

From the surface to the depths, sea temperatures are rising.
Image: NOAA

Some currents are directly responsible for specific climatic effects. One example is the Gulf Stream, which takes warmer water from the Gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic to Europe. If the Gulf Stream were disrupted, much of the western part of Europe – including the UK, Ireland and France – could become colder.

3. It’s an important source of food

Fish is on the menu for billions of people around the world every day. It accounts for almost 16% of all animal protein consumed globally. Of course, there’s more to seafood than fish, crustacea and other edible creatures. A range of algae and sea plants are also commonly used in cooking.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization lists sodium, calcium, magnesium, and iodine among some of the important nutrients in seaweed. Iodine deficiency has been identified as the “most prevalent and easily preventable” cause of impaired cognitive development in children.

Pressure on resources and the environment have led to calls for food production and for people’s diets to change. A cow, for example, produces 2.8kg of greenhouse gas per kilo of live body weight and needs 10kg of feed for every kilo it weighs.

Plus, to get just one gram of protein from cattle, you need 112 litres of water. The oceans, if properly managed and maintained, could form an important part of a more sustainable approach to feeding the planet’s growing human population.

4. Its biodiversity is incredible

It’s not just a source of food. The ocean is also home to an abundance of life. While estimates on the number of species that live in the sea exist, no one knows with absolute certainty what that number is.

According to the US National Library of Medicine’s National Institutes of Health, “91% of species in the ocean still await description.” That’s due in no small part to the vastness of the oceans, which cover around 70% of the planet’s surface and are up to 11,000 metres deep. The number of yet-to-be-discovered creatures living in the sea could easily run into the millions.

Back from the dead: The return of a living fossil.
Image: BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

One example of how mysterious the deep oceans can be is the coelacanth. Found in fossils and believed to be extinct, a living coelacanth was pulled out of the ocean in 1938 off the coast of South Africa.

This fascinating deep-water creature could yield invaluable insights into how marine animals were able to adapt to life on land, as the way they move their fins resembles the way many four-legged creatures walk.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the oceans?

Our oceans cover 70% of the world’s surface and account for 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. We can’t have a healthy future without healthy oceans – but they’re more vulnerable than ever because of climate change and pollution.

Tackling the grave threats to our oceans means working with leaders across sectors, from business to government to academia.

The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the World Resources Institute, convenes the Friends of Ocean Action, a coalition of leaders working together to protect the seas. From a programme with the Indonesian government to cut plastic waste entering the sea to a global plan to track illegal fishing, the Friends are pushing for new solutions.

Climate change is an inextricable part of the threat to our oceans, with rising temperatures and acidification disrupting fragile ecosystems. The Forum runs a number of initiatives to support the shift to a low-carbon economy, including hosting the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, who have cut emissions in their companies by 9%.

Is your organisation interested in working with the World Economic Forum? Find out more here.

5. It creates millions of jobs

By 2030, ocean-based industries will employ more than 40 million people worldwide, an OECD report estimates. The biggest share of those jobs is likely to be in the fisheries sector, followed by tourism.

The economic health of maritime industries is fundamentally linked to the overall health of the oceans, of course. The ocean economy is of particular importance in developing countries, which are home to most of the 3 billion people who rely on the sea for their livelihoods.

Challenges like climate change, pollution and a simple lack of awareness of sustainable ocean stewardship techniques continue to put maritime resources at risk. That will limit the potential socioeconomic benefits those resources represent for future generations, as well as stifling people’s earning abilities in the present.

It regulates rainfall and droughts, holds 97% of our planet’s water, and absorbs CO2, helping keep the carbon cycle in balance. From food to jobs, it’s a lifeline for billions of people, too.

But the ocean is also a beautiful natural environment with an invaluable recreational role to play. And with research showing a connection between spending time in the natural world and lowering your stress levels, that might be something else worth holding on to.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Taxation: Commission refers Spain to the Court for imposing disproportionate sanctions for failure to report assets held abroad

Facebook wins EU approval for WhatsApp acquisition; just a sign of the times

Acute food insecurity ‘far too high’ UN agency warns, as 113 million go hungry

Century challenge: inclusion of immigrants in the health system

Portugal can use its economic recovery to build up resilience

Our children’s career aspirations have nothing in common with the jobs of the future

The way to entrepreneurship in the developing world

Is Eurozone heading for disinflation?

