Analyzing Pollution in the Oceans Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Systems Thinking Applied to Sustainability Challenges



"Systems Thinking is Critical in Developing Solutions to Sustainability Challenges"

Pollution in the Oceans

Ocean pollution is an issue for both society and individuals. Such complex issues exhibit some commonality, including being nonlinear, being heterogeneous, interdependent and self organized. It follows, therefore, that the issues require well thought-out and equally complex solutions. Venturing on pursuing causes without structured frameworks is a waste of time.

'Systems thinking' provide a new model for solving complex problems that afflict society; including pollution issues. In the system, biology interacts with social, cultural and manmade environmental elements in permutations and combinations that continue to evolve, discontinuously. The causes of pollution (Anon., n.d.) arise at various levels. They also interact at these varying levels. Organizations and individual entities are important at any given level. There is optimization of the system function when the capacities of the two entities to respond are balanced with the complex nature of individual tasks. There is need to extend network support to assist them turn into practice communities and entities that will influence change. That is essential if the problem of pollution is to be addressed.

The efforts in research need to shift focus from merely seeking the causes of pollution and rededicate the research energies on the solutions that have been demonstrated as being able to solve 'wicked" problems (Nestec Limited, 2012).

Ocean pollution

Oceans are polluted from a wide variety of sources, including those on land, oil spills, effluent from factories, untreated sewage, invasive animal and plant species, high siltation, persistent organic pollutants, eutrophication, heavy metals that originate from mines, acidification, radioactivity, overfishing, marine litter, destruction of marine and coastal habitats (M.C Cook, 1999). The importance of oceans in the lives of humans and the general well-being of the planet earth cannot be overemphasized. Indeed, oceans play a pivotal role in economic development of people. The concepts of Green Economy and sustainable development can only be sensible if they are viewed in the context of the role that oceans play. According to (World Commission on Environment and Developments, 1987) the essence of sustainable development is in meeting the current generation's needs without compromising the future generations chances of meeting their life needs. It also refers to the kind of development that satisfies the present needs without interfering with the chances of survival of future generations (Anon., n.d.). Sustainable development has gained acceptance across the globe and is recognized by the world community in the effort to handle social, environmental and economic issues that have plagued the world for 20 years now. The ocean is in great danger of destruction. Communities that live along the coastal areas are often unable to cope with the challenges that face them on regular basis. Governments also seem unable to implement changes that can address the issues (Anon., n.d.).

Pollution, particularly ocean pollution, is caused by the release of undesirable substances from industrial processing units and other sources into the surrounding environment. Pollutants are varied and many. Any substance that is released into the environment and leads to undesired effect or negatively affects useful resources is a pollutant. Pollutants are harmful in many ways. They may stunt the growth of animal or plant species. These effects may be long-term or short-term. They may also interrupt or interfere with the comfort of humans, including their health, value of property and other amenities (Business Dictionary, n.d.)

Most of the pollution to the marine environment comes from dry land. Non-point source pollution is a major cause of pollution. It refers to the effect of runoffs from distant places that lead into the oceans. The supply of such nonpoint pollution comes from such sources as cars, trucks, septic tanks, trucks and boats. They cumulatively contribute to a significant amount of pollution in the oceans. Drops of oil in parking lots and roads come from millions of motor vehicles across the globe. When the rains come, these pollutants are swept into river channels that lead to oceans. Some water pollution starts off as air pollution; the particles eventually settle into the water sources and oceans. Dirt is a pollutant too. Silt from erosion in the fields and other dirt is swept into the waterways and eventually harms the wildlife habitats and fish. Nonpoint pollution causes ocean and river water toxic for human and wildlife use. It has been observed that in some areas, the effect of nonpoint pollution is so serious that beaches and waterfronts are closed after storms. In the U.S.A. alone, a third of the shellfish waters are affected adversely by nonpoint pollution at the coast (National Oceanic and atmospheric Adimnistration, 2015). In order to counter the challenge, there is need for integrated plan for the use of land. These include sectors such as tourism, fisheries and even the coastal development and infrastructure changes (Anonson R., 2003) that run in tandem with systems thinking.

Systems Thinking Approach

Systems thinking involves boosting an understanding of how (society and economy) the ecological and social systems operate and why they are that way. People gain the insight by looking at the component parts in view that there is an inherent relationship with each other and with other surrounding systems as opposed to viewing them in isolation (Sustainability, 2016).

This paper points out that system models were provided for purposes of sustainability by using the 'systems thinking' method. The approach sought to address systems complexity by collecting the thoughts of all stakeholders in what they consider to be workable solutions to the existing problems of ocean pollution in Africa. Irrespective of whether people consider systems thinking as part of the way the social world operates or just see it as a mental and academic construct, it is clear that systems thinking has drawn lots of attention in various fields of research and development in the recent past; global pollution of oceans is included (Michelle Kauletio, 2014)

It presented a golden chance for stakeholders to think now and beyond, figuring out the kind of consequences that could arise from their decisions in the present moment. There was need to think critically, assess and avert the accidental results that policies often lead to. That way, organizational Myopia and Silo mentality can also be avoided" (Kwamina E. Banson, 2014).

Cities and systems in general are by default interconnected. Therefore, it is futile to try to understand or manage them by looking at subsets of the systems. Ecological and social systems are interconnected. Such interconnectivity exists between and among the various socio-ecological systems. Ideally, systems thinking focuses on the interconnectivity and relationships; not simply the individual components. Systems thinking are evident in helping the planning units in major cities. There is a lot of interconnectivity that spans bio geophysical limits, social networks, political networks, and economic linkages. Strangely, it is not possible to understand how a system works by merely looking at the components. There is need for a holistic view of the systems. Such an attribute poses a myriad of 'wicked' challenges for marine environment planners (Phearson, 2013)

The nature of systems in cities should be influenced by systems thinking. Ecology systems are the backbone of the 21st Century urban ecology and science theory. The theory can be traced back to the systems thinkers that supplied a great deal of the intellectual tenets for organizational theory. Although systems thinking can be applied to the management of natural resources, humans are somewhat constrained to think along such systems thinking paths. For instance, the majority of natural resource managers have acquired some kind of university education. Such education is mostly founded on reductionist ideas as postulated by Descartes. It is known that breaking the knot in solving difficult issues involves splitting them into smaller components and dealing with each part in isolation. The philosophy is engrained in scientific knowledge and education in general (Phearson, 2013)

People have increasingly become careless about clearing and cleaning up what happens after their actions. Consequently, there is an increasing risk of losing many species of flora and fauna. Humans are at the risk of self-inflicted effects of pollution. Studies show that on average, people produce up to a pound of plastic each day. All this ends up in waterways and, eventually in oceans (Geology and Human Heallth, n.d.).

Systems thinking begin with faulting the Cartesian view that a component segment is the same when cut out as it is when it is part of the whole. It is not erroneous to state that we already know that the assumption is wrong in terms of socio-ecological systems. The purpose and function of an individual component relies heavily on the relationship between such a component and other parts in the whole set. It is also influenced by the behaviour and function of other parts in the system. This observation is also true in genetic behaviour. It holds true in humans in social networks and in business networks, too. The approach has been…

Sources Used in Document:


Anon., n.d. [Online]

Available at:

Anonson R., B. B. J. F. P. W. e. a., 2003. Causes of Corol ref degradation.. [Online].

Business Dictionary, n.d. [Online]

Cite This Research Paper:

"Analyzing Pollution In The Oceans" (2016, March 31) Retrieved December 9, 2018, from

"Analyzing Pollution In The Oceans" 31 March 2016. Web.9 December. 2018. <>

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