Ocean Pollution: The Threat is Real
Oceanic Pollution is a burgeoning problem in today’s globalized and industrialized society. With little accountability among countries, the ocean is seen as a plausible dumping ground for the worlds’ tons of trash and waste. This concept, known as “Tragedy of the Commons,” is at the heart of the problem with oceanic pollution: countries act out of self interest, dumping waste into the ocean, depleting natural resources. With no accountability, countries are free to continue this harmful act without being held responsible for their actions. It is time to put an end to countries’ ability to pollute oceans without repercussions. The people of the earth have the right and power to save our oceans. It is time to take a stand.
Time to Face the Facts
Over 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based activities (WWF). Through oil spills, fertilizer and chemical runoff, littering, and sewage disposal, oceans have become a dumping ground for unwanted waste. Whether deliberate or accidental, this waste causes harm to oceanic ecosystems and goes unseen by the majority of humans.
Oil is a cold-blooded marine animal killer. It seeps into the deep layers of fur bearing mammals and destroys the insulating ability of their fur. Animals such as sea otters and birds die of hypothermia if unable to repel water, as they are be unable to keep themselves warm. In order to protect marine animals with fur, it is important that oil remains on land and out of water.
Fertilizer and chemical runoff is detrimental to marine environments. Farms and homes are the sources of fertilizer runoff, which causes a phenomenon known as “eutrophication.” Eutrophication is an event in which an excess of nutrients causes the formation of algae. This new and foreign algae depletes the water of oxygen and causes marine animals to suffocate and die. Equally as potent are chemicals, which enter the ocean through dumping and runoff. Once in the ocean, these toxic chemicals contribute to a phenomenon known as biomagnification. During this process, effects of toxic chemicals are magnified as the chemicals move through the food chain. This magnification of the chemicals can ultimately harm humans, who may ingest fish that have high levels of toxic chemicals.
Perhaps the most harmful form of ocean pollution is litter and sewage. Every year, 1.6 billion pounds of litter are dumping into oceans. This waste has far reaching consequences throughout oceanic ecosystems. Trash can build up on the surface of the ocean, blocking sunlight from reaching marine life below. Under such circumstances, zooplankton, which use photosynthesis for sustenance, die from a lack of sunlight. A decrease in plankton results in a decrease in available food for many species, which has dramatic ramifications throughout the food chain.
Fixing the Problem
Change starts with the people. In order to make a difference and improve the amount of pollution in the ocean, people must be aware that their actions have repercussions. By starting a grassroots movement, we can end the tragedy that is ocean pollution. Petitions need to be signed, rallies need to be held, speeches need to be made, and a movement needs to begin. Through the power of the people, we can get Washington’s attention, and invoke change. It is time to take a stand. It is time to make a difference.
America, the Catalyst
America needs to be the catalyst for change. As a dominant figure in the world of politics, the U.S. could make a difference by taking a stand and encouraging other countries to do the same. If the U.S. were able to successfully create legislation, then other nations would likely follow suit. While the world’s oceans do not belong to the U.S., it is important that the U.S. make a concerted effort to improve oceanic pollution. In doing so, the U.S. would lead by example, showing its citizens and other countries alike that oceanic pollution is harmful for the environment and has consequences that negatively affect both humans and animals.
Enough is Enough
As the global rate of consumption increases, the need to make a difference becomes more pressing. The repercussions of being bystanders will be detrimental for future generations. The ultimate goal of NATIONAL is to educate the masses. Education leads to awareness, and awareness leads to change. We cannot rely on the U.S. government, or any government, to make changes. Citizens need to make changes themselves and influence those in positions of power. No one can stand idly by. If the world’s oceans are to be saved, people everywhere must take a stand. It is time to end ocean pollution.