Humans are but creatures, born to live on planet Earth, yet they march it to its death. Over 71% of Earth is surrounded by deep, vast oceans. Now, the oceans are home to one of the most diverse and expansive chapters to the animal kingdom that have ever been discovered. From the large blue whales, to the krill that they eat, all of it is a cycle that exists within itself, and that cycle is dying. One of the largest contributing factors to them dying is the human race. According to Seastewards.org, “14 billion pounds of trash is dumped into the oceans yearly, 10.5 million of that coming from America.” Also, according to the National Ocean Service, “80% of ocean pollution comes from inland.” With these numbers, it’s not hard to understand that careless waste has plunged every species on the planet into a declining life expectancy. But the question is, how can the human race make up for it’s mistakes, and try to reduce waste in the world’s oceans?
For starters, a good and rather solid foundation is the fact that everything will die if pollution gets any worse. In 2018, a study was conducted by the National Ocean Service, which found that over 50% of the coral reef has died. This is a concerning number because the coral reef is exceedingly important to the survival of all animals on Earth, as put simply by EcoWatch, “(The coral reef) generate(s) half of Earth’s oxygen and absorb(s) nearly one-third of the carbon dioxide generated from burning fossil fuels.” This alone is a catastrophe in itself because it implies that Earth has halted nearled 25% of its total oxygen production, all due to coral bleaching. This isn’t the only living creature being affected by the purge initiated by man however.
Given that the oceans are one of the largest existing things on the planet, it is without question that the majority of animals, ocean dwelling or otherwise, rely on the water for their day to day lives. Here’s the issue though: a study done by the Sea Turtle Conservancy found that “Over 1 million marine animals (including mammals, fish, sharks, turtles, and birds) are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean.” In this sense, even disregarding moral and philosophical boundaries, this number is concerning not only for the planet, but for the human race as a whole. This blood being shed from the animal kingdom is on the human race’s hands. There is no fixing what has been done in the past, but there is yet hope for the future.
The first step to reducing this mortality rate is cutting back on the blatant consumerism that has blatantly brainwashed society. It takes but a few seconds to find a trashcan to throw away one’s soda bottle. It takes but a second to hold on to one’s cigarette butts to dispose of instead of hurling them on the ground as if trees will grow from the sparking ashes on the road. The responsibility isn’t just for the average person though, it is entirely up to corporations as well. Audacity is largely the culprit in this global extinction event. Many individuals don’t believe their actions matter, but they do. It isn’t hard to refrain from littering, it isn’t hard to boycott companies with unethical non eco-friendly policies, it isn’t hard to maintain an attitude that doesn’t revolve around oneself, yet society finds itself so. Selfishness, greed, call it what it may be, but the brass tax is that ignorance is the true pile of trash killing the planet. The solution is simple. One must understand the world, learn that actions have effects on everything around them, and readjust their moral compass to better differentiate the needs of one versus the needs of many. It doesn’t stop with the individual however. There has been a rather influential movement going on where companies are switching to easily composted materials, such as paper straws. This kind of innovation needs to be moved to the packaging industry. Moving to compostable materials, such as that when reaching the ocean it is nonexistent, is the best and most important step towards a better world.
The question is, how? To answer it simply, just go out and do the most one can do. Take the needed steps, possibly even going above and beyond to ensure there is a tomorrow. There are ways to save this planet. There has been for a while now, so there is no excuse to poison the very earth beneath one’s feet. If every person were to pitch in, they can ensure the health and prosperity for ages to come, but all it takes is one person to get the ball rolling, and it’s begun to roll in the name of the future.
Essay by: Jake E Seymore
Jimtown High School