I have a strong and irrational fear of deep water.
While this is pretty ironic since I swam competitively for 12 years, there is something about the unknown depths lingering underneath my kicking feet that scares the crap out of me.
So with the constant news about the search for Malaysian Flight 370, I can’t help but have a little panic attack while thinking about a real takeaway from this tragedy.
We know very little about our oceans.
While watching the recent events unfold on CNN about the possible location of the missing jet, the headline “Most isolated part of the world” flashed across the screen. I really never gave those words much thought until now.
Humanity’s idea of “the world” ends at every coastline, picking up after a long, blue void where most people pull down the window shade on the plane and catch some shut eye. But that is the real world. As we’ve all learned in elementary school science classes, 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, and 97 percent of that water lies in our oceans.
But why care? We don’t live in the ocean. We stay landlocked with the ferocity of water contained to the Mississippi River and Lake Calhoun.
I think we should care because as humans, we are explorers by nature.
The fact is, we have explored and studied the rest of our universe possibly more than the vast majority of our own planet.
While the tragedy of Flight 370 continued to be reported on this past week, the other peaking news was scientific discovery of the origin of the Big Bang. That’s a pretty tremendous discovery for something that happened billions of years ago. An article on Space.com said researchers at certain observatories have the ability to discover more than 8,000 galaxies on a single, clear night. We have flown manned-missions to the moon and unmanned missions throughout our galactic neighborhood.
But, we have only discovered less than five percent of our oceans … isn’t that pitiful?
Take, for example, the possible advancements that can be made from discovering the different forms of life lurking thousands of feet below. I’m not suggesting mermaids or the Loch Ness monster, but think of what scientists could do with information about how these species survive in total darkness and overwhelming pressure.
I’m disappointed that it always takes tragedy to remember the power of our oceans. Whether it be hurricanes, tsunamis or the disappearance of people, our idea of the importance of the oceans quickly sinks like a rock into the abyss.
So as you all are sitting on the beach this spring break drinking beers with friends, remember what that big, expansive body of water in front of you both holds and is capable of.
I may be terrified of that deep water, but I’m more curious about what it holds.
Alex Goering can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.