The oceans connect all continents; they are owned by no one, yet they belong to all of us by virtue of their mobile nature. The oceans may be viewed as the common heritage of humankind, the responsibility and life support of us all. This essay overviews the global ocean’s complicated history that produces today’s immensely complex system in which thousands of physical, chemical, and biological processes continually interact over many scales of time and space. It also limns as the Ocean Observing Initiative’s bold project now underway to put the Internet under the sea and provide an observation tool of unequaled potential.
Under warm, sunny skies along Monterey Bay in California last May, marine scientists and engineers met with leading legislators and policy makers to confront some cold, hard, disturbing facts: Greenhouse gas emissions and other human-induced impacts are threatening the health of marine life, and coordinated action between policy makers and scientists is needed now to address this enormous problem.
By 2100, most of the world’s coral reefs could be living in waters that lack the minerals for them to repair damage, as a result of ocean acidification.