FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Killing the Ocean

Photograph Source: Tiago Fioreze – CC BY-SA 3.0

The oceans are “crying for mercy,” a fact that is starkly revealed in a telling 900-page draft of a forthcoming UN report due for release September 25th. The draft report obtained by Agence France-Presse (AFP) assesses the status of the oceans and cyrosphere. It’s a landmark UN report, and it’s not a pretty picture.

In the final analysis, the report amounts to self-destruction that’s largely ignored by most of the leading countries throughout the world. It’s all about greenhouse gassing as a result of human interference in the climate system. People are heat machines!

The opening statement in AFP’s news release states: “The same oceans that nourished human evolution are poised to unleash misery on a global scale unless the carbon pollution destabilizing Earth’s marine environment is brought to heel.” (Source: Oceans Turning From Friend to Foe, Warns Landmark UN Climate Report, Agence France Presse, August 29, 2019)

This Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “Special Report” states “destructive changes are already set in motion,” referencing loss of fish stocks, a 100-fold increase in super-storm damage, and hundreds of millions of people displaced by rising sea levels. A 100-fold increase of super-storms plus 100s of millions of displaced should draw immediate political action, like a WWII Marshall Plan to fight anthropogenic climate change, but will it happen?

Not only that, powerful evidence of the human link to radical biological shifts in the world’s oceans is poignantly described in Dahr Jamail’s brilliant book: The End of Ice (The New Press, 2019)

Dahr describes a personal visit with Bruce Wright, senior scientist with the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association and former section chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for eleven years, to wit:

By 1975, the water in the Gulf of Alaska had already warmed up 2c. At the time the entire biological system shifted, causing the Alaska Fish and Game Department to “shut down the fisheries to protect what was left… The dramatic shift across the biological system in the Gulf of Alaska in the 1970s was the first evidence of profound change that Wright witnessed and he attributed it directly to the waters being warmed by climate disruption.” (Jamail pg. 60)

Thereafter, Dahr fast-forwards to 2016 with shocking descriptions of the ravages of human-generated climate change, Jamail pgs. 60-64, as follows below:

“This last summer, the gulf warmed up 15°C warmer than normal in some areas,’ Wright told me, ‘Yes, you heard me right, 15°C. And it is now, overall, 5°C above normal in both the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, and has been all winter long.”

“My head swam (Jamail). The biological shift that caused the fisheries to close in the 1970s came from a 2°C change in water temperature… Imagine what is going on out in the Gulf of Alaska right now,’ he said, giving several examples, including die-offs among fin whales.”

“We (Jamail and Wright) spoke about the declining numbers of halibut… The massive die-off of murres across the entirety of Alaska had been dominating the local news… witnessing the largest murre die-off in the state’s recorded history… starvation… striking numbers, by tens of thousands… the result of water temperatures so high that ‘we not only had extensive paralytic shellfish poisoning, we had a huge bloom of Alexandrium… sand lances had become toxic from feeding on marine PSP toxin… These toxins moved up the food chain. Nearly every animal, from salmon to whales to cod to diving birds, like puffins, auks, cormorants, and terns eat the sand lances or the larvae… Sea otters, steller sea lions, and northern fur seals have all seen shocking population declines across western Alaska… All of our oceans are being affected by these toxic, harmful algal blooms now.”

“Later that summer, National Geographic reported how toxic algal blooms (as a result of warming oceans) were spreading across the planet, poisoning both people and marine life.”

“Wright was certain the driving factor was climate disruption, which was warming the North Pacific and Bering Sea and leading to a dramatic increase in PSP. Anyone foolish enough to come to the Aleutians and eat forage fish is playing Russian roulette with their life, he said. Alaska Division of Public Health states clearly that ‘some of these toxins are 1,000 times more potent than cyanide, and toxin levels contained in a single shellfish can be fatal to humans.”

Meanwhile, “Earth’s oceans continue to absorb over 90 percent of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” It’s that source of ocean heat that’s primarily extinguishing marine life.

As such, civilization in toto is subjecting itself to suicidal behavior by failing to listen to scientists and failing to enact emergency measures to convert fossil fuels to renewables. It’s a deadly situation, but still not resonating nearly enough to save the oceans.

Additionally, according to the aforementioned AFP report, without cuts in human-caused emissions, at a minimum, 30% of the Northern Hemisphere’s permafrost will melt this century, which would release billions upon billions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, which is already filled to the brim with greenhouse gases, thereby accelerating global warming.

All in all, the overall tragedy of the ocean crisis prompts obvious questions: What does it take for world political leadership (especially in America, purportedly, the leader of the free world) to push the big red emergency buttons? Should political leaders be transported to see first-hand sea animal deaths? Should world leaders be “challenged” to eat Alaskan forage fish?

