Our planet has evolved over 4.5 billion years to a relatively steady state that nurtures millions of animal and plant species, writes Cllr Giles Archibald, leader of South Lakeland District Council.

Fundamental to the survival of the species is the supply of water, 97 per cent of which is salt water contained in the oceans.

The water in the sea evaporates into the atmosphere, forms clouds, passes over the land and falls as rain which then, principally through rivers and groundwater, flows back into the ocean.

Sadly, the rain is not evenly distributed around the world and, partly because of climate change, some areas are facing extreme drought.

Our management of the oceans is going to cause us problems in the future.

Greenhouse gases, particularly CO2, are partly absorbed into the ocean and cause the sea to become more acidic, destroying certain marine life and the coral reef.

Global warming melts the polar ice caps. While we don’t anticipate the caps fully melting this century, there is evidence of significant ice loss.

The climate of northern Europe is unusually warm as a result of ocean currents. The fear is these currents are likely to be severely dislocated by global warming with the result some countries in northern Europe may potentially face a new ice age, while the rest of the world heats up.

But it is not just global warming that is a worry.

Water pollution through nitrogen run-off has created hundreds of dead zones around the world.

The oceans provide approximately 20 per cent of the protein humans consume. Sadly, we are overfishing about a third of the world’s fish stocks, and killing marine life by plastic and other pollution.

Why is it important? Well, the oceans will likely provide part of the key to whether we can comfortably survive a significant rise in average temperatures. Fortunately, we now know of the dangers and people are paying attention. It is not too late.