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The Unknown Risk of Losing it All

Source: The TerraMar Project - May 19, 2017 in Featured, TMP

The Unknown Risk of Losing it All
Photo: Ellmax Photos

We’re destroying the ocean, a part of our world about which we know practically nothing.

More people have visited the moon than have explored the depths of the ocean. We spend billions of dollars looking to the stars for alien life, but it turns out there’s plenty of new life to be discovered right here under the sea. More marine species have been discovered in the past decade than ever before with an average of 2,000 discoveries per year.

3 people have descended to the bottom of the ocean whist 12  have gone to the moon.

Only 5% of the greatest Blue expanse on our planet has been explored. And even though we’ve barely dipped our toes in, we have touched every corner of the ocean with our influence; tainting and polluting it to the point where there are 450 dead zones in the ocean and counting. Even the most pristine places in the world, so far separated from mankind, are showing symptoms of our footprint.

The problem here is apparent: the oceans are filled with an abundance of life that we know absolutely nothing about, but this same life could be in danger of becoming extinct before we ever even discover it.

Nobody truly knows the potential of this alien life under the sea.

For example, new compounds and DNA codes have recently been discovered from coral reefs and other marine life, which have the potential to help fight cancer. If the cure for cancer could lie in the 5% of the sea that we’ve explored, who knows what kinds of potential the other 95% might hold.

ocean

Photo: Markolf Zimmer/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

But, many of these life altering discoveries could be gone before we ever reach them.

People are destroying marine life and habitat at a rapid pace. Today the ocean’s smallest porpoise, the Vaquita, is on the brink of extinction with only 30 animals left in the wild. Northern Right whales are hanging on to existence by a thread, and yellow-eyed penguins in New Zealand could disappear by the year 2060. And we’re all familiar with the plight of the polar bears in their battle against climate change.

Throughout the billions of years that our planet has existed, there have been 5 total mass extinctions of life on Earth. Some caused by extreme changes in climate, and one by an asteroid striking Earth’s surface and wiping out the dinosaurs. Scientists now believe that the 6th mass extinction is currently happening, and it’s due to humans. Our impact on the natural world is actually comparable to an asteroid 6 miles wide striking our planet, which is a scary thought indeed.

A Precautionary Principle

People cannot possibly understand the true value of our world’s oceans because we know so little about them. In polluting our water, over-harvesting our fish, and changing the chemistry of our world’s natural cycles, we risk losing priceless information hidden in the natural world. And we can never get it back.

In the face of such uncertainty as this, it’s important to take preventative measures when it comes to protecting the marine environment. Using a precautionary principle in global decision-making is one way to handle these unknowns.

People make decisions based on value. What we value in the present versus in the future. Do the rewards outweigh the risks? Without the precautionary principle, what happens is we under-value the ocean that we know so little about, because we don’t know its true worth to us.

Southern California

Photo: 45SURF Hero’s Odyssey Mythology/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

As wise people say: better safe than sorry. You can see it in the news all the time, scientists are constantly making new discoveries in our Earth’s Blue world. We still have 95% of the ocean to explore, and so the possibilities are endless. We just have to make sure that we don’t lose the literal and figurative treasure down at the bottom of the sea before we can get to it.

Sign up today and become a citizen of our global ocean community by visiting us at: www.theterramarproject.org 

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