Why We Are Nothing Without Our Oceans5 min read

It’s World Oceans Day today, a day to celebrate our blue planet. But most importantly, it is time to spread awareness. By now, we all know clean water is becoming increasingly scarce. We’ve polluted the planet to a point of a global infection. The proof is in the stomachs full of packaging and raindrops poisoned by pesticides. We can’t escape this painful yet powerful truth; we are water ourselves. Your heart is 73% water, your lungs are 83% water, your kidneys are 79% water1.

We’ve tainted the food chain and we’re slowly becoming consumed by microplastics ourselves. It only comes back to haunt us. We eat the fish we’ve filled with filth. We drink the water we’ve treated like waste. And just like when our human bodies battle a fever, the world is heating up to solve the problem. The biggest problem on this planet, in this case, are our habits. It’s us. We have to make water the absolute priority. That is the only option if we want to find our way in this watershed.

View of the Tyrrhenian Sea from Populonia, an ancient abandoned city in Tuscany
View of the South Atlantic Ocean from the Cape of Storms in South Africa

Even though I’m thinking about a timescale much larger than my own, I sometimes feel like our generations are living on borrowed land and borrowed time that we were never granted permission for. We just took it. That’s how we’ve treated the planet for the last few centuries. You can’t just borrow something and never give it back. You can’t blame the planet for holding a grudge.

I’ve been reading a lot about sinking cities lately; Bangkok, Jakarta, New Orleans, Venice, Shanghai and I can go on. Amsterdam is one of those cities, where I live myself. Kotchakorn Voraakhom, a landscape architect and the Chief Executive Officer of the Porous City Network, said something fascinating recently2: what if humans became amphibians again? No, clearly we can’t reverse the evolutionary tree. But she has a point. What about living with the water, instead of fighting it in a futile attempt to conquer nature? Let’s focus on the ways we can better align ourselves with the currents.

A surfer on the Andalusian shoreline in Spain (North Atlantic Ocean)
A young girl watches the waves on Zandvoort Beach in Holland (North Sea)

What if humans started thinking more like amphibians again? What about living with the water, instead of fighting it in a futile attempt to conquer nature?

Our early ancestors were born in water, we still grow into humans in the water in our mothers’ wombs, we all swim (or at least float) before we even breathe for the very first time. We can’t escape what we’ve done to our water, there is no back-up planet B, no matter how much we want to believe it. And without clean water, we will shrivel away. Protecting our oceans means protecting every form of life on Earth. Neglecting our oceans is a crime against nature and, in extension, a crime against ourselves.

A surfer in the North Atlantic Ocean, Andalusia
Rolling waves on the Dutch shoreline (North Sea)
Sunset view of the Adriatic Sea on Hvar Island in Croatia
Sailing on the Adriatic Sea near Bodrum, Turkey
Sunset on the Flores Sea in Indonesia, part of the Indian Ocean
A wild dolphin in the Sado Estuary in Portugal (Atlantic Ocean)
Summer sunset on the Wadden Islands in Friesland (North Sea)
Zlatni Rat, a beach on the Croatian island Brač (Adriatic Sea)
Andalucian horse Guapo takes a few steps into the ocean
An Andalusian horse and his rider in the North Atlantic Ocean
View of the Banda Sea from Hoga Island in Wakatobi, Indonesia
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