Monday, June 9, 2014

The Big Blue

The oceans cover 70% of Earth's surface.  We have technology (the Hubble Space Telescope) that can form images made from light that has travelled over 10 billion trillion kilometres from the edge of our known Universe, and yet we can see less than a hundred metres under the surface of the ocean because of the way that seawater absorbs and scatters light.  We just don't know all that much about our oceans considering how influential they are to life on this planet.  We know more about space and that strikes me as being a touch ridiculous.

We exist on a watery planet, and we rely on that core element.  But the oceans are big; perhaps bigger than we can easily comprehend.  Only a few hundred years ago, nothing in terms of the duration of human evolution, we still believed that the waters of the world's oceans just poured straight off the edge of our flat planet - they were that infinite that the water just kept on coming.  And so because they are so enormous, often stretching as far as the eye can see in every direction, some people still believe that their vast ability to dilute and distribute whatever we put in them makes them cheap and easy dumping grounds.  But this abuse of our planets largest ecosystems is catching up with us, and the ability of the oceans to absorb our excess carbon dioxide and maintain the status quo is starting to tip and our actions are altering the delicate chemical balance maintained by them.     

We are all emotionally attached to the oceans - some more strongly than others but nonetheless every single human being has an unquestionable and deep affinity for these massive bodies of water far larger, greater, and mysterious than we can comprehend.  We all lose ourselves staring at them given half an opportunity.  Why?  Maybe it's because, depending on what you believe and where you place your faith, several million years ago our ancient, ancient, predecessors flapped out of them when they became too crowded and adapted to life on "Earth".  Perhaps, considering this, we were a bit wide of the mark when naming this planet of ours.  Now there's something to consider on World Oceans Day.  

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