It’s 2011 And We Know More About Space Than Our Own Oceans

I recently came across an article titledWhy we need a Hubble for the seas (CNN), which really struck me as to how little we know about our Oceans right here on Earth.

Two thirds of NASA’s $17 billion annual budget is devoted to 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 interview 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. ”

James Cameron
(read about his aquatic influences in Avatar here)

Isn’t that so true? The Oceans are truly an alien planet right her on Earth. We’ve explored less than 5 percent of the oceans that contain 80% of all life on earth. That doesn’t even scratch the surface (pun intended). So instead of looking for other life forms in space, why aren’t we focusing a little on the thousands and thousands of unknown inhabitants and species of the sea? And more importantly paying more attention about 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.

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! (Read: Phytoplankton: A Microscopic Organism With A Huge Impact)

What we need is not more space travel and Hubble telescopes to explore other planets (as awesome as that is), but to figure out more about our oceans and monitor it’s health, before it’s the downfall of us all. Not everyone is an oceanographer, ocean lover or even has the opportunity to spend time by the sea. So let’s make 2011 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.

*Photo credits: photos by blueforce4116 and coda on flickr


  1. 1)
    "What we need is not more space travel and Hubble telescopes to explore other planets (as awesome as that is), but to figure out more about our oceans and monitor it’s health, before it’s the downfall of us all."

    Hmm. Y'know, it could also be said:

    "What we need, with budgets being what they are and only so much money to spread around, is more about our oceans but ALSO more about how best to move out to other places in Space. The Earth is, after all, but a small part of Space, a very small and very delicate and very precarious part of it. Experience and knowledge about what starts just 60 miles up is required before it’s the downfall of us all and we have no option anywhere on Earth, above or below the waves.

  2. Robert Smith says:

    2) As we all know, every single DNA strand and every single living Earth creature is currently trapped here by our lack of technical ability to leave in significant numbers. One more 100 foot rocky asteroid and thousands (of humans… it is Billions if you include animals and insects and plants) can die on the land and the sea. One more rocky strike of a mile or more and everything – EVERYTHING – is gone. All eggs in one basket, the basket being Ocean and Land together, is not exactly smart, now that all of that 'wasted' SPace money has proved that the number of NEOs is far greater than we thought in the 1950s, and that the actual masses and sizes reqwuired for NEOs to cause a significant threat to all life are smaller than we thought in just the 1970s."

    It could be said, and with as much passion… and truth. You don't see any merit at all in that point of view? Not a bit?

  3. Robert Smith says:

    3) Hubble and Webb and the other watchers out there are looking out for you. Plus, let us never ever forget that the vast majority of craft orbiting Earth are not looking out, tey are looking down at Earth. THey not only give you your cars GPS, but also the Weather patterns, Ocean Currents, Heat dissipations, Polution levels, Resource signatures… all that silly stuff that folks from NOAA to your local Civil Preparedness office to *Most* every Oceanic researcher uses. I once thought otherwise, but lately, after actually looking, I found that money invested in Space does a Lot more for Earth than I'd thought.

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