The Science of Sustainability

Celebrate World Oceans Day Today

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World Oceans Day poster

What’s your connection to our salty sea?  We swim and surf its waves, live alongside its shores, gather fish, harness energy and harvest medicines from the ocean.  Stretching back in time, the seas have created a habitable planet, sustained an amazing diversity of life, inspired us with their vast resources and fed us.  It’s time to celebrate our briny deep and consider how we impact it and steps we can take to preserve it.

World Oceans Day is fairly new.  It was celebrated for the first time on June 8th, 2009 as designated by the United Nations General Assembly. It’s gaining traction as a world-wide celebration, and it’s kind of exciting — like being in on the first Earth Day celebrations. World Oceans Day has the potential to draw worldwide attention to the oceans importance to our planet and how we can better care for it.

"World Oceans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of oceans to humankind’s sustainable development. It is also a time to recognize the many severe challenges related to oceans." — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on World Oceans Day, June 8, 2011

It’s time we take a new look at what was once considered an unknowable place.  The United States Geologic Survey (USGS) has produced a visually-powerful new graphic that shows how much water is on Earth — which seems relatively small compared to the size of the planet.  The large sphere of water represents Earth's total water volume, and according to USGS, "includes all the water in the oceans, ice caps, lakes, and rivers, as well as groundwater, atmospheric water, and even the water in you, your dog, and your tomato plant." 

The second smaller sphere to the right represents "liquid fresh water (groundwater, lakes, swamp water, and rivers)." The tiny speck of water over Atlanta, Georgia represents "fresh water in all the lakes and rivers on the planet, and most of the water people and life of earth need every day comes from these surface-water sources."

Global water volume model by USGS

It’s stunning to visualize our international, boundless seas contained in a sphere 35 miles high over the middle of our country.  If the sphere were to “pop” and spread across the contiguous United States, each state would be covered in water 107 miles deep.

So take some time to find out your connections to the oceans of the world.  From the watershed you live in, to the fish on your dinner plate, medicine in your cabinet and the very air you breathe, the ocean is part of our every day lives. 

You can celebrate our own inland sea, San Francisco Bay, this Saturday, June 9th with the annual Sandcastle and Sculpture Contest in Alameda.  Or go to the World Oceans Day website to find out about other activities scheduled in our area. You can also find out how to help spread the word about this new day that commemorates the effort of creating a better ocean and world for the next generation.  And be sure to get out for a walk on the beach and get some sand between your toes and the rumble of waves crashing in your ears.  It’ll do you good!

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Category: Blog, Environment

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Sharol Nelson-Embry

About the Author ()

Sharol Nelson-Embry is the Supervising Naturalist at the Crab Cove Visitor Center & Aquarium on San Francisco Bay in Alameda. Crab Cove is part of the East Bay Regional Park District, one of the largest and oldest regional park agencies in the nation. She graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a degree in Natural Resources Management and an epiphany that connecting kids with nature was her destiny. She's been rooted in the Bay Area since 1991 after working at nature centers and outdoor science schools around our fair state. She loves the great variety of habitats stretching from the Bay shoreline to the redwoods, lakes, and hills. Sharol enjoys connecting people to nature with articles in local newspapers and online forums. Read her previous contributions to QUEST, a project dedicated to exploring the Science of Sustainability.
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Corcoran/1591985520 Jim Corcoran

    "As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease." Worldwatch Institute, "Is Meat Sustainable?"

    Why would someone choose to be vegan? To slow global warming for one! Here are two uplifting videos to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKr4HZ7ukSE and http://www.veganvideo.org

  • http://www.facebook.com/gabriel.roybal Gabriel Roybal

    if only the water was warm- id jump right in!