There should be no doubt we live in a ‘web of life‘, where the entire planet is inter-related.
While a person may not feel immediately affected by certain disruption to tje earth’s living eco-system, down the road, and we are well down the road, larger and larger segments of humans and their abilities to survive on this planet will be severly challenged.
A bewildering swirl of tiny creatures dominates life in the oceans.
More numerous than the stars in the universe, these organisms serve as the foundation of all marine food webs, recycling major elements and producing and consuming about half the organic matter generated on Earth each year (1).
In this issue, five research articles from the Tara Oceans expedition (2–6) provide a vivid, potentially transformative view of the genetic diversity and interconnectivity of these unseen marine communities of viruses, bacteria, archaea, single-celled eukaryotes, and small planktonic animals (see the figure).
On 8 June, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrates World Oceans Day, a fitting occasion to remind ourselves of the essential role of the oceans in making Earth a habitable planet.
We have had an official day of celebration for the oceans only since December 2008. In contrast, Earth Day has been celebrated every year since 1970. Conceived by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson in the aftermath of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, Earth Day became a focus for the growing environmental movement (it became an international event in 1990) and the catalyst that led to the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts in the United States.
Imagine what might be accomplished if World Oceans Day could similarly inspire actions for improving the state of the oceans worldwide. Author: Marcia McNutt
Together, these studies deliver compelling evidence for extensive networks of previously hidden biological interactions in the sea. Authors: E. Virginia Armbrust, Stephen R. Palumbi
Like the human body, our planet is a living organism, and like the organs in the body, all of our planet’s species are interconnected.
They form the web of life. And, just like the human body can survive with just one kidney or one eye, our planet and the web of life can survive without a few species here and there.
But, like with the loss of organs in the body, there’s eventually a point at which the biological systems of planet Earth that support human life will just stop functioning if it loses too many species and thus too badly frays the web of life.
And that point could be coming a lot sooner than most people thought.
Would You like to learn more about the web of life