How Does the Ocean Get Rights and Why Does It Need It?



For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it. Jacques Yves Cousteau

When we think about Earth, we usually think about land: trees, plants, and flowers. Then we consider photogenic big animals like snow leopards and pandas (the technical term for these particular big animals, by the way, is “charismatic mega fauna” – large animal species with widespread popular appeal[1] - there so now we can both sound like experts). Actually, water covers most of the planet – the ocean’s surface accounts for 71% of Earth’s surface and contains 97% of our planet’s water[2]. That’s why you see Earth referred to as the “blue planet”. Viewed from space, Earth is most definitely blue.

Who doesn’t love a trip to the beach? But I didn’t really consider more deeply why humans need oceans to survive. Some of the surprising things I learned include:

Scientists estimate there may be as many as 9 million species of life in the ocean that we haven’t discovered yet, in addition to the 1 million known species[3]
Not only do oceans produce half of the oxygen of the planet, half the world’s population lives within the coastal zone[4]
About a quarter of all carbon (released as carbon dioxide from fuel burning and other human activity) is absorbed by the ocean (another quarter went to plants, and half stayed in the atmosphere)[5]

So I now know more precisely how life on the planet depends on the ocean. So how is the ocean doing these days? What I found:

10/17/2017 10:05:13 AM

From protecting our oceans to spouting anti abortion rhetoric... wow. What's happened to Mother Earth News? Those topics should not even be in the same article. You do nothing to save our planet, you give the future a bleak outlook

10/17/2017 2:38:02 AM

druidjo I am sorry if there is more than one problem with our way of life, planet, etc. We should recognize that we should take the best care of all creatures endowed with the right to life, and liberty. But without probable cause your use of the term "abortion rhetoric" suggests a problem in and of itself; perhaps it is not rhetoric. This surfaced in your following comments where you call a budding life for which we have an inherited trust, none more so than the mother, to protect and nurture and aid in development, a "parasite." If your term for such a person under the nurture and protection of an adult until birth, reflects your outlook on life, heaven help us. When you give the advice that Rachelle should look at the "children with no family" situation as a justification for murdering innocents, you fail to recognize your fundamental flawed argument. There is a problem with children unable to secure adoption, this we might term a wrong. But you cannot continue from there and make the assumption that two wrongs make a right. You only now have two wrongs instead of one. The callousness of individuals in our society who disregard the sanctity of life and the welfare of others is well known in psychology circles to reflect a tendency to harm animals, and either enjoy the experience, or justify the same as they are not supposed to "feel pain." Perhaps this might be worth your examining further, the sick belief is perhaps in the another court. Lets be stewards of both the land and the creatures that have been granted life.

10/16/2017 3:58:22 PM

@ rachelleottosen This is not the platform for your anti abortion rhetoric. Please be aware that the overpopulation of this planet is also a problem and that no person should be forced to carry a parasite in their body if they do not want it. Please look long and hard at all the children in this country that have no families before you espouse adoption. You, and people like you, with your sick belief that you should be allowed to impose your will on others are why this world is so messed up.

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