9 Aug 2023
The world’s oceans are facing significant challenges. According to the United Nations Regional Information Center, each year the oceans absorb 23 percent of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions and capture 90 percent of the excess heat created by these emissions. These developments are overwhelming the oceans, which are vital to the global ecosystem.
Anyone can join in the effort to protect the world’s oceans. That includes people who live in coastal communities and those who live in landlocked locales hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from the coast. Oceana, an international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the world’s oceans, touts the power of collective efforts to save the oceans. Though the task may seem overwhelming, that does not mean oceans are beyond saving. In fact, Oceana notes that various lifestyle choices individuals can make every day can help to protect the oceans and restore their futures.
Help reduce demand for plastics
Oceana estimates that 17.6 billion pounds of plastic leaks into the ocean every year. To put that in perspective, one researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara estimated that, if the flow of plastic into the oceans does not stop, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050. Of course, much of the demand for plastic is driven by consumers, who can protect the oceans by purchasing plastic-free alternatives and emphasizing the need for more such alternatives to be made available. Avoid using plastic cutlery, plastic water bottles, plastic bags, and other convenient yet harmful plastics.
Reduce your carbon footprint
Oceana notes that carbon dioxide is making oceans more acidic, which contributes to a loss of coral that serves as an essential source of food and shelter for marine life. According to the Reef-World Foundation, loss of coral threatens the existence of many marine species, producing a domino effect that ultimately decreases marine biodiversity by a significant amount. That’s problematic for marine life, but also humans, as estimates from the United Nations indicate as many as one billion people across the globe depend on coral reefs for their food and livelihoods. The threat posed to coral reefs is substantial, but the efforts to reduce your carbon footprint aren’t. Riding a bike to run errands on a warm day instead of driving a car; turning off the lights when leaving a room; and dressing warm on cold days to reduce reliance on home heating systems are some easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Eat sustainable seafood
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes that sustainable seafood is managed under a system of enforced environmentally responsible practices. These systems help to prevent overfishing and conserve essential fish habitats. Knowing which seafood is sustainable and which isn’t can be hard, so individuals can visit Seafoodwatch.org to quickly identify and locate sustainable seafood options where they live and travel.
Leave nothing behind
Make sure you leave nothing behind when visiting the beach or even a park. Doing so increases the chances that trash will end up in the oceans, which are already overwhelmed by plastics.
The threat posed to the world’s oceans is significant. But that threat can be overcome by a collective effort to embrace lifestyle choices that take the health of the world’s oceans into consideration.