We terrans are very full of ourselves, we persist in proclaiming that this blue planet is all about us!
Life on ‘earth’ is a tiny portion of life on this planet, a fraction of 1% of living space is suited to terran biology.
We are but one of a trillion species of life living here.
So if we terrans really are the lords of this small blue planet isn’t it proper that we begin to think and act responsibly.
When our Earth is seen from space, it is obvious that we terrans, masters of land, sea, air, and space live on a water planet. Ocean covers over 70% of our Earth’s surface and contains about 97% of the Earth’s water. While life on land barely fills a thin skin tens of feet thick, the voluminous life in the oceans can be found from the surface to the extreme environments tens of thousands of feet below – even at the bottom of the deepest submarine trenches that plunge far deeper beneath than the highest mountain ranges rise above the surface. It should not be surprising to learn that the oceans represent over 99.9% of the living space on Earth.
An even more important detail about life on Earth is revealed when one considers just what fraction of Earthly life our human species represents. We are but one of countless twinklings of life on this blue planet. New reports suggest that there may well be 1 trillion species of life sharing this blue planet with us. Without any argument the oceans contain and sustain the overwhelming majority of life, we and all other terrans make up a minority not so well-fitting to our presumptuously vocal and industrious majority behaviour.
Evolution of life is driven more by ecology and environment than any other factor aside perhaps from time. Given that the principal environment here is the rich soup we call the oceans one ought to look there when considering what might be the most evolved forms of life. There is on our world a very potent dichotomy for life that of land and sea. On land and above it in the air life experiences major effects of gravity and thus evolution of terran life has been directed toward managing to live with and take advantage of effects of gravity. In the oceans gravity is all but missing. As a result of gravity we terrans all grow ‘UP’ and indeed we ought to.
Terran Dogma Twists Science Into Politically Correct Spin
The oceans are the original and most important soup that led to and still today sustains life on Earth. Within the oceans that contain 97% of all the water on Earth, and 99% of the habitable space on this planet, is the vast majority of biodiversity and life and the interdependency that life depends upon. But when we read popular science we are told a wildly different monospecific terran version of reality.
In an all too human fashion politically correct even ‘ocean science’ diminishes the oceans role on this planet. To heed peer-reviewed ocean science is very much like being exposed to and required to heed religious dogmas of those who twist science to suit religion. At the extreme there are those dogmatics who preach that dinosaurs and man lived side by side for mere thousands of years before a select few were given boarding passes for Noah’s Ark. Dangerous insanity in a world of trillions trying to get along in reality.
The atmosphere we breathe, and which controls the weather and climate, is intimately connected to, even controlled by the oceans. But take for example the standard terran dogma that has long stated, that only ‘half of the oxygen’ produced by plants is produced in the ocean. This even though 70% of our world is habitat for ocean plant life where less than 17% of ‘earth’ sustains plants there. The truth is that 85% of oxygen comes from the oceans. Oceans are the true lungs of our planet, not the rainforests. Or at least that is the way it has been, now we learn that ocean oxygen production might be gone by the end of this century.
When you read that the oceans are also responsible for absorbing ‘50%’ of the carbon dioxide humans have released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels for energy you again are reading ‘terran dogma’ as oxygen production and CO2 are tied together which means that a number closer to 85% of the world’s CO2 is managed by the oceans, or until recently it was.
Oceans are tragically viewed as merely the bathing beauties at the beach
When we are shown images of the oceans we are overwhelmingly shown human bathing beauties splashing at the beach, a tiny slice of the ocean world of far less than 1% of the whole. If we do see the rest of the oceans from our terran perspective we see nothing but a vast blue expanse that most imagine is a scary unknown. Our oceans at large don’t appear to us to be divided up into greatly varied ecosystems like our land so therefore ocean complexity is generalized into a downgraded simplicity of all being more or less the same. Our coastal ocean environs are the ones we co-habitate or at least do so occasionally when we go to the beach to splash in our most evocative fashions. That’s the important thing is the message.
If we take a larger view, we would see that the ocean is actually a vast changing seascape painted in a palette of blue and green.
Click images above to read more about plankton
The most important influence of our oceans variations in color are the phytoplankton drifting at the ocean surface. Phytoplankton (commonly known as algae) are to the ocean what grass and bushes and trees are to the land – the biological foundation of life, due to their ability to convert using sunlight CO2 and other nutrients into new life.
