by Shreya Nippani
“It is surely our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth” - Sir David Attenborough. The oceans are the source of life for all living beings, but it will soon die away due to the enormous amount of plastic and debris in the water. Ocean currents, or gyres, sweep away plastic into the ocean where it forms a massive stretch of waste in the water. The Great Garbage Patch between Hawaii and California is an example of that problem. Water is a vital part of life, for animals and humans alike, and without it, the world would be a globe of dry, arid land. For this reason, the United States Government should invest money in cleaning up the oceans.
The ocean contains a vast amount of sea creatures, and because of people’s poor decisions, these animals are suffering and dying through the consumption of microplastics in bodies of water. According to Harvard University researchers, more than 8 million of the nearly 300 million tons of plastic produced every year are dumped in the world’s oceans. This shows the immense amount of plastic that is floating around in the ocean and how much it can affect an animal’s natural habitat. NOAA stated that, “Worldwide, hundreds of marine species have been negatively impacted by marine debris, which can harm or kill an animal when it is ingested or they become entangled”. Animals are unknowingly consuming debris and plastics which not only can lead to fatality, but can disrupt their lifestyle and their dwellings. No one wants to see dead animals washing up ashore or animals entangled in a fisher’s net on their relaxing day at the beach. Precious lives are being destroyed due to the ignorance of people in this society. There have been many campaigns dedicated to protecting marine life, and the littering of oceans as well, but none of these instances have empowered people to take a stand and do their part for the environment. This situation has become a worldwide issue and no country wants to take responsibility for this mess, as it costs a lot of money and consumes a substantial amount of time. The Government of the United States of America must take action before it is too late or else all the sea creatures will perish under the current circumstances.
In addition, not only does ocean pollution affect its inhabitants, but it also impacts humans too. Many people become mortally ill when they eat seafood that has been contaminated with germs, pesticides, and microplastics. The Boston College news article states that “Research shows the oceans are being fouled by a complex stew of toxins including mercury, pesticides, industrial chemicals, petroleum wastes, agricultural runoff, and manufactured chemicals embedded in plastic. These toxic materials in the ocean get into people, mainly by eating contaminated seafood”. This shows the threat that is concerning many people in the society, especially children and the elderly who have lower immunity levels than others. As citizens of the United States of America, people must be aware of their actions and how they can affect others and the environment. It is a horrible plight to see humans and animals dying because of toxicated foods. Researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) say that ”These chemicals have been shown to cause a wide range of health effects in humans such as cardiovascular disease, developmental and neurobehavioral disorders, metabolic disease, immune dysfunction, endocrine disruption, and cancers”. Diseases such as those can become severe and will affect a person entirely. Moreover, if the amount of trash in the ocean increases exponentially, in the next few years, more people and animals will be dying and beaches across the globe might shut down due to the accumulating plastic and toxins. If the government puts in the effort, and everyone pitches in and works together, some day, the planet may be restored to its fresh polluted-free waters.
Although no one can disagree on the fact that preserving the oceans is vital and necessary, many countries, including the United States, are not investing money into cleaning it up even though they acknowledge that the oceans are in dire need of saving. Though it costs a lot of money to cleanse the ocean in its entirety, the government should set aside capital for this purpose. The American Government is allocating funds for space exploration instead of using the money to pay for ships to clear out all the trash that has settled in the ocean. NASA's budget in 2020 is $22.629 billion which represents 0.48% of all U.S. government spending. This is a 5.3% increase from the previous year (The Planetary Society). The evidence above shows that NASA has been receiving billions of dollars to discover the possibility of extraterrestrial life and other new galaxies. This is highly unnecessary as life on the planet Earth is withering away and the government is oblivious of the fact that the world would never be the same if they persistently ignore taking crucial measures in preserving the ocean. Space exploration has its benefits, but not at the cost of wasting money on it for the supplies and materials when they could use the money for more effective reasons. The amount of plastic settled in the ocean is vast, but with a little more effort from the government and a reduction in NASA’s spendings, the planet may be saved.
To conclude, the oceans must be cleansed so that animals and humans do not die or become severely ill due to the toxins that are swelled up in the ocean. The government should fund the renewal of the ocean by investing money for a good cause. People should feel empowered to help preserve the oceans if they want the planet to survive for many more years. Everyone must do their part to help sustain the ocean because water equals life and we cannot survive without it. As Bill Clinton once said, “We know that when we protect our oceans we’re protecting our future”, so go out into the world and live out his message; by saving the ocean, people can save precious lives, live harmoniously, and will conserve the ocean for future generations.