Our planet Earth has an immense percentage covered by oceans – nearly 71%. Moreover, about 50% of our breathable oxygen is provided by the oceans. So the math says that almost every alternate breath us because of the oceans.
But this function of the Ocean is not usually obvious if we do not dig a little deeper into its importance. But our survival depends on these bodies of water. They maintain the planet’s shape and are the driving force behind climate, also helping maintain its stability. As such, its role in fighting climate change is vital.
With the oceans being responsible for so many crucial things, it is only reasonable that we keep the oceans healthy. If we fail to do so, the weather systems will collapse and end up devastating all life on the planet.
Climate change can have an adverse effect on oceans but it is also one of the ways in which climate change can be minimized. But how does this work exactly? The decision to look after the oceans is going to determine the way climate change will take place. So let us take this chance and find out more about its connection.
The Oceans Absorb Carbon-Dioxide
A fully functioning ocean absorbs immense amounts of CO2. Marine plants, like seagrass, can process carbon much faster than land plants and forests. But, climate change conversations rarely talk about this. Moreover, seagrass is not the only one doing the work. Small floating plants, called phytoplankton, also absorbs CO2 to grow. They are extremely small and extremely mighty, never ceasing to work.
This phytoplankton is the basis of the marine food chain. Each year, they absorb billions of tonnes of CO2. These carbon storehouses eventually end up in all marine animals.
After marine animals die, this carbon in their body slowly decomposes at the ocean floor. It never gets back to the air we breathe. But, this is not wholly good for our environment. If the oceans get saturated with that huge amount of Carbon-dioxide, they will become acidic. This is destroying habitats in the ocean, like coral reefs. Eventually, even the water on the surface will turn more acidic at this rate.
Hard corals get their hardness from calcium carbonate. But they cannot get hold of the calcium if the water is too acidic. So, without the shells, they die before developing fully. Without corals, fish numbers will drastically reduce because of a loss of habitat. Many more marine animals will also not survive as the whole food chain will start collapsing.
So, yes, the Oceans are getting rid of all the greenhouse gases that we keep producing. But it is slowly killing itself in the process.
What Would Happen If The Oceans Die?
Simply put, the temperature will be far too high for life to exist. It is nature’s way of stabilizing the climate. Without it, we would be all on our own. Apart from CO2, the water also substantially absorbs atmospheric heat. So as their temperature rises, and they lose the ability to regulate atmospheric heat, the land will be wrecked with droughts and heatwaves.
Moreover, a raised temperature also means that the sea level will rise. Eventually, coastal areas will all be submerged.
But we can stop this! Or at least conserve and give the oceans time to recover. First off, we must aim to bring down plastic pollution, the most recent and biggest threat to the oceans. Cattle farming, for meat and dairy products, also releases an immense amount of CO2. Flying less, doing away with unnecessary appliances, and reducing the usage of dyed clothes will all go a long way in helping our priceless oceans.