NEW DELHI: The fifth World Ocean Conference was held in Riviera Maya, Mexico, and South America from March 7 to March 9, 2018.
The conclusion that came out of this event was very clear that if the imbalance in the oceans is not given attention in time, then the future will certainly be endangered.
The seriousness of the conference can be gauged from the fact that almost all the countries' representatives, representatives from the scientific community, the corporate world, the special envoy of the United Nations and more than 360 people associated with civil society participated.
Through the conference, stress on balancing human activities with the long-term health of the sea and oceans was made. At the same time, the discussions about the problems faced by the oceans, the security of its resources and its exploitation methods were seriously considered in order to ensure the life of animals living in the oceans as well as with the fulfilment of human needs.
In the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, SDG 14 states the following --Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development and Target 14.5 states by 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information.
According to an estimate, 30 per cent of the world's total population lives in coastal areas. The ocean is not only a major source of food for them but it also plays an important role in strengthening the economy.
Normal salt, which is being used by mankind since time immemorial, also comes from the ocean. From this, we can gauge what an important role the vast amount of water extending over 70 percent of the earth's terrain plays.
In fact, the existence of life on earth has been possible due to certain factors like atmospheres and oceans. Scientists have an opinion that life on earth has originated in the oceans and even today the ocean is playing an important role in maintaining the ecosystem for life.
From its earliest times to the present day, the ocean has conserved various forms of life. It has surrounded the many giant organisms from within, to the subtle and small fragile ecosystems.
According to an estimate, there are about one million species of living organisms in the oceans and there are many creatures in it which even today scientists have not been able to reach.
Oceans not only promote the conservation of organisms but also play an important role in determining the weather on the earth. Ocean water salts and specific heat tolerance affect the earth's weather by which the earth's temperature remains life-sustaining.
In our childhood, we have been taught that the water of the sea evaporates from the heat of the sun and it becomes the reason for the coming of monsoon because the phenomenon of salinity of seawater and change in the air of the earth is interconnected.
Scientists argued that the salinity of seawater is, in fact, the main reason for the flow of sea currents. If the waters of all the oceans were sweet, the salinity in the sea which makes the currents that move water from one place to another is never active. As a result, the cold region would remain very cold and the hot region would be very hot.
Not only this, the ocean is also home to the natural resources. There are unlimited amounts of different types of minerals available. Remember, in our childhood we used to hear stories about the seas from our grandmothers.
According to these stories, mostly based on mythology, many diamonds, pearls, jewels and other precious items were received from the seas which were believed to be given by the saints and fairies. If you see this story from a scientific perspective, it proves that from ancient times, mankind used the resources of the ocean in different ways.
At present, natural gas, crude oil, metals and many types of chemicals are being obtained from the sea. Often you may have seen people wearing a red gem in the ring, which is called 'munga'. Astrologers advise people to wear it for peace.
This prized 'munga' is obtained from the sea creature called 'Coral'. Not only this, there are countless mineral substances in the oceans, which scientists are still striving hard to discover.
Despite being the lifeline of human civilization, humans are not only tapping the oceans for their fulfilment, but also making them dirty and poisonous. According to an assessment, we have filled oceans with waste equal to the size of the United States of America.
There will hardly be a year when there has been no incident of oil spill from any part of the world in the ocean. This not only affects the sea creatures, but humans also have to suffer this in some form or another. Who can forget the Gulf War in the 90's where human civilization was put at stake because of the vast oil spill.
According to a report, between five and 10 million barrels of oil poured into the Persian Gulf in 1991 when Iraqi troops, retreating from their occupation of Kuwait, set fire to desert oil wells and opened the valves on oil rigs and pipelines. This made the upper surface of the ocean completely oily.
With the result, most of the birds dependent on the ocean were killed and many varieties of birds became extinct. Environmentalists believe that the Gulf War has pushed the environmental balance to destruction. The loss of human lives and the environment from this war was equivalent to the destruction caused during the tragedies of Hiroshima, Bhopal and Chernobyl.
However, increasing awareness around the world towards the protection of the oceans shows a ray of hope. In India, there is a need to increase special initiatives and awareness on this. Recently, India has expressed deep concern over the merchandise shipwrecking of oil waste in its sea areas.
According to the report of National Institute of Oceanography, due to pollution in the coastal areas of Kerala, 25 per cent production of shrimp and other fish has decreased. The Supreme Court has also asked to shut pollution spreading aquaculture firms in coastal states, as along with damage to the environment it also weakens the soil.
Simultaneously, the court also ordered that industries which threaten ecological balance and urbanization should be kept 500 meters away from the coast.
We should not forget that we depend on the sea; its protection also becomes our responsibility. Remember the movie "2012" in which due to environmental imbalance, the sea shows its destructive side and becomes the cause of the annihilation of creation.
If we do not wake up in time and do not worry about the sea, then it will not be long before this film will turn into reality. The sea is still cheating. Once, in the form of a tsunami on December 26, 2004, the sea has expressed its anger also.
The views expressed in the above article are that of Shams Tamanna of Charkha Development Communication Network.