June 8th was World Oceans Day! World Oceans Day had been celebrated world-round since the United Nations founded it in 1992. 

World Oceans Day is a worldwide movement that calls on global leaders to protect 30 percent of land and ocean over the next 10 years.  This year’s theme is “innovation for a sustainable ocean.” World Oceans Day 2020 is being celebrated virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

How important are our oceans? Well, they take up about 70 percent of the Earth, and are central to the current climate change crisis. 

“The oceans are actually absorbing about a third of the carbon dioxide that we are releasing,” Jacqueline Savitz, Oceana’s chief policy officer for North America, told CBS News.  “They are doing us this huge service, because climate change would actually be worse than it is today if it weren’t for the oceans. But that service that they are providing us is also making it sick.”

Warming waters deep within the ocean are speeding the rate of climate change, according to a recent international study. 

“On World Oceans Day, I think the important thing is to be optimistic,” added Savitz. “People are recognizing that it affects their communities, and their businesses and their towns. Our message is be hopeful, and let’s try to make some changes that matter to the oceans.”

Climate change isn’t the only threat our oceans face — overfishing and pollution are also throwing oceans into crisis, and threatening the safety and health of people and wildlife all across the world. 

The Campaign for Nature’s 30X30 petition, which urges policymakers to commit to conserve at least 30 percent of Earth by 2030. The Campaign for Nature is a coalition between the Wyss Campaign for Nature, the National Geographic Society, and over 100 international conservation organizations.

Want to learn more about oceans? Check out this recommended reading list for World Oceans Day from the New York Times.