Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Better Business Plan for a Healthy Ocean

Emperor angelfish (Credit: ©Wolcott Henry) Click to Enlarge.
The Ocean directly supports the livelihoods of over 3 billion people, puts vital food on the table for over 2.6 billion around the globe, and transports 90% of our internationally traded goods.  Yet it has been chronically neglected - even in the sustainable development arena - and has suffered decades of declining health, largely as a result of human exploitation.

It’s time for a concerted intervention to reverse this trend.  It makes no sense for the powers that be to just sit by and let one of the world’s financial powerhouses and a lynchpin of its entire economy quietly deteriorate without putting up a fight and reversing the trend.

Yet these impressive financial figures represent just a fraction of the Ocean’s true worth to humanity and the functioning of our planet.  Some contributions are impossible to price, like the fact that the Ocean provides the oxygen for every second breath we take, and absorbs 30% of our CO2 emissions, making it the largest global carbon sink.  It has also absorbed 90% of the additional heat generated from these emissions as a result of which it is becoming warmer and more acidic at unprecedented rates.  As we envisage a sustainable future we look increasingly out to sea for renewable energy production from offshore wind and tides, and to fishing and aquaculture to feed a growing population.  Finally, the Ocean is also home to more than 80% of all life on Earth, much of which remains undiscovered but is already threatened by the impacts of climate change, pollution and overfishing.

A healthy Ocean is an absolute prerequisite both for maintaining the marine financial assets so vital to the global economy, and for allowing the Ocean to go on providing its life-giving services.  To achieve this, a radical change is needed in the way we treat the Ocean.  A ‘business as usual’ trajectory depicts a bleak outlook for the future.  Unless urgent action is taken, accelerating deterioration of the marine environment puts us at serious risk of earth system-level collapse, resulting in immeasurable harm for people and the planet.

Read more at A Better Business Plan for a Healthy Ocean

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