Phytoplankton and zooplankton the primary forms of life on this blue planet are in our terran-centric view located on the bottom rung of the oceanic food-ladder. Bacteria and viruses prey on phytoplankton, returning their nutrients to the sea as part of a very important microbial loop. The plankton are eaten by small fish or crustaceans, which are in turn eaten by larger fish, whales, penguins, and everything else that swims in the ocean’s salty waters. Were it not for phytoplankton, the world’s largest animal, neither the oceans largest life the great blue whale, nor we neighboring terran humans who breath the oxygen they produce, would exist.
Fewer than 1/10th of 1% of humanity ever leaves the sight of land to share or experience our ocean world
If we look at our association with our oceans we would notice the coastlines, the boundary between land and sea. There are about 620,000 kilometers (370,000 miles) of coastline. Over one-third of the total human population, nearly 2.4 billion people, lives within 100 km (60 miles) of an oceanic coast. Almost all people are familiar with the view of the ocean only from the beach, and not from having ever away from the sight of land.
Every year we send our global fleet of some 60,000 large cargo ships carrying 11 billion tons of cargo across the world’s seven seas. Most of those ships have crews of just a dozen or so aboard, perhaps there are about a million merchant sailors at sea.
Offshore fishing fleets send another million or so fishermen out of sight of land. That leaves the military occupation of the world’s seven seas that contributes another million of so sailors. OK so there are a smattering of cruise ships but they almost never venture far from shore, virtually no ocean liners cross oceans in today’s world.
All in all the world’s oceans that cover more than 70% of this planet home to 7.5 billion humans is shared, experienced, lived, and travelled upon by fewer than 1/10th of 1% of us! It’s no wonder that the oceans are so badly misrepresented.
But For Life In The Oceans Today It Is All About Us
This world’s oceans are nearly timeless in their nature. At least they are accustomed to changing slowly over the course of time and their changes have and always will be their most important character. Three billion years ago the oceans were a soup of harsh chemicals and no life as we know today existed. But life did find a way and for a billion years or more the seas were bacterial seas.
From those slimy seas bathed in sunlight eventually life found a way to harness sunlight and use its energy to change the world. Photosynthesis produced oxygen and over the course of a billion years that oxygen fixed itself to minerals forming an entirely new geologic era out of which oxygen breathing life found a way and evolved. Over the last billion years oxygen breathing life eventually resulted in us.
CO2, Climate Change, and Oceans in the context of ‘mine’
All was well for a time but we humans became not only intelligent but ambitious like a two year old discovering the word ‘mine’ and all manner of chaos has ensued. Believe me I know my second grandson has just discovered that very concept. Today in the blink of time, not even a blink that is far too long of a process in the context of geologic time. In the space of a couple hundred years we humans have ‘mined’ carbon accumulated over hundreds of millions of years and burned it to satisfy our insatiable desires. The resulting CO2 is creating havoc first and foremost in the blue part of our world. Of course ‘terran dogma’ demands that the crisis of CO2 be forced into a ‘terran-centric’ description and so we have the concept of ‘climate change.’
Now I am not challenging or denying that ‘climate change ‘ is real as it surely is very real and will become increasingly problematic. But the very much more dire, real, and present danger of our burning fossil carbon fixed and safely stored in the ‘earth’ over the course of hundreds of millions of years is the harm it is doing to our oceans today! One of the more egregious ‘terran-centric politically correct’ notions is that we should focus on the potential harm to our terran environments with regard to CO2 and Climate Change. It’s not difficult to understand why this is, there is an old and wise proverb that explains this aptly – “follow the money“!
Without be labouring the whole of the politics of ‘climate change,’ you will find ample reading on this blog to overwhelm most on that slippery slope, the real crisis of CO2 is that it is destroying ocean pastures and plankton along two decisive pathways. The oceans and life therein will endure this pre-adolescent CO2 tantrum of ours they have proven themselves resilient for billions of years.
The question is how the oceans will endure our ‘mining’ hundreds of millions of years of carbon out of safe storage in the ‘earth’ and forcing all of it in one single massive overdose.
Will Mother Ocean keep a safe and sustainable place for us on this blue planet?
CO2 like Oxygen is a vital life-giving gas on this planet but both are also dangerous and deadly if taken in too great a concentration. The Climate Change denialists will insist that since we exhale CO2 and it helps plants grow it must be safe so any concern about it is faulty. Of course almost every vital nutrient of life is the same, vital in small quantities deadly in overdose.
We have emitted a trillion ton overdose of CO2 in the past century!
