"It is now clear our actions are having a significant impact on the world's oceans. The future of humanity, and indeed all life on Earth, now depends on us."
Case in point. I read last year of a sailor who had taken several trips from the Perth area of Australia up to Japan. His last voyage was marked by a real emptiness of fish and birds. He said that the ocean felt dead and that there was lots of trash floating around in several areas. Perhaps some of that was due to the Fukushima disaster but I got the impression from his article that the effect on the oceans was more widespread.
A marine biologist recently reported that the Great Barrier Reef, an enormous marine ecosystem, is mostly dead or dying and that his realization of that after some field studies left him heart-broken. The acidification and warming of the oceans is a real danger to the most basic parts of the food chain like phytoplankton. One of the most ominous aspects of this is that there is a lag time in the rise of global atmospheric temperatures. The effects we are seeing now were caused by CO2, etc. that was released into the air decades ago. The amount being released now is much greater as the world has become much more industrialized.
We have ignored the truth of a basic law of ecology - everything is connected to everything else. A report today says that the melting ice of the Arctic will likely be the cause of more drought in California!
The Earth is an extremely complex and interconnected series of systems that operate due to the processes of biology, physics, chemistry, etc. It doesn’t give a damn about the nonsense spouted by politicians and corporatists and their too-little-too-late response as we face one crisis after another.
I’m afraid that Pogo was right - “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Tragically, millions of other species will also have to suffer and die because of our staggering foolishness and egotism.
Beg to differ with the article, but our scientists have known since
the Industrial Revolution the harm that “bus- I - ness” has on
Nature and all life.
Not only did they know in the late 1880’s, but at the minimum in
1957 scientists introduced the model of Global Warming to citizens
here. In 1992, there was a “Warning to Humanity” by Nobel Scientists
which was pretty much ignored by the press and government.
Many books were written on the subject – but nothing could compete
with right wing propaganda and Elite wealth as our oil industry began a
$50 billion campaign to lie to the American public about Global Warming.
The NY Times was an immense ally in that campaign, where for decades
ExxonMobil was given space on NYT’s Op-Ed pages to run "ad-editorials"
which couldn’t be replied to by any means as they were "advertisements."
About a dozen years ago, The Royal Academy of Science finally challenged
the oil industry to end the campaign of lies.
Obviously, humans are not suited for life on this planet.
It seems likely that we are “hybrids” who have been developed to live on
the planet but not compatibly or in accord with Nature here.
Sadly, our instinct to destroy seems to outweigh our instinct to preserve.
Someone please tell me what good is money and wealth how can we enjoy life without all the natural beauty and wonders, vast green healthy forests, clean air, clean streams and spring water, clean blue oceans and wholesome foods to eat?
What good is money?
Ironic, yet our bodies seem to reject all that is polluted and unhealthy
When I was going to public school; junior and high school in the late 60’s-early 70’s, class of '72, we learned about global warming, toxic pollution, overpopulation, ecology, as it was very apparent then, was a tremendous problem. Fast forward 45 years; we can see the harm humans have wrought on Earth as she’s dying and her ability to support life for all concerned. Leadership, the only ones to really effect monumental rapid change in time, don’t and won’t see the existential threat facing Earh’s ability to support life. IMHO the actions will be too little and way to late to save most of the life we have known in the past 10,000 years or so. Therefore a collapse is imminent, the only question is will humans survive it. I give it 30% and 5% less every decade, so time’s short indeed. Never fret there are scientists that think my estimates are way to generous and those that don’t, won’t look squarely at reality. I’m glad I have no children to inherit this mess industrial capitalism has created. (And yes, I was a small part of the problem, though I did live as green as possible. Still do.)
Or as I say: How much money can you count, holding your breath while submerged in toxic waste? Yeah, though so…
Not to pile on with yet more gloom and doom, but let’s remember the sonic assaults on marine animals, many of which depend upon sound for many parts of their life cycles. These assaults are generally to either explore for oil or to test weapons because oil is located in inconvenient venues. Flipper, we hardly knew ye.
Exactly , but the people who THINK they own the planet are only moved by money. It is up to US!
We are reaping the real and aggregate consequences of full blown looting over hundreds of years by the most regressive, self-aggrandizingly delusional construct ever perpetrated by man.
The human mind heart and soul only function properly and to their full capacity when lovingly learning is the primary motivator. Without these its all over but the tears.
No one has been paying any attention to the exponential function - except the looters and they’re to blinded by greed to see that their scrambling is already over precipice with nothing but air between them and the deep abyss.
News alert: last we looked there is no saviour extra terrestrial in a cocoon at the bottom. Might get a chance to find out first hand whether or not there is life after death though.
