A Year of Ocean Regeneration
The importance of our oceans – which supply 50% of the oxygen we breathe, feed billions of people, help mitigate the effects of climate change, and much more – cannot be overstated. The oceans are a critical ally, and we must do everything in our power to safeguard them.
OXFORD – The importance of the world’s ocean cannot be overstated. They supply 50% of the oxygen we breathe, feed billions of people, and provide livelihoods for millions more. They are the great biological pump of global atmospheric and thermal regulation, and the driver of the water and nutrient cycles. And they are among the most powerful tools for mitigating the effects of climate change. In short, the ocean is a critical ally, and we must do everything in our power to safeguard them.
This is all the more important, given the unprecedented and unpredictable threats that we currently face. Though the ocean has been integral to slowing climate change, absorbing over 30% of the greenhouse-gas emissions and 90% of the excess heat generated since the Industrial Revolution, the cost has been huge. Ocean acidification and warming has been occurring at alarming rates, and are already having a serious impact on some of our most precious marine ecosystems – an impact that will only intensify.
Today, vast swaths of the world are experiencing what is likely to be the strongest El Niño on record. The adverse weather resulting from the phenomenon – which originates in the Pacific, but affects the ocean worldwide – is expected to affect adversely over 60 million people this year, compounding the misery wrought last year. It is a sobering reminder of our vulnerability to both natural and human-induced shocks to the earth’s systems.