WHY THE OCEAN MATTERS?

The ocean is critically important to life on Earth accounting for 97% of the Earth’s water and playing an essential role in sustaining life on the planet.  The ocean covers approximately 70% of the Earth’s surface, and is home to a vast number of the Earth’s living creatures, not to mention that the ocean is a vital part of the water cycle that supplies rain to crops, forest and provides drinking water for our survival.

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But most importantly the ocean contributes 50-85% of the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere that are generated from the tiny ocean plants called phytoplankton living near the water surface.  As we all know plants photosynthesize, meaning they use sunlight and carbon dioxide to make food.  Oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis and provides food and other vital resources in which humans depend upon.

Worth noting is that the role of the ocean is far reached, because it is so vast and deep the ocean absorbs much of the heat and light that comes from the sun.  The ocean’s average depth is 13,000 feet with a maximum depth of 36,198 feet. Continuously distributing heat, carbon, oxygen, nutrients and water throughout the planet through the process of absorption and retention, slowly releasing and redistributing heat, the ocean also acts as a sink that aids in mitigating global warming. The current in the ocean together with atmospheric forces are also constantly at work causing the warm and cold water to more in complex patterns that control how the heat from the sun gets redistributed around the planet. This redistribution of heat in the upper ocean causes large changes in the global atmospheric circulation, which causes changes in the weather. Basically the ocean is the support system of this planet and it is in danger as a result of human inconsiderate development.

  • Refer to previous post – Carbon Cycle to read about the Ocean acting as as sink in mitigating global warming as it removes carbon from the atmosphere and bury it deep in the ocean.

The overall health of the ocean according to National Geographic matters because water returns to the ocean for renewal and purification to support life on earth, it also means a beautiful coast and vibrant ocean wildlife, but more so it supplies clean air for us to breathe, the food we consume and water we drink, if the ocean is polluted and unhealthy so are we.

quotescover-JPG-26So why do we continue to pollute the ocean? This is in part the result of industrialization and rapid advancement but more so because we are of the view that the ocean resources are infinite, and that human beings are entitled to plunder and pollute the natural world in the name of our so call progress in recent years and all the years to come, it will become increasingly and abundantly clear that pollution, burning of fossil fuels, and over-fishing could potentially destroy the resources we depend on, and the complex web of life that sustains us.

Little do we know the ocean plays a significantly important role in the overall well-being of all living things. The ocean provides millions of jobs, did you know that ocean based transport account for 98% of our commerce between nations.

According to International Maritime Organization, over one million seafarers work on approximately 50,000 merchant ships which trade internationally, generating over US$380 billion in freight rates or about 5% of the world’s economy.

Cruise Lines International Association reported that the cruise line industry also reported passengers in 2008 spent $19 billion directly and $40 billion indirectly and hires 357,000 employees who earns $16 billion in salaries and wages and according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization there are 45 million fishers and fish farmers combined in the world with a production of 140 million tonnes annually this included 90 million of capture fisheries and 50 million tonnes in aquaculture.  Can I stress the importance of the ocean anymore?

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The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization expressed concerns that within the next couple of years the physiology of fish will be adversely impacted because of the rapidly increasing temperature oxygen  transport to their tissue will be hampered.  I am yet to mention the impact of marine species are experiencing a major decline in some cases of 90% loses and heading to extinction due mainly to human activities.

In closing there are potential for renewable energy power generation from ocean waves, current and thermal energy, tidal stream and river hydro-kinetic technologies, but are yet to be explored and proven. We must know that failing to protect the ocean and its resources will have adverse consequences, consequences that we are not prepared for even though our sustainability depends on the continuous equilibrium of the ocean and its species.

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Recycling…. The Modern Day Self Regulation

The effects of landfills has caused increased challenges of Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM) and made it one of the most pressing environmental issue at a local, national, regional and international level, MSWM is a very costly and complex process usually under the guidance of the local governments who may sometimes lack the expertise, tools and manpower necessary to meet targets and implement national strategies. T.V. Sivanandan of The Hindu states that effective MSWM requires an ongoing commitment from central government, adequate budget allowances and a highly motivated workforce.

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In the Caribbean and Latin America over the last decade a significant increase in landfills has been reported. Land filling is usually the main treatment for municipal solid waste (MSW), mainly because it’s cost effective and accommodates all types of waste, but is far more potent than any other method because of its adverse environmental impact, which includes methane gas emission, pollution of groundwater and surface waters and leachate that represents one of the main sources of environmental problems linked to land filling waste not to mention taking up valuable space.

The Ground Water Foundation claims that the waste generated in a country is closely linked to its economic activities, the wealthier an economy the more waste is produced.  Waste management have become a critical issue in the Caribbean because of limited land mass and decreasing resources along with a rapidly growing population and recent boosts in the tourism industry making MSWM an issue needing urgent attention in this region.

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Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste Management Company Limited studies have shown that 80% in Trinidad and 70% in Tobago of total waste generated are recyclable but currently land filled, the current and only method of final MSW disposal along with inappropriate dumping employed by residents to dispose of uncollected waste causing recurring floods countrywide as a result of blocked drains along with other adverse effects to the environment, with average waste generated per person in T&T is 4lbs per day,  resulting in 1000 tonnes of waste taken to landfills daily,  there are four landfills located in Trinidad and Tobago all of which was developed in the 1980’s and are either near or have exceed lifespan.

The main landfill is the Beetham Landfill reaching its capacity in a few years, the Government of the Republic of T&T now seeks an alternative methods or another landfill site for final disposal of MSW in this small twin island Republic, hence the increasing need for us to introduce recycling, there are still a great deal of waste that could be recycled ending up in landfill sites. Recycling is one of the best things we can personally do for the environment and is an excellent way of protecting our precious natural resources, cutting global warming and conserving the environment through water and energy conservation.  The fact is we cannot stop global warming, deforestation and all the other ills of the earth without each citizen taking an active step to implement the waste hierarchy of prevention, reuse, recycling and treatment of waste in our daily life.

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The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is now taking active steps to encourage and initiate reduce, reuse and recycle mechanism, this is pending the establishment of a Waste Recycling management Authority, which would facilitate Plastikeep’s transition into a large waste recovery and recycling programme to be instituted by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), an Authority created in 1996 to provide a comprehensive and integrated framework for protecting, conserving and enhancing the environment of Trinidad and Tobago. This will alleviate the existing burden on landfills and revolutionize citizen’s approach to waste disposal as this arrangement would provide a efficient and cost effective implementation of an integrated system for recycling material such as waste tyres, construction, plastic, glass, paper, metal, electronic waste.

This initiative will begin the process of residents taking responsibility for the way waste is viewed in Trinidad and Tobago, in a modern manner.