Ocean pollution can be interpreted to mean the improper, careless and ignorant disposal of other human waste forms into the ocean. The pollutants can be in the form of toxic metallic objects and plastic materials. In other cases, they can be artificial chemicals, such as fertilizers and pesticides, and pharmaceutical chemicals (Osterath, 2017). This waste is mostly contributed by the industries located near the ocean. Other sources can be petroleum leakages and spillage from the ships operating in the sea or agricultural runoff from rivers flowing into the sea, or poor sewage drainage. All these forms of Pollution should be directly pinned to humans’ unconcerned nature in their quest for exploration and adventure.
Similarly, with the ever-increasing human population, humans have encroached on the previous ocean reservations leading to widespread Pollution. It is saddening that until the harmful effects of ocean pollution came to hunt humans, they have become aware of their recklessness. The land-based sources and air-based sources, such as the chemical pollutants washed into the ocean by rain and snow, are equally a threat to humanity.
Impacts Of Oceanic Pollution On Humanity
Deteriorating health conditions is one such direct threat to humanity due to oceanic Pollution. A good example is children’s susceptibility to disorders that could have easily been dwelt with by early vaccination programs (Thompson & Oakes, 2020). This vulnerability is attributed to mothers consuming contaminated fish parts during their pregnancy period. Mercury being among the threatening pollutants easily gets to the woman’s system leading to infants being exposed to life-threatening diseases from an early age. These ailments range from loss of IQ and increased risk for autism. In dire cases, there is the consequence of brain damage that can lead to attention deficit disorder. The effects of mercury can also be experienced with weakened immune systems for such children (Thompson & Oakes, 2020). Such a situation depicts that their bodies’ response to diseases will be challenging since they cannot form increased antibodies to respond to vaccination.
The overall ocean pollution from multiple sources also exposes households living next to the coastline shores to several health-related risks. When waste products from sailors, cruise ships, and other coastal towns as washed ashore to a particular coastal town, the build-up of trash consequently translates to water-borne diseases to people living nearby. Somehow germs from these huge dumpsites find their way into their water and food sources leading to children and their guardians succumbing to diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid, and other diseases related to poor waste disposal. Polluted shorelines are no longer attractive to seabirds, turtles and also endangers wildlife (Osterath, 2017). These creatures’ absence translates to foreign exchange loss from tourists who come from the mainland and overseas to see them. Subsequently, decreased tourism means losing jobs to workers in the hotel industry, hence putting such a country’s economic status in jeopardy.
A polluted ocean translates to polluted inhabitants in the sea, majorly the fish species. These widely contaminated fish varieties provide fish sources to many low-income families in underdeveloped and developing countries where fishing is done. Apart from elevating their economic situation, fish is their main source of protein essential in the body. Therefore, contaminated fish results in deplorable health risks and loss of finances from the high-end market, where consumers are more careful with what they consume (Thompson & Oakes, 2020). Death to the poisonous fish is also a risk since the eventual effect depletes fish stocks for consumption. With the increased human population’s impact, fishers are now forced to fish more than the ocean can self-replenish to meet the ever-increasing demand. The expansive fishing activities continue to put critically endangered fish species at risk of extinction. Consequently, there is a loss of the national heritage as well as an increased food security crisis. Though adopting conventional aquaculture could help ease these extreme fishing practices, they also pollute their immediate oceanic surroundings.
Ocean acidification through Pollution of the ocean via air-based sources also has an eventual threat to humanity. Though gradual, the rise in the ocean’s acidity levels leads to endangering of fish, especially those that can not survive in such environments. For example, the oyster farms along the California Coast had to close down due to the seawater’s increased acidity levels, which prevented the oyster larvae from reproducing (Osterath, 2017). Failure of the affected fish species from reproduction consequently leads to their death. In case they don’t mutate and adapt to the increased ph levels of acidity, they are wiped out. The farms were closed down hence affecting the livelihoods of the workers in that industry. Consequently, such industries’ closure is another blow to low-income countries that depend on such fish species for food. With the ever-increasing human population, decreased food sources are always a threat to humanity. Since survival of the fitness means killing one another to get this precious resource.
The indirect ocean pollution through industrial carbon dioxide emissions leads to global warming. The ocean absorbs most of the carbon dioxide washed by rain and snow into the rivers or directly to it. Storing this huge quantity of carbon dioxide contributes to the heating of the water surface. Warming of the ocean has adverse effects on the entire human civilization regardless of whichever a country contributes to carbon dioxide emissions or not. First of all, the increased temperature leads to ice breakage in the tropical regions of the earth (Osterath, 2017). The meltdown water from glaciers and ice caps flow find their way into rivers and eventually into lakes and the ocean (Osterath, 2017). Increased sea levels translate to the displacement of people living along these waters from their homes. Islands get submerged, reducing the territorial spaces of countries surrounded by oceans.
Global warming also has a direct effect on increased food insecurity. It affects the marine ecosystem, creating a difficult environment for marine fish, especially the clownfish. Decreased habitats of such fish species automatically reduce their numbers. Subsequently, depending on their consumption and fishers who generate their daily income, they are denied that survivability mode. When ocean temperatures rise, the frequency of extreme tropical storms also rises. One such occurrence was Hurricane Matthew, which hit Haiti in 2016, leading to more than 5oo people (Osterath, 2017). Hurricane Matthew led to an economic loss amounting to over $15 billion for Haiti and the neighboring countries of the United States, Cuba, and the Bahamas (Osterath, 2017). The economic impact of such stormy weather is usually immense such that the affected countries have to seek foreign aid and donations from well-wishers for them to recover.
Conclusively, regardless of the source of ocean pollution and the culprit countries, the threat to humanity is real from such human activities. Economic, social, and health repercussions are dire if all the necessary and strict measures to curb ocean pollution are not put into place. Food insecurity and decreased fish population can only be countered with a joint worldly effort to deal with this kind of Pollution. Otherwise, the whole human civilization will continue to be threatened.
Osterath, Brigitte. “5 Biggest Threats To Our Oceans – And What We Can Do About Them | DW | 05.10.2017”. DW.COM, 2017,
Thompson, Khari, and Bob Oakes. “Increasing Ocean Pollution Poses Threat To Human Health, New Study Claims.” Wbur.Org, 2020, https://www.wbur.org/earthwhile/2020/12/03/ocean-pollution-health-philip-landrigan. Accessed 14 Apr 2021.