EU to scrutinise foreign direct investment more closely

UN chief calls for ‘solidarity, compassion and action’ on World Refugee Day

Stop illegal trade in cats and dogs, says European Parliament

Why women aren’t allowed to work

Three ideas for leaders to be more successful in the 21st century

The Sting’s Values

FROM THE FIELD: Sailing a traditional and sustainable path in Fiji’s tropical waters

EP President at the European Youth Event: “Your ideas are key in shaping EU’s future”

What Merkel and Macron are to tell Trump in Davos?

Globally, youth are the largest poverty-stricken group, says new UN report

This massive project in Spain is the latest milestone in Europe’s solar power boom

OECD Donor countries need to reform development finance to meet 2030 pledge

“Private” sea freight indexes hide Libor like skeletons?

It’s time to end the stigma around mental health in the workplace

EU Budget 2019: MEPs increase funding on youth, migration and research

Are e-cigarettes as safe as they claim to be?

What the buoyant US economy means for the rest of the world

Our indispensable problem: the paradox of modern plastics

China and China-EU Relations in the New Era

“Working together to make a change at the COP 21 in Paris”, an article by Ambassador Yang of the Chinese Mission to EU

Electronic Cigarettes: Are they really as safe as we think?

Coronavirus: First case confirmed in Gulf region, more than 6,000 worldwide

JADE Team at the European Business Summit 2017

MEPs want to ensure sufficient funding for Connecting Europe’s future

Climate change: ‘A moral, ethical and economic imperative’ to slow global warming say UN leaders, calling for more action

China is adding a London-sized electric bus fleet every five weeks

ECB asks for more subsidies to banks

The European giant tourism sector in constant growth

It’s a lie Eurozone isn’t competitive

“There are many converging visions and interests between the One Belt One Road initiative and the Juncker Investment Plan”, Ambassador Yang of the Chinese Mission to EU highlights from Brussels

European Commission presents comprehensive approach for the modernisation of the World Trade Organisation

OECD sees global growth slowing, as Europe weakens and risks persist

Telemedicine in medical practices and its contribution to quality and accessibility to care

Alcoholic drinks: Commission tables update of rules governing alcohol excise duties

Why do medical students need to emigrate to become doctors in 2017?

Who cares about the unity of Ukraine?

Climate negotiations on the road to a strong Paris agreement rulebook

Pakistan: a long road ahead

European Commission increases support for the EU’s beekeeping sector

Why good cybersecurity in business is everyone’s responsibility

How to make primary healthcare a favourable career choice for medical students: strategies and reflections

What has a year of experiments taught us about basic income?

‘Open, cordial, and frank discussions’ held over future Somalia-UN relationship

How fixing broken food systems can help us meet all the SDGs

Why precision medicine is the future of healthcare

World Food Programme accesses Yemeni frontline district for first time since conflict began

A rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the war-torn Yemen

Happens now in Brussels: Green Week sets the EU and global climate policy agenda

Migrants: ‘A powerful driver’ of economic growth, ‘dynamism and understanding’

Prospect of a nuclear war ‘higher than it has been in generations’, warns UN

From coca to cocoa: three lessons from Peru on how farmers can leave the drug trade behind

The movement of anti-vaccers: taking humanity back 200 years

More Stings?

Trackbacks

  1. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  2. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  3. […] sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  4. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  5. […] sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  6. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  7. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  8. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  9. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  10. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  11. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  12. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  13. […] sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  14. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  15. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  16. […] sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  17. […] sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  18. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  19. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  20. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  21. […] sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  22. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  23. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  24. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  25. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  26. […] sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  27. […] sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  28. […] обеспечивая при этом половину кислорода планеты. Согласно Национальному управлению океанических и атмосферных […]

  29. […] sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  30. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  31. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  32. […] sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  33. […] sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  34. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  35. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  36. […] our planet and are dwelling to 80% of all life whereas supplying half of the planet's oxygen. according to to the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the […]

  37. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  38. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

  39. […] carbon sink of our planet and host 80% of all life while providing half of the planet’s oxygen. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric […]

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s