Monday, November 5, 2007

Ocean pollution - A really big problem

Many people aren't still aware that ocean pollution is a major problem that isn't only affecting the ocean but the rest of the Earth as well. Ocean pollution directly affects living organisms in ocean and indirectly humans and their health. There are many sources of pollution and the most dangerous is illegal dumping, especially of poisonous materials. This illegal dumping is unfortunately so, wide spread and is causing damage to many plants and animals in the ocean. On top of the food chain we could easily end up eating seafood that was harmed by some toxic materials before it came to our plates. Especially dangerous is the lead which can cause a lot of health problems, especially damaging brain and kidneys. Recycling is the right answer but unfortunately not for all people.

Dumping is the biggest problem but there are other problems as well like wastewater, use of pesticides and other chemicals in agriculture, which you definitely wouldn't think of right away. Wastewater is a run-off from rainwater that ends up in rivers, lakes and oceans as well. Majority of people still don't know that this run-off is going into the ocean at daily bases in small amounts which are piling hence creating a major problem. Agriculture is also harmful to the ocean because pesticides and other dangerous chemicals are taken off of the plants and carried to the oceans when it rains.

Oil pollution also has tremendous affects on oceans and presents real dangers in form of tankers and their possible failure or crash which could lead to oil leakage as it was the infamous Exxon Valdez incident. In this accident 10.8 million gallons were spilled, causing deaths of many animals, including 250,000–500,000 seabirds, 2,800–5,000 sea otters, approximately 12 river otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, and 22 orcas, as well as the destruction of billions of salmon and herring eggs.

Oil spill cleaning efforts usually need months or even years to clean up the polluted area and by the time cleaning is done many fish species, seabirds and even some mammals had already died because of it. And as the scientific results in infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill showed effects are far more lasting than it was expected, and some habitats may take more than 30 years to recover, which is very long time so you can imagine total negative impact on affected ecosystems.

Global warming is another major problem and is concerning oceans as well. Global warming causes the water to rise and when it rises, it covers low land islands with plants, animals, and even some people’s homes on them. This can hurt animals in the different layers of the ocean. Other problem is warm water that is killing some algae which can't stand this temperature, and this has effect on complete food chain because there are some fishes that eat these algae, meaning they don't have food, some other fishes eat this fishes meaning they don’t have food as well, etc, and the food chain is irreversibly broken.

There are indeed many problems but not that many answers because all ecological problems are connected on the global scale and therefore solving one of them isn't completely possible without solving all of them, which is at this moment almost impossible task. Public conscience still isn't on the required level, scientists' warnings aren’t still seriously understood and legislation is insufficient and not strict enough. There's also need for global action, because world is one big community and some individual action won't solve anything, although it could point out way the things should go to. Now, will this way be followed and by whom it remains to be seen. We can only hope for the best and contribute as much as we can.

Ocean pollution happens every day and is harmful to many sea plants and animals and eventually to the human health as well.

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