When we say “lungs of the earth”, you probably think about the rainforest, but most of the world’s oxygen actually comes from the ocean. This is thanks to microorganisms consuming carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. But human activities have disturbed this natural process, inflicting harm on marine life and ultimately reducing the oxygen produced. Fortunately, there are ways to help save the ocean.
Oceans – the lungs of the earth
Oceans play a vital role in cleaning the atmosphere, as 50-80% of the world’s oxygen comes from the ocean. Oceans absorb significant amounts of carbon dioxide through the process of photosynthesis. It’s marine organisms, such as seaweed, phytoplankton and some bacteria, who through photosynthesis consume carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight, and produce a large amount of oxygen in the atmosphere.
Human activities harming the ocean
Human activities have considerably altered this natural process, to high rates of pollution and, ultimately, to climate change, which throws our ecosystems out of balance. The main human threats to marine disequilibrium, besides GHG emissions, are overfishing, plastic pollution and oil spills, to name a few.
Plastic pollution in oceans has escalated since 1990, and as of 2022, every square mile of our ocean contains over 45,000 individual pieces of plastic.
Plastic pollution poses a major threat to marine animals and contributes to biodiversity decline. Over 1 million marine animals (including mammals, fish, sharks, turtles, and birds) are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean. Animals can become entangled in fishing nets and ropes, or starve to death because they confuse plastic with food.
Scientists estimate that by 2050, there will be 937 million tons of plastic in the ocean – that’s more plastic than fish. This is unless humans change their behavior.
There are ways to help
It’s a dark reality, but there is hope. Humanity can reduce the flow of plastics into the ocean by up to 80% by 2040 through a set of actions led by governments and industries, the two entities with the most power to enforce large-scale change.
One way to help the oceans is by reducing one’s own consumption of single-use plastics, and by sponsoring the recovery of plastics in areas that are affected the most.
Siminetti is one example of a company who is committed to contributing to cleaner oceans. They partnered with Plastiks and support Second Life, a recovery project based in Southern Thailand that teams up with coastal and vulnerable communities to collect plastic waste from the sea.
Plastiks allows us to take immediate and verifiable action against plastic pollution in underprivileged countries, thus having a direct positive impact on protecting the world we live in. – Simon Powell, CEO & Founder.
There is no quick fix to the global plastic pollution problem, but humanity can save the ocean from plastic pollution in one generation with a concerted, broad-based, and long-term effort.
Read more: The impact of International Coastal Cleanup Day in Mombasa, Kenya.