Mankind and the Oceans

Mankind and the Oceans

Mankind and the Oceans

Mankind and the Oceans

Synopsis

The oceans play an important part in our lives, by controlling climate and weather conditions; hosting shipping, transportation, recreation and tourism; and providing us with food, minerals and petroleum. But a rapidly growing population -especially in coastal zones -and the resulting increase in industrial effluent, municipal sewage, and runoff from agricultural areas, as well as antifouling agents used on ships and aquaculture nets, and the excessive exploitation of fish stocks all seriously threaten the health of the oceans. To manage ocean resources and the environment reasonably we need well-designed scientific research, strong international networks, and public education. This book provides insights into our fundamental understanding of the relationship between the human society and the oceans, and it suggests ways to integrate the management of coastal and marine zones. Mankind and the Oceans contains important evidence of the role of the oceans in our survival in the twenty-first century. Focusing on regional and national case studies, the book emphasizes approaches that can help remedy human impact on the oceans. It contains valuable information on the ocean environment, including controversial issues such as fish stock depletion rates, plus the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity. This book is a useful tool for policymakers, resource managers, graduate and undergraduate students, scientists, and anyone concerned about the role and future of our oceans.

Excerpt

Since the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth century, human society has evolved numerous technologies for a modern lifestyle, and apparently changed human environment to a more convenient and more efficient form. However, in recent years we have come face to face with severe global environmental problems like increasing marine pollution, the greenhouse effect, acid rain, destruction of the ozone layer, increasing desertification, etc. We need to reconsider our lifestyles and approaches comprehensively in the context of these global environmental issues.

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992, created a new awareness of the fundamental problems of sustainable development. The Rio Summit agreed on a broad programme of action leading into the twenty-first century – Agenda 21. Through the joint efforts of governments, non-governmental organizations, and the scientific community, we have begun to realize that global environmental problems in the long term may threaten human survival itself. We need to tackle them urgently, and the responses have to be on a global scale – this is an essential challenge for the UN system in the new millennium.

Human life has a long history of close relationship with the oceans. Oceans are the most important environmental zone for maintaining normal global environmental conditions, because they occupy about 70 per cent of the global surface. It is quite appropriate that the United Nations declared 1998 as the International Year of the Ocean. Celebrating the year had a special meaning in Japan, where a national holiday for “the Marine Day” was already established on 20 July in 1996 to enhance public awareness on oceans. This holiday marked the coming into . . .

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