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ScienceWater

Oceans on the Precipice, ie, Totally Screwed

Jennifer E. Smith The latest news concerning our oceans is not what you would label “good news.” Immediate and sweeping changes are necessary to slow or reverse the impact that human activity is having on our oceans. If we do not, then catastrophic problems will be unavoidable. Issues such as overfishing, pollution and climate change are just a few that are of concern.

This is the view of one Jeremy Jackson, a professor of oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, in a new study published in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). A major part of Jackson’s study, is the view that humans are laying the groundwork for mass extinctions within our oceans not seen since the ecological upheavals of our murky past.

Jackson has labeled this human-impacted transformation as “the rise of slime,” and he points to combined impact of habitat destruction, overfishing, ocean warming, increased acidification and massive nutrient runoff as the culprits for his rise of slime.

Areas of our oceans that were once a thriving metropolis of oceanic biodiversity, with big and small animals’ alike living in a sort of “end times” environment, are now being turned in to areas only habitable by jellyfish, microbes, disease and toxic algal blooms.

A presentation last December at a biodiversity and extinction colloquium convened by the National Academy of Sciences goes hand in hand with Jackson’s new paper, “Ecological extinction and evolution in the brave new ocean.” “The purpose of the talk and the paper is to make clear just how dire the situation is and how rapidly things are getting worse,” said Jackson. “It’s a lot like the issue of climate change that we had ignored for so long. If anything, the situation in the oceans could be worse because we are so close to the precipice in many ways.”

9501_web The continued overfishing is just one issue that strikes at the heart of the biodiversity of our oceans. The loss of fish and sharks near our continental shelves, runoff into our estuaries and coastal seas, and more, build upon each other to paint a dire picture for our oceans.

“The challenges of bringing these threats under control are enormously complex and will require fundamental changes in fisheries, agricultural practices and the ways we obtain energy for everything we do,” he writes. “So it’s not a happy picture and the only way to deal with it is in segments; the only way to keep one’s sanity and try to achieve real success is to carve out sectors of the problem that can be addressed in effective terms and get on it as quickly as possible.”




14 comments
  1. Ed Nordby

    Aw, this was a very nice post. In concept I would like to put in writing like this moreover – taking time and actual effort to make an excellent article… however what can I say… I procrastinate alot and in no way appear to get something done.

  2. Robert Northup

    I am an environmental chemist, all too familiar with the damage we’ve done to the ocean: dying coral reefs due to higher temperatures and depleted acid neutralizing capacity, huge “dead zones” of eutrophication and hypoxia due to fertilizer runoff, marine nitrous oxide emissions, etc.

    I am amazed that so many contrarians get their anti-global-warming (etc.) opinions into internet blogs and forums. I have never met one such person in the scientific community, but reading the Internet, you would think there is some kind of major presence of dissenting opinions among credible scientists. There are none. The only disagreement is about the details regarding how bad it’s going to get, and how fast it’s going to happen.

    Again, I am puzzled by the nature of the contrarian comments. Why would we have to give up eating in order to recognize that we have done harm to the ocean’s health, and perhaps even take action to mitigate the problem?

  3. Sam Fowler

    When will the general population start caring enough to take action? Whether or not it is the end of the world is really irrelevant, I think the point is clear that if things do continue to go as they are, there will be nothing left, for food or enjoyment……

  4. cchiovitti

    Well, to look on the bright side, if the oceans are becoming suitable only for jellyfish and slime, then maybe it’s time for the jellyfish to take over the planet.

    In all seriousness, though, what exactly was the author trying to achieve with this? Yes, the oceans are in trouble. We already know that. Yes, agricultural runoff and overfishing are bad. We know that too, but where are the ideas? It reminds me of a bad middle-management meeting where nothing actually gets said or done.

  5. Dan Cheek

    Wow. It’s sad, however, that almost no one in government or the media will actually take any of this information seriously.

    -Dan Cheek

  6. cass

    I was discussing a topic of a similar nature with my conservationist sister last evening.
    My conclusion as a non-conservationist but a keen member of the public willing to save our environment is this:

    To make your message heard, there is very little point in blindly scaring people, their emotions reach a threshold of sorts and then they become angry or impartial- if you would like to see first hadn proof observe yourself or others watching the daily news- even if the people on the screen live in the same town as you, you often dissociate yourself from the full effects “It’s not me, so it’s ok” theory.
    On the same note however I do not condone an apathetic stance to Environmental problems.

    My suggestion is to warm up to methods of communication that have been successful in other spheres of life- enquire at successful Advertising agencies, Product companies and business institutes.
    Ascertain their methods of successful crowd “utilization.”

    One could almost think of it as a “symbiotic relationship,” where two( or in this case more) different organisms benefit from one another, utilizing the other’s attributes, with little or no harm done to either.
    Lastly appeal across spectrums- find methods that send a similar message but are unique to specific groups.

    These may have seemed like trivial solutions but others may spring from here.

  7. David Normal

    This article seems incomplete. It is merely an introduction. It would have been interesting to hear what Dr. Jackson considers the “segments” of action that must be taken, but the article did not go that far.

  8. dan Gillman

    All these “end of the world” things in my mind is either a cry for attention or something made up by the internet, we really dont have solid proof that there has ever been or there ever will be mass extinction

  9. Johnny Gohan Jones

    So what’s the solution then?

    Oh, let me guess, uh… Mass culling of the population!

    Ted Turner would be pleased (as he has publicly called for 95% of the population needs to be wiped out).

    I guess we’ll just leave it up to the BILDERBERG GROUP.

    If you haven’t seen ENDGAME… search for it on Google Video.

    This article stinks of the NWO

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