Questionable Motives

July 3, 2011

Where is the outcry?

Filed under: Climate Change,Environment,Global Warming,Oceans,Science — tildeb @ 5:53 pm

A couple of weeks ago I read about a new and alarming study about human impact on our oceans. The gist is that the global marine environment is getting warmer, more acidic, and less oxygenated as a result of human activity. Furthermore, its health is declining faster than forecasted. Considering the role oceans play in human survival, one would think such a study by such eminent scientists would have alarm bells ringing and an international call for some concerted effort similar to the Montreal Protocol to combat the human manufacturing and release of CFCs that was shown to cause the ozone hole over the antarctic to enlarge.

But… almost nothing has come from it. That’s alarming.

The study, by “27 participants from 18 organisations in 6 countries produced a grave assessment of current threats — and a stark conclusion about future risks to marine and human life if the current trajectory of damage continues: that the world’s ocean is at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history.”

Surely this is worth our attention.

From Discovery:

“The results are shocking,” said Alex Rogers, an Oxford professor who heads IPSO and co-authored the report. “We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime.”

“We have underestimated the overall risks, and that the whole of marine degradation is greater than the sum of its parts,” Rogers said. “That degradation is now happening at a faster rate than predicted.”

Indeed, the pace of change is tracking or has surpassed the worst-case scenarios laid out by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its landmark 2007 report, according to the new assessment.

The chain reaction leading to increased acidification of the oceans begins with a massive influx of carbon into Earth’s climate system.

“We now face losing marine species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation,” said Daniel Laffoley, head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas, and co-author of the report.

“And we are also probably the last generation that has enough time to deal with the problems.”

We may have enough time but dealing with the problem? Hell, we’re not even talking about it. That needs to change, PDQ.

1 Comment »

  1. Indeed it does. Every year I travel to the coast (Wales in the UK) where I holiday with my young family by the sea side. During these holidays, I collect things from the beach and build sand castles with the kids.

    One of the things I have noticed is the increasing amount of plastic waste that is washing up. Tones of the stuff arrive daily. The local authority of the town I visit clear the beaches to ensure that tourists still visit; this task is endless, and every year I see more effort put into to beach clearing by the local authority.

    There is no limit to the types of plastic that I find either – some of it is what I would almost expect: bottles, bags, beer can holders, nets, ropes, flip flops, kids buckets and spades – litter.

    Others are less obvious: toothbrushes, hair clips, cutlery, curtain rings, lamp shades, mirrors, make-up and cosmetic cases, razor blades, medical syringes, phone cases – in other words stuff that wasn’t littered on the beach, but dumped in the sea. I have also noticed an increased amount of what I can only describe is plastic sand – this is fine granules of plastic, I guess from plastic items being eroded by the motion of the ocean.
    I am noticing more dead sea birds – lots of them, strangled in plastic netting is something I have come to expect, but birds looking very diseased or underweight (starving) has alarmed me somewhat – this is not normal.
    As individuals we can make a difference – all it takes is to remember that the majority of everything that you have used all your life from a toothbrushes to cotton wool buds probably still exists, either in landfill or dumped in the sea – and to question whether you really need that thing, or whether you can repair and make do something that you already own.

    Although there is more emphasis on recycling, and waste management than there ever has been in the west – the problem is vast. My local authority introduced a plastic recycling service a few years ago, with it comes a 200 litre wheelie bin – that is collected every fortnight. Needless to say that this bin is almost full after 2 weeks mostly with plastic that is not needed – wrapping from supermarket fruit and veg, meat, bottles of every type. If we are going to survive as a species we have to wean ourselves off the use of plastic for trivial convenience, and reserve this material for where no other material is sufficient.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — July 5, 2011 @ 4:20 pm | Reply

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