FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

This is Your Ocean on Acid

“I don’t know how to save the world. I don’t have the answers or The Answer. I hold no secret knowledge as to how to fix the mistakes of generations past and present. I only know that without compassion and respect for all of Earth’s inhabitants, none of us will survive — nor will we deserve to.” – Leonard Peltier

The oceans aren’t dying. The oceans are being killed.

More than 40 percent of the world’s oceans are heavily impacted by human activities with few areas — if any — left unaffected by anthropogenic factors. This means we humans (and what we deem civilization) have played a primary role in the despoiling of the waters of the earth.

The relentless quest for profit, however, has distracted us from the plight of the deep blue sea and how it impacts all forms of life.

It’s not some unstoppable force of nature or preordained theology. Human decisions have led us to where we are now and new human decisions are immediately needed to forge a more logical and compassionate path.

Why not start this urgent turnaround with the oceans? After all, it’s where 80 percent of all life on earth is found and where over half our oxygen is created.

To follow is a tiny sampling of what human culture has done and is doing to our beautiful — and essential — oceans.

Acid Trip

We can begin this discussion with the ever-increasing ocean acidification. The carbon dioxide (CO2) that results from the burning of fossil fuels dissolves in the ocean and decreases the pH.

Consider this:

*Roughly 25 percent of all CO2 emissions are absorbed by oceans

*Before humans began burning coal and oil, ocean pH had been relatively stable for 20 million years

*During the last 250 years, oceans have absorbed 530 billion tons of CO2, which has resulted in a 30 percent in ocean acidity

The myriad deleterious impacts of acidification include the reduction of a mineral called carbonate, which forms the shells and skeletons of many shellfish and corals. As pH levels drop, shells literally dissolve. This effect also slows the building of coral reefs and some believe the tipping point for such reefs could be less then 40 years away.

Often called “rain forests of the sea,” coral reefs are home to a quarter of all marine fish species and their presence buttresses coastal regions from strong waves and storms.

This is Your Ocean on Capitalism

The ocean life that’s still somehow able to manage the increasing acidity are not exactly in the clear — thanks, for example, to bottom trawling. This is the highly non-selective fishing method of dragging immense nets along the ocean floor. Think of it as the sea-based version of forest clear cutting. Arguably the single most destructive human action for the world’s oceans, trawling often leaves a trail that can be seen from space.

Ocean trawling is a major component in overfishing (or more accurately: “fishing”). Since large-scale industrial fishing methods was introduced in the 1950s, 93 percent of the large fish — e.g. tuna, swordfish, marlin, cod, halibut, skate, and flounder — are gone.

In addition, estimates range as high as 50 to 100 million sharks killed each year — sometimes as unintended “bycatch,” other times more specifically when untold millions of sharks are targeted  for their fins.

This practice involves catching sharks, cutting off their fins while they are alive, and tossing the maimed fish back into the ocean. The fins are dried and used in shark fin soup. To make this even more despicable, the shark fins don’t add flavor to the soup. They are added solely for texture.

More than 200 million years before the dinosaurs, there were sharks. Do we really want to be part of the species that wiped them out?

Big Picture

Another ecocidal human decision is offshore drilling. Over its lifetime, a single oil rig can:

*Dump more than 90,000 metric tons of drilling fluid and metal cuttings into the ocean

*Drill between 50-100 wells, each dumping 25,000 pounds of toxic metals, such as lead, chromium, and mercury, and potent carcinogens like toluene, benzene, and xylene into the ocean

*Pollute the air as much as 7,000 cars driving 50 miles a day

Other ocean-killing realities to consider include oil spills and slicks, beach erosion, the fact that the world’s largest landfill happens to be floating in the Pacific Ocean, etc. etc. etc.

We urgently need to make these big picture connections in our minds and in our activism. While each of us can play a role in a wide range of crucial issues, we must never lose sight of how it all comes together. Without functioning oceans, a functioning eco-system cannot exist. Without a functioning eco-system, all other efforts are pointless.

So yeah, it’d be great if corporations paid more taxes or if single-payer health care were enacted but such changes would ultimately fall into the proverbial Titanic/deck chair category if our oceans are not restored and respected — now.

Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.

More articles by:

Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here. This piece first appeared at World Trust News.  

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail