I recently came across an article titled “Why 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.