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City of Banjul
Saturday, September 23, 2023

Stop destroying the ocean


Oceans are more important to the sustenance of life on earth than it may seem. After all, life emerged from the oceans. But the tide has really turned over the last few decades. Our oceans are in serious trouble. Heating, pollution, acidification, and oxygen loss pose serious threats to the health of the oceans and to all living beings who call this vast planetary resource their home.

The ocean regulates our climate and provides the air we breathe. Our oceans mitigate non-renewable industry pollution by absorbing 25 per cent of all carbon emission, while generating 50 per cent of the oxygen we need to survive.

They not only function as the lungs of the planet, providing us with the air we breathe, but also as the world’s largest carbon sink helping to combat the negative impacts of climate change. Additionally, the oceans have taken up more than 90 per cent of the excess heat in the climate system helping to regulate temperatures on land. Thus, climate action depends on a healthy ocean, and a healthy ocean requires urgent climate action.

The oceans feed us. The oceans and their biodiversity provide our global community with 15 percent of the animal protein we eat. In least developed countries, seafood is the primary source of protein to over 50 per cent of the population. It is therefore critical to protect the ocean’s biodiversity and practice sustainable fishing strategies for continued consumption.

According to UN Environment Programme, pollution from the 11 million tons of plastic that enters the ocean annually, costs an estimated US US$13 billion, including clean-up costs and financial losses from fisheries and additional ocean-based industries. It is critical that we stop polluting our oceans.

It is estimated that the loss of tourism due to coral bleaching alone is as much as US$12 billion annually. With ocean levels rising as the temperature of our planet increases, coastline-specific tourism and energy industries are at risk along with the 680 million people who live in low-lying coastal areas, a number that is expected to rise to one billion by 2050.

We tend to think that the problems of the world are not ours, because it is happening miles away from our shores. But the situation is not like that anymore. The problems posed by the destruction of the ecology, caused by the destructive nature of human activity and its impact on the ocean is now disrupting our daily lives.

The destruction of oceans due to excessive human activity is leading to issues like warming of oceans, noise pollution and presence of chemical laden microplastics, which are having serious repercussions like depleting fish catch, causing erratic monsoon and is also posing severe health risks. Due to climate change, the oceans are warming up, which is having a direct bearing on the monsoon, which is so crucial in terms of water availability for drinking, farming and various other activities. Erratic monsoon on the one hand can lead to drought if there is deficit rainfall, it can cause floods if there is excess rainfall.

The chemical-laden microplastics found in our beaches are entering our food chain, posing severe health risks.  We have to save our oceans for our children and the generations that will follow. It is unfortunate that we are destroying our invaluable natural resources, without paying heed to the warning signals of the repercussions, that are growing louder by the day. Talks about sustainable living sound hollow since we don’t follow what we preach. Plastic ban is not going to suffice. We don’t provide a more durable option in terms of carry bags, especially for packaging wet products such as meat and fish.

There has to be enough sewage treatment facilities to prevent polluted sewage water entering the water bodies. We need alternative sources of energy to replace fossil fuel at a very large scale to reverse global warming and extreme climate events that are occurring due to climate change.

The challenges are plenty and the time is very short. We have to act now and to prevent further destruction of our earth.

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