Celebrating the ‘Lungs of the Earth’


Having grown up in southern Negros, which is blessed by nature through its rolling mountains and hills, green and brown plains and stretches of postcard-pretty coasts, I have developed a great sense of affinity with a global celebration this week – World Oceans Day, which is annually observed every June 8.

The observance emphasizes the major role of oceans in our daily lives, as the United Nations, which declared the celebration in 1992 following the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, said: “They are the lungs of our Planet and a major source of food and medicine and a critical part of the biosphere.”

The day aims to, among others, “develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.”

The theme of the observance this year is “Awaken New Depths”.

To spur widespread momentum for the ocean, in an effort to see the situation beneath the surface, “we need to awaken new depths,” UN said, thus it is “joining forces with decision-makers, indigenous community leaders, scientists, private sector executives, civil society, celebrities and youth activists to showcase how our relationship with the ocean needs to urgently change.”

Why this urgent thrust to go beyond just skimming the surface?

UN explains with the following facts and figures:

• The ocean covers over 70% of the planet. It is our life source, supporting humanity’s sustenance and that of every other organism on earth.

• The ocean produces at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen, it is home to most of earth’s biodiversity, and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world. My

• It is key to our economy with an estimated 40 million people being employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.

• Oceans absorb about 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.

Amid the benefits the ocean bestows humanity, it is now in need of support, UN further said.

Citing that humans are taking note of what can be replenished in the ocean, the world body has lamented that today, 90% of big fish population has been depleted, and 50% of coral reefs destroyed, thus collective efforts have become imperative “to create a new balance with the ocean that no longer depletes its bounty but instead restores its vibrancy and brings it new life.”

So many poetry lines, song lyrics, pretty photographic photos and films have been produced to showcase the inspiring, relaxing and meditative impact of oceans in our lives in the same way that its ugly side – from pollution to turbulence and tsunamis – oft renders us helpless as victims of nature gone awry.

Through our “awakening” about the depths, we can generate more and impactful awareness and action to safeguard “the lungs of the planet”, a vital part of our existence as citizens of the world.


While we welcome the PAGASA report that the rainy season has started – on May 29 – we continue to feel the discomfort brought about by the searing heat that has been plaguing us since late March.

In fact, there were reports on extreme heat advisory in various parts of the country until the latter part of this week.

Let’s hope that the predicted southwest monsoon will bring us relieving scattered rains (and save us from tragedies that cone along with continued downpour).


As we go to press, Alert Level 2 remains in the Mt. Kanlaon activity watch – meaning increased unrest continues with moderate emission of plume of smoke as high as 500 meters reported, along with ground deformation.

Entry into the 4-km. radius of the Permanent Danger Zone remains disallowed.

We continue praying for the safety and provisions of needs of our island-mates affected by the restiveness if the volcano.


There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number – living things both large and small. (Psalm 124:25) | NWI