The Knowledge Down Below
In the ‘Star Trek’ movies, space is considered as the final frontier, since our Earth has some obvious environmental restraints. If human life is the most precious thing, then it is our moral duty to create and procreate human life as often and should forge new frontiers for expansion. Considering the infinite possibilities in space, the human life can easily flourish. Earth is also a self destructive planet. These issues and various other reasons are pointed out to support space research and space colonization (and we can’t deny these facts). We are excited about the possibility of moving to Mars, if our beloved planet explodes one day, but we are turning a blind eye to the abused ocean beds, which are crucial to keep Earth habitable.
The oceans make up to seventy percent of Earth’s surface and more than 90 percent of the sea is not explored. We discovered the largest mountain range on Earth, four years after the moon landing. Only recently, we discovered the largest volcano on Earth. Who knows, there might be some huge sea monsters or exciting new life forms, down there. But, apart from finding new, huge life forms, what is the importance of exploring oceans?
Before, going into that, consider this: NASA’s annual budget amount could fund 1000 years of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) annual budget. Robert Ballard, a professor of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, USA, said in a TED speech that, ’50 percent of the USA lies under the sea, yet, we have better maps of Mars.’ Oceans are responsible for Earth’s climatic changes. The sediments of deep sea ocean are like the knowledge tree, we saw in ‘Avatar.’ It holds bountiful information about ocean currents in the last 100,000 years. Changes in the currents results in enormous effect on weather. Ocean helps us to understand plate tectonics (i.e. earthquake). Around, 1955, it was proved that the sea floors are moving and the theory that, continents rest on tectonic plates was proved. 90 percent of Earth’s active volcanoes are found around the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, where the plates are moving constantly. Exploring the sea floors enables us to learn more about earthquakes and volcanoes, and it can also give us the knowledge to predict them.
The largest animal living on Earth is blue Whale, but after spending several years, we still know very little about this giant creature. There are more life forms on one acre of sea floor than on the entire land surface of Earth. The knowledge about evolving and non-evolving organisms is down below, where commercial profits and exciting discoveries can be made. Billions of microscopic organisms are functioning in the extreme environments that have never been cataloged. Once, we thought that life forms need sun to survive; now we know that creatures under the surface not only survive without it, some life forms are fed by things what we would consider as toxins. Using the ocean bed as dumping grounds of chemicals, plastics and sewage could simply destroy these vast, unknown, bio-luminescent surfaces. Finding a planet like ours is every scientist’s fantasy, but for now, Earth is our only new home. First, we need to protect the Oceans — our life support system, which gives us water and air.
James Cameron, the masterful film-maker, who created a planet from scratch, has spearheaded many deep sea explorations. He is very unhappy about the state of deep sea research. He sought out the expertise of various explorers and made a custom-built submersible to do 11,000 meter dive into cavernous Marianna Trench – only the third person to visit the deepest point on Earth. Cameron’s dive was a small but a strong attempt to reverse the decline of deep sea research.
Mankind has always looked in stars to discover the secrets of his existence, but this untamable natural surface has lots in its hold to discover. The ultimate final frontier – space –will wait for us. First, we should stop ignoring or start understanding the connection between our survival and that of the Ocean.