For the oceans, don’t forget they manage, or used to manage, 85% of this world’s CO2, CO2 is just fine if not too much too fast. One of the two ways in which CO2 harms the oceans is that it dissolves into water. When it does there is a simple chemical equation that shows how it makes the water more acidic. CO2 + H20 = H2CO3. That H2CO3 is carbonic acid, it makes our carbonated soft drinks just nicely tart and tangy. But a very slight change in ocean CO2 acidification prevents tiny microscopic life, such as the freshly hatched larvae of shellfish from obtaining calcium from the water to form their first shells. Read this story about oysters in peril in North America from high and rising CO2.
The crisis our CO2 imposed on the oceans is in part the ultra-fast chemistry of our CO2 imposed acidification of the oceans. Surely in past eons, equivalent or even larger amounts of CO2 have been taken up by the oceans but the time to do so and to evolve and adapt was measured in millions to tens of millions of years not tens of years! Just imagine that in your entire lifetime you might drink 150,000 glasses of life-sustaining water, but if you were to drink all 150,000 in just one week you would be in deep trouble.
A second even more potent and immediate harm our CO2 is having on the oceans is that CO2 feeds plants on land. Myriad reports in science now show a dramatic ‘global greening’ effect is taking place in response to our first trillion ton dose of terran produced CO2. Many would think that is a good thing, after all we terrans love the color green and the more green the better – right? – wrong!
Yin & Yang Land and Sea
On this planet where all of us larger life forms depend on growing plant life to sustain our food chain we are dependent on pastures. Our food doesn’t grow everywhere it grows in those special places where the right combination of vital nutrients and water and sunlight come together to produce a healthy life-sustaining pasture.
Walt Whitman once said of pastures, “All beef is grass.”
So what could possibly be wrong with more grass growing?
On land pastures grow grass when there is sufficient water/rainfall to keep the pasture well watered and healthy. In a Yin & Yang sort of way the oceans can be seen to be in a life-giving marriage with the land. Pastures on land have plants growing in rich mineral soil, when the rain comes the pastures are green and sustain our herds of animal life. No rain means deadly drought.
Oceans have pastures as well. There the grass of the ocean pastures, the phytoplankton grows in water, what it must have to survive and thrive is a favour from the land. Ocean pastures receive the vital minerals they need in the form of dust in the wind. If the dustfall does not occur the ocean pastures enter a dire time of drought.
I say, “All fish is plankton.”
More grass growing means less dust blowing.
And that means ocean pastures have, for 50 years, been in the grip of the deadliest drought this planet has ever seen. Globally ocean pasture grass, the phytoplankton, is reported to have been collapsing at a rate of 1% per year.
To put this into a ‘terran perspective’ that rate is the same loss of plant life from land that we would see if we eradicated, cleared down to bare soil, an entire Amazon Rainforest every five years! And we’ve been doing so for 50 years, that’s 10 Amazon Rainforests not merely partially logged and burned that is 10 such terran ecosystems worth of plant-life gone completely from this small blue planet. Today conservative reports credit the oceans with managing 65% of the world’s CO2, that agrees well with our 85% figure given the losses in ocean photosynthesis over the past 50 years. No wonder we have a global CO2 crisis.
The good news is that by restoring and regenerating ocean pastures and their phytoplankton to levels of 50 years ago the lions share of human CO2 can be repurposed into revived ocean life, if we act in time.
Keep in mind that the dire harm occurring today in our world’s oceans comes from our first trillion ton deadly dose of CO2 emitted in the 100 years of yesterdays of our fossil fuel age. That first trillion tons of CO2 is already loosed into our air and it takes a long time, about 200 years, for it to slowly move out of the air into our oceans and plants on land. Yesterday’s CO2 is already proving to be a near ‘lethal dose‘ for ocean pasture life as witnessed by the holocaust of marine life dying everywhere.
Don’t be fooled by the ‘terran-centric’ propaganda that the disappearance of fish in all of the world’s oceans is caused by those bad boogeymen overfishing fleets. Surely overfishing is taking place but it is overfishing ocean pastures that have been made into inhospitable blue deserts unable for decades to sustain the abundance of fish and ocean life they and we once enjoyed. The inconvenient truth is that the real culprits harming the ocean pastures have been each and everyone of us and our pre-adolescent CO2 emissions as we childishly and ignorantly claimed all that we could as ‘mine.‘
We can and must take action to become caring ocean stewards and restore our ocean pastures.
We can do it as 25 years and a quarter of a billion dollars in academic ocean science research have proven.
We can restore and regenerate the ocean pastures and bring back the fish.
Read more about how everywhere on this blog. Join me.