Greed. The Big Destroyer…
Like so many things, the corporate oligarchy pushes the external costs of pollution on the public.
A cradle to grave tax on plastics, cars, appliances, and more would go far in reducing pollution by making producers pay the costs of recycling plus incentivizing them to go to returnables and recyclables. If people recycle these products for free, producers will have incentives to pollute.
When have we ever heard a politician propose this?
That is the biggest understatement of the whole Phanerozoic eon. “Human history” only goes back about 1.8 M years - if we are charitable and include H. erectus as one of us (I would - there is evidence they had language and cooked food). but the most similar thing to the threat we are now facing is the P-Tr warming and mass extinction when almost all of the oceans were rendered anoxic and habitable only by anerobic bacteria and hardy jellyfish - 95 percent of all marine species going extinct. The great majority of land species went extinct as well - even insects. That was 252 million years ago. This one may be even worse than that.
Growth. The Big Destroyer
I read the same account from this sailor. The damage to the oceans is stunning. And I hate it when they cite “by the end of the century.” This is happening now!
“Only when the last tree has died, and the last river poisoned, and the last fish caught, will we realize we cannot eat money” – Cree prophecy
In 1956, when I was enroute to Bikini aboard the USS Badoeing Strait for the H-Bomb tests that year, I spent almost every spare minute I had, standing at the bow, thrilling at the huge shoals of flying fish, at the pods of dolphins riding and playing on our bow wave. I even ID’d some Sperm Whales surfacing to blow. Seabirds all over the place. I dove a lot at Bikini and saw huge amounts of sea life, from seahorses to really big tiger sharks.
*Thirty-five years later, after I retired from the fire service, I sailed through those same waters in an old schooner, to be delivered to a new owner in Singapore. The ocean had become a desert. Very few cetaceans of any kind. Occasional small schools of dolphins near atolls, very small schools of flying fish, seabirds a rarity.
*I hate to think what it would look like, were I to sail those waters again.
*I wrote a poem a few years ago. I’ll include it here, just as food for thought.
Far out at sea, the unbroken great blue circle
Ever changing yet ever the same.
Standing on the bowsprit I gaze into the deep, clear, blue depths
Or out to the horizon. Sometimes there are dolphins!
At night, the heavens are filled with myriad stars, far more than are seen on land.
They stretch out to infinity, eternity,
The only human interlopers,
The satellites moving in their straight lines from horizon to horizon.
Below in my bunk I am lulled by the quiet hiss of the bow wave,
The rasping zzzzip of passing dolphins,
Distant songs of humpbacked whales echoing from the deep,
And the quiet tread of watchstanders passing on the deck above my head.
Diving on the reef, I pass beneath the stands of kelp
Rising like fluted columns
Which spread overhead, muted light filtering to the sea floor
Like sunlight through stained glass
Walking on the floor of a great virgin forest,
The first branches spread a hundred feet overhead.
Wild rhododendrons provide splashes of color
And my gaze stretches for miles.
Standing on a windswept ridge, gazing at a rugged, snow shrouded peak.
Mighty rivers look like tiny rivulets, running from beneath the glaciers.
The tree line is far below me,
And on the eroded cliff beside me, seashells!
These are my cathedrals.
This is where I feel close to my God,
In the quiet wonder of God’s creation,
Far from the works of man.
Steve Osborn 23 August 2002
Now, the sea is dying, the forests are gone, to build ticky-tackys, the glaciers are disappearing and the rivers drying up. Oil fouls everything. All to put more shrink-wrapped $100s in some trillionaire’s vault.
At 80, all I have left is memories of what used to be, but no longer is.
For centuries we have treated our oceans like supermarkets, shopping unrestrained for seafood. But - nobody is restocking the shelves. We are removing mature fish and crustaceans faster than they can reproduce and replace themselves.
At the same time, we have treated our oceans like a sewage system, dumping endless amounts of trash - including non-degradable plastics - and untreated sewage from ocean vessels and, until we learned, municipalities. In addition, carbon dioxide emissions combine with water to make acid rain, which is changing their pH levels, to the detriment of flora and fauna in them.
Our oceans are finite. We must treat them like any other limited resource and do what we can to keep them clean and able to support life.
The toxic chemical runoff from the tsunami might have had a localized impact on sea life, but it would not have been long lasting or noticeable more than a few kilometers out. The debris field did carry much further afield, but its total volume would have been almost nothing compared to all the trash dumped in the oceans. And actually, fish and sea life has been thriving in the undersea debris fields off the coast of Fukushima, where it has provided some of the protection and habitat variation found in reefs. Local reduction in fishing has probably also helped.