"Do not eat the seeds with which you have to sow the harvest of tomorrow"
Sustainable development is one that can meet current needs without compromising the resources of future generations.
The definition of sustainable development proposed by the World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) is:
“The development that ensures the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to face their own needs”.
In a sustainable society, resources should not be used at a faster pace than their regeneration. No pollutants are emitted at a higher rate than the natural system is capable of absorbing or neutralizing. And finally, the use of non-renewable resources must be done while being aware of their limitations.
To achieve this ideal model of society, we must think globally and act locally.
The oceans are an essential part of our biosphere: they influence our climate and affect our health and well-being. In fact, without the oceans life would not exist on our planet.
KEY FACTORS IN THE SUSTAINABILITY OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT
In the sustainable development of seas and oceans countless factors come into play. The main ones when it comes to ensuring this sustainability are the following:
Rational use of the sea as a limited resource.
What better way to achieve a sustainable marine environment than by promoting a sustainable distribution of its resources?
As far as the exploitation of marine resources is concerned, some developed coastal countries (Japan, Russia and Spain should be mentioned) are overexploiting the seas, depleting resources (since they are not an infinite source) and undermining fauna. This directly affects the developing countries that subsist thanks to local fishing, over which overexploitation has an impact, since the population of marine species is descending on a large scale. Therefore, it is unfair that the different coastal countries can not benefit fairly from the sea in its proper measure. We could summarize by saying that this overfishing is leading to the extinction of other species by altering the food chain. Therefore, the development of aquaculture should continue to be promoted to ensure the survival of threatened species and ensure human nutrition
Another key element is safety at sea, it responds to numerous types:
In the first place, it would be security regarding radioactive or polluting maritime transport. The sea is the main means of transport, because large volumes of goods can be transported between geographically distant points and also because of their versatility, since the ships adapt in form and size to the cargo. For these reasons they circulate in the seas aboard freighters, tankers, tankers, container carriers … harmful substances, radioactive materials, nuclear waste and dangerous chemical products among others.
Taking as an example the natural catastrophe of the Prestige, the need to create stricter laws and in many cases to end the permissiveness that exists with many ships that do not pass the inspections correctly but that continue to sail, is patent.
Another type would be security in the matter of piracy. The States and competent International Organizations must cooperate to prevent this terrorism, and if it happens to have a plan of action in this regard, or regulate the legal framework of international waters to not leave a legal vacuum in which they can act. In recent years, the Horn of Africa is the coastal area that is being most affected by this activity that Somali pirates are carrying out.
And finally, security regarding the illegal traffic of both people and goods, with special emphasis on illegal substances such as drugs and narcotics. In the case of Spain, most of the smuggling takes place in the Strait of Gibraltar, the entry route to Spain of illegal immigrants, drugs and tobacco.
Taking into account the immensity of the sea, it is obvious that it is not possible to have as precise a control as it does on land, but it is possible to increase the action of the coastal surveillance to stop the illicit traffic.
REDUCTION OF POLLUTION AND CARE OF THE ENVIRONMENT
Most of the activities that take place in the marine environment have a harmful effect on the oceans with repercussions in greater or lesser scale. For this reason, in order to achieve a sustainable marine environment, it is essential to fulfill the following premises:
protect and preserve the marine environment and its living resources against pollution and physical degradation, and
to urge all States to cooperate and take action, directly or through the competent international organizations, for the protection and preservation of the marine environment.
Climate change is affecting to a greater or lesser extent a multitude of factors that are altering the entire marine ecosystem and influencing a radical change in the conditions that have existed up to now. For example, as the poles melt, the climate is altering, which in turn alters temperatures and salinity and this triggers a change in the habitat of many species, modifying the environment and altering the existential conditions.
The sea level is also rising which will influence the way of life of humans.
With the change in the rainfall regime less amount of fresh water reaches the sea, which leads to an increase in salinity.
The oceans are reaching the limit of their capacity to absorb CO2, which is why water acidification and the death of many species, especially crustaceans, are occurring because they can not fix calcium in their shells.
But perhaps the most serious and determining problem of human influence on the marine environment is the concentration of the population in the coastal zone and the total and absolute urbanization of the coast.
Another serious and very serious problem that is occurring right now is the destruction of the coral reef and the mangroves in Central America, Australia and New Zealand, eliminating the habitat of thousands of species and unprotecting the coast.
The oceans cover almost three-quarters of the earth’s surface and contain nine-tenths of the water resources.
Only 50 years ago the sea was still largely a virgin natural space. Nowadays, however, pollution, which is more or less than 80% of it due to terrestrial activities, is a threat to the health of the oceans. It is a pity that what has remained practically unchanged for millennia radically changes because of the irresponsible activity of humans.
At least, at present there is an international ecological conscience that attends to these problems of such diverse nature that are key to the future of humanity.
We will also consider this section as a catch-all box within which we will include reflections, omens and uncertainties:
- It is affirmed that the sea will be the future larder of humanity, however, this is not a fact that supports us poorly according to the current circumstances.
- Another serious risk that runs through the seafloor and the entire submerged crust is how the future exploitation and extraction of its resources, such as oil, gas and other minerals, will affect it.
- It is also intended to use the force of the tides to generate electricity. How will the necessary infrastructures influence marine currents?
- What will be the solution to the next problem? It is said that between Japan and the United States there is an extension of sea equal to the surface of Spain that they call “the sea of plastic”, because the dynamics of the marine currents has concentrated there all the garbage of this material like bags, containers and utensils to use and throw.
Via: Isabel Bermúdez Fernández 2ºLMT
X AULA PLURILINGÜE DEL MEDIOAMBIENTE – Universidad Nebrija.