Preamble

The ocean fascinates many people because of its contradictory nature. On the one hand there is its liberating immensity, the shimmering beauty of its countless shades of blue, and its numerous inhabitants; on the other, its unfathomable depths and its unpredictability, which manifests itself in tales of sea monsters and disasters like the sinking of the Titanic or the catastrophic tsunami of 2004. But the ocean is also, and above all, an essential part of our environment—one without which life on earth would be impossible in its present form. But neither the fascination it holds nor our present knowledge of the connection between human activities and their effect on the ocean—and, thus, on climate—have caused human societies to change their behaviour, which is leading to the destruction of the marine habitat, marine mammals and other creatures, and, consequently, to the destruction of humanity’s basis of existence.

The ocean’s existence continues to be imperilled by man-made environmental pollution (oil slicks, sewage, chemicals, CO2 production), noise pollution (overly loud ships’ engines, sonar experiments), overfishing, oil extraction, and tourism. The reasons for such behaviour may include ignorance, habit and indifference as well as the profit motive. But only if this changes and human societies rediscover a balance between their own needs and those of the ocean will its resources and habitats be preserved for the benefit of all living creatures. If not, future generations will encounter difficulties with their living space, whose extent is wholly unforeseeable. The signs are that we shall have to grapple far sooner than originally thought with the consequences of the sins against climate committed by previous generations and the present generation in particular.

If the ocean and its inhabitants are to be preserved for future generations, the present generation must modify its behaviour. For this to happen, mental stimuli must be exerted in order to bring about the requisite change of attitude. Only those who have sufficient information to become acquainted with the ocean’s multifarious contradictions can develop the respect and enthusiasm required to espouse its cause. This must be achieved by the furtherance of scientific research, by acquiring knowledge of other cultures and their relations with the sea, and by providing the general public with all the information gleaned to date.