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Surveying Damage on World Oceans Day, Experts Say Worst is Yet to Come



"If the oceans are in trouble then so are we"

People love to use the metaphors Mother Earth and Mother Nature but the truth is that our mother is the sea. Life on Earth evolved from the sea. We are an ungrateful and unloving offspring to treat our mother this way.


I sailed the Caribbean for 20 yrs till 2000. Most of the reefs were well over 80% dead by 2000, where as in the early 80s they were still very healthy. The picture in the story looks like a long time ago.


People should view the damage being done to our environment the same way they view stealing or damaging property. What I mean is that those who pollute or contaminate nature for the sake of profit should be considered willful criminals who are aware of the damage they cause but don't care. A fracking company that is held liable for damage to the water table or some such would be unlikely to do the damage if they would have to pay for it.

In a way people of the future ( the young people who will have to live in it) should start suing the past ( the people today who damage the environment now but will escape the penalties for the damage they do to the world of the future. State governments should be sued for allowing fossil fuel power plants to continue operating despite the very economic alternatives being available,

The polluters incur no penalty for polluting so why should they stop while polluting makes big profits?

The system has been created where there is little accountability for what might be called ordinary pollution. We prosecute ( lightly) for Gulf oil spills but we do not hold ordinary oil wells or gasoline powered vehicles to account for the damage they do. That gets postponed to the future while the present day polluters see no penalties. Polluters don't stop voluntarily.


"Polluters don't stop voluntarily."
So true and wealthy polluters can afford good lawyers. We are in the vicious cycle of capitalism of course. Those with the money get more and find it easier each day to commit these crimes. If we don't stop them there will be nothing left worth a thing for the future generations of much of life on this planet.


All too true. At our current pace we will out likely see 1.5 by 2026.
And we are having El Niño's every four years now, which is causing the warming rate to accelerate more rapidly. I fear we have hit the point of no return, as a huge positive feedback loop has begun.
And now for the melting permafrost and the coming spike in methane levels....


So who cares about a little acidity. People in their 60's hear acid, they think Timothy Leary. People in their 30's? Who knows what they might think. But what all of us should think is that an acidic ocean is caused by the oceans' plant life absorbing too much carbon which is causing the acidity which is killing the plankton which produces over 50% of the oxygen we breathe (the rain forests another 30%). The end result? Death by suffocation. Did you ever throw a fish out on the river or lake bank and watch it gasp?


LOL. I knew some scientist out there would correct the accuracy of my statement. Fact remains.... did you ever see a fish gasping on the bank?


This is true. A central cause is to protect our seas, the mother of life, from damage. Holding accountable is where we need to go since appealing to love and care and common sense hasn't been productive enough.


We are in a vicious cycle of 'late capitalism', that is, a convolution of political economy that fails to acknowledge or recognize all true costs through dismissal as 'externalities'.. Legal challenges and resulting regulatory laws derived from Coase's Theorem would go a long way in rectifying this disparity within the context of the existing system. Additionally, the notions of 'shareholder primacy'---more of less an invention of the 1980s, needs to be repudiated. The idea that primary corporate responsibility is to deliver maximum short term profits to the shareholders is a complete aberration of the capitalist philosophy originally espoused by Adam Smith.


From above link:
"Many marine organisms—such as coral, clams, mussels, sea urchins, barnacles, and certain microscopic plankton—rely on equilibrated chemical conditions and pH levels in the ocean to build their calcium-based shells and other structures. A new analysis published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology provides a holistic analysis of how species will be affected worldwide under different climate scenarios.

“Calcifying species are indispensable for ecosystems worldwide: they provide nursery habitats for fish, food for marine predators, and natural defenses for storms and erosion. These species are also particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification triggered by increased fossil fuel emissions,” says IIASA researcher Ligia Azevedo, who led the study.

Just as carbonated soda water is more acidic than flat tap water, higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the ocean cause the water to become more acidic. And high acidity makes it more difficult for calcifying species to make their calcium structures such as shells, reefs, and exoskeletons."

Additional reading: http://ensia.com/features/what-does-ocean-acidification-mean-for-sea-life/

And to answer you question, yes, I've seen thousands of fish 'gasping', not only upon the bank, but also floating helplessly upon the surface as they struggle through the last thralls of death. Nothing funny about it


Yes I think appealing to people's decency and their better natures has been pretty much trashed by the modern era. You can't shame a thief into not stealing. He already knows that it is wrong before he does it. You have to make him regret doing it to stop him from ever doing it again. We call that prison.

We can tell a coal fired plant to stop polluting but they won't stop until they have to. We drive cars and yet people are environmentalists. Until we can no longer buy gasoline vehicles then we will keep driving them. Offer people an electric car and they will use them but also tell auto makers that won't make them to stop selling gas autos. Make them stop and soon everybody would be driving electrics. The Chinese banned gasoline powered motor scooters in Bejing and now everybody is using electric scooters and bikes. The government had to step in and legislate to make it work. It works fine but the government needed to pass the law banning the gasoline scooters.

Polluters need to be made to stop polluting! Enough with asking them please! They don't care unless they have to.


Thanks for your scientific references. I used fish gasping on the bank to demonstrate suffering not only for fish and sea life, but as a symbolic picture of life relying on the atmosphere above the sea as the reduction of O2 begins to take it's toll! Thanks again.


Where did you get this absurd misinformation?


I would have like to see other causes of pressure on oceans. As a sailor exploring remote areas I have been awestruck by the dammage done on reef by overpopulation, corruption, nepotism and plain ignorance. Countries like Philippines and Indonesia spring to mind. In the latter I was laughed at while trying to dispose of my rubbish ashore, the locals told me"why don't you throw it in the sea like everyone else?" This very same people were making a living out of the sea and yet could not make the connection.
We, Westerner from the rich world have abused the developing world by means of colonies and various other methods; how can we now preach not to follow the same path to wealth. We defi itely sound like liars.


Electri scooters are fine as long as the electricity is not created by fossil fuelled plant, which I believe is the case of China and elsewhere. They simply moved their smog problem from the large cities to the countryside, the resulting pollution ends up in the same place.


If there were a magic wand that would do it all at once by a command then fine but until that magic wand is created then things are done in steps and piecemeal. China is rapidly building solar and wind and in any case the scooters spew fumes prodigiously. Take several million gas powered scooters out of the picture and that much less pollution is created. As solar and wind replace coal then that much less pollution is created. While your math is technically correct, it did not factor in the production of gasoline in the equation. Drilling for oil and refining it into gasoline is polluting too.

We all agree that the electricity should come from a non polluting source as soon as possible but my reference was only illustrative that if people are offered alternatives they take them. Whether it is Electric scooters or solar and wind in place of coal fired plants, we would use the alternative and should. I was just pointing out that it here are many alternatives out there. It is time we banned gasoline vehicles as much as possible. Electric scooters are an easy way to go for all scooters everywhere. We need to have scooter parking in big cities instead of letting cars in midtown.

Make the alternatives available and in many cases mandatory (we got rid of leaded gasoline by mandating only lead free gasoline be used).

Time to stop leaving a trail of blue smoke or toxic exhaust behind our vehicles ...everywhere


The stark reality is that the fossil fuel emissions by industrialized civilization has contributed to the irreversible rapid climate disruption and ocean acidification and warming.Throw away goods and contaminated water have irreversibly polluted the oceans. The most society can possibly do is slow down these deleterious processes while developing measures to cope with some of the consequences such as sea level rise, coral bleaching and depletion of fish stocks..