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The Deep Blue: World Ocean Day

June 9, 2010

World Ocean day was celebrated yesterday, June 8th. The importance of protecting our Oceans and it’s ecosystem can not be emphasized more in the wake of BP oil spill disaster. But it’s not like we have not been polluting our Oceans before this spill. We keep doing that on a regular basis– industrial waters, overfishing, excessive usage of plastic bags ending up in ocean currents , Ocean acidification due to excessive anthropogenic CO2 and list goes on. It is likely that roughly one billion gallons of oil enters our oceans each year as a result of man’s activities. Only 8% of this input is believed to derive from natural sources. At least 22% is intentionally released as a function of normal tanker “operational discharges,” 12% enters from accidental tanker spills and another 36% from runoff and municipal and industrial wastes. [American Zoologist , 1993]. I keep hearing politicians and people talking about that our Oceans are resilient and it can tolerate any kind of garbage we put in. No it is not. It can do to a limit (depending on the type of waste we are putting in, amount of waste, and time available to the marine organisms to bounce back) and I think we have already  crossed that limit.

The Ocean ecosystem is very fragile due to all the mess we have put in there and I would prefer to see beautiful marine life rather see images of dark crude oil gushing out incessantly. I have stopped updating about BP spill because its beyond my comprehension now seeing the response of BP, politicians, News channels. It’s not the time to get political mileage out of the disaster. When BP should be concentrating on the spill and cleaning beaches, paying out affected locals, it’s busy in PR campaign to clean it’s image. Search for BP spill on Google and you will find first sponsored link from BP.. then Tony Hayward, CEO BP, talking about how he and BP will make things right in a new BP commercial with beaches shown in the background… Action is the best PR not mere words, telling lies and getting exposed is worst PR.. Brown pelicans drenched in crude oil exposes all the lies of the amount of spill.. Is it 5,000 gallons per day, 10,000 or 50,000 or 100,000 or more, no one knows. Is it that hard to estimate the amount of spill knowing the dimensions of pipe, flow rates, temperature, viscosity etc?

Coming to politicians- one day they are bashing president for not acting tough, not showing anger and taking actions, the next day they want president to remove temporary offshore drilling ban asap. Wait a minute, you want drilling to continue even after seeing this disaster!! Why? Because banning offshore drilling will take away jobs of people who work on these rigs. What about fishermen, people employed in tourism industry- what will happen to their jobs if another such disaster happens- forget about brown pelicans which is also state bird of Louisiana and recently removed from endangered list? Jobs will come and go, newer markets will emerge, but if the ecosystem we live in is destroyed it’s irreparable. But looks like even if we are told that world will be destroyed tomorrow, we will be busy fulfilling our own interests to the last minute– BP will be doing PR and optimizing profits, politicians will be blaming each other to gain political mileage out of it, and rest of us will be saying ” I am too busy right now, maybe tomorrow I will jump into action, not today”.

Anyways, We need a collective action and that too everyday. There are certain things which we all can do and some of them have been compiled here by Smithsonian Ocean Portal .

  1. Ditch disposable lifestyle- bring your own reusable bags, containers coffee mugs etc.
  2. Check your car’s tire pressure regularly. Underinflated tires waste about 1.2 billion gallons of gas in US. This can save you some cash as well reduce usage of gas and thereby reduce some carbon emission– less ocean acidification.
  3. Unplug your electrical appliances- The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that this “phantom” energy use accounts for 75% of the power consumed by electronics in the average home.
  4. Choose wisely while eating seafood– some studies estimate that up to 90 percent of large predatory fish (those that eat other animals—and usually end up on our dinner plates) have disappeared since humans began heavy fishing. Look for sustainable seafood guide.
  5. Choose souvenirs carefully– steer clear of souvenirs, jewelry, and home furnishings that use real coral or other marine animal products. Deepwater pink and red corals in particular have been prized for their beauty in jewelry making, but they belong in the sea, not in our homes.
  6. Water system is all connected, reduce wastage of water. Finally, reduce dependence on fossil fuels whichever way possible.

Photo credit: Flickr, used under Creative Commons License.

Filed under: Environment,Uncategorized

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