Seabirds are literally falling out of the sky along the West Pacific Coast (For Five Years Running Now, Mass Seabird Mortality Events Continue in Alaska Waters Which Continue to be Warmer Than Normal, Alaska Nature & Science, August 2019); sea lion carcasses line beaches from Vancouver Island to Southern California (Surge in Sick, Hungry Sea Lions Off California’s Coast Puzzles Marine Biologists, The Sacramento Bee, July 4, 2019) ; whale deaths are disturbingly too frequent (Feds Declare Emergency as Grey Whale Deaths Reach Highest Level in Nearly 20 Years, Phys.org, June 4, 2019); the largest toxic algal bloom ever recorded shut down California’s crab industry for months; Alaska is experiencing spikes in deaths of sea otters (Officials Investigate Otter Deaths in Southwestern Alaska, KTOO, Public Media, March 2018) as well as abrupt deaths of several whale species.

Mass sea animal deaths, year after year, are not normal!

The world community must hold its political leaders accountable for abject failure to react. If it were otherwise, meaning, listening to science and acting accordingly, then emergency governmental acts would be underway all across the globe… they’re not!

After all, it’s truly a life and death matter that is hidden from public view, as global warming hits hardest where the fewest people live but where the world’s most elementary and primary food chain is rapidly coming apart at the seams.

Imagine toxins 1,000 times more toxic than cyanide spreading throughout the world’s oceans. Actually, no imagination is necessary because it’s already started in Alaska. For Pete’s sake, first-hand evidence is readily available by simply talking to “locals,” similar to what Dahr Jamail did prior to writing his book.

At some point in time in the near future, it is highly probable that environmental degradation will “force the hand” of the public into open rebellion. Throughout history, it happens “out of the blue.” Ka-boom!

Postscript: The Trump administration is changing how the federal government “implements key laws” under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). Henceforth, governmental agencies will be able to (1) “ignore” climate change implications of their actions as well as (2) “avoid” public disclosure of their scheming. This is extreme radical departure from the original “legal intent” of the NEPA.

More articles by:

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at rlhunziker@gmail.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 18, 2019
Liam Kennedy
Boris Johnson: Elitist Defender of Britain’s Big Banks
September 17, 2019
Mario Barrera
The Southern Strategy and Donald Trump
Robert Jensen
The Danger of Inspiration in a Time of Ecological Crisis
Dean Baker
Health Care: Premiums and Taxes
Dave Lindorff
Recalling the Hundreds of Thousands of Civilian Victims of America’s Endless ‘War on Terror’
Binoy Kampmark
Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq
Susie Day
You Say You Want a Revolution: a Prison Letter to Yoko Ono
Rich Gibson
Seize Solidarity House
Laura Flanders
From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing’s Glass House
Don Fitz
What is Energy Denial?
Dan Bacher
Governor Newsom Says He Will Veto Bill Blocking Trump Rollback of Endangered Fish Species Protections
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: Time to Stop Pretending and Start Over
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Inside the Syrian Peace Talks
Elliot Sperber
Mickey Mouse Networks
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
Nyla Ali Khan
Spectacles of the Demolition of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh and the Revocation of the Autonomous Status of Kashmir
Stansfield Smith
Celebrating 50 Years of Venceremos Brigade solidarity with the Cuban Revolution
Tim Butterworth
Socialism Made America Great
Nick Licata
Profiles in Courage: the Tories Have It, the Republicans Don’t
Abel Prieto
Cubanness and Cuban Identity: the Importance of Fernando Ortiz
Robert Koehler
Altruists of the World Unite!
Mel Gurtov
Farewell, John Bolton
Weekend Edition
September 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Age of Constitutional Coups
Rob Urie
Bernie Sanders and the Realignment of the American Left
Anthony DiMaggio
Teaching the “War on Terror”: Lessons for Contemporary Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: They Are the Walrus
T.J. Coles
Jeremy Corbyn: Electoral “Chicken” or Political Mastermind?
Joseph Natoli
The Vox Populi
Sasan Fayazmanesh
The Pirates of Gibraltar
John Feffer
Hong Kong and the Future of China
David Rosen
The Likely End to Roe v. Wade?
Ishmael Reed
When You Mess With Creation Myths, the Knives Come Out
Michael Hudson
Break Up the Democratic Party?
Paul Tritschler
What If This is as Good as It Gets?
Jonah Raskin
Uncensored Tony Serra: Consummate Criminal Defense Lawyer
Ryan Gunderson
Here’s to the Last Philosophes, the Frankfurt School
Michael T. Klare
The Pompeo Doctrine: How to Seize the Arctic’s Resources, Now Accessible Due to Climate Change (Just Don’t Mention Those Words!)
Luke O'Neil
I Would Want To Drink Their Blood: God Will Punish Them
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail