There’s a big cliché in science: We know more about our moon than the ocean’s depths. This is one of the first things that new diving students hear , on the Padi Open Water tuition video. How is it that the sea remains Earth’s greatest frontier?
A reservoir of heat and life, the ocean controls and reacts to Earth’s climate in myriad ways. Winds, currents, and nutrients dictate which species survive and where.
There are many people who also believe that the seas contain the answers to many of Earth`s biggest killer diseases/viruses. After all, there is a general belief that everywhere on the planet, there exists the opposite of every single gene. For example, a cure for every illness; this is evidenced by the idea that many herbal remedies for common malaise exist in nature. Even something as simple as the relief for stinging nettles…it exists in the leaves of a plant that commonly grows near.
Who knows what pharmaceutical secrets the oceans hold? After all, there are about 100 million times more bacteria in the ocean than stars in the entire visible universe-and we still have no idea what most of them do.
Sat in our shop, Karang Divers, I read a story called Why we need a Hubble for the seas, which really struck me as to how little we know about our Oceans right here on Earth.
Nasa spends almost $13 billion annually on manned space exploration. There are talks of the $6.5 billion James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2014 and dubbed to be the more powerful successor of the Hubble Space telescope. We know more about the dark side of the moon and the surface of Mars, than the waters that cover 71% of the very planet we live on!
James Cameron, director, producer and screenwriter of Hollywood blockbuster hits like Titanic and the more recent Avatar, is not shy about his love for the Oceans or Scuba diving. Cameron was once quoted in an interview as saying-
“I learned to scuba dive in a pool. It wasn’t until I moved to California that I ever even scuba dived in the ocean. But I just loved it. I loved this idea that there was this alien atmosphere right here on planet earth. I knew that I was never going to be an astronaut and visit another star system or land on another planet, but I knew I could explore an alien world right here. I have spent over 2,500 hours underwater and I’ve seen things that are absolutely astonishing on the bottom of the ocean. It really is like an alien planet. ”
As reluctant as I am to agree with Mr Cameron usually, I certainly do on this subject! The Oceans are truly an alien planet right here on Earth. We’ve explored less than 5 percent of the oceans that contain 80% of all life on earth. So instead of looking for other life forms in space, why aren’t we focusing a little on the thousands of unknown inhabitants and species of the sea?
More importantly, shouldn`t we be paying more attention to the damage that we are unconsciously and consciously causing to the ocean? Our oceans are key to our our health and the health of future generations. I realise this may come across as preachy, but here at Karang Divers on Gili Air, I spend my working day in the sea…I am passionate about this stuff; as ill informed as I am.
Oceans are the largest reservoirs we have for absorbing all this excess CO2, and having absorbed excessive amounts of carbon dioxide for centuries now, they’re on the brink of a major health crisis. We seem to forget the simple facts that the ocean not just regulates the planets temperatures by absorbing a vast majority of the CO² we continue to pump into the atmosphere, but it is responsible for providing us with more than half of the oxygen we breathe!
Now, I use aeroplanes, and when I am in cities, I drink corporate coffee in plastic cups like the rest of them; So I am a hypocrite at best (a hungry hungry hypocrite at that!)
However, my point is that we need, not more space travel to explore other planets (as amazing as that is), but to understand more about our oceans and monitor it’s health. Not everyone is an oceanographer, ocean lover or even has the opportunity to spend time in the sea (scuba diving gives us that gift).
So let’s make 2012 about stressing the importance of our connection with our Oceans, and lets hope the future sees more funding toward learning more about the precious water that insures us an existence on the planet, before we go scoping out water on other planets. I personally don`t believe that its too late.
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