Today is World Oceans Day, the United Nations-recognized day of ocean celebration and action. This year is dedicated to making a special effort to stop plastic pollution.
When I was a child growing up, our family used to spend much of our time in the summer at the beach. I was always a little afraid of going in the ocean but, at the same time, was very appreciative of all the little sea creatures that lived there. Many happy vacations were spent on the gulf coast of Mississippi.
Now I live on the coast of California and, as an adult, am acutely aware of how we must take care of the oceans having just experienced another oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast. The ocean is truly the lungs and life of our planet and it connects people throughout the world as we share the oceans that span our planet. The ocean regulates our climate, feeds millions of people and more than three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. The ocean produces oxygen and absorbs more than 25% of the CO2 added to the atmosphere from human activities, it provides us with important medicines and is home to an amazing array of marine life. The supply of life which comes from the world's oceans cannot be overstated. The ocean covers approximately 75% of the earth's surface and an estimated 50-80 percent of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface.
But the ocean has its challenges today and so many of those challenges are man made. We have floating garbage islands produced from all of our castaway objects; what lands on the beach ends up being swept out to sea. Plastic bags and plastic products are choking our oceans and its marine life. Unsustainable fishing practices, deepwater and coastal drilling accidents and the loss of coastal habitat because of overdevelopment are but a few of the other impacts adding to coastal and ocean depletion.
There are so many things that we can do with a little forethought and care. Since this year the focus is on plastic pollution, one simple idea is to use reusable, non plastic bags or at least plastic bags that degrade and disappear. Below is a photo of a bag that I picked up that slowly and quietly eroded to dust when I left it in my car in the sun.
The oceans are the future of life on earth and I want my children and grandchildren to be able to enjoy the pleasures that I did when I was a child long ago.