Friday, May 4, 2012

Ocean pollution facts

Ocean pollution is a growing environmental issue despite being way down on global political agenda. Just because oceans are huge this doesn’t mean that they are immune to pollution and they are certainly in need of more protection.

Ocean pollution can result from many different causes though the most common is illegal dumping of different waste materials.

Oil spill is also a form of ocean pollution. Oil leakage isn’t related only to tanker accidents but also to offshore drilling and routine maintenance of rigs. Major oil spills such as Exxon Valdez oil spill have devastating impact on marine life for a very long period of time because it takes many years for oil to be cleaned.

Ocean pollution causes great damage to people who rely on the oceans for their livelihoods because of its long-term negative impact on affected marine ecosystems (decline of fish species).   

Ocean acidification, as a direct consequence of increased climate change impact, is also increasing pollution in our oceans. Oceans are becoming increasingly acidic because of the larger CO2 intake and this can lead to extinction of corals and many other marine species that play vital role at the bottom of the marine food web.

Ocean pollution is taking heavy toll in developing countries such as China. In 2009, for instance, 147,000 square kilometers (59,000 square miles) of China's coastal waters failed to meet standards for "clear water" and there have been discovered significant amounts of lead and cadmium, both of which are highly toxic chemical elements.

The French scientists say that the entire Arctic Ocean will be inhospitable to shellfish by the end of the century because of the fast-growing CO2 emissions. Such scenario would cause massive marine biodiversity loss.

The increased levels of pollution in our oceans have resulted in the creation of so called „dead zones“. Ocean dead zones are areas in oceans where there isn't enough oxygen to support marine life.

Global warming is also polluting our oceans and this is not happening only in form of increased carbon emissions. Since oceans are becoming much warmer they are becoming inhospitable to some algae species. Fewer algae mean less food for many fish species and a big damage to entire marine food web.

In order to tackle ocean pollution issue world needs to establish more marine protected areas where marine life can thrive without human interference. Marine protected areas are only part of the solution, the other part is tackling the climate change.

The levels of pollution in our oceans need to be reduced because we need our oceans in healthy state. The U.S. scientists estimate that declines in ocean health and services will cost the global economy $428 billion per year by 2050 if we continue business as usual scenario.

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