Critically evaluate the various resources of the oceans which can be harnessed to meet the resource crisis in the world.
Oceans cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface and represent an enormous reserve of resources that can potentially help meet global resource needs. Key resources that oceans provide include:
- Food Resources: Fish stocks and aquaculture provide food and nutrition for billions globally. However, overfishing is severely depleting populations and damaging marine ecosystems. Sustainable fishing practices and restoring fish stocks are essential.
- Energy Resources: Offshore oil and gas, as well as renewable sources like offshore wind, tidal and wave energy can contribute considerable clean energy. However, exploration and infrastructure development costs are high.
- Mineral Resources: The ocean floor contains rich deposits of minerals like manganese, cobalt, nickel, copper, lithium and rare earth elements vital for technologies and electronics. Extraction is technologically challenging at present however.
- Water Resources: Seawater desalination offers virtually limitless freshwater supply from the oceans. However, the technology remains expensive and energy-intensive currently.
While oceans can provide solutions to resource crises, major technological advancements are still needed in most domains to tap the resources in an economically viable and environmentally sound manner. Formidable challenges also exist in undertaking mega projects in extremely deep, remote and harsh oceanic conditions. Considerable investments in R&D and innovations targeted at ocean resources are vital. With the advent of sophisticated sea-faring infrastructure and automation, the promise of oceans warrant an optimistic outlook provided sustainability is prioritized. International cooperation is also pivotal to realize the potential and equitably distribute benefits.