Earth, the name of our planet, comes from Old English meaning “ground, soil, dry land”. Since humans are terrestrial creatures by nature, it’s no surprise we chose to name our planet by the feature we knew best. Yet, only 29% of the planet surface is the greens, greys, browns, clays of earth; the remaining 71% is our shimmering ocean, representing 139 million square miles of planet surface and billions of tons of biomass.
Vital water gives us the blues, azures, cobalts, teals, grays of the ocean. Back to etymology, the word water comes, in part, from Sanskrit meaning “to animate.” Indeed, the dynamism and vitality of all life on Earth owes itself to the ocean. We often hear about how many millions of years ago, the first creatures emerged from the ocean to populate the land. For this, often is the refrain, we owe our existence to the ocean.
While this storyline is true, it misses the larger truth that the ocean has never stopped supporting us, that it has sustained and nurtured every living organism on this planet since the arrival of animate life. That it is sustaining you and me at this very moment. The 310 million cubic miles of water that are in our ocean is the cornerstone — actually the entire foundation — of planet chemistry and biology.
On Earth Day, as we observe and appreciate our planet’s grandeur, we should also hold dear the 71% percent of the planet that is often overlooked. The ocean is Earth’s blue heart and it sustains us and all we love. As we commit ourselves today to respect planet Earth, let’s remember that without blue, there is no green.